Ohio State wide receiver Evan Spencer sent shock waves through the college-football atmosphere during Monday's media session.
Spencer, per Zach Meisel of Cleveland.com, stated, in jocular fashion, that his Buckeyes team would "wipe the field" with the Alabama Crimson Tide and "whoever." The quick interview in its entirety can be found here.
The confidence is great, but odds are Spencer, his Buckeye teammates and anyone who has watched college football in 2013 understand that there is too much quality at the top to expect a blowout.
Spencer is clearly having a little fun with the media as he shows off his Buckeye bravado. The session is rooted in the Buckeyes using the bye week to watch their potential competition, including Alabama over LSU and the Stanford beating of the Ducks. A beating which helped put Ohio State into the third spot in the BCS rankings.
The Buckeyes wide receiver certainly should have a little confidence. After all, if he does not believe in his team's ability to win against the rest of the nation's top teams, why should anyone else? However, Spencer, unlike media members looking for a controversy, or an upset fan pouting about their team not getting enough respect, understands what goes into winning a ballgame—something he pointed out in the interview prior to his controversial comment:
Reporter: Obviously, you watched Alabama and LSU. Your thoughts on that.
Spencer: "I mean, both teams are really good. LSU seemed to have some momentum at the beginning in being able to move the ball up and down the field. But Alabama, they're one of the best technical teams in the country. So they kinda broke them down a little bit. But I saw holes in both teams and strengths in both teams."
Reporter: Does it happen when you're watching a game, envision how Ohio State would play against Alabama or what you might do against them?
Spencer: "Oh, yeah. Really since like midway through high school, every time I watch somebody else play, I always think about what I could have done there or what we would have done there as an offense or what we would have done there as a defense or what have you. It's good to look at other competition and kind of mentally play a game while you're sitting on the couch."
That's football. Every team does have strengths and weaknesses. Alabama is one of the best technical teams in the nation. Players and coaches do look for areas of advantage while watching other teams play.
Thus, while Evan Spencer is busy telling everyone that he watched the nation's best play with a critical eye, probing for areas to attack, all the Chatty Cathy and Gabby Gus types could do was drool over a comment. A comment sandwiched between, "I guess I'm a little biased," and, "But, that's just my bias speaking."
Barring massive injuries, no one is blowing the nation's best teams out of the water. Alabama and Florida State are too versatile on both sides of the ball to warrant realistic blowout talk. Both are teams with explosive offenses that, as Alabama proved against Texas A&M, can win in the face of defensive failures in a shootout-type ballgame.
Both teams also feature defenses that show up to stop the run and then force the issue with the opponent. There are elite players all over the field for the Tide and the Seminoles. NFL-caliber athletes that are ready to make plays and stop the opponent from getting into the end zone. Athletically, both teams are sitting near the top of the heap in 2013.
That said, Spencer is certainly correct about vulnerabilities existing, creating areas of opportunity. Alabama's cornerback woes are an issue that is very real for the defending national champions. At Florida State, offensive linemen getting to the second level can seriously clog up the Noles' usually sound rush defense.
One trait that is perhaps more important than the talent is the focus. Much like Ohio State is focused on getting through the season unscathed, so, too, are the Tide and the 'Noles. Florida State, Ohio State and even Alabama, despite winning the title in 2012, are three teams on a mission. A mission where getting boat-raced in Pasadena is hardly an option on the table.
None of these three teams is thrilled with how 2012 unfolded. For Florida State, avoiding the disappointment of losing to Florida and NC State serves as motivation. In Columbus, the Buckeyes had to sit home with a 12-0 record, watching Alabama play for a title that could have been theirs against Notre Dame. And in Tuscaloosa, this bunch of kids, even with back-to-back titles, has yet to finish a season flawlessly.
The fire burns strong in all three of these squads, and should Florida State or Alabama slip up, Ohio State's desire for a title will be just as strong as its opponent's. The goal for the BCS National Championship Game participants will be the same as it always has been: to just get a win.
And this year, the likelihood that win comes in blowout form is somewhere between slim and none.