College Football: Why Florida, Texas, LSU, and Oklahoma Close Calls Mean Little
If the BCS Title Game selections for 2010 were based upon results from the first week of the season we could pencil in Oregon and Florida State right now.
The Ducks and Seminoles won their opening games by a combined total of 131-6.
But championships are not won the first week of the season, and the year long road with many conference hills to climb will produce the nation's best by the time daylight hours grow short.
The reason such a statement can be made without hesitancy is because of an undisputed truth in all areas of competition– the unbreakable two way rule.
This rule demands there are only two ways of looking at results, the way it should be and the way it is.
What does this tried and true finite algorithm reveal concerning the above listed teams?
Let us take a look at the past, present, and future of the following football programs and see what we can decipher.
No.1: Oklahoma Sooners
Doug Benc/Getty Images
Rode hard and put up wet.
That must be how the Oklahoma Sooners feel after escaping the huge underdogs of Utah State, 31-24 on Saturday.
Maybe the spirit of Utah State's greatest player ever, the late Merlin Olsen, was present for his Aggies.
The impressive Florida State Seminoles come to Norman, Oklahoma this weekend fresh off a 53 point victory.
But before Sooner fans throw in the towel for 2010, please consider a reflection of the 2006 season, and take heart.
Just four years ago the Sooners opened the year with a paltry seven point victory over the UAB Blazers.
Oklahoma went on to win the Big 12 that year, earning their ticket to the Fiesta Bowl.
It is quite possible the same thing can happen again.
Remember, Oklahoma Coach Bob Stoops knows a frown is just a smile turned upside down.
No.2: LSU Tigers
As much as Bayou Bengal fans like to think of LSU as "Upset Central" of the SEC, that title really belongs only when the Tigers are under the lights in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
Get these big cats away from home, or even out in the daylight, and they are nowhere as fearsome.
It wasn't always this way but, the latest generation of fans in the bayou have lived with the knowledge every lead is precarious.
LSU was up to its old tricks on Saturday night in Atlanta, Georgia. Leading by 20 points in the second half, the Tigers ended up defeating North Carolina by a score of 30-24.
Ho hum, the Louisiana State followers do like their games exciting, and head coach Les Miles is just the man to see that happens.
The post-baby boomer Tiger fans have only been witness to such wild affairs, these irritating lapses in concentration which led to shocking turnarounds and unexpected results over the past 30 years.
There once was a simpler rule of thumb in Baton Rouge, during the Coach Charlie McClendon era at LSU from 1962 to 1979. If Cholly Mac's Tigers grabbed the lead, they generally won the game.
It was a comfortable feeling, the conservative ground attack and dominating defense simply wearing out the opposition who eventually surrendered their will to win. It was boring, but incredibly effective.
Does the closeness of the final score in Atlanta indicate any weakness or trouble for LSU this season?
Take for instance the 2005 campaign, a highly touted LSU opened the season with a paltry four point win over Arizona State and confidence dropped in the state once ruled by "Cousin Huey."
The Tigers improved each week and won the SEC west division.
Lightning can strike twice you know.
No.3: Texas Longhorns
Bob Levey/Getty Images
If there has been a less impressive debut recently than the newly emphasized rushing game of Texas, it does not come readily to mind.
The Longhorn running backs manufactured 171 yards on 42 carries against the Owls of Rice.
Not bad, but surely not the near-wishbone numbers expected against a team who failed to rank in the nation's top 100 in rushing defense last year.
Texas quarterback Garrett Gilbert, already known sarcastically among his Big 12 brethren as "Gilbert Grape," is a young sophomore who seemed willing to put forth a good faith effort to replace the graduated star of 2009, "Kid" Colt McCoy.
In leading Texas to a 34-17 win over Rice, Gilbert produced an acceptable performance as the latest in the storied history of Longhorn quarterbacks.
But, when you are in the recent company of James Brown, Vince Young, and Major Applewhite there is bound to be a lot of pressure to produce.
Are there large celebrations in Austin, Texas?
The fans of the burnt orange are more than likely breathing a sigh of relief.
As Texas coach Mack Brown allowed following the effort in Houston, "a win is a win."
Before the followers of "UT" believe the 2010 season may be less than expected, consider a review of the year 1999.
Texas lost to N.C. State in the first game.
And then, the Longhorns went on to win the Big 12 south division.
What does that prove?
It proves you can't judge a team by the first game of the year.
No.4: Florida Gators
Sam Greenwood/Getty Images
What is worse, dreary or dreadful?
It doesn't matter as coach Urban Meyer's Florida Gators were both on Saturday afternoon against the 30 point underdog Miami RedHawks from the Mid-American Conference.
Florida managed to win the game, at home in Gainesville, 34-12.
The Gators won on the strength of a paralyzing defense who gave up only four yards total on the ground while picking off four RedHawk passes.
The defense is as good as advertised, in other words, it may be the best defense in the country.
The offense has a long way to go before it can be talked about as being good enough.
154 yards rushing on 27 attempts is not the type of running game Florida must have to win the SEC. It is not indicative of an attack who can produce greater numbers against defenses in the conference.
New Gator quarterback John Brantley completed 17 passes for 113 yards. We can only assume he was intending to throw the ball forward, past the Miami defensive line.
Florida's offense provided an inept performance in the first game of the year but, does that mean the prideful Gators will continue down this road?
Look back at the 2002 and 2003 seasons in Gainesville to see how easily one can be fooled into a false sense by what an opening game indicates.
The Gators began those years with 48 and 62 point victories but, ended each with five losses.
Coach Meyer just hopes the reverse is also true.