Sweaty Men Endeavors

The sports blog with the slightly gay name

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

The Gator Chomp of Affirmation

Oh, right - so that's why they play the game. Wow.

As if I didn't already feel foolish enough for protesting Florida's bid for the national championship game after Michigan's performance in the Rose Bowl, the Gators' upset annihilation of Ohio State has me reassessing whether or not I actually know anything about college football.

41-14. And it wasn't even that close. I know you can't take away Ted Ginn's touchdown to begin the game. It obviously counts. But when you consider that the Buckeyes offense only managed seven points on the Gator defense, the result seems that much more shocking.

The idea that I or anyone else briefly considered that the game might be an Ohio State rout, with Ginn scoring so quickly, seemed utterly laughable just minutes later when Florida scorched right down the field to tie the game.

And that's really as close as this ever was. Didn't Jim Tressel seem to concede the game by opting to go for it on 4th-and-1 from his own 29-yard-line? You expect that kind of play-calling from a Detroit Lions coach. It was only a 10-point game at that point, but Tressel's decision acknowledged how desperate the situation had become.

Was Tressel thinking he had to get some more points before halftime? Was he trying to keep his defense off the field? If so, he ended up applying more pressure by giving Florida the ball 29 yards away from the end zone. Who the hell knows? I'm not even sure Tressel does right now. Fortunately, Ohio State only yielded a field goal, which prevented the decision from completely exploding in his face. But that was really besides the point. This thing was over.

Unless you were a Gators fan or some kind of Buckeyes masochist, I'm not sure why you tuned in for the second half. Well, I kept watching. But I wanted to see if Florida might post 60 on the scoreboard. It certainly looked possible.

Florida's game plan was simply masterful. It was like Urban Meyer and his staff had spent the past five weeks locked away in a situation room with transparent dry-erase boards, radar screens, sophisticated super jumbo computers, and three-dimensional digital schematics turning back and forth on high-definition monitors. Meanwhile, back in Columbus, Tressel and crew were in smoky offices, watching grainy film from rickety projectors and mapping out plays on chalkboards.

The Gators had an answer for everything. On offense, a receiver was open on seemingly every play, and Chris Leak calmly found him for a big gain. Over on defense, linebackers and defensive ends rocketed past blockers - if they were blocked at all - and were in Troy Smith's face before he could even complete his dropback.

Could you have blamed Smith if he'd left his Heisman Trophy on the field, shrieked "Here! Take it!" and just run back to Columbus to hide? Was this really the same guy that looked oh-so-unbeatable this season - especially against Michigan? Not when he was battered around like a pinball. Even when he had time in the pocket (which was rare), Smith rushed his throws in anticipation of the pressure.

Had we really been poking fun at Meyer over the past month-and-a-half for his campaigning and politicking? "Urban Cryer"? "Urban Whiner"? Holy $#!+, are you kidding? Sure, I was hoping that Ohio State would wipe that pompous smirk right off his face. Too bad he smacked us right in the mouth, essentially giving the finger to anyone and everyone who dared question his team's bona fides. This was the sweetest affirmation for Meyer, who showed that he belongs among those master tacticians who can come up with anything, given a month to prepare.

Also drinking the wine of affirmation was Leak, who'd spent much of the past two years as the proverbial square peg trying to fit into a round hole. It never seemed like he was the right guy for Meyer's rootin'-tootin'-spread-option scheme. There has been plenty written about how the coach had to shake his quarterback out of his comfort zone to make him a better leader and teammate. And this year, Leak had the added pressure of staving off the chosen one, Tim Tebow. But he held his ground and asserted himself, living up to the promise he showed throughout his career in Gainesville. It was the kind of ending you love to see for a guy like this, who just clamped down on his mouthpiece and kept fighting.

So I'm done. My hands are held up in surrender. The white flag is waving. I feel like a jackass for ever expressing outrage that voters put Florida in the national title game by finding reasons not to support Michigan, rather than touting the Gators' virtues. Such arguments seem incredibly foolish today. I'd better start studying for next season. These BCS match-ups have shown me I still have a lot of learning to do about college football. And that's what makes this thing so fun. If we knew how it was all going to turn out, why would we bother watching?

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  • At January 09, 2007 10:12 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    So what does that say about Lloyd Carr who can't hold Tressels jock?

    - hitman

  • At January 09, 2007 12:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    You're an honest man who faces reality when he sees it. The world needs more.

    An SEC fan.

  • At January 09, 2007 1:02 PM, Blogger Jason Kersey said…

    Hey man don't feel too bad, I guaranteed that Oklahoma would blow Boise State out only to see them get upset. I don't think anyone expected what happened last night, even Gator fans.

  • At January 09, 2007 1:55 PM, Blogger Krimson Monk said…

    As a Big Ten fan I was shocked, but Floridas talent was superior. It's amzing how great a coach looks when they have better players.


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