By KENNY FRANEK
New season, same story. After Oklahoma and Florida were selected to play for the national championship the debate began: did the BCS select the two most worthy teams to play for the title? Well, let's just say the computers could have done worse. Oklahoma and Florida were the two hottest teams at the end of the season. Here are the cases for both teams…and for the team that was left on the outside looking in.
Oklahoma rattled off seven straight wins after losing to Texas. They put together a streak of five straight games scoring 60-plus points to end the season and over the course of the season, they never scored less than 35 points in a game. To top it off, they set a new NCAA FBS record for the most points scored in a season. It goes without saying that they were number one in points scored per game at 54. Their downfall was their defense, ranked 65th in the nation overall.
Florida put together a streak of nine straight wins to end their season, pummeling their opponents by an average of 34.4 points per game during that span. They allowed more than 21 points only once all season – in their loss to Ole Miss. While the Gators’ defense was good — ninth in the nation — their offense was even more impressive, ranking fourth overall in scoring with 45.2 points per game.
Then there was the team that defeated Oklahoma only to be left asking, "What about us?" The Texas Longhorns ranked 50th in total defense and 5th in the nation in scoring, putting up 43.9 points per game. Those are similar numbers to Oklahoma’s, which might explain why their game with the Sooners was so close. Unfortunately for them, their one loss came relatively late in the season to Texas Tech. The Horns did not have enough time to recover and put a solid win streak together (three games) at the end of the season like Florida and Oklahoma did following their losses. Instead, the Texas loss stayed fresh in the voters’ minds and hurt them in the BCS rankings.
So here we are. After all the debates and dissection of the one-loss teams, we have Florida vs. Oklahoma in the national championship game. There are two main questions to be asked of this game:
1) Can Florida's tenacious defense stop Oklahoma's prolific offense?
2) Can Oklahoma's defense slow down Florida's offense enough to outscore them?
Either way you look at it the key to the game is defense. Whichever defense plays well enough to contain the other's offense will likely win the title. It should be a shootout and a title game for the ages – the BCS appears to have gotten one right for a change.
Photo Credit: SEC Sports Media, OU Athletics Department
Monday, December 15, 2008
By KENNY FRANEK