Many fans evaluate a particular team or program based on its recent achievements, like winning a specific conference or a national title. Although I don’t have a problem with this per say, I don’t like it when I hear things like Nebraska couldn’t even beat a high school team today, Oklahoma is “Choker U”, Michigan is no longer the king of college football, or Ohio State has no heart and can’t win a big game, and that these programs are no longer “elite”. There’s more to these programs than the last several seasons that still make them elite today, and each have already accomplished more than most other programs in college football ever will. I truly believe there is a southern bias within the media that causes a lot of this, and it has only come about within the BCS era, or near the tail end of the bowl alliance in the 90’s. The myth that programs in the south have an advantage over the rest of the nation’s programs due to speedy athletes is another one that mind boggles me. All of this is just pure myth, and the media mass-feeds it to fans year after year. You’ll find players just as talented and fast in every region of the country, to include the midwest and the north. I heard just yesterday on ESPN during a college football segment, Brent Musburger made a comment that the SEC is the best football conference in 2009. Hey Brent, the pigskin hasn’t even been snapped yet! Its comments like these that get fans going.
There’s no doubt Ohio State has faced a lot of scrutiny the past several years as a result of losing national titles to Florida and LSU, and a few other high profile games. I’ve heard it all from Ohio State didn’t deserve to be there to Ohio State players don’t have the heart or desire to win big games. I’ve even heard talk about how Ohio State didn’t deserve to win the national title in 2002, after they beat a team (fair and square) that dominated it’s opponents that season by an average score of 42-18. Instead of complaining why Ohio State was overrated and didn’t belong in the 2007 national title game, look at the reason(s) why they got there. In the case of 2007, teams that probably should have been playing for a title lost big games at the end of the season which in-turn prevented their appearance. Missouri and West Virginia seem to come to my mind. Talk about Ohio State losing big games. LSU probably shouldn’t have been there either. Oklahoma has had their fair share of scrutiny as well, if not more than OSU. The fact of the matter is Oklahoma has won more games than 118 other FBS programs during the BCS era. I sure don’t hear them getting any credit for accomplishing that. Way to go Sooners! I’ve also heard how people wish Oklahoma and Ohio State could play in a bowl game…to determine the real “Choker U” for the decade, and that they’d have to call it the Choker Bowl. How demeaning and disrespectful is that? What we’d actually have is two of the nation’s top five winningest programs in the BCS era squaring off. It would, without doubt, be one of the best and most entertaining games of the decade. Perhaps this game is well overdue.
Ohio State has lost against the following teams in high profile games: 2005 to #1 Texas, 2005 to #3 Penn State, 2006 to #1 Florida, 2007 to #1 LSU, 2008 to #2 USC, 2008 to #8 Penn State, and the last loss to #3 Texas in the ’09 Fiesta Bowl. Ohio State has a record of 43-8 since 2005, with the eighth loss to #18 Illinois in 2007. Between the 1998 and 2004 seasons, Ohio State posted a 65-22 record which includes a 4-2 bowl record. The four wins were in high profile BCS bowl games. So since 1998, Ohio State has enjoyed a 108-30 overall record…5th best in the nation. 2002 was a national championship season for the Buckeyes.
Oklahoma has lost against the following teams in high profile games: 2005 to #1 Texas, 2007 to #6 Boise State, 2008 to #6 West Virginia, 2008 to #3 Texas, and finally to #1 Florida in the ’08 BCS title game. Oklahoma is 42-12 since 2005 and lost five other games to teams season-ranked at #9, #13, #19, #13, and #23. The other two losses were to unranked teams on the road. Between the 1998-2004 seasons, Oklahoma had accumulated 72 wins and just 18 losses to include a 3-3 bowl record. Since 1998, their record stands at 114-30…tied for 2nd best nationally. 2000 was a national championship season for the Sooners.
The programs that have been on top as of late, Florida and LSU. Both with two crystal balls since 2003, and Florida is eyeing their third in four seasons. That is just incredible! The only other program in FBS college football history to claim three national titles in a four year span is Nebraska. Florida definitely has the ingredients within their ’09 squad to follow in those footsteps, and make their own history in college football. But both of these programs have suffered failures, just like Ohio State and Oklahoma have the past few seasons. I have a ton of respect for the programs at LSU and Florida, but I use them as my example because they have been on top the past few seasons, and they are current in the fan’s mind. Sometimes it sucks being the best. Ohio State and Oklahoma fans know where you’re coming from. First off I can guarantee no program has faced the gauntlet of opponents Ohio State has since 2005. Name one program that has faced three season-ranked #1 teams, a season-ranked #2 team, two #3 season-ranked teams, and a #8 season-ranked team and nine game-ranked top five-ranked opponents with all but one of them ranked #1, #2, or #3 in the last four seasons. I can name the only one…Ohio State. Yes, I know, Ohio State has lost to the last five of these opponents. Okay, now check this out: Florida can claim losses in six consecutive tries in games against top 10 opponents during the 1999-2000 seasons. It happened again 2003 through 2005, this time five consecutive losses to top 10 programs. Many in Gator Nation will claim it was Zook’s fault all of this happened. But let’s go back a little further…to the Spurrier years. During the 1992-93 seasons, Florida lost four consecutive games to top 10 opponents. And let’s not forget about that barn burner of a game in Tempe back in 1996, against Nebraska. I think the final score was something in the area of 62-24. See, not even Florida is immune to consecutive losses in high profile games, but that’s okay. Every program has, and will go through spells like this. LSU...man I have to make a game in Death Valley one of these days. That atmosphere at night must be electrifying! LSU has lost some consecutive high profile games themselves. During the 1998 through 2001 seasons, LSU lost five consecutive high profile matchups. They lost three more during the 2004 season. I don’t think they are blaming any particular coach though. I know LSU fans want to forget about last season, and look ahead to the success LSU might have in ’09. Don’t’ get me wrong, I like LSU. I will definitely make one of those night games…maybe even this year. Anyone have tickets to the Florida game they want to be rid of? I like Florida too, and would like to attend a matchup in the Swamp one day as well. Too bad Mr. Two-Bits isn’t around anymore. I would have liked to meet him. What a dandy he was! Good luck to the Gators this season, as they try to make college football history.
Folks, I could go on and on with this. I can take the nation’s top 10 programs over the last 20 seasons and find where they didn’t quite perform to expectations in consecutive high profile matchups. No program is immune. So why don’t we lay off Ohio State and Oklahoma…because the next team these guys could beat might be your favorite team. Then what?
I’ll apologize right now, in the case I offended any Florida or LSU fans/alum. Like I said, those programs are on top of the world right now and this is why I used them as examples. Any Sooner or Buckeye will tell you, sometimes it sucks being at the top. Just enjoy your time there, because the history of sports surely teaches us that it won’t last long. Then after the dust settles, we’ll have another predicament to talk about.
The new season is right around the corner. Let's enjoy it, and show good fansmanship.