It is finally Friday. For some of us it is a long weekend with Monday being Columbus Day! I am sure Sports Geek and Bleacher Fan have to work on Monday, so pick on them if you have Monday off! As for this weekend, I will be at Doak Campbell Stadium in Tallahassee to watch a live soap opera unfold before my eyes when the much maligned Florida State Seminoles welcome the Yellow Jackets of Georgia Tech to town. We all know that Florida-LSU is THE game of the week. It is too obvious, though, so we are all are staying away from it. Outside of that game, I think that the best game of THIS weekend will take place in Oxford, Mississippi when the Alabama Crimson Tide take on the Mississippi Rebels.
A quick look at the SEC standings show the Tide with a 2-0 record in conference (a half-game behind 3-0 LSU) while Ole Miss stands at 1-1, with the loss coming 15 days ago against South Carolina.
I must say that the Crimson Tide have totally surprised me. I thought they would struggle. Granted, the only ranked team it has played to this point is Virginia Tech, but, the Tide have looked impressive – even downright dominant – at times. Even though the Tide are ranked third, I think it is possible to say they are being overlooked a little on the national level. I think we all know which team gets all the headlines in the Southeastern Conference. Tide quarterback Greg McElroy, in quite a shock to Loyal Homer, could actually end up being an upgrade over John Parker Wilson. And on defense, the team is still anchored by one of my favorite college players, Terrence “Mount” Cody.
Ole Miss comes into the game on the heels of a 23-7 victory over Vanderbilt. Do not laugh! It is not uncommon for teams to struggle on road trips to Nashville. Still, what lingers in the mind of most of the country is a pitiful performance in Columbia against the Gamecocks in a nationally televised Thursday night game. Ole Miss does not get on national television much, and it is fair to say the team laid the proverbial egg that night. Quarterback Jevon Snead, for all the preseason hype he had coming in, has been a bust to this point. This game is a chance for Ole Miss to get back on the national radar and climb back into the SEC West. It is a must win for the Rebels if they are entertaining any thoughts of an SEC championship. And believe me, that was the goal coming into the season.
With games still against LSU and Auburn, this is a big game for both the Rebels and the Tide. The SEC West is shaping up to be the best division in all of football, with LSU, Auburn, Alabama, and Ole Miss combining for only one loss at this point. The winner of the battle in Oxford ends up with a leg up on the rest of the division. The loser – especially if it is Ole Miss – faces a steep uphill climb to make it to Atlanta in December!
Guys and gals, when we starting talking about pre-season polls, you know college football season is approaching.
Bleacher Fan poses an interesting question for us. Basically, I must get into the mind of a college football pollster and decide what the best mind frame is when constructing a pre-season poll. Should a pollster vote with the end of the season in mind, or should they vote based on how good they think a team will be at the beginning of the season? Without a doubt, the pollster should vote based on the beginning of the season.
Bleacher Fan alluded to this in the intro, but I want to take it a step further. Georgia was the pre-season number one team last year, and with good reason. They returned pre-season Heisman contenders in quarterback Matthew Stafford and running back Knoshown Moreno. Georgia ended the previous season by whipping a hapless Hawaii team 41-10 in the Sugar Bowl. Coming off the season they had in 2007, Georgia deserved to be ranked number one during the pre-season. The consensus was that it would be extremely difficult for Georgia to finish the season as champions. When prognosticators were giving their BCS Championship predictions last July, Georgia was rarely mentioned. Why, you ask? Because the schedule was absolutely daunting! Road trips to South Carolina, Arizona State, LSU, and Auburn added to home games against Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky, and Georgia Tech. Not to mention the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party down in Jacksonville against the mighty Florida Gators (politically correct or not, that’s what everyone in the South still calls it). That still leaves out a possible SEC championship game. Looking at that schedule before the season, most folks outside of Athens – and even some of in Athens – agreed that it was going to be extremely difficult to finish number one. But, going into the season, based on how they finished the previous season and who they had returning, Georgia was a very deserving number one in the pre-season.
As Bleacher Fan said, circumstances often come up that change how the best football team is determined, or even how a mid-level team is perceived. Maybe injuries pop up. Maybe the quarterback gets kicked off the team for not “earning” his money at his “job” (see Rhett Bomar). Maybe a star player gets a DUI and his playing status is thrown into question (see Mississippi State running back Anthony Dixon). These things are absolutely impossible to predict. There’s just no way. If a pollster really knows for certain who is going to be number one at the end of the season, please send them to my home. I’d love to have a chat with them. I’ll even give them a dollar to go buy me a lottery ticket. As my father likes to say, “I don’t have to win the lottery but one time, you know!
I also like to know that if my team finishes the previous season well, I’ve got a pretty good chance to see them in the pre-season rankings. It seems like every year Clemson would be ranked in the pre-season thanks to a strong late season push. But, that would be followed by a mediocre start to the next season (sorry, Sports Geek!). At least they had the pre-season polls to look forward to every year.