Last Season’s Final Statistics Show How the Nation’s Top Five Teams Can Be Beat

Last Season’s Final Statistics Show How the Nation’s Top Five Teams Can Be Beat

It is not often when the coaches and the media agree on their opinion of who should be in the preseason Top 25 college football surveys, but this year at the minimum their Top 5 picks are mirror images-Florida (1), Texas (2), Oklahoma (3), Southern California (4) and Alabama (5).

Of a possible 60 first-place votes in the media’s AP Top 25 Poll, Florida collected 58 votes and Texas 2, setting a record (96+%) for the most first-place votes since the poll was first started in 1950, long before there were ever Bowl Championship Series (BCS) games.

Florida is such an overwhelming favorite that one might think there is no need to play the games this year, since the Gators will probably run the table (go unbeaten). This, of course, is sheer nonsense.

Florida won the National Championship for the 2006 and 2008 seasons and, if it repeats during 2009, the Gators would become only the second team to do so since Nebraska won the National Championship 3 out of 4 years, winning the title outright in 1994 and 1995, and splitting the title in 1997.

However, going unbeaten to do so is thoroughly another matter. It is tough to go undefeated in a major conference, and then win the national title.

For openers, only one team (Utah at 13-0) went undefeated last season, and that happened because Utah does not play in a major conference. It the Utes played in the SEC, Pacific 10, Big 12 or Big Ten Conferences, there is no way they would be undefeated.

Florida, Southern Cal and Texas all lost a game last season. Oklahoma and Alabama were beaten twice.

You may be interested to know that the best team in the nation statistically last year was not Florida, which won the National Championship by beating Oklahoma 24-14, but rather Southern Cal. That’s right, USC. Maybe that is why Florida won; they were playing Oklahoma and not Southern Cal for the title.

Oklahoma had a great offensive team-ranking 1st nationally in scoring (51+ points), 3rd in passing offense (349+ yards per game) and 3rd in total offense (547+), but the Sooner defense was nothing to get excited about. They were 99th in pass defense, 68th in total defense and 58th scoring defense. There are only 119 BCS (Division 1-A) teams.

Florida’s pass defense was ranked 20th, and the Gators held Oklahoma to only 14 points, despite Oklahoma having the No. 1 scoring offense in the country. Shoot, the Sooners scored 51 points a game but gave up 24 a game, exactly what Florida scored to win the title. The Gators were ranked 4th in scoring defense, giving up only 13 (12.93) points a game. That shows you how accurate averaged statistics can be over the time of a season.

Texas was horrific in passing defense, ranking 104th of 119 teams. You may ingemination that Texas Tech beat Texas last year 39-33 on a pass play by NFL first-round pick Michael Crabtree. Texas A&M got swamped by Texas last year 49-9, in part because Texas A&M’s passing defense was ranked 95th, only slightly better than Texas, which had the 7th best passing offense.

Alabama was 7th in scoring offense last year, but its passing offense was 97th (yikes) and its total offense was only 63rd. The Crimson Tide defense won most of their games, ranking 2nd in rushing defense, 3rd in total defense and 7th in scoring defense. Sounds a whole lot like their coach Nick Seban.

So what is the big deal with Southern Cal? Well, its offense was pretty balanced, ranking 22nd in rushing, passing and scoring. The defense was the best in the nation, ranking 1st in passing defense and 1st in scoring defense, 2nd in total defense, and 5th in rushing defense.

Think about it, leading the nation in 2 defensive categories and being among the top 5 in rushing and passing defense, total defense and scoring defense. USC’s one loss came on the road at Oregon State, 27-21.

Was USC unfairly penalized by the pollsters when selecting the BCS title game participants? I think so. Heck, Alabama lost 31-20 to Florida on the road, so the Gators deserved a shot.

But Oklahoma? Get real. The Sooners lost to Texas at home, 45-35. Just the score of the game itself makes you shiver, 80 points between them, as opposed to 48 points between USC and Oregon State, and USC was on the road. If Oklahoma thinks Oregon State (9-4 last year) was a pushover, they should play the Beavers at home, where they were 5-1, losing only to Oregon.

So what does it all average? Well, Oklahoma was the best offensive team in the country last year, and Southern Cal was the best defensive team; there is no argument when you look at the statistics.

Despite being the best offensive team in the country, Oklahoma could not beat Florida, losing 24-14. Southern Cal, which dispatched No. 6 Penn State 31-16, in the BCS Rose Bowl Game, might well have held Florida to fewer than 24 points. We will never know.

What we do know is that Southern Cal had a better passing offense, a more balanced offense, and a much better passing defense than Florida.

There is a reason why the Sagarin College Football Ratings show Southern Cal, not Florida, as the top team in its 2009 preseason poll. That reason is because the ratings are based on last year’s actual statistics and results, not opinion.

As I see it, Florida was fortunate that it faced Oklahoma, which has lost 4 of its last 5 BCS games. In other words, lame like Ohio State, which has lost two straight BCS National Championship Games to Florida and LSU in 2006 and 2007, and then lost again to Texas in its BCS game last year.

Let’s just say it-the East Coast bias among coaches and media is really bad. Two factors excursion this inequity. One is population as 58% of the people (approximately 175 of 300 million) live on the East Coast. The second is the time difference as the West Coast is 3 hours behind the East Coast.

When media types get done watching football games Saturday around 10:30 p.m. EST, meaningful games are just beginning on the West Coast and are never seen by poll voters. They are overwhelmed with watching East Coast football, and keep a servant slave to it.

If the powers to be had any size grapefruits at all, when Florida got rid of Oklahoma, their next assignment for the national title should have been Southern Cal, and then we would have seen the rubber hit the road.

Copyright © 2009 Ed Bagley

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