Why there can't be a Bama-LSU rematch

Posted Nov 8, 2011

Cavalcade, Part 2 - 10 reasons why there can't be an Alabama-LSU rematch

Cavalcade of Whimsy

Nov. 8, 2011, Part 2

Past Cavalcades
- 2008 Season | 2009 Season | 2010 Season   

- Part 1. Penn State's nightmare 
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The C.O.W. airing of the grievances followed by the feats of strength
Ten reasons why there can't be an Alabama vs. LSU rematch for the national championship – and cheerfully ignore this if Oklahoma State and/or Stanford finish unbeaten …

10. Nebraska of 2001
It's not a written rule, or even an unwritten one, that you have to win your own division to play for the national title, but it should be. It really isn't that hard a concept, but I've had some of my biggest e-mail debates over the years about it. In a sport without a true playoff system, and with the Every Week Is A Playoff cliché, if you're not good enough to win your own division, let alone your own conference, theoretically, that means you're not good enough to deserve to be named the best team in the country.

In 2001, Nebraska was rolling towards a chance to play for the national title, cranking out an 11-0 record with few scares along the road. And then came Chris Brown and Colorado on the Thanksgiving weekend Friday, and one 62-38 loss later, Nebraska appeared to be out of the mix. But Texas gagged away the Big 12 title game to the Buffs, and Tennessee choked away its opportunity in the SEC championship, allowing Nebraska to play for the national title despite not earning the honor of being the best team in the Big 12, or even the best team in the Big 12 North. The Huskers went on to get drilled 37-14 by Miami.

9. Is the SEC worthy of two teams playing for it all?
In most years the SEC is the best conference in college football with the two best teams – like Florida and Alabama in 2009 – worthy of playing off in a national championship-caliber game. The Gators and the Tide played two games good enough to be title-worthy in 2008 and 2009, and LSU and Alabama appeared to play one at the same championship level on Saturday night. Arkansas is good, beating Texas A&M early on and whacking South Carolina last week to earn the honor of being no worse than the league's third best team, but the rest of the SEC stinks. This year, even though LSU and Alabama might be the two best teams in America, the conference isn't worthy of putting two teams into the title game.

No one can play any consistent offense; the quarterback play across the board has been mediocre at best, miserable as the norm; and the league needs to come up with some big wins over the ACC to save face after such a dud of a campaign. The Big 12 is the best conference in the nation 1-through-9, with Kansas out of that mix, and outside of the two killers up top, the SEC isn't playing at a higher level than the ACC, Big 12, or Pac-12. This season, winning the SEC title isn't as big as it normally is.

8. 2006 Michigan vs. Ohio State
College football doesn't always follow precedent, but it has a case to fall back on. In 2006, the winner of No. 1 Ohio State vs. No. 2 Michigan was the rock-solid, no-brainer, best team in college football. This was before the SEC went on its tremendous run of national championships, and if you remember, it was a foregone conclusion that Ohio State was going to win it all after beating Michigan in an epic 42-39 shootout. Florida came in and ripped up a fat and happy Buckeye team, while Michigan went on to lose to USC in the Rose Bowl. Had the Buckeyes and Wolverines played a rematch – which would've been far more acceptable than 2011 LSU vs. Alabama, considering the road team, Michigan, lost be three – Florida wouldn't have shown it was the best team in college football. It's just assumed that LSU is the best team and Alabama is a field goal behind, but bowls have a way of shocking and surprising sometimes, like …

7. 2008 Alabama
2008 USC had some claim to being in the national title discussion, Oklahoma went on an epic offensive run, and Utah was unbeaten, but the winner of the Florida-Alabama showdown in the SEC championship was widely considered to be the best team in college football. Even with Florida's loss to Ole Miss, leading to the Tim Tebow "Promise" speech, the team was a juggernaut, coming back in the fourth quarter to put away the unbeaten and No. 1-ranked Tide. There was little thought to a rematch, with Oklahoma, Utah, and USC all in a position to play the Gators, and Alabama showed it didn't deserve one with a clunker of a 31-17 loss to a fired up Utah in the Sugar Bowl. Did Tebow take the heart out of the Tide, yeah, but Utah took advantage of its chance at a big boy, and it's not a sure thing that a Boise State or Oklahoma State couldn't do the same thing because …

6. Alabama just might not be all that great
Arkansas can throw a forward pass. That's the only offense the Tide has faced with any semblance of an air show, and it hasn't played anyone with any offensive balance. Penn State can run the ball, but there's no passing game to worry about, and LSU was as one-dimensional as it gets when Jordan Jefferson came in. Isn't it just possible that the Tide defensive stats are so great because the opposing offenses have been awful? Yes, and Alabama's defense might be that great, too, but overall, facing Kent State, North Texas, at Florida, Vanderbilt, at Ole Miss, and Tennessee might as well be a Boise State slate, while the Arkansas game was at home and Penn State doesn't have a passing attack. Fine, so Alabama is really, really good, but it might be the third best team in the nation.

5. A rematch won't prove anything
I only continue to bring this up because I've had to debate this point in several times and several ways over the last 72 hours. If LSU beats Alabama in a rematch, yippee. LSU is the better team, but we knew that already. If Alabama beats LSU in a rematch, it means that the series is tied 1-1 with LSU coming up with the stronger of the two victories. LSU winning at Alabama trumps anything the Tide could do in the BCS Championship. The puzzle of the 2011 college football season wouldn't be solved in any way with any outcome in a rematch.

4. You really want to do this again?
The 9-6 overtime defensive battle was certainly dramatic and gripping, but so was 127 Hours. One viewing was enough for both of them.

Do you really want to sit though more failed passes down the field? Do we need 60+ minutes of field position battles? A game doesn't have to have 1,100 yards of total offense to be interesting, but Kansas State vs. Oklahoma State was a whole bunch of fun.

After the two weeks of Super Bowl-like hype and hyperbole, LSU vs. Alabama has been done. six weeks of preparation and speculation for a rematch would be sheer torture – sorry, the media side of me is coming out – and the game would likely be met with a collective yawn from the rest of the sports world that's not really that into a January 9th national title date as is.

3. Bowl rematches aren't as much fun as they seem
It's like telling the same story twice; it's just never as good the second time around.

In 1996, 10-0 Florida State battered and bruised Danny Wuerffel and 10-0 in a 24-21 win. In today's day and age of the BCS, the unbeaten Seminoles would've played Jake Plummer's undefeated Arizona State team for the national title, but back then, the Pac-10 champion played the Big Ten champion in the Rose Bowl no matter what, and after Florida beat Alabama in the SEC championship, it was Arizona State vs. Ohio State in the Rose and Florida vs. Florida State in the Sugar. ASU lost on a late Buckeye rally, and Florida blew past Florida State 52-20 in the rematch to back its way into Steve Spurrier's only national title.

In 1994, Florida State and Florida played to a classic 31-31 tie, known as the Choke at the Doak, with the Seminoles scoring 28 fourth quarter points to salvage a moral win. The issue was settled in the Sugar Bowl with a 23-17 FSU win in the rematch, but it was a flat game considering how great the first one was.

In 1978, Nebraska beat Oklahoma 17-14 to screw up the Sooners' perfect season. The two played again in the Orange Bowl with OU winning 31-24, taking the luster off the huge rivalry win for the Huskers. In 2003, Miami beat Florida State in Tallahassee 22-14, but that wasn't enough as the Orange Bowl wanted the two Florida teams, with the Canes winning the rematch 16-14, again, taking some of the charm away from the earlier road victory.

2. A rematch means the BCS voters don't have to think
It's way too simple to believe LSU and Alabama are the two best teams in the country, therefore they should play again after such a dead-even game the first time around. That would be the cut-and-dry easy answer for the voters in the coaches' and Harris polls, but what about Oregon? What if the Ducks win out and go 12-1; don't they deserve a rematch with LSU as much as Alabama does? How about a one-loss Oklahoma if the offense has everything cranked up, and with wins over Florida State, Texas, Texas A&M, and Oklahoma State on the résumé? Should 12-0 Boise State finally get its shot over a one-loss Tide, or how about a one-loss, ACC champion Clemson, who's lone gaffe came against the quirky Georgia Tech knuckleball? With the Tigers' athleticism, would it be a lock that LSU wins the national title in a walk? There could be so many other options out there that would make the 2011 season feel more complete, since we don't have a playoff. Because we don't have a playoff …

1. The regular season has to matter
LSU vs. Alabama was a really big deal and was really fun because it was a regular season game. It was for the division, possibly the conference, and possibly the national title. The regular season is college football, and while a four or eight-team playoff wouldn't kill that, there isn't one in place so we all have to go by what happened on the field. LSU beat Alabama at Alabama. That matters, and the integrity of the season would be ruined if the two went at it again, devaluing the importance of the first game. Oregon vs. Stanford this week is like a playoff game, as will TCU vs. Boise State. Oklahoma vs. Oklahoma State will probably be almost as big as LSU vs. Bama if the Sooners and Cowboys have one loss between them, and that's what makes college football, college football. Playing LSU vs. Alabama again is a cop out, and it's ignoring what has already happened. Play it again, and the next time there's a big game all the talk might be about a rematch, again.

Random Acts of Nutty … Provocative musings and tidbits to make every woman want you and every man want to be you (or vice versa) a.k.a. things I didn't feel like writing bigger blurbs for.

- Why does Kellen Moore deserve more Heisman respect? He's once again putting up tremendous numbers and leading his team to another great season despite a mediocre receiving corps to throw to. The loss of Austin Pettis and Titus Young hasn't been played up enough.

- It was National College Football Day on November 5th. Sorry I didn't get you anything.

- It's not going to happen, but considering the problems Oklahoma State had with Kansas State QB Collin Klein, keep an eye on the drop to Iowa State in a few weeks. Cyclone QB Jared Barnett could give the Cowboys fits.

C.O.W. shameless gimmick item … The weekly five Overrated/Underrated aspects of the world
1) Overrated: Playing Harvard … Underrated: The Rhodes Scholarship
2) Overrated: Marquel Wade vs. Jonathan Krause … Underrated: Tyrann Mathieu vs. Dre Kirkpatrick
3) Overrated: Houston Nutt ... Underrated: David Cutcliffe
4) Overrated: Suck For Luck ... Underrated: Jonesing For Jones
5) Overrated: Big 12 staying at ten ... Underrated: A nine-team Big 12 in 2012

"If it were me, I'd bet everything. But that's me. I'm an aggressive gambler. Mr. Vegas. Come on. Go for it. Go for it. Yes, yes, there we go. I'm in."

1) Michigan -1 over Illinois
2) San Jose State +10 over Utah State (but not to win outright)
3) Auburn +13.5 over Georgia (but not to win outright)
- Record So Far: 13-7 SU, 11-9 ATS

If the college football season ended right now, this would be my Heisman ballot cast for the Most Outstanding College Football Player in the United States for 2011 … 1 1) QB Brandon Weeden, Oklahoma State, 2) QB Andrew Luck, Stanford, 3) QB Kellen Moore, Boise State

Sorry this column sucked, it wasn't my fault … I threw two bad picks and was replaced. Fortunately, the column got the win.

- Part 1. Penn State's nightmare