VETTEL: Week Ten Musings

The BCS will take center stage this week as the debate will rage on about the relative merits of an undefeated Big East teams compared to a one-loss team from the SEC, Big Ten, or Big 12. While that debate is relatively meaningless until December third, it won’t stop pundits from carrying on about their point of view in this discussion.

Frankly, I’m still hoping to see the season end with just one unbeaten team and at least a half dozen top teams with one loss. You could spin yourself in circles arguing the plusses and minuses of the Michigan/Ohio State loser compared with Florida, Auburn, Louisville, Southern Cal, California, Notre Dame and Texas. For that to happen, someone’s got to beat Louisville.

Now on we go to this week’s musings.

Where did fourth quarter toughness go? —– Early in the year the Florida Gators were winning games in the final 15 minutes but those days seem like years ago rather than weeks. The Gators have now gone four games without a fourth quarter point. The Vanderbilt game was the worst of the four, as Florida was outscored by 13 points. In the last four games the Gators have been blanked 32-zip in the last period. They held on to win three of those games, but a nine-point deficit was the difference in the loss at Auburn. Yes, the Gator defense has faded some, but the offense has done nothing.

Xavier Lee giving FSU some thrills —– Talented young quarterback Xavier Lee has accomplished something Jeff Bowden couldn’t. He has FSU fans looking forward to when the Seminoles have the football. Lee had another solid day in FSU’s 33-zip rout of Virginia. Lee passed for 185 yards and ran for another 49 and a touchdown. With four losses already on the books, the Noles need to win out to avoid a very low tier bowl game.

Wake up the echoes —– That’s a line that usually refers to Notre Dame, but now I’m talking about Wake Forest. The Demon Deacons improved to 8-and-1 for the first time since World War II with a 21-14 decision over Boston College. Wake is tied with surprising Maryland for the lead in the ACC Atlantic Division with a 4-and-1 conference mark. Jim Grobe’s team has a tough stretch run with FSU, Virginia Tech and Maryland the final three weeks with only Tech at home.

SEC Bowl partners had rough weekend —– The bowls that are contracted for SEC teams could not be all that upbeat about this past weekend. They couldn’t do another about the fact that LSU/Tennessee and Arkansas/South Carolina would give a couple of teams costly losses. But the games that hurt were Mississippi State’s win over Alabama and Kentucky knocking off Georgia. That gave both the Crimson Tide and Bulldawgs four losses on the season. And both still have very difficult games to play. As a result you could see a five or even six-loss SEC team in the Chick Fil-A bowl in Atlanta. Not exactly what they had in mind. The bowls in Nashville and Memphis pick after Atlanta does.

$ 4 K for a choice seat in Jersey? —– Usually at this price you’re talking about the New York Giants hosting a playoff game or perhaps a key regular season game against Dallas or Philadelphia. Not now. Thursday’s showdown between Louisville and Rutgers is generating that kind of price for the biggest college football game EVER in the Garden State. Rutgers had last week off, and Coach Greg Schiano’s team plays the best defense by far in the Big East. There will be a lot of new-found Rutgers fans all over the nation when this one gets started.

BCS top teams held their own —– Only six of the top 25 teams in the BCS standings lost last week and four of them lost to other teams in the poll. Only two teams, # 19 Clemson and # 23 Washington State lost to unranked teams. Not that there weren’t some anxious moments. Ohio State, Michigan, Florida all found themselves holding on for victory at the end. Of the three, only Michigan needed fortuitous officiating to escape.

Call him Tar Heel Butch —– All indications are that North Carolina will make Butch Davis their new football coach. It’s an excellent choice, getting a guy with a great eye for talent, a track record of preparing guys for the NFL and a no tolerance attitude towards idiotic behavior. My South Florida spies tell me that Greg Schiano is clearly at the top of the Miami wish list once the Hurricanes decide to make a change. This is a time when you would love to see Rutgers Athletic Director Robert Mulcahy tell other schools to go away, his guy is under contract and unavailable.