Lose a game, you take your chances. This being Year No. 9 of the BCS, you should know that, if not like it.
The only sure thing this year was Ohio State.
|Chris Leak and the Gators surge ahead of Michigan. (US PRESSWIRE)|
The Gators were lucky enough to jump over idle Michigan and will try to to win their second national championship on the 10th anniversary of their first.
Michigan? Sooo 15 days ago. As we said, you snooze, you lose, which is what the Wolverines (11-1) have been doing since their season ended Nov. 18 with a three-point loss at Ohio State.
BCS Nation essentially didn't want to see Wolverine Nation playing to be the champs of the nation. Michigan had its chance. The fact that the Big Ten prefers to complete its season before Thanksgiving might have been the ultimate reason.
Out of sight, out of the voters' minds. What looked like a game for the ages on Nov. 18 now just keeps on aging.
We like the hip, the now, the cutting edge. Florida (12-1) isn't all that, but it settled some arguments when it played one more game than Michigan and won it.
The SEC title game featured seven quarterbacks, 21 points off turnovers and a blown 17-0 lead by Florida. But the Gators accomplished something Michigan didn't -- they won their conference, perhaps the toughest in the nation.
|Dennis Dodd's Power Poll|
|1. Ohio State|
|4. Boise State|
|10. Wake Forest|
|11. West Virginia|
|12. Notre Dame|
|19. Virginia Tech|
|21. Georgia Tech|
|22. Texas A&M|
|24. Boston College|
|25. Oregon State|
"I got crucified the last time I gave comments (pushing his team), but I certainly think we should play," Florida coach Urban Meyer told SportsLine.com late Saturday night. "I think Michigan is a great team, (but the Wolverines) lost their conference championship. The conference champion of the SEC has a chance to play."
If Michigan has a case, Louisville has a nervous tic by now. The difference between the Gators and Cardinals (11-1) playing for the national championship is William Gay jumping offside.
If the Cardinals defensive back hadn't back on Nov. 9 at Rutgers, Jeremy Ito's missed 33-yard field goal would have stood and then-No. 3 Louisville would be undefeated. Given another chance, Ito rammed through a 28-yarder with 13 seconds left and was carried off the field.
Gay has to carry the burden of a lost national championship shot into the Orange Bowl against Wake Forest.
No sympathy. There should be a BCS berth waiting somewhere for Wisconsin, also 11-1. The Badgers could make a heck of a case for an at-large bid if they had beaten somebody.
But at least in their case is a line of demarcation. The Badgers lost to Michigan, the only ranked opponent they played all year. BCS rules state that only two schools from a conference can go big-time bowling. Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany will somehow make do with the $20 million Ohio State and Michigan will bring in.
BCS craziness reigned again. Half of the 10 teams in the expanded five-game, four-bowl setup have two losses. Three of them are coming off losses. One of them (Notre Dame) by 20 points. Like Wisconsin, the Irish have beaten no team of note but have the Commander-in-Chief's Trophy (wins over Army, Navy and Air Force) and a berth in the Sugar Bowl.
This year's BCS also features one rookie head coach (Boise State's Chris Petersen) and possibly the most depressing Rose Bowl ever, USC vs. Michigan. Both are coming off a loss to a rival.
With a title berth on the line in the Rose Bowl, USC lost to UCLA, making a return trip up the 110 on Jan. 1 a trail of tears.
"I'm glad it's messed up, just to see how they fix things," UCLA linebacker Eric McNeal told the Arizona Republic. "I'm glad it's messed up for all the people that put SC in the national championship game two weeks ago."
At least Michigan had its 24 hours in limbo after USC lost. The Wolverines seemingly had no shot if USC had won. Florida had to come from No. 4 in the BCS, which wasn't so hard after USC vacated.
At least people have to be accountable now. Both the Harris and coaches' polls will release the individual ballots later. Still, it doesn't help settle Michigan, that it is out because of Boots Donnelly's ballot or Colley's Matrix.
Donnelly is the former Middle Tennessee coach who votes in the Harris poll. Wes Colley operates his computer index out of Atlanta, site of Florida's SEC triumph over Arkansas. Colley's hard drive apparently got a good look at the Gators.
Ohio State's Jim Tressel was so shaken about having to state an actual public opinion in the coaches' poll that he abstained from voting. What the Ohio State coach lacks in intestinal fortitude he more than made up with objectivity. The potential was there for Tressel to be able to influence (even remotely) the BCS title game pairings.
There was potentially great theater ahead. Lloyd Carr would have been passing out Tressel's home phone number on the Internet, if The Vest voted Michigan anything lower than No. 2.
Amid the screams from Ann Arbor, you might have noticed that there were actually two undefeated teams. WAC champion Boise State (12-0) is just happy to be there, having beaten no team better than 9-4 Oregon State.
But if Sunday's developments boil your playoff blood, consider that the Broncos would be guaranteed a spot in even a modest plus-one format. If such a thing were in place this year, Notre Dame and LSU wouldn't be in the BCS.
Florida is, which means Gators everywhere will be chopping their way to Glendale, Ariz., for what is supposedly the latest major bowl game ever -- Jan. 8.
As the realization spread from Atlanta to Ann Arbor to Pasadena and back again, it became more obvious why Florida belonged.
• It won the SEC, in most years considered the best league in the country. The league is made even tougher because of a conference championship game.
• Florida ended up playing one of the toughest schedules in the country. Its opponents had a combined .610 winning percentage.
• It was justice, at least for the SEC. Two years ago Auburn went undefeated and didn't get a sniff. This year Florida made it despite Auburn. The Tigers gave the Gators their only loss on Oct. 14, five weeks before Ohio State applied the sleeper hold to Michigan.
"The only way to do it is on the field," Meyer said.
There is no sympathy for those who can't. They had their chance.