Posted: Wednesday January 10, 2007 12:53PM; Updated: Thursday January 11, 2007 2:13PM
Nobody could have predicted that Troy Smith and Ohio State would lay such an egg in the national-title game.
Matthew Emmons/US PRESSWIRE
Submit a question or an opinion to Stewart.
PARADISE VALLEY, Ariz. -- Normally, there's no worse feeling for a college football enthusiast than to wake up the morning after the national championship and realize you won't be watching another game for eight months. This year, however, I find myself a tad bit relieved that the 2006 season has finally come to an end. Week in and week out, right up until the final night, no season I've covered has ever left me feeling like a bigger idiot.
Shall we recap?
Sept. 30: "If Oregon were to play USC on a neutral field right now, I'd take the Ducks ... the Ducks look like a well-oiled machine." But don't worry, when Oregon plays BYU on a neutral field in December, I'll be sure to take the Cougars by 30.
Oct. 15: "No one who's watched the numerous SEC showdowns so far involving Florida, Auburn, Tennessee and LSU can deny that all are among the most talented teams in the country, yet the chance of any of them reaching Glendale looks increasingly slim." It's possible, however, that one of them will torch Glendale to the ground.
Oct. 24: "What Clemson did to Georgia Tech the other night would best be described as ... one of the most impressive performances this season." What Clemson did over the ensuing two months remains unsolved.
Nov. 7: "The Gators wrapped up the SEC East, yet I get the feeling this team peaked about a month ago. Star DT Marcus Thomas just got booted. QB Chris Leak, by his coach's own admission, has been 'very average.' And the running game has been subpar." I don't even know what to say to that.
Nov. 9: "What [Texas] and [Colt] McCoy wouldn't give to re-play that [Ohio State] game now that he's beaten Oklahoma, led comebacks against Nebraska and Texas Tech and torched Oklahoma State for 346 yards." Yeah, and then right after that they'd ask to re-play K-State and A&M.
Nov. 16: "... Today, [Michigan DE] LaMarrWoodley is arguably the nation's preeminent rush end." Two days from now, he will get shut down by an Ohio State tackle who was last seen waving his arm in the general direction of Florida's Jarvis Moss. And on New Year's Day, he will be stifled by a USC tackle whose own coaches wanted to bench him.
Nov. 30: "Bob Stoops has led the Sooners to a national championship, four 12-win seasons and five top-10 finishes. ... Has this season been Stoops' best coaching job yet?" It was until his team showed up for the Fiesta Bowl looking like it'd left its only copy of the Boise State scouting report in Norman.
Jan. 4: "Prediction: After a close first half in which both teams struggle to get into rhythm after such a long layoff, Troy Smith gets hot in the third and fourth quarters to put the game away."
That, and Britney's next marriage will be harmonious and ever-lasting.
It happens. One reason we love college football so much is its unpredictability. And one of the main reasons for that unpredictability is that over the course of 12 or 13 games -- not to mention another one played a month to six weeks after the last one -- teams change dramatically. Some get better. Some get worse. Some get healthy. Some get hurt. Some gain confidence. Some lose their edge. And some just have an unusually good or bad night.
The fact is, Florida was not the best team in the country in late October or early November. Even Urban Meyer would admit that. The Gators weren't playing that well. But they dug in and they got to the big game, which is really the most important part. Because once two teams of 18-to-23-year olds step on a field -- no matter their paths to get there -- pretty much anything can happen.
Pretty much anything did throughout the entire season.