But Texas Tech isn't the only top five heavyweight to have baked a cupcake this year. After playing arguably the best stretch of football this season, Florida has decided to prove its mettle against The Citadel. The South Carolina-based I-AA military school might have one of the coolest university names in the nation and a proud history of service to this country, but it's not exactly the type of stiff competition would-be champions should be facing. Granted, The Citadel might put up more of a fight than UF's recent conference foes (especially its counterpart from the Palmetto State, the Gamecocks), but the Gators probably have enough name recognition by now to schedule better than that.
So what? you might ask. The Gators play in one of the top two toughest conferences in football, and will have also played nonconference tilts against Miami and Florida State. But if a berth in the title game comes down to, say, Florida and Texas (which could happen if the Sooners knock off Texas Tech), The Citadel might be the only team that can stop Urban Meyer's club.
And speaking of the Sooners, they're not innocent bystanders, either. They roughed up I-AA Chattanooga, 57-2, early in the season (with that lone safety the only proof the game even happened), a game that will look as good on their résumé as that temp job you got fired from will look on yours.
Any way you calculate it, there's a very good chance Oklahoma, Texas Tech or Florida will get left out of the title game despite having only one loss. So one more impressive win over a I-A opponent instead of a I-AA patsy might have made up that difference.
Still not convinced that it could come back to bite one of those teams? Just ask Auburn, which rang up a perfect 2004 season only to get left out of the title game. Guess which opponent perhaps did more than any other to keep Auburn from leapfrogging No. 2 Oklahoma into the title game. You guessed it -- that pesky Citadel.
The point is, I-A powerhouses' athletic directors should be very wary of taking calls from I-AA programs, because sometimes they do more than just cash a check and stand there like a piñata for four hours on a fall Saturday. Sometimes, they can derail national-title hopes, even when the spread's covered. And every now and then they find a way to win, send national title-winning head coaches into early retirement and knock programs into downward vortexes of soul-searching and teeth gnashing (cough*AppState*cough).
That's all for this week. Remember: Just because college football fans believe it's true, doesn't mean it is.
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