So another season of college football is over. And what did we learn?
The SEC isn’t the only conference where teams can be made up of big, strong Southern athletes, although anyone who didn’t know that must be under 30 or have a very short memory.
That’s because Florida State cornered the market on dominance for more than a decade leading up to and through the beginning of the BCS era. Before SEC teams were getting the benefit of the doubt in the polls because of recent history, it was the Seminoles. And they earned their place at the top by taking the place of the Miami dynasty that went off the rails after a swaggering, successful decade of the ‘80s.
I am curious what Michigan State might have been able to do in the national championship game because of its defense – the same reason I stopped being curious about how Ohio State would fare on the same stage.
The Big Ten was one of the best conferences in the country when the BCS began, and it is struggling against the perception it is one of the weakest of the big boys as the BCS concludes.
The emergence of the Spartans in 2013 figures to help work against that, although the reputation already earned by the league over the past decade did them no favors when Auburn was placed in the national championship game with almost no questions asked despite having the same record as Michigan State.
The new playoff figures to afford teams more opportunities at upward mobility with two more meaningful games per year and four teams instead of two getting to take a bigger stage in January (or Dec. 31).
Depending on how things go at Michigan, Michigan State’s window to build a champion may be closing, so this was a crucial year for the Spartans to break through. Not only winning a Big Ten title but also winning the Rose Bowl should do all kinds good things for MSU’s cred and by proxy the league, although sustaining their momentum will be no easy task.
I still believe by virtue of talent base, resources and national prestige, Ohio State is the best – perhaps the only – candidate in the north to be a national championship contender on any sort of regular basis, but the Buckeyes proved beyond a shadow of a doubt they weren’t ready this season.
As I wrote on Twitter a few days ago, Urban Meyer’s second Ohio State team just did not have enough mature talent to be a top five squad. That is why the Buckeyes fell short of their goals.
But we’ll examine that a little closer later on.