Split the national title! The campaign climaxes tonight: AP voters need to showcase the creativity and cojones to vote a deserving Georgia as No. 1, sharing the national title with the LSU-Ohio State winner.
For every reason there is to vote LSU (or OSU) at No. 1, Georgia has an equal case. ("Didn't win a conference title?" Meh: If they had the chance to play LSU in Atlanta, don't you think UGA would have won?)
If I was an AP voter, I wouldn't even need to watch tonight's game: I would have written in UGA as my No. 1 team as soon as they finished annihilating the most prolific offense in the country.
In this most clusterfuckish of seasons, a split champ — from the same conference, no less — would be as symbolic as it gets.
LSU-Ohio State Preview: At the very least, we know one team will win a national title tonight, but I think I've seen this movie before: Top-ranked Ohio State versus an SEC champ that critics seem to think hasn't won decisively enough.
Except as dominant as that Florida defense looked a year ago, this LSU defense is even better. And as dominant as that Ohio State offense seemed heading into last year's title game, this OSU offense isn't as good.
Still, you're hearing the same criticism of this LSU team that you heard about Florida a year ago: Too few decisive performances, too many close and "lucky" wins, blah blah blah... the next morning: Blowout.
The only reason an LSU win tonight won't be as big of a rout as last year is that OSU has last year's memory to ensure it comes into the game with less of a sense of entitlement: 30-13, LSU.
(I have added incentive to root for LSU: If the Tigers win, I will win the 239-player bowl pick 'em group I set up on ESPN.com. Never won anything in fantasy ever. Thank you, back-loaded "confidence points.")
Bowl Season Hangover: In advance of tonight's title game (or "title game," if you're supporting Georgia as national champ), let's romp through the highlights from the rest of the bowl season...
Bowl Season MVP: Chris Jesse. Only the step-son of a head coach (of a bowl-winning team) could get away with the douchebaggery of being called for touching a ball while it's on the field. Or was it the douchebaggery of Jesse's you-mean-that-wasn't-intended-as-ironic MySpace page? Either way: Well done. (Runner-up: Pat White)
Best Game: Capital One Bowl. Finally coaching with the freeing feeling of nothing to lose, Lloyd Carr loosened up to embrace the spread offense, giving the finger to his successor and all the doubters. Chad Henne had the best game of his endless career. Hart the Angry Dwarf backed up the talk, even if loose lips came with a loose grip. And, since you want to hear me say it: Florida fans were hating fucking life, thank you very much. (Runner-up: Motor City Bowl)
Biggest foreshadow: Kodi Burns is Auburn's Tim Tebow. You can keep your Booty or your Henne: By next season, every self-respecting team is going to have their own version of a dual-threat QB, either one guy to do the job (ie, Dan LeFevour and Pat White) or by committee (ie, Texas' McCoy and Chiles). Just wait until Terrelle Pryor... (Runner-up: Joe McKnight, who will vie with Devine, Maclin, Harvin and Benn as "biggest all-around threat" in 2008.)
Biggest winner? Big 12. Kansas completed a dream season. Missouri proved they were BCS-bowl-worthy. Texas positioned itself as a preseason Top 5 team in '08. Oklahoma State put up 49 behind Zac Robinson's 5 TDs. Texas Tech put up a 4th-quarter comeback for a win. Only Oklahoma really stunk it up, which makes the rest of the Big 12 happy, anyway. (Runner-up: West Virginia's Bill Stewart, who got a job out of the thing.)
Biggest loser? Hawaii. For everything Boise State did for non-BCS schools a year ago, Hawaii took it all back. The Warriors talked big heading into the game, then were silenced. There is a huge difference between "unbeaten" and "best," and Hawaii helped prove it. (Runner-up: Bob Stoops. Stop wasting the Big 12's BCS bowl slot.)
Biggest confusion: How the hell did West Virginia's offense sputter against lowly Pitt, when WVU so totally gave Oklahoma the shock-and-awe treatment? There's only one explanation: They were over-Rod-ded. (Runner-up: How can the BCS continue to justify limiting conferences to a maximum of 2 schools? Expand the BCS to include the Cotton Bowl, and allow each conference a 3rd team, if worthy.)
Finally, Biggest "What If?": Oregon would have been a hell of a national champ...
P.S.: For those of you who missed the Gelf interview I did last week that put my Florida fandom into perspective, I was asked about my analysis of the Deadspin Commenters. Here's how I articulated it:
It's like the people who call into Jim Rome or other sports-talk radio are like the "before" version of Charlie in "Flowers for Algernon ," when he was mentally challenged.
The Deadspin commenters are like the super-smart "post-drugs" version of Charlie — still fundamentally retarded, but riding a tide of brilliance — that's the daily commenting stream.
Self-aware retarded kids: I salute you.
Coming tomorrow: A title-game wrap-up, a final Top 10 for 2007 — and a look-ahead to 2008.
As usual, send any questions or comments to danshanoff-[at]-gmail-[dot]-com.