So Much for the Upset
While winning 13 of the last 15 against Georgia still is a remarkable stat to fall back on, I left the game today feeling numb. In the end, penalties killed the Gators today, especially two straight holding calls that reversed two straight first downs in the second half. The Gators had great momentum building with those plays, but the momentum and the gains were negated and the drive ended in a punt. They also had too many false starts, and a classic unnecessary personal foul. In short, they were the team they've always been the past three years, squandering chances and coming up short in general. The game was there for them to win, but after pulling within three points at 24-21, the defense turned to Swiss cheese again.
This really is not the way to send Zook off. He never really got a fair shake in the minds of most Gator fans, and not everything has been his fault. The lack of talent he had to work with when he came in, especially on offenseive line, was not his fault. This year's Tennessee loss and last year's FSU loss were not his fault, but rather the fault of officiating that was so bad it's still hard to believe it really happened. It was not his fault that the team graduated eight defensive starters from last year, that DT Ray McDonald would miss significant time against LSU and the entire game against Mississippi State (who won again today), or that LB Chaninng Crowder would go down today (and his season might be over due to possibly torn ligaments in his foot). While some games the team was simply not ready to play (LSU two years ago, both Ole Miss games, MSU this year), not all of the losses can directly be pinned on Zook's shoulders. Some people actually have realized that and have been supportive of Zook despite all of the clamor for the return of Steve Spurrier (which seems to be much more of an alumni thing than student thing). There were even some students in the crowd who had printed up shirts that said "FOLEY SUCKS" on the front and "I'M A ZOOKER" on the back.
It is small consolation that most of the elite teams in college football had real trouble today. USC had no trouble against a bad Washington State team, but beyond that,
-Oklahoma escaped against Oklahoma State by just three points, which isn't all that surprising as the Sooners always seem to have trouble with the Cowboys
-Miami lost to North Carolina
-FSU lost to Maryland for the first time ever in 15 games
-Michigan needed 3OT to beat Michigan State
-West Virginia beat Rutgers by just five
-Texas A&M lost to Baylor
-Purdue lost to Northwestern (making it the Wildcats' second big win this year), and
-Indiana beat Minnesota
This was the big upset weekend that always happens in college football at least once a year. It only resulted in a loss for one of the undefeated schools (Miami), so we're still on track for six unbeaten teams at the end, causing BCS armageddon. It would be even better if three conference champions were ranked outside of the BCS top-6. There are eight slots in the four BCS bowls, six of which are reserved for BCS conference champions with two at-larges. Finishing in the BCS top-6 guarantees a school a spot in a BCS bowl under the rules, so three non-conference winners in the top-6 would overbook the BCS, causing even more problems. West Virginia, practically a lock to win the Big East, will not finish in the top-6 for sure, and with a bad loss to North Carolina, Miami might not either. Since USC and Cal are at the top and Auburn, Tennessee, and Georgia are all near the top, it's highly likely the Pac-10 and SEC champs will be in the top-6. That leaves the possibility of the Big XII North champion (probably Nebraska) upsetting Oklahoma in the title game (not likely) or Wisconsin losing to Minnesota, Michigan State, or Iowa to have Michigan, if they win out, as Big 10 champ. The three non-conference champs in the top-6 (if they too win out) would be Utah, Cal, and either Georgia or Texas.
In the end, this is just not a good year for history. Phil Mickelson won a major, the Red Sox beat the Yankees in the playoffs, the Red Sox then went on to win the World Series, and Georgia beat Florida. As I heard one person say, it's the Law of Averages year. Perhaps that bodes well for Florida's chances against FSU as UF has not won in Tallahassee since the mid-'80s.