Jan 20

2008, A Year In Review

Posted By:Wes Mewbourne  Tags:

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Photo: USPresswire.com

Wow, how time flies.  Just yesterday, we were wondering whether Ohio State or USC would play Georgia for the national title.  BYU was the BCS buster du jour and West Virginia, Clemson, and Missouri were looking to live up to their top 10 status with conference championships.  By the end of the season, Florida was hoisting the crystal football and Utah not only busted the BCS, but Alabama as well, on their way to their first undefeated season since Urban Meyers departure.  The Mountaineers and both Tigers teams finished with a combined 14 losses (nine in conference play).  Here’s a little trip down memory lane in the year that was…

Top 5 Surprises:
1.        Utah – The Utes began the season in the shadow of cross-state rival BYU and conference foe TCU.  Behind the skill of Brian Johnson and coaching of Kyle Whittingham, Utah emerged unscathed, and looking toward a BCS bowl for the first time since Urban Meyer was at the helm.  Matching up against an Alabama team that spent the last half of the season at the top of the polls, they caught the Tide off guard with quick score after quick score and coasted to victory – the only “non-BCS” school to have two victories in BCS bowls.  Beginning the season unranked and ending #2 is certainly a tribute to the Utes team and what they were able to accomplish.
2.        Alabama – The Tide took the college football world by storm with a season opening rout of Clemson in the Georgia Dome.  Four weeks later, they returned to Georgia (this time to Athens) and proceeded to turn the Bulldog’s blackout into a funeral.  As teams above them lost, the Tide kept on winning.  Joining Utah as the only undefeated team after the regular season, the Tide showed their weakness – depth.  Closing the season with losses to Florida and Utah showed that the Tide had a ways to go, but they are still way ahead of schedule on their rebuilding under Saban.
3.        TCU – Beginning the season unranked in the coaches poll and not getting a single vote in the AP, the Honed Frogs had a long road to travel.  Well, they did, managing to hand BYU their first loss of the season, give rival Utah all it could handle in the Civil War, and topple Boise St.’s hopes of a top 10 finish (while handing the Broncos their first loss of the season in the Poinsettia Bowl).  As a reward, TCU finishes the season at #7 in both polls, and certainly moved up more than any team in recent memory.
4.        Mississippi – The Rebels began the season with moderate goals.  Win just one SEC game.  Maybe two.  Get to a bowl.  Don’t get embarrassed.  Well they did that and more.  With the Right Reverend Nutt on the sideline and Jevan Snead in the huddle, the Rebels were the only team in the country to beat the national champion Gator’s (and they did it in the Swamp!).  They beat defending national champion LSU in Baton Rouge, and took Texas Tech to school in the Cotton Bowl (their first postseason game since the last Manning was there).  Ole Miss certainly isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.  Look for the winner of next year’s Tide/Rebel game to determine the SEC West.
5.        Florida – The Gators started the season with the reigning Heisman winner, a coach with a championship two years prior, and a Top 5 ranking.  As the season got into motion, the Gators had some difficulty, though.  Losing at home to a Mississippi team that was 2-2 beforehand all but removed them from the title race.  After that game, though, Tebow vowed no team would play harder than the Gators, and no player would play harder than himself.  The Gators didn’t lose another game, and dominated like no other team from that point on, being challenged only for three quarters against Alabama and Oklahoma in the final two games of the season.

(My) Top 5 Players Not Heisman Finalists:

1.        Brian Johnson – No quarterback in the country was as calm as him.
2.        Pat White – WVU’s all everything quarterback finished off his career with the Big East record for career yardage and a victory over North Carolina in the Car Care Bowl.
3.        Percy Harvin – When healthy, no one changes a game more than he does.  Even at 90%, he’s a game changer (as Oklahoma).
4.        Terrence Cody – No defensive lineman caused opposing teams to alter their gameplans like this man.
5.        Shonn Greene – 100 yards in every game has to count for something…

Top 5 Conferences :

1.        SEC – With the national champ (Florida) and a 6-2 bowl record, the SEC showed that even in a down year, it can still dominate.
2.        Mountain West – The MWC had a 6-1 regular season against the PAC-10, and two teams went into high profile bowl games against high profile opponents and came home victorious.  Can’t argue with results.
3.        ACC – While failing to establish a truly elite team, the ACC was by far the most competitive league this year.  Having their champion win a BCS bowl for the first time this decade doesn’t hurt, either.
4.        PAC-10 – While their bottom tier teams were utterly bad, their top tier fared extremely well.  The PAC-10 was the only undefeated conference during the bowl season coming in at 5-0.
5.        Big 12 – Honestly, after the first four, there’s a bit of a drop off.  Two of the league’s top three teams lost, each by two scores.  The one that won, Texas, did so against an at-large Big Ten team, and we know how dominant they’ve been in the post-season.

Top 5 Things to Look Forward to in 2009:

1.        More problems for the BCS – Will Utah be ranked high enough preseason to crack the top 2?  How many one loss teams will be left for the computers to separate?  Only time will tell how long it will be before a playoff graces our television sets.
2.        Bowden vs. Paterno – Both coaches are battling for the top spot on the all time wins list, and both have programs on the rise.  Will they meet again in a BCS bowl?  Will one of them retire?
3.        Two-peat Teebs – Should Tim Tebow return for his senior season, could he repeat a national title?  Could he grab a second Heisman?
4.        Will the announcers get any better for the BCS games? – Seriously, I was sorely disappointed with Fox this year in the announcing.  Perhaps next year, as the BCS moves back to ESPN, it’ll improve (assuming Mussberger and Herbstreit fall out of love for USC, or the Trojans make it to the NCG).
5.        RECRUITING!!! – Who’s going where?  Who will have an immediate impact?  Will there be any freshman Heisman hopefuls…?

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