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Michigan or USC or Florida

Right after Michigan beat Notre Dame this year, and after Ohio State defeated Texas, I made a prediction that the national championship would come down to one or the other this year. My wife took this with a grain of salt, primarily because I'm not much of a college football fan. I've spent most of my Saturday's in other pursuits. Watching either Ohio State or Michigan, or even one of the other big teams, wasn't a high priority. Even this year, we spent many weekends down at Bowling Green visiting our oldest and catching the Falcons playing volleyball, which is a sport I'm much more familiar with than football.

Then Rutgers upsets Louisville. And Oregon State embarrasses USC. And Kansas takes down Texas.

I expected USC to lose to UCLA. And I felt pretty good about the Bruins and their chances after watching just the first quarter, because their defense hit the Trojans where they were weakest. And I also knew I needed Arkansas to beat Florida for my prediction to come true. I didn't really expect the pollsters to put Michigan into the big game. They never do anything logical; these are the same people who elevated USC to number 2, above Michigan, even though they were upset by Oregon State, while Michigan's only loss was to #1-ranked Ohio State. I'm sorry that Michigan isn't getting a chance to face Ohio State again. I think a rematch between the two would go down in history as the best national championship ever. Even better than USC vs. Ohio State in 2002.

Because the Wolverines are the only legitimate #2 team out there. :-)

Now, you may say, "Steve, number two? Why not number one?" And I'll tell you that, even though I'm not a college football guru, I have seen enough games by Ohio State to know a good thing when I see it. We hail from NE Ohio. And rooting for Ohio State comes as naturally as breathing. Even though I've lived in Michigan since 1992, I still rooted for Ohio State throughout the season. My concession to my curent hometown was that I rooted for Michigan as well, and it was only at the final game that I would favor one or the other, the deciding factor being that I wanted whichever team could go the farthest in the national rankings to win the annual rivalry.

This year was a win-win situation as far as I was concerned. And the Wolverines almost pulled it out this year. Barring an idiotic hit on Troy Smith in the waning moments of the fourth quarter, I believe Michigan might have won the game. And if they had, they deserved the top spot and the national title game.

And Ohio State would have deserved it was well. USC? Nope. No way. They benefit from too many cheap penalties. Look at tape from the Oregon State game and you'll see "sore loser" expressions on their faces whenever a call didn't go their way. Look at the cocky attitude and bullying manner they exhibited in the early going on Saturday against UCLA. I can't stand USC.

I'm not singling them out, though. I feel the same way about Miami and Florida. And right now I'm laughing uproariously and looking forward to the prospect of Ohio State vs. Florida in the national championship. Same goes for USC vs. Michigan. Because I'll two more predictions here:

1) Ohio State will embarrass Florida.
2) Michigan will embarrass USC.

Jim Tressel will not hold back against Florida. He won't leave any room for doubt that they deserved the #1 ranking throughout the season. Look at the game Ohio State played against Bowling Green. Or Northern Illinois. Or Cincinnat. Tressel doesn't pull a stunt like Florida did against West Carolina, running up a score to 62-0 against a weaker opponent. Tressel runs a lot of players from his second- or third-string to give them quality playing time. That's why the Ohio State defense didn't drop in quality with the graduation of players like A.J. Hawk.

And Michigan trouncing USC? Well, that's a matter of Wolverine pride. While I'm not a Lloyd Carr fan, I know his job probably on the line if he doesn't show the pollsters how asinine they were to put Florida into the #2 spot after this past weekend and to leapfrog USC into that position as well. My vote goes for the workhorses of college football, whether they're Wolverines or Buckeyes. Or even knights from Rutgers and Longhorns from Texas. Down with paper lions that kick sand into the face of the little guy. I rooted for Texas last year against USC. I'm almost sad the Trojans don't get to play the Buckeyes this year, if only because I know their defeat would look even more embarrassing at the hands of Ohio State than the close loss to UCLA this past weekend. If the Buckeyes hadn't lost to Texas last year, it would have been them against USC for the national championship, and while I respect Vince Young's heroics, I would have liked embarrassing the Trojans again. Because there's no way USC wins last year -- or ever again -- against Michigan or Ohio State.

Dynasties were born in the Big Ten this season. As Pat Forde notes in his ESPNcolumn, whiners win in the BCS. But they won't win come the bowl games this holiday season. Sure, they'll still cry, but it's going to come from embarrassment. :-)

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