Sunday, December 07, 2008

Florida, Oklahoma Two Runaway Trains Primed for Collision

Thus Sayeth Pat Forde in his ESPN analysis of the BSC National Championship, which will pit the Heisman final two QB candidates against each other in a "fight, not flight" brand of football.

Given U. Miami's current slump, Florida is my default team and Tebow an overarching casting choice for real-life superman. But I'm reading Sally Jenkins' book "Real All Americans" about the 1903 game between Jim Thorpe's Carlisle Indians and Army. Football came out of the "muscular Christianity" movement of the post-Civil War Gilded Age shift from Parkman's 1890 loss of the frontier and the increasing mechanization and electrification of America. Walter Camp laid down the rules as "an exercise of social Darwinism and military science." Unlike rugby with its British honor system of self-policing, football needed referees as the unique American pushing the envelope required on-site adjudification on every play. In the 1890s, College football exploded into popularity in the same period baseball went big-time professional. But here's Pat Forde:
Thus we welcome two runaway freight trains to Titletown, where the head-on collision figures to be intense. Florida's average score since the Ole Miss loss: 50-13. Oklahoma's average: 60-29.

In addition to pairing two red-hot and dominant teams, there are some other juicy subplots to latch onto.

• Florida has played 1,053 games in its history, and Oklahoma has played 1,140. Yet they've never played each other. Let the two peacock-proud fan bases commence jawing.

• One coach, either Meyer or Oklahoma's Bob Stoops, will become the first to win a second BCS title.

Meyer returns to his second championship game in three years, continuing his even-year run as king of the football universe. In 2004, Meyer took Utah to an undefeated season and Fiesta Bowl victory, which earned him the upgrade to Gainesville. In 2006, his Gators trampled unbeaten Ohio State to win the crystal football. And now in '08 he's back again.

Stoops made his mark in the business sooner than Meyer, guiding Oklahoma to the 2000 national championship. Since then the Sooners have been annually excellent -- with the glaring exception of BCS bowl games. They've lost four straight, all of them with embarrassment attached.

• We could have a face-off of Heisman Trophy winners for just the second time. (Oklahoma was involved in the other one as well, when 2003 winner Jason White flopped against '04 winner Matt Leinart in a 55-19 USC romp.)

Bradford's ancestors may have had some of that Native American blood that made Jim Thorpe the greatest all-round athlete the US has ever produced. Tebow is a "one in a billion" combination of athlete skills and moral character. Alabama has a great team, and next year might bring a rematch, if both can survive the briar patch of SEC smashmouth defense and soaring offense. Oklahoma lives in a Big 12 where offense trumps defense and the there is a mismatch between the two conference divisions that, in Forde's words "(The only thing more lopsided than the Big 12 divisions is Quasimodo.)" Texas and Texas Tech and Oklahoma State all should be BCS contestants in a fairer world. I'll finish off with more from Forde:
"This," Meyer said, "will go down as one of the great wins in Florida football history."

It gives Florida a chance to play one more game of historic import this season, against an Oklahoma team that shares an attribute with the Gators. When faced with adversity, both chose fight over flight.

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