Thursday, November 12, 2009
Behind The Scoreboard
In this column a few weeks ago, I wrote that during this time of the season most teams worth their salt in the SEC were chasing the Florida Gators. Well, for all intent, and definitely purpose, the Crimson Tide has caught them. The Gators had already clinched the Eastern Division title of the SEC prior to last Saturday’s game and had only a perfunctory test in their contest against Vanderbilt. The Commodores haven’t beaten the Gators since 1988. And Florida has to face South Carolina next weekend. I fail to see the threat to any Gator tranquility.
The Crimson Tide had a much more formidable task and opponent in the Tigers of LSU. That game had more implications than anyone could enumerate. Foremost was the intrigue involving the coaches. Neither Les Miles of LSU nor Nick Saban of Alabama would readily agree. Make no bones about it, these coaches respect, admire and yes, fear each other – the healthy fear of a capable adversary.
Miles and Saban had met twice before Saturday’s outing and each had won one-on each other’s turf. This was the rubber match. All week long the hype built. Number 3 versus number 9, generating a ton of pre-game publicity. Some Tigers didn’t really feel that they were that far behind the Tide. And one could make the case. After all, Alabama had seen a few ups and downs in the rankings for both the BCS and nationals. And they had some close calls, like the 12-10 escape against the Vols.
The Tigers were playing for their season after the season. A win over the Tide would make their fortune. It would most assuredly tumble the Tide down the ranks and give them a share of the Western Division title. Plus it would probably guarantee them a BCS berth. But the Tigers probably forgot to count on the degree of dedication Alabama had for this part of their season. The “Game of the Day” was just that for the Tide. The 24-15 win put them in the SEC title game versus the Gators for a second straight year.
That will be a doozie. The winner will play for the national title.
The Gators had a couple of minor distractions. Head coach Urban Meyers ran afoul of commissioner Mike Slive and was fined $30,000.00 for criticizing officials. Meyers had a player suspended for one game for a punishing hit. He thought that his quarterback didn’t get the benefit of the doubt on a questionable call. Oh well, the coach shouldn’t have any trouble paying his fine.
Being in the middle of the SEC, it is easy sometimes to become oblivious to the other conferences and their fans in the area. Kata Gysendorfer of Lake Center is a Hawkeye fan. Iowa had been ranked number eight and were 9-1, 5-1 (Big Ten), and high on the list for a BCS date in Pasadena on January 7, 2010. Their 13-game winning streak was halted by the Wildcats of Northwestern in a 17-10 loss. Don’t give up, Kata. The Hawkeyes can still win the Big Ten and get to Pasadena in the Rose Bowl.
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