Year of the Little Guy
Hard to fathom the performance of the two recent top-grossing college football programs in the world: Texas and Georgia. Texas had won eleven games per season forever, seemingly, and was coming off a close title game loss to Bama, which in reality may have gone the other way if the winningest quarterback in college football history had not been knocked out of the game early with a shoulder injury. They dropped seven games and did not even make a bowl.
Georgia came in at number two on the annual money earned list and looked to bounce back from a tough five-loss campaign, after two straight seasons in the Top 10 and nine total years of solid production under Mark Richt. The Dawgs equaled the Longhorns’ loss number with a horrific showing in the Liberty Bowl, losing 10-6 to upstart UCF.
Central Florida had won a bowl game for the first time in school history and finished with eleven wins. And looking around the landscape of NCAA football, that fit the norm for the season. My folks’ alma mater, Texas Christian University, the TCU Horned Frogs from Ft. Worth, finished a perfect season with a Rose Bowl win. Boise State dominated all year, except when they played non-powerhouse Nevada in Reno. Washington shut down the same Nebraska attack that had crushed them earlier this season. And Stanford may be the team playing the best football in the country right now. They dismantled ACC champ Virginia Tech by four touchdowns in an Orange Bowl smashing. VaTech had won eleven straight, since opening with losses to Boise State and James Madison.
In conference, national pre-season number one Bama finished fourth in the SEC West. While SEC East favorite Florida lost five games, and Carolina won the SEC East for the first time ever (only to then drop two straight games in The ATL). The best Bulldogs in the SEC played for Mississippi State. They rained hail in putting up fifty-two points in a bowl destruction of Michigan – college football’s all-time winningest program.