One Eyed Observations: Florida’s Offense, the Best 1-Loss Teams, and Oklahoma’s Sam Bradford

I ask the questions. 

Will Florida’s offense eventually shoot the Gator’s national title hopes in the foot?  I have said this for the past few weeks, and I will stick with my guns…I don’t think the Gators are going to lose in the regular season.  I think we have a few challenges still to face – Mississippi State on the road will be tougher than people think (see USC playing its old coordinator at Washington for further proof), Georgia will be a decent challenge, and South Carolina on the road (probably at night) will be the most difficult of the remaining games – but I think the strength of our defense helps us win all of these contests.  So, with that said, I don’t think our offense and its current ineptitude will keep us from having a shot to play in the BCS Championship Game.  Notice I said the word “shot.”  The game that will be for all the marbles is the SEC Championship Game.  I know that is a fairly obvious statement, but it’s the simple truth.

Ignoring the first two games of the season against inferior opponents, our offense has really had one good quarter of play (first quarter against Kentucky).  And the argument can be made that it was the play of our defense and special teams in that quarter which led to the onslaught of points.  Against Tennessee we were said to be playing conservative against a good defense to merely salvage a win.  Against Kentucky we played lights out the first quarter and then put it on cruise control and really didn’t do much prior to and after the infamous Concussion of 2009.  Against LSU our offense never really got started and struggled to put points on the board albeit in a hostile environment and against a top 5-10 team.  And finally against Arkansas our offense (except Tim Tebow) looked confused and out of place, allowing way too many sacks and putting the ball on the carpet more than the Bucs’ Michael Clayton.  I do not think we need the 2008 offense to reincarnate itself to win the national championship this year.  But I would currently grade our offense performances in whole as a “C” – and I think we need to be in the “B+” range to have a chance at beating Alabama in December and then winning in Pasadena come early January.

Which 1-loss team has the best chance of making it to the national title game?  For discussion purposes, let’s assume that both Cincinnati and Iowa lose at some point throughout the season.  Let’s also assume that the top 1-loss teams hurdle over Boise State due to BSU’s ridiculously weak SOS, which I think will happen.  Taking those events into account, I believe that there are currently four 1-loss teams that have an outside shot at making it to the NC game – USC, LSU, Miami and Oregon – and ultimately I think it is USC with the best shot at making it given the current standings.  The game pitting USC vs. Oregon will of course knock one of these teams out of the picture, and even if Oregon wins that game I am not sure they are sexy enough to make it all the way up the polls.  If LSU wins out, makes it to the SECCG, and beats Florida, then I think they would have a very good shot at making it to the NC game and could possibly hurdle over USC as the best 1-loss team.  And as good as Miami’s schedule was at the beginning of the year, their schedule the rest of the year is just flat out weak.  Therefore I think they would need help from not only all the teams I mentioned above, but they would also need USC and LSU to lose again to have a chance.

There are three wrenches that can be thrown into the mix.  1) If Alabama and Florida both go undefeated and Texas loses at some point, could there be a SEC rematch in the NC game?  The answer to this is simple:  no!  I think a 1-loss Texas or USC team would jump ahead of the SECCG loser.  2) If Texas loses, could they still make it to the NC game?  I think this is a possibility if and only if Texas loses to a top 25 team in the regular season.  If they lose in the Big 12CG then I think it’s too late for them to get back into the hunt.  3) Finally, what about TCU?  A lot of people are talking about BSU being the BCS buster this year, but I think it might be TCU. TCU has yet to play a ranked team yet they find themselves at #8 in the BCS standings.  TCU still has to play two ranked teams before the end of the season.  Win those two and get a little bit of help and I think TCU could be knocking at the BCS door.

Should Sam Bradford return for his senior season?  No, assuming he is still projected to be picked in the first round.  Sam Bradford has a lottery ticket in his hand and this year has shown him how quickly that lottery ticket can be taken away.  I understand his desire to want to come back and play – to make amends for the awful season that Oklahoma is having to this point and to give it one more shot at the NC.  But I just think the risk right now is higher than the reward.  Two smaller factors that should go into his decision-making process: 1) Dropping in the draft may not be the worst thing.  Not having to play for Oakland, Washington, St. Louis or Tampa Bay may be a blessing in disguise.  Getting drafted 25th by Minnesota doesn’t sound too bad to me right now!  2) There is still no rookie salary cap and there won’t be for the 2010 draft.  But the same may not be true for the 2011 draft.  Sam, words of advice…have the surgery, take the money and run!  You can always buy a national championship ring from a former Gator player once you are rich!!!