I thought I'd be more enthused about tonight's national title game. While I'll be watching intently, it'll be a lot more casually, than, say: this. Man it's fun to read that stuff all over again.
While I don't have too much of a rooting interest in tonight's game, it's the last college football game of the season, and a big one at that. The matchup's pretty intriguing, too. Consider this your brief viewing guide for tonight's matchup, with some thougths of my own, plus links to those who are covering this thing properly.
First, make sure you take a close look at Sunday Morning Quarterback's coverage of the big game. He's got it all covered, as usual. One of the many reasons I won't attempt a full preview of this puppy. Competing with SMQ on matters like these is a fool's errand. (I probably should have done an Under The Hood for this one, but I'm too swamped with work. Apologies.)
So, quick thoughts and a few questions.
First, do you care about this game? Some of you are already talking it out.
Second, who do you think will win?
Personally, I'm rooting for a good game; there's nothing as disappointing as an uncompetitive championship game. Even as a diehard Steelers fan, I was let down by the lousiness of the Super Bowl itself last February. Clearly, we won't get a game as exciting as last year's Rose Bowl, but something dramatic would be nice. Urban Meyer choking the game away in the final seconds would be especially gratfiying.
I think the most interesting storyline in the game is Troy Smith, really. My Dad sort of clarified this thought for me, but he's right: Troy Smith has really, really grown into himself. And not just as a player - as a person, too. He's articulate about his past mistakes, thoughtful, genuinely more mature than he used to be... almost worth rooting for, really. I have no affinity for Jim Tressel or Ohio State, but Smith's actually a compelling character.
But as a player, too, Smith's the key. He's just been nails in every big game this season (and most of last) - how he plays tonight will determine the Buckeye's fate. Florida will field the best defense Ohio State's faced by a sizable margin, so the Buckeyes probably can't win this thing without Smith stepping up and being The Man.
On the flipside, I've got my doubts about the Florida offense. Despite Urban Meyer's theoretical offensive genius, this has been a subpar unit all season. They've feasted on great defense, though against decidedly underwhelming competition. Ohio State's bringing an offensive balance and firepower the Gators have not seen all year - that means Florida, in all likelihood, will need points. Are they up for it?
In the end, that leaves me thinking back to our September showdown against Ohio State, when I thought our superior defense would be enough to counterbalance Ohio State's decisive offensive edge. Similarly, prior to the Michigan game, I thought Michigan's superior defense would be enough to overcome their inferior offense. Wrong again.
Here we are now today, and Ohio State's got a superior offense. Should I bet against them once more?
I think not. I'll take the Buckeyes to win the national championship, 31-23.