Al.com columnist Kevin Scarbinsky thinks Florida State would be a much tougher matchup for Alabama than the Oregon Ducks. He writes:
If the choices are Oregon or Florida State, the two teams who’ve swapped the No. 2 BCS ranking behind Alabama the last two weeks, it’s no choice. Give the Tide the Ducks.
Why? Florida State has a much better chance to man up to Alabama.
FSU has SEC-style talent on both sides of the ball, including up front. FSU has a special quarterback in Jameis Winston who doesn’t get rattled in big moments.
Oregon fans, Scarbinsky notes, are chanting “We want Bama” in the second half of Duck games. Enterprising students are selling tee shirts. Ed Dickson wore one on the sideline of the UCLA game, a black and yellow one that read, “we want the SEC.”
Turns out the SEC wants Oregon too, because they think the Ducks would be easier. (Photo of the soft Oregon defense from oregonlive.com).
It’s not surprising that SEC honks and SEC writers would think that. After all, the Ducks lost to Auburn and LSU in 2010 and 2011. According to the SEC view, they were “dominated” in both games. Never mind that the yardage was about equal and the Oregon defense contained Cam Newton better than anyone in the SEC had all year. The standard Ess EEE SEE dismissal of the the Ducks also ignores that the current team is bigger, better and more athletic than the two that lost those big games. Oregon has a special quarterback also, who doesn’t get rattled in big moments. The 2013 Ducks run the football for 331 yards a game, and the defense limits opponents to 16.9 points a game. Teams don’t achieve those kinds of numbers without being physical.
Of the remaining unbeaten teams, Florida State has the best chance to compete with Alabama for 60 minutes, which no team has done in any of Alabama’s three BCS Championship Games.
The problem is, this perception of the Ducks as a soft team that can’t compete is a tiebreaker in one-quarter of the country in terms of who to rank one and two. Remember the AP voter map DSH ran earlier in the year? They vote in a block, and they think that way. SEC size. SEC speed. UCLA was big (286, 305, 330 across the front) and their linebackers are as quick and athletic as any group in the country. But perception of the conferences is so skewed that the SEC has six teams in the Top 15, and three of those have two losses.
The AP poll isn’t used in the BCS formula, but it does figure in shaping the perception of schedule strength and conference superiority. Whether in the Coaches Poll or the BCS computers, the Ducks are fighting a football establishment that leans heavily to the South and East, and a persistent myth that they are soft, small team that can’t match up physically to the traditional powers of college football. (AP voter map compiled by reader Glen Hanna.)
If Florida State beats Miami on Saturday, they’ll pass the Ducks in the BCS standings. Oregon leapfrogs the Seminoles if they beat Stanford, another team built on an SEC/old style football model, power running, play action passing and defense, huddle every down, quarterback behind center.
Florida State finishes the year with three relatively easy games, Wake Forest, Syracuse and Idaho (Idaho?) before traveling to Florida the end of November. They’ll meet the winner of the ACC Coastal in the conference championship game, probably the Hurricanes in a rematch.
The ideal scenario for Duck fans is that the Canes and Noles split those two games.
If FSU runs the table, someone could be in for an outrageous consolation prize on Selection Sunday. Ohio State and Baylor face the same prospect.
Oregon won’t change that perception as a soft, finesse team until they beat an SEC squad in a big game. If they get the chance. First, they have to beat Stanford in a big game, one that will be watched closely around the country for signs of weakness.
Somehow Duck wins tend to get discounted, the strength of the other team magically revised in the last five minutes of the fourth quarter. Duck losses are heralded as exposure of the gimmicky offense, a blueprint that proves Oregon was a fraud all along.
It’s a maddening conundrum, and the only way to smash the myth once and for all is to beat the best with everybody watching.