OSU-UF: One-Game Playoff

When the Buckeyes and Gators square off for the BCS National Championship Game Monday night, it will come after a lengthy break for the two teams. Could this game be the slow beginning to ultimately forming a college football playoff at the Division I level? Kyle Lamb explains why he thinks it is.

When Florida and Ohio State step out on the fresh, artificial turf of University of Phoenix Stadium Monday night in Glendale, it will be a one-game season. Fittingly, it feels like another season given the lengthy lay-off the two teams have endured.

For Ohio State, it will have been 51 days since the Buckeyes celebrated a Big Ten Championship over arch-rival Michigan in Columbus. The Gators, meanwhile, will not have seen the field in 37 days since their wild victory over Arkansas in the SEC Championship.

Officially speaking, to the victor of Monday night's BCS National Championship game goes the spoils and college football's prestigious title of No. 1-ranked team in the country.

Unofficially speaking, it proves virtually nothing.

Sure, any football game doesn't necessarily guarantee the best team wins. You can only assume the winner was deserving because they were the best team on that particular afternoon or evening. But when we're talking about nearly two months since Ohio State played their last game - win or lose, what does that prove?

Proponents of the bowl system claim college football has it's own unique system. Going undefeated through the rigors of the regular season is a feat in itself, and that, people say, is worthwhile of crowning a team champion should they escape their bowl game unscathed.

That logic, however, is tossed out the window when a team has not one, not two, not even five but seven weeks to rest up and prepare for their next game. So when the Gators and Buckeyes kick off their game for all the marbles, they may as well be playing their own one-game season.

Ohio State ran the gauntlet, winning on the road early in the season against Texas and then at home against No. 2 Michigan. Florida, with the only exception of a loss against Auburn, the Gators won 13 games including a tough SEC which included a victory over LSU and Tennessee.

Whichever team ultimately hoists the trophy Monday night will play their part in history. Sure, the winner will be crowned the ninth BCS National Champion since the inception in 1998, but more importantly, these two teams might be playing in the championship game where for one reason or another, most people seem to be accepting that a rightful playoff is on the way.

Missing more classtime was always a key argument against a playoff from it's opponents. We've now extended the season by a week, playing the championship game seven days after the new year - in many cases, after the second semester or winter quarter begins.

Playing the BCS games the week before, or more than five days prior, the system is unknowingly making it easy for an "and-one" game or four-team playoff. Even an eight-team playoff could easily begin the Saturday before New Year's day.

There will be no controversy this season. If Ohio State wins and remains undefeated, only a handful of whispers will be made about Boise State's perfect season, but ultimately the Buckeyes will be an easy choice. If Florida wins, it will have won 14 of 15 games, including nine in the SEC, although there may be a few extra fists pounding down against the table about those Broncos. But still, Florida will be a consensus champion in all polls - the ones that matter and the ones that don't.

And what about those Broncos?

For the first time, the little guy is giving added incentive for a playoff. When Urban Meyer's own Utah ran the table in 2004, no one cared about their statement victory over Pittsburgh in the Fiesta Bowl. But with Boise State's legit thrilling win against Oklahoma in this season's Fiesta, a whole lot of people are ready to raise a fuss about their inclusion in the championship picture - which almost inevitably means playing-it-off.

The process could have been expedited should have Michigan stayed ahead of Florida or USC not lost to UCLA. Controversy over who Ohio State should play riled folks up enough to get the money people to listen. Meyer spoke loud in his words saying his team was deserving of their shot against the Buckeyes, and the coaches and Harris Poll members that vote on the system apparently listened.

Perhaps Ohio State will take the field Monday and dominate Florida, showing why it was the nearly unanimous No. 1 team from start to finish this season - and then there shall be no debate. But if Florida is the better team just for one night, it will be the best example of why there should be a playoff - winning a one-game season.

If that one game wasn't 50 days later, perhaps a Florida victory would give a clearer message. Fortunately for college football, this one-game playoff is a good start for a real bona fide postseason.


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