Sunday, November 25, 2007

Week 13, and what a week it was!

The regular season is over. Bowl season will officially begin in a week, and the Heisman will be awarded soon. That is what remains of the football season 2007.

We will look at the rest of the football universe later this week, but first, I think it's better if we examine what happened this weekend. There is a lot to cover.

First, the SEC East championship was settled when Kentucky was defeated by the Tennessee Volunteers. This was an incredible, 5 hour, 4-overtime game, and was every bit as suspenseful and meaningful as the 3 OT thriller Kentucky had against LSU earlier this year. Make no mistake, Kentucky wanted to end Tennessee's 22 (now 23) year domination of the series, but alas, it was not to be.

Tennessee had a great game plan for this game, and seemed to be rolling to an easy victory after the fist half. But as has been the modus operandi for Kentucky all year, they came out and dominated the second half. Kentucky even had a chance to win the game outright, but Woodson missed a wide-open Keenan Burton in the end zone. I think Woodson just got rattled by the short time he had to make that decision, and he had to throw on the move, which has never been his strength.

Both teams played great football, each team dominating a half and neither team dominating the overtime. Kentucky lost when Woodson failed to make it into the end zone for the two-point conversion in the fourth overtime. It was simply a marvelous SEC game, and as disappointed as the UK fan in me is in the loss, the SEC fan in me loved the fact that both teams left it all on the field. Congratulations to the Vols for getting to Atlanta, and to the Cats for their second 7-win season in a row.

Messenger from Wildcats Thunder wants to talk about the state of Kentucky football, not the loss to UT:

I truly appreciate what Rich Brooks has done for UK's football program. When Brooks took the job in December, 2002, Barnhart couldn't give it away. At least five other candidates turned it down before Brooks said yes. Brooks' first three seasons in Lexington were miserable, and I know that directly from people inside UK's Athletics Department. Brooks persevered and took UK to bowls in 2006 and 2007. If he wants to keep coaching, he will have my support and, I hope, everyone else's.

But this kind of a season can suck some of the positive momentum out of a program, and out of a veteran coach. Closing with four losses in the last five games will, unfortunately, have a certain amount of negative impact on UK's recruiting class. Losing the seniors will present a huge challenge to UK's coaching staff in 2008. If this challenges excites and reinvigorates Brooks, then obviously he has earned, and deserves, his opportunity to overcome it.
I don't necessarily agree with his second paragraph. Yes, going 1-4 to finish out the season isn't ideal, but two of those games were very winnable, one lost only by the narrowest of margins in 4 overtimes. I think UK has made its case that it is a program that is moving up. Whether or not they can sustain that momentum remains to be seen, but the Wildcats have sufficient talent coming back next year to likely preclude a slippage back into the dark dungeons of the SEC basement. The Cats may not make the bowls next year, but they could just as easily do so -- I consider it a 50/50 proposition. It will be a bit more of a crap shoot than this year, but Brooks continues to improve Kentucky's depth, and that is what cost them most of their losses this season.

Joel at Rock Top Talk says this was a case of two even teams doing battle to the end:
The outcome was: indeed, like Everest, K2, and Mars, all wrapped up into one, just not for the Kentucky fans. Putting enough discernible distance between the Vols and the 'Cats for society to permit one of them to claim they were better on this day was a feat requiring enormous effort and dedication. Consequences? The SEC Championship. We're going to Atlanta despite the Cal, Florida, and Alabama debacles. We're spending the week plotting revenge on the LSU Tigers for 2001, when they trampled the rose clinched between Casey Clausen's teeth.
Indeed. It was a great battle, and I think the better team won this one. UT's depth wore us down, and they looked fresher on defense in overtime.

Jon at Fulmer's Belly is incoherent:
Heh. I think he's happy.

But how about Georgia fans? Well they were too busy exulting over the Dawg-pounding of the Yellowjackets to worry about the goings-on in Lexington. Oh, I'm sure they looked in on it, but they had other fish insects to fry. Paul Westerdawg saw it thus:
Tech lost because they couldn't handle the moment.
Tech lost because Gailey hasn't recruited or developed a QB in six seasons.
Tech lost because Tenuta is grossly overrated and takes too many chances.
Tech lost because their WRs have hands of stone.
Tech lost because UGA has more talent, depth and better coaching across the board.

They did not lose because of officiating or luck.
Senator Blutarsky says that the statistics tell the tale, and the result is what matters:

The box score doesn’t lie on this one. Georgia racked up 432 yards of offense - 214 passing, 218 rushing - on what had been the #7 school in the country in total defense. The only thing Tech’s defense did well was to hold the Dawg offense to a poor 4 of 13 performance on third downs.

Seven in a row.

Georgia winds up the season ranked 4th in the AP, which could guarantee them an at-large berth if the BCS works out the same way. Paul Westerdawg does the math for those of you who don't have the time or inclination. Congrats to the Georgia Bulldogs on a great season.

More on the weekend and what it all means later.