Admittedly, I tend to seek patterns and precedents where none may exist. That is just how my mind works: it tries to make order of the chaos of everyday life.
For me, the phrase ‘those that cannot remember the past are destined to repeat it’ is a motto to live by. Look around hard enough and pretty soon you can find something that has occurred that is mirrored by current events.
So, it should come as no surprise when I say that this college football season reminds me of a previous one. However, it is somewhat reassuring that in at least one aspect, in this case I am not alone. Someone else agrees with me.
The three undefeated team problem we currently face, could be compared to the 2004 campaign in which Auburn was left out of the mix while Oklahoma got trounced by USC in the BCS title game. But USC and Oklahoma were supposed to be there. The difference to me is that at least 2 of the 3 teams without a loss were not supposed to even sniff the top ten this year.
But there is a direct parallel, one every Nole fan holds near and dear to their hearts – 1998.
In that year, preseason favorite Ohio State was upset by Michigan State late in the season. Florida State had lost early in the season in an upset at North Carolina State (that sounds familiar…).
By the final Saturday of the season, three upstarts stood undefeated. Each played one last game with a shot at the national title hanging in the balance while #4 Florida State, one of the preseason favorites, sat on the sidelines hoping for some help. FSU needed two of the three undefeateds: UCLA, Kansas State and Tennessee to lose for a chance to sneak into the BCS title game.
UCLA played first – a game at Miami being made up from a hurricane necessitated postponement early in the season. Bruins quarterback Cade McNown scored at will (500+yards and 5 TDs) but fell one drive short after Edgerrin James put the Canes ahead with a minute left. UCLA lost 49-45.
Kansas State played Texas A&M in the Big Twelve title game that same evening. At half, the Wildcats led 17-6 but the Aggies rallied to tie and force overtime. After a pair of field goals forced a 2nd OT, the Wildcats put up another field goal. Texas A&M was able to find the end zone though and won 36-33.
Tennessee sat at #1 in the polls and held on to win against Mississippi State 24-14 in the SEC title game, clinching a spot in the BCS title game. Now, against FSU who got all the help they needed by KSU and UCLA.
Kansas State, Texas A&M pulling an upset, a Pac-12 team, an SEC team. A one-loss team needing a loss to get back where they feel they belong. The more things change, the more they stay the same.
Bill Snyder may see several parallels between his two Wildcat teams, but it is Alabama fans that hope to see the final and most important parallel.