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Season is more inevitable than incredible

Unless something amazing happens, it looks like Florida/Alabama vs. Texas for the BCS title.


The season seems stuck in third gear. It has been good, but not great -- more interesting than compelling.

There has been no bang (yet) for your Buckeye. The fall has lacked a wipeout weekend and over-the-top drama.

Maybe it's coming, but it's getting late.

In 2007, you had a different No. 2 every week chinning to the top only to get knocked off the bar.

Appalachian State shocked Michigan that year and Stanford took USC by sneak attack. On the final weekend, with jaws agape, we watched two-loss Louisiana State go from No. 7 in the Bowl Championship Series standings on Friday to No. 2 on Sunday.

It's hard to get worked up anymore when Navy beats Notre Dame, Ohio State assumes control of the Big Ten or the Southeastern Conference starts Thanksgiving early by feasting on nonconference giblets of Northern Arizona, Memphis, Eastern Kentucky and Furman.

Georgia couldn't beat Tennessee this year but, by dog, it beat Tennessee Tech.

You call Saturday in the SEC a November to remember?

Pete Carroll is 28-0 in the month at USC without ever having played a secondary school.

Navy defeated Notre Dame, ho-hum, in South Bend. Two years ago it was humongous because Navy had lost 43 straight in the series. Saturday, some Navy players didn't even feel much like celebrating. Didn't they just do snow angels in that end zone?

We've had almost drama and near mayhem, but Northern Iowa did not quite upset Iowa on opening weekend, Tennessee didn't make the field goal to beat Alabama and Jimmy Clausen didn't make a pass to beat USC.

Wyoming had Texas on the ropes for . . . almost two quarters.

What fun is it to have Heisman Trophy winner Sam Bradford out for the season? The front-runner now is the Alabama back whose late fumble almost cost his team a win against Tennessee.

It's never good when the conversation starters are about officiating. The SEC has already suspended one crew and last weekend fined Florida Coach Urban Meyer $30,000 for saying something that was probably true.

And yet, the SEC replay crew blew another important call Saturday when it failed to award LSU a late interception that might have helped the Tigers upset Alabama.

LSU Coach Les Miles might tell you what he thinks, but 30 grand is 30 grand.

We've spent too much time debunking myths and knocking theories down. No, Iowa fans, your team was not equipped to win the national title this year. It was a miracle you got to 9-0, but the trip to Lourdes ended Saturday against Northwestern.

USC Coach Pete Carroll said after a victory over California that true freshman Matt Barkley "is playing as good of football as anybody we have ever had already."

You wonder what Carson Palmer thought after he spit up his cereal.

It was, of course, mostly a smoke screen to cover Carroll's decision to trap-door preseason starter Aaron Corp, forget he had ever invited Mitch Mustain to transfer, and take a gamble with the kid.

Barkley has proved so far to be a freshman -- one who might win a Heisman Trophy and a national title for USC, but neither one this year.

In his last six quarters -- the second half against Oregon and four quarters against Arizona State -- Barkley has completed 12 of 38 passes for 161 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions.

Corp was 13 for 22 for 110 yards in a loss against Washington and was demoted to the scout team in Siberia.

Carroll went on for days about the interceptions Corp almost threw to blow the Washington game. Saturday, after the ugliest USC win this season, Carroll made no mention of the interceptions Barkley almost tossed. He never mentioned Barkley by name, saying of the passing game, "we just weren't clean."

Was it Barkley's fault USC lost at Oregon? No more than it was Corp's fault USC lost at Washington.

Is Barkley 7-1 as the starter? Yes, so it's all working.

For the sake of keeping it real, though, can we keep it real?

And so calendar pages flip through November, a season absent of the Saturday that makes people gather around the water cooler on Monday.

Today, we're just glad Cal tailback Jahvid Best is OK.

We're on a Bevo-line toward the inevitable -- the Florida-Alabama winner playing Texas for the BCS national title Jan. 7 at the Rose Bowl.

Florida, Alabama and Texas hogged Sunday's top three spots in the BCS standings. The order doesn't even matter -- mix and match them as you like.

We're all just poll hall monitors.

This feels more like 2004, when USC and Oklahoma opened at No. 1 and No. 2 and wouldn't give up their seats, even for Auburn. Or like 2005, when Texas and USC were identified in August and glorified in January.

The resistance to Florida/Alabama vs. Texas is weakening.

What's left to stop Florida is: South Carolina, Florida International and Florida State.

Alabama has only to knock down Mississippi State, Chattanooga and Auburn in the Iron Bowl.

Texas has Baylor, Kansas and Texas A&M and then whatever crawls out of the Big 12 North.

Maybe you see a monkey wrench in that machinery.

Steve Spurrier might have one more ball-play trick to take down the Gators this week in Columbia, the winner of Alabama-Auburn is never to be assumed, while Texas A&M is capable of wrecking Texas' hopes in College Station -- it has happened before.

For now, though, this all seems like a meandering road that leads back to the preseason polls.

The 2009 season, until further notice: Texas vs. Florida or Alabama vs. Texas.

The clock is ticking on its being anything different.


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