As he proved in two seasons at the University of Utah, Urban Meyer is a terrific coach. He’s also lucky, as illustrated by what happened Saturday to advance his cause of winning a third national championship.
All Meyer had to do was mildly complain about a BCS system that’s formerly rewarded him and, sure enough, things started happening in his favor. A few hours after his unbeaten Ohio State team held off Michigan by stopping a two-point conversion attempt in a 42-41 victory, Meyer got the kind of break that helped his one-loss Florida teams in 2006 and ‘08.
Auburn’s 100-yard touchdown return of a field-goal attempt on the last play of the game gave the Tigers a 34-28 win over Alabama, almost certainly knocking the Crimson Tide out of the national title picture. The result is that Ohio State is now No. 2 in the BCS standings and presumably will play for the championship, as long as the Buckeyes beat Michigan State in the Big Ten title game.
There’s an argument for a one-loss Auburn team being more qualified than OSU, but the Tigers won’t jump over the Buckeyes. That could never happen to the charmed Urban Meyer.
He’s deserving, considering he’s 24-0 at Ohio State and won all kinds of games at Bowling Green, Utah and Florida. But he also has a history of having things fall his way. It even happened at Utah in ‘04, where the Utes needed some help to make the top six of the BCS standings, then required for automatic selection to a BCS game for a school outside of the power conferences.
In ‘06, Meyer’s Florida team reached No. 2 in the final BCS standings, thanks to a convergence that included UCLA’s stunning upset of USC that weekend. The Gators then beat Ohio State, coincidentally enough, for the national championship.
In ‘08, Florida lost to Mississippi State in September and stood 10th in the BCS standings as of mid-October, but worked their way up to No. 2 again. The Gators did their part, beating Alabama in the SEC championship game, but they also needed some Big 12 teams to knock off one another.
Florida then beat Oklahoma for Meyer’s second title, the year when Utah finished 13-0 with a Sugar Bowl win over Alabama, becoming the last remaining unbeaten team. Asked about a mythical meeting with Florida, Ute coach Kyle Whittingham said, "You tell us where to be and when to be there, and we will be there, I can tell you that."
Five years later, Meyer’s new team is headed to another national championship game and Whittingham just wishes his team was playing in any bowl game.
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