The final month of the regular season begins in college football and only the following teams are left in the running for the top prize in the game:
Texas, Alabama, Penn State, Texas Tech,, Utah, Boise State, Tulsa, Ball State, Florida, Georgia, Oklahoma, Florida State, Southern Cal, Minnesota, Oklahoma State.
These sweet sixteen schools now have just one last month of games to navigate in order to set themselves up for an invitation to play for the grand prize in the New Year. Only one team that I called for elimination from the shortlist survived and they keep themselves alive for another precious seven days:
Georgia goes on the road and ends LSU's dreams of a repeat with a solid performance from the preseason number one team. Injuries and the rigors of the SEC have taken their toll on the Bulldogs and they now head to Jacksonville for another Shortlist elimination game against their hated rival the Florida Gators.
Four teams fell off the Shortlist to South Beach last week without me calling for them, the defending champs and three also-rans:
LSU drops their second game of the year, but unlike last year, there will be no miracle finish for Les Miles and his overrated defending champions. The worst BCS era champion ever gave the title defense a try but only an improvement on last years results would have impressed me, a repeat at best won't be worth another tarnished title this year.
Boston College falls on the road to North Carolina as Butch Davis continues to walk the tightrope of the ACC like a virtuoso. Somehow this man finds a way to get his teams to win the close games after failing to make that breakthrough in his first season on a weekly basis. I still think he should have lost in Miami this year and is living on borrowed time at the basketball school but for now he looks like the college coaching guru he was at the end of the 90's.
Georgia Tech answers the bell but forgets about the rest of the game and finds their ACC division lead and their Shortlist stay revoked in the rudest possible of manners by visiting Virginia as they are outworked by the Cavaliers over the corse of the game. Paul Johnson has had success this year with the novelty of the triple option but will it continue to work in this competitive defensive conference routinely? That remains to be seen.
Northwestern loses a shocker to Indiana as a great season comes crashing into reality at the hands of the Hoosiers. The Wildcats have won their share of Big 10 games the last decade but to have such a promising start come abruptly to a stop due to a loss to a down year Indiana team begins to border on inexcusable for Pat Fitzgerald.
The World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party, and yes I got the memo about the name change a few years ago, I just ignore it, is a Shortlist elimination game this week as both rivals are looking to add insult to injury after last years' sideshow in the end-zone.
I expect the better team to assert themselves over the corse of this game as Florida finds a way to payback the year's worth of frustration with a forceful statement about their readiness to navigate the final month of the season.
The Shortlist to South Beach closes ever closer to a mere handful of teams populating it and next week is guaranteed to see some eliminations and change in order as the season enters it's final stretch. Enjoy the games this week and come back here next week as the contenders rise to the occasion or fall off in humbling fashion here on the Shortlist to South Beach.
Copyright 2008 Christopher Whelpton for Canespace.com