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A Great Weekend for a Great Sport

Celebrating how awesome college football is. (Photo by Sarah Glenn/Getty Images)
Celebrating how awesome college football is. (Photo by Sarah Glenn/Getty Images)
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Before we move on to the most recent Game of the Century of the Week, let's just sit back and appreciate how wonderful college football is.  Going into this weekend, I don't think anybody expected much from this slate of games, and instead we got another reminder that college football is the greatest sport on earth. 

One of Les Miles' greatest attributes is not just that he appreciates LSU's football tradition, he respects all of college football's tradition and his small place in it.  He reminds us, the fans, to stand back and take in the whole scene. 

There's lots of great things about this sport, but this weekend highlighted two things in particular: each game has consequences and that each conference championship matters. 

Winning the national title is great, but a team cannot control whether they will play for the title or not, just ask Auburn.  College football is not one league like the NFL or the NBA, it is a loose affiliation of several independent leagues, more like international cub soccer. No one cares who wins the AFC North, but schools celebrate the anniversaries of their conference titles.

 And because a conference title has actual value, it gives a game like Florida St-UVA even more heft than just being another chance for us to point and laugh at Wide Right, Again.  Oregon's stunning loss to USC is also the door opening for Stanford to possibly win the Pac-12.  Penn St's win over Ohio St isn't just their first win post-Paterno, it sets up a PSU-Wisconsin showdown to play in the Big Ten title game.  Outside of Oregon, none of these teams are in the national title hunt, but their games still matter. Conference titles are forever. 

This also means that every game matters.  OK, some games matters more than others.  But Vanderbilt-Tennessee isn't just another instance of Lucy pulling the football from Charlie Brown, it is a struggle for Vanderbilt to become bowl eligible.  And as an SEC fans, we care more about this game because it is within our own little galaxy.

SEC teams, like every other conference teams, largely play the same schedule each year.  We see the same teams over and over again, breeding both familiarity and contempt.  And this year's humiliation becomes motivation in next year's showdown.  I still want LSU to beat up on Auburn because of the cigar incident, and that was almost ten years ago.  Let's just say that I think that Victory Formation is going to come up again in Ole Miss lore.    

But the games with the largest consequences were those with the national title implications.  I hate the line that "every week is a playoff" because it really isn't, but still, every game has consequence.  Had this been an NFL weekend, it would have been some nice upsets, and then we would have moved on with our lives.  Not in college. 

Clemson flew a bit under the radar this weekend, but their loss killed their title chances.  The Tigers had a chance to climb up the BCS rankings and just blew it.  Oklahoma played in perhaps the most exciting game of the weekend, and its consequences were twofold - OU saw its title hopes go up in smoke and RG3 saw his Heisman campaign gain a second wind.  Alabama fans had an incredibly exciting weekend, watching all of their competitors for the title game drop like flies.  It doesn't mean Bama's in the title game, but their chances are a lot better today than they were 72 hours ago.

 We didn't see this weekend coming.  It was supposed to be a light slate without much interest.  But when you least expect it, this sport reminds you just how unpredictable it is.  And that's what makes it so great.