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Monday, November 20th, 2006

Two things for sure: Heisman belongs to Smith, rematch is fair

By Ryan Hines
COLUMBUS - There were a couple of things that were very evident after watching The Game on Saturday in Columbus.
The hype surrounding this rivalry matchup was unlike any other in the 103-year history of The Game and top-ranked Ohio State and second-ranked Michigan satisfied the national audience.
Even those who sold their tickets for fortunes may be second-guessing that decision as the Buckeyes and Wolverines treated football fans across the nation to an instant classic.
Ohio State quarterback Troy Smith cemented his position as the Heisman Trophy favorite with another breath-taking performance in the biggest game of the season with a stadium hosting 1100 media credentials watching it all unfold. Smith was 29-of-41 for 316 yards and four touchdowns and can now be considered a Wolverine slayer.
In three meetings against the Wolverines, Smith has orchestrated three wins with performances that will live in Lloyd Carr's nightmares for years to come. Smith's best games while wearing the Scarlet and Grey have all come in the past three meetings against Michigan ranking the Buckeyes' field general alongside Archie Griffin as the best OSU player against the Wolverines in the history of the rivalry.
Smith's leadership and big-play production has landed the Buckeyes in the BCS championship game on Jan. 8th in Glendale, Ariz., but the big question is, who will play against Ohio State for the national title?
The official announcement with the answer to that question won't come for a few weeks yet, but it's clear what the matchup should be.
Rematch. OSU vs. UM on Jan. 8th.
Michigan, USC, Florida, Arkansas and Notre Dame are considered to be the one-loss teams to be in contention to meet OSU in the BCS title game but the Wolverines have the best overall argument.
First, lets take a look at why USC, Florida, Arkansas and Notre Dame should not make it to the title game.
USC could move from third to second in the BCS rankings with a win over Notre Dame this week because of .007 difference separating the Trojans and the Wolverines in the rankings.
The Trojans have lost one game already, on the road against an unranked Oregon State (7-4) and could drop out of title contention if the Irish beat the Trojans on USC's home field.
Go Irish.
Florida and Arkansas are the Southeastern Conference teams still in the title mix and a matchup between the Gators and Razorbacks is already set in the SEC championship game in a two weeks. The loser of the SEC title game is out of the BCS title talk but the winner looks like a stronger contender to be the opponent of OSU on Jan. 8.
However, Arkansas was pasted at home by USC 50-14 in the season opener and Florida has a 27-17 loss against an overrated two-loss Auburn team. Arkansas and Florida shouldn't benefit from losing earlier in the season to a lesser opponent.
Notre Dame has beaten just one top 25 team (Georgia Tech) and has a humiliating (similar to Arkansas' loss to USC) home loss to Michigan (47-21) on its resume. Plus, Notre Dame showed it couldn't hang with Ohio State last year in the Fiesta Bowl where the Buckeyes raced by the Irish time after time.
Michigan's lone negative on its resume is a three-point loss on the road at the top-ranked team in the nation.
I'm usually not a proponent of rematches for a national title, but if the BCS is supposed to have the best teams in the nation meet, then the answer is simple.
OSU vs. Michigan at a neutral site would be the only game that could shadow what happened at Ohio Stadium this past Saturday.
And they called that the game of the century, just imagine what it could be with a rematch on Jan. 8?
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