Shanoff's WUC: BCS Title or FAIL for Florida

Today's Calls: Florida vs. Expectations, Curt Schilling vs. Massachusetts Democrats, Michael Vick vs. Week 1, Brandon Marshall vs. Josh McDaniels, Scott Kazmir vs. Brad Penny, Boise State vs. Oregon and More. ↵

↵The Opening Pitch: National title or FAIL. ↵

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↵Those are the stakes for No. 1 Florida, battling its own potential as much as it is the rest of the country. ↵

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↵Best player. Best coach. Best defense. Best special teams. Best stadium. Defending champs. Favorable schedule. With that comes brutal expectations: It is "BCS Title or Bust." ↵

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↵For better or worse, anything less than a national title -- and, by BCS-necessity, Florida's first-ever unbeaten season -- will be considered a failure. ↵

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↵Just ask 2005 USC about that "win-or-fail" dynamic. ↵

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↵In August '05, we were all touting USC as the greatest team ever. (And, yes, even Matt Leinart as the "greatest college football player ever." Sound familiar?) ↵

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↵Turned out that USC team had an overlooked championship-unworthy defense, which ultimately did them in against Vince Young & Co. Just like that, not only was USC exiled from the "best-ever" conversation, but the expectations turned them into a punch line. ↵

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↵Florida doesn't have USC's problem; its D could be one of the best defenses in college football history. Urban Meyer -- not to mention Tim Tebow and Brandon Spikes, who came back precisely for these stakes -- is laser-focused on avoiding a defending champ's biggest weakness: Entitlement. ↵

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↵Florida is not the most intriguing team in the country because they are the most talented or the defending champs or the prohibitive favorite. If they can complete the unbeaten season and national title, they will be on the short list for Greatest College Football Team of All Time. ↵The flip side: They are really the most intriguing team because no team has more to lose. BCS Title or Bust. ↵

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↵CFB: What's up with Zac Robinson? Oh, it's just those pesky "internet rumors." Nothing to see here. UGA-OK St. remains Saturday's best game. (More interesting: Rumors that Oklahoma star TE Jermaine Gresham injured his knee and will be out a few weeks.) ↵

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↵Tonight's Season-Openers: Matt Hayes has what to watch for in Oregon-Boise and South Carolina-NC St. (Two words: Jeremiah. Masoli.) Plus: Spurrier Q&A! ↵

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↵Senator Curt Schilling (R-MA)?! Sigh: This is not surprising at all. The ironic thing is that if only Schilling was a Democrat, he would actually have a shot at this. (I'm not saying he is any less qualified from the blue side than the red side. But, in Mass, it would help.) ↵

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↵Michael Vick reinstated for Week 1? Roger Goodell has to decide on Vick's reinstatement by Week 6. That doesn't mean it will take until Week 6. Conventional wisdom has held that he would reinstate Vick for Week 3. Now there's a rumor that Goodell could announce his decision by Saturday -- under the cover of the college football season-opener? -- and it could include reinstating Vick for Week 1. ↵

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↵(Two months ago, could you see that coming? Yes, to the extent that as soon as Vick joined a team and took the field his reinstatement-worthiness was going to melt away as an issue. No one talks about the dogfighting anymore; fans just want to see what he can do on the field. That makes it easy for Goodell to push his Vick timetable.) ↵

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↵Brandon Marshall to the Jets? Even if Marshall is a diva, what a coup that would be for the Jets. And if the Broncos could get a 2nd-round pick for a guy -- even an All-Pro guy -- that's better than dealing with his antics all season long. It's not like the Broncos have a QB who can get him the ball anyway. (FWIW, Josh McDaniels denies that the Broncos are considering trading Marshall; we won't call that "lying" -- let's generously call it "strategic misdirection.") ↵

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↵NFL Preseason: Is there anything less meaningful than the fourth preseason game? Starters sit. Everyone is just trying to keep from getting injured. Sure, at the margins, some players are fighting for their jobs -- but I agree with Florio: The preseason games are a joke. ↵

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↵MLB Talking Points: Kazmir as ALDS/CS/WS X-factor? YES. ↵

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↵• Kazmir was good (8 Ks)... : King Felix was beter. ↵

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↵• Go figure: Brad Penny blanks Phils. ↵

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↵• CC for AL Cy? Sabathia wins 16th. ↵

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↵• Injury Watch: Josh Hamilton (back). ↵

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↵• Hanley, Uggla argue: Then Dan hits HR in FLA W. ↵

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↵• Fantasy Stud: Jason Giambi (Pinch-hit 2 RBI). ↵

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↵Pitino Watch: Is this as cynical of a ploy as it looks? (Yes. Completely.) ↵

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↵NBA Offseason: Does it humanize AI (per Shoals) to see him twisting without a team? I just want to see him signed and on the court next season -- he remains the most entertaining active NBA player I have ever seen in person. (Caveat: Have never seen Kobe; have seen LeBron.) ↵

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↵Today's Must-Read: Chris Littmann on a new study that found 40 percent of sportswriters gamble on sports (and 5 percent gamble on teams they cover). I'm with Chris: That number feels way too low if you count -- legitimately -- fantasy football and the NCAA Tournament. ↵

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↵(It is another matter entirely whether that gambling impacts their coverage. Scott Kazmir and Dan Uggla are on my fantasy team; did I pick them out to highlight in the item above because I am partial to them? You decide.) ↵

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↵Pacman Update: Can't catch a break. (Try the UFL!) ↵

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↵Twitter: Ron Artest found Palace nemesis John Green -- the one who threw the beer on Artest -- through Twitter, talked with him on the phone and will be flying him to LA for a reunion. The NBA is a better place for having Artest bring his brand of crazy. ↵

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↵The Last Word: Boise State. Oregon. Blue turf. Late-night start. BCS aspirations. Season opener. Who match up tonight. What more can you ask for? The new college football season is here. ↵

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↵Dan Shanoff writes The Wake-Up Call every weekday morning for SportingNews.com and blogs daily at DanShanoff.com. Got any comments, questions or feedback? Email Dan at shanofftsn-[at]-gmail-[dot]-com. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/danshanoff. ↵

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This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.

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