Alabama appears unbeatable, but history shows that hype has its perils

When Urban Meyer coached at Florida, he decreed that the support staff would print out any story or opponent quote that slighted the Gators. Offending passages would be highlighted and copies would be posted throughout the weight room. Some weeks, staffers couldn’t find anything remotely disrespectful. So they simply made up incendiary stories and posted them on the walls. They had no trouble finding insulting material before Florida played Ohio State in the BCS title game to close the 2006 season.

The Buckeyes were favored by seven, but the coverage leading up to the game made the line feel more like Ohio State minus-100. The Buckeyes had Heisman Trophy winner Troy Smith at quarterback. They had just outlasted Michigan in a classic that left a significant chunk of the college football-loving world wondering whether The Game should just be replayed in Glendale, Ariz., in January 2007. Everywhere Gators staffers looked, they found columns that questioned the wisdom of placing Florida in the title game. Almost everything written or said before the game predicted an Ohio State win.

We know what happened next, which is why this sentiment seems so strange now. But when the sun rose in Arizona on Jan. 8, 2007, Ohio State—the undefeated champion of the best conference in college football—was unbeatable. When it rose the next morning, the

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