College Football Teams And Their World Cup Doppelgängers: Part 2
By Dan Mathews
Yesterday, we talked about the first eight schools in our 16-team "college football, World Cup soccer team Doppelgängers tournament grid. If you missed it, here is the first part.
It's time to fill out the tournament grid. So without further delay, here are the final eight college football teams and their World Cup soccer twins.
England: Comparison — Georgia Bulldogs
Georgia is coming off a disappointing 8-5 mark in 2013 that included a loss to Nebraska in the Gator Bowl. Sure, the Bulldogs were riddled with huge injuries to QB Aaron Murray, WR Malcolm Mitchell, and RB Keith Marshall, but once again, the high expectations of a national/SEC title run were not met. Many ding the Georgia Bulldogs for not being on that level more often, especially given their access to the talent-rich Atlanta area. England is seemingly the standard for modern soccer with the English Premiere League staking its claim as one of the best leagues in the world. That said, England's national team seemingly always has high expectations attached to it and have not reached them in some time. Georgia made huge changes to its defensive staff by bringing in one of the hottest names in college football in Jeremy Pruitt. Expectations will be high for the Bulldogs in 2014. Just like they’ll be for England, should it qualify for Russia in 2018. England’s last and only World Cup title came in 1966. Georgia hasn’t won the national title since 1980.
Belgium: Comparison — Auburn Tigers
I know we’re still reeling from the loss to The Red Devils. However, Belgium is a team that seemingly plays within its system and does so well. How many times in that match against the U.S. did we see Belgium challenge in transition after the Americans tried to put the ball on goal? Auburn, under head coach Gus Malzahn, has seemingly done that as well. This is especially the case on offense. Just like Auburn, Belgium believes it can achieve the ultimate goal this year in Brazil. It will run into soccer’s Florida State — Argentina — in the quarterfinals. Go figure, right?
France: Comparison — LSU Tigers
No, I’m not comparing the two because of Southern Lousiana’s French roots. I think these two teams compare with each other because they are seemingly always in the running for titles. We can probably all agree that LSU has vaulted itself to college football elite since Nick Saban hit campus. That has continued on to the present day under Les Miles. France gave Germany all it could handle in the quarterfinals despite falling, 1-0. Even even with the loss, we can all expect France to reach the knockout round in 2018. LSU has a bevy of highly ranked recruits coming into Baton Rouge and it will likely have to make huge contributions to compensate for the losses of WR’s Odell Beckham/Jarvis Landry, DT Ego Ferguson, RB Jeremy Hill and QB Zach Mettenberger.
Netherlands: Comparison — Florida Gators
The Dutch are in the running for their first World Cup title in the country’s soccer history. The Gators have won three national titles. Netherlands is a very talented soccer team and yet has fallen short of its expectations time and time again. In fact, it has the most World Cup appearances without a title. Florida had high expectations in 2013 and did not reach them. Sure, Florida lost DL Dominique Easley for most of the season and had three other players drafted in the 2014 NFL Draft, Many are hopeful the addition of new offensive coordinator Kurt Roper from Duke is the answer for the Gators' woes on that side of the ball. Jeff Driskel was ranked as the best pro-style quarterback coming out of high school by both Scout.com and Rivals.com. Needless to say, he has not met those expectations in Gainesville.
Switzerland: Comparison — Michigan Wolverines
The Swiss fought valiantly against the Netherlands, and probably even outplayed it. The score just didn’t go in their favor. Michigan is a program that has not been in the national title picture on a consistent basis since Lloyd Carr left. Like the Texas Longhorns, it is not for a lack of talent or resources. Switzerland did make it to the Round of 16, however it seemingly doesn’t have the firepower to run with the stronger teams — just like the Wolverines vs. the SEC. We saw this in 2012-13 with their losses to Alabama and South Carolina.
Chile: Comparison — Michigan State Spartans
Chile did make it to the Round of 16 and if it wasn’t for the crossbar of Brazil's goal, we’re talking about Chile being in the quarterfinals and not Brazil. Last season in college football, we got to know the Spartans for their tenacious effort given on the field and how they won the Rose Bowl over the very physical Stanford Cardinal. Like Chile, the Spartans play with tremendous grit and yet have not been able to vault themselves into the more elite standing in their own conference, much less in all of college football. Like the USA, the foundation seems to be in place for the Chileans to take a huge step forward in future World Cups. The same could be said for head coach Mark Dantonio’s program after its huge bowl win to start 2014.
Colombia: Comparison — Notre Dame Fighting Irish
This comparison comes from the fact that Colombia is playing in its first World Cup since 1998. Notre Dame played in its first national title game in 2013 since being eligible for it in 1993. Some voted the Irish national title winners that year, although Florida State is considered the national champion. Both Colombia and Notre Dame have huge passion for their respective sports. They are also considered among their sports' biggest names. Notre Dame is trying to regain its 2012 form in 2014.
Greece: Comparison – Ohio State Buckeyes
While Greece might not have the success that the Buckeyes have enjoyed in the past, it was able to rise to the occasion and beat the Ivory Coast to advance to the Round of 16 in Brazil. However, Greece then lost in penalty kicks to Costa Rica. The knock on Ohio State over the past few years has been its supposed lack of athleticism when it has faced SEC foes like LSU and Florida in the national title games. Like Greece with Costa Rica, the Buckeyes came up just short this past bowl season to Clemson in the Orange Bowl.