Can a College Football Team Beat an NFL Team?

This morning on the Mike and Mike show on ESPN Radio, Mike Greenberg decided it was the time of year to ask the question that seems to get asked at least once per season as we weave toward the end of the college football year.

“What if (fill in the blank dominant college football team) lined up against (fill in the blank struggling NFL team)?”

A few years back when the Miami Hurricanes looked unbeatable, people wanted to know if they could beat the woeful Cincinnati Bengals. Now that the Bengals are good that question is silly. So this year’s incarnation of the question was the USC Trojans vs. the injured and struggling New York Jets.

So Greenberg is asking the question and sensing that it is coming, co-host Mike Golic interrupts and says “No.” before Greenberg can even finish asking the question. USC would get killed by the banged up Jets team. There is no way that the college team could ever stack up against an NFL team.

I agree with him, and I wish that this question/argument would just go away forever. It isn’t even close. The NFL team will have 11 NFL capable players on their side of the ball and the college team will not. Let’s take this year’s question. Reggie Bush and Matt Lineart are both going to the NFL next season and they will be drafted in the first round, assuming no career-threatening injuries are sustained in their bowl game. The argument goes that they are NFL-quality players. While I will agree that they are going to be high draft picks and certainly capable of performing in the NFL, they are far from being NFL-quality players.

Think of it this way. How many NFL rookies come into the league and make an immediate impact? Not very many. Carson Palmer sat for an entire year before he started to play well. Despite the fact that he was a great college player, there was an NFL learning curve. Not to mention the fact that he didn’t have to try and weather that learning curve with 10 other rookies. He had an offensive line, a couple wide receivers and a running back who were all past the rookie curve. The USC Trojans have zero players who are anywhere on the NFL learning curve. Every player on every NFL team has the experience bonus over every single USC player.

So now think of the USC Trojans with 11 offensive players and 11 defensive players who have far less experience and far less talent in many cases than their counterparts across the way. The NFL players on the practice squad are at least as good as many of the players on the Trojans.

The other portion of the argument is that you can’t play this out on paper. The proponents of this College vs. Pro argument say that stacking a team against another team is different than going position by position and declaring a winner. I can agree with that to an extent. There is something to be said for the chemistry that a team builds over the course of a season or a 4-year college career. But, the same thing can be said for the NFL team. In my mind that is a wash. Same with coaching.

Don’t fall victim to this argument this year or any subsequent year. A college football team doesn’t stand a chance. It doesn’t matter which college team dominates the world next year and it doesn’t matter which NFL team falls apart next year.

This also appears at blogcritics.org

  • http://www.mistercrunchy.com Chris

    Hi. I’m contrary. Is it your position that if the Trojans played the Jets 100 times on 100 consecutive Sundays, that the Trojans would win zero times? Because if that’s not your position, “doesn’t stand a chance” is not exactly accurate.

  • http://www.filteringcraig.com FilteringCraig

    That is my stance… the Trojans would lose every time.

  • kiddicus maximus

    the Trojans with or without the horse?

  • Jarataur

    You started this. Not me. I say the college team would do pretty well. A team that is working well together has a HUGE advantage over a crappy team full of crappy players who may or may not be good enough to be in the NFL.

    So Fooey on you. The college team will win at least 50% of the time. You are wrong that the pro team wins 100%.

    So why don’t they arrange it? Have the best team in college, ranked #1, play the worst team in the NFL. I think I could take the Jets right now. ME and 7 work-study computer geeks.

  • http://www.filteringcraig.com FilteringCraig

    Jarataur, they used to play the College All-stars against an NFL team every year and they always lost toward the end of the series, so the NFL stopped doing it. I can’t tell you how many years they did the college allstars vs. an NFL team, but I can tell you that out of all the mentions I can find on Google, it says it was ended because the game was no longer competitive.

    Also keep in mind that this was an exhibition game. If we are talking about a real live game that both teams are trying to win, then the College boys have no chance. 100 out of 100 they lose if the pro team is actually playing.

    By the way, why wouldn’t you believe a guy who played in both levels of ball like Mike Golic?

  • Chris D.

    Jerataur,

    I can obviously say that you know nothing about football for you to make the statement that USC would win 50% of the time. They would win zero.

    First, and I have said this ad nauseam to Craig and Deezo, is that the lines do not match up. Offensive and defensive lines are a total mismatch. In the pros, they can exploit one weak link. USC has at least 3 weak links on that O-line as at most 2 of there OL are making the pros.

    Second, as pitiful as the Jets offense has been, there defense is still pretty good. Half the points they give up are staright off turnovers, and the other half is because they are on the field 45 minutes a game.

    I know its easy to watch Matt Leinart throw a pass after he has had 8 seconds, and hit a wide open Lindell White, who is a) not within 10 yards of anyone and b) so fast he can just run around defenders, but come on. The NFL is not the same game. Just ask Steve Spurrier about how receivers aren’t 20 yards open for Danny Wuerrfel in the pros.

    USC may have 6-7 pros tops. The Jets or any other NFL team has 55. This is not an argument. Not even close.

    Chris D.

    PS. Your only argument could be that they play 100 CONSECUTIVE times. I have to think that after winning 90 in a row by 30+ points you may have a let down.

  • Jarataur

    To say that I know nothing of football makes you stupid. Just stupid. Anyone who says that I know nothing of football is stupid. You said it, so you are stupid.

    And I THINK you mean you can say that I OBVIOUSLY don’t know about football, not that you can OBVIOUSLY say that. I mean, OBVIOUSLY you can say that. Of course, you would be wrong.

    Actually, let me take that back. Your pretentious know-it-all attitude makes you stupid. And rude.

    Let me other examples from sports, just to demonstrate that SOMETIMES teams who are not as professional win.

    The 2004 USA Men’s Olympic Basketball team lost to, well, EVERYBODY. SOME of the other teams MAY have had one or two NBA PLAYERS, not stars like Tim Duncan and LeBron James. I believe that there are other examples of major suckitude in USA Basketball vs the world. If you can’t work as a team (ex. 2005 Eagles) then you suck.

    Another related statistic. The 1991 Twins, lowest paid players in the game, maybe 1 star among them, kicked everyone’s asses. Their team work clicked. They were coached well. Teamwork and skill all came together in a miracle season. Screw the fact that the Yankees had again purchased the rest of the league. Their coaching sucked and they couldn’t play as a team well enough to be this rag-tag bunch of nobodys.

    And that is what I am saying about a really great college team, they can beat a pro team. The Texans never show up. Someone needs to tell them that their games count, because apparently the “these games count” coach didn’t show up. Same applies to the Jets. They suck. Suck means suck.

    And let me take this opportunity to point out that the only team to ever play an entire NFL season undfeated were not really that good. No real stars on that team at all. Bob Griese, Csonka, Buonticonti. These guys were all ok, but not great. Granted they had arguably the best coach of all time, but it happened because they clicked. The team came together in a remarkable way.

    Ok, so maybe my 50% is high, but you Zero is way low pal. To say that no college team could ever beat a pro team no matter what is asinine.

    And the poing about all stars. Yea, all stars suck. They aren’t a team. they are a collection of individuals putting on a show. Teams beat all stars all the time. Because they are teams.

  • http://deezofeezo.blog-city,com deezo

    Didn’t people say that Team USA would never lose a basketball game after they let NBA players play in the Olympics in 1992. Wasn’t that basically NBA players against college kids or semi pros?

    The team in question isn’t even a collection of all stars Like Team USA…they are the freaking Jets.

    I realize basketball to football is more of an apples to oranges comparison, but if you think about the competitive gap between college and the pros it is getting shorter and shorter every season.

    I don’t think USC would go .500 or anything, but I do think they could win 30% to 40% of the games they would play.

    This argument is pretty similar to Div 1A teams playing Division 2 or 3 schools in football. Sure 1A programs have a HUGE advantage with scholarships, but the quality of play in lower divisions is not that much less. I think alot of the top tier D2/D3 schools could compete with some of the lower tier D1A or D1AA schools, because the athletes are pretty much even caliber.

    Now in the same breath I can’t argue that Mount Union (Potentially the best D3 football program) could hold a candle to USC (Potentially the best D1A program) What I could say with some certainty is that Mount Union could compete and probably win 30 to 40% of the games it would play against a 1A team like Youngstown State or even a crappy 1A school like Temple.

    With that same rationale I don’t think it is unlikely that USC could compete and potentially beat a fringe NFL team like the Jets or the Texans.

  • http://deezofeezo.blog-city,com deezo

    Youngstown State is D1AA my bad.

  • http://www.filteringcraig.com FilteringCraig

    30 to 40%?

    I am sticking with 0%

    Maybe an email to Bill Simmons is in order.

    Craig

  • http://deezofeezo.blog-city,com deezo

    I think it is…sportsguy will have some insight into this.

  • http://www.filteringcraig.com FilteringCraig

    Heh… only if

    insight = why Chris D and I are right

    🙂

  • http://www.mistercrunchy.com Chris

    Back in highschool, I played on the 2nd JV soccer team. That’s right, not even the first JV team. I went to a school where everyone was required to play interscholastic sports all the time. No gym class. It was great, in that they had enough teams so that everyone could play, but it sucked because if there was no sport you liked during a particular season, you had to play one anyway. Hence, me playing 2nd JV soccer. Actually, it was called Third Association, or 3rd Ass, but that’s neither here nor there.

    At any rate, the reason we were all on 3rd Ass was that we came out for soccer, but we didn’t make the JV squad, on account of “sucking” or “being uncoachable” or “having a lousy attitude.” The JV squad was made up of 100% JV players, and our squad was made up of 0% JV players. And yet, we whupped the JV in scrimmages, repeatedly. We issued a standing challenge to the Varsity, who were the league champs, to scrimmage, but they never would. Something about people getting “hurt.” So anyway, that’s why USC would win at least one game out of 100 against the supersucky Jets.

  • kiddicus maximus

    i got all nostaligic reading that last post. Here is the VERDICT OF TRUTH AND KNOWLEDGE AND INFINITE WISDOM: If the most awesomest college team (USC? Texas?) played the least awesomest NFL team (Houston? Jets?) with all their players healthy (Pennington?), the college team would win 3-7% of the time. That is to say that if you played 100 games, USC/Texas would beat Texans/Jets 3 to 7 times, and if you only played 1 game they would have 3-7% success rate in scoring/moving the ball/etc…

    But football isn’t a good test of a football team. Get all those pansies together and on ice-skates with no pads and have at it. last man standing wins. NFL, 100%

  • http://www.mistercrunchy.com Chris

    I think the real test between USC and the Jets would be a Scrabble Tournament.

  • http://deezofeezo.blog-city,com deezo

    Scrabble requires reading and spelling skills…I think all scrabble matches between USC & The Jets would end in a draw 0-0 or 3-3 with the words cat & dog used 1 time by each team.

  • Chris D.

    To All (Especially Jerataur),

    I just read the last 9 or so posts since my post and this is hysterical. First, for those of you who dont know me, ask Craig if there is anyone he knows who watches more sports and analyzes it more objectively than me. Now to refute these ridiculous points.

    1) Bringing up other sports, while it supports your argument, is meaningless and plain stupid. Your basketball argument is dumb, in that the 2004 dream team lost because they selected a team of slashers, and 20-somethings with no ability to shoot the three and only one player with a post game, Duncan, who could get triple teamed. The international teams were experienced, had NBA players like Ginoboli(who would start on the 04 dream team if he was American), big men down low to clog the lane from the slashers, and could shoot the three.

    2) Bringing up baseball or soccer, especially trying to compare the jump to JV soccer in the same context as the jump to the NFL is maybe the dumbest thing I have seen Chris post on this site.

    3) Other sports dont work in this argument because there is too much luck involved. The best baseball teams only win 60% of the time, and basketball only win 75% of there games. But a good NFL team will win 95% of there games. Why? Because none of the other sports rely on brute strength, speed, and athleticism. If you are better you are better. Only track and field might be more clear cut if you took an inferior athlete. The faster guys wins a race EVERY SINGLE TIME.

    4) Texas beat Colorado 70-3 in the Big 12 title game. Anyone here think if they played that game 100 times Colorado would win. Impossible. Am I saying that upsets dont happen? No. But when a team is undersized and undertalented in football they lose every time.

    5) The paragraph about the 72 Dolphins was hysterical. Im not even sure your point. Are you saying the No-Name defense is the “college team” and that the teams they beat were the “pros”.

    6) Are you that warped to watch a game where Reggie Bush has 500 yards of offense to think he would do that on a pro team. He wouldnt have half that many yards if he had a PRO OFFSENSIVE LINE blocking for him against an NFL team. And your gonna tell me that USC is gonna run the ball on Robertson, Vilma, Abraham, Ellis, or throw the ball to their shitty receivers against Ty Law, etc. In fact the only way USC SCORES is if they get a fortuitous turnover from Bollinger, who I even admit might be the second best QB in the game. Doesnt matter.

    7) Lastly, I haven’t even played the card that football is all about emotion and as hungry as USC would be to knock off a pro team, multiply that by 100 to have the emotion of pride that the Jets would have if a contest like that was ever set up.

    I cannot even give 1 out of 100 to USC(unless like I said, they were consecutive)

    Chris D

  • http://www.mistercrunchy.com Chris

    Geez, and I thought my point was auto-refuting.

  • Featherica Moonplasm

    Why can’t the college and pro players learn to live together in peace and harmony, like they do in the housepainting industry?

  • http://deezofeezo.blog-city,com deezo

    I love the fact that you claim to watch more sports and view them more objectively than anyone else, yet everyone who doesn’t agree with you is a bafoon…Quite objective there sir.

    Here are my responses….

    1. Ugghhh The best NFL Teams win 95% of the time….funny, but if you go back for 35 years there are only 6 teams that ever had a better than 90% winning percentage after the regular season they were the 2004 Steelers,the 1998 Vikings The 1985 Bears,the 84 Niners,the 76 Raiders,and the 1972 Dolphins. Then figure into that equation that only 3 of those 6 went on to win that years Superbowl. I don’t know if you were too busy watching sports or bragging to people in the bar about how objective you are, but this doesn’t point to your theory that the best teams win 95% of the time.

    2. The 2004 “Dream Team” wasn’t comprised of all stars, nor are the 2005 New York Jets, hence I feel it is a fair comparison. The Dream Team was built incorrectly, and due to injuries the 2005 Jets have difficulty winning with their current personnel…seems like a fair comparison on paper.

    3. If you can’t compare other sports to football I am fine with that, it’s fair…different mind and skill sets, different levels of physical competition..valid statement.

    4. Watching sports and participating in them are 2 entirely different things….I am pretty sure anyone who played organized sports past the age of 10 would disagree with you in the statement that the more physically talented team will win EVERY TIME against a physcially inferior team.

    5. If Reggie Bush rushed behind a professional offensive line and only got half of a 500 yard all purpose yard performance…that would be 250 yards…thats pretty damn good. I can’t believe you would say a lowly College player could do such a thing.

    6. The Rushing argument you have is valid, the point of attack on the offensive/defensive line would undoubtably be won by The Jets/Texans…However the forward passing game is a great equalizer because speed versus speed, especially with the NFL rules, is an even matchup…I bet USC/Texas passes with decent efficency even against Ty Law and other pro DB’s…However, defensively the team speed of a Texas or USC would also be an advantage…You don’t neccessarily have to have brute supernatural strength or size to be an effective pass rusher…nor do you need these assets to be an effective pass defender…hence speed would equalize any physical advantage a team would have in the pro game.

  • Jarataur

    Since Chris D is so much smarter than I am, and he tells me this so I know it is true, I concede every point to him. I am a buffoon. Please forgive me 1000 times, looking back, I can’t believe that I spoke out against such a knowledgeable and fair person. My eyes should be burnt with glowing steel spikes that have my absurd words etched upon them. My fingers should be broken by the strongest people of Chris D’s chosing so that I can never type again. Oh forgive me fairest and most knowledgeable watcher of all sports.

  • Chris D.

    Jerataur and Deezo,

    Am I being a sports elitist, a little? Without question. Have both of you done that to someone else at some time? Yes.

    First, Jerry. You have yet to refute or rebut any of my points. Guess that means you have no argument. I respect Deezo for at least acknowledging/refuting some of my points and offering counterpoints.

    Now Deezo,

    1) Forget basketball in this argument. I actually think a college team could beat the worst NBA team. Why? Because there is no appreciable difference between last year’s UNC team and last years Hawks. They both had college aged kids and the Hawks didnt have a dominating center or even an experienced All-Star.

    2) “Anyone who has played sports would disagree that the physicallt talented team wins every time” Valid point but not releveant. Im not talking about two high schools teams or two college teams. We are talking about levels. We are taling about having a league with the 1-3 best players(out of 60) at the lower level. Totally different game. The speed of the game would eat up USC. Not to mention that Leinhart, Bush , and the rest of the USC players are not going to perform that well in their first game against pro competition at that speed.

    3) I said Bush WOULDNT get half that many rads, not hed only get that many yards. And while we are at it, if Fresno State could score 42 against USC, how are Curtis Martin, Coles, McCariens, and even Doug F-ing Jolley gonna be stopped. USC’s defense this year sux. Jets score 40+ every game.

    4) How do you “love” the matchup of the USC passing game. First, Leinhart is not going to have ALL DAY like he does now. Second, how are the USC receivers gonna create separation when Leinhart doesnt have 10 seconds. Last time I checked, Mike Williams isnt standing in the endzone in Detroit wide open on every play. College Football is a different game.

    4) USC loses this game because of the players we cant name on their 22-man starting roster. I can name about 5 players. The 17 others will get eaten alive. Why has Navy lost 40-something years in a row to Notre Dame, even when Notre Dame sucks. Because Navy has a weight limit on there lines and Notre can run at will. Same with the Jets. If you can run at will against a smaller team you will not lose in football. Especially if you are better in every other phase of the game too.

    5) I just thought of something too. Not that the Jets have a great kicker, but USC’s kicker and punter would kill them. Special teams is even a bigger gap to the pros. Although, its not that USC is gonna be within a FG.

    Chris D.

    PS. Craig knows this riles me up.

  • http://www.filteringcraig.com FilteringCraig

    I sent an email to the Boston Sports Guy.. we will see if Bill Simmons is as smart as Chris D and I are… 🙂

    Just kidding folks…

    We having fun yet?

  • Jarataur

    I nominate Chris D to be the National Sports Director. With his wisdom and insight we can lead sports into a new era. Luckily, because he knows everything about sports, no more games need to be played. He can accurately predict the outcome of every game 100% of the time. If you don’t agree with me, I will call upon the God of the Christians to strike you down in a most painful and explosive way. Chris D will rule sports forever. Don’t even try to refute him. I am not worthy to make this nomination. Chris D, Sports Tzar, Supreme Master of all Sports Forever. Let us acknowledge his greatness. Join him.

  • http://www.filteringcraig.com FilteringCraig

    OK guys… apparently there is nothing left to add… for the record, I stick by my original article. I think the college team gets rocked.

    But, we are obviously not going to agree..

  • Jarataur

    What do you mean there is nothing left to add??? Chris D MUST be made Commander and Chief of Sports. I DEMAND, on HIS behalf, so you MUST obey, that HE be recognized as such. For HE is the greatest most knowing sports watcher ever to have ever uttered the most minor word about sports. I beseech you all! Join me in following HIM and basking in HIS greatness or die. Ok, maybe not die, but you will be banned from ever addressing sports again. HIS word is law. Don’t forget that. I know I won’t.

  • Chris D.

    Jerataur,

    Wow, man. You certainly feel threathened because I said I watch more sports than you. There are some things that are debatable. I feel this topic is not one of them. Thats it.

    Also not debatable:

    a) You are a pussy
    b) You have no point

    So come on, follow me. Ill teach you a few things about other sports if you want. Little bitch.

    Chris D.

  • Jarataur

    Good job with the name calling. That’s about what I expected.

  • http://www.filteringcraig.com FilteringCraig

    Dude… being civil is much cooler… and for the record it is JARATAUR, not Jerataur… I did think it was kind of funny when you called him Jerry though…

  • kiddicus maximus

    my little league coach told me that as long as we played as hard as we could, we were all winners. So as long as USC/Texas played as well as they could, they would win. That means both teams are winners 100% of the time.

    Unless you’re the Jets or from the NY/NJ area. that makes you a big loser.

  • kiddicus maximus

    i beg to differ, also, that anyone can watch more sports than i do. Since i don’t have much of a life, and my job is really easy, i have all day to surf ESPN and catch any game on TV. I spend more time in bars with their 2349087 TVs playing 132415 different games/updates/whatever than you could even imagine.

    I challenge you, Chris D, to a duel of eating fast and watching sports. may the best man win.

  • http://www.mistercrunchy.com Chris

    Simmer down, Jerry.

  • Chris D

    A few things,

    Craig, If you didnt change your color to navy blue on black, I might actually be able to see the names of people who post. And since when do you remain so civil. Get a pair and call Jerry an idiot like you would if Digger had made the same argument that he did. Also, how old is Jerry? I ask only cause I can easily see you hanging out with a 60-year dude from IT.

    Jerry, since you EXPECT USC to win 50% of the time, I dont know how realistic any of your expecations are.

    Kiddicus, any time you wanna go. Large Cheese Pizza, fastest wins. Also, it must be piping hot.

    Chris D.

  • http://www.mistercrunchy.com Chris

    I hereby reach across the imaginary center aisle of the Filtering House of Representatives to co-author with Chris D. a bill entitled, “Comment Pupup Color Rectification Act.” It’s that important.

    P.S. Jerry is 53 years old.

  • http://www.mistercrunchy.com Chris

    Or “Popup.” That would work, too.

  • kiddicus maximus

    i hereby second that motion and move it to the board of blog directors. That would include me and the 10 or 15 other people that frequent this site. The Font Coloration and Resization Act of 2005 is now in effect.

    i think i just patented “resization”

  • http://deezofeezo.blog-city,com deezo

    The Esteemed Gentleman from Mentor would like to say a few words regarding the proposed Font Coloration and Resization Act.

    I believe my constituents would feel more comfortable in a world were our screen names appeared in a brighter color font. It has been suggested to me from numerous members of my constituency that the color of choice for said font be red because of the contrast on the grey/black screen. As a board member of the Federal Font Color Comission I would agree with these proud citizens and would like to put this to an offical vote…

    All those for The Font Coloration and Resization Act of 2005 Article IV section 187.69 please respond with a loud, clear, and decipherable I. All those opposed…Ney….

  • kiddicus maximus

    i’m pretty sure its ‘aye’, and so far its 2-0

    AYE!

  • http://www.filteringcraig.com FilteringCraig

    Who’s site is this anyway?

    I will look into it this weekend.

  • http://www.filteringcraig.com FilteringCraig

    Thar you go bitches

  • http://www.mistercrunchy.com Chris

    Howzabout something a little darker for the visited links?

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