December 18, 2017

Alabama Repeats and Finishes #1 in the Leatherheads Top 16

Alabama took care of business and beat an undefeated team for the second year in a row to claim college football’s crystal ball. Bama came out of the starting gate at top speed and took control of the game, ultimately winning 42-14. The matchup was over by the second quarter and the Fighting Irish showed no fight. Heisman Trophy runner-up Manti Te’o missed more tackles in the game than he did all season, possibly hurting his bank account when the NFL Draft happens later this year. On the other side of the line of scrimmage, the Crimson Tide rolled as Eddie Lacy rushed for 140 yards and A.J. McCarron passed for 264 yards and four touchdowns, both showing that they may one day star at the next level. Lacy, a junior, stated yesterday that he will enter this year’s NFL Draft along with cornerback Dee Milliner and tackle D.J. Fluker.

It has been five days since the BCS National Championship Game so most Crimson Tide fans should be over their celebratory hang over by now and Notre Dame fans are coming to grips that it wasn’t meant to be but that the season was still a magical one. As Leatherhead Tex Noel said to me, “When Alabama and Notre Dame met, it was history vs. history and dynasty won.” I would have to agree with that statement. The two most successful schools in college football history met and Bama won, earning their third championship in four years. Alabama joins Nebraska, who won in 1994, 1995 and 1997, as the only schools to accomplish the feat. Alabama also won their tenth national championship, breaking a tie with Notre Dame at nine. Alabama also won championships in 1961, 1964, 1965, 1973, 1978, 1979, 1992, 2009 and 2011.

Since Alabama was victorious, it is no surprise that the Crimson Tide finished #1 in the Leatherheads Top 16 for the second year in a row. Heading into the game we had them ranked #2 after Notre Dame who now sits at the #4 position. The Oregon Ducks finished #2 after beating Kansas State 35-17 in the Fiesta Bowl. Oops! I mean the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl. The Wildcats fell in the poll from the sixth spot to the twelfth spot, the second biggest drop in the rankings. Topping Kansas State’s drop was Florida who lost 33-23 to the surprising Louisville Cardinals. The Gators fell from being tied for fourth with the idle Ohio State Buckeyes (now #3) to eleventh, down seven spots. Didn’t the UConn Huskies beat Louisville a few weeks back? The Cardinals moved back into the poll and finish the year at #13.

Johnny Football showed why he won the Heisman Trophy by leading the Texas A&M Aggies to a dominant 41-13 victory over Oklahoma. Johnny Manziel ran and passed for two touchdowns apiece to become the fourth player in Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) history to run and pass for 20 touchdowns each in a season, joining Colin Kaepernick, Cam Newton and Tim Tebow. You know I have to mention Tebow. Manziel also had a Cotton Bowl-record 516 total yards, 229 rushing and 287 passing. Crazy! A&M finished fifth in the Top 16, moving up four spots. Leatherhead Terry Keshner relayed to me his thoughts on the game: “Watching Johnny Football destroy Oklahoma was like watching Forrest Gump after six shots of Five-Hour Energy.” Oklahoma manged to stay in the Top 16 despite being crushed. They finished the season ranked #15.

Georgia and Stanford both won their bowl games to finish sixth and seventh in the poll, respectively. Stanford beat Wisconsin 20-14 in the Rose Bowl while Georgia beat Nebraska 45-31 in the Capital One Bowl. South Carolina beat Michigan 33-28 in the Outback Bowl to finish #8. Rounding out the top ten is Orange Bowl winner Florida State at nine and Chick-fil-A BOWL victor Clemson at ten. In the battle of the Tigers, Clemson beat LSU who dropped from tenth to fourteenth.

Boise State, spending most of the season outside of the Top 16, beat Washington in the MAACO Bowl to complete our rankings at #16. Utah State (11-2) and Northwestern (10-3) received support but fell just short of being ranked. Utah State beat Toledo in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl by the score of 41-15. Northwestern beat Mississippi State 34-20 in the Gator Bowl to win their first bowl game since 1949. Nice!  Mississippi State at one time was 7-0 on the season but finished with just an 8-5 record. Ouch!

On behalf of Leatherheads of the Gridiron and all our pollsters, thanks for following us all season and we look forward to doing it all over again next season.

Rank Team Record Points Last Poll
   1 Alabama (11)   13-1    176        2
   2 Oregon   12-1    158        3
   3 Ohio State   12-0    151        4 (Tie)
   4 Notre Dame   12-1    136        1
   5 Texas A&M   11-2    130        9
   6 Georgia   12-2    128        7
   7 Stanford   12-2    108        8
   8 South Carolina   11-2      99      11
   9 Florida State   12-2      74      13
 10 Clemson   11-2      73      14
 11 Florida   11-2      70        4 (Tie)
 12 Kansas State   11-2      65        6
 13 Louisville   11-2      51      NR
 14 LSU   10-3      29      10
 15 Oklahoma   10-3      16      12
 16 Boise State   11-2      15      NR


Others receiving votes
: Utah State – 13, Northwestern – 4.

Participating voters: David Boyce, Ronnie Foreman, Terry Keshner, Bob Lazzari, Dan McCloskey, Andrew McKillop, Tex Noel, Pete Sonski, Bob Swick, Joe Williams, Tony Williams.

 

Bama Gets Manzieled as the Wildcats and Ducks Tie For #1

Earlier in the month, South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier stated that Alabama could beat a few NFL teams.  Perhaps, that could be true or not (most likely NOT).  However, Texas A&M is not an NFL team and they beat the Crimson Tide on Saturday.  America was entertained by the Johnny Manziel Show.  I know I was, especially when he did a pirouette after fumbling the ball in the air only to recover it while spinning and then throwing a TD pass. 

Simply put, Alabama got Manzieled or when the number one team in the nation cannot contain the opposing team’s quarterback both on the ground or in the air as well as on the sidelines.  The cameras were loving “Johnny Football”.  Manziel lit up the Alabama defense for 253 yards passing with two TD passes along with 92 yards rushing.  His stats are not out of this world but he put his team in position to win–something no other player or team has done all season.  A.J. McCarron had a few opportunities to bring Bama back but turnovers sealed their fate and a loss dampens their chance to get back to the BCS National Championship Game. 

McCarron had not thrown an interception all season and had his streak of 291 pass attempts without one end.  He finished the game with two.  Also, McCarron may have lost his spot in the Heisman race to A&M’s freshman quarterback.  Manziel has led the Aggies to an 8-2 record with 2,780 yards passing and 1,012 yards on the ground.  The Crimson Tide drops to fourth in the Leatherheads College Football Top 16 after sitting on top all season while the Aggies rise to #11.

The number one spot is now crowded.  Both Kansas State and Oregon received 186 points from our pollsters while splitting the first place votes evenly with six apiece.  K-State kept up their winning ways by beating the TCU Horned Frogs 23-10.  TCU once held the longest winning streak in the nation but now have lost four of their last six games.  K-State is 10-0 and number one in the BCS standings.  On the other hand, Oregon put up 59 points against the now 3-8 California Golden Bears to also go 10-0.  The Ducks are ranked number one by the AP.  This Saturday the Wildcats play Baylor and the Ducks play Stanford.  Will they both be 11-0?

Notre Dame is also 10-0 after beating Boston College 21-6.  Hey BC, glad you left the Big East?  Nice 2-8 record.  The Fighting Irish are sitting #3 in the Top 16 and play a 5-5 Wake Forest team on Saturday.  Georgia slipped past idle Ohio State despite having one loss.  The Bulldogs handily beat Auburn 38-0 and will play an 8-2 Georgia Southern team next.  Ohio State plays Wisconsin.  Montee Ball was unstoppable last week against Indiana.  Will the Buckeyes be able to stop him?

Heading into last weekend, Louisville was 9-0 and looking at a possible undefeated season.  Syracuse would have no part of that and put a hurtin’ on the Cardinals by a score of 45-26.  Louisville is no longer in the Top 16.  Their game with Rutgers on November 29 will decide the Big East Conference championship.

Other games of interest this weekend include Texas A&M vs. Sam Houston State (8-2),  Oklahoma against a now 5-4 West Virginia team (Geno who?) and USC at UCLA.  The Bruins are poised to make the Top 16 with a victory after receiving four 16th-place votes this week from our pollsters.

Rank Team Record Points Last Week
   1 (Tie) Kansas State (6)   10-0    186        3
   1 (Tie) Oregon (6)   10-0    186        2
   3 Notre Dame   10-0    163        4
   4 Alabama     9-1    142        1
   5 Georgia     9-1    138        6
   6 Ohio State   10-0    117        5
   7 Florida State     9-1    109        8
   8 LSU     8-2    105        9
   9 Florida     9-1    102        7
 10 Clemson     9-1      93      10
 11 Texas A&M     8-2      92      15
 12 South Carolina     8-2      59      13
 13 (Tie) Oklahoma     7-2      40      14
 13 (Tie) Stanford     8-2      40      16
 15 Nebraska     8-2      19      NR
 16 Louisiana Tech     9-1      13      NR


Others receiving votes
: Texas – 12, Oregon State – 11, UCLA – 4, Rutgers 1.

Participating voters: David Boyce, Ronnie Foreman, Terry Keshner, Bob Lazzari, Dan McCloskey, Andrew McKillop, Tex Noel, Pete Sonski, Bob Swick, Brandon Williams, Joe Williams, Tony Williams.

 

McCarron Channels His Inner Eli To Lead Bama’s Comeback Against LSU

Wow!  Who was thinking Alabama was going down against LSU last Saturday?  I did.  The Crimson Tide could not do anything offensively in the second half.  Then all of a sudden, A.J. McCarron leads his team downfield to a score and a victory, while preserving the #1 ranking in the Leatherheads College Football Top 16!  As a New York Giants fan, I have seen many of these types of comebacks in recent years.  Thus, it seemed as if Eli Manning was behind the center.  Unfortunately, McCarron stole all of Eli’s mojo and the Giants lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

So Alabama wins and holds on to our #1 ranking.  Our #2 team, the Oregon Ducks took care of USC but had to score 62 points.  Their defense gave up 51 to the Matt Barkley-led Trojans.  Kenjon Barner had 321 yards and 5 touchdowns rushing for the Ducks.  Looks like we have another name to throw into the Heisman race.  On the season so far, Barner has rushed for 1,295 yards and 19 TDs with 15 receptions and 184 yards.

Kansas State defeated Oklahoma State 44-30 and is now just one point below the Ducks for our #2 ranking.  The third-ranked Wildcats beat a Cowboys’ team that was on a three-game winning streak.  The Wildcats, however, lost their QB to an injury in the third quarter.  Losing Collin Klein for the season would be horrible.  With just three games to go, the Wildcats have a realistic chance of going undefeated.  They play TCU this weekend, followed by games with Baylor and Texas.  As of right now, it appears Klein will play against TCU, but how healthy is he?

Notre Dame remained our #4 team with a 29-26 victory over Pittsburgh.  It took 3 overtimes for the Fighting Irish to stay undefeated, but the bottom line is that they won again and are now 9-0.

Ohio State became 10-0 with their 52-22 shellacking of a now 2-7 Illinois team.  Only Wisconsin and Michigan stand in the way of a 12-0 season.  Did I type “Only”?

So our top five teams are undefeated.  The sixth undefeated team is not getting the same support as the others.  Louisville is 9-0 and is ranked in the 11th spot.  LSU is ahead of them with two losses.  Why no love for the Cardinals?  Is it the Big East?

Last week we had two teams tied in the 16th spot–Stanford and Texas A&M.  Guess what?  They are still in the Top 16 while Boise State disappears from the rankings.  The Broncos lost to San Diego State 21-19.  Meanwhile, both the Cardinal and the Aggies were victorious.  Stanford took care of Colorado 48-0 and Texas A&M beat a now 7-2 Mississippi State team by the score of 38-13.

The three games to watch that could shake-up the Top 16 this upcoming weekend are Alabama at home against Texas A&M, Mississippi State at LSU and Oregon State at Stanford.

Rank Team Record Points Last Week
   1 Alabama (11)     9-0    176        1
   2 Oregon     9-0    160        2
   3 Kansas State     9-0    159        3
   4 Notre Dame     9-0    141        4
   5 Ohio State   10-0    112        5
   6 Georgia     8-1    110        7
   7 Florida     8-1    101        9
   8 Florida State     8-1      98        8
   9 LSU     7-2      84        6
 10 Clemson     8-1      81      10
 11 Louisville     9-0      74      11
 12 Oregon State     7-1      46      15
 13 South Carolina     7-2      39      12
 14 Oklahoma     6-2      36      13
 15 Texas A&M     7-2      32      16 (Tie)
 16 Stanford     7-2      24      16 (Tie)


Others receiving votes
: Rutgers – 6, West Virginia – 6, Nebraska – 4, USC – 4, Louisiana Tech – 2, Mississippi State – 1.

Participating voters: David Boyce, Ronnie Foreman, Terry Keshner, Bob Lazzari, Dan McCloskey, Andrew McKillop, Tex Noel, Pete Sonski, Bob Swick,  Joe Williams, Tony Williams.