May 24, 2017

Crimson in the Face and No Game To Play Today for Alabama

Well…Well…Well. The Crimson Tide became Crimson in the face. The prospect of a third consecutive national championship went away (we think) with just a second on the clock. Rivalry week is always a special week in college football and this year was no different. Auburn shocked the world or should I say Chris Davis shocked the world with his amazing return. As expected, the Leatherheads Top 16 has a slightly different look after weeks 13 and 14.

Florida State easily became our new #1 while Ohio State continues to sit in the #3 spot with Auburn grabbing the #2 spot, despite one first-place vote for Ohio State. No love for the Big Ten.

Championship week has now began and the poor Northern Illinois Huskies lost last night to the Bowling Green Falcons. No undefeated season, No MAC title, No BCS selection for the Huskies and Jordan Lynch’s Heisman hopes disappeared.

Florida State should easily take care of Duke in the ACC championship game and find themselves in the BCS National Championship Game. The games that will decide their opponent will of course come down to the SEC and Big Ten games with the potential opponents for FSU being Ohio State, Auburn, Missouri and perhaps Alabama. Yes I said Alabama. It is unlikely but if Michigan State beats Ohio State and Mizzou beats Auburn, anything can happen and history has been on Alabama’s side the last few years. It is unfortunate that Alabama lost to Auburn since the two best teams in college football are FSU and Alabama. I rather see that matchup more than any other this season but chances are that will never happen.

If Ohio State wins tonight, I would put them in the big game. I know the Big Ten is less talented than the SEC but undefeated for two seasons deserves some respect. Besides, I wouldn’t count an Urban Meyer team out in any game. When I think of the best coaches in college football today, the first name that comes to mind is Nick Saban but Urban Meyer is not too far behind.

So instead of reading my boorish comments on what might happen, get your living, man cave or bar area ready for a huge day of college football.

 

Here are the rankings by Leatherheads of the Gridiron after Week 13:

Rank Team Record Points Last Week
   1 Alabama (8)   11-0   128        1
   2 Florida State   11-0   119        2
   3 Ohio State   11-0   106        4
   4 Auburn   10-1     97        6
   5 Clemson   10-1     94        7
   6 Missouri   10-1     86        8
   7 Oklahoma State   10-1     81      10
   8 Michigan State   10-1     63      12
   9 Stanford     9-2     60      11
 10 Baylor     9-1     59        3
 11T Oregon     9-2     45        5
 11T South Carolina     9-2     45      13
 13 Fresno State   10-0     33      14
 14 Arizona State     9-2     27      NR
 15 Wisconsin     9-2     15      NR
 16 Northern Illinois   11-0     12      16


Others receiving votes
: LSU – 11, UCF – 4, Texas A&M – 2, Louisville 1.

Participating voters: David Boyce, Chris Garbarino, Terry Keshner, Bob Lazzari, RUFANJerry,  Tex Noel, Bob Swick, Joe Williams.

 

Here are the rankings by Leatherheads of the Gridiron after Week 14:

Rank Team Record Points Last Week
   1 Florida State (9)   12-0   159        2
   2 Auburn   11-1   142        4
   3 Ohio State (1)   12-0   140        3
   4 Alabama   11-1   130        1
   5 Missouri   11-1   122        6
   6 Oklahoma State   10-1   104        7
   7 Stanford   10-2     96        9
   8T Baylor   10-1     83      10
   8T Michigan State   11-1     83        8
 10 South Carolina   10-2     82      11T
 11 Arizona State   10-2     54      14
 12 Oregon   10-2     49      11T
 13 Northern Illinois   12-0     37      16
 14 Clemson   10-2     35        5
 15 LSU     9-3     18      NR
 16 Oklahoma     9-2       9      NR


Others receiving votes
: Fresno State – 8, UCF – 6, Louisville – 2, Duke – 1.

Participating voters: David Boyce, Ronnie ForemanChris Garbarino, Terry Keshner, Bob Lazzari, Tex Noel, Bob Swick, Brandon Williams, Joe Williams, Tony Williams.

 

Here We Go Again! Alabama is #1 in the Leatherheads Top 16

After two straight national championships, the Alabama Crimson Tide are undefeated and again sitting at the top of the national rankings as the best college football team. The results of the first Leatherheads Top 16 poll are not a surprise with Alabama ranked #1.

Bama will play Ole Miss this weekend to try to hold on to the top ranking. The Rebels are 3-0 after beating Vanderbilt, Southeast Missouri State and Texas. The A.J. McCarron-led Crimson Tide are also 3-0 after beating Virginia Tech, Texas A&M and the Rams of Colorado State.

The Aggies are ranked #9 and are the highest ranked team with a lost, joining Georgia and South Carolina as the three teams with losses in the Top 16. Of course, A&M lost to Bama in that classic game on September 14 as the Tide escaped getting Manzieled for the second year in a row. Texas A&M play Arkansas this week. The Razorbacks are coming off a loss to Rutgers. Johnny Football is having another great year. Leatherhead Terry Keshner calls him the James Franco of college football and Leatherhead Tony Williams calls A&M an offensive-MACHINE – so true!

In the #2 spot we have the Oregon Ducks. The Ducks are 3-0 and will be playing a 1-2 California Golden Bears team. Although the Ducks have tough matchups coming up with games against Washington, Washington State and UCLA, the big match will be against Stanford on November 7. The Cardinal play at Washington State on Saturday.

There is a tight race for the #3 spot with just seven points separating Clemson, Ohio State and Stanford with two 4-0 teams slightly behind in LSU and Louisville. Clemson currently holds that #3 spot but like Leatherhead Dave Boyce said to me: “If NC State makes you look beatable, you are beatable.”

LSU plays at Georgia in Week 5. If the Bulldogs lose, it is likely they will drop out of the Top 16 but could run the table the rest of the way with only one AP-ranked team left to play this year in Florida. LSU on the other hand has yet to play Florida, Ole Miss, Alabama and the Aggies.

Michigan sits at the bottom of the poll after barely beating a UConn team that looked pitiful the first two games of the season. A late pick led to a score and allowed the Wolverines to win the game and stay undefeated.

A game to watch this weekend is Oklahoma at Notre Dame. Can the Irish find last year’s regular season magic and top a very good Sooners team? The Irish are 3-1 with their loss coming against Michigan on September 7. Meanwhile, linebacker Manti Te’o will be making his NFL debut for the San Diego Chargers on Sunday.

An interesting team on the verge of joining the Top 16 is the Northwestern Wildcats. The 4-0 Wildcats have the week off but play Ohio State in Week 6. Leatherhead Bob Swick thinks they are the sleeper team of this season while Keshner told me “If the Wildcats can beat Ohio State, they’ll be that much closer of realizing their dream of getting embarrassed in January.”

Here are the first rankings by Leatherheads of the Gridiron for the 2013 season:

Rank Team Record Points
   1 Alabama (11)    3-0   176
   2 Oregon    3-0   162
   3 Clemson    3-0   141
   4 Ohio State    4-0   139
   5 Stanford    3-0   134
   6 LSU    4-0   122
   7 Louisville    4-0   116
   8 Florida State    3-0     89
   9 Texas A&M    3-1     73
 10 Oklahoma State    3-0     72
 11 Georgia    2-1     70
 12 Oklahoma    3-0     47
 13 UCLA    3-0     41
 14 South Carolina    2-1     28
 15 Miami    3-0     21
 16 Michigan    4-0     15


Others receiving votes
: Baylor – 13, Northwestern – 13, Washington – 11, Ole Miss – 5, Florida – 4, Texas Tech – 2, Michigan State – 2, Notre Dame – 1.

Participating voters: Jon Blayne, David Boyce, Ronnie Foreman, Chris Garbarino, RUFANJerry, Terry Keshner, Bob Lazzari, Tex Noel, Bob Swick, Joe Williams, Tony Williams.

 

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.

 

SEC Champion Alabama Will Play Undefeated Notre Dame in the BCS Championship Game and for the #1 Spot in the Top 16

The SEC Championship Game last Saturday was great one.  Alabama barely beat a Georgia team that had a chance to win in the closing moments.  Georgia sophomore Chris Conley caught a ball and fell on the 5-yard line to end the game.  Instincts are to catch what is thrown to you but in this case he should have just knocked it to the ground to give the Bulldogs another chance to throw it into the end zone.  Instead the clock ran out.  Oh well.  College football fans will be watching the correct matchup in the BCS National Championship Game when Alabama plays Notre Dame.  According to Leatherhead and college football historian Tex Noel, both the Crimson Tide and the Fighting Irish each have nine “official” national championships.  The winner of this matchup will gain their tenth and sit atop the college football world for this season and all-time.  Alabama were champions in 1961, 1964, 1965, 1973, 1978, 1979, 1992, 2009 and 2011.  Notre Dame were the kings of college football in 1943, 1946, 1947, 1949, 1964, 1966, 1973, 1977 and 1988.  Bama is also trying to become the second team to win three national championships in four years, joining Nebraska who won in 1994, 1995 and 1997.

To get back to the Alabama victory, the main reason they won the game was the running of junior Eddie Lacy (181 yards) and freshman T.J. Yeldon (153 yards) plus a few big plays by A.J. McCarron, especially the 45-yard TD pass to Amari Cooper with just 3:15 left in the contest.  Lacy and Yeldon both finished the game with over 1,000 rushing yards.  Lacy with 1,182 and Yeldon with an even 1,000.  Georgia was outstanding in their efforts as well but came up just short.  Freshman Todd Gurley had 122 yards rushing with two scores while senior WR Tavarres King caught five balls for 142 yards.  Leatherhead Dan McCloskey, who has not been a huge Bulldog supporter all year stated, “I’d like to say yesterday’s game proved Georgia has been overrated by the pollsters, but I can’t.”  Georgia, now ranked #7 in the Leatherheads College Football Top 16, will play Nebraska in the Capital One Bowl on New Year’s Day.  Not a fan of the name Capital One Bowl.  I prefer the old name, the Tangerine Bowl!  Georgia is 4-1 in this juicy classic, winning in 1984, 1993, 2004 and 2009 while losing in 1974 to Miami (Ohio).  BTW, Miami (Ohio) won three straight Tangerine Bowls from 1973-1975, beating Florida, Georgia and South Carolina.  Unless Big Ben and Milt Stegall are playing, the RedHawks couldn’t beat those teams today.  As for the Cornhuskers, they are 0-2 in this particular bowl, including a 30-13 lost to South Carolina last season. I think Gurley will be the man in this upcoming matchup.

So Nebraska is going to the Sunshine State.  I think they need a vacation after getting walloped by the Wisconsin Badgers 70-31 in the Big Ten Championship Game on Saturday.  Both Melvin Gordon (216) and Montee Ball (202) rushed for over 200 yards.  Ball had three TDs to become the Football Bowl Subdivision’s career record-holder for rushing touchdowns with 76 and increased the record for most TDs with 82.  The one bright spot for the Cornhuskers was QB Taylor Martinez’s spectacular 76-yard run in the first quarter.   Martinez has 973 rushing yards on the season, including a 92-yarder against UCLA on September 8.  Nebraska dropped out of the Top 16 after being #14 last week.  I was tempted to vote for Wisconsin this week with a 16th place vote after their dehusking of Nebraska.  However, I couldn’t cast a vote for a team with an 8-5 record.  If Wisconsin can beat Stanford in the Rose Bowl on New Year’s Day, then I most likely will cast a vote for them in the final Top 16 poll of the season.

Stanford earned their Rose Bowl bid by defeating UCLA in the PAC-12 Championship Game, their second consecutive win over the Bruins in as many weeks.  See Andrew McKillop’s list on Football Geography.com entitled Major College Football Teams That Played Each Other in Back-to-Back Games.  The Cardinal have exceeded my expectations this season, considering the Andrew Luck era had ended.  Last season, Stanford with Luck was also 11-2 but did not make the PAC-12 Championship Game and lost in OT in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl to Oklahoma State 41-38.  I don’t mind Tostitos in the name of this bowl because eating Tostitos with lots of salsa is a fiesta.  I fiesta everyday!  Anyway, the Cardinal had gone 11-2 this season with two different starting quarterbacks, Josh Nunes and Kevin Hogan.  Stephan Taylor has had an excellent senior season with 1,442 yards rushing and 38 receptions.  In his four years at Stanford, Taylor has accumulated 4,973 yards from the line of scrimmage with 44 touchdowns.  The defense has been solid all season as well, just giving up slightly more than 16 points per game.  I don’t see the Badgers scoring 70 points against them.  The Cardinal are on a 7-game winning streak.

Earlier I stated that I almost gave the Badgers my 16th place vote this week.  Instead, that vote went to Northern Illinois.  Who?  The Huskies defeated the Kent State Golden Flashes in the Mid-American Conference Championship Game 44-37 in two overtimes.  This was a battle of two 11-1 teams.  The Golden Flashes were ranked #16 last week in the Top 16.  Oops!  We voted for the wrong MAC team, but barely.  It took two OTs to determine the winner.  Junior QB Jordan Lynch ran it in from the two in the second overtime that sealed the victory.  During the game, Lynch broke the FBS record for rushing yards by a QB in a season with 1,771 yards.  Michigan’s Denard Robinson previously held the record of 1,702 in 2010.  The victory for the Huskies gained them a BCS-bowl bid and a matchup with Florida State in the Orange Bowl.  Something tells me that if Kent State won, they would not be in the Orange Bowl.  Lynch was the deciding factor and he will get his chance to shine in front of all college football fans in prime time after the Rose Bowl.  For the Golden Flashes, they earned a trip to the GoDaddy.com Bowl and a chance to give Danica Patrick a “how do you do?”  They will play Arkansas State, the Sun Belt champs, who lost to Northern Illinois in the bowl game last year.

Florida State defeated a now 6-7 Georgia Tech team, but just barely by the score of 21-15 to become the Atlantic Coast Conference champions.  It was the Seminoles’ first ACC championship since 2005.  Who would have thunk a decade ago that they would go on such a dry stretch?  The Yellow Jackets scored the final 12 points in the game to give Seminole fans a scare.  Will FSU be able to stop Lynch in the Orange Bowl?  The Seminoles remained ranked #13 in the Top 16.

Other games last week that made a difference in the Top 16 include Oklahoma’s 24-17 victory over TCU, Oregon State’s pouncing of Nicholls State 77-3 and Kansas State’s victory over Texas 42-24.  The Sooners remained in the #12 spot, the Wildcats moved up two positions to #6 and the Beavers jumped back into the poll after being knocked out of the Top 16 in the previous poll.  The Beavers’ 77 points are a school record.  Oklahoma will play Texas A&M in the Cotton Bowl on January 4.  The Beavers play Texas in the Alamo Bowl on December 29.  The Wildcats play the Ducks in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl on January 3.

Don’t forget there is football today.  The Army-Navy game is on at 3:00 EST.  I think I will have a fiesta!

Here is the last poll until after the BCS National Championship Game.  Enjoy the holidays!

Rank Team Record Points Last Week
   1 Notre Dame (11)   12-0    191        1
   2 Alabama   12-1    177        2
   3 Oregon   11-1    141        5
   4 (Tie) Ohio State (1)   12-0    138        3
   4 (Tie) Florida   11-1    138        6
   6 Kansas State   11-1    135        8
   7 Georgia   11-2    133        4
   8 Stanford   11-2    111      10
   9 Texas A&M   10-2      99        7
 10 LSU   10-2      97        9
 11 South Carolina   10-2      70      11
 12 Oklahoma   10-2      62      12
 13 Florida State   11-2      58      13
 14 Clemson   10-2      32      15
 15 Oregon State     9-3      22      NR
 16 Northern Illinois   12-1      14      NR


Others receiving votes
: Boise State – 6, Utah State – 3, Louisville – 2, UCLA – 2, Nebraska – 1.

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

 

The Fighting Irish Are #1, But Luck Is On Alabama’s Side Too

Today is Thanksgiving.  On this day, we are usually thankful for all that life has given us.  For most of us, we are thankful for our family, friends and the other blessings we have received along the way.  For the fans, players, coaches, students, administrators and communities of both the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and the Alabama Crimson Tide, they should be thankful for two additional items: a 52-24 Kansas State loss to the now 5-5 Baylor Bears and a 17-14 Oregon loss to the Stanford Cardinal.  Without losses by K-State and Oregon, Notre Dame and Alabama would not be in the position they are in–the top two spots for the chance to play in the BCS National Championship Game and of course the top two spots in the Leatherheads College Football Top 16.  Leatherhead Andrew McKillop pointed out, “It’s only the fifth time in the last 25 years that the AP’s top two teams lost on the same day and it’s the second time it’s ever happened on November 17 – the other time was in 1984.  Visit Andrew’s site, FootballGeography.com, for the complete list.

Last week, both K-State and Oregon sat #1 in the Top 16, each receiving six first-place votes and 186 points.  With their losses, the Ducks make their home in the number five position and the Wildcats are ranked seventh.  So what happened?  The Wildcats got behind early against the Bears and could not catch up.  Kansas State QB Collin Klein got picked off three times after only be intercepted three other times all season.  The Bears couldn’t be stopped offensively,  especially on the ground.  Sophomore RB Lache Seastrunk ran for 185 yards on just 19 carries and got in the end zone on one occasion while Junior RB Glasco Martin had 113 yards rushing and three scores.  In the case of the Ducks, they lost a close one to the now 9-2 Cardinal in OT on a Jordan Williamson 37-yard field goal.  The key to the game was Stanford’s ability to contain Kenjon Barner to just 66 yards rushing.  Just two weeks ago, Barner ran for 321 against USC.

Notre Dame and Alabama were both lucky with the losses by the Ducks and Wildcats, but they both had to win to be in their current situations.  The Fighting Irish beat the now 5-6 Wake Forest Demon Deacons by the score of 38-0.  Notre Dame QB Everett Golson threw for a season-high 346 yards and three touchdowns while Senior RB Cierre Wood ran for a season-best 150 yards and a score.  Earlier on Saturday, the Crimson Tide won 49-0 over the now 1-10 Western Carolina Catamounts.  The Catamounts started out 1-0 with a 42-14 victory over the Mars Hill Lions.  Enough said.  This game had no chance of being competitive.  I’m surprised Alabama gave up 14 points to the worst team in the Southern Conference.  As Leatherhead Dan McCloskey stated in referring to the Crimson Tide, “They are f*&%ing lucky!”

Now that Notre Dame and Alabama are in position to meet for the crown of college football, they must finish out the season with wins.  It is simple for Notre Dame.  They must beat USC this weekend.  Victory gets them into the BCS Championship Game.  USC was the number one ranked team at the beginning of the season, but their 21-14 loss to Stanford on September 15 ended their reign at the top and are entering the game against Notre Dame with a 7-4 record.  Here is USC’s chance to grab some of the spotlight and salvage a disappointing season.  However, this will be no easy task, especially without their stud QB Matt Barkely.  Freshman QB Max Wittek makes his first start for the Trojans.  How will the Wittek era at USC begin?  Will the Irish be heading to the big game?  Tune in Saturday night at 8:00 EST on ABC.

For Alabama, the road is not so simple.  The Crimson Tide play a 3-8 Auburn team on Saturday.  It should be an easy victory.  I say “should be” for a reason.  Didn’t a disappointing Baylor team upset K-State last week?  I don’t expect the Tigers to win but have to make this matchup seem interesting.  If Bama beats Auburn, they still have to play in the SEC Championship Game on December 1 against our #4 ranked Georgia Bulldogs at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.  Now that is a game to watch!

As for the rest of the Top 16, just 15 teams received votes for the remaining 14 openings.  Oregon State received one more point than UCLA to grab the 16th spot.  Ohio State is ranked #3 in the Top 16, their highest ranking of the season, with their 11-0 record.  I don’t see them moving up in the poll.  The Buckeyes are not eligible for a bowl game or the Big Ten Championship, and the Big Ten has been weak this season, although Nebraska is 9-2 and now ranked 15th in the Top 16.  It would take several upsets for the Buckeyes to move up, even with an undefeated record.  They finish out their season on Saturday against Michigan.  If Ohio State wins, it will be the second time Urban Meyer led his team to an undefeated season.  In 2004, he took the Utah Utes to a 12-0 record and a victory in the Fiesta Bowl.  In his career, he has a record of 115-23 for an outstanding winning percentage of 83%.  I think he is my favorite Urban after only Urban “Red” Faber.

Besides Alabama, there are six other teams with a 10-1 record–Clemson, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Kansas State and Oregon.  It will be interesting to see what happens to each of them this weekend.  It is Rivalry Week in college football so Florida plays Florida State.  One of these teams will get their second loss and officially see their BCS National Championship dreams disappear.  Georgia plays Georgia Tech, which is 6-5 on the season.  Oregon plays Oregon State.  The Beavers would love to hand the Ducks a second-straight loss.  Clemson plays South Carolina.  Clemson has been outstanding all season and is not getting the love the other 10-1 teams are getting in the Top 16.  They are #11, with two teams with two losses ranked ahead of them.  Their only loss of the season came against Florida State on September 22 in Tallahassee.  The Wildcats get to stay home and lick their wounds.  They play Texas on December 1.

Other big games this weekend include Nebraska at Iowa, LSU at Arkansas, Stanford at UCLA, Missouri at Texas A&M, and Oklahoma State at Oklahoma.  I love Rivalry Week!

Before I go, I thought I would share some thoughts by Leatherhead Terry Keshner on some of the teams in the Top 16:

On Notre Dame: “The Irish are number one for the first time since 1993 when Clinton was President, Jennifer Aniston was “fat” and “Twitter” was something you did after drinking too much lemonade.”

On Alabama: “The Crimson Tide couldn’t score 50 on Western Carolina.  Something’s wrong.”

On Ohio State: “The Buckeyes named Lance Armstrong an honorary captain.”

On Oregon: “Ducks don’t cry.”

On Kansas State: “Baylor did things to the Wildcats that are normally only seen in church revivals and Rob Zombie movies.”

Happy Thanksgiving!

Rank Team Record Points Last Week
   1 Notre Dame (10)   11-0    175        3
   2 Alabama   10-1    158        4
   3 Ohio State (1)   11-0    147        6
   4 Georgia   10-1    138        5
   5 Oregon   10-1    126        1 (Tie)
   6 Florida   10-1    106        9
   7 Kansas State   10-1    100        1 (Tie)
   8 Florida State   10-1      95        7
   9 Texas A&M     9-2      93      11
 10 LSU     9-2      91        8
 11 Clemson   10-1      79      10
 12 Stanford     9-2      67      13 (Tie)
 13 South Carolina     9-2      48      12
 14 Oklahoma     8-2      33      13 (Tie)
 15 Nebraska     9-2      19      15
 16 Oregon State     8-2      11      NR


Others receiving votes
: UCLA – 10.

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

 

Poll StatResearch—Notes from the 2012 Leatherheads Top 16 #3

Last week, the Alabama Crimson Tide once again secured the top spot in the weekly 2012 Leatherheads College Football Top 16–for the third consecutive week, giving the SEC school five #1 rankings over the past two seasons.

A quick glance at every weekly #1 team in the Leatherheads Top 16:

Team        FPV    Poll Points  Date        Poll #
LSU          7        170       9/25/2011       1
LSU          8        171       10/2/2011       2
LSU          7        199       10/9/2011       3
LSU          8        200       10/16/2011      4
LSU          9        204       10/23/2011      5
Alabama      5        170       10/30/2011      6
LSU         12        192       11/6/2011       7
LSU         13        208       11/13/2011      8
LSU         12        192       11/20/2011      9
LSU         11        176       11/27/2011     10
LSU         10        160       12/4/2011      11
Alabama      9        158       1/9/20012      12 (2011 Final Poll)
Alabama     12        192       9/16/2012       1
Alabama     12        192       9/23/2012       2
Alabama     13        208       9/30/2012       3

 

There were few position changes in the Top 16 last week.  In fact, the top seven teams remained the same and eight of the top ten finished in the same spot—with the only difference being the poll points.  The last poll had 13 voters with the two previous weeks having 12 voters.

The Crimson Tide extended its poll margin to 18 points over second place Oregon, 208-190.  The Ducks’ total of 190 is the most poll points for the #2 team in a 2012 Top 16.

Counting this past weekend’s voter participation and three times in 2011, it marks four times that 13 members have participated in a weekly poll—equally the number of times that 12 voters (in 2011 and 2012)—have participated.

Each weekly poll of the 2012 season, the Tide held a pair of 12 first place votes to zero and increased it to 13 this past week—for the highest margin between first and second place teams.

Alabama also held the highest difference during the 2011 season of 9-1 in the final poll of 2011.

Oklahoma’s 15 poll points in this week’s poll was only three-points shy of entering the Top 16—the smallest margin for a team knocking on the door to enter the Top 16.

Oregon State, after finishing right out of the poll a week ago, made its Top 16 debut at #14, while Clemson returned to the poll after being ranked ninth in the first poll of the 2012 season.

TCU advanced two spots, 13th to 15th, while traditional powers Florida and Ohio State were ranked 11 and 12—up from 12 and 13, respectively, from the previous week.

 

Tex Noel is the Executive Director of the Intercollegiate Football Researchers Association and compiler of the votes for the Leatherheads College Football Top 16.

 

Stanford Slips and Falls Out of Leatherheads Top 16

There were lots of points scored and some close games in Week 5 of the college football season but only one Leatherheads Top 16 team lost.  Stanford led the week off with a 17-13 loss to Pac-12 rival Washington, dropping them from the poll.  The Huskies’ defense shut down Stanford’s running game while QB Josh Nunes completed less than 50% of his pass attempts.  Stanford’s upset victory over USC on September 15 lifted them in the polls, but the loss to the Huskies created the exact opposite result.  Oregon State and Clemson joined the Top 16 while Oklahoma joined Stanford, slipping from our ranks.

Alabama got a scare when Ole Miss went up 7-6 in the second quarter.  The Rebels held the lead for an amazing 15 seconds before the Crimson Tide regained the lead when Christion Jones ran the following kickoff 99 yards for a TD.  From that point on, it was pretty much all Alabama.

There was very little movement in our rankings other than Stanford dropping from 10th to unranked.  In a tight race at the top half of the poll, West Virginia tied idle Kansas State for the #7 spot with a 70-63 victory over Baylor.  Geno Smith separated himself from the pack for the Heisman with his 656 yards passing and 8 TD passes.  Baylor’s QB Nick Florence had a nice game too with 581 yards and 5 TDs passing.

As predicted last week, the Oregon State Beavers jumped into the ranks with their victory over the Arizona Wildcats.  The Beavers received big days from QB Sean Mannion (433 yards throwing and 3 TDS), Markus Wheaton (10 receptions, 166 yards and 2 TDs), Brandin Cooks (9 receptions and 149 yards) and Storm Woods (161 yards rushing and a TD).  Here is my Brandon Williams quote of the week: “Quietly, the Beavers are writing a Cinderella story in the Pac-12.”  Could they be for real or will Washington State do the upsetting in the Pac-12 this week?

There are several big games coming up in Week 6 that will shake up the Top 16:  LSU plays at Florida, Georgia plays at South Carolina, and West Virginia plays at Texas.  Other interesting games include Washington playing #2 Oregon.  Can the Huskies knock off another Pac-12 rival and perhaps find themselves in the Top 16?  Ohio State plays a very good Nebraska team.  Notre Dame plays a home game against a 4-1 Miami team.

I am looking forward to next week’s matchups, but for now here are the Leatherheads College Football Top 16:

Rank Team Record  Points  Last Week
   1 Alabama (13)    5-0    208         1
   2 Oregon    5-0    190         2
   3 Florida State    5-0    174         3
   4 LSU    5-0    169         4
   5 Georgia    5-0    156         5
   6 South Carolina    5-0    131         6
   7 Kansas State    4-0    124         7
   7 West Virginia    4-0    124         8
   9 Notre Dame    4-0    101         9
  10 Texas    4-0      96       11
  11 Florida    4-0      81       12
  12 Ohio State    5-0      51       13
  13 TCU    4-0      47       15
  14 Oregon State    3-0      31       NR
  15 USC    3-1      24       14
  16 Clemson    4-1      18       NR


Others receiving votes
: Oklahoma – 12, Louisville – 8, Mississippi State – 6, Rutgers – 5, Stanford – 5, Nebraska – 4, Northwestern – 3.

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

 

Alabama Leaves No Doubt

Going into last night’s BCS championship game between LSU and Alabama, it was possible to envision a scenario where the Crimson Tide didn’t win convincingly enough for some voters, opening up the possibility some would rank Oklahoma State, or even leave LSU, at the top of the poll. [Read more…]

Alabama 21, LSU 0

When the two most prominent players in a football game are a punter and a kicker you know you should have spent the night watching hockey.

All credit should go to Alabama, a team that plays defense tighter than a North Korean nanny and all the blame goes to LSU, a team that plays offense like the French play defense, but did we really wait a month for this?  And what did “Coach of the Year” Les Miles spend the last month doing?  Figuring out different ways not to run, pass or appear even remotely threatening?

Hang on, LSU just had another three-and-out. (Don’t worry, it never takes long)

LSU compiled 92 yards of total offense.  Boise State can fart 92 yards of offense.  LSU’s time of possession was 24:34, which was even shorter than Kim Kardashian’s marriage.

Has Les Miles ever heard of an end-around, flea-flicker, halfback pass, forward pass or backup quarterback?  Is Nick Saban so good a coach that when having a talented team, a month to prepare, and a kicker who connects on 80% of his attempts he can beat the top-ranked team in the country?  Apparently so.

Alabama is so good it won the BCS Championship Game with a top scorer named Shelley and a top receiver named Smelley.

The Honey Badger looked more like the Useless Beaver.

The SEC has now won six straight national championships.  Every other conference is the 99% and not even an “Occupy Dixie” movement will give the Big Tens, Pac 12s, Notre Dames and St. Louis Rams of the world a chance at sharing the football wealth.

The BCS bigwigs are scheduled to meet on Tuesday (probably at Les’ house) to discuss ideas for improving the way the national championship is decided.  Before Monday night’s game in New Orleans, LSU could have planned to walk into that meeting saying it’s unfair that the Tigers were in position to finish the season with more wins than Alabama and a 1-1 record against the Crimson Tide yet not be voted the national champs.  But after Monday night’s malaise, LSU’s only argument is that the next time it plays Alabama the TV cameras should not be allowed to show Jordan Jefferson from the waist up.

The only change that needs to be made to the BCS is that the system currently actually considers giving teams from blue states serious consideration.

The BCS says “everything imaginable will be discussed” regarding improving college football’s postseason which means we’re certainly moving closer to either some type of playoff or annexation of the AFC West.

There is no way the NCAA will allow a diminution of the 35 bowl games played this season even if half of those games were played in half-empty stadiums.  College football is a cash cow for schools, coaches and ESPN (but God forbid a player hock a ring for a tattoo) and any tweaks to the system will start with maintaining a paradigm in which 6-6 Illinois and 6-7 UCLA get to meet in the Kraft Hunger Bowl.

So, that means in the future we’ll probably see the current bowl season followed by some type of mini-playoff in which the top four or eight teams in the nation, based in part on bowl game performance, will square off to decide the champion.

That mini-playoff will bear a striking resemblance to the SEC regular season.

Want to make college football’s championship chase more exciting and equitable?  Make all SEC teams play without facemasks.  Play the title game not under a dome but at Lambeau Field.  Demand that the games be broadcast in a format so that TV viewers can still hear the stadium noise yet can turn off the announcers, or at least Brent Musburger.

To dream, to dream.

Congratulations to the Alabama Crimson Tide and a pat on the back to LSU.  They were the two best teams in the country and deserved their night in the spotlight and ‘Bama deserves once again to be called the greatest team in the land and likely the best program in the history of college football.  It was a bad game but sometimes even excellence looks a little ugly.  And in Alabama, a state still recovering from deadly tornadoes last spring, and in Louisiana, which is still in the struggling aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, excellence, joy and passion are likely welcome in any form.  Football can’t make real life less painful, but it can make people forget about it for a while.

 

 

Will Tigers Take the Tide Twice?

Since the morning of November 6, 2011, college football fans have been making their voices heard: no rematch!

The previous evening’s so-called “Game of the Century” had resulted in a single-digit outcome for both participants: LSU 9, Alabama 6 – in overtime!

Before I read the comment twice I was on the defensive. The purpose of the BCS is to pit the top two collegiate football teams against each other in the season’s final contest for the national championship.  If LSU and Alabama are the best two teams in the postseason, they should contend for the Crystal Ball.

I, for one, am not enamored of the BCS, but whether the current system is flawed is debatable. The outcome of its complicated formula is bound to result in disagreement, regardless of the outcome. Put me down in favor of the Plus-One plan.

Returning to reality, the system has seen fit this season to give the honors of playing for the title to the same two teams who did battle that November Saturday. On that occasion, LSU and Bama were vying for the top spot in the SEC west. This time it is for all the proverbial marbles.

They are the two best defenses in the NCAA. They are the two best teams in the NCAA. They are deserving contenders for the championship, and the winner deserves all the accolades. The SEC wins again because, until another conference proves otherwise, it has the best teams on the planet.

My assessment of the game is all over the map. I have changed my pick three times. Alabama’s defense is ranked first in the country and has surrendered and average of just 191 yards and 8.8 points per game to its opponents this season. LSU’s defense is number two and given up fractionally more yards and points, while forcing more than two turnovers per game.

LSU has three All-Americans this season in Morris Claiborne, Tyrann Mathieu and Brad Wing. Alabama has four: Mark Barron, Dont’a Hightower, Barrett Jones and Trent Richardson.

Richardson has averaged 198 yards against Top 25 opponents this year and has fumbled once in 614 career touches. LSU has scored 40 points or more nine times this season.

Les Miles is 75-17 (.815) at LSU. Nick Saban is 49-12 (.803) at Alabama. Need I go on?

If there are any clear advantages, it would be LSU’s prowess on special teams, but Bama missed four field goals (12 points) in November and still held LSU to just nine points in total.

So how will one team prevail?

Look for the coaches to set aside the conservative approach of the last game in hopes of gaining an early advantage. It will be difficult, if not impossible, to play catch-up against either of these defensive units.

The Alabama players have to feel they have something to prove in this game. I’ll go with the Tide, 17-13.