February 25, 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.

 

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.