Cavalcade of Whimsy: No, Really. Is Alabama THAT Good?
After an amazingly wild weekend, and with Round Two of the College Football Playoff rankings upon us, what now?
Cavalcade of Whimsy: Nov. 7, 2017
Sorry if this column sucks, it’s not my fault …
It would be in the College Football Playoff chase, but it’s cannibalizing itself. There are too many good items – it’s too deep for any one to break through and get to Atlanta.
And, because the only naked thing happening is the chicken you just got from Taco Bell …
There’s a razor-thin fine line between #Pac12AfterDark meaning you’re in on the fun while the rest of the sleeping world is missing out, and #Pac12BecauseItsLateAndYoureTOTALLYNotGettingAny
Or – work with me here – what if there was a committee of dignitaries who might be able to see through those tough losses and then judge appropriately?
No more whining about how a conference is getting bounced out of the College Football Playoff chase because it has to play too many good teams in its league.
I’m looking at you, Pac-12.
If Washington doesn’t get it done – which I actually think it probably will – the reason the Pac-12 won’t get into the CFP because all the good teams picked each other off. It’s because, for the second year in a row, the conference plotzed in too many non-conference games.
Your league isn’t that great if you lose to San Diego State (Arizona State and Stanford), Houston (Arizona), Colorado State (Oregon State), Minnesota (Oregon State) and Memphis (UCLA).
And, of course, in the one game that truly mattered to the conference’s reputation, USC spent the better part of an afternoon in South Bend watching Josh Adams go for a light jog.
The Pac-12’s big, giant, flashy wins? USC in overtime against Texas, Oregon over Nebraska, and UCLA in a miracle against Texas A&M. Yippee.
“If you guys were the inventors of Facebook, you’d have invented Facebook.”
If you’re good enough to be in the College Football Playoff, you’ll be in the College Football Playoff.
If you’re not good enough, Iowa will be more than happy to show the world why.
A Nick Saban team would’ve never had a massive special teams meltdown like that Iowa fake field goal and … uh, wha? Chris Davis on Line 3?
So, you really want to know why Alabama’s current run under Nick Saban is so amazing?
Look what just happened to No. 1A on the list of current all-timer coaches and programs.
Ohio State’s 31-0 skunking by Clemson in last season’s Fiesta Bowl was more forgivable than Buckeye fans allowed.
It was the College Football Playoff against an ultra-focused and motivated team with an all-timer of a quarterback on the way to the national title – Deshaun Watson turned out okay. It was a bad day for Urban Meyer and the Buckeyes against a special team. Fine – it happens once in a while.
But not to Alabama under Saban.
The Ohio State loss at home to Oklahoma earlier this year was even okay.
Baker Mayfield is probably going to win the Heisman, the Sooners are good enough to be in the College Football Playoff discussion, and the team pitched a gem with a nearly-flawlesss performance. Fine – it happens once in a while.
But not to Alabama under Saban.
Iowa has a habit of coming up with out-of-its-butt great performances at home here and there, beating Michigan on the final kick last year and losing to Penn State on a walk-off touchdown earlier this season. So it wasn’t stunning that the Buckeyes lost to the Hawkeyes.
But after getting by the Nittany Lions in a thriller to take back control of their own destiny, they waltzed into Kinnick Stadium, gave up a pick-six, and got steamrolled 55-24 by a piddling offense ranked 101st in the country. That doesn’t happen to elite teams.
And certainly not to Alabama under Saban.
So, when was the last time Alabama lost a game by at least 31 points – like Ohio State has now done twice in its last ten games? It was the 1998 Music City Bowl against Virginia Tech in a 38-7 loss – well before Saban’s time in Tuscaloosa.
Ready to make this even worse? Going back to the rough end of the 2013 season – when an unbeaten Alabama closed out losing to Auburn on the Kick Six and got Trevor Knighted by Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl – the Crimson Tide have lost four games over the last four seasons plus nine games of 2017 by a combined total of 23 points.
Ohio State has three double-digit losses in its last ten games.
Alabama has three double-digit losses under Saban, period. Two of those came at the end of a 12-0 run in 2008, going into the fourth quarter of the SEC Championship with a lead before Tim Tebow happened, and then a despondent team didn’t show up against Utah in the Sugar Bowl.
Since then, starting at the beginning of the 2009 season until now, over a span of 120 games, the 35-21 loss at South Carolina in 2010 was the only double-digit defeat.
So, if you’re wondering why so many people want to give Alabama the benefit of every doubt in the preseason polls and after the first College Football Playoff rankings came out, the program has sort of earned it.
With that said …
“Well, Joel, this is very respectable. You’ve done some very solid work here, but it isn’t quite lvy League now, is it?”
I was lazy.
I’m supposed to have seen Deshaun Watson and Clemson beating Alabama for the national title last year. That’s my job. That – along with being able to flip grapes around my back, up in the air and into my mouth – is all I can do at a relatively high level.
But I was blinded by Bama, because of course it was going to win the national title. That’s what Bama does.
And that means I’m still assuming it’s the same high-level program that has to still be the favorite. If I was forced right now to bet the house, the car, the kids, six bucks and grandma’s left nut, I’d take Alabama over anyone, but …
Something seems a bit … off.
I mean, yeah, getting jacked up to roll Vanderbilt was cool, and pummeling Tennessee and Arkansas wasn’t without its charm, but there’s a very, very good chance Texas A&M and LSU are the only two Power Five schools Bama has beaten so far that will end up going bowling.
Last year’s Tide team would’ve dropped this this year’s Aggie squad by 30 without getting off the bus, but it took a little bit too much of an effort to get out with a 27-19 win.
And the battle with LSU last week? It was fine, the Tide were never in any real danger, but it was a struggle against a team that lost to Troy and got housed by 30 against Mississippi State.
It’s why I wouldn’t be stunned if Mississippi State went Iowa this week – not by 31 points, but with a historic win – or if Auburn pulled out the Iron Bowl at home, or if Georgia made a statement in the SEC Championship, or if Washington came up with something strong in the Sugar Bowl, or if Clemson won Part Three in Atlanta …
Or because it’s Alabama, if it won its second national title in three years.
“Sign your life on the X/
You eXit, X-off, but what you really get/
A box of Newports, and Puma sweats”
It’s 2017. As a representative of a God-fearing nation that lives hard, loves harder, and gets angry over stupid (bleep) hardest of all, I think I can safely speak for the rest of America in response to the Sports Illustrated report that a few Alabama players were allegedly paid for their autographs back in 2009.
I … DON’T … CARE.
Good. I hope they were paid. I hope they got cars, too. And cookies. And a puppy. Actually, I don’t hope they got a puppy, since I’m the only person in the world who despises dogs and wouldn’t wish those needy nightmares on a cat. But, hopefully, the players received the cash equivalent of a snooty-patooty Westminster Kennel Club show dog and used it to go by a sack at White Castle.
Kansas, please follow Sir Brad on a tour of the Pit of Misery
Oh, Kansas. Just when it looks like you might be fun after a 418-yard passing day in a loss to Kansas State: Baylor 38, Kansas 9.
I started this three weeks ago, setting the over/under on points Kansas would lose the final six games by at +190.5.
After losing by 29, now it’ll take Texas, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State to combine to beat the Jayhawks by just 109 points to hit the mark – that’s an average of just over 36 points per game.
Oklahoma might do that by itself.
Five Cavalcade of Whimsy footballey opinions and, like, other stuff
Five conversation starters at your next dinner party, and/or to impress that special someone at the right moment …
5. Saquon Barkley comp
I finally figured out the right comparison for Saquon Barkley.
With the weight room strength, quickness and all-around coming-out-of-college ability, Trent Richardson is too easy. No, the right comp is Aaron Judge.
Barkley is obviously an MVP, superstar talent who has to be feared every time he gets a chance to do something, because you know at any moment he can hit a monster home run.
But you have to get through a whole lot of strikeouts to get there.
4. Arkansas State vs. Miami
No pun intended, but it got blown off at the time and it might turn out to matter a wee bit.
Remember, Miami was supposed to travel to Arkansas State to play on September 9th, but Hurricane Irma had something to say about the matter.
ASU offered to play the game on Friday night. It offered to do what Wisconsin did for Florida Atlantic and put the Miami team and everyone up as long as needed. It offered everything, and …
Nope. Miami didn’t want to do it – and no one could blame them.
However, Arkansas State has turned out to be really good – it’ll probably win the Sun Belt title. Just like it’s a something that Wisconsin beat an FAU team that might win the Conference USA title, Miami would’ve at least have been challenged by the Red Wolves.
Also, remember, Georgia Tech and Paul Johnson offered to do anything and everything to host UCF. And … nope. That might matter in the Group of Five chase for the New Year’s Six spot.
Speaking of FAU …
3. Trivia: The Nation’s No. 4 Rusher Is …
At least in terms of Yards Per Game among the running backs, after Stanford’s Bryce Love, San Diego State’s Rashaad Penny and Wisconsin’s Jonathan Taylor, it’s Florida Atlantic’s Devin Singletary.
The 5-9, 200-pound sophomore has been on a tear since being held to 68 yards by Wisconsin. In the last seven games, Lane Kiffin’s main man has cruised past the 100-yard mark in each, with 244 two weeks ago against WKU, and 203 last week against Marshall. Now he’s up to 1,256 yards and 19 touchdowns with a receiving score.
Coming off a 1,016-yard and 12 score freshman season, he’s probably the Conference USA Player of the Year.
2. Chip Kelly
The former Oregon superstar coach is on every message board wish list for fan bases looking for a new guy to come in and be the savior. But there continue to be three problems with this.
1. Money. He was used to making over $6 million a year in the NFL, and while he doesn’t need the cash after playing the system perfectly, the starting price for a college program would be at least $5 million a year.
2. An athletic director would have to be ready to cede most of the authority. Kelly isn’t taking a gig unless he can really and truly make the program his from top to bottom in a taskmaster/Sabanesqe sort of way, and …
3. His style might not work quite as well. At least, it’s not as fresh and new like it was a few years ago. It would still be fantastic, and he’d be an instant winner, but it’s going to take a perfect storm of a situation for him.
How does Arkansas or Texas A&M sound, Chip?
1. Deshaun Watson
I’m always, always, always going to keep beating this into the ground.
If you’re a first round talent, college players, you do NOT play one more down or practice of college football than you have to.
There’s a reason why Watson slipped. It’s not because people didn’t think he was good enough. He’s the dream personality with the smarts to get the NFL right away – duh, that went well – and the talent to be magical as long as he could hold up.
It was a non-contact injury that ended his rookie year, and no one could’ve foreseen that, but he already suffered a torn ACL in college, and most of all, he’s not all that huge. He’s not built to take a pounding if he loses any sort of a step to his game.
Whatever. He’ll be fine. Oh, and he’s generationally wealthy now.
Had he suffered that torn ACL this year at Clemson – second round. Maybe. In this year’s draft class of talent, he might have fallen into the third after a second knee problem.
As a Houston Texan? $8.25 million signing bonus, close to $14 million total over four years, and endorsements about to roll in while the Texans are paying him to rehab.
1. Conference Race Breakdowns & What Will Happen
2. Are Unbeaten Wisconsin & Miami Be CFP Sure Things?
3. Could 11-1 Notre Dame Be Left Out Of The CFP?
4. Why Washington Will End Up In The CFP?
5. If Baker Mayfield Stumbles, What Happens To The Heisman?
– College Football Playoff Tuesday Night Projection
This week’s reason why Nick Saban didn’t suspend me for the season opener against Florida State …
Going back to the dog problem, in a moment of unfiltered dopiness, I told a family friend, “I hate dogs,” as the new puppy used me as a stripper pole four seconds after I walked through the door. I tried to backtrack after insulting the new family member, but it was too late.
In my defense, there is nothing – nothing – worse than going to someone’s house and have Sparky jumping all over you, sniffing your butt, and getting all up into your cheese and biscuits. If I did that to my guests as they entered my house, (very, very wrong finishing kick to that line cheerfully withdrawn considering the current news climate).
The sure-thing, 100%, rock-solid lock, sell the house, sell the kids, no doubt about it picks of the century for this week
PICK SO FAR: 49-19 SU, 35-31-1 ATS
I know, I know, the half point matters. You are what your pick is, and a loss is a loss, but I was one full point away from a magical 5-1 ATS week with Notre Dame and Clemson just bit on the light side. Oh, and by the way, Fresno State defense – BYU is bad and shouldn’t have scored on you. At all.
Fortunately, these picks are all correct.
– Akron +6.5 over Miami University (I really don’t get this one)
– Washington -6.5 over Stanford
– Michigan -15.5 over Maryland (the Terps really don’t have a QB)
– South Carolina -7.5 over Florida
– Michigan State +14.5 over Ohio State (OSU to cover)
– TCU +7 over Oklahoma
– Miami +3.5 over Notre Dame
– Nebraska +2.5 over Minnesota
– Boise State -5.5 over Colorado State
C.O.W. shameless gimmick item …
The weekly five Overrated/Underrated aspects of the world
5) Overrated: “Give the chance a play.” – Aaron Taylor
Underrated: Aaron Taylor
4) Overrated: Michigan State running game
Underrated: Brian Lewerke
3) Overrated: Technically, Alabama
Underrated: Technically, Notre Dame
2) Overrated: 1,046 Bedlam passing yards and ten touchdowns
Underrated: 400 Bedlam rushing yards and five touchdowns
1) Overrated: Enter Sandman
Underrated: This …
Sorry if this column sucked, I wasn’t my fault …
Like the College Football Playoff rankings, last week’s effort was thrown out and it all started from scratch. This one had Alabama ahead of Notre Dame, too.