Tag:Alabama
Posted on: October 31, 2010 5:01 pm
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The Day After In College Football

Brian Kelly never could have foreseen his first few months on the job at Notre Dame.

The scope of the rebuilding job is obviously bigger than anyone imagined. His quarterback Dayne Crist, the triggerman for his offense, is out for the year. The defense was a chronic problem before he arrived. The results had been spotty even before Saturday's embarrassing 28-27 loss to Tulsa.

All that pales in significance to the fact that media are openly speculating about his job security in the wake of death of videographer Declan Sullivan. After Saturday's game, Kelly surprisingly admitted it was his decision to go on with practice with Sullivan in the air.

"You have to be able to look at the weather conditions and find out whether you believe it's going to be a productive day, first," Kelly said. "We believed it to be productive, it was productive, obviously up until the tragedy."

 No blaming, no scapegoating. For now, it's all on Kelly. That's almost an admission that Notre Dame is going to have to pay some kind of settlement after the tragic accident. Liability, in a sense has been decided.

While Sullivan's family released a touching statement over the weekend, can we safely assume that there is going to be some kind of lawsuit against the school at some point?

"Quiz is very adamant in our meetings about, 'Are we going in or out [for practice]?', Ohio State coach Jim Tressel said of football video coordinator Mark Quisenberry, 'and I'm only putting my tower up 20 feet if we go out.' "

Upon seeing that, a lawyer e-mailed me saying: "I would make Tressel my star witness."


It's impossible that Kelly could have predicted all that he was getting into. There have been two deaths. Recruit Matt James died in the spring when he fell off a hotel balcony during spring break. Kelly faces the task of digging out of the losing while the school deals with a lawsuit. Can any amount of winning overcome that?

* As USC took a third quarter lead over No. 1 Oregon Saturday night, an interesting possibility emerged. Had USC won, that would have whittled the last of unbeatens to four -- Auburn, Boise State, TCU and Utah. That also would have all but guaranteed one of those non-BCS schools playing for the national championship. A USC win would have meant the possibility of only one undefeated major-conference champion (Auburn). Assuming that at least one of the three non-BCSes went undefeated (TCU and Utah meet this week), one of them would probably move up enough in the BCS to play for the title.

For its champion, the SEC right now is mostly likely able to produce 1) an unbeaten Auburn, 2) a once-beaten Alabama  or 3) the SEC East champion where each team in the division already has at least two losses. In scenarios 1) and 2) (assuming a USC win), the SEC would have a team in the BCS title game. In scenario 3) it wouldn't. In fact, it's possible that two non-BCS schools could play for the title.

* The motto in the Big Ten: Now we wait. We wait for the latest BCS standings each week to see how bad Michigan State's chances were damaged by the blowout loss to Iowa. The Spartans are now tied in the Big Ten standings with Ohio State (both are 4-1). The two don't meet this season which means if they tie, the next tiebreaker for the Rose Bowl -- or possibly the BCS title game -- is highest ranked team in the BCS. Prior to Sunday night's BCS release, Jerry Palm had Ohio State significantly ahead of the Spartans.

Wisconsin, 3-1 in the Big Ten, did not play this week. It has lost to Michigan State, and beaten Ohio State. Iowa, also at 3-1, hosts Ohio State on Nov. 20.

* Nebraska pulled into a tie in the Big 12 North with Missouri and now only has to win out to get to its second straight (and last) Big 12 title game. Nebraska's remaining schedule: at Iowa State, Kansas, at Texas A&M and Colorado. Missouri's remaining schedule: at Texas Tech, Kansas State, at Iowa State, Kansas.  Anybody else notice that the road to the Big 12 North goes through Ames, Iowa? The plucky Cyclones host both Missouri and Nebraska.

Whatever happens this year at Nebraska, the Huskers are getting back to their roots. Taylor Martinez set the single-game quarterback rushing record against Kansas State. Roy Helu Jr. set the overall single-game rushing record (307 yards Saturday vs. Missouri).  According to figures supplied by Big12sports.com, Nebraska's 860 yards on its 24 touchdown runs is more than 17 I-A teams have rushed for the entire season.

* The Pac-10's exclusive 90-day negotiating window with Fox Sports begins Jan. 15 according to Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott. The Pac-10 and Big 12 are the next conferences to get big paydays from their rightsholders. The ACC was the last to cash in getting a $1.86-billion deal from ESPN. That pales in comparison to the SEC's $3 billion deal finalized in July 2009 but is another indicator that college football has been undervalued in the market. That's one of the reasons Jim Delany created the Big Ten Network. It's also a reason the new Pac-12 is expected to significantly increase its media rights.

* For the first time since 1979, Florida and Georgia came into the Cocktail Party unranked. The Gators beat the Dogs for the 18th time in the last 21 meetings, 34-31 in overtime. If there was ever a time for Mark Richt and Georgia to get Florida, this was it. The Gators won't stay down like this for long. Urban Meyer called it one of his biggest wins. Florida remains in control of its own destiny in the SEC East.

* Joe Paterno needs one more win for his 400th after beating Michigan.

* Quote of the day from Virginia's John-Kevin Dolce after knocking Miami quarterback Jacory Harris out of the game: "When you chop the head of a giant, the rest of the body goes with it."

Posted on: October 26, 2010 11:55 am
Edited on: October 26, 2010 1:47 pm
 

National Notes

All Cam Newton all the time? Seems like it especially with the question of the week that has risen up on various talk shows, Twitter accounts and in my brain:

Is Cam Newton better than Tim Tebow? At this point in time the answer is yes. Cammo is bigger (6-feet-6, 250 pounds), stronger (watch him bulldoze those linebackers) and faster than the Gainesville god known as Tebow. Newton won't approach Tebow's numbers because this might be his one and only season at Auburn.

The irony is that Florida had him and let him get away. Actually, Newton admits he let himself get away. The laptop incident didn't help but Newton was being redshirted and had an ankle injury in his final semester with the Gators. Tebow and John Brantley were ahead of him on the depth chart, making it easier for Newton to transfer.

After becoming the national juco player of the year, Newton found the perfect coach (offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn) with the perfect offense at Auburn. The rest you've watched each Saturday. The latest accomplishment was setting the SEC season rushing record by a quarterback -- with four games left.

"He's the best facilitator of the football as a college quarterback," said Pete Cordelli, a former Notre Dame assistant. "He runs his football team like he's a point guard. It's Showtime on the Plains. Who can you take and put on the other 119 teams  and make them better? Can you imagine him at Oregon or Oklahoma? Imagine if he was at Penn State, we wouldn't be talking about Paterno retiring. Imagine him at Ohio State?"

That's a lot of imagining but only one team has him. 


* The next question is whether Newton will go Prince on us and change his name to a symbol: N - mg = ma

(The equation is deciphered below)

* By the way, don't blame Urban Meyer. He's got enough problems. Critics want the Florida coach to get rid of lawbreakers (you might have heard there have been quite a few), but they want to blame him for letting Cam I Am for "getting away."

* If the top of the polls look unfamiliar, they should. Oregon is No. 1 for the second consecutive week in the AP poll. Other than USC, the last Pac-10 team to be ranked No. 1 in the AP poll was Washington in 1992 (five weeks). No. 2 Boise State is the highest ranked WAC team since BYU won the national championship in 1984.

* Boise rant of the week: At what point do 47-point beatdowns of WAC teams in some way equal a seven-point win over LSU. That's why I think Boise could win the SEC East, Big 12 and Big Ten.

* During this Alabama bye week, Nick Saban visited the Touchdown Club of Memphis. One snarky attendee  gave Nick his props and summed up the season properly -- at least from an Alabama perspective: "Congratulations on winning the BCS national championship last year and producing a Heisman Trophy winner. I know expectations are high in the state of Alabama and people expect another national champion and another Heisman winner. Fortunately, those expectations appear to be in reach. Auburn is No. 1 in the BCS and Cam Newton appears to be the leading candidate for the Heisman."

* What's the antidote for arrogance? Mack Brown is trying to figure that out. According to him, that's what Texas has been playing with for too long. Brown who called out his players after the Iowa State loss and, in the process, might have indicted his own motivation skills.

There is no excuse with bowl-bound Baylor coming in. The Longhorns roster routinely is comprised of the best players in Texas, some of the best in the country. Try to explain, then, how Baylor leads the Big 12 South eight weeks into the season. You can't.


* Sometimes we write too much about the winners, the BCS, bowl games, NCAA reprobates. This space is dedicated to the feel-good stories of late October.

Baylor clinched a bowl berth for the first time in 15 years after that Kansas State win. The season looked encouraging but Bears fans had learned not to assume anything. Quarterback Robert Griffin was coming off a blown-out knee. It lost at TCU by 35 earlier in the season.  Griffin now is arguably the best quarterback in the Big 12.
 
Western Kentucky broke a nation-leading 26-game losing streak in beating Louisiana-Lafayette. Akron and New Mexico now share the national lead; each have lost eight in a row. Oh, and another warning for the next Vince Lombardi at Minnesota: The Gophers are next with a seven-game losing streak.

Remember when Ron Zook was on the hot seat? Illinois' coach is a respectable 4-3, having beaten Penn State in the process. Its three losses are no disgrace, to Michigan State, Ohio State and Missouri. Those schools have a combined record of 22-1.

No shame either for Iowa State's Paul Rhoads. The Cyclones are now 4-4, chasing a bowl after beating Texas. Their four losses are to Iowa, Kansas State, Utah and Oklahoma. Combined record: 23-5.

Seven games into his second season, Syracuse's Doug Marrone has the Orange at 5-2, in second place in the Big East, a half-game behind Pittsburgh. (Pittsburgh has beaten Syracuse already so it has the tiebreaker)

For only the second time and for first time in six years Baylor and Iowa State won a Big 12 Conference game on the same day. Also for only the second time in Big 12 history, Texas and Oklahoma lost on the same day when coached by Bob Stoops and Mack Brown.

* Why could Cameron Newton nickname himself "N - mg = ma"? That is more or less the mathematical representation of Newton's first law of motion: An object in motion tends to stay in motion. If I were Newton, Cam not Sir Isaac, I'd copyright that sucker.

 


Posted on: October 21, 2010 5:33 pm
Edited on: October 22, 2010 11:10 am
 

Halfway Son of Weekend Watch List

BCS bowl projections halfway through the season:

BCS championship: Oregon* vs. Alabama*
Rose: Boise* vs. Iowa*
Fiesta: Nebraska* vs. West Virginia*
Orange: Florida State* vs. Ohio State
Sugar: Auburn vs. Oklahoma

*-automatic qualifier

Notes: Oregon and Alabama win out to advance to the championship game. Alabama beats both LSU and Auburn assuring that there will be no undefeated teams in the SEC. It then beats the SEC East champion to advance. Despite one loss, it vaults over undefeated Boise, the TCU/Utah winner and perhaps even Oregon.  It doesn't matter for the Ducks who stay in the top two because undefeated Boise, Utah/TCU can't catch it in the BCS standings. Meanwhile, other current undefeateds Auburn, LSU, Michigan State, Oklahoma and Missouri also lose locking in Oregon. Alabama would be playing for the first back-to-back national championship since Nebraska in the 1990s. Oregon would be playing for its first.

--The Fiesta Bowl would gladly welcome Nebraska which it hasn't had since 2000. West Virginia would be making a second trip to the Valley of the Sun in four years.

--The Orange Bowl gets one of its more intriguing matchups as Florida State returns to the big time returning to a BCS bowl for the first time since 2005. Ohio State has to settle for an at-large berth after failing to win a sixth consecutive Big Ten title. The Buckeyes return to the Orange for the first time since 1977.

--The Sugar is filled with two at-large participants. Oklahoma returns to New Orleans for the first time since the 2004 (2003 season) national championship game loss to LSU.


Ranking the remaining MICs

11. Urban Meyer, Florida: Let's not forget that 20 years ago, Florida football didn't matter. Post-Zooker, Meyer made it a bigger national power than it was under Spurrier.

12. Joe Paterno, Penn State: No matter how his career ends, JoePa will leave the program in great shape.

13. Frank Beamer, Virginia Tech: An example of having patience with a good coach. Beamer started out terribly but the administration allowed him stay. Now he's one of the best in the country.

14. Al Golden, Temple: The nation's hottest young coach has got it back to the point where the Big East should consider inviting back the Owls.

15. June Jones, SMU: The first and only coach to lead the Ponies to a bowl game since the death penalty. That's good enough for me.

16. Mike Riley, Oregon State: Beavers win eight or nine each year and are always a factor in the Pac-10 race. Don't forget the Civil War is in Corvallis this year.

17. Larry Blakeney, Troy: In the same category as Snyder and Paterno on a smaller scale. Would Troy even exist without Blakeney?

18. Pat Hill, Fresno: Never won a WAC title but kept the Bulldogs relevant to the point that they're jumping to the Mountain West.

19. Jimbo Fisher, Florida State: It's early but all the signs are good that FSU will soon be back on the national scene.

20. Bronco Mendenhall, BYU: Like Meyer, Bronco is allowed a down year.

21. Bo Pelini, Nebraska: If the NFL doesn't come calling, Nebraska will begin winning championships again under Bo.

22. Bret Bielema, Wisconsin: Saturday's win allowed BB to make this list. Ohio State was his second win over a ranked Big Ten team. Barry Alvarez' hand-picked guy is trending upward.

23. Greg Schiano, Rutgers: The momentum has slowed since 2006 but Rutgers is back among the living under Schiano to the point that the Big Ten is sniffing around.

24. Pat Fitzgerald, Northwestern: Operating with a low budget against Big Ten giants, the Wildcats are more than competitive with Fitz.

Oregon set the school season scoring record Thursday in the season's seventh game. The Ducks have 386 points and are averaging more than 55 points per game ... Strange how two Big Ten programs defined themselves by invoking Vince Lombardi this week. First Minnesota AD Joel Maturi said, "It's not like he would be replacing Vince Lombardi," of the new coach after firing Tim Brewster. Then Rich Rodriguez said this about his struggling defense: "Listen, Vince Lombardi could come too and [it's] not going to fix some of the problems we have on defense." ... Ohio State (at Minnesota) hasn't lost consecutive games since 2004 ... TCU has lost one fumble this season ... Texas A&M has lost 12 consecutive televised games dating back to 2008. The Aggies play at Kansas Saturday on Fox Sports Net ...

In this Week of the Head Shot in the NFL, it's interesting to note that Arkansas' Ryan Mallett was knocked out of Saturday's game with a concussion. He practiced Tuesday and will play Saturday against Mississippi ... The last six Auburn-LSU games have been decided by six points or less ... Mississippi State is ranked for the first time in nine years ... Until BYU kicked a field goal in Saturday's 31-3 loss, TCU had not allowed a point in almost three games -- 175 minutes, 10 seconds. A third straight complete shutout would have marked the first time in college football since Boston College in 1992.

 

Posted on: October 15, 2010 4:04 pm
 

Mailbag, 10/15

A wise man once wrote ... "They are numerous and belligerent. They are fervent and many. They are passionate and unmoving. They are misguided they are scarlet and gray."

That wise man is me.

There seems to be this movement afoot to rationalize Ohio State's No. 1 ranking with a result from last season. Yeah, I know, seems weird to me too. While I understand that the polls are half reputation, you don't earn the No. 1 ranking in October based on a game that was played in January. But that certainly seems to be the feeling in Columbus where the Buckeyes not ARE No. 1 in both polls but, damn it, deserve it over every other team in the country.

You know why? It beat Oregon in the Rose Bowl. Oregon, without the quarterback who played in that game. Oregon, which is stronger now than it was in Pasadena. Oregon, which is a season older and wiser.  Last season's Oregon.

Guys and gals, is that the best you can come with in making your argument? Ohio State is better than No. 2 Oregon because of a game played 10 months ago, but you can't tell me why Ohio State is better than the 12 other undefeated teams in I-A? Way to settle an argument.

You people destroy your own argument. Boise beat Oregon last season too. Shouldn't it be, at least, a co-No. 1 with the beloved Buckeyes?

Cue the myopic, Buck-hater e-mails. I know they're coming. My point if you can calm down for a second, Brutus: There is nothing you can tell me that Ohio State has done this season to convince me it is the clear-cut No. 1. That's why I ranted Sunday.

I'm not hating on the Bucks. I happen to like The Senator in a nebbish, Firestone-regional-manager kind of way. It's hard to anger him, which is probably why his teams play so well. They're consistent and, mostly, unflappable. But let's all take a deep breath here in the middle of October. Ohio State may be No. 1 in the three polls that matter right now. That doesn't mean it should be. I believe in poll diversity. I've seen Boise State just as much as Ohio State. I marvel at what Oregon has been able to accomplish without that quarterback who played in the Rose Bowl (Jeremiah Masoli). Who's faster than Nebraska's Taylor Martinez?

Look outside the boundaries of Ohio, Ohio. There is some great football being played out there. Maybe you'll find out Saturday night in Madison. Maybe you won't. Just don't come at me with 10-month old arguments. There's a fantastic season being played out there too.


From: Ed Champagne

Is Bama good or is Penn St. BAD?

Bubbly:

The answer lies in the middle. Until the Clubbing In Columbia, I thought Alabama was a world-beater. After getting through Arkansas and Florida, it looked like South Carolina would be the easiest task in the three-game slog. I was wrong. South Carolina was better than we thought and, suddenly, Bama has troubles running the ball. For now, the best team in the SEC is Auburn.

As much as that upsets Alabama, it's true. Teams change throughout the season. Penn State was way overrated. As Alabama and others have proved, Joe Paterno doesn't have a playmaker on either side of the ball. The Nits are 3-3 halfway through the season and have a ways to go to get to bowl eligibility (six wins) which would net Joe is 400th career win. Penn State isn't bad, it's just not good. To paraphrase a former Arizona Cardinals coach:  "Penn State is who we thought they were."



From: Tim


Dennis, I know you guys like to create controversy but when it starts to hurt your credibility I have to try to redirect your marketing efforts. Boise State would absolutely get hammered playing a Big Ten schedule. The best teams in the overrated WAC would only be mediocre in the Big Ten. Treasure your job - they are hard to come by these days. Good luck.

Large 11 Honk:

Sorry you made bail, but I'm going to burst your bubble. I've been saying publicly for a while that Boise State could win the Big Ten this year. SEC East too. Big 12? Tell me they couldn't line up with Nebraska. I don't know how much of Boise you've seen in person but give them the eye test. That would require you watching them play. Get back to me. I'll help get you a ticket.



From: Sarah


Dear Dodd, Did you not have Ohio State at No. 2 in your pre-season poll? All they've done is kick the crap out of people, with a dominating defense and a Heisman-contending quarterback. What else would you have expected them to do so far that warrants your whining? Boise's win over Virginia Tech is not the least bit impressive after VT goes down to James freaking Madison. Put Boise in a real conference and let them play a real schedule, then we'll talk. This whole fascination with Boise is a joke and a cop out by writers, like yourself, to continue hating on Ohio State.

Just Another Mypopian:

"Kick the crap out of people"? If you want to call Eastern Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Marshall and Indiana "people", that's a stretch. They are body bags. Air. They've renamed themselves "The Lettermen" because they mail it in. You conveniently forgot about that little struggle in Champaign. And I don't mean Ed Champagne.

 Nice win over Miami, by the way. The Canes are so far out of the polls, they have to look up to see the bottom of West Virginia's cleats.

The reality is that Boise has accomplished more ON THE FIELD than Ohio State has this season.


From: Keith

Dennis, You are smarter than me, so please find a way to talk about an elephant-in-the-room topic for all of the reasonable, rational college football fans. Don't know how many of those are left, but there are at least a few of us.

Here's my topic: Much of the controversy surrounding BCS vs. non-BCS teams is pedigree. But riddle me this: how many current Alabama players -- or insert your favorite traditional power players or coaches -- were there when Bear Bryant was there? How many current LSU players were on the squad in 2007 when the title was won? Point: players, especially starters, are different every year. Five years ago all of them were in high school, or even junior high! Coaches change all the time, etc. What Alabama did ten years ago means ABSOLUTELY NOTHING today, and what they did last year still matters very little.


Time Traveler:

You've been reading my mind, Mr. Spock. A lot of the polls are built on reputation. It's why Lindsay Lohan continues to get acting roles. She might have her snoot halfway up a brick of cocaine, but she sure does look good on screen.

Few want to give Boise cred because the program has been good for 10 years. Alabama has been good for 10 DECADES! That's the difference. Line 'em up on the field and let's see what happens. Better yet, line 'em up in NCAA 11. I still haven't bought my copy yet.

Coaches and players change all the time but voters don't, it seems.


From:
  Rick

Oregon reminds me of a Little League Pop Warner type team! They are a controlled group that have gone berserk! I believe their players truly believe that they can outscore anyone! Like great golfers, they play their game - and then some, not worrying about what their opponent does. It would be interesting to see them play Boise State, followed by Alabama! Opinion? They would outscore both.

Acid Washed:

Dude, you're so all over the board I'm afraid you've had too much organic coffee (or something) out there in Eugene.

You besmirch Pop Warner teams everywhere suggesting they don't play any defense. You ever see Snoop Dogg's team. They beat the heck out of you. There's a league in central New York that leads the country in torn ACLs caused. I'm insulted at your blanket reference to Pop Warner football. It's better than you think. Ask Eastern Michigan.

 

Posted on: October 14, 2010 5:15 pm
Edited on: October 15, 2010 1:31 am
 

Son of Weekend Watch List

Watch Oklahoma State's Justin Blackmon at Texas Tech. He just might be the best receiver in the country. The problem is OSU is 0-6 in Lubbock during the Big 12 era. Overall, the Cowboys haven't won in Lubbock since 1944 ... The remaining 59 teams in I-A will have played half of their regular-season schedules after this weekend, including USC which will play its seventh of 13 games ... If Ohio State is able to hold on to the No. 1 ranking for four more Sundays this season it would pass Oklahoma to become the most-frequent No. 1 in AP poll history. The Bucks became No. 1 for the 94th time this week. Only Oklahoma (97) and Notre Dame (95) have been No. 1 more often ... If anyone had told you Louisville would be 4-2 halfway through its first season post-Kragthrope would you have laughed? The Cards would be just that if they win Friday night against Cincinnati...

Miami (3-2) reaches the halfway point in its season this week at Duke a candidate for the nation's most disappointing team. The record isn't terrible, it's more where the program stands right now -- No. 3 in the state. Jacory Harris has been uneven. FSU ran the Canes out of their own building. You look at the talent and just think Miami should be better. You can have your argument between Florida State (5-1) and Florida (4-2) right now but it's clear the Hurricanes -- in the middle of a comeback -- are in danger of finishing back in the pack in 2010's in-state race ...

Bad game of the week: Eastern Michigan (0-6) at Ball State (2-4). The teams are a combined 4-32 since the beginning of 2009 ... Army and Rutgers play the first college game in new Meadowlands Stadium ... Utah (at Wyoming) has scored at least 56 in three consecutive games ... Jim Tressel is the first Big Ten coach to win 100 games in 10 seasons ... Alabama continues a rather remarkable streak not having allowed a 100-yard rusher in 40 consecutive games ... Mississippi State (at Florida) is shooting for its first four-game winning streak since 1999 ... Something to consider while boarding the South Carolina bandwagon: Stephen Garcia is 11-2 at home, only 1-5 on the road heading to Kentucky ... Steve Spurrier is 18-0 vs. the Wildcats combined at Florida and South Carolina ... Oregon State has lost one turnover this season ... TCU is back in a familiar spot leading the nation in total defense. That's where the Frogs finished the last two seasons ... Denard Robinson's Heisman season -- and maybe Michigan's season -- hangs in the balance. Robinson is facing the country's No. 2 rush defense in Iowa ... Michigan State (vs. Illinois) is going for its first 7-0 start since its 9-0 start in 1966 ...

I thought we'd gotten over this: The replay official in last week's controversial Oregon State-Arizona game was an Arizona grad. How can that be?

 

Posted on: October 13, 2010 10:44 am
Edited on: October 13, 2010 10:45 am
 

National notes

It only seems like Alabama obsessed all offseason about facing six SEC opponents coming off bye weeks.

The SEC schedule wasn't finalized until late summer as the school and league tried to move opponents around to keep from the dreaded six-pack. The Tuscaloosa News had revealed that over a three-year period Alabama had faced more bye-week opponents (17) than any SEC school. The best Bama could do was move Georgia State from a Saturday to a Thursday in November, thus allowing nine days before the Nov. 26 Auburn game.

That doesn't help things now. The Tide are on the brink of falling out of national championship contention after Saturday's loss to South Carolina. Their fall from No. 1 to No. 8 in the AP poll is the second-biggest fall for an in-season No. 1 since 1996. (Nebraska fell to No. 8 that year after losing to Arizona State). While Bama can still win the SEC and compete for the national championship, the final six conference opponents are going to be well rested. At least one columnist said the schedule already has caught up to the former No. 1.

Meanwhile, Nick Saban is trying to turn that offseason obsession into an in-season footnote. After 19 consecutive victories that included a national championship, Saban said this week his team may have believed a bit too much in itself.

"It's drinking the Kool-Aid, thinking that just because they say it on ESPN, it's so. Reading the newspapers all week. Just because you beat Florida 31-6, people start talking about you being the best team in the country. We're not the best team in the country. We had the best team in the country last year, and we proved it. We proved it over 14 games.

"This team hasn't proved s---."

Rhymes with spit.

Hey, that's the best Sabanator outburst since my question led him to the famous "pimp" line in July. 
 
"Excuse my language," Saban immediately told reporters on Monday. "That's how I feel about it. I'm really upset that I used bad language."

Anything colorful from Saban is always appreciated. It beats "behind-the-scenes" mini-docs where the only thing behind-the-scenes is what you don't see. This was raw emotion, a glimpse at Saban's soul at this point in the season. The message got through. Saban won't be taking bye weeks as an excuse going forward. It's clear that playing three consecutive top-19 opponents (in the AP poll) took something out of the Tide. Now they have to play Mississippi, Tennessee, LSU, Mississippi State and Auburn coming off byes. Both teams will have a bye coming into the Nov. 6 meeting at LSU.

"Everybody out there assumes that having a bye week is an advantage," Saban said last week. "I've always answered that question by saying, 'I don't know if it's an advantage or disadvantage.'"

Maybe we're starting to find out.

 


**There is a dicey situation developing at Penn State where Joe Paterno is approaching his 400th career win.

But when?

The Nits are 3-3 after a depressing home loss to Illinois. Joe needs three more wins to become the third coach ever to win 400. There is growing doubt, though, that JoePa doesn't reach that mark this season. And what if he doesn't? What does that do to the program if Joe holds on (or is held over) for 2011?


In one sense, a 5-7 season can be written off as rebuilding year. Quarterback Rob Bolden is a true freshmen and has loads of upside. In other sense, there has to be concern. This is the first time in a long time, Penn State hasn't had at least one playmaker on either side of the ball.

The (mostly) cushy non-conference schedule has gotten Joe halfway to those six he needs, but the road ahead is littered with broken glass -- or at least formidable Big Ten opponents. Penn State still has to play the Big Ten's top three teams -- Michigan, Michigan State and Ohio State. Assuming losses in those, Joe will have to win at Minnesota, at Indiana and at home against Northwestern to get to 6-6, 400 wins and a bowl game.

Is that a sendoff or a rebuilding year?



**
I'm starting to get intrigued by Oklahoma State. Coach Mike Gundy has ridden new offensive coordinator Dana Holgorsen to a 5-0 start, the team's third such beginning since 2004.

The problem with OSU is that its schedule is typically backloaded with second-half meetings with Big 12 South heavies Texas and Oklahoma. In fact, Gundy has never beaten the LongSooners, or is it the SoonHorns? (Combined 0-10 against the two schools and 21-23 after Oct. 1.) Holgorsen has been the difference this year with his version of the spread option,  getting the most out of new quarterback Brandon Weeden, established tailback Kendall Hunter and breakout receiver Justin Blackmon.

The problem remains a defense which has finished above 89th nationally only once in Gundy's previous five seasons. This season's unit is marginally better in its second year under coordinator Bill Young. It is No. 88 nationally allowing more than 400 yards per game.

The difference is Holgorsen, a 39-year-old Mike Leach discipline who spent eight seasons at Texas Tech as an assistant, the final three as offensive coordinator. Holgorsen came to Okie State after a couple of seasons tutoring Case Keenum at Houston. Keenum is out with a season-ending injury but is seeking a sixth year of eligibility in 2011 during which he could become the NCAA's career passing yards leader.

Weeden, who turns 27 this week, is a former minor-league pitcher who is finding a new career playing pitch and catch out of the shotgun. Almost halfway through the season, Weeden has the fourth-most passing yards in the country leading the No. 2 scoring unit.

"[Weeden] was just a poor practice player," Gundy said. "There's a reason why we changed offenses. He can't execute [OSU's 2005-09] offense. It wasn't set up for him. ...We thought he could function at a high level, but we didn't know."

 

 

Posted on: October 4, 2010 12:46 pm
 

National notes

Before we begin, here is your daily dose of Les Miles. Actually, it's the only dose of Les Miles you need for this week. If you learn anything more from this postgame video about Saturday's Unlucky 13 vs. Tennessee, let me know.


**A warning going into Week 6 ...

There is a real chance almost halfway through the season of an unprecedented logjam at the top of the BCS -- six undefeated conference champions, four of them in BCS leagues.

It's early but there is some separation and definition to the season after five weeks. Alabama is clearly the class of the SEC. Nebraska and Oklahoma are undefeated in the Big 12, and can't meet until the conference championship game. Ohio State's trip to Wisconsin in a couple of weeks suddenly looks less daunting. Boise State is going to rush through the WAC. TCU and Utah are likely to decide the Mountain West head-to-head. Oregon looks like it is going to run away with the Pac-10.

If all that happens, here is one projection of how the final BCS standings might look. Is too early? Never. The first BCS standings will be released in two weeks.

1. Alabama: With all the talk about the Pac-10's strength this season, the SEC still rules. The Tide are all but assured of playing three more ranked teams -- South Carolina, LSU and Auburn.

2. Oregon: Pollsters are already falling in love with the Ducks despite a dicey strength of schedule to this point.

3. Ohio State: Like Alabama, likely to play three more ranked teams (Wisconsin, Iowa, Michigan). If you think the Big Ten's strength will carry the Buckeyes into the top two, think again. Oregon's offense is stronger and will make a stronger case, especially on the road where Jim Tressel seems to play conservatively.

4. Big 12: I am well aware that Kansas, Oklahoma State and Missouri are also undefeated making it five in this league. I'm also projecting that, regardless, this is where an undefeated Big 12 champion would end up if everyone else wins out. Among the five Big 12 undefeateds: Kansas State plays Nebraska, Oklahoma State and Missouri. Missouri plays Kansas State, Oklahoma and Nebraska. Nebraska plays  Kansas State, Oklahoma State and Missouri. Oklahoma plays only Missouri and Okie State. The Cowboys still have Kansas State, Nebraska and Oklahoma.

5. TCU/Utah: The Mountain West race will come down to the teams' Nov. 6 meeting in Salt Lake City. If either finishes undefeated it will most likely finish ahead of an undefeated Boise.

6. Boise State: There was bad, bad news for the Broncos on Sunday. They were jumped in both polls by Oregon for No. 3 in the rankings despite having superior accomplishments and super schedule strength to this point. Oregon has played a I-AA (Portland State) and a team that might as well be I-AA (New Mexico). Boise has played two ranked teams, one in the top 10 on the "road" (Virginia Tech at FedEx Field).

For the previous two weeks Boise, at No. 3, had gained on No. 2 Ohio State and pulled away from the No. 4 team. After one week of WAC play -- against admittedly horrible New Mexico State -- the voters have fallen in love with Oregon and are already damning the Broncos for their schedule.

There are 18 remaining undefeated teams. Five of those (28 percent) are in the Big 12. By the end of this week there will be 16 because of head-to-head meetings (Michigan State-Michigan, Nebraska-Kansas State). Also, by the end of the week a maximum of 11 teams will have the possibility of finishing undefeated because of assured head-to-head games. After this week only four undefeated teams will be alive in the Big 12; three in the Big Ten. Only one undefeated team (at most) will be able to come out of the Mountain West, Pac-10, SEC and WAC.

**Texas is out of the AP poll for the first time in 162 weeks (2000). The streak in the coaches' poll had lasted 192 weeks. Texas, 3-2, still has games left against Nebraska, Oklahoma State and Texas A&M meaning it could be headed for its worst season since before Mack Brown arrived in 1997.

**TCU posted its first road shutout of an opponent in Gary Patterson's 10 years as head coach, 27-0 at Colorado State. That's significant because Patterson is a defensive wizard whose teams have finished tops in total defense each of the last two seasons.

**Speaking of the Horned Frogs, the interest in the Big East is apparently real and reciprocal. TCU could join the league as soon as next season. One reason: There is no financial penalty to leave the Mountain West.

**Poor Jaime Hill. The BYU defensive coordinator was fired after Friday's loss at Utah State. You expect that in the SEC, but at BYU? Hill joined the staff from the CFL in 2006 and was promoted to defensive coordinator in 2008. BYU, 1-4, is off to its worst start in almost four decades.

Some other d-coordinators who might want to watch their backs:

Tyrone Nix, Mississippi. The Rebs got upset by Jacksonville State giving up 49 points and got beat by Vandy, 28-14. Had to hold off Kentucky 42-35 on Saturday. Rebels allowing almost 33 points per game.

Doug Mallory, New Mexico. Not really fair because his future is tied to embattled head coach Mike Locksley. The Lobos have allowed a I-A-most 35 touchdowns and 52.6 points per game.

Co-coordinators Keith Patterson/Paul Randolph, Tulsa. The Hurricane gave up 51 points at East Carolina, losing on the last play of the game. Oklahoma State put up 65 on Tulsa which is 106th in pass efficiency defense.

Ray McCartney, Wake Forest. His defense has given up 68 points to Stanford, 24 touchdowns in five games and 36.8 points per game.

**Team Schizo: Washington has lost to the worst BYU team in years, got run off its home field by Nebraska and now has beaten USC in consecutive seasons.

**Team Schizo II: Kansas lost to Baylor by almost seven touchdowns, 55-7, in Waco. Not even the locals care about Baylor, a Big 12 doormat. There were an estimated 15,000 empty seats at Floyd Casey Stadium. It's bad when your team is intimidated by the Bears.

"When I went out there, they were bigger than I thought,” KU linebacker Steven Johnson told the Kansas City Star. “I’m just like, ‘What in the world are they eating?’ ”

Posted on: October 2, 2010 6:14 pm
Edited on: October 4, 2010 12:35 pm
 

On the ground in Tuscaloosa

Trending topics in T-Town for tonight's Florida-Alabama game ...

Fat Baby's Boiled Peanuts

Smell of weed in the air

Bama fans flipping off Florida fans' bus

Egan's Bar -- Dim Lights, Loud Music, Smoky Room

$4 Dixie Bombs

The Houndstooth

Bourbon Meyer (a drink)

Cryin' Meyer (a dig)

$15 Items in the souvenir tent (alerting the public as to the minimum they will pay for Bama souvenirs)

Category: NCAAF
Tags: Alabama, Florida
 
 
 
 
 
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