College football has a knack for making you look foolish. The moment you think you know something, it will quickly remind you that what you see is an illusion, and the reality is something else entirely.
That's why it's irresponsible to assume anything in this sport, and it's why getting bent out of shape over the very first College Football Playoff rankings every season is a waste of energy. A week ago, the selection committee had Texas A&M ranked No. 4, and you couldn't believe it, but now, none of it matters because the Aggies lost to Mississippi State.
And yet, even in the face of all these examples, there are some things that just feel so inevitable.
I'm talking about Alabama. Gnash your teeth and debate about which team should be ranked No. 4 all you want, at the end of the day, it still feels like the world of college football belongs to Alabama and everybody else is just living in it.
Saturday night was the latest example. The Tide, as a team, did not have its best performance of the season against LSU in Baton Rouge. Jalen Hurts barely completed half his passes, while the Alabama offense on the whole averaged only 4.6 yards per play against the LSU defense. It was the first time this season the Alabama offense looked mortal, and yet it still won the game 10-0, and it felt like the most dominant 10-0 victory you're ever going to see.
Even when the game was still tied 0-0 in the third quarter, you never actually felt like Alabama was in any danger of losing. It was inevitable that the Tide would put points up on the scoreboard eventually, and as soon as it did, you knew the game was over.
LSU was supposed to be the great test for Alabama, yet it didn't provide much of one. This after Texas A&M was going to provide a test, or Tennessee, Arkansas, Ole Miss or USC. Next on the list is Auburn, which had been playing very well over the last month, but still had a helluva time getting past Vanderbilt on Saturday.
At this point, there is no test remaining for Alabama in my mind. We'll convince ourselves that Auburn has a chance at the end of the season, but Auburn will fall short like everyone else. Then Alabama will crush whichever team from the SEC East has the misfortune of making the trip to Atlanta, and on to the College Football Playoff it will be.
Then, and only then, will we finally see Alabama face a test, but we can't even be sure of that. Looking around the rest of the country, the only team I can even imagine would be a single-digit underdog to this Alabama team on a neutral field is Michigan, and there isn't even a guarantee Michigan will reach the playoff. It's been dominant itself, but it's one slip up against Ohio State away from missing the playoff entirely.
Alabama is just miles better than everybody else, and it has no actual weakness. I mean, the biggest disappointment from its performance against LSU is that neither its defense or special teams units managed to score a touchdown, ending a 10-game streak in which they had.
But just in case you refuse to accept the reality of the situation, let's look at some numbers to help drive the point even further.
Here's a table of the points Alabama's defense has allowed against each of its opponents this season compared to how many points those opponents are averaging per game on the season. It's quite illuminating.
|Opponent||Points Against Bama||Avg. PPG||Differential|
What this table shows is that the only team to score more points against Alabama this season than it scores in an average game was Ole Miss. As a total, nine teams that have scored an average of 31.8 points per game this season have scored an average of 13.2 points per game against Alabama, a full 18.6 points per game less than average.
That's more than two touchdowns and a field goal.
Of course, you already knew that Alabama's defense was incredible, but what if we look at a similar chart involving Alabama's points scored? Let's compare how many points Alabama scored against each of its opponents to how many points per game those opponents have allowed on the season.
|Opponent||Points Allowed vs. Bama||Avg. PAPG||Differential|
Much like we saw on the defensive side, only one team has held Alabama to less points than it typically gives up, and that was LSU on Saturday. On the whole, Alabama has scored 40.1 points per game against teams that have allowed an average of 25.4 points per game, or 14.7 points above average.
So when we put it all together we have an Alabama offense that scores two more touchdowns per game against its opponents than everybody else, and a defense that allows 18 points per game less against its opponents than everybody else.
Combine those two numbers and it's a 32-point difference.
What does it mean? It means what I've been trying to tell you: Alabama is the best team in the country, and there's no logical reason to believe otherwise. Sure, you can tell yourself that it's going to lose a game and that it won't win the national title -- which is definitely possible! -- but if you had to bet your life on one team winning the national title this season, are you taking anybody else?
I didn't think so.
Missed Tackles of the Week
Speaking of playoff candidates, Washington didn't have much trouble against California on Saturday night, winning 66-27. Washington receiver John Ross finished the night with six receptions for 208 yards and three touchdowns. Ross wasn't even the only player on his own team to catch three touchdowns in the game, as fellow Huskies receiver Dante Pettis had three scores and finished with six catches for 108 yards.
Now, those numbers probably seem impressive, and they are, but I feel the need to inform you that you should grade them on a curve.
These were the defensive backs they were facing after all.
I know, I can't believe the Cal defense is allowing 44.4 points per game, either.
Frustrated Coach of the Week
The Cincinnati Bearcats lost to BYU 20-3 on Saturday, dropping their record on the season to 4-5. Needless to say, Cincinnati hasn't lived up to the expectations it had for itself coming into the season, and everybody's frustrated.
Including Tommy Tuberville, who has had just about enough of your mouth, young man.
The irony here, of course, is that Tuberville is telling the fan to get a job when there's a decent chance Tubs will need one himself by this time next month.
Worst Uniforms of the Week
Teams wear throwbacks all the time these days, and a lot of the time, they look good. What's important to remember, however, is that sometimes uniforms were replaced for a reason. That reason being they are ugly and look dumber than hell.
For example, let's look at the 1916 throwbacks the Ohio State Buckeyes wore against Nebraska on Saturday night.
Some things are just better left in the past, or better yet, the trash can.
Random Ranking of the Week
Every week, I rank something for no reason at all, and this week I'm ranking Steve Winwood songs, because anybody who is cool loves Steve Winwood.
2. Higher Love
3. Back In The High Life Again
4. Arc of a Diver
5. While You See a Chance
Photo of the Week
This photo of Vanderbilt linebacker Zach Cunningham is amazing on its own, but it's even better when you see the play it comes from.
I'm not 100 percent sure it was legal -- they say he leaped over the guard, which is fine, but it looked like he may have been over the center, which isn't -- but I don't care, because it was awesome.
Terrifying Bust of the Week
Sorry about your impending nightmares.
Upset Call of the Week
I've decided that I'm going to make an upset prediction for the coming week in The Monday After. I mean, we're only two-thirds of the way through the regular season, why not start now?
Anyway, the team I'm putting on Upset Alert this week is Washington. The Huskies will be ranked in the top four of the CFP's rankings when they come out on Tuesday, and I hope they enjoy it, because they're going to lose to USC on Saturday night.
I'm calling my shot!
Saddest Mascot of the Week
The poor Maryland Terrapin. He had to watch his Terps get demolished by Michigan on Saturday, and he just couldn't take it.
College Football Playoff Projection of the Week
Until the next Monday After!