Monday, October 22, 2018

The Week In Football: Alabama Destroys Tennessee, Michigan Ascends, And Ohio State Loses By Almost 30 On The Road

For the 12th straight year, Alabama won the Third Saturday In October. I can barely even remember what it feels like to beat the Crimson Tide. Holy crap. Let’s just start there….
Alabama wore out Tennessee again and scored the most points in the history of the rivalry
This game was over in the first five minutes when Alabama drove the field, scored a TD, rocked Vol QB Jarrett Guarantano, forced him to fumble, and then scored again. The only worse sequence was the start of the second half, when Tennessee’s Ty Chandler signaled for a fair catch on the kickoff at the 2 yard line AFTER he caught the ball, followed immediately by Vol QB Keller Chryst tripping over an offensive lineman and falling into the end zone for a safety, which was made worse when running back Jeremy Banks picked up a 15 yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. If you wanted to explain this game to someone, you’d just show them those two sequences, as well as Guarantano getting clocked in the chest so hard that he had to leave the game in the first half.
I’m not going to freak out over this game, one that Tennessee didn’t have a chance in hell of winning, but there also wasn’t really anything positive to take away either. I like that Jeremy Pruitt continues to be aggressive, but it’s incredible to me that the Vols have executed a surprise onside kick to almost near perfection three times this season and still haven’t been able to come up with the ball a single time. What’s even more amazing is that the offensive line has been unable to block consistently for the last decade-plus. They’ve had multiple NFL draft picks and All SEC performers and they’ve still been mostly an abomination. I get it; every once in a while a team is going to have issues with protection. Sometimes you have injuries, sometimes you lose a ton of guys to graduation/NFL, but eventually you figure things out up front. No program, particularly one like Tennessee, with the resources it has, should have this much trouble finding a five man unit that can hold blocks long enough to be able to consistently create offense. Of course, no program with the resources of Tennessee should be this atrocious for over a decade. Holy hell. This is why I drink.
Alabama was incredible, of course. Their defense played probably the best game they have all season, and if they can get by LSU in Tiger Stadium in two weeks (and I think they will), then I don’t see any team being able to play them within two touchdowns unless Tua gets hurt. 2018 Alabama is like the super team you’d create on Madden, only you’d play the entire schedule on Rookie Mode and just murder everyone. And Tua is like what would happen if a video game became real life. He and Nick Saban are just running through these SEC programs every week like they’re the American troops at Custer’s Last Stand.
I guess it’s… onto South Carolina? What a stinker on Saturday. Geez. The Vols aren’t close.
Which brings me to this: when the hell is Tennessee going to beat Alabama again? It won’t be next year; the game is in Tuscaloosa and Tua will still be the quarterback. How about 2020? Maybe? Tua could’ve gone pro by then, but it’s not like Alabama has been a push over without a great QB. 2021? Again, that game will be in Tuscaloosa. If Pruitt works out, 2022 will be his fifth year. Do we really have to wait that long? Holy hell.
Speaking of things that suck…..
Butch Jones got a Gatorade bath

Butch has been an intern on the Alabama staff this year and got doused with Gatorade after the game. He also smoked victory cigars in the locker room. What a chump. You really know your career has gone up in flames when a team you recruited a majority of the players for gets blown out by more than 30 and you celebrate like you won the national title. What an absolute indictment of your coaching career. This goes down as the undisputed dumbest coach moment of the week, dumber than LSU’s strength coach intentionally slamming his head into players helmets.

Ohio State got annihilated on the road by Purdue
The box score on this game is incredible; Ohio State actually outgained Purdue by 7 yards, only had one turnover, got 7 more first downs, won the time of possession, got 470 passing yards from Dwayne Haskins, and still lost by 29.
OSU’s issue was that they slogged around for the first 40 minutes, and only really ratcheted it up after they were down 28-6. This is typical Buckeyes though; about once a year they don’t show up for a game and get blasted by an inferior opponent. Last year it happened when they went to Iowa and lost by 31. In 2014, they lost to a 7-6 Virginia Tech team by 14 points in Columbus. They aren’t out of the playoff discussion, but the margin for error is completely gone now; plus, with as sloppy as they’ve looked the last month, they don’t look like a team that’s capable of running the slate, which is exactly what they’ll have to do if they want to being playing in a semifinal game. I know that the Michigan game is at home, but with as good as the Wolverine defense has been, and as poor as the Buckeyes have been running the football (only 76 yards on Saturday), I can’t see them being able to move the ball all that much against them unless Dwayne Haskins just plays out of his mind. That Michigan State game in East Lansing could be tough also.
I’m not shedding a tear for them either, by the way, considering this is the same university that still employs Urban Meyer despite the fact that he’s both a hypocrite and a liar. He’s the college football version of a televangelist that constantly preaches against gay marriage and then gets caught with a male escort.
Side note: this game ended up being my coldest take of the season. When I made my prediction on Friday, I said “Ohio State (by a million)”. Really nailed that one. Whoops.
The Pac 12 is one team away from missing the playoff for the third time in five years.
Colorado lost by two touchdowns to Washington, while Oregon got shellacked by Washington State. Another cold take from me; I thought the Ducks were really good but they got completely run off the field in the first half by the Cougars, who are now the only team alive for the playoff from the Pac 12. Here’s the remaining Washington State schedule: at Stanford, home for Cal, at Colorado, home for Arizona, home for Washington. I was really impressed by them on Saturday, and I think Mike Leach is a really good coach, but that schedule looks like it includes at least one loss; it might even be at Stanford this weekend. Of course, just because the Pac 12 will be out doesn’t mean the playoff picture will be any clearer. But more on that later.
Side note: I’m not sure what kind of sway Pac 12 commissioner Larry Scott or the rest of the conference’s athletic directors have with the rest of the playoff committee, but I can’t imagine they’ll be happy with being left out of the playoff AGAIN. And imagine if the Big Ten doesn’t make it for the second consecutive year…. I’m not in favor of an eight team playoff, but that’s ultimately where this thing is headed. There’s too much money to be made for these big time conferences to accept being left out.
The ACC is pitiful
Great, Clemson smacked around an N.C. State team that would be a three or four loss team in any other league. If that’s the second best team in the conference, then who is the third best? Miami? They got taken apart by LSU, trailed Willie Taggart’s FSU team in the second half, and lost to Virginia. How about those Cavaliers? They lost to Indiana and were N.C. State’s “signature win” coming into Saturday. Virginia Tech? They gave up over 600 yards to Old Dominion. Syracuse? I like Dino Babers but they needed overtime to beat an absolutely abominable North Carolina team. Duke? Please. I’ve been eliminating teams from playoff contention once they lose their second game, but with as atrocious as the ACC is, I’m going to go ahead and drop any team from that league that loses a single game. Meaning N.C. State is already done. This is a one team league that’s flanked by a whole lot of garbage. And yes, I’m sure this entire paragraph just triggered Danny Kanell, though not as badly as that time when the 7th best program historically in the SEC, Texas A&M, poached the head coach from his alma mater, Florida State, which is arguably the best job in the ACC. Sucks to suck.
Is Michigan one of the four best teams?
The Wolverines took apart Michigan State in East Lansing on an disgusting day in what was probably the best defensive performance by any team all season. The Spartans had just 94 total yards the whole game and only 15 on the ground. MSU QB Brian Lewerke was a Nathan Peterman-esque 5-25 with only 66 yards passing.
Here’s the points and yards allowed by the Michigan defense in every game this season:
Notre Dame: 24 points (only three in the second half) and 302 yards
Western Michigan: 3 points and 208 yards
SMU: 20 points and 319 yards
Nebraska: 10 points and 132 yards
Northwestern: 17 points and 202 yards
Maryland: 14 points and 220 yards
Wisconsin: 13 points and 283 yards
Michigan State: 7 points and 94 yards
Good lord. In an era where defense has almost completely vanished (have you seen the Big 12?), the Wolverines are like an old school team that’s built on mauling opposing offenses every week. No team has gotten better from the first snap of the season until now than Michigan, and the funny thing is that they haven’t even really gotten good play from their quarterback Shea Patterson yet. I like them at home by two touchdowns in two weeks against Penn State. They’re a definite playoff team if they win out. Hell, I might take them over everyone except Alabama on a neutral field right now.
Teams still alive for the playoff
Every Group of Five Team has been eliminated because none of them are worthy of making the playoff EVEN IF they went undefeated. I’ve also eliminated every two loss team from the Power 5 conferences, with the exception of the ACC, which is such a bad league that one loss eliminates you. Can we just relegate the entire conference to the Group of Five?
From my count, we’ve got 14 teams still alive (* by the undefeated teams)
SEC: *Alabama, LSU, Georgia, Florida, Kentucky
Georgia could eliminate Florida if they win the Cocktail Party on Saturday, or be eliminated themselves if they lose. If they beat the Gators, they’ll have the same scenario on November 4th when they play at Kentucky. Alabama can bury the Swamp Monster’s hopes when they go into Tiger Stadium in two weeks and win. If the SEC East winner makes the Conference Championship game with just one loss opposite an undefeated Alabama, the Tide could eliminate that team if they win. But what would happen if that one loss East division team beats Alabama? Obviously that team would make the playoff, but would the committee take a one loss Alabama team over a one loss conference champion? Or what if the East division winner has two losses and then beats Alabama? Would that eliminate the SEC entirely? Probably not? Maybe? Still a ton up in the air.
Big Ten: Michigan, Ohio State, Iowa
The road map for these three is easy; win the rest of your games. I’m not sure how good Iowa actually is, but I know for a fact that I’d take the Michigan-Ohio State winner over the Hawkeyes if Iowa made the Big Ten Title game against one of them. Right now I think Michigan has the best chance of these three to run the table.
Big 12: Texas, Oklahoma, West Virginia
WVU still has games against both OU and Texas, and I think they’ll lose one of those and eliminate themselves. But if any of these three win out they’d inarguably have a better resume than a 13-0 Clemson team. Not saying that will put them in, though.
ACC: *Clemson
I don’t think the Tigers are one of the four best teams, but I can’t see them getting left out if they run the table.
Pac 12: Washington State
I think the Cougars will lose one of their final five games, but they’d have a good case if they win out. Their defeat by a three loss USC team is a pretty tough pill to swallow though.
Independents: *Notre Dame
The Irish have already played the most difficult part of their schedule, and their toughest remaining opponent is probably Syracuse, a game they’ll get at home. No way an undefeated Notre Dame team gets left out.
Here’s something important to remember though: in the playoff era, we’ve only had three undefeated teams: 2014 FSU, 2015 Clemson, and 2016 Alabama. That’s less than one a year. Odds are at least one of the Alabama-Notre Dame-Clemson trio will lose before the end of the year, and based on the last four years, maybe two of them. If Clemson loses once they’re out because of the garbage league+shaky play equation. Notre Dame would be sweating too, though they’d be helped if Michigan keeps wearing everyone out. I’d be shocked if anyone beats Alabama. Like always though, the committee will land on four teams by early December and we’ll all tune in to watch the playoff.
My Top 4
No one has been within 3 touchdowns of them all season. They’ve got the Heisman Trophy winner at quarterback and the best coach in the history of the sport. There is no one else to consider here.
Yes, yes, I know Notre Dame beat them in Week 1, but that game was in South Bend and the Wolverines really outplayed them in the final three quarters. If they played today on a neutral field, with as well as the Michigan defense has played all year, I think they might break Ian Book.
Notre Dame
The Irish were idle this week, and have a weird game in San Diego against Navy on Saturday.
The Tigers slogged their way through Mississippi State on Saturday, a game where Bulldogs head coach Joe Moorhead revealed himself to be a traveling tube sock salesman. I thought Nick Fitzgerald was one of the best returning quarterbacks in the conference; why were the Tigers begging and daring him to throw? Let’s be honest, going from Dan Mullen to Joe Moorhead is like going from dating Jessica Alba to dating Rosie O’Donnell.
Coach O has a chance to become and LSU legend if he can knock off Alabama in two weeks. Hell, they might literally need Orgeron to turn into a Swamp Monster and take the field to beat the Crimson Tide. But more on that one in two weeks.

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