Getting ready for the next phase of college fandom, that wonderful world filled with gifts of college hoops and bowl catastophies. As such, here’s the soundtrack for this week’s look back.
Robert Frost once said, “Nothing Gold can stay”; and so, another leaf turns and this college football season comes to a close. Before we jump into Championship Weekend, let me take a second to say “Thank You” to a great Ohio State blog and BBN member who hung up their keyboards this week- Dave and Drew, Godspeed on the next adventure.
Well, the crapocalypse is surely upon us- we’ve now got the choice to pull for Notre Dame or for Alabama in the Mythical National Title game come January; although I’m still holding out hope that the Mayans were right.
Alabama punched their ticket to yet another dance via a dominant second half performance against a very game Georgia team. Throughout the first half and into the third quarter, it looked as if the Bulldogs had figured out a way to neutralize the Bama defense, a blocked field goal returned for a touchdown only extended the sense of dread that Alabama fans must have been feeling throughout the sold-out Georgia Dome.
And then Nick Saban remembered that he had a running game. From that moment on, the Crimson Tide’s offensive line and stable of running backs managed to decimate the Georgia defense, churning clock and yardage. After running all over the Black and Red, it only made sense that Alabama’s last score would come on a beautifully executed play action pass- everyone, including the cameramen and your humble correspondent bit on the fake, and McCarron’s ball was perfectly targeted for the score.
Again, kudos to the Georgia team; they refused to give up even under dire circumstances and dwindling clock. They managed to drive to the red zone in a short amount of time, but then made decisions that I’m still trying to figure out.
After passing for the first down on the Alabama 8 yard line, Georgia chose to run a play and not spike the ball for clock stoppage goodness- they had used their last time outs forcing the Tide to punt on the previous series. The process of setting the play up itself cost them a good 5 seconds or so, and then they chose to run the following attempt:
There’s a lot of things that went wrong here- the pass was tipped at the line, and the receiver should have intentionally dropped it (although that’s a hard thing to do, as it goes against years of practice). But the decision to not control the clock a bit better at the end send Nick Saban to Miami to defend his team’s national title, and ended up pushing Georgia to game against the B1G Championship Runner Up (more later).
It was certainly a well played game, particularly in comparison to the other matchups over the weekend, filled with great play calling, fake punts, and hard hitting. On this last point, though, I would be remiss in pointing out that, following a Georgia interception, a Crimson Tide defender was “a bit more aggressive than he should have been” (read- “dirty as hell”) in blocking the Bulldawg quarterback at the end of the first half:
Let’s review, shall we? Crown of the helmet to the chin/earhole of a defenseless player, away from the play. Seems pretty easy to tell that this should be something we’re concerned with, right? Well, believe it or not there was no penalty flag thrown in spite of the terror that it caused. Keep this in mind- we’ll be revisiting it in just a moment.
So, congrats Coach Saban… although, if you could reign in the excitement just a little, that would be fantastic.
Saturday had three other conference championship games as a part of it’s lineup, the ACC. Big lEast, and the B1G. To be honest, I’m not going to spend much time on the BE event… mostly because their fans don’t seem to care all that much. It wasn’t much better for the Florida State/ Georgia Tech game either, although I will say that any time your conference championship can feature a 6-6 team, that’s a “must watch” spectacular. Particularly if the favorite can’t even cover the spread… proud.
Nope, we’re going to spend what’s left of our emotional energy on the incredible beating that Nebraska took on Saturday in the B1G “Conference Runners Up” game. I promise not to gloat too much about the fact that both of these teams fell to a certain undefeated squadron… but they did. So there. I did have to giggle a bit at Delany calling Wisconsin “our Rose Bowl representative” rather than the Champions… yeah.
I can’t adequately describe my surprise at the B1GCG results… I knew, from watching and so forth, that Nebraska had struggled against power running games this year; and at the UCLA game I also saw that Taylor Martinez has a little of the Rex Grossman “Eff it, I’m going deep” offensive mindset to him, but I never figured that he’s skip his rocks right into the hands of Wisconsin defenders so dramatically. I guess when you’re the B1G Coaches’ All Conference QB, you go big or you go home.
I was also surprised that Nebraska was unable to get Rex Burkhead unleashed at all- given what we saw Carlos Hyde manage to do in Madison, I thought for sure that the Husker Senior’s hard nosed style of play would certainly be perfect for this matchup; although Wisconsin having Chris Borland back and healthy must have made quite a difference. Interestingly enough, Mr. Borland was named to an all conference award during the pre-season, and certainly proved it Saturday:
Somewhere, Turkey Jones smiles appreciatively.
That play was flagged, though, as the officials seemed to be doing a very good job at keeping the player’s safety in mind throughout the game. This was never more obvious than this week’s “Hit Of The Week”, where Husker receiver Kenny Bell helped his teammate gain yards after the catch:
Let’s run through our checklist again, shall we? Contact is shoulder to chest/shoulder, against a player who’s trying to make a play on the ball and should have had his head on a swivel. So, of course it’s an unnecessary roughness penalty, canceling a Nebraska touchdown. If you watch/listen to the video of the hit, you can even here the incredulity in Gus Johnson’s commentary… that video is worth watching if only for the slow-mo footage and Bell walking over to his sideline the same way a man strolls down the aisles of Kroger looking for Ro*Tel.
Please read this correctly- in now way am I saying that Nebraska was hosed by the officials; that’s reserved for Penn State. But I am continually frustrated with the B1G’s officiating often impacting (see what I did there?) the game in meaningful ways, most of them through poor calls. For instance, Wisconsin was Wisconsin all night long- although, they were called for holding at least once, so perhaps my Mayan wishes are coming true.
So, hats off to Bert and the boys for “earning” the right to come out to my neck of the woods for a third straight year. It will certainly be nice to have another program serve as the face for B1G BCS failure for a change.
Oh, OK- let me say something nice about Nebraska. This week’s “Play Of The Week” goes to Taylor Martinez’ “Paul Crewe” impersonation-
There were a number of folks who were not only surprised by Nebraska’s loss but frustrated with Pelini- this was their third loss in a conference championship in four years, although the first two were “we’re keeping Texas undefeated” and a “going away present from the B12″. While I still think Coach Pelini is the right guy for Nebraska, I was thinking that a good replacement would be a conservative coach with a penchant for defense and running the ball; who was a quiet, good guy like Tom Osborne, and might understand the conference well. Ah, and it would be great if he looked good in red. Well, we all know he’s not really all that busy these days.
Other matchups from the week- UCLA remembered that they have an offense, nearly upsetting Stanford in a game that gave a lot of credibility to the rumors that they had intentionally tanked the week before to avoid Oregon. In the B12, Texas was unable to upset Kansas State, while Baylor stunned TBPU… there have been rumors that Gundy is talking with Tennessee about their opening, I wonder if his focus was off on Saturday. If it weren’t for TMart’s run above, this would have been the play of the week:
That’s Baylor’s Lache Seastrunk, scoring a breakaway touchdown against the Cowboys in spite of pulling either his hamstring or a quad muscle. If that name sounds familiar to you, be aware that he was supposed to be wearing another shade of green… and that green might be a bit of a problem for those associated with him.
Also in the B12, Oklahoma managed to hold off TCU with some classy play of their own, Louisville defeated Rutgers in the “This Is Awkward” Big lEast championship game, West Virginia went Wisconsin on Kansas- did you know that Charlie Weis’ team had zero touchdown passes to wide receivers this season?? Oh, and our last bit of 2012 MACtion for the regular season was a double overtime win by Northern Illinois over Kent and Coach Hazell- a game that defined the conference, as the Flashes scored twice in the waning moments to send the game to OT. Congrats, Coach.
And congrats, too, to Northern Illinois which won the double benefit of having a coach good enough to be poached away by North Carolina State AND obtaining a BCS berth in the Orange Bowl against Florida State.
Which brings us to “this week in faux-outrage”. Seems that a number of folks, most prominently Kirk Herbstreit at the Four Letter Network were dismayed and disgusted with NIU getting a BCS bid over Georgia or Oklahoma. Disregard for a moment that Georgia couldn’t have gone anyway with the “two teams per conference” rule, the fact of the matter is that Oklahoma played two top 5 teams this year and lost to both of them. If “losses to major programs” were the gold standard, then TTUN should be the national champions.
The fact of the matter is that the BCS will suck this year, outside of the Fiesta Bowl (Oregon/KSU) and the NCG (Bama/ND)… and I’m not holding my breath for those two either. This is, of course, all Ohio State’s fault- their bowl ban breaks a seven year streak of having two B1G BCS teams and allows for small conference teams to get into the BCS. We’ll look a bit more closely at this on Wednesday, but for now… remember, CFB fans, you need us.
I support the NIU BCS bid, even if they did lose to Iowa (!) this season. Heck, if a small school in the midwest wants to ensure that its athletic program loses a ton of money on an exhibition game, then who am I to stop them?
All that being said- isn’t the Four Letter Network the same group of “journalists” who beat the drum about how great Boise State was when Fox had the BCS games? How the Broncos shouldn’t be punished for their conference schedule? Interesting, isn’t it, how the song changes along with the channel… but we can’t have all 12 teams from the SEC in the BCS. Particularly since there’s a good chunk of them that suck.
And this was in spite of all of the “creative voting” that was a part of the coaches’ poll, with numerous folks trying their best to get teams from their conference in the BCS, both to boost their own credibility (“look who we lost to!”) and bolster their conference paydays. Even the bigger schools are upset with their “matchups”- LSU’s frustration in facing Clemson this January has been summarized in the work of TheNotoriousGOP over on Tiger Droppings:
For the B1G, the matchups don’t look all that promising. Stanford’s defense is good enough to stop Wisconsin from being one-dimensional; TTUN’s Lewan couldn’t block Ohio State’s freshmen defensive linemen and is now going to face Clowney? Nebraska still hasn’t stopped a run against Wisconsin and will play a Georgia team that can throw the ball too, Minnesota might keep it close depending on which Texas Tech shows up. TCU and MSU will be interesting, until the “Sparty” factor joins in; and Northwestern just might make a game of it against Mississippi State. A parlay of all B1G losses just might make someone a lot of money this post season. You know, if that kind of thing was legal and so forth.
Heck, by the time you read this the whole landscape of college football might have shifted again- Georgia Tech and Virginia are rumored to be joining the B1G; there are coaching changes afoot that might shake up the recruiting scene on a national level. Even though the regular season is now over (yes, we see you Army/Navy Game), there’s always news and excitement during this time of the year.
So, be sure to stay tuned to tBBC for our upcoming “Bowl Movement” contest and coverage, as well as the latest in news and notes from around the nation- Columbus, the B1G, and beyond.
But for now… just enjoy the changing season- and the fact that the Buckeyes won’t lose a game until late in 2013. Unless the Mayans are right.