Well, here we are, at the second biggest shopping day of the holiday and fiscal season. It’s kind of sad, really- all those unwanted or mis- purchased gifts being dragged back to the mall, where “Good Will To Men” is certainly in short supply.
That being said… how hard is it to follow a list? And what part of “bullets” looks like “marbles”… grumble grumble grumble. Given what’s in the theaters beginning yesterday, you’ve got two choices for today’s soundtrack.
Interesting Tuesday in college sports, to say the least. We’ll get to all the movers and shakers, but first a little traveling music.
Most of the frustration was aimed at the inclusion of Notre Dame’s Manti Te’o, who we’ve argued here before is only a finalist due to his team’s success, solid (but not great) numbers, and the great “story” that his season has been- both for him and as a heart of the awakened echoes of the Irish program. Tony Gerdeman from the OZone compared Te’o to AJ Hawk, the last linebacker to be seriously considered for the Heisman, and found that Hawk’s numbers eclipsed the Irish’ star. He, along with the guys at Land Grant Holy Land (check out the infographic) continue to compare his numbers to Ohio State’s Ryan Shazier- Gerd points out that, in the last three games of the season, Shazier outplayed Te’o and almost doubled his statistics, minus the interceptions. Given that Te’o plays in a variation of the Tampa 2 defense which requires more coverage, this might make sense- different roles for both players. But it does highlight the fact that Te’o is a debatable finalist… and as such, might have just as well been left home with Miller and Marquis Lee (who I believe is the best player in the country this season).
With no hope of a national championship, the Buckeyes saw excellence as its own reward—and achieved it. What better example of pure sportsmanship could there be? Next year, Ohio State will once again be jockeying for a high-profile bowl berth and all the cash that flows from it. This year’s team, by contrast, will stand forever as the one that played not for money but for pride.
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). Read More
Oh, college football… How I love you!!
Well, that happened.
While a lot of people were saying that Alabama was ripe for a loss against a Texas A&M team that’s been playing really well over the past few weeks, most of this felt like lip service. You know, the kind of things that ESPN makes one person say on the Gameday set in order to appear unbiased.
And then- “Johnny Football”.
There are a lot of reasons why Alabama lost- coming off of an emotional win on the road in Death Valley, LSU’s offense showed a lot of people the issues that the Tide have in their secondary, Saban’s fear of the high speed offense is based on his knowledge of his team’s weaknesses; but the fact of the matter is that the Aggies outplayed Alabama, in Tuscaloosa, in several key areas of the game.
The Crimson Tide defensive front was stifled, for the most part, by the aTm offensive tackles. Combined with concerns about a quarterback’s mobility, the Tide were not able to mount the type of disruptive pressure that they are so used to.
Alabama’s offense made key mistakes and turnovers, and seemed out of rhythm all night long. The three turnovers didn’t help, particularly when the Tide defense couldn’t get any of their own… and the mental errors were even more egregious. On the final interception, it seems to me that the receiver on the end of the line of scrimmage did a poor job getting depth in the end zone, making it easy for defenders to cover both him and the primary target. In addition, with Bama’s defense stiffening and forcing a punt, to have a member of their punt return/block team create a neutral zone infraction for an automatic first down is an aggressive penalty, but one that is terrible to have happen in that circumstance. Again, the intensity was there for the student in question, but the lack of focus eventually cost them a final chance at victory.
But we can’t miss the point here- this game was won by Johnny Manziel’s continual ability to make plays and put the Tide defense on their heels.
After the third week in a row with this type of performance (Louisiana Tech, Mississippi State), the redshirt freshman has lifted himself into Heisman candidacy- and for good reason. Given the lack of a clear “star” this year, given Matt Barkley’s struggles, the game this weekend was his “Flutie to Phelan” moment; outstanding performance in high profile opportunity. I’ll leave the debate to others, but will certainly enjoy watching the electricity that all of these candidates provide.
Even if he doesn’t win this year, you’ve got to think that next year’s Heisman race is going to be something spectacular- Braxton Miller, Johnny Manziel, Marcus Mariota, Teddy Bridgewater, Everett Gholston, Tahj Boyd, DeAnthony Thomas… and those are just the ones I’ve got off the top of my head.
(And since I’m on the topic, I think that Marquis Lee needs to be included in this year’s debate. But that’s just me).
Does this loss end the run of SEC titles in the final year of the BCS? Well, not exactly… more on this in a bit.
If you’re reading this, you’ve survived Bloody Tuesday… don’t you just hate corporate bonding retreats? Here’s some happy music to get you through the day.
It’s your regularly scheduled look around the world of college sports- a bit more in depth than the tidbits we’ve got after practice. Following Tuesday’s notes, be sure to check the latest on “reform” from the NCAA and thoughts on Penn State’s constant appeals processes.
Not So Fast… Any speculation about Roby playing offense and defense was shut down by the coaches today. He made a spectacular play on an overthrow today, though- he’s going to be special. However, Corey Brown said that Roby wasn’t the fastest guy on the team, and called him out saying that he (Corey) wasn’t able to run during testing but that he could beat Roby in a race.
Or, as it’s also known, “Now we have a different thing to argue about”.
Today, the presidents of the BCS conferences announced that they’d come to an agreement regarding the terms and conditions of a “four team event” beginning the fall season of 2014.
If you’ll remember, we argued for playoffs for a long time now, joining our voices to the thousands across the interwebs which pointed out the hypocrisy in the current system. This new proposal, while a great step toward “closure”, is not without issues… but let’s take a look at the details before we jump headfirst into our “evaluation”.
Oh, and let the record show… I still think the idea of “champion” will be something that sounds better than it ends up actually being. Fulfillment? World peace? Still elusive.
While this is a step in the right direction, there are still a number of things that are missing from making this ideal (outside of the “what does it mean to be ‘champion’ anyway? thing). Here are some of my initial reflections… Read More