Tag Archives: Alabam Crimson Tide

The New Era of College Football: The Haves Trump The Have-Nots

The evolution of college football has created a new reality. Thanks to the college football arms race in facilities, fan support, and money as well as the nascent playoff system, there are two types of college football programs:

  1. Those that have a chance to win a national championship
  2. Those that have no chance to win a national championship

There is no migration between the types of programs. You either have a chance to win it all or you don’t. The rich teams get richer, everyone else treads water or drowns.

While there are two types of college football programs, there are three types of college football fans:

  1. Those fans who correctly recognize that their teams have a chance win a national championship
  2. Those fans who correctly realize their teams have no chance to win a national    championship
  3. Those fans who incorrectly believe their team has a chance to win the national championship, when in reality, they have no chance.

No convinced? Take a look at the following videos:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NVC3UziHeGk and this https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZU4NXtu2T5E.

These are, theoretically, facilities for college students. But we all know what these really are. Recruiting tools to draw top athletes to Texas and Texas A&M. These are “in-kind” payments to players who are ostensibly amateur athletes.

I have no doubt that the other programs with a chance to win a national championship have (or will soon have) facilities on par if not better than these. We all know the names of these programs – Alabama, LSU, Georgia, Auburn, Florida, Ohio St, Michigan, Clemson, Florida State, & Oklahoma. You could probably add Oregon, Tennessee, Notre Dame and a small handful of other programs to this list, but that’s it. No other programs have a chance.

It is not shocking for fans of programs like Virginia, Wake Forest, Duke, Boston College, Vandy, Kansas, and Northwestern that they have zero chance to win a national championship…ever. I think the fans of these programs understand that they will never have facilities like Texas or Texas A&M. They will never compromise their integrity to the extent that the contending programs must to get the numbers of top players needed to compete for a national championship. Fans from these programs and many more like them realize their role in the world of college football. They are fodder for the teams with a chance to win it all. They can have successful seasons and win bowl games, but they will never hoist the national championship trophy. Maybe that’s okay. The point of college, after all, is to educate young minds, not win national championships. College athletics is supposed to be entertaining, so if you recognize your place and revel in reaching the heights of success within the boundaries of your possibilities, college football is a great deal of fun.

What might be shocking to the vast majority of the fans of programs not listed above, is that their teams also have no chance to win a national championship. None, zero, zilch, nada… they just don’t realize it. Many programs fit this description…we can all name these programs with perpetually frustrated fans who mistakenly think they are on the cusp of breaking into the top tier of college programs – Virginia Tech, NC State, UNC, West Virginia, Michigan State, South Carolina, TCU, Baylor, Arizona, Missouri, Maryland, Iowa, Kansas St, and Arkansas among many others, have no chance to win a national championship. Unfortunately, their fans think they do.

Think about how excited fans of these programs are when they land a big-time recruit. A 5-star or high 4-star kid who is a “can’t miss” prospect. There are high-fives all around and dreams of winning the college football playoff. The sad reality is, the teams that have a real chance to win it all, get at least a half a dozen of these players – every year. Not one per year or every other year like the wannabe programs. So the teams with a real chance to win it all have 30 or more can’t-miss players on their teams. The wannabe teams might have 5.

None of this is lost on the best coaches in the industry either. Do you think Nick Saban is going to leave Alabama to coach Northwestern anytime soon? Urban Meyer going to Wake Forest? Which programs have huge donor bases that make space-age locker rooms possible? (hint: it’s not Duke and it’s not Virginia…nor NC State or West Virginia) The best coaches go to the programs with the biggest donor bases that pay the biggest salaries & fund the best facilities, which draw the best talent…and so the cycles continues.

Like gambling in Vegas, the college football game is rigged. Over the course of any season, there will be exciting times when wannabe teams beat the odds and score big upsets. But over the course of a full season (including the playoffs), a single wannabe program cannot beat the system. There are too many 30+ mega-recruit teams out there, getting better every day and one of those teams will win the national championship every time. It’s why house wins over time in Vegas. The swanky trappings of the Bellagio are not there because gamblers go home winners. The odds favor the house, so it always wins. The system favors the top programs, so they will always win.

As we begin the 2017 college football season, we could create a list of 18-20 programs with a chance to win it all. It would be the same list from 2016. The participants in the football championship will be from that list – with no chance for an upstart to crash the party. It’s like the list to get into the VIP section of a popular night club. Not on the list? Not getting in.

The downside of this could be that as more college football fans realize the game is rigged against them, fans will lose interest and the game’s popularity could begin to fade. Then again, Las Vegas doesn’t seem to be losing its steam and state lotteries continue to be wildly popular. Maybe the fans of the wannabe programs understand their fate better than they let on. Maybe they are like the lottery players, thinking that someone is going to win this jackpot, if I buy a ticket it might be me, so every season, misplaced hope springs eternal. Unfortunately, the odds of winning the Powerball are better than their team winning the national championship.

E-mail David at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @dmrayner.

College Football Playoff Rankings: Week 7

Welcome back to the Campus Pressbox College Football Playoff Rankings. This week’s rankings are an abbreviated version, but we will be back to full force next week. As always, you can find  previous weeks’ rankings here.

Rankings

1.  Alabama Crimson Tide (1)

2. The Ohio State Buckeyes (2)

3. Clemson Tigers (3)

4. Washington Huskies (4)

5. Michigan Wolverines (5)

6. Texas A&M Aggies (6)

7. Louisville Cardinals (7)

8. Nebraska Cornhuskers (8)

9. Baylor Bears (10)

10. West Virginia Mountaineers

 

Drop Outs

Wisconsin Badgers (8)

Honorable Mentions

Florida State Seminoles, Boise St. Broncos, Florida Gators, Tennessee Volunteers, Western Michigan Broncos.

 

Games to Watch This Weekend

Texas A&M @ Alabama

Everyone is in agreement that the Top 10 showdown between A&M and the Crimson Tide is by far the best game this weekend. It should and will most likely decide who wins the SEC West. Obviously, that team will also be the favorite to win the SEC championship and to advance to the CFP. Alabama has shown neither remorse for its opponents nor any signs that the heavy schedule is having any effect on the team. For that reason, it just makes too much sense that Alabama will be able to overcome the surging and surprisingly good Aggies.

North Carolina State @ Louisville

N.C. St. surprised everyone last week when they kept pace with Clemson. The Wolfpack was only a field goal away from a huge upset, but was unable to pull it off. However, Louisville still needs to be wary. The Wolfpack may be a bit melancholic after last week, but there is a chance State comes out looking for blood. If that happens, Louisville could be in some trouble. Louisville just needs to be ready to play, and I’m sure Lamar Jackson will take care of the rest.

E-mail Cooper at [email protected] or follow him on twitter @uf_goetz
Image Courtesy of Aparkswv – Wikimedia Commons
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Predicted: 2016 Power 5 Conference Champions

This week’s piece is the second of three pieces i will be writing previewing the college football season. Last week was a focus on predicting the champions of the group of 5 conferences, and if you want to read that first, you can find it here. Next week will be the finale of the preview series, with a look at the NY6 Bowl Games and the College Football Playoff.

Atlantic Coast Conference

Clemson Tigers (12-0) vs. Miami Hurricanes (9-3)

Both sides of the ACC are going to be races between the top 2-3 teams. In the Atlantic decision, those teams are Clemson, FSU, and a sleeper Louisville, while in the Coastal those teams are Miami, UNC and VT. I expect the Clemson Tigers to ride Deshaun Watson to another undefeated regular season, with its biggest challenge obviously being down at FSU. None the less, I expect Clemson to be matured by its title game run last season, and I see the Tigers edging out FSU in a tightly contested match.

In the Coastal Division, while VT could pose a threat, I think this division title is really between Miami and UNC. And that being said, UNC’s out of conference schedule is much more difficult, with a game vs. Georgia at the Georgia Dome to kick off the season. Miami, on the other hand, starts off its season with three super tough opponents…Florida A&M, Florida Atlantic and Appalachian State. Given that start to the season, I think Miami advances to the ACC Championship by a game over the Heels. It is important to note that FSU, with only a single loss to Clemson, would still be a huge contender for the CFP.

Conference Champion: Clemson Tigers

Big 12

Conference Contenders: Oklahoma, TCU, Oklahoma State and Baylor

While 2017 may be the return of a championship game for the Big 12, the lack of one this year will make the conference title race an interesting one to say the least. While OSU and Baylor will factor in, this race should and will come down to Oklahoma and TCU. And looking at its respective schedules, it’s hard to not see a difference between the two. TCU starts off with South Dakota State, Arkansas, Iowa State (who, for the record, always has an upset up its sleeve) and SMU. I would be surprised if going into its week 5 matchup with Oklahoma, TCU was not undefeated. Now, Oklahoma’s road to that matchup is extremely different. Going into the TCU matchup, Oklahoma has to battle through Houston and Ohio State, and to a much, much lesser degree the ULM Warhawks. Personally, I think the Sooners drop both the UH and Buckeye games. But, even if Oklahoma makes it out of those games without a loss, it will be exhausted from the extreme competition it has faced already. Even with two weeks to prepare for the TCU matchup, I believe the Sooners will be at a disadvantage, and lose to the Horned Frogs. After that matchup, I think the Big 12 conference matchups will give both TCU and Oklahoma some trouble, and I see both dropping a total of 2 in conference matchups.

 

Conference Champion: TCU (10-2)

Big Ten

Prediction: Ohio State (12-0) vs. Iowa (9-3)

Oh boy, here we go again. We finally have a Big Ten that is properly returned to form. And with that return to form, I have a bold prediction. On November 26th, ten years and 8 days after the historic matchup, we will see “The Game of the Century” Part 2 in Columbus, Ohio. Going into, what I believe, is the biggest rivalry in college, and maybe all of, sports, other than Ohio State’s challenge in Oklahoma, and both of their needs to beat Michigan State, we could easily see both the Buckeyes and the Wolverines be undefeated going into the matchup. Now, for me personally, this idea sends shivers down my spine, as, having grown up in the great state of Ohio, I both hate Michigan and also attended the 1 vs 2 game back in 2006. Now because of J.T. Barrett, Heisman finalist (and for my sanity as an Ohioan), I see the Horseshoe being stormed with Buckeye fans after a thrilling victory over the team up north. …oh, sorry, Big Ten West, I (and everyone else in the country) almost forgot about you. Iowa should be able to take the Big Ten west crown, and I see them doing so at a pace of 9-3.

Conference Champion: The Ohio State Buckeyes

Southeastern Conference

Prediction: Alabama (11-1) vs. Tennessee (10-2)

The SEC division titles seem to be two sets of three team races. Tennessee, Georgia and Florida will fight for the East, whilst ‘Bama, LSU and Ole Miss will fight for the West. I would be shocked, given the strength of the conference as a whole, to see any team come out of the SEC undefeated. That being said, however, Alabama is an easy pick for a division champ, as the Crimson Tide are of course, the reigning national campions. And nothing has shown me anything to doubt ‘Bama coming into 2016. LSU, behind Fournette, a Heisman candidate, will give Alabama a run for its money, but I think ‘Bama will prove to be the superior team.

Now in the East Division, things are more of a crapshoot. While Tennessee may be the most likely division champ, the Volunteer’s inconsistent play over the last several years is what the Bulldogs and Gators are counting on. If Tennessee falters, even slightly, one of those two will look to poach the division. However, I think Florida’s current QB situation makes it a less likely champion than UGA or Tennessee. Expect Tennessee to, despite some struggles, grind out the East.

Conference Champion: Alabama Crimson Tide

Pac-12

Prediction: Stanford (10-2) vs. UCLA (9-3)

The Pac-12 is a mess. It currently lacks a single team to help bring the conference back into prominence. Oregon will be good this year but not great, as the Ducks will get between 7-9 wins in the North. Oregon needs to watch out for its out of conference games against Virginia and Nebraska, as both teams could send the Ducks into a tail spin (pun intended) early in the season. I think Washington State, though the current favorite for conference champion, will struggle with its early conference matchups, as they play a large number of difficult conference opponents to start the Cougars conference play. I think the consistently decent Stanford Cardinal will be able to once again claim the North.

The South is in no better shape, as UCLA, USC, Utah, ASU, and Arizona are all decent teams, but not one of them stands out from the field. I think UCLA, being the program at the highest level of the current South Contenders, will be able to take the South in fairly mild fashion. The Bruins biggest challenge is facing BYU and Stanford in back to back weeks, but UCLA needs to make sure that they can recover in the possibility that it loses both games. If UCLA does start to falter, the South could still be very much up for grabs.

Conference Champion: Stanford Cardinal

E-mail Cooper at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @uf_goetz.

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Image courtesy of James Santelli, Neon Tommy – Flickr

Saban-Harbaugh Satellite Camp Debate Fueling Big Ten-SEC Rivalry

Jim Harbaugh has proved he is willing to think outside of the box when it comes to recruiting and getting the best talent to become Wolverines.

Whether it’s sleepovers with top recruits, satellite camps, or signing day parties featuring some of UM’s most successful athletes, Harbaugh has done things in the recruiting world that have never before been implemented.

However, none of Harbaugh’s recruiting tactics have caused waves across the college football world like the recently reinstated satellite camps.

Since Harbaugh’s arrival in Ann Arbor, we’ve seen verbal spats between Harbaugh and SEC coaches regarding whether allowing satellite camps to exist was the best idea for the game.

Nick Saban is one of the SEC coaches that has been opposed to these type of camps from day one, saying consistently that satellite camps are bad for the game.

At one point last offseason, SEC schools were banned from participating in satellite camps while Big Ten schools were permitted, so naturally this caused friction between the two conferences.

Earlier this week, Nick Saban went on a classic Saban rant while being questioned about Satellite camps, and the effect they have on college football, and more specifically his Alabama Crimson Tide.

Harbaugh responded to Saban’s comments in a way we’ve become all to familiar with, via tweet.

Both coaches have their stance, and neither seem prepared to back down on their stance anytime soon.For Harbaugh, it is giving him the opportunity to recruit nationally, showing his face to kids who may never get a chance to see it otherwise. It gives an opportunity, and for some kids that one opportunity is all they need to prove their worth. As much as Harbaugh preaches satellite camps giving kids an opportunity, Saban is right, it is simply all about recruiting and getting the Michigan brand out their nationally, not just in the midwest.

Saban argued that high schools are benefiting from using the name of schools such as Michigan and Alabama in order to draw more kids to their camps and make more money. In my opinion, this is exactly right. High schools do benefit from having powerhouse programs host satellite camps in order to promote their camps to the public.

Where I differ from Saban, however, is seeing this as an issue for Alabama or any other institution. Yes, the high schools are benefitting from using the college’s name, but the college program is also benefitting by having access to kids it may never have seen before. It is a win-win situation for both.

On Wednesday, June 1, Michigan held a satellite camp on rival turf. Springfield High School in Springfield, Ohio, less than 50 miles from Columbus, hosted Harbaugh and staff Wednesday evening. Being a Springfield Alum myself, I was lucky enough to attend.

Current Arkansas and former Wisconsin Head Coach Bret Bielema brought up the thought of a Big Ten/SEC challenge. Who wouldn’t mind seeing these two coaching giants face off in that scenario?

What’s the Best Head Coaching Job in the SEC?

Quick! Off the top of your head, what’s the best job in the SEC? We’re talking football, of course. That’s what we do here.

So, what is it?

Did I hear a goodly number of ‘Alabamas’ out there? Ok, that would be fair. But here is what the head coach at the University of Alabama, Nick Saban, thinks. In an article written by Dennis Dodd of CBS Sports, Saban compliments his former pupil, Kirby Smart, and also questions him as to why Georgia does not win on a grander scale. That is something that has left many pundits and fans scratching their collective heads over the years. That has been debated, ad nauseum, over the past eleven years. It’s how long it has been since the Bulldogs won an SEC championship. They haven’t won the Big Enchilada, a natty, since 1980.

Smart now finds himself in the big chair, in Athens, and Dawg fans are howling… with glee. Time will tell if Georgia returns as a dominant power in the SEC East. We shall see.

Now back to Saban. He thinks Georgia and LSU should be the top jobs in the conference. And that brings us back to our original question… What is the best head coaching job in the Southeastern Conference?

Barrett Sallee make a a very solid and strong argument for Alabama. He thinks that is, pretty much, a no-brainer. It is difficult to disagree with him, whether you love or hate the Crimson Tide. The “Process” is hitting on all eight in T-Town and it doesn’t look like things are going to change in the near future.

What about the rest of the league?

I’m going to start at the bottom and work my way up to the top. This is what I think and you should take it with the very smallest grain of salt you can locate with a magnifying glass.

Onward!

14. Vanderbilt

A gimme, right? You don’t have to be Carnac The Magnificent to figure that one out. Vandy is the graveyard of coaching jobs in the SEC and it ain’t even close.

13. Kentucky
They play basketball exceptionally well in Lexington.

12. Mississippi State
StarkVegas. It holds no similarity, whatsoever, to the derivation of its, now popular, nick-namesake.

11. South Carolina
We’re about to be reminded, once again, how great a football coach Steve Spurrier really was.

10. Arkansas
Ole Bret Bielema has done some good things in Fayetteville but he will never win the SEC West.

9. Ole Miss
Hugh Freeze has proven the Rebels can contend but Oxford is a place where no one will win, consistently, over an extended period of time.

8. Missouri
The Tigers have won two out of the last three East division titles but it doesn’t appear that is going to happen again any time soon.

7. Tennessee

A lot of coaches around the country wish that they were up on Rocky Top.

6. Auburn

They have both won a national championship and played for another, in the last six years, down on the Plains.

5. Texas A&M

The resources in College Station are limitless.

4. LSU

I don’t think it’s one of the top two jobs in the conference but one could certainly argue that point.

3. Georgia

A great, great job that is begging to be the top one.

2. Florida

It’s been done here, one more than one occasion, and it, probably, will be done again.

1. Alabama

In the SEC? How about the country?

That’s my two cents on how head coaching jobs rank in the Southeastern Conference. It’s entirely subjective and that’s one reason we love to spend much of our time, as SEC fans, debating countless subjects related to college football. Everybody has an opinion and, quite often, they are strong ones. Mull it over. Chime in!

Hey! Only 127 days remain until Vanderbilt hosts South Carolina on a Thursday night!

SEC Football: Yesterday and Today

Last week I introduced myself to you as your SEC blogger for Campus Pressbox. I know that was exciting. Try to contain yourself. We’re only in week two and I don’t want you to peak even before all of the spring football games have been played. I’m not going to rehash any of those drama-filled debacles for you in this space, that is unless you need a good sleep aid. Just turn on the SEC Network, record one of those barn burners and play it near your bedtime. The sandman will be pounding you into submission before the first quarter has come to completion. A good night’s rest is very important.

We now move on to a short history lesson. Where else can one get all of this, and more, in a thousand words or less? Exactly!

Follow me deep into the bowels of the Library of… Ok, nooooo, just into that bastion of academia, Wikipedia.

“The SEC was established on December 8 and 9, 1932, when the thirteen members of the Southern Conference located west and south of the Appalachian Mountains left to form their own conference. Ten of the thirteen founding members have remained in the conference since its inception: the University of Alabama, Auburn University, the University of Florida, the University of Georgia, the University of Kentucky, Louisiana State University (“LSU”), the University of Mississippi (“Ole Miss”), Mississippi State University, the University of Tennessee, and Vanderbilt University.

The other charter members were:

The University of the South (“Sewanee”) left the SEC on December 13, 1940, and later de-emphasized varsity sports. It is currently a member of the Division III Southern Athletic Association.
Georgia Institute of Technology (“Georgia Tech”) left the SEC in 1964. In 1975, it became a founding member of the Metro Conference, one of the predecessors to today’s Conference USA. Georgia Tech competed in the Metro Conference in all sports except football, in which it was independent (the Metro did not sponsor football). In 1978, Georgia Tech joined another Southern Conference offshoot, the Atlantic Coast Conference, for all sports, where it has remained ever since.

Tulane University left the SEC in 1966. Along with Georgia Tech, it was a charter member of the Metro Conference. Unlike Tech, however, Tulane remained in the Metro Conference until it merged with the Great Midwest Conference in 1995 to form Conference USA. Tulane remained an independent in football until C-USA began football competition in 1996. Tulane left C-USA in 2014 for the American Athletic Conference.”

“Sewanee! How I love you! How I love you! My dear old Sewanee!!!” I do Al Jolson too! And hey, folks, it’s free!

Did I hear a cackle? Harrumph! “I didn’t get a harrumph out of you!” $1 to Blazing Saddles.

In 1899 Sewanee recorded a sterling record of 12-0. Not only that, but they outscored their opponents 322-10! The lone team to score on them was Auburn, War Damn Eagle!, with John Heisman at the helm.

The “Iron Men”, as Sewanee was affectionately known back then, dominated Southern Conference football.

There’s more! The “Iron Men” won five road games in six days that season!!!

Now, speaking of former SEC teams, how many of you knew that Georgia Tech and Tulane used to play in the SEC? And how well have these teams done since their departure? MmmmHmmm.

How many of you know that Missouri is in the SEC? Don’t snicker! When was the last time Georgia won the Easy and played in two consecutive SEC Championship Games?

I do soooo love having a third team of Tigers in the conference, but I also seem to often come up with thirteen when counting up the total number of SEC squads; or I come up short of seven teams when counting the Easy. (Dang! I keep hitting the “y” key instead of the “t” key when referring to the “other” division in the SEC.)

I thought I heard groans from fans of the teams in said Easy. Alrighty then! When was the last time a non-West division team won an SEC Championship Game? I can hear Jim Morrison even now, “The west is the best.” Name that song!

OK! OK!, in the spirit of fairness, when was the last time Ole Miss won the West?

When was the last time Mississippi State won the SEC?

When was the last time Arkansas won the SEC?

(Now don’t forget! We’re talking football here. God bless the non-revenue sports. I’ll say ten ‘Hail Marys’ and ten ‘Our Fathers’. Wink wink. I’m not Catholic, but I did date one once.)

Aggies, you get a mulligan.

Vanderbilt and Kentucky, your baseball and basketball teams get you a mulligan. You may pass ‘Go’ and collect your bowl money, and it’s a helluva lot more than $200.

Well, that’s all we have time for, today, boys and girls! Say your prayers and eat your vegetables. And whatever you do, join us here, again, next week. Same Bat Time! Same Bat Channel!

Adios!

E-mail Bird at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @Autull.

Featured Image: Wikipedia

Staff Pick’em: Week 13

And so we have arrived at the final week of the regular season. To our credit, it took this long for someone to be eliminated. They held strong but as of last week Derek, Britt, and David have officially been eliminated. Courtney is still mathematically in the hunt but it would take an epicly bad week from our current leader Mitch and a stellar week from her to take the crown.

 

David Poole (@VirgoAssassain): 2-4 (33-27)

Mitch Gatzke (@GreatGatzke): 4-2 (40-20)

Courtney McCrary (@CourtMac17): 3-3 (36-24)

Derek Woods (@D_Woods21): 1-5 (32-28)

Britt Zank (@BZank17): 1-5 (30-30)

Tim Bach (@TBach84): 3-3 (39-21)

 

#8 Ohio State at #10 Michigan

David Poole: This loss couldn’t have come at worse time for Ohio State. As a huge fan of this rivalry, I hope the Buckeyes can compartmentalize last week’s performance and set their sights on the next challenge. I don’t see Michigan slowing down anytime soon. I think the Wolverines will play keep away, using a heavy dose of the run game. I expect this to be a low scoring affair. Wolverines snatch a victory from the defending National Champions. Michigan takes it, 24-21.

Mitch Gatzke: Let me start by saying I tend to think too optimistically when picking my team’s’ games so this might be nothing more than that.  Now, had the Buckeyes won last week I probably would’ve picked them to win here too.  However, since the Spartans showed me it’s possible to beat the Buckeyes, I believe.  This rivalry is unpredictable so I don’t know how it’s going to happen, but it is.  Go Blue.

Courtney McCrary: Michigan: Both teams need a victory, but I think with what Ezekiel Elliot said to the media will give Michigan and advantage and they will win.

Derek Woods: Ohio State’s first loss in over a year will fuel them to a hard fought seven point victory on the road against archrival Michigan.

Britt Zank: Michigan will get the upset this week. There is a disaster going on in the OSU locker room and Harbaugh has had this game circled since the day he took the job.  He will grind the game down to take away the athletic advantage of OSU and look to win ugly in a 13-10 type of game.

Tim Bach: This could go either way depending on how Ohio State reacts to their loss and subsequent team implosion. Either they’ll come out angry or they’re going to be a dysfunctional mess. The Michigan fan in me is rooting for the dysfunctional mess combined with a Michigan team that’s got as much confidence as any team right now. I’m hesitant to make a pick because I don’t want to jinx it but… give me Michigan.

 

#7 Baylor at #19 TCU

David Poole: This games hinges on whether or not Trevone Boykin is in the line up. The Frogs gave Oklahoma all they could handle, but not enough in the end. After Baylor’s impressive performance against Oklahoma State, the Bears aren’t going to be merciful. Baylor in a shootout, 34-28.

Mitch Gatzke: Both teams come hobbling into what was billed as the matchup in the Big 12 this season. Baylor’s still got an outside shot at the playoff.  I expect them to use that as motivation and come out swinging like they did last week against Ok State.  Bears win, 42-24.

Courtney McCrary: Baylor: The Baylor QB situation looks much better than TCU’s does. Baylor will win even though they are on the road.

Derek Woods: Baylor is the overall better team as both teams may be playing with backup QB’s.

Britt Zank: If Boykin plays than they will win in one of the best games of the season. If Boykin doesn’t play than Baylor will win in high scoring game that is closer than the game actually is.

Tim Bach: Baylor showed that they can actually play a little defense when called upon to do so and TCU is down at least one of their best players, possibly two. I like the Bears to try and salvage their playoff chances.

 

#3 Oklahoma at #11 Oklahoma State

David Poole: Oklahoma goes as quarterback Baker Mayfield does. With his status still up in the air, it’s a tough one to gauge. The Cowboys have a lot on the line this weekend and look to clean up last Saturday’s mistakes with a solid performance in this one. If Mayfield gets the start, it’ll be paramount for the Sooners to keep him upright and his jersey clean. In the end, Oklahoma finds a way and wins the Big 12 championship outright with convincing victory,34-24.

Mitch Gatzke: As of Monday Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield had passed all the concussion tests and was cleared to practice.  Assuming he’ll start, I’m going with the Sooners who have played as well as anyone the past month.

Courtney McCrary: Oklahoma: Oklahoma has owned Oklahoma State and I don’t see that changing.

Derek Woods:  I’ve said for a couple weeks now that the Big 12 just may eliminate themselves from playoff contention, and an Oklahoma loss would do just that. I’m taking Oklahoma State at home.

Britt Zank: This will be a huge win for Oklahoma St as they knock off their arch rivals and knock them out of the playoffs.  It will be a crushing blow for the Big 12 as it will almost certainly knock them out of the playoffs as well, but conference loyalty means nothing in Bedlam!

Tim Bach: I think Oklahoma is the better team but when it comes to other conferences, I always root for chaos. However since we’re picking who we think will win and not who we want to win I’ve got to go with Oklahoma.

 

#6 Notre Dame at #9 Stanford

David Poole: Last week, Stanford leaned heavily on do-it-all back, Christian McCaffrey. Quarterback Kevin Hogan only threw 12 passes in the route of California. He’s going to need every facet of his game to keep up with the surging Irish. However dominant in the Cal victory, Stanford definitely has some holes they’re going to need to shore up. Notre Dame is a different animal altogether. Stanford gets chin-checked by the Fighting Irish and leave Palo Alto with the W. Notre Dame takes it, 38-24.

Mitch Gatzke: I just don’t see Notre Dame winning a west coast road trip against a matchup nightmare.  Stanford is solid all the way around and they’re still potentially in the playoff discussion with two more big wins.  This will be the first of the two.  Stanford 27, Notre Dame 20.

Courtney McCrary: Notre Dame as long as the fighting Irish can stop Christian McCaffrey then they will win the game.

Derek Woods: With a win, Notre Dame is in the playoff. Thing is, I think this is where their playoff hopes come to an end as Stanford pulls off the upset.

Britt Zank: This will be a last possession field goal but the Irish are just too talented to let their national title hopes slip away.  They win a tough game 21-20 almost locking themselves into the playoffs.

Tim Bach: I’m not sure that Notre Dame is as talented as they’re playing. They keep losing players and I think the replacements are playing above their skill levels. I think Stanford punches the Irish in the mouth early and jumps out to a lead that they hold the whole time.

 

#13 Florida State at #12 Florida

David Poole: I’m a little worried FAU gave the Gators such a tough test last week. I’m of the mindset that Florida played down to the level of their competition. In any case, Florida better pick themselves up by their boot straps and bring their “A” game.The Gators have the home field advantage and point to prove, but the Seminoles have a different plan in mind. Look for tailback Dalvin Cook to get started early and carry Florida State to the win. Seminoles in a slugfest, 31-21.

Mitch Gatzke: The Gators have been awful the last two weeks, playing down to their competition.  This week, against a much better opponent, I think they wake up and chomp the rival Seminoles.

Courtney McCrary: Florida State: Harris does not offer much of a passing threat and opposing defenses know that. Florida State knows how to stop them and will win the game.

Derek Woods: I believe Dalvin Cook will be the best player on the field in this game leading FSU to a win on the road at Florida.

Britt Zank: Florida will dominate this game. They are more talented and have more to play for in the Swamp with an outside shot at getting into the playoffs. Florida State is more worried about losing their coach than losing a game.

Tim Bach: Florida was hilarious bad last week which did not look good for the SEC. Florida State has to deal with rumors on their coach getting poached by LSU or whoever else. Basically they’re both just playing for bowls now and Dalvin Cook is pretty good. Not as good as Leonard Fournette was when he played them but still good enough to beat Florida. Florida State wins and Jimbo Fisher gets a nice contract extension.

 

Spread pick: #2 Alabama (-13.5) at Auburn

David Poole: The 2015 rendition of the Iron Bowl will play like this: Roooooolllll Tiiiide! Alabama easily covers the spread.

Mitch Gatzke: This is a lot of points for the Iron Bowl.  Auburn has not been itself this year though, and I don’t expect them to be able to stop the Tide from rolling.  I’ll lay the points and take Bama by at least two touchdowns.

Courtney McCrary: I think Alabama will cover the spread. This is a big game for them and I think Alabama will cover the spread against Auburn.

Derek Woods: Alabama blows out rival Auburn by 21 on the road to reach the SEC title game.

Britt Zank: Give me Auburn in the points on this one. Bama gets the win but Auburn has the speed to keep it close at home. 24-17 Bama

Tim Bach: You never really know when it comes to these rivalry games. Games that are expected to be defensive clashes end up with finals of 42-41. You throw everything you know about both teams out the window in a rivalry game. Alabama will still win but they don’t cover the spread.

Legacy Lines – 11/13/15: A Forgotten Rivalry

Editors note: Hollis Oliver McLain, III (@HollisOliverIII) will be publishing a series of articles throughout the season on some of college football’s most storied programs. This year, we’ve selected Alabama, Penn State, Tennessee, Texas, UCLA and Virginia Tech. On Tuesday’s you’ll get important links about each program (Legacy Links) and on Friday’s you’ll get important story lines and a game preview of one team (Legacy Lines). Follow each of these stories here , and get your latest news when you need it.

The lineup for this week’s Legacy Programs is weak, to say the least. Out of our six Legacy Programs, there were two games that seemed worthy of the Legacy Lines game of the week. These were Georgia Tech vs. Virginia Tech and Alabama vs. Mississippi State. Since the GT vs. VT game was played last night; I thought it would be better to go with Alabama vs. Mississippi State.

One thing I do want to say is that you missed a heck of a game last night when VT played GT. These two teams battled to the end and Virginia Tech came out victorious. While the end of the game was sloppy, the Hokies pulled it out and are one step closer to continuing their bowl game streak, which is the longest in the nation. The Hokies desperately need to send Frank Beamer out with a bowl appearance, it’s only fitting. The bad news is that Virginia Tech has to play North Carolina before their finale against Virginia.

When I glanced over the scheduled games this weekend, a few caught my eye, but one did so in particular. The Alabama vs. Mississippi State matchup has major playoff implications for the Tide, and for State, any win against Alabama reflects well on your program. So, I decided to make Alabama vs. Mississippi State game the Legacy Line game of the week. I did this partly because of the potential upset, but mostly because this is a rivalry, however lopsided it is.

If you asked Alabama fans who their rivals were, they probably would start with Auburn, LSU, and Tennessee. But, if you posed the same question to Mississippi State fans, the answer would probably be Ole Miss and Alabama.

Although this matchup of SEC West opponents hasn’t been a “rivalry” recently, there is no doubt that it has historical significance. This game has been played since 1896. That makes this rivalry one of the oldest in the SEC. It’s simply mind blowing that there have been 100 meetings in this rivalry.

As I mentioned before, this annual bout is rarely won by Mississippi State. Usually, if a team doesn’t win, then it isn’t considered a rivalry. I’m here to tell you that it is a rivalry, no matter how many wins State has. This series has all the qualifications of a rivalry, and here is the abridged version.

These teams are divisional opponents and they play every year. Not only do they play every year, but they are 90 miles apart, which makes these schools closer to each other than any other SEC programs. You might hear the game referred to the 90-mile drive, or battle for Highway 82, but that’s probably rare. The most unreal stat about this rivalry is that while Mississippi State has only won 18 games, they are tied with LSU for the most wins in Tuscaloosa. All in all, even though this series hasn’t really been competitive, it is a great SEC rivalry. Saturday will mark the next installment in the rivalry, but more importantly, it will help decide where Alabama finishes at season’s end.

Now, on to this week’s matchup. There is only one way the Bulldogs can win this game, and that is through the passing game. Mississippi State’s defense might be able to slow down Jake Coker, but I highly doubt they stop Derrick Henry. That being said, if the Bulldog defense can create some early turnovers, they definitely have a shot. On the opposite side of the ball, Alabama’s front seven is, again, amazing. Yeah, they might not have the pure talent that they usually do on the line, but they make up for it with proper technique. Mississippi State’s running game will serve as merely a decoy for most of the game. The Bulldog’s best chance to win runs through the arm of Dak Prescott. If Prescott can play like the Heisman candidate he once was, then they will be in the ballgame. However, if Dak goes out there and plays any way but great, I fear this one will get out of hand quickly.

At the end of the day, Alabama wins the game, but Dak will keep the Bulldogs in the game for at least a couple quarters.

34-20 Alabama Crimson Tide

 

(Photo courtesy of CJ Anderson/Flickr)

Legacy Links – 10/20/15: Bye Weeks Help, Thursday Night Games Hurt

Editors note: Hollis Oliver McLain, III (@HollisOliverIII) will be publishing a series of articles throughout the season on some of college football’s most storied programs. This year, we’ve selected Alabama, Penn State, Tennessee, Texas, UCLA and Virginia Tech. On Tuesday’s you’ll get important links about each program (Legacy Links) and on Friday’s you’ll get important story lines and a game preview of one team (Legacy Lines). Follow each of these stories here , and get your latest news when you need it.

Alabama Crimson Tide

The Crimson Tide are coming off a huge win against a solid Texas A&M team. Alabama not only won the defensive game with multiple pick six’s, but they pounded the ball with Derrick Henry to the tune of over 200 yards. As the Tide prepare to face Tennessee this weekend, they have designated certain players to run scout team in preparation for UT players like Josh Dobbs and Jalen Hurd. Check out some practice notes from yesterday here.

LINK – http://www.al.com/alabamafootball/index.ssf/2015/10/alabama_practice_report_former_2.html

Since the media buried Nick Saban and his team after the Ole Miss loss, they have been dominating people. No domination was more apparent than the game against Texas A&M last week. The game was close for a while, but due to a strong running game and great defensive play, the Tide came out on top. Look at what people noticed about the new Crimson Tide.

LINK – http://bamahammer.com/2015/10/20/learned-watching-alabama-football-take-tamu/

Penn State Nittany Lions

Penn State was beaten purely off of talent against Ohio State on Saturday, and it became even more apparent that Christian Hackenburg just isn’t what anyone thought he was. James Franklin chose to run the ball a lot, and effectively too, but when it came down to crunch time Hackenburg was either off target or Franklin didn’t even give him a chance. One thing is for sure, if Hackenburg is your guy, let him throw the ball more.

LINK – http://www.collegian.psu.edu/football/article_89b269e4-76e0-11e5-8617-0ff66b91f74c.html

In a new study, the Head Health Network will be analyzing various concussion symptoms and protocol during Penn State football games. They will put sensors into 24 Penn State players’ helmets in order to learn more about head trauma. Hopefully this will lead to technological advances to keep our players safe.

LINK – http://www.centredaily.com/2015/10/19/4975251/penn-state-football-nittany-lions.html

Tennessee Volunteers

As I previously mentioned, the Tide will face the Vols in a massive rivalry that has a history of being streaky. While the Vols are looking to end a losing streak against Saban and the Tide, Alvin Kamara has extra motivation for this weekend. Kamara, now a UT running back, was a former Alabama player and Nick Saban commit. Check out how Alvin Kamara views the upcoming contest.

LINK – http://tennessee.247sports.com/Article/Tennessee-Vols-Alvin-Kamara-ready-to-face-Alabama-Crimson-Tide-40400422

Just in case you wanted to know how little of a chance Vegas and the media are giving the Vols, this article will tell you. Not only are the Vols big underdogs, but also they have a massive running game to stop. Although the Vols are less talented than Alabama, don’t ever count out Joshua Dobbs. Ever.

LINK – http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2580936-tennessee-volunteers-vs-alabama-crimson-tide-betting-odds-football-pick

Texas Longhorns

The Longhorns have a tough matchup this weekend against a Kansas State team that had TCU on the ropes for most of their contest a couple weeks back. After the Longhorns’ big win against Oklahoma, can they bounce back and keep the momentum going? It will come down to the play of Johnathon Gray and company.

LINK – http://www.hookem.com/story/as-the-oklahoma-excitement-fades-texas-is-back-to-2-4-reality/

The game this weekend is important for multiple reasons, but you might not know one of the reasons. Kansas State embarrassed the Longhorns last year and the Horns are looking for revenge. Some would argue that the K-State game last year was the low point for the Longhorns. Fast forward a year and Texas is at 2-4 and they need a win bad. Check out more on this K-State vs. Texas game.

LINK – http://www.yourhoustonnews.com/courier/sports/ncaa-football-texas-feels-good-after-win-but-still-sitting/article_10e95ade-3034-51d3-bb9f-18ce89d324fe.html

UCLA Bruins

UCLA has had some extremely bad luck this season with injuries, but today, our topic is one we already touched on this season. Towards the beginning of Legacy Links, I put up an article explaining that Ishmael Adams had a run in with the police. Well now, Adams has been officially charged with misdemeanor battery. UCLA is set to play California this week.

LINK – http://www.si.com/college-football/2015/10/20/ucla-bruins-ishmael-adams-misdemeanor-charge

To add on to the Adams situation, the Bruins have had multiple players miss valuable practice time for various reasons. Jim Mora is excited for the challenge against Cal this week, but he wants to get his players back on the practice field in time to have productive weeks. This is especially important because they play on Thursday night. Check out some practice notes from the Bruins.

LINK – http://www.bruinsnation.com/2015/10/18/9564959/spaulding-report-ucla-football-trying-to-regroup-before-cal

Virginia Tech Hokies

Michael Brewer was injured in the first game of the season, against Ohio State. It has taken him a while to get completely healthy and start performing again, but the time is now. Michael Brewer looks to have gotten back the starting job ahead of the Hokies’ matchup with Duke. If Brewer can even touch on some of the success he was having in that OSU game, the Hokies should win.

LINK – http://www.dailypress.com/sports/virginia-tech/dp-spt-duke-virginia-tech-football-game-week-presser-1020-20151019-story.html

The Hokies have a big conference game this Saturday against Duke. VT needs to start getting some more conference wins if they expect to be in a decent bowl game. A ton of storylines in this one, including all the injuries these teams have faced this year. Also, there are two great coaches that will be running the sidelines Saturday: Frank Beamer and David Cutcliffe. Check out the preview for Saturday.

LINK – http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2580792-duke-vs-virginia-tech-complete-game-preview

Rapid Reaction: Alabama Saves its Dynasty; Destroys Georgia 38-10

Disgustingly ugly is the description I’d use to describe today’s game in Athens, Georgia. Georgia lost and it wasn’t close. The score at halftime was 21-3 and if Alabama’s defense doesn’t fall asleep on one play in the third quarter, there’s little doubt the Bulldogs would have scored a touchdown in the game. By the way, Nick Chubb ran 83-yards for Georgia’s single touchdown.

All this is fine, but really this is all about Georgia. Everyone at the beginning of the week was busy speculating how this could be the end of Alabama’s dynasty. That obviously didn’t work out too well. It also isn’t the end of the road for Georgia. The SEC East is absolute garbage.

Next week, Georgia will head to Knoxville, then back home to face Missouri before the bye week. After the bye week – the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party. Florida. Those three and the following game versus Kentucky are the only three that matter. Georgia is fine.

Missouri isn’t dead – I just assume I’ll never see Maty Mauk again and we’ll know a lot more about Florida after their game again Ole Miss tonight. Oh, and Will Grier started for Florida. It was nice knowing you too, Treon Harris. Thanks for stopping in.

The road for Alabama is significantly tougher, but after today’s game everything should be a bit clearer. Texas A&M on October 17th, LSU on November 7th in Tuscaloosa, at Mississippi State on November 14th and the Iron Bowl in Auburn on November 28th. You can say whatever you want about Auburn, but the Iron Bowl is no joke.

It never is.

As Bird and I talked about a few weeks ago on the SEC 411, Alabama has never been able to find the stud quarterback who could just walk in and let the world know he’s in charge. I think Jake Coker made the case for himself today. He’s one of the key’s to Alabama’s success. Derrick Henry and Calvin Henry will carry the offense, and if the Tide’s defense continues today’s domination, Alabama won’t have to listen to anyone talk smack about their failing dynasty.

This fan perfectly sums up everyone’s feelings about Mark Richt and his performances in big games. I don’t think there was anything he could have done about today because Alabama had his number from the beginning, but the tweet is appropriate.

I believe tomorrow we’ll find that Alabama makes it way to at least number 7 and Georgia will probably land somewhere in 18-22 range depending on what happens to everyone else. Sure, they could be completely booted from the Associated Press Top 25, but who knows.

E-mail Damien at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @damienbowman.