Sunday, October 30, 2011

Saturday in Reverse... Week 9

With this being Halloween weekend, let's start by raising the dead.

To begin with, all those who had Penn State as the only undefeated team remaining in the Big 10 at this point, step to the front of the line. The Lions who looked completely manhandled and over matched against Alabama, managed to escape with wins at Temple and Indiana, can't settle on a quarterback, go through 15 chains of commands just to get a play called, are sitting pretty for a division championship, with Wisconsin dropping a second game in conference to Ohio State. I'll be the first to admit criticizing the Lions, as have many of their fans about the team and coaching staff, but bottom line, they are 8-1 (greatly helping Alabama's strength of schedule). Dare I say PSU and Rose Bowl???

Part 2, its Mark Richt that has risen from the ashes to put the Georgia Bulldogs in contention in the SEC East. Hands down, UGA has benefitted from not having Arkansas, Alabama and LSU on the schedule, but they didn't pick the schedule. They are winning and need to win out (toughest game is Auburn in Athens) and hope South Carolina falls to Arkansas or Florida. Sounds like contract extension time in Georgia.

Part 3, the ghosts of imcopentcy that is Vanderbilt and Duke football. Both teams were in prime position to upset Arkansas and Va. Tech. Both games were the old Jefferson Pilot ACC/SEC Game of the Week going on simultaneously, with Upset Dave Neal calling the Vandy game and Tim Brandt doing honors on the ACC side. Within moments of each other, things went down the tube for both teams.

Vandy, up 8 with a first and goal, fumbles and allows Arky to return the fumble 94 yards for a game tying TD. Worst case fo Vandy is they don't score and miss a chip shot FG, but inexplicably, everything that can go wrong, does. Vandy then missed a 27 yard FG to tie the game. Classic Vandy!

As for Duke, a 14-10 lost saw Duke miss 3 field goals, two of those being chip shots with one coming with about 6:00 left that would have pulled the Devils within a point. But in typical Duke style, the Devils drove inside the Hokie 25, facing a 4th and short situation in the final minutes, called a play action bootleg pass where the tight end and full back banged in to each other, allowing neither to get out on the pass route. Classic Duke.

Other musings...

Long live Ga. Tech and its flexbone offense, as Clemson stumbles again in the ATL. Paul Johnson doesn't need play charts, billboard size play cards, he does it all off the top of his head. Pure old school beauty.

Andrew Luck may have won the Heisman with his performance vs USC, meanwhile typical Lane Kiffin whines on about officiating.

Congrats to Notre Dame for beating Navy for the second time in 5 years.

Nice typical big win let down by Texas Tech, getting pummeled by Iowa State.

Really Ohio State, storming the field for a win over # 15 Wisconsin???

Nice to see Texas A&M and Mizzou are already battling it out for 5th place or who can finish ahead of Ole Miss/Miss. State.

Until football Armageddon next week....

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Saturday in Reverse.... Week 8

Let the Super Bowl hype for November 5th begin...

Once again, from the redundancy department, Alabama and LSU take care of business to move to 8-0, setting up a colossal showdown in Tuscaloosa in 2 weeks. Tuscaloosa was a mad house Saturday night for the Tide's 5th straight win over the Vols and it will double in magnitude with LSU's raucous fan base coming to town.

Even though we're only 11 years in to it, this is this century's Game of the Century. Both teams have been top 5 the entire year, dismantling opponents in similar fashion and now each have a bye week before this match up. Unprecedented in my lifetime for this perfect storm of circumstances. ESPN and CBS are arguing over who gets to broadcast this game, searching to some sort of settlement on the matter that should happen early this week. College Gameday will start broadcasting on site, Thursday on Sportscenter, 2 days before this game.

Sidenote, Alabama has never beaten a #1 ranked team in Tuscaloosa!

As for a chaotic Saturday, Wisconsin and Oklahoma were the biggest losers, falling to Michigan State and Texas Tech. Tommy Tubberville gets is biggest win as a Red Raider while Boise State, Stanford and Clemson are the biggest beneficiaries of Sparty's Hail Mary vs Wisky. Boise got by Air Force, Stanford ran roughshod over Washington while Clemson's road to an undefeated season seems to get easier each week, with Ga. Tech faltering and South Carolina losing Lattimore, the Tigers may run the table.

Notre Dame's BCS hopes have been dashed, at the hands of Lane Kiffin and USC. Guess they can gear up to beat Navy now for only the 2nd time in 5 years.

Other Observations.... Roz Zook pulled another Zooker.... Why does Gene Chizik continue to wear a dentist's smock outfit on the sideline....Will Barbara Dooley yell at anyone for criticizing her son's ridiculous 4th down gamble in a one possession game vs Alabama???...Finally, Has any coach ever benefited more from one player then Gus Malzahn? Dude's offense has been pretty regular of late, winning games by scoring only 17 points because South Carolina had a drunk quarterback playing and Florida couldn't field a punt, sandwiched around a 14 point effort vs Arkansas and 3 meaningful points in Baton Rouge???... Until next week....

Sunday, October 16, 2011

D-O-M-I-N-A-T-E !

When 101,000 fans enter Bryant-Denny Stadium for a game against Tennessee this weekend, moments before Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide march from the locker room to enter the field, the crowd will reach a fever pitch.

Highlights will be shown, Thunderstruck will be piping in over the PA system and the crowd will be going crazy. The last image on one of the 4 jumbotrons when this frenzy ends will be the word DOMINATE. Its obviously a message that Saban's players have taken to heart because Alabama has physically beats up its opponents week in and week out.

Its amazing to see when the other team "checks out" of the contest mentally and physically against the Tide. Its happened several times this year and has been an ongoing theme since 2008. It wasn't always this way as the Mike Shula era teams could not win a game in the 4th quarter. My how times have changed.

That breaking point for the other team comes at some point in the 3rd or 4th quarter. Yesterday for Ole Miss, it was early 3rd as Alabama rolled to 28 points in the qauter and could have scored 70. It was just a replay of the Vanderbilt, Florida, Arkansas and Penn State games. In each game, Alabama went to the half with a 10-14 point lead, where the play by play announcers were discussing how such and such team is just a play away from changing this game. But they never mention Alabama is just a moment away from putting things out of reach and forcing the other team to quit.

It happened in Happy Valley early in the 4th, where PSU trailed 20-3, a game changing turnover followed by Trent Richardson running through a defense that checked out at that point to make it 27-3. It happened vs Arkansas in the 3rd, as a 17-7 lead exploded to a insurmountable deficit and to date, the best coaching move of the year was Bobby Petrino taking Wilson Love out before he could get hurt. Vandy was physically manhandled in a 12 play, 11 run drive to make it a 21-0 'Bama lead in the early 3rd qtr. Florida lasted a tad longer, as the knockout blow came in the beginning of the 4th as the Tide went from 24-10 to 38-10.

This isn't the first time we've seen this. In 2008, Clemson, Arkansas, Tennessee, Miss. St and Auburn experienced this. In 2009 we saw Kentucky, Arkansas, Ole Miss, Miss. St and Florida succumb to the Tide. In 2010, it was Michigan State, Florida, and Penn State.

For the opposing team and its fans, when Alabama forces the "check out", its a cringing moment. Their is no way to make it stop. For Alabama fans, its as beautiful a thing that you can see on the gridiron, knowing that your opponent has been Dominated to the point of submission.

Finally, Top 5 Drives vs the Alabama Defense this year, keeping in mind the Tide D is only giving up 7 points a game.

5. Penn State's last minute, oh by the way score and subsequent 2 point conversion. It made the 27-11 final the closest score of the year for Alabama.

4. Ole Miss' first series that led to a 7-0 lead 2 minutes in.

3. Florida's first play score vs Alabama that led to a few moments of upset dreams.

2. Penn State's 16 play opening drive that burned 3 time outs in the process, that led to a 3-0 Lions lead.

1. Arkansas and their 13 play drive full of crossing routes and 3rd down conversions that tied the score at 7.

Saturday in Reverse.... Week 7

With the first BCS standings set to be released this evening, the slow countdown to November 5th moves forward as LSU and Alabama continue their physical beat downs and embarrass their foes on a weekly basis.

Try as they might, these poor teams like Florida and now Tennessee that face this SEC West duo in back to back weeks become walking M*A*S*H* units. Florida still hasn't recovered and poor Derek Dooley has to march into Bryant-Denny Stadium next week wondering how many points his mentor Nick Saban will lay on him.

Poor Ole Miss needs another off week, especially the Rebel safety who was victimized on back to back possessions by an L1/R2 move by Trent Richardson and then stiff armed by Jalston Fowler on the next. If not for 2 holding calls on William Valachos and the Tide taking a knee on its last possession, the Vaught-Hemingway scoreboard would have hit 70 on the visitor's side.

LSU and Alabama are not perfect teams, they each have flaws such as Alabama's kick-off team and tendency to give up big plays early in the game. But their is no doubt that each of these teams, when they turn into that BeastMode mentality, cannot be stopped. Let the game of the century hype begin.

As for the rest of Saturday...

Only a 6-0 Ron Zook team could get beat by an Ohio State team that completed 1 pass.... Clemson escapes College Park with a 56-45 win over some team that wears uniforms from "Any Given Sunday" otherwise known as Maryland. So does that mean Temple would win the ACC and beat Clemson by 20 points????....Ga. Tech takes its traditional stumble against lesser competition by falling to Virginia...Awesome win by UAB over Meeechigan, oh wait, that was Michigan State dressed as UAB for Halloween...And finally, have they discounted the cable/satellite upgrade for the Longhorn Network yet???

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Saturday in Reverse.... Week 6

Mike Shula, meet Luke Fickell. Luke Fickell, meet Mike Shula. Thats what I see when I watch THE ohio state.

Another week is in the books, which brings us one week closer to November 5th.

LSU and Alabama both are headed on a collision course for a showdown in Tuscaloosa, with the winner at this point primed to face Oklahoma in the BCS Title game. As we hit the half way point of the season, these three teams have seemed to separate themselves from the rest of the undefeated pack, which also includes Wisconsin, Clemson, Ga. Tech, Boise State, Oklahoma State among others. This is not to say for certain that LSU, 'Bama or OU will go unbeaten, but at this point its hard to argue against that.

OU's dismantling of Texas was just as impressive as LSU's blowout wins vs Oregon, West Virginia or Florida and likewise equivalent to Alabama's physical beatdowns of Penn State, Florida & Arkansas. As for everyone else, its unlikely that they could leapfrog these two ('Bama/LSU winner vs OU) unless two of these teams fall. Still alot of football to play though.

Other winners from Saturday: Mark Richt all of a sudden is in the driver's seat in the SEC East. Granted they have to finish a game ahead of USC in the standing's, but they're in a much favorable position then they were a month ago.

Ga. Tech continues to march on to a showdown with Clemson. Both teams have surprised with 6-0 starts, but not that anyone in Atlanta notices with the thousands of empty seats at Bobby Dodd Stadium.

Arkansas kept hopes of a BCS Bowl game alive dismantling Auburn at home. They really need LSU to beat 'Bama & then beat LSU in the Boot Game in November.

Congrats to Temple's Benard Pierce on breaking Paul Palmer's career rushing touchdown record. Little known fact that Palmer finished 2nd in the Heisman Trophy voting in 1986 to Vinny Testaverde.

Saturday's Losers: Florida State falling to Wake Forest. All of a sudden Jimbo has problems with a 2-3 record. What made the loss worst for FSU was that Tim Duncan and Chris Paul didn't even dress out for the Deacons.

Florida losing by 30 LSU and it wasn't even that close. Now they get to play at Auburn after dropping 2 straight. Good luck with that.

Mack Brown who must of fed his team corndogs before the game vs OU. I wonder if this Texas loss can be blamed on Colt McCoy's injury.

Quarterback Play: You mean Florida, Auburn, Penn State and Texas can't find good quarterbacks??? Isn't this the year of the quarterback on ESPN with Trent Dilfer crying cause he can't take more then 11 at the Elite 11 Bacherlotte style elimination quarterback high school ESPN program. Again, for all the 7 on 7, film study and everything else, its amazing that some of these teams don't have one guy that can competently play the position. I don't understand the bad QB play across the nation.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Saturday in Reverse...Week 5

NAPA Know How, NAPA Know How. Yeah its a terrible commercial jingle, but one thing is certain, Nick Saban knows how to silence a hostile, Saturday night crowd. Alabama physically manhandled Florida for a 3rd consecutive year, beating down the Gators by 28 and it could have been worst. The Tide defense stuffed Florida repeatedly after being burned on some bad secondary technique on the games first play. Offensive guru Charlie Weis, he who routinely was defeated by Syracuse, UConn, Navy & Air Force while in South Bend, was befuddled. (Anybody in Gainesville want Dan Mullen back now???) Tide OC Jim McElwain called a masterful game, keeping Florida off balance on first down by routinely calling for passes. The end result is 'Bama has some smooth sailing on the way to its November showdown with LSU, who sleepwalked through a 35-7 win over Kentucky and take on the Gators next.

As for 'Bama's opponent last week, Arkansas looked dead in the water in Jerry World against future SEC foe Texas A&M. The Aggies had a 18 point lead and seemed in control, until they took a page from the LeBron James playbook and decided to only play 3 quarters in Dallas. Now Mike Sherman is sure to feel some heat after blowing huge 2nd half leads the last 2 weeks.

Most unexpected result of the day was not Auburn beating South Carolina, but the fact that Auburn won not in a shootout, but in a defensive struggle. Steve Spurrier is generally considered the 2nd best coach in the history of the SEC behind Bear Bryant, but the recognition is in serious jeopardy after being outcoached by Auburn DC Ted Roof. After all this carnage yesterday, the most certain thing is the SEC West is way better then whoever the sacrificial lamb that arrives out of the East in Atlanta on December 3rd.

Saddest result from yesterday is the lack of quality QB play across the nation. Some of these guys have played Gods Gift to Football, 7 on 7 pass camps, for years, but teams like Indiana, Ohio State, Michigan State, Penn State, South Carolina, Auburn, Florida don't have a quarterback who can make simple plays. Its embarrassing to see teams with 4 and 5 star recruits at that position that can't generate a 100 yards passing. And we're not talking about wishbone teams, we're talking about some of these teams running the greatest offensive invention ever, THE SPREAD!!! I'm just thankful that I still cheer for a team that physically dominates its opponent and plays old school, fundamental football.

Other teams that impressed: Clemson getting it done on the road at Va. Tech. Dat Boy Dabo did it again! Russel Wilson has added a dimension to Wisconsin that makes them a legit national title contender, but only if 2 of the top 3 ahead of them lose a game. Ga. Tech continues to romp to victories with its flexbone. And Pitt had a nice win against USF on Thursday. Sorry Notre Dame, but until you beat a legit opponent, you won't get mentioned here and sadly you won't play a ranked team the rest of the year.

Teams that looked horrible. THE ohio state university, less the 200 yards of offense. Penn State needing to knock down a Hail Mary to hold off, ahem, Indiana, a team that had lost to North Texas & Ball State. Mississippi State again lays an egg and now heads to Legion Field to face UAB. If they lose that came, the SEC needs contraction, ASAP.