Nine weeks into the college football season and Bulldog Nation has been reduced to the following math equation: Questionable targeting calls + a loss at Vanderbilt = the following image…
The Georgia Bulldogs get a week off before their annual gridiron war with the Florida Gators. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, what is normally a pivotal SEC East game has become the “World’s Largest Outdoor Pity Party”. Georgia and Florida have combined for six losses before the end of October.
As a result, it is time for a round of fact or fiction to ease the pain.
The Winner of the Georgia-Florida Game is Still a Factor in the SEC East. Fiction. No matter which team wins in Jacksonville, the Florida Gators still have to play the South Carolina Gamecocks, and the Georgia Bulldogs must contend with the Auburn Tigers. New Auburn head coach, Gus Malzahn, has the Tigers at 6-1, and they beat Texas A&M in week eight.
Alabama Will Earn Their Third Straight BCS National Championship. Fact. Nick Saban has proven discipline leads to dominance. There is not a team in college football more consistent than the Crimson Tide. Alabama does not have many more hurdles to overcome to get to Pasadena, California.
Ohio State Will Challenge the Tide. Fiction. Ohio State is a great offensive team, however, the Buckeyes do not have much of a defense. Even if Ohio State gets through the regular season undefeated, Buckeye fans must root for both Florida State and Oregon to lose. Keep an eye on Urban Meyer folks, he is likely to start beating the opposition by as much as possible to rack up style points.
Florida State is Back. Fact. The Noles destroyed Clemson, and left the Tigers laying in Death Valley. Quarterback Jameis Winston may not be ready for the BCS stage yet, but Florida State is talented enough to beat anyone, including Alabama. Unfortunately for FSU, if they do play Alabama for all the marbles, Nick Saban will have plenty of time to prepare for Famous Jameis.
Long Live the BCS! Fiction. The notion that anyone will miss the Bowl Championship Series is almost as ridiculous as the claim that a playoff would adversely affect a student athlete’s ability to study for an exam. The playoffs will make money, the television ratings will be phenomenal, and the passionate fans of college football will finally get the finale we deserve.
College Football Outside of The SEC Bubble
I love Southeastern Conference football. As a fan, most of what I am invested in takes place within the realm of the SEC. However, it is healthy to acknowledge that college football is played in other areas of the country as well. This particular post will focus on college football on the west coast, specifically in the Pacific-12 Conference.
It will be fun to see how the most dynamic offense in college football adjusts to having a new head duck. The departure of Chip Kelly to the Philadelphia Eagles sent shock waves throughout football. That is, after he decided to come back to Oregon, then he changed his mind again and left for the city of Brotherly Love. Coach Kelly leaves a legacy of being an offensive guru in Eugene, but he also helped get Oregon put on probation as a parting gift.
Mark Helfrich is now the head coach in Oregon town as he inherits a team that is loaded on offense with eight starters coming back. SB Nation revealed that one of the reasons Chip Kelly decided to try his hand in the NFL is because he knew nothing would change in the Oregon offense under Mark Helfrich, who had been the offensive coordinator for the Ducks since 2009.
The fact that Stanford won the 2013 Rose Bowl without former quarterback Andrew Luck speaks volumes about the Cardinal commitment to success. When the previous Stanford head coach (Jim Harbaugh) left for the National Football League, I assumed that Cardinal Football would go back to dwelling in mediocrity. I could not have been more wrong.
The 2012 Pac-12 Conference Coach of the Year David Shaw has the fans in Stanford, California dreaming of a national championship. The Cardinal returns seven starters on offense, and a robust ten starters on the defensive side of the ball. Stanford figures to be in a tight battle with the Oregon Ducks all season long. The media gave Oregon the slight edge in their Pac-12 North preseason pick. Even so, I have always been a huge fan of the Stanford Tree.
The Stanford Tree wreaks of awesomeness.
I must admit to having very little interest in Bruins football once the ball is snapped. My curiosity with UCLA is triggered by their current head football coach, “Jim Mora Jr.” The man born James Lawrence Mora (according to Wikipedia) was the head football coach in Atlanta during the Michael Vick days. His tenure began in 2004 with a bang when the Falcons played for the NFC title at the end of the season, but it ended with him being fired after the thud of back-to-back 8-8 seasons.
I have heard unconfirmed stories that coach Mora can be combative. I never passed judgement until I was watching ESPN’s The Herd (hosted by Doug Gottlieb who was in for Colin Cowherd) and the following interview unfolded. Given how poorly he handled the situation, I cannot take Jim Mora Jr. seriously as a leader of young men.
Since leaving the Tennessee Volunteers high and dry in January of 2010, Lane Kiffin has gotten exactly what he deserved. After leading the Trojans through their probation, USC appeared all set to fight for the college football throne once again. Hell, I picked them to lose to the Georgia Bulldogs in the BCS National Championship Game last year. The University of Southern California proceeded to go 7-6, and fall off the horse before they could even get going. The Trojans DID cap the season off by losing to a team from Georgia, Tech, that is, in the Sun Bowl. USC reportedly broke out into a brawl pitting teammate against teammate, too.
Coming into this season, about the only thing going right for Lane Kiffin is that the Los Angeles Times is reporting that he is not on the hot seat. If the Trojans do not improve drastically in 2013, the temperature of the head coach’s chair figures to rise considerably.
Saban Arrives At Alabama
Since his arrival at the University of Alabama, Nick Saban has been obsessed with maximizing his potential. According to IMG Athletics, coach Saban has a remote control to his office so that he does not have to spend three seconds shutting the door. Saban has mastered everything in his work routine so that he gets the most out of every second of time in his day.
Coach Saban has turned his meticulous planning into a masterpiece while leading Alabama to a national championship victory in 2009, and again in 2011. The Tide have a chance to repeat as BCS National Champions this season, which would be an unprecedented accomplishment in college football. Let us examine how Nick Saban has been able to achieve unparalleled success at the University of Alabama.
Nick Saban is a Disciplinarian
Coach Saban has authored many memorable quotes since becoming the head coach in Tuscaloosa. A favorite Nick Saban jewel:
There are two pains in life, the pain of discipline, and the pain of disappointment. If you can handle the pain of discipline, then you’ll never have to deal with the pain of disappointment.
One of the main reasons that the University of Alabama is at the very top of college football is because their head coach is committed to discipline on and off of the gridiron. As such, Alabama fields a roster of players who realize that they can be replaced very quickly if they fail to fulfill their commitment to the Crimson Tide football program on or off of the playing field.
Coach Saban’s Vision Keeps the Top Football Recruits Coming to Alabama
With the exception of Nick Saban’s first year as Alabama head coach in 2007, the Crimson Tide has had a top five rated recruiting class every year that the coach has been in Tuscaloosa. Football players that decide to enroll at Alabama know that they will be given an opportunity to succeed. The Crimson Tide had eight players drafted in the 2012 NFL Draft. When IMG Athletics did a profile on the current Alabama head coach, they realized he had a plan for everything. IMG Academics reports, “He has a detailed program for his players to follow, and he’s highly regimented. Above all, Saban keeps his players focused on execution…rather than results.”
Alabama Does Not Make Big Mistakes on Either Side of the Football
It is understandable that the Crimson Tide defense gets a lot of hype. However, the evolution of Alabama’s offense under Nick Saban cannot be overlooked. Coaching Search reveals an eye-popping comparison between the 2011 Alabama Crimson Tide defense, and the defensive unit of the Oregon Ducks, noting that Alabama’s defensive unit played 357 fewer snaps than Oregon. This total amounts to around five games. Alabama’s offense is becoming so efficient that the Tide are rolling over every team in their path.
Nick Saban is Never Satisfied with his Alabama Football Team
Coach Saban has won a total of three national titles, and he continues to be driven toward achieving extraordinary success. Such a thing comes from his focus on the journey as opposed to the end result.
Upon signing an extension with the University of Alabama back in March, Coach Saban offered his thoughts on the future of Alabama football, “From my standpoint, the acceptance of this extension represents our commitment – my commitment, our family’s commitment – to the University of Alabama for the rest of our career, the process of repeating as national champion requires more attention. It can’t be about trying to prove something, because you’ve kind of already done that. It needs to be about, do you want to be the best you can be? Are you driven to be the best player you can be? Are you driven to have the intensity, the sense of urgency, the intelligence? Are you going to work to do the things you need to do to be your absolute best?
For readers out there who are not Alabama fans, we recommend hoping that coach Nick Saban is planning an early retirement. His current deal with the University of Alabama expires in 2020.
Matthew Stafford threw for over 5,000 yards in 2011.
Players like Matthew Stafford do not come along very often. ESPN draft expert Mel Kiper predicted that Stafford would be the first pick taken when he entered the NFL draft before Stafford even made his first start as a Georgia Bulldog. While Matthew Stafford’s father is a Georgia alum, Bulldog Nation possesses an X-factor that helps bring standout offensive players to Athens, the pro style offense.
Georgia’s offensive attack allows players to get a taste of what they will be expected to do if they make it to the NFL. The Bulldog offensive repertoire has helped springboard tremendous athletes such as Terrell Davis, Garrison Hurst, and the recently retired future NFL Hall Of Famer Hines Ward to playing on Sundays.
In an era of college football where fast paced, no-huddle offenses are en-vogue it is refreshing to see the University of Georgia staying with what brought them to the dance. While teams such as Oregon and Auburn have adopted a hurried approach to moving the football, Georgia rarely deviates from their playbook. Although when the Bulldogs do throw a curve ball it is usually effective. Such was the case last season, when defensive back Brandon Boykin scored Georgia’s first touchdown of 2011 on a 70 yard touchdown run.
With national signing day growing in spectator popularity each year there is more emphasis on where a particular athlete chooses to play college football than ever before. Quarterbacks who choose to come to the University of Georgia know they are likely to learn a system similar to what they could end up running if the NFL comes calling. Georgia is currently loaded at the signal caller position with starter Aaron Murry, while Hutson Mason, and Christian LeMay compete for the back-up role. Hutson Mason plans to redshirt in 2012, in hopes of having the opportunity to run the Georgia Bulldog ship when Aaron Murray’s UGA football career comes to a close.
Ultimately Georgia runs a pro style offense because it is what gives them the best chance to win. The Bulldogs are looking to get to the top of the Southeastern Conference, and the obvious way to do that is to be better than the competition. The pro style offense helps entice high profile recruits to enroll at UGA because they know that being successful in Athens will likely translate to a successful football career long after their Dawg days are over.
What a revival it has been for the Georgia Bulldogs and head coach Mark Richt. Richt began the 2011 campaign on the hot seat, and some Bulldog fans were already calling for this season to be Richt’s last when Georgia opened 0-2. However, since the middle of September Georgia has arguably been the hottest team in college football outside of Louisiana State University. The LSU Tigers are almost a shoo-in to represent the SEC West in the aforementioned title game.
Kudos to coach Richt for ignoring the naysayers while adding another winning season to his lofty resume. If Georgia can “finish the drill” he will be able to add a fourth trip to the SEC title game to his name as well. I have been a staunch coach Richt supporter during his tenure in Athens, but it will be fun to watch the bandwagon fill up again.
In other SEC action, championship game scenarios make strange bedfellows as the Florida Gators could play a huge role in helping the Dawgs get back to the Dome. Florida travels to South Carolina and if the Gators can find a way to win on the road Georgia will be in position to clinch the SEC East against Auburn. Florida is just 1-3 on the road this season though, and they have yet to beat a ranked opponent. Georgia is likely to know what is at stake in “The Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry” just before they take the field on Saturday.
The college football match-ups with potentially big SEC implications extend much further than the southern states this weekend. Alabama is currently third in the BCS, and they will be observing with great interest as the #4 Stanford Cardinal host the #7 Oregon Ducks. If Andrew Luck and friends are victorious than it is widely expected they will move ahead of Alabama in the BCS. However, if the quack attack can defeat the Cardinal than the Tide will roll right back into the middle of the BCS picture.
For those that do not want to see a Pac-12 shootout on Saturday night, the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) makes its debut on national television on FOX at 9PM EST. The only fight on the UFC FOX debut is a world heavyweight title bout between Cain Valasquez and Junior dos Santos. UFC president Dana White has been trying to negotiate a big television deal for a while and if Saturday night is a success the UFC could soar to even greater heights.
As for Sunday, the Atlanta Falcons welcome a familiar foe inside the Georgia Dome as they face the New Orleans Saints on Sunday afternoon. Wide receiver Julio Jones is questionable once again after aggravating his hamstring injury. The first round draft pick pass catcher would certainly be an asset for the Dirty birds after his 3 catch, 131 yard performance on the road against Indianapolis last week.
Atlanta’s defense has been much improved as of late, since they have given up only 13 points per game on average in their last three games. If the Falcons can beat the Saints on Sunday it will be a big step toward a second straight NFC South title for the Dirty Birds. Falcons Rise Up.
Picks– College Football
Steve Spurrier’s old team visits his current place of employment as Florida heads into South Carolina. Current Gator head man Will Muschamp is desperate to finish strong and he needs a signature win. No such luck this week. South Carolina 17, Florida 13
Texas Tech looks to shake up the BCS again as they host Oklahoma State. The Cowboys learned from Oklahoma’s mistakes. Lightning will not strike twice in Lubbock, Texas. Oklahoma State 48, Texas Tech 31
TCU travels to Bronco Stadium and Boise State’s blue field. The Broncos are seemingly a forgotten variable in the BCS formula, as they continue to be the Rodney Dangerfield of college football. I’ll give them a little respect. Boise State 41, TCU 24
Oregon and Stanford will be high scoring. The Ducks are still in search of redemption after they got pummeled by LSU in the opening week of the season. Stanford’s luck runs out. Oregon 44, Stanford 38
Finally, the Dawgs host Auburn as they try to bring glory back to old Georgia. Bulldogs keep their eyes on the prize and win convincingly in front of a packed crowd. Georgia 35, Auburn 17
NFL quick picks
The Lions will be too cold to eat any Bears in the “Windy City.” Chicago 27, Detroit 20
Pittsburgh will knock Cincinnati out of first place in the AFC North. Pittsburgh 34, Cincinnati 20
San Francisco will play the role of giant killer. San Francisco 27, Giants 17
Jets fly over the Patriots. Jets 24 Patriots 20.
The Falcons will “defend the dome” and send the saints marching back home. Atlanta understands the difference between 6-3 versus 5-4 and they will get a critical win at home. Atlanta 34, New Orleans 31 Enjoy the weekend. GO DAWGS!!!
Week 8 of college football signifies that the season is more than halfway over. While that can be a downer for diehard football fans, there is some very good news. The Bowl Championship Series chaos has only just begun. Moreover, with the release of the first BCS standings a rarity has occurred. This year, the BCS got it exactly right.
The top eight teams in the standings are all undefeated, and the #9 team must play the current number one before the year is over. Like it or not, the BCS has set college football up for a brilliant finish to the regular season. Southeastern Conference love aside, November 5th is even bigger now because it sets up one of the most highly anticipated regular season match-ups ever– LSU and Alabama in a BCS #1 vs #2 clash. In addition to that, while there is not a Big 12 title game this year, there will be a de facto BCS playoff game between Oklahoma and Oklahoma State on December 3rd.
Stanford and Oregon meet on November 12th. If neither team loses before that date, the game will be another battle between two of the top 10 BCS teams. Who stands to benefit from these highly ranked teams butting heads? Boise State. As long as the Broncos can go undefeated they can sit back and watch as teams ranked ahead of them eliminate each other.
Not everything is perfect though, especially if you are a fan of the Clemson Tigers, or Wisconsin Badgers. But the reality is that neither one of these teams played anyone good enough to merit a birth in the national championship if there are other undefeated teams ranked ahead of them at the end of the regular season. For proof, take a look at Wisconsin’s schedule. Their biggest win to date was against Nebraska, and the Cornhuskers have not beaten a ranked opponent this season. Whether that is fair or not is irrelevant, as Boise State deals with the same problem on a yearly basis.
As for Clemson, they must finish the season unbeaten. On top of that they need to become a big fan of their in state rival South Carolina Gamecocks to have only one loss going into the “Battle of the Palmetto State” on November 26th. Beating a one loss SEC team would certainly help Clemson’s case if they are still undefeated heading into the final week of the regular season.
There is no such thing as a perfect system when it comes to crowning a champion in college football. Even if there were a playoff, the last team left out would gripe about getting the shaft. (This happens in college basketball where there is a 64 team tournament AND a first round play in game.) The 2011 Bowl Championship Series standings set up intriguing games throughout the rest of the regular season. College football fans everywhere should be pleased with that.