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5 Thoughts - Does Bama Deserve To Be No. 2?
Does Alabama automatically deserve to be No. 2 over Penn State? Texas Tech becoming really good, the mediocre play overall (outside of the Big 12), paging Todd Boeckman, and the flawless playoff idea in the latest 5 Thoughts.
5 Thoughts ... Oct. 27
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Yearly Playoff Beef
Every year at this time I start to get a little bit
angry. I don't really have a problem with the BCS, it's
far better than the old poll 'n' bowl system. I get
angry because I have to hear everyone's playoff
idea, and they're all weird, unfair, and wrong. As if a
gimmicky system would be more fair than a tough war of a
regular season (cough, New York Giants, cough).
Let me help everyone out with the flawless playoff
system. What the powers-that-be, including the bowls,
don't realize is that they can have their cake and eat
it too. Without further ado here's the yearly
prayer/begging for this eight-team playoff idea that has
absolutely no downside and doesn't have any holes (this
has been tweaked over the years after much debating with
fans, media guys, and anyone who wants to talk playoff).
Eight teams. 16 would be too many, four would be too
exclusionary. Take the six BCS conference champions, put
in the highest ranked non-BCS league champion according
to a BCS system (you have to give the little guy a
shot), and keep one wild-card spot open for the highest
ranked remaining team according to the BCS.
The integrity of the regular season is maintained. You
have to win your conference to get in; if you can't win
your league title, you don't deserve to win the national
title. If you're not in the playoff, it's your fault.
For all the arguing that would go on about the one
wild-card spot, again, you didn't win your conference
title so there's no beefing. This one open spot would be
a catch-all if there was a tie, like in the Big Ten or
Pac 10, or if Notre Dame got really good. It would also
encourage better non-conference games. If you're in a
nasty league, you'd schedule as many good games as
possible to increase your chances of being the
Use the Cotton, the Capital One, the Fiesta and Sugar
for the first round, the Orange and Rose for the final
four, and a BCS national championship game to decide it
all. Three weeks, all the games would sell out in a
heartbeat (try getting tickets to the basketball Final
Four), and everyone would make gobs and gobs of money
and be deliriously happy.
How would this have worked out last year? The eight
teams in would've been Ohio State, LSU, USC, West
Virginia, Virginia Tech, Oklahoma, Hawaii, and in the
wild-card spot, Georgia. Two years ago it would've been
Ohio State, Florida, Oklahoma, Wake Forest, USC,
Louisville, Boise State, and in the wild-card spot,
This year, so far, it would be Texas, Alabama, Penn
State, USC, West Virginia, Florida State, Utah, and in
the wild-card spot, Oklahoma.
And someday Jessica Biel will use my left ear as a chew
toy. We can all dream.
Maybe the Oklahoma - Texas Game Was The National Championship
Sorry, but I just don’t believe in Penn State.
The vaunted defense has yet to face anyone who can
throw the forward pass, I still don’t know if Daryll
Clark can produce in the clutch, and the first half
against Michigan was scarier than the second half
was impressive. However, I’m not going to rush out
to pick against a JoePa coached team in the national
title, not with the talent on the offensive line and
the quickness on the defensive front, and I’m sure
as shoot not just going to assume Alabama should be
in the BCS championship over an undefeated Nittany
Lion team. Hasn't the Penn State program over the
last 40 years proven to be beyond reproach as far as
how it produces in the really, really big games?
(But that's for another argument and another day.)
There’s no arguing against Texas right now, just
like there will be no arguments against Texas Tech
if it runs the table by finishing up with wins over
Oklahoma State, Texas and Oklahoma, to go along with
a Big 12 title game. In fact, I’ll take a one-loss
Big 12 champion over anyone else in the country in
the national title pecking order. (But that, too, is
for another argument and another day.) My beef is
with everyone who’s assuming Alabama should
automatically be No. 2.
I dogged Penn State’s schedule last week in various
outlets, so to be fair, it’s time to call out what
Alabama has done. At the moment, the Tide has played
the 79th best schedule in the nation. Penn
State has played the 68th best, Texas the 11th best,
and Texas Tech the 21st best.
I’m not going to rip on the Georgia win. That
victory in Athens was either the best by anyone so
far this year, or it was second best behind the
Texas win over Oklahoma. However, my problem is with
the rest of the Tide's slate.
Bama got the initial love by throttling Clemson, but
with 20/20 hindsight, that really wasn’t any better
than beating, say, Oregon State (which Penn State
did with ease). While throttling Arkansas and
Tennessee might seem impressive on paper, and it got
the national notoriety, it’s not that big a deal.
And then there’s the eye-ball test. If there are
issues with the Penn State offense after the first
half against Michigan and the entire game against
Ohio State, then why are Bama's poor performances in
wins over Kentucky and Ole Miss being blown off? The
offensive line was shaky and the defense struggled
late in those games before holding on for dear life.
Don’t just throw out the “every week is tough in the
SEC” argument. No it’s not. Not this year. The
conference has already lost seven non-conference
games, and there will be more.
I’ll give up the Alabama love if it goes unbeaten
and beats the Florida/Georgia winner in the SEC
title game, the schedule will turn out to be better
than Penn State’s, but I don’t want to hear about
how winning at LSU in two weeks is that big a deal.
Not after the Tigers got 103 points hung on them by
Florida and Georgia. And I really don’t want to hear
any nonsense about the Auburn game being tough
because of the rivalry. This Auburn team sucks. If
you’re worthy of a national title, you put that team
away at home after two drives.
I’m not telling the coaches and Harris voters to put
Penn State into the No. 2 spot ahead of Alabama. I’m
just saying they need to think about it before they
It Hasn't Started Yet
And It's Already Texas 24, Tech 21.
it took me a while to come to this epiphany, Texas Tech
is for real.
More than any other team last weekend, I was blown away
by the Red Raiders, who blew away a ranked team from
Kansas on the road, 63-21. In case you missed the game,
Tech might have reached 80 had it played with the same
intensity in the final 15 minutes. Graham Harrell and
the passing game is humming just like it always has
under Mike Leach, but the program is unbeaten and
climbing into uncharted territory because it’s getting
more than just tacit support from the running game and
Usually just receivers in this wide-open offense, backs
Shannon Woods and Baron Batch have combined for more
than 1,000 and 14 touchdowns on the ground this season.
Their presence provides an outstanding change-of-pace,
giving opposing coordinators one more thing to think
about. Ruffin McNeill’s defense is close to making the
Red Raiders a complete team. No, they don’t shut people
down, but who does these days in the Big 12? What Tech
does, instead, is create turnovers, swarm to the ball in
run defense, and get to the quarterback with linemen,
like Brandon Williams and McKinner Dixon. In the win
over the Jayhawks in Lawrence, the Red Raiders created
five turnovers, including three picks from Darcel McBath.
When you combine that type of defensive production with
a 50-point-a-game offense, Texas Tech is one scary
No one really took the Red Raiders that seriously during
the first seven games of the season. That might have
changed with Saturday’s dominant performance at Kansas.
And just in time for a visit from top-ranked Texas for
what could be the biggest game in Lubbock since the 1973
team won 11 games and beat Tennessee in the Gator Bowl.
Maybe the Brians Would Be Off The Milk
me and Ohio State TE Jake Ballard the only people wondering aloud
why Jim Tressel has buried QB Todd Boeckman on the bench since the
loss to USC more than a month ago?
Tressel is one of the best in the business, but he’s blown it with
the decision to go exclusively with Terrelle Pryor at quarterback. I
get that Pryor is a dynamite athlete with a limitless upside in
Columbus. What I also get is that he wasn’t ready for the role he
was given last month. That was obvious two weeks ago when the
Buckeyes failed to reach the end zone versus Purdue. And again
Saturday night when they managed just a pair of field goals against
Penn State. Pryor is not yet ready to be a passer at this level. I
know it, which means every defensive coordinator on Ohio State’s
schedule knows it. Sure, he’ll make a great play with his feet every
now and again, but that lack of a passing threat means Buckeye
playmakers Chris Wells, Brian Robiskie, and Brian Hartline have
essentially been neutralized by Pryor’s presence. Boeckman, on the
other hand, is a pocket passer that some believe has an NFL arm. The
senior has thrown 29 career touchdown passes, 25 a year ago. Why in
the world has a platoon not been considered? Give Boeckman a few
series to test the secondary and let Pryor do his thing as well.
It’s one more thing for the other team to plan for, and it’s not as
if the offense could be more inept.
Hey, if Ohio State was a .500 team or had some Steve Bellisari clone
at quarterback, you might as well pop the cork on the Pryor era in
Columbus. That, however, was not the case. This team was a
legitimate Big Ten contender, even after the ugly loss to the
Trojans. The fact that the Buckeyes won’t win the league title in
2008 falls squarely on the head of Tressel, who saw firsthand in the
2006 national championship game with Florida that a dual-quarterback
system can work if you embrace the concept.
You Call It Parity ...
5. Mediocrity abounds in major college football.
The Big East is a muddled mess, and the clear favorite, West
Virginia, must run the table to get to 10 wins.
The ACC? It's not a bad conference, but there are no elite teams in the
league. Florida State is making huge strides, but the Seminoles are
winning because they don't commit turnovers and can hit field goals for
the first time in Bobby Bowden's FSU career (or at least, it seems like
it). The ACC champion is an almost-certain piece of road kill in the
Then again, if the ACC winner plays Boise State, perhaps
the much-maligned conference will come up with a BCS bowl victory. Chris
Petersen's Broncos are winning, but no one who has seen them the past
two weeks--in sloppy and uninspired performances against Hawaii and San
Jose State--can view them as an elite team at this point in time.
The Pac-10's lack of star quality has been well documented, and the Big
Ten's best teams--Penn State and Ohio State--showed their many
limitations on Saturday.
In the SEC, Vanderbilt's feel-good run to 5-0 is a distant memory, as a
5-7 season actually looks possible once again. Aside of the Big Four--Bama,
LSU, Georgia, Florida--the Southeastern Conference has a lot of so-so
Want to find the only place in college football where average
action isn't the norm? Try the Big 12 South (the North is, right now, a
sorry sight). Four of the six teams in that league have proven
themselves on national stages. Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas, and
Texas Tech comprise a fearsome foursome. None of those squads are
Want to see big-time ball in 2008? Stay in Texas and Oklahoma. The other
48 states? You'll have to look hard to find something more than