Oct 282014

cfpAs soon as Alabama dropped the Ole Miss game, and assuming Alabama righted the ship, Alabama needed Ole Miss to lose twice. LSU helpfully hung one on the Rebels last week.

But with Alabama coalescing, we’re starting to hear whispers that a second Ole Miss loss may not be necessary; that even if Alabama doesn’t win the West, but wins out, it’ll get in the bracket on the strength of having closed with wins over LSU, Mississippi State, and Auburn.

I don’t believe that, and you shouldn’t either.

There are just too many one-loss Power 5 teams right now, and too few remaining opportunities for enough of them to lose again. The current non-SEC, non-FSU one-loss teams that could plausibly win out: Oregon, Notre Dame, Michigan State, TCU, Kansas State, Baylor, Ohio State, Arizona, Arizona State, Nebraska, and Utah.

(East Carolina has one loss and may win out, but their one current loss is likely fatal, as it would be for most non-Power-5 teams. Marshall hasn’t lost, but won’t get in. And I’m assuming Duke will perish in the ACC championship game, if not before.)

Now there’s still some carnage to come. The current gaggle of one-loss teams will shrink considerably, because a lot of them still have to play each other. All of the following games are on deck:

  • Oregon vs. Utah
  • Michigan State vs. Ohio State
  • Notre Dame vs. Arizona State
  • TCU vs. Kansas State
  • Baylor vs. Kansas State

Then, championship games will prune the list further. Nebraska could win out its regular schedule and have only 1 loss, but then it must play the Michigan State/Ohio State winner. So another 2-loss team is guaranteed from that group. Same story with Oregon—win out, but then it must play (probably) Arizona or Arizona State. So the Pac-12 championship will probably produce another 2-loss team.

Fast-forward to the actual brink. It’s the morning of December 7, and Ole Miss didn’t lose again in the regular season. Florida State will get a slot. The SEC champion (which cannot be Alabama without that second Ole Miss loss) will get a slot. There are two more, and the following hopefuls:

  • Alabama (11-1)
  • Michigan State (12-1)
  • Notre Dame (11-1)
  • Oregon (12-1)
  • TCU (11-1)

There are three conference champions in the list. Two of them won a conference championship game. Are you seriously telling me Alabama gets the nod over three of these teams?

Folks, absolutely no one outside the South thought the Alabama-LSU national title game was a good thing. I’m delighted Alabama got in, and I’m delighted they won. But do you remember all of the furious anti-SEC politicking ahead of the final polls? Do you remember that Oklahoma State was a hair’s width from jumping Alabama and getting in, despite a ridiculous loss to hapless Iowa State?

The committee—the grand, new way, not the bad old BCS—is simply not going to run a philosophical repeat of 2011 in its first outing. Alabama must have that second Ole Miss loss. The first of two realistic chances for it is this weekend.

Crimson Nation, it’s time to gird up and be Auburn fans.

 Posted by at 7:13 am
Oct 242014

ihatetennesseeActually I think the state itself is pretty great. But I hate the Tennessee Volunteers.

I haven’t always. In fact, they used to be my second-favorite team. I was 11 years old in the fall of 1982. It was the first football season that my parents were divorced, and we were spending a fair bit of time at my dad’s friend Reani’s house. Reani had a big UT print on the wall of his basement, next to the pool table. He was from Cleveland, Tennessee and a Vol fan of moderate intensity.

That year Tennessee sputtered out of the gate. They started 1-2 and were 3-3-1 headed into November. I started pulling for them to make a bowl game, and they did (though they lost it). I adopted them to some degree that fall, and kept them for a long time.

I can remember seeing some pre-game footage of the team taking the field at Neyland Stadium to warm up. They ran out, and Johnny Majors followed, walking, all by himself, as cool as a bottle of Absolut that’s been in the freezer all week. I want to say he had a hand in a pocket of his slacks, though my memory may have added that detail. The place just roared.

Of course I never pulled for Tennessee over Alabama, and some kid named Peyton Manning reliably made the Third Saturday in October hard to deal with for a few years. Seems he also sang “We Own Alabama” to the tune of “Sweet Home Alabama” with the student section after the final time he beat us.

Yeah, I didn’t much care for that.

And I really didn’t care for the fact that after that game, it would be another five years before we won the Tennessee game. When this guy I worked with started leaving me an orange on my keyboard the Monday after Tennessee beat Alabama, and enjoyed so much that he was able to do it year after year, I jettisoned any residual affection I had for the Volunteers.

Today, as I type, at Alabama Coach Saban is 7-0 vs. Tennessee, by an average score of Alabama 36, Tennessee 11. I fully expect him to make it 8-0 tomorrow. I’d like him to run it to 15-0 or 16-0 by the time we lose him to Lake Burton.

That will be long enough for a Tennessee freshman to have no memory at all of ever defeating Alabama.

 Posted by at 11:29 am
Oct 172014

Charles C.W. Cooke makes his 7,954th great point today: while fear of a widespread Ebola outbreak in the Unites States may be irrational, fear of government incompetence is eminently reasonable. Can these people do anything right? Quarantine? Yeah, probably a good idea unless you, you know, crave your favorite restaurant. We don’t need a travel [...]

 Posted by at 3:25 pm

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