Nick Saban and the Alabama Crimson Tide are no longer number one, but might they still be the best squad?
As I sit here writing this article, the Crimson Tide are no longer rising on the college football sea, and that was only one of many shockers from this crazy college football weekend. The new AP Poll is out, and apparently some voters are smoking some good stuff. Let’s analyze the fallout, shall we?
First off, I’d like to congratulate the Gamecocks (formerly No. 19) for pulling off that dominant victory against the top-seeded Crimson Tide and earning a top-10 spot. This is the first time in their school’s entire history that they’ve toppled a No. 1 seed, so for them, I guess that’s the equivalent of Jim Abbott becoming an all-time pitching great or Lance Armstrong winning seven Tour de France titles, post-cancer detection. And though South Carolina undoubtedly earned their top-10 seed, has Alabama really earned a seven-place droppage? This is where I disagree with most people.
They may have lost Saturday’s game, but let’s be honest, nine out of 10 times, Alabama beats South Carolina. Anybody who thinks otherwise is just fooling themselves. I mean, look at that Crimson Tide roster.
Running back Mark Ingram, Jr. is the 2009 Heisman Trophy winner and he runs through defenses almost as if they weren’t even there. Wide receiver Julio Jones is also one tough dude, which he displayed this weekend by fighting through a bruised knee to amass a touchdown and 118 yards. Mix these two in with their quarterback Greg McElroy (315 YDS, two TDs, zero INTs in Saturday’s loss), the 22-year-old who’s only thrown for three interceptions all season—by comparison, that’s how many INTs highly-touted Michigan QB Denard Robinson threw in his Saturday game alone(!)—and theirs is certainly a roster capable of besting some NFL teams. Heck, they’re even led by a former NFL coach in Nick Saban. So really, voters, No. 8?!
Let’s put this in perspective, shall we? ‘Bama is now ranked BEHIND such teams as No. 1 Ohio State University, No. 4 Texas Christian University and No. 7 Auburn University. I’m sorry, nothing against them personally, but who exactly has Ohio State beaten to deserve that No. 1 slot? They have arguably the easiest schedule out of anybody ranked in the Top 10 right now. Aren't we still taking "strength of schedule" into consideration?
Then, there’s TCU. Does anybody really believe that in a head-to-head contest TCU would beat Alabama? Is this the same TCU that, in Week 1, struggled against current No. 24 Ohio State, a squad that’s far inferior to Alabama’s, and hasn’t since played anybody of any worth (Tennessee Tech, Southern Methodist, Colorado State…who drew up this schedule)?
And then, there’s Auburn. I need a separate paragraph for my take on Auburn.
Seriously, is Auburn not the most overrated team this season? I mean, why the hell is Auburn even in the top 10 right now, yet alone ahead of Alabama?! Auburn barely squeaked by Mississippi State in Week 2 (17-14), needed overtime minutes to get the job done against unranked Clemson in Week 3 (27-24), nearly blew their game to unranked Kentucky in Week 6 before hitting a FG down the stretch (37-34) and also struggled against South Carolina (35-27). Does that sound like a team even remotely as good as the Crimson Tide? Does that really sound like a team that deserves a top-10 berth?
To me, it sounds like a team that’s about to get stomped into the ground by Arkansas this weekend. If they don’t, then maybe they’ll belong in the top 10, but as of right now, they certainly do not.
Now, before y’all start accusing me of being a bitter Crimson Tide fan, let me put those rumors to rest. I’m not. In fact, on a personal scale, a part of me still dislikes Alabama for beating my boys in 2009’s SEC Championship Game, although I’m man enough to admit that their team was vastly more well-rounded than ours.
Still, even as a Gator Nation member who doesn’t much care for ‘Bama, I must admit—on this one, they’ve been wronged. I knew they’d drop some spots after their loss, but I figured they’d only drop to about No. 4 or so. I never imagined they’d drop all the way behind the Auburn Tigers. And though I half expected OSU to assume the throne considering last week’s rankings, a part of me was really hoping either Oregon or Boise State would somehow surpass them. But whatever, neither of those are my battles to fight. I’ll let Tim McGraw and all the other Crimson Tidy Whities handle their business. Instead, I’ll stick to my state, how about that?
Since I’m a Gators fan, I bet everyone’s now expecting me to gripe about how we got robbed on that forward-passed ball that bounced off the ground (in other words, how LSU picked up a dead ball and turned it into a first down) on what should’ve been the end of the game and a Florida victory against LSU, right?
Despite the loss and my eventual frustration with said loss, that was a fun game to watch because it could’ve gone either way until the very end. It kept us all on our toes. After it was all said and done, I’m just happy that the NCAA voters smoked enough of that awesome stuff to keep us ranked amid the top 25 because, as bad as we’ve been playing this season, I don’t think we much deserve to be ranked among the top 25. So really, I’m just thankful to be in it.
But for anybody who didn’t watch our weekend game, let’s recap.
The Gators played like garbage. Our injured QB John Brantley couldn’t figure out how to do anything but screen passes. As a result, our offense was struggling so badly to gain yardage and make plays, that at one point I actually found myself rooting for our defense to put points up on the board for us.
And then, when it mattered most, toward the end of the game with my boys up by only three points, the defense decides THAT’s when they’re going to start stinking it up. To LSU’s credit, not a single one of my guys looked like they expected that fake FG call. C’mon, I know Les Miles is an unpredictable “Mad Hatter” and all, but even he wouldn’t give a college kid the pressure of having to hit a 54-yard FG with the entire game on the line unless he absolutely had to. How could you NOT see that coming, Florida?!
Still, the AP placing LSU at No. 9 is just weird, considering the fact that they went into our game at No. 12 and then “won” on a controversial decision against a team that looked like high schoolers out there. So had it not been for the refs, they’d have gotten beat by an inept offense led by a screen passer who was dealing with four cracked ribs and a broken thumb, does that really sound like the team that should be trailing Saban’s NFL-ready squad?
To make matters worse, all the ranking nuttiness doesn’t end there. A good four hours south of our game in “The Swamp,” was another game in Coral Gables between our two main rivals, the No. 23 Florida State Seminoles (now No. 16) and the No. 13 University of Miami Hurricanes (now unranked).
As you can expect, since the Gators were sitting a slot behind U.M. at the time, I found myself hoping the ‘Noles could pull off the upset. Not only did they, but they did so convincingly, pummeling the Canes into a 45-17 victory. The end result: FSU knocked the Hurricanes right off the new AP Poll. I knew they’d take a hit, but the new list shows that the NCAA honestly believes—and get ready to laugh—that West Virginia is BETTER than this U.M. squad. As a Florida Gators fan who absolutely loathes all things orange and green, even I must pose this question: “ARE YOU [BLEEP]IN’ KIDDING ME?!”
As a quick aside, I bumped into some U.M. fans at the shooting range Saturday morning, before any of the weekend’s games had been played, and they were all boastful, saying stuff like, “Yeah, that’s right, we’re finally back where we belong!” Now, since their Hurricanes are no longer where “they belong,” I actually find myself pitying U.M. fans, which is a rare thing for any Gators fan to do. As much as I can’t stand “The U” and their fans’ bandwagon nature, I still truly believe they belong somewhere within the top 25, especially if the Mountaineers are still part of its ranks.
I mean, even if FSU had shut them out and put 250 points in the visitor’s box score, I still wouldn’t have ranked the University of Miami below West Virginia. That team’s only loss before the FSU game was to the current No. 1. Who the heck have the so-called No. 25 team in the nation played of such value—LSU?!
My guess is that the 'Canes will be back on the list next week, but either way, from top to bottom, the new rankings are just laughable. Then again, by us playing like garbage against LSU, Alabama allowing a lesser team to beat them and the 'Canes bending over for FSU, I guess all of us have kind of joined together to force the AP and coaches' hands in producing these ridiculous top-25 lists, so I guess we’ve only got ourselves (and possibly that bong the voters are passing around) to blame.
Oh well, here’s to Boise State eventually taking the top seed away from OSU, and to us proving to FSU on Nov. 27 that, no matter how crappy we may be these days, we’re still the best team in Florida. That’s right, ‘Noles, you may be able to beat “The U,” but you’ll never beat “The Chomp.” So enjoy your reign atop the state while it lasts, because soon enough, we’ll be taking it back…no, seriously!