Roll Tide and pass the Matzah

Alabama has fans ever-where y’all.

 

Shalom and Roll Tide!

Alabama 31, Clemson 35

Well, that was not what we were hoping for was it? Everybody loves “exciting” games. Not us. We love those boring 35 point blow outs when the other team is so intimidated it apologizes for getting a first down. Only “stress junkies” love “exciting games.” We  prefer a much more calm, uncomplicated, total destruction of the opponent. And that didn’t happen last night. This one was painful.

There has been some complaining about the officials letting Clemson get away with stuff (no holding calls, no offensive push offs by their receivers, and most egregiously, no call for a pick on those two Clemson TDs, no penalties on Clemson in the second half) – but. we follow the maxim of Coach Bryant: If you let a bad call beat you, that’s on you. You shouldn’t have allowed the other team to be close enough where a bad call would beat you. True. And therein lies the reason for Alabama’s loss last night.

The Champs have flirted with disaster off and on all season with a lack of concentration on the part of certain players (ahem, Cam Robinson), non-effective blocking from the offensive line, occasional personal fouls and unsportsmanlike conduct penalties – all of which were unnecessary and indicate a lack of discipline – but last night’s game, these things became lethal weapons murdering the Tide’s chance to win Natty #17. Here are some of the factors that led to a Crimson defeat:

Procedure penalties: Twice we got turnovers in Clemson territory and each time we began the series with an illegal procedure penalty – making it first and 15 – and this year, that has been a killer for this offense. So, the result was 3 points instead of 6 or 10 or 14. If we get a TD out of one of those, we win.

Terrible 3rd down efficiency: The Tide was a horrible 2 of 15 on converting 3rd downs. This proved to be critical since it meant more work for the defense.

Dropped passes: Critical drops of passes that were on target and catchable and would have given Bama much needed first downs. And that while the Clemson receivers were making circus catches of passes that were not well-thrown and when the Bama D-back had pretty good coverage.

All these failures meant that the defense had to be on the field for 99 plays. Ninety-nine. 80 plays is considered to be a lot of plays for an offense to run. Clemson ran 99. If the Tide could have held them to 5 fewer plays, they would have won the game. The defense played about as well as it could. Don’t look at DeShaun Watson’s numbers, watch the game. The defense played very well, until it ran out of gas. Once again, the offense was inconsistent and going an entire 3rd quarter without a first down, spelled doom in the fourth quarter for the defense. Just two more minutes of ball possession by the offense would have meant a victory.

Every game comes down to little things and a few critical plays which determine the outcome. That was true in this game as well. And in nearly every case – Clemson made the plays it needed to make while the Tide failed. So, all this adds up to a loss. A very tough and hard to swallow loss.

But you know what? This season was NOT a failure. We would not have been surprised if this team had lost 2 or 3 games. They went 14-1. Falling one second short of your 5th National Championship in 8 years – ain’t bad. Clemson played very well. Good for them. But, here’s the difference between us and them – we’ll be back. And we may be even better next year than we were this year.

So, don’t lose heart boys and girls. No mourning allowed. Rather, rejoice that we, as Alabama fans, get to look forward to every season – instead of one season every 5, 10, or 20 years. It’s great to be an Alabama fan. Enjoy it. Give thanks. Be happy.

And remember – we start the 2017 season rat now. The chase for number 17 begins anew. Number 17 in 2017. Got a nice ring to it.

RTR!

College Football Championship prediction: Alabama vs. Clemson

Ok, well, let’s just get down to the hambone on this one: IF Alabama plays like they played against Washington and IF Clemson plays like they played against Ohio State, Clemson will win this game by at least 2 touchdowns. Yep. It would be very bad, extremely unhappy. And even if the Champs play better than they played last Saturday, the matchups are not all that favorable. Clemson has the best chance of handing the Tide their first loss of the season than any opponent they’ve faced so far.

Defensively the Tigers are strong, quick, and aggressive. They will be one of the best defenses the Tide has faced this year (and w’re not forgetting LSU’s performance back in November). They are strong. But we’ll give the nod to the Champs when it comes to defense – even though the things that Deshaun Watson does with the Clemson offense are the very things that have given the Bama defense a serious case of the screaming willies throughout the year. But, defense is not our worry – we’re confident they’ll do an adequate job.

Can’t say the same for the offense, however. Inconsistent is about the best thing you can say regarding the offensive performance of the Tide this year – and over the last few games, it might have gotten a bit worse. In any case, it’s not nearly as good as what the Orange and Purple (horrible colors) have had – even in their low points during the year. So, the offensive edge has to go to Clemson – and it’s not really that close.

And, as if we didn’t have enough concerns about the offense, the Sabanator then goes and arranges for a private jet to fly Lane Kiffin down to South Florida so that he can start his duties as head coach of Florida Atlantic – and gives the keys to the offense to Steve “Booger-man” Sarkisian – who hasn’t had the responsibility of calling plays for a team in a decade. No pressure or anything, Sark, but we’re playing for a national championship here.

Special teams look to be about even. Clemson has a little better field goal percentage, Alabama has a bit better punting average – we’ll call this a wash. No obvious advantage for either team.

The psychological edge probably goes to Clemson. These boys have been pointing toward this game all year. They are not intimidated by the Champs and are very confident that they can win. They are looking for revenge and 99.9% of the country will be pulling for them to win (Clemson has NEVER had this many fans in their history). The Tide by contrast probably comes into this one with some small, vaporous doubts. Not only because of their recent performances but also because of the Sark X-factor – nobody is quite sure what to expect offensively. We have to give the edge to the Tigers when it comes to those bothersome “intangibles.”

So, where does this leave us? It leaves us where we’ve been left quite a few times this season – it’s all going to come down to which defense can shut down the opponent’s offense, who makes the most mistakes, and who gives up the most turnovers. This is clearly going to be the toughest test for the Tide so far –  another steel cage death match. If somehow, the offense is able to move the ball with any consistency and score – the Tide will be taking home National Championship #17 by around 10:35 Monday night. If, however, for some reason, the offense can’t get untracked, this could be a difficult and long evening for the good guys.

So what’s the verdict? Well, in spite of all that’s gone on and in spite of all the potential traps that have been (and still are) in the path – we’re going to go with the Champs to play like Champs on Monday night. It’s been a long and difficult journey to get to this point and we can’t jump off the S-train now. It’s not going to be easy. It’s gonna require more than a little intestinal fortitude. But we believe this team is up for the challenge.

And a 15-0 season would be simply a marvelous way to start off 2017 wouldn’t it?

Yes. It. Would.

So let’s do it guys. One more time.

For number 17.

For history.

RTR!

Alabama 24, Washington 7

Well, let’s first pause and give thanks that Bo Scarborough didn’t miss the team bus to the Georgia Dome on Saturday. Without him, the Tide would have had a much longer and much more tense afternoon and early evening. But with him, they were able to do something that Lane Kiffen has a hard time appreciating – run the ball.

Of course, the defense did more than its share. Getting a fumble in the first quarter which allowed Alabama to to take their first lead of the game (10-7) at the beginning of the 2nd quarter. And then added to this with Ryan Anderson’s marvelous pick-six with little over a minute left in the first half (making the score 17-7).

But the offense was difficult to watch – and if it hadn’t been for Bo, it might have been a total nightmare. Jalen Hurts had a hard time finding open receivers and when he did find them, he was often late getting the ball to them (again). The Huskies’ defense played well and keep a good deal of pressure on Jalen which made it tough for him the whole game (50 yards passing, 57 running). The only real success on offense came with he handed the ball to Bo. And that was pretty magnificent (19 carries, 180 yards, averaging 9.5 yds. per carry, and 2 TDs).

All which should give Tide fans pause as they consider the Championship game coming up next Monday night. Clemson has even more strengths than Washington. They have a better quarterback, a more balanced offense, and sound and salty defense, and strong special teams – and they put them all on display in their 31-0 dismantling of the Urban Cowboys later on Saturday evening. They were scary-good – and that brings us to another reason to give thanks. We’re thankful we weren’t playing them this past Saturday.

We need time to prepare and get better before next Monday in Tampa. If the Tide plays like it did against the Huskies, we’ll have to postpone number 17 till next year.

But as Coach Saban says, one game at a time. We won – and, as we said last week, style points don’t matter (and that’s a very good thing). Now we get to go for another Natty – and you can’t beat that.

RTR!

College Football Playoff prediction: Alabama vs. Washington

Quite a few Alabama fans are looking past this game speculating on who the Tide will play in the championship game. Big mistake. The Tide is a big favorite but once again they face a solid team with some gifted, future NFL players at particular positions which could cause a good deal of heartburn.

This is especially the case with the Huskies’ QB Jake Browning. He’s only a sophomore, but has started every game for the Sled Dogs since arriving on campus. And his leadership has made the UDub offense something to take notice of: averaging 477 yards and 45 points per game. Browning leads the nation with 43 passing TDs for the year and, most distressingly, is accurate with downfield passes (which have caused the Tide defense some very bad moments this season). Browning is capable of stressing the defense, and if the Tide rush can’t make him hurry his passes, trouble could be waiting to happen – so, there’s that.

But there is more – the Huskies’ defense is more than respectable. Though it’s really hard to know how good they are – just how good is the rest of the PAC 12? They’re ranked tenth in the nation and held Stanford to 6 points – but can we draw any conclusions from this? Not really. Truth is, the Tide offense has been facing the best defense all season (in practice) so it’s hard to think that they will have a more difficult time against the Huskies. If Jalen Hurts doesn’t make catastrophic mistakes, the Tide should be ok offensively.

But what is more significant than all this (in Washington’s favor) is this one fact: The Huskies have spent the last 3 and a half weeks listening to all the “experts” declare that they don’t have a chance against the Tide. If there’s one thing that can make a good team better it’s being told that they don’t have a chance against an opponent. The only encouraging thing about this is that it seems to happen week with Alabama’s opponents. All of them come into the game ready to prove to the world that they can beat the Champs. It’s isn’t easy and it ain’t fun, but it is reality – and at least Bama’s used to it.

We like the defense (as usual) and are concerned a bit about how the offense is going to do (as usual) – we’re praying this game doesn’t come down to field goals because Adam Griffith has withdrawn all confidence from our bank account and we’re praying it doesn’t come down to trusting his foot to win the game.

So, can Washington win this game? Yes they can. Will they? No.

The Huskies will not win – not because they can’t – but because the Tide defense will not allow it. If the offense can score and hold on to the ball (no turnovers) and if the defense can keep from giving up easy points – this game will go about like everyone expects it to go. We don’t think it’s going to be as easy as everyone else seems to think, but in the end, that’s ok. The Champs going for their fifth Natty in 8 years – so just win this one guys. We’ll worry about style-points later.

Final Judgment: Bama wins and heads to Tampa for the Championship game on January 9.

RTR!

 

SEC Bowl predictions

Well, for an “off” season, having 12 teams make it to bowl games, is pretty good, I’d say. Unfortunately, we’re not as optimistic as we’d like to be this bowl season about the SEC’s chances. We’d love for them to go 12-0 but we’ll be happy to go 9-3 (and if we can pick up one or two other wins, we’d be as ecstatic as Bill Clinton without a Secret Service escort). The bowls for the SEC teams don’t begin until the Monday after Christmas so we have to be patient – but here’s what gone happen:

December 26

The St. Petersburg Bowl:
Miami (Ohio) vs. Mississippi State
Well, lookee at who’s in the St. Petersburg Bowl! The StarkVegas Boys are going to the beach for Christmas! And congratulations to Dan Mullen and the gang! Puts a whole new light on why it’s fun to beat Ole Miss don’t it? And, for their reward, the Gang gets to play the Miami of Ohio RedHawks who became bowl eligible for the first time in 6 years with their exciting one-point victory over Ball State in their last game. It wasn’t for the Egg Bowl, but hey, when you start out 0-6, it ain’t bad to go to the beach at the end, so they’ll take it. And the Bullies ought to be pretty excited as well. They had a rough year – remember that terrible first game against South Alabama – but, it’s never a bad year when they end it with a victory in Oxford (especially when it was a victory which knocked the Rebel Black Bears out of a bowl). The Bullies are excited and they should be. And we think the Cowbell gang will take home a Florida bowl game trophy.

The Independence Bowl:
North Carolina State vs. Vanderbilt

Who said Bowl season would be boring? How can it be with the Cowbell Gang, the Mildcats and the Commydoors involved??? Son, this is whatchoo call fun! Vandy getting to take an all-expense-paid trip to Shreveport! What’s not fun about going to the casinos and losing all your per diem money? Shoot, that’s got “Christmas” written all over it, don’t it? Vandy’s riding high after their dismantling of the Orange Candy Circus Peanuts in their last game of the year. We hear that Coach Derek ain’t stopped dancing yet! But they’ll have their work cut out for them in this one. The Wolfpack not only defeated their rivals (the Tar Heels) but almost (and should’ve) beaten Playoff participant, Clemson, when they missed a chip shot field goal at the end of regulation. The Pack’s got a pretty good team. We wish we could see Vandy pulling this one out but we’re afraid that the Wolves are going to be too much for the Doors. The Pack wins.

December 28

The Texas Bowl:  Texas A&M vs. Kansas State
This is a tough game to pick. First you have the A&Mers who started hot (going 6-0) and finished colder than a bowling ball in northern Alaska in February (going 2-4, with losses to the Black Bears and the Cowbell Gang before being smashed by Coach Eaux’s Tigahs). Then you got the Wildcats who started so-so (going 3-3) and finished hotter than volcano lava (going 5-1, of course, they’re played the worst of the Big 12 so that had something to do with it). Can the A&Mers put it together one last time or are they just ready quit for winter break? We think they might just be able to pull out a victory here – and, if their defense can tackle somebody, they might win by a couple of TDs. We’ll go with the Ags and hope for the best.

December 29

The Birmingham Bowl:
South Florida vs. South Carolina
The Lamecocks come limping into this bowl game after being absolutely mauled by the #2 Clemson Tigers in their last regular season game. And, they’re facing a team that has won 7 out of their last 8 games. But that may not be much of an indicator either since the Bulls are in the American Athletic Conference and their biggest win all year was a 7-point victory over Navy (not to mention the fact that they lost their coach to Duck Town). The Game Chickens need to win this one, but count us skeptical. How long does it take to recover from a alley whoopin? Can they play without turning the ball over? Will Coach Mustbecrazy be able to survive another bad performance by his team without having a stroke? We’re sorry to say that we’re not sure. So, reluctantly, we’ll go with the Bulls and hope that we’re wrong.

The Belk Bowl:
Arkansas vs. Virginia Tech
Big Brett is looking to feast on some Hokie for the day before the day before the day before New Year’s Eve and he just might be able to find it here at the annual Southern Department Store Bowl. Both teams come into this game with painful disappointments in their recent past (Tech’s loss to Clemson and the Hawgs’ terribly embarrassing loss to Mizzou). Both would love to wash the bad taste of defeat out of their mouths. The big questions are: Can the Pigs stop the Hokies long enough for Austin Allen to get his team a lead? Can the Pig offense score on the VTech defense? Can they keep from making turnovers? We don’t know, but we gone pretend that we do and pick the Razor Pigs in a close one. Coach All-You-can-eat-Buffet says that Hokie tastes like chicken – and that’s good enough for us. Hawgs win.

December 30

The Liberty Bowl:
Georgia vs. TCU
The G-Dawgs also come into their bowl game fresh off a loss to a state rival (Georgia Tech) and they ain’t happy. And it may be that the Horned Frogs – who got curb stomped by K-State in their last game – will be just the ticket to get everbody to looking and feeling good again. TCU lost 4 of their last 6 and are clearly one of the worst teams in the Big 12 – and that’s saying something. So, maybe everything is aligned for Kirby Smart to finish the season on a high note. And that’s the story we’re gonna believe. So, Dawgs win and get to finish with their customary mediocre 8-5 record.

The Music City Bowl:
Nebraska vs. Tennessee
The Cornshuckers are another team that started BIG (going 7-0) and finished little (losing 3 of their last 5). They’re almost as disappointed as the Little Orange Circus Peanuts who started out 5-0 only to finish losing 4 of their last 7 (including losses to the Lamecocks and Vandy). Coach Anger Management nearly blew out all the circuits in his brain over the last half of the year. But now, both teams have the opportunity to finish out on a positive note. This game looks like a toss-up from our upper level corner endzone seats – and we don’t really have a feel for who can pull this one out. We’ll go with the Orange Circus Peanut team just because they ought to win this one. Which means they’ll prolly lose (and if they do, that’s what we get for having even the smallest confidence in them).

December 31

The Citrus Bowl:
LSU vs. Louisville
Ok, so this brings us to New Year’s Rockin Eve and we got us some pretty good games (in addition to College Football Playoff Semi-Finals). We start it all off in Orlando where Coach Eaux’s boys face off against the birds led by Coach “Easy Rider” Petrino. Nobody had as disappointing a finish as did the Birds – losing to Houston and the Mildcats and being knocked out of any shot at the College Football Playoff (apparently, they didn’t have somebody from the opponents tipping them off to the play calls – where is that guy from Wake Forest when you need him?). The Tigahs, on the other hand finished out pretty strong, beating the Aggies like they were trying to pay them back for kissing their girlfriend. There are few things that would bring more joy to us during this bowl season than being able to watch the reaction of Easy Rider Petrino as he gets out-coached by the Cajun Flash. That would be most mahvalous – so we wish it, so it will be. LSU wins!

The Taxslayer Bowl:
Georgia Tech vs. Kentucky
Once again, we award this bowl with our favorite bowl name of the entire year – and continue to await the Taxslayer to come and slay us some taxes! C’mon y’all! Kill the taxes! Show no mercy, take no prisoners! Ok, on to the game: Both of these teams finished strong. The YallaJackets won 5 out of their last 6 (including wins over Virginia Tech and Georgia) and the Mildcats won 5 of their last 7 (with their biggest win of the year coming against the Louisville Cards in the last game of the regular season). So, both have a reason to want a victory in Jacksonville on New Year’s Eve. This seems like a pretty even matchup and in that case, y’all should always go with the SEC team – cause it just means more here. Mildcats get another big win.

January 2

The Outback Bowl:
Florida vs. Iowa
Here we have two teams going in opposite directions. The Hawkeyes come into this game riding a 3-game winning streak (with victories over Michigan and Nebraska) while the Gaytors come in sliding down a 2-game losing streak (and both losses were on a nuclear level – to FSU and Alabama). This would be a very nice win for a couple of reasons: 1) it would keep the Swamp Things from feeling so bad about themselves (which is, by far, the lesser of the two reasons) and 2) it would give some cred to the SEC that some seem to think we’ve lost over the course of this season. It’s a tough call but we’re going to go with Coach Mac and his motivational and game planning skills to put the Gaytors in position to win this game. And we think they will!

The Allstate Sugar Bowl:
Auburn vs. Oklahoma
Welcome to the “We-Don’t-Really-Like-Our-Coaches-But-They’re-the-Best-We-Can-Get-At-the-Moment” Bowl (probably more true down at the Barn than in Norman, but still). Despite stumbling to the regular season finish line (losing 2 out of their last 3) the Wargles still finished as the second highest rated SEC team – and soooooo, they got the free trip to Sin City. Domestic Violence U on the other hand, after losing 2 of their first 3 games, reeled off 9 wins in a row – to win the Big 12 Championship and come in hotter than a shipbuilder’s blow torch. This looks like a bad mismatch to us. The Barners are probably going to have to play their best game of the year just to keep this one close. Unless the Okies collapse and give up 5 or 6 turnovers, we don’t see how they can possibly lose. So, we’re going with the Sooners and hope it won’t be as bad as we fear it will be.

So, that’s that for the bowls – looks sorta bleak for the good guys but maybe everbody can play better than we anticipate and the SEC can win a couple more of these. We’ll have our prediction for the Alabama part of the College Football Playoff in a couple of days – so don’t lose heart, if your team can’t quite end the season like you want em to. The Tide is here to lift up all the rest of the SEC boats – and they will.

RTR!

A day to remember and celebrate

This is a great, great day in the history of Alabama football. A day that every Alabama fan should mark with ice cream, cake, and fireworks. On this day, exactly ten years ago, Rich Rodriguez decided to reject the offer to become the head football coach at the University of Alabama and remain at West Virginia.

One month later, Nick Saban accepted the offer.

Hallelujah!

[Read all about it here.]