Nick Saban’s Alabama Crimson Tide is indeed a brand, as I wrote in this space last week. And that select section committee is thus inclined to give the Houndstoothers the benefit of the doubt, which it did last week by placing them in the Final Four despite a home L to Ole Miss. But that the Tide is also, despite that inexplicable lapse against the Johnny Rebs, a formidable outfit more often than not.
I should have learned never to doubt the Bama, if the stakes are high. Though the pigskin power does slip up on occasion, as in last year’s semis against THE Ohio State U..
So, yeah, I picked LSU to win in Tuscaloosa, which was a boneheaded play, and wrong.
But I did run the rest of the table. Clemson, Okie State, UGa and the Cards all prevailed.
The 4-1 weekend makes me 13-2 over the last three weekends, and 32-18 on the year.
I’d say I’ve rounded into midseason form. I am beyond bowl eligible.
This week’s picks:
Memphis State @ Houston. The glamour of this affair is certainly tarnished. The Tigers, previously undefeated, fell at home last time out to the surprising Midshipmen from Annapolis. By 25 no less. The L, for all practical purposes, puts the quietus on any Final Four hopes Justin Fuente’s charges might have had, wishful thinking as those musings were. There are two things about the Naval Academy that continually make me wonder. One, how come this military school has become so dominant over its arch rivals at West Point? And, how many scribes can spell coach Ken Niumatalolo’s name without looking it up? Nobody has trouble typing out the moniker of Houston’s first year mentor, Tom Herman. His Cougars are 9-0, the surprise team in the land. (Unless that’s Temple, the school it will meet in the league title match, should they both win out.) I was impressed by the Cougars, when they came into Papa J’s and slipped away with a W over the Cardinals. I remains so. Houston, we have lift off.
Oklahoma @ Baylor. The Big 12 shakedown commenced last weekend, when strong and steady Oklahoma State kicked some Horned Frog butt. (As predicted here.) What’s going to be fascinating is whether any of the contenders prevail enough to grab the attention of the Final Four decision makers? Or, shall they all prove to be win some, lose some pretenders instead. Those Pokes still have Baylor and the Sooners to face. Baylor still has TCU and feisty Texas after this weekend’s prove or lose it. Oklahoma has to battle TCU also. So, you know, it’s a legit round robin; frankly, a far more accurate measure of who is the fairest of them all than an ersatz division vs. division title match. Bob Stoops Boomer Sooner stagecoach always seems to blow a wheel this time of the year. Baylor blasts ahead.
Miami (Fla) @ North Carolina. In case you haven’t noticed, Clemson is not the only ACC school without a blemish in league play. After a couple of mediocre seasons, Larry Fedora seems to have his baby blue Tar Heels on the right track. Their only L of the campaign was that season opener against the Gamecocks, back when The Ol’ Ball Coach was still The Ol’ Ball Coach, not the guy sittin’ by the first tee at Augusta National, wondering if any group needs a fourth? Since then, Carolina has been as stalwart on both sides of the ball, as its administration has been in holding off the NCAA death penalty for academic fraud. The Canes are a squad in waiting for its next permanent head coach, probably Mario Cristobal. But they are 2-0 since interim coach Larry Scott took over from Al “Not So” Golden. Carolina appears on a championship contest collision course with Clemson, and shall not be bothered by the tropical storm from Coral Gables.
Kentucky @ Vanderbilt. Derek Mason’s mostly hapless Commodores looked righteous last weekend when the heavily favored Florida Gators had the ball. Vandy’s D is only giving up 17+ ppg. But only scoring a smidge over 16 ppg itself. Which is why the West Enders from NashVegas are 3-6 (1-4) on the year. But nothing brings the fresh smell of possible success into a school’s locker room like a visit from Kentucky in November. Bob Stoops only post-Halloween Ws at UK are Samford and Alabama State, which institutions of higher learning are not to be confused on the gridiron with Stanford and Alabama. Or, most of the time anyway, with Vanderbilt. I’d love to think the Cats could pull this off, that this season isn’t deja vu all over again, that Kentucky can rally. I don’t think Vandy’s very good. It doesn’t have to be. ‘Dores.
Virginia @ Louisville. It is a rarity in college football that a school will improve when it’s forced to play its third team QB. But, here it’s happened two seasons in a row. Last year with national champ Ohio State. This year with no chance to be national champion Louisville. While I feel for Reggie Bonnafon and Lamar Jackson, and hope the heal quickly and fully from their injuries, the Kyle Bolin Cardinals have proven significantly better with the ball in their absence. Louisville’s Rummie of the Week schedule continues with a visit from the Cavaliers, whose coach Mike London should consider spending as much time finding a moving company as he does in the film room. This Saturday’s W will make the Cards — Praise the Lord, and pass the Beef O’Brady’s menu please — bowl eligible. A good thing, since road games against Pitt and UK to end the season will be significantly more challenging than the last few weeks.
— Seedy K