Archives for posts with tag: Crimson Tide

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\For all of the hype surrounding the clash of top five teams, didn’t Alabama-LSU feel a little underwhelming?  Yes, the Crimson Tide led by only 16 at the half and quarterback Tua Tagovialoa actually threw an interception for the first time all season-but the 29-0 shutout had the strange feel of a pre-determined outcome.  I’m not saying the Tide were toying with the Tigers at any time last night, but even the interception had the feel of a punt intended to pin LSU inside their own five.  In my mind’s eye I kept on seeing the cat I had as a child toying with a doomed mouse.  And this is the toughest competition in the SEC?  Thank goodness Georgia beat Kentucky yesterday to win the East, or we’d have to hide our eyes while the SEC Championship Game took place.  While Alabama still has Mississippi State and Auburn on their slate, coach Nick Saban’s team appears to be on its way to another appearance in the College Football Playoff.  The fall foliage is definitely filled with Crimson again this autumn.

Alma Mater Update- the Orange improve to 7-2, their best start since 2001.  The #13 ranking is their highest since 1998 when Donovan McNabb was quarterbacking SU to glory.  I want to call this a “soft 13”–as massive upsets last weekend created a serious vacuum.  But I’m going to enjoy this ridiculous ride as long as it lasts.  Bring on Louisville…

 

Maryland (5-4, 3-3 Big Ten) wrapped up a whirlwind week where their coach was reinstated and then fired by falling at home to Michigan State 24-3.  The Terps had a chance in the second half with consecutive possessions on the Spartans’ side of the field, only to come up empty.  How bad was the bouncing ball?  Michigan State recovered two fumbles in the end zone:  one of theirs for a touchdown and one of the Terps on an interception return that became a Spartans touchback.  Incidentally, they’d score the backbreaking touchdown on the very next play.  Terrapin Triumphs:  The defense tallied a pair of takeaways while Tre Watson’s 13 tackles paced the team.  Wade Lees averaged 45 yards per punt…and he had plenty of practice with a season-high eight kicks.

Terrapin Troubles: the offense went three-and-out the first three times they had the ball, and converted 3-of-15 third downs on the afternoon.  Kasim Hill was held to 8-of-21 passing for 74 yards while getting sacked four times.  Next:  Saturday at 4-5 Indiana (noon kickoff) in what will likely be the Terps’ best chance to become bowl eligible (they face Ohio State and Penn State to close the year).

 

Virginia (6-3, 4-2 ACC) lost control of the Coastal Division race on a rainy Friday night in Charlottesville…as Pitt emerged atop the three team scrum thanks to their 23-13 victory at Scott Stadium.  I’m sure announcers will say that “the Panthers control their own destiny”;  and while Pitt does control its road to the ACC Championship Game (win out and they take the Division) they do not control their own destiny.  Nobody controls their own destiny–that’s why it’s called “destiny”.  Cavalier Congrats:  Bryce Perkins completed 17 of 24 passes for 205 yards and UVa’s lone touchdown.  Joey Blount led the defense with 11 tackles.  Lester Coleman averaged 44.8 yards per punt.  Cavalier Concerns:  Perkins had issues staying upright all evening, getting sacked five times.  The defense held Qadree Ollison in check (24 yards rushing) but had no answers for senior Darrin Hall, who rumbled for 229 yards on 19 carries.   Ten penalties for 80 yards didn’t do the Cavs any favors.  Next:  Saturday at 3 p.m. vs. 4-4 Liberty in the final home game of the year.

 

Navy (2-7, 1-4 AAC) saw its skid reach six games–and unlike the other five losses this was a cradle to grave blowout.  While the 42-0 defeat at Cincinnati was the fourth time the Mids allowed 40+ points this fall, it’s the first time they’ve been shut out since October of 2012.  Midshipman Medals:  Not a lot to highlight on one long afternoon by the Ohio River.  Hudson Sullivan notches 10 tackles to pace an overmatched defense.  Midshipman Miscues:  Zach Abey was held to 37 yards rushing on 28 carries and the offense converted just 3-of-13 third downs.  Cincinnati reached the endzone the first five times they had the football.  Next:  Saturday at #12 UCF (noon kickoff).  The Knights are unbeaten.

 

Virginia Tech (4-4, 3-2 ACC) saw it’s season take another unfortunate turn in a 31-21 loss to Boston College.  While the Hokies can still capture the Coastal Division with three straight victories, they haven’t won three in a row all season.  Meanwhile, they’re still two wins away from reaching bowl eligibility.  It could be a long winter in Blacksburg.  Hokie Highlights: Ryan Willis threw for 281 yards and three touchdowns while also leading the team with 49 yards rushing.  Rico Kearney paced the defense with 18 tackles.  Oscar Bradburn averaged 45 yards per punt.  Hokie Humblings: a tale of two halves saw the offense generate three straight 3-and-outs to start the second half (their fourth possession was an interception);  the defense that allowed seven first half points coughed up 24 after intermission.  Next:  Saturday at 3:30 p.m. against 5-4 (but 4-1 in the ACC) Pitt.

PORTIONS PREVIOUSLY APPEARING ON WTOP.COM…

Some Saturdays everything goes by the script…but every so often the dominoes fall in such a manner that the National Championship picture has to be completely redrawn.  When it happens in September there are shrugs because it’s still early and perhaps a team or two was over-valued.  When it occurs in November it’s seismic.  This past weekend the 2nd, 3rd and 4th ranked teams all fell…two to last-second field goals and two at home.  As fate would have it, the last time that this trifecta occurred it was 1985 and then-#2 Michigan with quarterback Jim Harbaugh fell at Iowa on a last-second field goal.  This year’s Wolverines appeared to have the game won thanks to a late interception, only to go three and out and give the Hawkeyes one more chance.  Perhaps  Harbaugh wishes he could have used some of the 59 points put on the board last week against Maryland in their 14-13 loss.  Clemson after prevailing previously in five one-possession games saw their luck run out as the Panthers win with a kick at the gun in a 43-42 shocker.  Washington saw sophomore Jake Browning throw two interceptions after being picked off a total of three times the previous eight games in a 26-13 loss to #20 USC.  Still unbeaten?  Alabama and-wait for it-Western Michigan.  With three weeks remaining before the playoff field is set…just enough chaos has been added to the recipe.

 

Alma Mater Update- so much for the hope of hanging a Pinstripe Bowl banner at the Carrier Dome.  Saturday’s loss to NC State means the Orange will have to beat both Florida State and Pitt in order to qualify for a bowl.  Hopefully coach Dino Babers is able to establish a firm foundation this fall…and get a program that was wandering after Doug Marrone simply up and left four years ago.  Eric Dungey remains a question mark for the game with the Seminoles…

 

Maryland (5-5, 2-5 Big Ten) continued its November Nightmare with a 62-3 loss to #6 Ohio State.  It was evident from the first five minutes of this game that the Buckeyes were not just on a different planet but different solar system.

Terrapin Triumphs:  Teldrick Morgan tallied 7 catches.  Darnell Savage led the bludgeoned and battered defense with 10 tackles.  Adam Greene made his only field goal attempt.

Terrapin Troubles: the offense converted just 1-of-15 third downs…as they were held to zero net yards or less on six of their first eight possessions.  The defense allowed Ohio State to score swiftly (three of OSU’s eight touchdown drives needed just four plays to reach the endzone).  And what was the deal with the all-red Swedish fish uniforms?  Can we blame the red on red on red on red (helmets-jerseys-pants-shoes)?

Next: 12 noon Saturday at #19 Nebraska (8-2, 5-2).  Please don’t wear all-red in Lincoln.

 

Virginia Tech (7-3, 5-2) missed a chance to wrap up its first Coastal Division title in five years…starting slow in a 30-20 loss to Georgia Tech.  They can still advance to the ACC Championship Game with a season-ending victory over Virginia.  Along those lines, the Hokies have beaten the Cavaliers every year since they joined the conference…not that anyone in Blacksburg or Charlottesville notices.

Hokie Highlights:  Jerod Evans threw for 316 yards and a touchdown…while running for two more scores.  Cam Phillips provided the security blanket with 10 catches. Andrew Motuapuaka led the defense with 14 tackles and a sack…while the D held the Yellowjackets to 4-of-14 on third down.

Hokie Humblings:  A turnover filled day began when they fumbled the opening kickoff- and Georgia Tech would score 17 points off Virginia Tech turnovers.  The Yellowjackets also blocked a Joey Slye field goal attempt.  The offensive line allowed five sacks…and didn’t get in gear until they trailed 30-7.

Next: 3:30 p.m. Saturday at Notre Dame (4-6).

 

Virginia (2-8, 1-5) was in position to celebrate Senior Day in Charlottesville, locked in a one-possession game at the half with Miami.  Unfortunately, the Cavaliers came up short 34-14 to clinch a losing ACC record for the fifth straight year.

Cavalier Congrats:  Taquan Mizzell rushes for 89 yards and a touchdown while catching three passes.  Micah Kiser notches 12 tackles with an interception.  Credit the offense for converting the short field into a TD…and Kurt Benkert directed a 14 play, 73 yard drive late in the first half for another score.

Cavalier Concerns:  The offense went south in the second half…converting just 2 of 7 third downs while losing two fumbles.  Five sacks allowed on the day did not help QB Kurt Benkert in the slightest. The defense coughed up 5.3 yards per carry.  Ten penalties for 110 yards?  You try winning when you’re giving up an entire football field.

Next: 12 noon Saturday at Georgia Tech (6-4, 3-4).

 

Navy (7-2, 5-1 AAC) once again played in the most exciting game of the day…holding off Tulsa 42-40 to cement its hold on the AAC West lead.  Barring a collapse, the Mids will play in the AAC Championship Game the week before they face Army at M&T Bank Stadium.

Midshipmen Medals:  Will Worth proves his again…rushing for 122 yards and three touchdowns while completing 6 of 8 passes for 111 yards and another score.  All told, the Mids rolled up 390 yards on the ground.  Micah Thomas paced the defense with nine tackles.  Punter Alex Barta actually got on the field…after not being needed the previous weekend.

Midshipmen Miscues: The defense allowed 40 points at home for the second time this fall…as the Golden Hurricane converted 8 of 14 third downs and averaged 8.9 yards per play.  The fact that the Mids committed two more penalties than the most-flagged team n the conference was a bit of a surprise.

Next: 4 p.m. Saturday at East Carolina (3-7, 1-5).

 

PORTIONS PREVIOUSLY APPEARING ON WTOP.COM–

By the middle of October, there’s often a bit of a shuffle atop the college football rankings.  Usually there are arguments over which school should be number one…and every so often the writers’ rankings and coaches’ polls are split.  Not so in 2016…as Alabama is going through its schedule like a blowtorch through butter.  The Crimson Tide rank sixth in the nation in scoring (45 points per game) and allow the seventh fewest points in FBS (15 points per game).  With the exception of their 48-43 shootout against Ole Miss (and let the record show the Tide led by 18 with three minutes left), they’ve pasted all comers. Coach Nick Saban appears to have this team in position to grab the school their fifth National Title in eight years.  The last time they lost as the #1 team?  To Texas A&M with Johnny Manziel in 2012.  This week the Tide host the rested Aggies…who just happen to be unbeaten as well.  Some games are just built for Verne Lundquist & Gary Danielson at 3:30.

Alma Mater Update- how do you top a surprising victory over Virginia Tech?  By beating a Boston College team that began the eventual Big East blowup by bolting for the ACC a decade ago.  Water under the bridge?  Hey, I have friends in Texas who are still mad at Arkansas for bolting the SWC in the 90’s.  The Eagles boast wins over Wagner, UMass and Buffalo–not exactly Colgate, Connecticut and Virginia Tech.  Hold on, with the exception of the Hokies it’s almost exactly like that.  This battle to stay out of the Atlantic Division Cellar looms lightly on Saturday’s calendar.  Thank goodness they had Orange Madness last night at the Dome.

Virginia (2-4, 1-1 ACC) vs #22 North Carolina (5-2, 3-1), 3 p.m., ACC Network.  For many old-school UVa fans, the team they really consider their rival isn’t Virginia Tech or Maryland-but UNC.  To which Tar Heel fans shrug and focus on beating Duke while saying snarking things about NC State and ignoring Wake Forest.  The defending Coastal Division champs are still smarting from a home loss to Virginia Tech…while boasting a video-game like offense with Mitch Trubisky completing 70% percent of his passes and TJ Logan averaging 6.3 yards per carry.  UVa’s defense remains a work in progress, ranking 13th in the ACC against the pass, 12th against the run and 13th overall.  They’re also second to last in the league at getting off the field on third down (allowing 47% conversions), while Carolina ranks second in moving the chains (48%).  Kippy & Buffy continue their tour through Virginia reds with a Keswick Vineyards Cabernet Franc: “With a few minutes of aeration the secondary aromas of black raspberries, spices and black pepper come to the party.”  Also coming to the party?  Gorgonzola cheese on sesame Bremner Wafers.   Cavaliers come up short, 30-19.

#24 Navy (4-1, 3-0 AAC) vs Memphis (5-1, 2-0), 3:30 p.m., CBS Sports Network.  One of the byproducts of Hurricane Matthew’s aftermath was the moving of Navy’s game with East Carolina from Thursday October 13th to November 19th.  After their upset of #6 Houston, the Mids probably needed a week to decompress.  So far this fall each of their three league wins have come by a touchdown or less.  The Tigers under first-year coach Mike Norvell have picked up where Justin Fuente left off…and many forget they were 8-0 and ranked #13 when Navy knocked them off last year.  I’m sure Memphis hasn’t forgotten…but they also haven’t forgotten how frustrating attempting to stop the triple-option is.  Midshipmen make it happen, 27-24.

 

Maryland (4-2, 1-2 Big Ten) vs Michigan State (2-4, 0-3), 7:30 p.m., Big Ten Network.  Hold on…the Terps are the 4-2 team while the Spartans are the 2-4 unit that’s dropped four straight?   Michigan State was ranked as high as #8 before crashing against Wisconsin…and comes to College Park fresh off coughing up 50 points to Northwestern.  Yes, Northwestern.  A lot rides on the shoulder of quarterback Perry Hills.  Even with the fifth-year senior in the lineup this isn’t the best passing game.  Without him, the Terps have scored 10 points in the last six quarters.  Defensively, William Likely is now out for the rest of the season with a torn ACL;  something a shorthanded secondary can ill-afford against Tyler O’Connor and the Big Ten’s third-best passing game.  O’Connor is not to be confused with the team’s previous quarterback Connor Cook…although part of me is hoping that Mark Dantonio is recruiting a kid named Cook O’Tyler to take his place.  Terrapins tumble, 21-17.

Howard loses to North Carolina A & T, Georgetown falls at Fordham, Richmond beats Elon, Towson tumbles at New Hampshire, Morgan State loses to North Carolina Central.

Last Week: 3-7.  Autumn technically began in September, but my fall is taking place in October.

Overall: 44-18.