I guess it should be of note to offer this is a mash-up of both where I think these programs are as well as where I think they’ll finish. In this spirit, the ranking will be disciplined “where they are” yet the comments will demonstrate where I “think they’re going”. Fair enough?
1- Bama retains the lead with little effort after destroying LSU’s hopes. What can be said? Well, that could be an article unto itself. Cliff Notes: It’s my opinion Saban has not only amassed the greatest complete team ever to take the field, but that he’s leveraging that through employment of a ‘season-arching strategy’ that may be entirely not required.
…. what i’m suggesting Saban&co. are doing now- as part of their overarching strategy for the season, is: blitzkrieg early- take tempo and initial game plan away from opponents and with it establish absolute/firm control of the game (there is zero patsy’ing around with this bama team), then play a game of attrition where the objective is to keep offense safe and fresh, and at the cost of D playing softer than they can if necessary…. ~from the forum, and found @ https://www.cfb51.com/index.php?topic=6318.0
If my contention is correct, and it at least has to be ‘potentially’ as this is how Programs strategize and lay out tactics to accomplish those strategies entering a season and adjusting as required, this is just plain mean. Saban not only commands the Johnny’s and Joe’s to flat out put a whoopin’ on opponents and could rest almost easy with that alone, he’s decided to diminish any opportunity for opponents by deploying the squads in a battle rhythm that is indefensible. I’m totally sold on Michigan’s D, as a for instance, but they’ve yet to play an offense of Bama’s caliber and deployment strategies. Who, this side of Mars, would ever have thought that last statement could be taken seriously in the Saban era? Yet, this is where we’re at.
The strange part of this season’s effort is Bama could actually drop a game regular season and still waltz right in the tourney. They’d have difficulty doing so if they lost the SECCG, but….. What will happen if they clear the season and lose the SECCG? This is a question for the “13”.
2- Clemson hung 77 this weekend if you didn’t know. I think it was Madden who was quoted as saying “any team that scores over 56pts in four quarters has a good offense, regardless of the defense”. Clemson has done this three times this season. Big whoop, right? They barely got out of college station in week 2 where they arguably required zebra assistance. They ‘only’ put 38 on Georgia Southern, and man-o-man they played tight with ‘cuse, scoring only 27. It sure would look as if this team plays with fire. It would appear they play up-n-down. However, take another look at ‘when’ they play up. They play up when it matters.
The ‘cuse game in particular is of note in my opinion- all barometers prior would be thinking ‘revenge’ and a blowout was inbound- but instead we saw a game that was too close for comfort (if you’re a Tigers fan). Just like the aTm game, they stood up and pulled it off. This has everything to do with preparation and is 100% on the coaches. Playing in this fashion brings risk that is unwarranted by my reckoning, especially when they ‘could’ just go to work ala Bama, and mop up. I’d be concerned as a Clemson fan with what Coach Cut brings to Frank Howard Field two weeks from now. He has a team that doesn’t match well to begin with. It means a lot more to Duke than it does Clemson (possibly), and the possibility Clemson is looking ahead at a USCe team the following week (as well as booking reservations to both their CCG and the tourney) is real and has a funny smell to it. Clemson is, beyond reproach, at least the second best team in the nation right now, but they have mines to avoid. Strange as it may be, I’m thinking this team is the only one with opportunity to take Bama out. That sure would be something, no?
3- Michigan, anyone? Yeah, I don’t care what pollsters say, and the fact they lost to number four on my list is ignored due to it being before UM found its identity- Michigan passes the dome without hesitation. Michigan has an impressive D that has decided to go on a ‘revenge’ tour, and laid waste to a PSU team nobody underestimates. They can possibly defend against the likes of Bama, to boot, for at least three quarters. They have this garnet and silver ghost to put to rest, and they’ll play a team with a pulse in their CCG. In between those, they have tune ups between Rutgers and Indiana. Rutgers, zero chance. Indiana? They may get sneaky, but there is a lot more doubt in that postulation than there is possibility. Michigan is in if they simply play the rest of the season in the form they’ve shown over the last several weeks. They can also, according to the eye test, keep a good tempo and opportunity with Clemson and Bama in my opinion, and this is something I’m thinking not possible with teams listed from here down.
4- ND is undefeated. Somehow. COME ON!!! Ball State by EIGHT!!! Vanderbilt by FIVE!!! Pitt by FOUR!!! But… Stanford by 20. VT by 22. UM by 7. Who the hell is Touchdown Jesus? I’m not sure THEY know, much less ‘us’. NW gave them grief into the fourth and basically beat themselves with bone-headed mistakes in execution, but…. ND answered when called. Pitt led into the fourth- but… ND answered when called. Is this their calling? Are they intent to be “every man’s team” where anyone has a chance deep into the fourth? Are they the antibama? If you folks don’t mind, I will refrain from passing judgement as this has been given to the powers of “13”. That, and ND has to slip past a ‘Cuse team in two weeks, who has more faith in themselves than expected, and don’t forget the ‘next up’ of FSU… Well, check that- forget FSU. They’re as lost as a second lieutenant on a land navigation course. USCw? Oh yeah, there is a chance they drop one in LA and sulk on it all the way back to South Bend. As much as it is evident, I DO dislike the fact these guys are in fourth and holding up traffic, and though I love the game and recognize ND’s contributions over the generations playing, I just don’t believe. Yet- they have answered when called, and it is theirs to lose.
5-through-other-possibilities. Georgia owns this next spot, and rightfully so. If it wasn’t for the Irish road block ahead of them they’d be obvious. However, even though they’ve sealed the East, they have an elephant in the path to negotiate. In my humble opinion, there are three teams that can play with Bama and make it interesting, and Georgia is one. Michigan and Clemson are the other two. Listen to this next bit close so as not to misunderstand: UGA won’t tourney if they lose to Bama without a LOT of help. However, let’s pull a Wayne’s World and pretend they beat the Tide. Got it? Here: how much more interesting is the tourney in this shape? ALL the teams have a chance, and ALL the teams remaining have fascinating match-ups with each other. It would be almost MORE interesting if UGA DID pull off the upset of the season when they meet Bama (so long as the “13” boot Bama from the tourney as a result). Though the tourney clarifies with an obvious Bama win in the SECCG, and of course taking for granted both UGA and Bama aren’t tarnished before they get there, a UGA loss keeps them out, period. It opens the hatch for teams not dissimilar from last week’s report- Wazu, Oklahoma, WVU, possibly a one loss ND returns to contention… It could be wild from five down, but to the discipline of this listing, it just won’t matter.