USC vs. Alabama: Preview and Historical Analysis

In what likely is the marquee matchup of the 2016 college football season’s opening week, no. 20 USC and #1 Alabama will face off in Jerryworld. The game is tomorrow at 8:00 on ABC. Southern Cal is searching for a post-Hollywood identity, while Alabama has yet to identify its starting quarterback.

For further analysis, this historical footage of the two schools’ 1980 tilt should prove illuminating:

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Tuesday Afternoon Inside Linebacker

fairleyALDLAND’s weekly football roundup is back, taking a look at all the highs and lows of the latest round of football action.

College Football

Pregame:

  • In anticipation of the LSU-UGA game, a secret-recipe cheesy bean dip was made. So much was made, in fact, that it lasted much longer than the game, although not quite as long as Georgia coach Mark Richt spent kissing his wife following a win over Kentucky.

The games:

  • LSU-Georgia was a thriller. Georgia continues to lose important players to injury, but it doesn’t seem to slow them down. This week, star running back Todd Gurley sprained his ankle in the second quarter, but backup Keith Marshall filled in and had a career day. In the end, the Dwags outgunned the Tigers 44-41 and are in the driver’s seat on the road to the SEC championship game in Atlanta.
  • I also thought Ole Miss-Alabama would be a good game, but it was not. The Rebels limited Alabama’s scoring early, but they were unable to do any scoring of their own, which is an easy-bake recipe for a loss. Ole Miss 0, Alabama 25.     Continue reading

Tuesday Afternoon Inside Linebacker

tail3ALDLAND’s weekly football review returns after an infamous fall wedding weekend. Bear with us as we attempt to piece together the happenings of the last few days.

College Football

Pregame:

  • After the Game of the Century of the Season of the Week last week in College Station, everybody predicted a scheduling letdown this week. Sports predictions have become (always were?) completely useless and devoid of meaning, but once in a while, the wisdom of the crowd gets it right. Throwing out expired food? No, actually. A soft slate of week-four matchups? For the most part, yes.

The games — That 70s Show:

  • Clemson opened the week of play by getting punchy on Thursday night in a closer-than-it-should-have-been win over North Carolina State. So far as I can tell, the Tigers have played only fellow Carolinians to this point in the season. A check of their schedule confirms this, and the trend will continue this weekend. (EDIT: Except for that little game against UGA in week one.) Clemson 26, North Carolina State 14.
  • A number of teams posted gaudy scores and spreads. Since they already had their fun, they’re all getting grouped in this one paragraph. Ohio State 76, FAMU 0. Louisville 72, FIU 0. Miami 77, Savannah State 7. Washington 56, Idaho State 0. Baylor 70, Louisiana-Monroe 7 (that one’s actually a little surprising). Florida State 54, Bethune-Cook 6. Wisconsin 41, Purdue 10. UCLA 59, New Mexico State 13. Texas A&M 42, SMU 13. And others.

Tuesday Afternoon Inside Linebacker

tailSince “Monday Morning Quarterback” and “Tuesday Morning Quarterback” are taken and uninspired, and because I’m preempting my own exhaustion of “Monday“-themed alliterations, ALDLAND’s regular football/weekend roundup will move to Tuesday afternoons, which also permits incorporation of the Monday night NFL game. With week two of college football and week one of the NFL in the books, here goes:

College Football

Pregame:

  • Brendan and Physguy were in Ann Arbor for ESPN College Gameday, and the only evidence is a couple cryptic tweets from Brendan.

The games — No surprises:

  • I was able to find Michigan State’s game against South Florida on television in the Southeast, which may be thanks to USF’s participation in the game, but which also felt like finding a unicorn in the wild. MSU’s defense continues to outscore their offense, and that’s with three quarterbacks! Even Sparta only ever had two kings at once. Michigan State 21, South Florida 6.
  • I also found Vanderbilt-Austin Peay on TV, which is a reminder that it’s week two for the broadcasters as well. VU had no problem with its Middle Tennessee neighbors, winning 38-3.

ALDLAND Podcast

As promised, ALDLAND is back at it again with another college football preview blowout. Every BCS conference is discussed, and don’t worry, we didn’t forget about the Domers. Join Marcus and I, along with a special surprise guest as we unveil our picks and discuss the major players in the 2013 season as we see it. College football! So exciting!

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Download the ALDLAND podcast at our Podcasts Page or stream it right here:

FrankenMonday Update

Nothing is weather until it’s New York City weather, which means that, as of sometime today, we have ourselves some weather. Somehow unsurprisingly, the indomitable Clay Travis has himself a man on the scene, reporting live from the south shore of Long Island. Somewhat surprisingly, there has been a dearth of Point Break references being made, so that’s something we collectively need to work on. And while the Frankenstorm/Hurricane Sandy caused the main presidential candidates to take a break from the campaign trail, it didn’t stop sports this weekend.

Saturday was a tumultuous day in college football’s top 25, with undefeateds Ohio and Mississippi State taking their first losses of the season, Wisconsin losing to Michigan State in overtime, Oregon State losing to Washington, Florida losing to Georgia, USC losing to Arizona, Rutgers losing to Kent State, and Michigan losing to Nebraska. Although not technically an upset, Notre Dame surprised most people outside of South Bend by beating Oklahoma in convincing fashion. The Georgia win is significant because it dashes the order that was starting to distill in the highly competitive SEC East. The Arizona win is significant because 1) aren’t they really bad??, and 2) it weakens Oregon’s strength of schedule, because the Ducks were relying on a win against USC to buoy their BCS ranking that continues to fall despite an unbroken series of mathematically mind-boggling wins.

In the NFL, the Lions beat the Seahawks by scoring touchdowns in both halves of the game, and even daring to take a lead in the first half. The Falcons preserved their position as the NFL’s only undefeated team by beating the Eagles, a team where the only constant now seems to be the walrusness of Andy Reid’s mustache. (Reid fired his good friend and defensive coordinator Juan Castillo during Philadelphia’s bye week last week, and after yesterday’s game, Michael Vick said that Reid was contemplating a change at quarterback.) In a real accordion-style game, the Giants went up 23-0 on the Cowboys, then went down 24-23, before coming from behind in some technical sense to beat Dallas, 29-24. Andrew Luck led the Colts to an overtime victory against the Titans, the Broncos beat the listless Saints by twenty, and the Bears survived a scare from the visiting Panthers, beating Carolina by one.

Finally, the sad World Series came to an end last night when the Giants beat the Tigers 4-3 in the tenth inning of game four. It’s San Francisco’s second championship in three years. More on that later in the week.

ESS-EEE-SEE!

Just when you thought fans in the Southeastern Conference couldn’t get more insufferable, there’s this.  It’s a little fluky, but how do you like 3 teams from the SEC in BCS games?  I can’t say I love it after Georgia got passed over in 2007, but I’ve accepted that our ceiling this year is the Sugar Bowl, so whatever.

To recap: LSU and Bama to the National Championship and Georgia to the Sugar.  Boom.  S-E-C!  S-E-C!  S-E-C!  (It really is annoying, isn’t it.)

Hmm.

Not that the Big East is relevant in any discussion of college football, but how is it that after Syracuse man-handled West Virginia, West Virginia is ranked while Syracuse is not?  (They share the same record.)  At least USC has a better record than Arizona State (although I’m sure they’ll have a loss after Oregon as well).  I imagine there would considerable uproar if Wisconsin were ranked higher than Michigan State today.

Then again, maybe I answered it in the beginning: no one cares enough about the Big East to actually bother evaluating them.

Update:  The coaches are even worse than the AP, giving WV about 10 times as much love as the Orange.

2nd UpdateNone of the computers have WV ranked.

Rivalries and Penalties

In honor of the general chippiness of the Georgia-Vandy game this weekend and the swings Spartans DE William Gholston took against Wolverine players, resulting in suspensions to players (see here and likely here), but interestingly not coaches (see here or here), the WSJ took a look at the “dirtiest” college football rivalries, based upon the number of behavior-related penalties per game.  Interestingly, Georgia popped up again: number one on the list was the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry.  Michigan/Michigan St. wasn’t far behind.

RIVALRY PER GAME BIGGER OFFENDER
Auburn-Georgia 5.4 Georgia 59%
Duke-North Carolina 5.2 N. Carolina 69%
UCLA-Southern California 4.8 UCLA 54%
N. Mexico-N.Mexico St. 4.6 N. Mexico 65%
Kansas-Missouri 4.2 Missouri 76%
Michigan-Michigan St. 4.0 Michigan St 80%
C. Michigan-W. Michigan 3.8 Western 58%
Brigham Young-Utah 3.6 Utah 61%
NC State-North Carolina 3.4 N. Carolina 59%

Why is USC ranked?

As the University of Southern California serves the second year of a two-year bowl ban, the AP Poll currently has them ranked 23rd, and they were a preseason top-25 team if memory serves. Due to the NCAA sanctions, the coaches’ poll won’t rank USC, and this seems right.

What I don’t understand is why the writers bother to rank a team that cannot appear in the postseason. If they are competitive and compelling despite their NCAA-imposed sanctions, I don’t have any problem with sports networks covering their games, but why rank them? What if they were number one? The AP wouldn’t name a team its national champion if they didn’t play in a bowl game, to say nothing of the BCS national championship game, so why do they rank a team at all that is guaranteed not to play in any bowl whatsoever?

The purpose of a ranking system, it would seem, is to determine which team is the best. If a rule prohibits a team from winning the championship, what’s the point of including it in the ranking system?