Tuesday, November 8, 2011

What we think we know -- digging out of the ashes edition

OK, so I still feel like the Scarecrow after the attack of flying Honey Badgers, er monkeys. Legs over here, arms over there, guts strewn west toward Tuscaloosa. BUT ...

1. Great game. Great setting. Two great teams. So is there any need, room or moral imperative for a rematch?

I'm of two minds. The BCS is supposed to be about the two best teams standing in the final games. So if Stanford loses to Oregon, and Oklahoma State drops a game, can anybody argue that another bout between the SEC's Godzilla and King Kong makes as much sense as anything? But if I'm LSU, I've settled things. I went on the road and won. Why should I have to beat Alabama again? This kind of rematch happens all the time in the NFL and other sports, but almost never in college football. So if the tumblers fall into place, let's just look at chapter II as a glimpse of the future, when the college game goes to some sort of limited playoff.

2. Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron is a fine prospect, already good enough to win 11 games on the Tide's schedule. But he's not good enough to beat LSU, not yet anyway. Saturday, he didn't see the field particularly well and his passes floated for most of the night. One of his nerf balls led to fourth-quarter interception that cost Alabama the lead. McCarron also didn't spot some wide open receivers and was never precise enough to compete against LSU's extraordinary defensive backfield.

That said, he looked like Johnny U compared to poor Jarret Lee.

Lee, the front-runner for the SEC Player of the Year at kickoff, was by the third quarter doing a passable impersonation of Jimmy Stewart in "Vertigo" -- flashing back to a nauseatingly spinning world with interceptions -- along with Kim Novak -- falling from the sky. Credit Les Miles with spotting the PTS symptoms and employing the quick hook. It won the game for his team. Whether it salvaged Lee's psyche remains to be seen. As good as LSU is, it may still need a passing game to win another BCS title.

3. Generally, cheap shots are a private affair. Which makes Tyler Mathieu's clubbing/calf throw of Dre Kirkpatrick all the weirder. The assault took place in the middle of the field, when Mathieu and Kirkpatrick might as well have been contestants in "Dancing with the Stars,'' minus a few sequins. Mathieu, who had done little in the game but yap at this point, must have wanted his name mispronounced by Verne Lundquist one more time. Why he wasn't tossed is one of the bigger questions of the night.

4. Alabama fans are still in an uproar about the goal line catch/interception that may have turned the game. Spare me. Tide tight end Michael Williams was running alone, but injured Marquis Maze threw a pooch punt instead of a forward pass. That gave Tiger safety Eric Reid enough time to leave his own man and catch Williams at the goal line. Williams still caught the throw, and the stadium erupted. But Reid came up with the ball. Did he steal it after Williams had hit the ground, meaning the play was dead? Maybe. But football is a simple game. You throw the ball. You catch the ball. You don't leave it to the officials to make the call in perhaps the biggest game of your life.

5. Good riddance to Houston Nutt, but who knows where Ole Miss goes from this point? Suffice to say a school still engaged in Civil War over its former plantation owner mascot needs a fresh start. Ole Miss. Fresh start. Try saying that with a straight face.



J said...

I'm not one of these video game freaks who thinks that a low-scoring game is, by definition, a bad game. All the same, this was not a high-quality game. MG has pointed out some of the miscues. Of course there were the 4 missed field goals. Jarrett Lee was indeed terrible, and I think the errors of all the QBs were less a product of the great defenses they were facing as much as simple errors on their part. McCarron missing Richardson in OT was the worst offense.

Overall, I watched most of the game, but occasionally, the offensive ineptitude had me checking in on the pinball game being played in Ar-Kansas.

I also don't subscribe to the "The BCS is supposed to give the 2 best teams in the title game" philosophy. One of the reasons we all become surgically attached to our TVs for most of the month of March is for the possibility that some Nowhere U will make a magical run to the Final Four. No one was screaming bloody murder last year when VCU, who never should have been in the field in the first place, made the Final Four. In the BCS title game, I want the teams that won all their games. If LSU and Boise St are the only unbeaten teams at the end of the year, then they should play in the title game. Are LSU and 'Bama the 2 best teams in the country? Yes. Should they meet in the title game? No, unless LSU is the only undefeated team at the end of the year. And I don't think that's going to happen. I think there will be 3 unbeatens - LSU, Boise and Stanford (no, I don't think Oregon has a chance in hell at beating Stanford). At that point, we can go ballistic with the Boise/anti-Boise debate. But LSU-'Bama again? Sorry, they already played. And if you have a problem with that, I want to hear you in March, when some Valdosta St beats a Carolina or Syracuse in the first round of the Big Dance, try to argue that the Carolina or Duke should still be given a slot in the Final Four because "they are one of the 4 best teams in the country."