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We did this last year and it was fun. It was also brutal. I think one or two posters got 3 of the 4 correct? I did no better than Desmond Howard, pathetically. I took Ohio State, Alabama, NC State (Christ) and Oklahoma State (should have had me crowdsourced from this board). I'll try to do better this year. College Playoff Semifinalists: 1) Michigan - They play a cupcake schedule, they get Nebraska, Minnesota and Purdue from the Big 10 West and play 3 G5 teams in the non-con. They're loaded in the backfield, on the OL and at TE. Defensively, they're always good. Missing Iowa and Wisconsin is helpful for them. I think Rhule makes Nebraska formidable, and I expect them to play tough this year, but they don't have the dogs yet. Purdue and Hudson Card - lol and Minnesota is an okay and predictable 7-6/9-4 team that won't beat Michigan. 2) Georgia - Look, they're loaded, but they have lost so many NFL high draft picks that there is some reason to give pause. They're starting a new QB, their WRs aren't scary, and they replace a ton on defense. They don't have the same kind of bad ass on the DL, yet. None of that is really compelling to counter Brock Bowers, the freshman safety, their OL, and one of the weakest schedules in the country. I would be flat out shocked if they're not in the playoffs. 3) Texas - Mock away, assholes. The roster is loaded, the Big 12 is down, and this is the best year ever in the Saban era, sans 2007, to catch Bama at home in week 2. Only Sarkisian's playcaller's block and injuries can alter this outcome, and those are not going to happen, dammit. 4) Florida State - They have a loaded roster and they play in a weak league. Verse is one of the best pass rushing threats in CFB, Travis is a fine QB, and Norvell is an excellent coach. They have to beat one of LSU and Clemson and they're in by going 12-1. The Pretenders: Alabama - I have been all over this board espousing the logic for Bama being less formidable than they have been in a long ass time. Converting to a conservative offense, adding two new coordinators, replacing 16 starters including the country's best defender and one of the best QBs in years, getting a very violent match-up in week two and then playing a tough SEC schedule that includes both Tenn and UK from the east is a recipe for new problems. There are 2-3 losses in there, if not 3-4. Oklahoma - Oklahoma may well go 10-2 this year because of their schedule. I think Venables is a simple idiot, so I doubt they get that far, but the schedule is weak enough and the brand is big enough that they're at least getting mentions. Ohio State - I struggled not including them in the CFP, but I wanted to have a little fun. They also avoid Iowa but do play Wisconsin. They also play Notre Dame in South Bend, so that will be tough. They have problems on the OL and the QBs are unproven. Day is a damned fine developer of QBs, however, so I don't see much risk on that spot. They have one of the best TB rooms in the country and the best WR room in the country. They have some things to prove defensively after another late season collapse on that side of the ball. There's enough here for me to feel okay thinking they finish at #5. Notre Dame - They looked great against Navy. The problem with that is that Navy looked really, really terrible. I don't make too much of that game. Notre Dame, irrespective of week 0 results, need to prove they have dynamic playmakers at TB, WR, and TE. I don't think they have the horses against other big time programs. Defensively they'll be sound, but I don't know if they have a front 7 that is going to scare OSU, Clemson and USC. USC/Washington/Oregon/Utah/UCLA/Oregon State - The Pac 12 is top heavy with 6 really good teams this season. They are going to beat each other up and I don't see one emerging with less than 2 losses. Were that to happen, that team would have a resume to get in. They all have some flaws, but the two biggest are USC's defense and whether Rising can actually go all season with his playing style coming off the injury. Clemson - Klubnik has the hype, as does Shipley, but Clemson still has the same problems on offense - they don't have guys at WR or TE that scare anyone and their OL is mediocre because it always is. They have an excellent defense as always, but is it top 2-3 in the country? When Clemson was truly the best of the best, they had dynamic playmakers at QB, TB and WR, and there were 2-4 high draft picks playing every year in the front 7. LSU - The tigers got away with some breaks last year and did a great job of playing above their heads for Bama. Perkins is getting more hype than damned near any defender nationally. He's not going to surprise anyone. Daniels has to be the top runner again this year because the backfield is meh. If he gets hurt, they're in trouble because Nussmeier isn't the same running threat. They have a great OL and an emerging TE. Their WR corps is overrated. Nabors is getting absurd hype for someone who isn't scaring anyone. I'm sure the defense will be excellent, but there's enough here to doubt a playoff run with their schedule. Not worth consideration even if being mentioned elsewhere: North Carolina, Penn State, Wisconsin, TCU Dark Horse Contenders: I don't really believe either of these will get there, but oh well. Iowa - They avoid OSU and Michigan. They will have a top 5 defense in the country and create havoc as usual. The same will be true for STs. McNamara is the best QB in Iowa City since the midget idiot from Texas whose name I forgot. Only Brian Ferentz and a history of not being able to get there hold this team back. If they don't win the west, I'll be surprised. Kansas State - They return their entire OL and a good QB. They'll be very well-coached and they will play tough. The defense will be sound. They lack gamebreakers and dynamic speed. I expect 10-2, but they could also just methodically walk through the schedule outside of potentially two match-ups with Texas where they'd need some breaks. Special Mention: Texas ATM - I've seen them get dark horse mentions. They have paper thin depth at OL, TE, LB, and CB. They're loaded on the DL and Safety/NB. The first 4 WRs are an excellent unit. Little depth after that. They have meh and flakes at TB. They're an injury away from jaggerhood at QB. My view is that if that ATM had an OU 2000-esque run where they didn't lose anyone to injuries all year and Weigman lived up to the internal aggie through-the-roof expectations, maybe they make noise. My expectation is that they shit themselves in Miami and Fisher leaves Petrino at the airport, buying his own plane ticket back to BCS. Sorry for the length, I guess? Anyway, who do you have? Also, sorry if I have a glaring omission somewhere. I wrote this off the top of my head and on the fly in order to get something out.
Here we go again Texas vs Bama Part Deux but this time we are rolling into the hostile territory of Bryant Denny Stadium. Last year at this time we were 20 point dogs and didn’t stand a chance against Saban as he and his 5 star fueled Death Star came to Austin. This team included 3 first rounders and 8 total picks in the first 2 days of the 2023 draft but they needed to yet again injure a Texas QB and get some Big 12 ref magic to squeak out a 1 point victory. Was this a case of Saban slipping a little bit or was Texas and Steve Sarkisian finally pulling out of their decades of mediocrity? Based on how each team finished the season it seems like more of the former as Bama lost to Tennessee for the first time in Saban’s tenure while LSU and the fighting Kelly’s beat them in an OT mid-off. During this time Texas finished 7-4 with a couple of big wins and a couple embarrassing losses. To pull off the biggest win in years Texas has to do to buck the following trends: 1. Texas mediocrity: For the past 13 years Texas has been the laughingstock of CFB and failed to live up to expectations exactly once (2018) but even then lost 4 games including a laugher to Maryland. Can Texas finally win a monster on the road and officially claim to be back for good? 2. Sevin Win Sark: Out of his 7 full seasons as a head coach Sark has won more than 7 games only 3 times. Even his biggest backers here couldn’t name a matchup of this magnitude that he has coached his team to a win in. Will he be able to finally get a big win on the road and a new nickname by years end? 3. Saban’s Dominance at Home: Saban at Alabama has won 103 and lost just 8 games at home since taking over in 2007. The current streak sits at 21 games since a team last walked out of Tuscaloosa with a win. Has Saban finally jumped the shark All the daunting trends and statistics aside here is why Texas is going to shut up all of the talking heads and pull out a dominating victory in Tuscaloosa: 1. We’re fucking Texas: Other fanbases and media will laugh at the notion that the Texas decal on the helmet means anything but disappointment but since the beginning of time Texas has dared to play big games and more often than not came out ahead. Texas has a winning record against every other Blue Blood except USC and ND. If you exclude the annual matchup with OU the total record is 25-21. But what about on the road you ask? Texas in 9-8 in true road games against the non OU Blue Bloods. No University of Texas player, coach, or fan is going to be fazed by the atmosphere, this type of game is why you choose the University of Texas. 2. Saban’s Swan Song: It is no secret that Alabama has lost their CFB throne to Georgia over the last 2 seasons but they are still 1B in the CFB pecking order. Saban has built up a lot of trust in his program to warrant the #3 ranking in a year when they lost a Heisman QB, all world defender, and do it all RB. Recruiting rankings suggest they just reloaded and will keep rolling but this is not your Uncle’s Alabama. To replace Bryce Young they tapped Jalen Milroe to assume the throne at QB despite their best efforts to buy an elite QB in the portal. If his game against the aggies is any indication than it will be a long night for Saban in Tuscaloosa. 3. Poetic Justice: Since that night at the Rose Bowl Texas has coveted a seat at the table that they once had a standing reservation at. Year after year we have had to sit by and watch an Alabama dynasty reel off championship after championship that was propelled by an injury to a Texas QB. Every dominant program has an alpha and omega when the world either knows you have arrived or that the end is near. In tandem the alpha and omega happened for Alabama and Texas on January 7th, 2010 while millions looked on. This Saturday will be the bookend moment for both of these programs as Texas beacons to the world that they are in fact back while leaving Alabama faithful wondering what will be next for their beloved program. The stars are aligned for a big night for the Horns in Tuscaloosa this weekend. Quinn has an opportunity to show us why he is the highest rated QB of all time and cement his legacy as a Texas QB. Sark is gunning to come full circle from wonderkid when he was hired at UW to a seasoned veteran HC with a career defining year. This team fucks and will prove it on the field in primetime. See yall in Tuscaloosa, I will be in U4-CC. Hook ‘em “The pride and winning tradition of The University of Texas will not be entrusted to the weak or the timid”
For those of you that don't watch every game on 12 screens at the same time: TCU loses shoot out to Colorado 42-45 The national media is going to be saying that the Deion era has started at Colorado, but I want to focus on the other side of this game. And let's be clear, Deion era or not: this is a CU team that's wasn't just the worst in P5 last year; they were likely the worst team in all of FBS. Deion might make CU good this year in the sense that they make a bowl, but they aren't going to threaten nationally relevant teams, which is what TCU hoped to be this year. TCU's Big XII darkhorse dream might be over much earlier in the season than any expected. Texas Tech loses in OT to Wyoming The other team many had pegged as a Big XII darkhorse lost in OT to Wyoming. The Wyoming program has been up and down over the years, but they are currently thought to be a bottom dweller with major offensive struggles and a middling defense. It was already a bad sign for Tech to struggle in this game, but losing outright is going to be unforgivable for many in Lubbock. Baylor falls to Texas State If you are noticing a trend, it's because the real Week 1 headline is how the Big XII got rocked. This is my third game (these are in order of importance), only because Baylor didn't have any reasonable national expectations going into the season. But this is Texas State. It's a high school team. Illinois scrapes by Toledo 30-28 Illinois kicked a game winning FG with seconds remaining to avoid a devastating upset. Illinois is just outside national relevance but has been playing a bit of an upset team in the B1G. They are thought to be reloading a very stingy defense and were favored by many to win the West. This is a massively disappointing win. But, unlike the guys above, they did manage to win. Iowa 24 Utah State 14 Iowa jumped out to an early lead, so this was a more comfortable victory than the Illini had. But the Hawkeyes are right to be confused about whether they can threaten to win the West and crack the top 25 this year after a lackluster start. Oklahoma dominates some team This is the first positive headline a team is getting from me. They are a borderline-ranked team that I expected to "receiving votes" at the end of season. The team that they dominated was Central Arkansas, so it's not a season-defining win. but that is still better than what a lot of teams can say today. Combined with some really bad performances from their competition, the Sooners are feeling much better about their final season with the Big XII. I'm honestly not sure how to root this season. A Texas-OU rematch in Dallas for their final seasons in the Big XII would be incredible for a variety of reasons, but also fuck OU. Louisville comes back against Georgia Tech I'm not sure which team to make this about. Louisville is an "other receiving votes" team and is obviously disappointed with too exciting of a win over a school that hasn't really supported its program lately. But it's also about GT trying to turn that around and the start of Brent Key as head coach. I'm kind of excited as a current Atlanta resident. I watched this entire game and it's worth seeing if you find it on replay. Minnesota defends against Nebraska 13-10 This boards loves their Nebraska tears, but Minnesota is the other team in the B1G West expected to have a shot. Not a great start, but it is a win over a conference opponent. This makes the West division wide open. Washington 56 - Boise State 19 This isn't the Boise of years past, but I've been a bit of a Husky doubter this preseason. This is a good start to their season, and the PAC is going to have an exciting final season. UCF 56 - Kent State 6 This is my last headline, and it might mean nothing at the end of the season, but it did pique and peak my interest for this new addition that I still don't expect much from. However, they have my eye for at least another week.
Heading into the 2001 season, Florida State had finished each of the prior 14 seasons in the AP top 5. That's a feat above what Alabama has accomplished over a similar period. FSU won 2 titles during that run, which is obviously eclipsed by Bama's 6. If you had a time machine and could go back to the beginning of the 2001 season and argue online with other fans that Florida State would never finish in the top 5 again during Bowden's tenure, and they'd lose 4 games that season, 3 by double digits including once at home, and finish the season ranked a measly #15, people would have pointed at you and laughed. "Florida State just reloads, closetojumping." "It's Bobby Bowden. They'll be fine. He's showing no signs of slowing down." "I'm not betting against FSU and Bobby Bowden." And few folks did bet against FSU and Bobby Bowden. FSU opened the 2001 season ranked #6 in the country. "Only #6, CTJ?" Well, yes. But numerous magazines and pundits had them playing for it all because ... Bobby Bowden. In reality, there were cracks starting to turn into fissures in the foundation of Bowden's program at FSU and they were about to start truly showing for all to see. FSU had to replace a Heisman-winning QB, multiple skill and OL talents taken in the NFL draft, and the majority of their top defensive talent, also taken in the draft the prior spring. Bowden saw long-time OC, Mark Richt, take a prized job at Georgia earlier that year. Instead of going out and finding a talented up and comer to replace the OC, as Bowden had done most of the time when losing an assistant, he did something different this time. He hired his son, Jeff Bowden, because, "hey, he's Bobby Bowden." The talent that FSU needed to simply "reload" didn't appear in the same ways as it previously did. Turns out, while they certainly still had plenty of talent, the recruiting services were bumping recruits regularly by then in FSU's favor because they were giving Bowden the benefit of the doubt. Whoops. All of those recent top 5 classes being stacked up by FSU turned out to produce more like top 20-ish classes, which is how those teams wound up finishing in the AP, if at all, over those final 9 years of Bowden. Bobby Bowden turned 71 during that 2001 season. closetojumping, what does any of that have to do with Alabama and Nick Saban? Well, there is literally zero link between the two regimes. I'm not claiming there is. I'm merely pointing out that the similarities are eerie. Nick Saban enters the 2023 season 71 years old. Alabama this year opened the season in the top 4 of the polls. Many pundits have picked them to win or play for the national title. "Nick Saban and Alabama just reload. " "I'm not betting against Nick Saban. " "It's Nick Saban. He's showing no signs of slowing down." Alabama entered the 2023 season having to replace 16 starters. 10 of those players were drafted in the prior spring's NFL draft. One of those starters in need of replacing was a Heisman-winning QB. Another was the best defensive player in the country. On top of that, Saban had to replace both of his coordinators. While he didn't hire one of his children, he did make two comfort hires. He had the chance to hire Kevin Steele as his DC on two separate occasions when the role was open and Steele was on staff. Saban went in a different direction. Now he's got someone who will do what he's told. On the offensive side, he's hired a younger guy who he's given marching orders in regard to returning the offense to a "murderball" approach in which they just crush less talented teams under the weight of their superior talent in the running game and short passing game. He thought he could do so, and was lauded for doing so by guys like Josh Pate (his murderball segment from this summer, in hindsight to those who weren't paying attention and laughing back then, will give you a laugh now) because "hey, he's Nick Saban." But CTJ, Alabama's still stacking top 3 recruiting classes back to back for cycles on end. Last year's class was #1 in the country, for Christ's sake. All of that is also true. That considered, show me the same ol'dynamic, Heisman-esque players at the skill positions on offense. Malik Becton was being lauded, laughably, as a coup of a pick-up from the juco ranks this summer. I don't even know if he caught a pass on Saturday. The TBs are all highly ranked and all look very pedestrian. If a freshman was good enough, they'd be playing. Look across the sidelines last Saturday and you can see that. Outside of Downs and McKinstry, who stood out on defense in the back 7? Hell, where was Oatis on the DL for most of the game? Tell me what Dallas Turner did that anyone should remember. Did any of that look like a top 5 team to you? It shouldn't, because it isn't. Alabama could very well go 10-2 in the regular season this year, mostly because the SEC looks like 13 dwarves and Georgia. Alabama could also go 8-4 because they're not just going to out-talent UTenn, LSU, or Ole Miss. Gravity gets even the highest flyers and, as we know, it's a shock sometimes when it happens. It's one season, closetojumping. Bama will load up, crush it in the transfer portal, and be right back on top next season. Maybe. But there are significant differences in the college football environment today than in the past, and Saban isn't handling them well. 1) The transfer portal requires significant money. Bama isn't the wealthiest group going after the same players. 2) Transfer players already know what they're looking for in a new team. QBs know what kind of offense they want to run, and it isn't "murderball". WRs can go anywhere. Why would one choose Bama if USC, Texas, Washington, Ohio State or Tennessee wants them? The beat goes on. 3) NIL has leveled the playing field on Saban's magical competitive advantage in high school recruiting. Bama isn't 1 of 10 bidding on the best players. Bama is 1 of 90 going after the same guys and they don't have any more money than most of those 89 other schools. SMU or TCU can outbid them for a DFW guy, let alone Texas or USC. It's harder to flourish when you can't just show up and walk over your opponent. Texas walked into Bryant Denny and took Alabama's soul with it on the way out with a double digit win. They did the same thing when they entered the Big 12 to Nebraska. "You want partial qualifiers or our brand and money?" "Ok, cool, no more PQs, sorry Nebraska." Then the #3 Cornhuskers walked into the Trans World Dome in St. Louis, threw their helmets on the field and said "give us our trophy" before Texas took their soul and beat them by double digits. That was the beginning of the end for Nebraska. Alabama fans should seek a few of those fans out and get some advice from them on how to cope with all of it, because I know it would be sad to see Bama eventually decide the best answer is to just leave the conference.