No. 3 LSU at No. 2 Alabama, CBS, 3:3o p.m.
The highest echelons of college football have put a damper on the best teams in the country this week.
The College Football Playoff committee kind of screwed up the whole “Game of the Century” thing when they dropped Alabama and LSU below Ohio State in their first ranking this week. It’s tough to bill 2 vs. 3 as the anything of the century – but that was before the NCAA came down on No 1. Ohio State’s marvel defensive end Chase Young for taking money from some guy the summer before his freshman year. Young said he paid back the guy, whom he describes as a family friend.
The latest version says he borrowed money from somebody to fly his girlfriend to the Rose Bowl last year and paid it back by April. I don’t think it matters. The NCAA screws up more things than the CFP committee. Kirk Herbstreit tweeted Saturday morning that it would be four games but could be reduced – that would put an end to his regular season. The last two games are against Penn State and Michigan. The NCAA voted about two weeks ago to allow college athletes to make money off their name – but not until 2021, which won’t help Chase.
Or will it?
It looks like Alabama’s QB Tua Tungavailoa is going to play after surgery for a high ankle sprain 20 days ago when a Tennessee guy fell on top of him. In two years as the Tide starting QB, Tua has one good joint left below the waist – he sprung a knee early last season, then had a high-ankle sprain on the other ankle in the SEC Championship Game after sucking all afternoon, which paved the way for current Oklahoma QB Jalen Hurts to come in and enable Georgia to choke in a big game again.
Here’s the deal on Tua: Once he started getting dinged up last year, he wasn’t as amazing as he was when he was unhurt. I understand that. I’m not as good as I used to be either because I’m old and can’t drink as much. Tua was also facing better competition late in the season. I’m not so sure I could make that excuse.
So how good will he be against LSU? Last year, Tua, who is like Grandmother’s delicate, lovely fine china cup that you take out only when the preacher comes to dinner and Christmas morning breakfast, was pretty chipped up against LSU. The Tigers aimed low when they tackled him, and it seemed to piss him off. He ran for like, a 40-yard touchdown on his bum knee, and Alabama won by a score of many to nothing. I guess it pissed off Alabama’s defense even more because LSU’s offense was helpless.
But that was the old LSU offense that got squelched. This is the new, super awesome sexy cool, bodacious splendid LSU offense that amassed victories over Texas (5-3, probably set to get beat by Kansas State today, and overall pretty half-assed, though they were ranked high back then); Florida (5-2, which got its ass kicked by every decent team it’s played and almost lost to Miami and Kentucky, who are terrible); and Auburn (good defense, no offense at all, beat Oregon but almost lost to them and seems to be deteriorating, almost losing to the egregious Ole Miss last week).
Joe Burrow is a hell of a quarterback, and I would much rather have a beer with him than with Tua, who probably doesn’t drink. But if I had to pick sides on the schoolyard, I’d pick the Hawaiian kid before I picked Joe. Even hurt. LSU’s got some hellacious wide receivers, and Alabama’s secondary has talent, but still neglects to cover opposition guys occasionally and doesn’t tackle as deadly as it used to back in the olden days, when Bama tackled guys and they stayed tackled. Watch out for poor No. 5 for Bama. Teams like to pick on him.
Both teams have flaky defenses after years of being dominating kill beasts that destroy offensive game plans and leave broken dreams in their wake. But I think Alabama’s has been getting better this season, and I’m not so sure about LSU. Their best pass rusher and general havoc-wreaker Michael Divinity got kicked off the team this week – my God, what did the guy do to get kicked off the team the week of the Bama game? Badass safety Grant Delpit got hurt at the end of the Auburn game, but that was two weeks ago and if he can walk, he’ll play. But if he’s not 100, Bama’s Four Wide Receivers of the Apocalypse will be on him like a largemouth bass on a wounded shad.
I will say that in the past few years, though he’s lost to Bama with alarming regularity, coach Ed Orgeron has had a good defensive plan for Alabama. Other teams copied him and either beat or gave Alabama fits the rest of the way. And yeah, Alabama’s schedule is backloaded with the good teams.
I reckon Ed’s defense, such as it is, will be well coached and will have a wicked scheme. If Tua plays lousy his first few drives, look out. He’s a confidence guy. This is the first good team Alabama’s played since the national championship game. Tua threw a pick-six on the first drive, and he never got over it.
Oh, both teams have a pretty good running back, and both wear No. 22, so that’ll be easy to remember (Clyde Edwards-Hillaire for LSU; Najee Harris for Bama). Clyde’s got 680 yards against better defenses and Najee’s got 640 yards against, you know, who he’s played). So if all else fails, Tua and Joe can give it to the big dog and let him eat.
Oh, yeah. President Donald Trump is going to be at the game, and officials told the crowd to get to the 2:30 p.m. local time game by 11:30 a.m. so they’ll have time to go through the security screening. Everybody should be really drunk by kickoff.
No. 4 Penn State at No. 17 Minnesota, ABC, noon
Coach P.J. Fleck has led Minnesota to a hell of a season this year, which means he’s at the top of the list for teams that’ll be firing their coaches here directly, despite his new seven-year extension with the Golden Gophers. See, they gave him a one-year extension each of the past two seasons, which is a school’s way of saying, we wish we had somebody better and the first time you slip up, you gone.
It could also mean his agent sucks. And their undefeated season definitely means they’ve played a lot of shitty teams so far. For instance, they beat San Diego State by 7 and Fresno State 38-35 in overtime in the first two games this year. Teams named for cities in California never seem to come up in championship conversations.
So this is a big game for Minnesota, and especially for P.J. If he wins this one, he could maybe get a job someplace warm. Not California, though. No, he better not go there.
Penn State is undefeated and has pulled out some close wins – against Iowa, Michigan and Michigan State, all of whom suck, but were rated high at the time. I really don’t know how good they are. They’re in the Big Ten, which is worse than the ACC, another reason Dabo Swinney is pissed that Clemson isn’t ranked higher, but let’s face it – the ACC really sucks, too.
On the whole, Penn State has played a better schedule than the Gophers, so I guess they’ll win. But I don’t know. Minnesota really lights it up on offense – like against Fresno State, wow.