It all goes back to the run-pass split Alabama used Saturday. Against Texas A&M, the Crimson Tide called only 29 running plays and 36 passing. For some teams nationally, that’s a typical split. For others, that actually is too much running. But for Alabama under Nick Saban, that’s an an awful lot of passing, even with a quarterback like AJ McCarron who ranks seventh nationally in passing efficiency. In the previous 63 games, which dates back to the start of the 2008 season, Alabama has had a more pass-heavy split only three times, all in 2010. The Crimson Tide lost all three: Auburn (25 run calls, 46 pass), LSU (28, 37) and South Carolina (22, 42). All the passing shortens Alabama’s time of possession, which gives an up-tempo team such as Texas A&M exactly what it wants — a chance to run more plays. The Aggies ran 77 of them, and afterward, Alabama coach Nick Saban said one of the best ways to defend a talented quarterback like the Aggie’s Johnny Manziel is to keep him off the field.
"This team still has an opportunity to win the West, go to the SEC Championship Game and have a chance to win the championship game," Saban said. "There is still a lot for this team to play for, and a lot for them to set their mind to and recommit themselves to." And while a second "second chance" to get back into the national title picture looks dim, anyone who remembers 2011 can still believe. "We know what can happen. You never know with the SEC and college football," linebacker C.J. Mosley said. "We can’t control that and can’t worry about that."
"We had our good plays, and I would say it was about 50-50," tailback Eddie Lacy said. "Sometimes we would get loose and sometimes we wouldn't. Early on, they were getting off the ball faster than us. "We didn't start the way we wanted to and didn't pick it up until the middle and the end of the game, and it was too late."
If Alabama could lose to A&M, couldn't USC find its game in time to knock off Notre Dame? Couldn't USC then come back a week later and beat Oregon to win the Pac-12 championship? Couldn't Texas make a run at Kansas State? Yes, one loss has changed everything. But Alabama still has hope, and Nick Saban and this staff need to make sure that the Tide keep the faith over their next three games. Alabama will find enough motivation to make a run at 12-1, all while hoping that another two unbeatens fall to the wayside.
This year will be more problematic. It is certainly possible that two unbeatens could lose, but it isn't a given - and Alabama will have to shore up quite a few areas if it wants to beat Georgia in Atlanta (assuming a clinching win over 2-8 Auburn, winless in SEC play this year.) That reconstruction will include regaining some confidence. Two weeks ago, Alabama felt that it could stop any opponent defensively. Now, UA is coming off two straight performances in which that sense of dominance, that swagger, was punctured. The remaining two opponents in the regular season are a combined 3-17 and should be no problem to stifle. Whether that will revive a feeling of dominance heading to the Georgia Dome is a different question. All Alabama can control is its next two games. Nothing else is an absolute guarantee.
The 24-hour rule is still in effect for Alabama. These 24 hours, though, aren't like the ones experienced after last week's comeback at LSU. The preparations for Western Carolina will begin at some point Monday, but let's not be mistaken: Alabama will have one eye on Auburn, another on Georgia and another on Oregon, Kansas State and Notre Dame.
Trevor Lacey, the buzzer-beating hero of the University of Alabama basketball team's first win of the season, got down to business earlier in the Crimson Tide's second game. Lacey, a sophomore guard, poured in a career-high 23 points to power Alabama (2-0) to an 80-49 win over West Alabama at Coleman Coliseum in a second-round game of the 2012 2K Classic. The Crimson Tide advances to New York where it will face Oregon State at Madison Square Garden in a Thursday semifinal in the tournament. Lacey's 23 points came in just 22 minutes of floor time, and included a 5-for-5 shooting performance from beyond the 3-point arc. "My first two shots were coming off ball screens and the rest was just my teammates finding me and kicking it back from the inside," Lacey said. "I feel healthier this year and I am able to make shots that I wasn't able to make, especially on the move."
ESPN is close to securing media rights for the entire college football playoff system, with industry sources pegging the new 12-year BCS package at $500 million a year. That means ESPN would own college football’s postseason for a total of $7.3 billion over 12 years, beginning with the 2014 season. That figure, which averages to around $608 million per year, takes into account the $215 million annual payout ESPN has committed to the "contract" bowls — the Rose presented by Vizio, Champions and Discover Orange — in addition to the playoff package. While a formal announcement could come at some point this month, industry sources cautioned that the two sides still have some contract details to hammer out. Sources say the TV committee, made up of five commissioners, must ultimately approve the deal before it becomes official. A final version of the contract has not yet gone before the TV committee.