Hopefully everyone has had an opportunity to exhale since Alabama managed to survive a rough performance against a game Volunteers squad. A few items to kick off the bye week:
Coker said he was emotional after the game. "I didn’t cry or anything," Coker said. "But it meant a lot to me to be able to celebrate with my teammates."
Coker’s teammates were obviously happy for him and the offense as well. "I love Jake and I’m proud of him," Tide outside linebacker Ryan Anderson said. "Because a lot of people counted him out. But we believe in him, and he believes in himself. You can see his confidence growing every week. That made me a little emotional."
When it mattered most, however, the Tide’s players stepped up: Coker completed two pivotal passes on the game-defining drive, and 6’3", 242-pound junior running back Derrick Henry broke free for the go-ahead 14-yard touchdown. Alabama found a way to get it done, reminiscent of its 12–10 win over Tennessee back in 2009, a year in which the Tide would go on to win the national title. Sure, Alabama looked vulnerable. For a while, it seemed ripe for an upset. But when it could have folded in the waning moments, it didn’t. With a win over LSU on Nov. 7, a repeat trip to the playoff is entirely feasible
Interesting that Kelly would compare that drive to the LSU game. I would compare it more to the Arkansas game, where the Tide had underperformed against a team that they should have handled easily. That win seemed to energize the team. Hopefully the Tennessee win will do the same. Championship teams find a way to close things out, and the Tide did just that.
Clemson jumps ahead of LSU and TCU in this week's AP Top 25, up to No. 3 after crushing Miami on Saturday. Week 8 brought more thrilling finishes, as Florida State's 1,113-day ACC winning streak ended on a marathon blocked field goal touchdown return at Georgia Tech. Utah suffered a very nominal upset at the hands of interim-coached USC. Ohio State body-slammed Rutgers to stay atop this week's rankings. Baylor's offense really slowed down, posting a lackluster 45 points in a win over Iowa State.
2. At this point, we can start thinking about how the Playoff committee really evaluates things. The Cardinal should have an excellent schedule by committee metrics, with as many as nine bowl-eligible opponents (seriously, that's the committee's standard for a quality opponent) and perhaps five in the top 25. Alabama could have about 10 and five, while Ohio State's likely to finish a bit behind in both. Clemson, with perhaps only six bowl opponents, could have a tough case for No. 1 if everybody has a loss. I'll put the Tigers down for 13-0 at the moment, but I've got Ohio State losing at Michigan.
As the calendar turns to November, playoff conversations can begin in earnest. Since it's the bye week, I'll pose a hypothetical for you that was discussed briefly over the weekend. Say Ole Miss wins out and takes the West despite their two losses, and rolls into Atlanta to face a Florida team that won the East despite dropping a game to either UGA or FSU along the way. In this case, neither SEC Championship game participant is a playoff contender. Meanwhile, Alabama wins out and is firmly entrenched at #4 in the playoff poll after the Big 12 and B1G scenarios work themselves out. No more than one conference has an undefeated champion, and Alabama is the only one-loss team in the SEC. Does Alabama have a chance to make the playoffs in that scenario?
I say yes. The Tide will be stronger than most other contenders in terms of strength of schedule. Knocking them out due to a lone early season loss puts more emphasis on their one loss than other teams' single losses. This would make for an interesting debate to say the least, but obviously one we'd rather not have.
But which team will show up Nov. 7 for the de facto SEC West title game at Bryant-Denny Stadium? Will it be the Alabama that has dominated on the road, beating three ranked teams (Wisconsin, Georgia, Texas A&M) in convincing fashion? Or will it be the Alabama that lets off the gas at home and struggles against the likes of Ole Miss, Arkansas and Tennessee? This season, with what we’ve seen from the Tide thus far, who knows
I disagree with the premise of this article. The Tide has been somewhat consistent this year in pretty much every area other than turnovers, which are inconsistent in nature anyway. Alabama has a very stout run defense, a young but talented secondary that will make a bunch of plays while giving up a few, and an offense that is solid but unspectacular. This team is going to go as far as the defense will take it.
"I don't want to talk about LSU right now," said Alabama linebacker Ryan Anderson, as a smile formed. "I have a bye week coming up. I'm going home to see my granny and my family." And they were still celebrating the rivalry win that included a few anxious moments. "Coach doesn't want us to think about it at all this week," said Alabama cornerback Cyrus Jones. "Just when the time comes we start preparing for them as a team that's when we start focusing on them. Of course it's hard not to think about what's ahead but we try not to let that affect you."
The Tide has been an overwhelming force on the road but has had some struggles at home, losing to No. 19 Mississippi and either trailing or tied with Arkansas and Tennessee at halftime. "I don't know why that is, it's just funny," Henry said. "We haven't played a complete game at home yet, but we've got to build off this win, prepare right in the bye week into next week. "We've got to finish better when we're at home."
Alabama needs the bye week in a bad way. Hopefully the players are able to get healthy and ready to overcome the home field doldrums. I'm especially interested to see if Cam Robinson looks a bit fresher after the break. We need him to be at full capacity.
Almost three seasons later, it would only make sense for Miami to look at Cristobal. He showed the ability to turn around a struggling program when he turned FIU from a 0-12 team in 2006 into an 8-5 team in 2011 playing in a second straight bowl game. Cristobal also attracts talent as well as anyone. He, after all, the consensus 2015 national recruiter of the year. And he knows South Florida. One of his top scores for Alabama was receiver Calvin Ridley, a Pompano Beach, Fla., product who picked the Tide over nearby Miami.
I think this is a very real possibility. Miami is no longer a destination job for head coaches considering the pathetic facilities and lack of fan support. Mario Cristobal is a Hurricanes legacy with six years of head coaching experience who would come in and provide instant stability, local connections, and recruiting prowess. He is on the short list and should be the top candidate. Of course, Miami will probably end up alienating their best realistic candidate by first attempting to woo coaches who will use them for negotiating leverage with their current employers. It is unfortunate for Miami that there are so many openings across the country, but that is the reality and theirs simply isn't terribly desirable.
That's about enough for today. Answer the poll and argue away.