In a way, the College Football Playoff has already begun. If Iowa or Michigan State (or maybe the Ohio State-Michigan winner, if MSU falls to Penn State this weekend) wins out, that's one spot. Same for Alabama or Florida from the SEC. Clemson's in with two more wins, and it's not hard to picture North Carolina stealing a spot with an ACC Championship upset and some help. That would be three, unless one of these eventual conference champs loses this weekend.
Ohio State lost. Finally, the top four have a little bit of change in them, and suddenly, Iowa, yes, IOWA, is in the college football playoffs. On top of that, if North Carolina pulls the upset over Clemson, then having both NC and Iowa could make for some really interesting storylines, considering neither one of the two have been in the national spotlight as traditional powers. On the other hand, an Alabama-Oklahoma rematch is looking more and more possible.
Since Lawson's return, Auburn's defense has improved to conceding 395 yards per game, but before film study and team meetings for the week, word of Lawson's skill hadn't trickled down to all of Alabama's offensive line.
"Honestly, I don't know who that is," center Ryan Kelly said when asked about stopping Lawson. "I don't play defense. I play offense."
I'm sure most of you have already seen Ryan Kelly's quip, but you gotta love the man throwing some serious shade at one of Auburn's best players. Kelly feels much like I do about the stepchild from across the plains. While beating our rival, Tennessee, is always a moment to revel in, I get no joy in beating Auburn. Only relief not to lose and have to deal with their everlasting and insufferable bragging for another year. Can we just put them in the ACC and take Clemson or something already? I'd be happy to never play them again.
"It’s one of the best feelings I’ve had in a long time about a team, since my freshman year," Ragland said. "These guys, everybody’s just communicating. Every time you walk into the locker room you just feel at home and at peace. It ain’t no animosity, anything like that. I just feel great about this team, man. If everybody keeps doing their job, we’ll be where we want to be at the end of the year."
Its always interesting to hear the players' comments on the state of the locker room. Obviously, most of what the Alabama players say has to be taken with a grain of salt, as most of it is going through a Saban media filter. But listening to Ragland compare this team's leadership to that of 2012 definitely gives me a warm, fuzzy feeling inside.
A question many in the college football world could relate to in looking at Alabama’s quarterbacks next year and beyond is leadership. Not only at the position, but from the coaching staff. Many don’t expect Lane Kiffin to lead that group with his name picking up traction among the many vacant FBS posts. It likely won’t slow Hurts’ enrollment and/or comfort in Tuscaloosa.
"No player commits to a coach. A head coach, that’s different, he has more pull and a greater affect on a team," he said. "But as far as that (rumours) with coach Kiffin, that’s a business decision on him. Simple as that. "I don’t think it would have that big of an impact (on me)."
Kiffin's name is being brought up in the annual coaching rumors that start swirling around the end of the season. As usual, most everyone starts to wonder how the coaching change will affect the current recruits. QB Jalen Hurts is reassuring all of us that he is coming to play for Alabama, not just for Kiffin. Hurts plans to enroll in January, and hopes to be in the competition next year with Bateman, Cornwell, Barnett, and Morris for the Crimson Tide starting quarterback.
The group’s position coach, who helped pluck Baldwin from ASA College of Excellence in Brooklyn, New York, has been vital throughout his recruitment and it continued on the visit despite rumours of Cristobal being a hot name for many vacant jobs.
"Me and coach Cristobal have a really good relationship, seeing him again was just one of those things -- everything was going good. But that’s not really new, we have such a good relationship," he said. "It’s important that he be there when I get there because he recruited me and that’s one of the best relationships there. But whatever he decides to do, he decides to do. I’m just committed to the school."
Speaking of, one of the most talented recruits for next year also reaffirmed his commitment amidst rumors of offensive line coach Mario Cristobal being connected to Miami.
Baldinger told viewers on NFL Network's latest edition of The Aftermath, saying of Lacy: "I saw his footwork yesterday. That guy can stop and he can start. He looked a lot the kid that played at Alabama three years ago and like we saw the last couple seasons. He looked like he was healthy and in good form right now."
It took longer than Green Bay expected, but Lacy on Sunday was the engine behind an offense that looked like the Packers attack of old. If this is what we can expect from the third-year thumper down the stretch, the ceiling's the limit in Green Bay.
Eddie Lacy has really struggled this season. Between nagging injuries and just struggling to get going, the disappearing of Lacy this season has directly correlated to the decline of the Green Bay offense. Mark Ingram has been having a solid season, and T.J. Yeldon is in the running for the top rookie running back in the NFL. Aside from the Richardson fiasco, Alabama's putting together a pretty strong resume of sending runners to the pros.
Wallace Gilberry, a defensive end for the Cincinnati Bengals, went undrafted out of Alabama in 2008. He’s been with the Bengals since 2012. On Monday night, Gilberry was at the Target in Newport, Kentucky, across the Ohio River from Cincinnati. Whatever he was shopping for, he added on a PS4 and a bunch of video games for a random family.
Lastly, your feel good story of the day. Gilberry was one of the few bright spots of the late Shula days and Saban's first season. Despite not being drafted, Gilberry has put together a solid career, and has even led the NFL in sacks couple of times mid season. Now he's making headlines as a standout guy in the community.