Practice? Man, we're talking practice.
With No. 1 Clemson set to face No. 2 Alabama in the national championship game on Jan. 11 in Glendale, Arizona, the Crimson Tide look to have one distinct advantage over the Tigers. 'Bama has unlimited hours to practice this week, while Clemson must adhere to a 20-hour NCAA limit. How is this advantage possible? Due to Clemson's spring semester beginning Wednesday, the ACC champions are restricted by the time limit. Alabama's spring semester does not begin until Jan. 13, two days after the title game.
Is it that big of a deal? Probably not in terms of game preparation. But, as Fox notes, that 20-hour cap includes all team activities, such as weight room, film study and the like -- not just putting on the pads. If there is any advantage to be had, it is in those non-contact activities.
3. The discrepancy in practice time -- Clemson, in school, has a 20-hour limit; Alabama, not in school, doesn't -- won't affect the College Football Playoff. But it looks bad. What really looks bad is that it happened last season with Oregon (in school) and Ohio State (not), and the NCAA shrugged its shoulders. Everything should be equal for both sides.
Maisel has a good point that things should be equalized in terms of preparation time permitted. He is wrong if he thinks those two extra days of unlimited film study or conditioning won't matter. I'm not going to make Clemson's excuses for them
when if Alabama wins, but I imagine the hue and cry from Auburn with a Lake will be deafening.
Do bowl wins matter?
Rumors of the SEC’s demise were greatly exaggerated and Sankey is pulling his finest Mr. Burns right now. And just like that, the SEC’s chest is fully puffed out (again). Raucous S-E-C chants still are ringing throughout the land. No matter what you think -- or don't think -- of bowls, the SEC came, saw and conquered the postseason, with a chance at nine wins still on the table. Seven of the SEC’s wins were by 21 points or more and the league went 7-2 against Power 5 opponents, with six of those wins by 21 points or more.
At some point, you do have to think that bowl wins matter as a barometer of overall health of a conference. Yes, performance is largely reliant on matchups, but you still have to suit up. And, the SEC-West in particular bludgeoned the field.
The SEC going 8-2 in bowl games doesn't mean that the league is the best assemblage of athletic teams ever to dwell on Earth, nor that any other conference is terrible. It means eight SEC teams were better than eight other teams in eight different games, seven of them glorified exhibitions that featured teams out of the race for the national championship. That is fine.
I'm not sure you can say this is wholly accurate. In terms of justifying what we largely knew (Stanford is very good, Iowa was the beneficiary of a weak division, the B12 is awful,) as I note above they do have meaning, because bowl wins and OOC wins drive the narrative. And, that season's narrative is used, consciously or not, wrongly or otherwise, by the Playoff Committee.
Plus, I think Andy is mad because Florida got absolutely housed by Michigan.
OL -- Cam Robinson, Alabama: Everybody remembers the Derrick Henry stiff arm that sent Shilique Calhoun flying, but what got lost was the job Robinson did on Calhoun, keeping the Michigan State pass-rusher away from his quarterback. Calhoun was held without a sack.
The big guy looked better than he's been all season. The rest certainly helped his nagging, though undisclosed, injuries -- just in time to draw Shaq Lawson too.
Mississippi receiver Laquon Treadwell is heading to the NFL. So is left tackle Laremy Tunsil.
In the least shocking news ever, Treadwell and Tunsil are gone. So is Arkansas' Hunter Henry and Florida's VHIII. Ohio State is losing seven to the draft, and who only knows how many players Alabama will hemorrhage after the national championship game. There are going to be a lot more new faces next season in CFB.
SEC's Paul Finebaum joins Mike & Mike to explain why the outcome of the College Football Playoff championship will greatly influence Alabama coach Nick Saban's decision to leave college football for the NFL.
Pawwwwl, just stop. I'm the one in charge of clickbait around these parts. Saban is not leaving (for the reasons discussed yesterday.)
Clemson is the only team to rank in the top 15 in all four primary line stats in 2015. Alabama's line stats are decent on offense and nearly perfect on defense. These two teams were head-and-shoulders ahead of all other power conference teams up front. ... Lawson is expected back for Monday's game, and in terms of run defense and line stats, Clemson has been even better than Michigan State. And if the Tigers can trust their defensive backs to hold up to the strain of an Alabama passing game that stretches you as horizontally as possible before poking holes deep, Alabama might really struggle to score.
Clemson does have an excellent line, and there is a lot of quality depth too. However, LSU has an excellent line, Ole Miss has an excellent line, Mississippi State has a very good d-line, as does Texas A&M, Michigan State, Wisconsin and on and on and on.
The quality of the Clemson line isn't anything Alabama's not seen, schemed around and defeated, folks. Lane Kiffin and company will be ready and dialed in.
For Alabama, the advantages are obvious. The Crimson Tide have what is by far the best defense in the country. They utilize good special teams and extreme defensive efficiency to create massive field position advantages. Occasionally they score points. For Clemson, there's less margin for error, but the Tigers could turn the script in their favor by shutting down drives short of the end zone and harassing the quarterback on passing downs. They invade your backfield and finish drives. You can beat Alabama with that recipe.
Tomorrow, Saxon will have his in-depth data analysis. For now, here's the raw numbers from Bill's breakdown. I think he nails it, though: Clemson's margin of error is nil.
UA’s kicking game has improved dramatically since the early part of the season. Lately, the Crimson Tide has been productive on special teams, whether it’s Adam Griffith kicking five field goals at Auburn or a blocked punt for a safety against Florida or Cyrus Jones’ punt return for a touchdown against Michigan State. Another big play in the kicking game could be the difference in the title game.
#FireBobbyWilliams, erm, I meant #HIREBobbyWilliams.
Blocking and tackling
7. The Line. A young Clemson offensive line that gets better and develops more depth as the season gets longer. 8. Physical play. Saban’s teams are known for bruising performances; there is no minimizing the dominance applied by linebacker Reggie Ragland and others in a 38-0 Cotton Bowl clobbering of Michigan State. But did you watch the second half of the Orange Bowl? Oklahoma players were going down like Republican presidential candidates.
Clemson analysts think Oklahoma was a physical team and expect the Tigers to try and out-muscle the Tide. That's cute. Please try that.