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College Football Random Thoughts From Around the Country: One More Game

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The wild, wacky, and wonderful world of College Football!

That's a big ol' paperweight.
That's a big ol' paperweight.
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Week three of College Football bowl season brought out the best teams with some savory match-ups. Many were blowouts - some surprising, a few not so surprising.

Cotton Bowl: ALABAMA 38 Michigan State 0

Even the most fervent Tide fan could not have seen this annihilation coming. The Tide dominated Sparty hanging the largest shutout in Cotton Bowl history on the #3 team. MSU had 29 yards rushing and Connor Cook (19-39, 210) threw a pair of picks to go with 8 passes broken up. Jake Coker played the game of his career, including connecting with Calvin Ridley for two touchdowns and going 25-for-30 for a career-best 286 yards.

ICYMI: The Crimson Tide won more games at Jerry's World this season (2-0) than the Dallas Cowboys did (1-7).

ICYMI 2: Alabama has a national-record 29 Crimson Tide players who have already earned their degree, including three that have graduated with their master's degree (Jake Coker, Ryan Kelly, Isaac Luatua). All 29 are wearing a mortar board sticker on their helmet denoting their status as graduates.

ORANGE BOWL: Clemson 37 Oklahoma 17

Deshaun Watson had 187 yards passing plus 145 on the ground to go with Wayne Galliman's 150 yards rushing. It was a 17-16 Okie lead at halftime but the Sooners could do nothing right in the second half with two INTs, three 3-and-outs, a turnover on downs, and no scores.

2015-16 Conference Bowl Records

(Through, Jan. 2)

Conference W L Pct.
SEC 8 2 0.800
Pac-12 6 4 0.600
Conference USA 3 2 0.600
Big Ten 5 5 0.500
Mountain West 4 4 0.500
Sun Belt 2 2 0.500
ACC 4 5 0.444
Big 12 3 4 0.429
MAC 3 4 0.429
American Athletic 2 6 0.250
Independents (Notre Dame, BYU) 0 2 0.000

ESS EE SEE!

TEXAS BOWL, Houston, TX
LSU 56 Texas Tech 27 - The Tigers finally returned to form they showed before they faced Alabama. The Red Raiders briefly held a 21-20 lead in the third quarter when LSU answered with three straight touchdowns. Leonard Fournette scored four touchdowns on the ground while going for 212 yards on 29 carries. He also had a 44-yard TD reception. Tech had 29 total rushing yards.

BIRMINGHAM BOWL, Legion Field, Birmingham, AL
Auburn 31 Memphis 10 - Many observers figured this would be a close game, and it was for the first half as the teams entered the locker rooms locked at 10 points apiece. Gus Malzahn opted to start Sean White but the freshman had a poor game, passing 8-13 for 103 yards with two interceptions (one a pick-six) and no TDs. Jeremy Johnson took over midway through the third quarter but oddly enough only threw one pass - a quick pass to to Jason Smith who took it in from 11 yards out. The rest was a heavy dosage of Jovon Robinson: 27-126, TD. NFL prospect Paxton Lynch had a rough day for Memphis throwing 16 of 37 for 106 yards, a pick, and no scores.

BELK BOWL, Charlotte, NC
Mississippi State 51 NC State 28 -  Dak Prescott got the better of Jacoby Brissett in this quarterback showdown passing 25-42, 380 yards, 4 TD, 1 INT to go with 12 carries for 47 yards. The Wolfpack QB was 12-28, 214 yds, 1 TD, and 2 INT. The Bulldogs jumped out to a 21-0 lead and held serve until NC State yielded to the bigger deeper MSU team late in the third quarter.

MUSIC CITY BOWL, Nashville, TN
Louisville 27 Texas A&M 21 -  It should have been no surprise that with the soap opera going on in College Station that the Aggies went down in this game. Jake Hubenak played well enough at quarterback (28-48, 307 yards, 2 TD, 1 INT), but the rest of the team looked lethargic and the defense gave up 534 yards, mostly to the Cardinals' quarterback. Lamar Jackson ran for a career-high 226 yards and two touchdowns and mirrored it in the passing game with two more scores on 227 yards.

OUTBACK BOWL, Tampa, FL
Tennessee 45 Northwestern 6 - The Vols finish the 2015-16 campaign on a high-note as they dominated the Big Ten Cinderella wannabe Wildcats. Jalen Hurd ran 24 times for 130 yards with a score. Tennessee finishes at 9-4, the first time with at least nine wins since 2007.

CITRUS BOWL, Orlando, FL
Michigan 41 Florida 7 - There is no discounting the fine job that Jim McElwain did with this mess of a team this year. However, they will have a sour taste in their mouths after finishing with three straight blow-out losses. Treon Harris was his usual horrid self (8/21, 146 yds, 0 TD, INT) with the running game only adding 118 to the tally.

SUGAR BOWL, New Orleans, LA
Ole Miss 48 Oklahoma State 20 - Okie State should never have been in this game. They were the overachieving Iowa of the Big 12. Chad Kelly threw for 302 yards and four touchdowns with three going to Laquon Treadwell. The Cowpokes were held to 63 yards rushing, only 15 of which were gained by three running backs.

GATOR BOWL, Jacksonville, FL
Georgia 24 Penn State 17 - Terry Godwin threw a touchdown pass on a trick play and also caught a TD pass as the Dawgs built up a 24-3 lead. PSU rallied for two scores in the fourth behind back-up QB Trace McSorley but it wasn't enough. The Nittany Lions actually played better without the overrated Christian Hackenberg who injured his shoulder.

LIBERTY BOWL, Memphis, TN
Arkansas 45 Kansas State 23 - Alex Collins ran for 185 yards and three touchdowns as the Hogs (8-5) capped their season winning five of their last six. What coulda been if they had only managed to beat Toledo, Texas Tech and TAMU?

THE OTHERS

ARMED FORCES BOWL, Fort Worth, TX
Cal 55 Air Force 36 - Jared Goff upped his draft stock throwing for 467 yards and six touchdowns. He finishes with 43 passing scores on the season as the Bears win their first bowl game since 2008.

RUSSELL ATHLETIC BOWL, Orlando, FL ... AGAIN!
Baylor 49 North Carolina 38 - BAYLOR RUNNING THE BALL?!?!? Whoda thunk it? Johnny Jefferson rushed for three touchdowns and a bowl-record 299 yards. All of the Bears touchdowns were of the rushing variety. UNC's Marquise Williams had five TDs, three passing and two rushing.

ARIZONA BOWL, Tucson, AZ
Nevada 28 Colorado State 23 - This was the weird game that was only seen on an obscure cable channel played between two Mountain West schools. Fittingly, both teams finished 7-6. Attendance was announced at 20,425. I have my doubts.

HOLIDAY BOWL, San Diego, CA
Wisconsin 23 Southern Cal 21 - A 29-yard field goal with 2:27 left was enough to give the Badgers the win. Wisky, giving Bama's SOS another little bump (not that they need it anymore), finish at 10-3 while So Cal falls to a drab 8-6.

PEACH BOWL, Atlanta, GA
Houston 38 Florida State 24  - This one is going to sting for awhile. The Cougars jumped all over the 'Noles going up 21-3 before halftime. Dalvin Cook managed only 33 yards on 18 carries for the game with a lost fumble. Sean Maguire was awful throwing four interceptions. Everett Golson probably should have stuck around...

ROSE BOWL, Pasadena, CA
Stanford 45 Iowa 16 - The bowl makers screwed this one all up. It shoulda been Stanford vs. anOSU and Iowa vs. the Irish. They shoulda known that the Hawkeyes were not going to be able to stop Christian McCaffrey who scored on a 75 yards touchdown reception on the Trees first play from scrimmage. He added 172 on the ground as Stanford built a 35-point halftime lead.

FIESTA BOWL, Glendale, AZ
Ohio State 44 Notre Dame 28  - Last week I pondered "Can they both lose?" Well, the Irish lost the game but the 'Eyes are losing a ton of players (see "Mass Exodus" below). Ezekiel Elliott ran for 149 yards and four touchdowns. J.T. Barrett had 96 yards rushing and a rather pedestrian passing game (19-31, 211, TD, INT). Cardale Jones did not play. Again.

ALAMO BOWL, San Antonio, TX
TCU 47 Oregon 41 (3 OT) - Probably the wildest craziest game of the bowl season, if not the entire season saw TCU overcome a 31-0 deficit with a back-up senior quarterback making the first start of his college career. With Trevone Boykin in the pokey (see below), Bram Kohlhausen (28-45 351, 2 TD, INT) chipped away at the Ducks lead to knot it up at 31-all when the clock hit zeroes. Meanwhile, Oregon was ineffective after QB Vernon Adams was injured when knocking heads with a defender. In OT, the teams exchanged TDs and then field goals. Kohlhausen ran for 8 yards for a TD but the two-point conversion failed. Oregon could not move the ball ten yards and the game was over.

CACTUS BOWL, Phoenix, AZ
West Virginia 43 Arizona State 42 - This game started late as *@#$ and I didn't watch it but I imagine it went something like this: WVU QB threw for a ton of yards but so did AzSt. Nobody bothered to play defense. The end. The Sun Devils finish 6-7, WVU 8-5.

IMHO:

WARNING: If you are not a fan of the Crimson Tide, you may want to skip this section because I am about to get all Gumpy here.

Nick Saban is a man with a plan. It is called The Process©. If it has ever been typed out in book form, it probably makes Infinite Jest look like a Kabul vacation guide. Somewhere in the depths of this Saban mind-tome must be a section on playing what I will call "bowl-staging" games. The Alabama head man rekindled the idea of a "Kickoff Classic" when he agreed to bring his Tide team to Atlanta to kickoff the 2008 season against Clemson (a 34-10 victory).

Since that game, the idea has caught on in places like Charlotte, Nashville, Houston, and Arlington, Texas. Alabama has returned to Atlanta for Week 1 games three more times and twice to Arlington (winning all). The Crimson Tide has also found their way back to Atlanta and Arlington in the post-season. Since that Clemson game, they returned to Atlanta five times for the SEC Championship and to Arlington for this season's Cotton Bowl.

For many college football players, going to the big city wide-eyed, being wined and dined and "swagged", can be intoxicating. For some like Trevone Boykin (see below), a different kind of intoxication. It can also be distracting. The point here is that Alabama becomes accustom to these big-stage high-profile games. So when they arrive in a place like Atlanta or Jerry's World for the SEC Championship or a CFP game, it is all old hat. It's a business trip. I have a hunch, this is part of the genius of The Process©.

tiny football

AND THEN THERE WERE TWO:

boxers

Alabama opened as a 7 point favorite over Clemson and has stuck around 6.5 to 7.

The Tide easily covered their ten point spread over Michigan State. Clemson was actually a four point underdog to Oklahoma.

~~~~~

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  • No real injuries to report for Alabama. ROLL TIDE!
  • Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said Monday he's "very optimistic" that injured All-American defensive end Shaq Lawson will play against Alabama in the College Football Playoff Championship Game. Lawson injured his knee early in Clemson's semifinal win over Oklahoma, an injury Swinney described as a sprained medial collateral.
  • If you watched the Liberty Bowl, you saw Arkansas WR Dominique Reed leave the game on a stretcher after injuring his neck. The good news is he was back at the stadium by the end of the game to celebrate with the team in the locker room.
  • Notre Dame linebacker Jaylon Smith will undergo reconstructive knee surgery on Thursday to repair damage that includes a torn ACL and MCL suffered against against Ohio State. The 2015 Butkus Award winner was planning on forgoing his final year to go pro but may want to reconsider.
  • One day after endorsing Kevin Sumlin, Texas A&M athletic director Eric Hyman is stepping down from his post.
  • Trevone Boykin began the season as the Heisman favorite and ended his college career in the back of a San Antonio squad car following a bar fight that led to the TCU quarterback allegedly striking a police officer. Boykin was charged for assaulting a police officer, resisting arrest, and public intoxication. Boykin and wide receiver Preston Miller were suspended for the Alamo Bowl.
  • Razorbacks senior linebacker Wendel Davis, senior safety Matt Harris, and junior receiver Marques Wade were suspended from the Liberty Bowl. The players arrived on time for curfew Wednesday at The Peadbody hotel in Memphis, but left after rooms were checked at some point later in the night.
  • LSU senior tight end Dillon Gordon was treated for non-life-threatening injuries early Tuesday after being stabbed in a bar fight.  Gordon went to a hospital for treatment after the incident, which occurred at Reggie's, a bar in the Tigerland section just off the LSU campus.
  • Arkansas tight end Hunter Henry has announced his intentions to leave the program after three years to enter the 2016 NFL Draft. Henry will best be remembered for his wild blind lateral that bounced into teammate Alex Collins' hands and eventually was converted into the winning touchdown against Ole Miss. Also leaving early is Hogs offensive lineman Denver Kirkland.
  • In a surprise to nobody, WR Laquon Treadwell and OL Laremy Tunsil are leaving Ole Miss for the draft.
  • It's a mass exodus in Columbus. Ohio State linebackers Joey Bosa and Darron Lee, safeties Vonn Bell and Tyvis Powell, running back Ezekiel Elliott, wide receivers Michael Thomas and Jalin Marshall, cornerback Eli Apple, and back-up quarterback & future NFL bust Cardale Jones are all saying toodle-oo to Urbz & company with eligibility still remaining.
  • Notre Dame cornerback KeiVarae Russell joins the team's leading wide receiver Will Fuller and leading rusher C.J. Prosise as underclassmen declaring a year early for the NFL Draft.
  • Ex-Texas A&M QB Kyle Allen is transferring to Houston.
  • Remember Trevor Knight? The former starting Oklahoma Sooners quarterback has decided to transfer to Texas A&M for the 2016 season. As a grad-transfer, he will be immediately eligible to play.
  • Remember Barry Sanders Jr's high-profile recruiting? The 4-star chose Stanford over Okie State and Bama. Now four years later, he has graduated with 672 yards and five touchdowns under his belt over the past three seasons, including 315 yards and four scores this year. He plans to transfer with one year to play. With rising junior Christian McCaffrey ahead of him, there was not much chance of him moving up the depth chart.
  • Kirby Smart announced the hiring of Shane Beamer (son of Frank), James Coley, Dell McGee and Marshall Malchow as new members of the UGA staff. Beamer will be tight ends coach and special teams coordinator, Coley will coach wide receivers, McGee will handle the running backs, and Malchow (an Alabama graduate) will oversee recruiting.
  • There have been rumors that Smart may be eyeballing Mel Tucker for the DC job but will wait for the Championship game to be over.
  • LSU has hired Wisconsin defensive coordinator Dave Aranda to replace Kevin Steele, who left to take the same job at Auburn. The Badgers were second in scoring defense (13.7 points per game) behind Alabama (13.4 ppg) and third in total defense (268.5 yards per game).
  • New Miami coach Mark Richt has swiped defensive coordinator Manny Diaz away from Mississippi State. The Miami native coached the Bulldogs to 36th in scoring defense yielding 23.2 ppg and 56th in ypg at 391.2.
  • Texas A&M has parted ways with beleaguered offensive coordinator Jake Spavital.

NFL

It was a pretty good Sunday for a few former Bama players:

  • C.J. Mosley was everywhere on Sunday for the Ravens as he tallied 4 solo tackles, 8 assists, a sack, and a pass defensed.
  • The Texans' Kareem Jackson had 3 solos, 2 passes defended, and returned an interception 27 yards for a touchdown.
  • AJ McCarron was 17 of 27 for 160 yards, 2 TD and 0 interceptions in a win over Baltimore.
  • Julio Jones hauled in nine catches for 149 yards but failed to score. Julio and Pittsburgh's Antonio Brown both end the year tied at 136 grabs but Jones topped the Steeler in yardage 1,871 to 1,834. The third place receiver was a good 300+ yards and 25 catches behind these two.
  • Amari Cooper caught two passes for 20 yards as he battled a foot injury. He finishes his rookie campaign with 1,070 receiving yards.
  • Ha Ha Clinton-Dix had four tackles including a sack for the Packers.
  • Two late practice squad additions: Brian Vogler was added by Indianapolis and the Falcons picked up Xzavier Dickson for the final weekend.
  • Anthony Steen signs a reserve/future contract with the Miami Dolphins.
  • The NFL Players Association honored the Patriots Dont'a Hightower as its Week 17 Community MVP after he hosted a special Monday Night Football fundraiser on Dec. 28. The party, which took place at CBS Scene restaurant, benefited the American Diabetes Association. Last summer in his hometown of Lewisberg, Tenn., he was celebrated with his very own street and decided to pay it forward by donating new equipment to the local youth football team.
  • The Bills' Marcell Dareus suffered a broken foot. Buffalo (8-8) did not make the playoffs.

Kristi_malzahn_says_shut_up_medium

Krazy Kristi's "SHUT UP!" of the Week goes to Big Game Bob Stoops!

Gump 4 Heisman

HEISMAN HYPE
With the exception of two years, the Heisman Trophy voting is basically a hype award.

Derrick Henry has now scored a touchdown run in nineteen consecutive games. It is the longest active streak in the nation, and the longest by an SEC player in the past 20 years (eclipsing Tim Tebow's streak of 14 games from 2006-07). His two touchdowns vs. Michigan State set his season total at 25, breaking the SEC record of 23 that was previously shared by Tebow and Auburn's Tre Mason.

Henry has now rushed for over 2,000 yards this season, making him the 25th player in NCAA single-season history to do so and the 19th player in FBS history. The mark also makes him the first SEC back to collect 2,000 yards in a season as well as the first Alabama back. Henry finished the Cotton Bowl with 75 yards, giving him a total of 2,061 for the season (14 games).

Black_white_tv_salesman_medium

  • The Michigan State vs. Alabama game tied for ESPN’s fifth best non-Championship College Football Game on record with a 9.9 overnight rating. It was also the highest Cotton Bowl on record.
  • Oklahoma vs. Clemson was ESPN’s seventh best non-Championship game at a 9.7 overnight rating. It was also the highest Orange Bowl rating since 2006 in which #3 Penn State defeated #22 FSU 26-23.
  • Birmingham was the top-rated market for both the Cotton and Orange Bowls, earning a 48.1 and a 35.6, respectively. Greenville, which was the second-highest market for both semifinals, earned a 29.6 market rating for the Orange Bowl, the market’s highest-rating for an ESPN bowl game on record, and a 21.3 rating for the Cotton Bowl.
  • The top 10 markets for Cotton Bowl: Birmingham (48.1), Greenville (21.3), Knoxville (21.2), Nashville (21.1), Atlanta (20.2), Detroit (20.0), Columbus (19.7), Jacksonville (15.9), Memphis (15.9), and New Orleans (15.7).
  • Top 10 markets for Orange Bowl: Birmingham (35.6), Greenville (29.6), Oklahoma City (29.4) Tulsa (27.9), Knoxville (18.5), Atlanta (17.8), Columbus (17.6), Nashville (15.8), New Orleans (14.4), and Charlotte (14.2).
  • Houston's Peach Bowl win over Florida State drew 4.0 overnight, up 21% from last year’s Peach Bowl.
  • Despite all this rosiness spewed out by ESPN, the CFP numbers were down from last year in no small part due to scheduling them on December 31st. Methinks that experiment will be shelved.

tiny football

FCS/I-AA NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP GAME

Jacksonville State vs North Dakota State

Saturday, January 9, 11am/noon, ESPN2
The Jax St team (13-1) that shoulda coulda woulda beaten Auburn this season will take on the four-time defending champs NDSU (12-2) in lovely Frisco, TX!

alabama logo script a 100x100

#ALABAMA #CRIMSONTIDE

NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP GAME, Glendale, AZ

Clemson vs. ALABAMA

Monday, January 11, 7:30pm/8:30pm, ESPN ESPN - Chris Fowler, Kirk Herbstreit, Heather Cox.

As the higher seed, Clemson is the home team and will wear orange while Alabama will wear all whites.

Happy 2016 & #RollTide!