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2023 Blog Poll Season Finale — Dismiss the GOAT at your own peril

Dynasty’s dead...again!

NCAA Football: SEC Football Championship-Georgia at Alabama

John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

If you want to kill the king, you must ensure that he is well and truly dead. Texas tried its hand. Arkansas had its shot. Texas A&M had all the momeentum in the world. The cursed earth of Jordan Hare took a swing. The Georgia Bulldogs threw haymakers for 60 minutes.

And, at the end of the year, the king is still on his throne. He was wounded, he was wobbly at times. But heavy still rests the crown.

Regular season Blog Poll finale to follow, with usual notes. But before that, I want to send actual, honest sympathy to the FSU Seminoles players. It’s truly not their fault that their schedule got worse as the season wore on, that they lost their star quarterback — Alabama has been in that situation several times during Saban’s run. The team that suited up in December was not the one we saw in September, thus they are not going to the playoffs. That’s the way it should be. It sucks for you, and I’m sorry. But injuries are part of the sport, and sometimes they cut against you.

Usual caveats: The criteria are nebulous, far-ranging, and capricious — strength of schedule, bad and good coaching, injuries, exigent circumstances, home/away results, defense or lack thereof, offense or lack thereof, line play, power poll-ishness, can you cover a spread (Vegas is pretty smart about how good a team is), head-to-head where possible or prudent, and my own lying eyeballs.

I’ve had Alabama pretty consistently No. 1 the last month of the season; that’s not homerific, that’s the schedule. They simply did more than anyone else and they earned their spot here. Any more questions?

It’s going to drive folks crazy, but last night the two best teams in the country met for the national title. Again. That’s been a recurrent theme with these ‘Bama/UGA games for a decade now. If it were truly the four best, Georgia would be in the playoffs. There’s almost no way that Alabama and UGA don’t make the playoffs every year in a 12-team format. Well, you get what you wanted, media clowns.

Texas has the worst loss of the bunch (and it gets worse when you look at who OU lost to), but a very solid resume (and until last night, the season’s best win). That Alabama/Texas rematch is going to be a much different game than the one we saw the second week of September.

Michigan is 5-star Iowa with an offense. If there was any big loser last night (besides FSU), it was the Wolverines, who believed for much of the past month they had a de facto first-round bye. Instead, they draw an Alabama Crimson Tide squad who’ve been disrespected for four months, and are peaking at the right time. Alabama fans should thank god that Harbaugh’s suspension is over — they looked more dangerous and were far more aggressive when Dadpants McSignthief was sidelined. McCarthy vs. Terrion and Kool-Aid is going to be...interesting.

tOSU is simply better than the teams below them. The defense is much improved. They have the best receiving room in the country. The ground game is deep and dangerous...and the quarterbacking was trash on the road for 20 minutes when it mattered most. Without a slow start from McCord, the Buckeyes are in the playoffs. This team without Ryan Day would be an annual playoff participant. He’s way too conservative with the talent on hand and softer than baby shit.

Washington has had a garbage fire defense and running game all season. They road both to a smacking around of the hated Ducks, and it was genuinely hilarious. But let’s not pretend that 2023 Texas isn’t going to run these fools out of the Superdome either.

This duo was playing as well as anyone down the stretch, and they notched some big wins along the way. It’s only fitting that Mizzou-Oklahoma should meet in a bowl. Make that happen, Committee.

Was this quietly Ole Miss’s best team under Kiffin? The star power wasn’t there this year, and the thumpings by UGA/Alabama show they still have a long way to go to getting in the elite, but they’re edging towards the Grown Ups table by degree.

One of the best offenses you’ll see in College Football, the likely Heisman winner, and a defense that should disgrace every LSU Tiger who’s ever suited up. They’re going to ruin someone’s New Year if the draft-eligible guys suit up. It is still legitimately funny to me that Brian Kelly has all of this going for him, and yet Tommy Rees won an SEC Championship first. LOL.

September Florida State is a Top 5 team; December 2, 2023 FSU would finish 5-7 in the SEC. That really sucks for Jordan Travis, Mike Norvell, and all those seniors and draft-Juniors who stuck around for this run. Keon Coleman makes me drool. Absolute hoss.

NCAA Football: Louisiana State at Alabama Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports

Notre Dame is a very good team just lacking...it. Whether that’s a key stop or a key offensive play. Like Ole Miss, they’re the biggest kids not at the grown up table.

Who really wants to play Oklahoma when the running game is clicking, the passing game is firing, and the defensive line gets after it? Venables is on to something here. It’s very much a Big 12 team at its core (including that secondary), but it’s at least a fun one.

Penn State are frauds. You and I both know it. James Franklin steals more than the Hamburglar. They’re getting a whole lotta’ currency from a close home loss and running that awful Iowa team...also at home. They’re gonna get worked over in a bowl game.

Oregon spent a week getting high on their own supply. They dominated Washington in two prior losses to UW by running the ball. So of course they dial up a game plan that puts 80% of the offense in Bo Nix’s hands? I can’t wait to see who overdrafts him. Run away from Bo Pix like he does his kids (allegedly). Dan Lanning is lookin’ more and more like West Coast Mike Gundy than than a younger Kirby Smart. Kirby at least wins his share of big games.

Speaking of Mike Gundy, Oklahoma State is the same ole’ clownshoe program it’s always been. Great talent, wins some big games then turns around and loses to bozos, only to come out flat when it matters most. Definition of a program in stagnation.

Kansas State was rebuilding. Previously, that would have been a 5-7 season; it’s a testament to Kleiman they won 8 games. Very good program. Nothing but respect for such limited athleticism and talent. Next year is the big question, with Midwest Tebow departing.

I’ve loved SMU all season. These ain’t your daddy’s ponies. Getting rid of Mordecai was an upgrade; he’s throwing wounded ducks in Madison now. The defense is much better, and the running game is vastly underrated.

Troy managed to not miss a beat. It took them a while to figure out what their offense would be, but once they did, the defense followed and it was a juggernaut.

Look, I get it. No one likes Liberty. But the running game is absolutely filthy, the defense is capable of big games, and the passing game is hella’ underrated. Their reward? Losing by 50 to Oregon. Seriously though, they may give a disappointed Ducks team problems with the running game if OU’s front seven has not vastly improved in a month.

Tennessee was just your run of the mill, good SEC team. The fact they even got that far is a testament to how good of a job Heupel has done rebuilding...and I loathe praising anything in Knoxville. Could be a semi-consistent player in a divisionless SEC.

James Madison was a machine alllll year, except when the lights shone brightest and they dropped a home grudge match to nemesis Appalachian State. Curt Cignetti to IU may be the biggest coaching loss suffered by any team this year.

Like many teams, NC State peaked late. Unlike some of those, Alabama for instance, it came after far too much damage had been done. If the ‘Noles played NC State last night instead of the ‘Ville, there’s no controversy this morning. The Wolfpack would have kicked the herpes out of ‘Hassee.

Arizona is this low because I simply refuse to take any team too seriously who lost to 2023 Mississippi State. And they were losing badly for three quarters before making a fierce comeback only to fall in OT. Ranked teams do not lose to Mississippi State.

Clemson and Utah are the same team, change my mind. Vicious defenses with solid running games that are capable of upending some good teams. But they were both betrayed by a lack of depth at key spots and some execrable passing “attacks.” But at least Utah had an excuse — down to a third-string QB and a walk-on DB at running back. Clemson has zero justification for an offense that bad. And I still think Dabo’s future lies not in Clemson, nor in the NFL, nor even at another college program. Nope. I think he goes into politics and becomes a Senator (R-SC). Try that idea on for size: it fits, doesn’t it? Meanwhile, Kyle Whittingham is one of the ten best coaches in the game. It’s a miracle Utah has been able to keep him.


Thus ends the 2023 Regular Season blog poll. We’ll be back after the Bowls with a complete finale. Feel free to chime in below with any complaints or effusive praise.

Roll Tide

Poll

Did the two best teams in the country play last night in the SEC Championship Game?

This poll is closed

  • 30%
    Yep. It’s 2012 all over again.
    (642 votes)
  • 69%
    Nope. Alabama and/or Georgia aren’t among the best two teams in the country.
    (1474 votes)
2116 votes total Vote Now