Saturday, November 10, 2012

11/11 (Johnny Football) Quickie

You know a player is electrifying when it is obvious to a 6-year-old and a 4-year-old. That was Johnny Manziel -- "Johnny Football" -- with my kids on Saturday afternoon.

I have absolutely no problem installing Manziel as the Heisman front-runner ahead of K-State's Klein (even if he leads the team to an undefeated season) or Oregon's Barber or Notre Dame's Te'o.

That was the most impressive win I have seen since Cam Newton's Auburn came back from being down a ton to beat Alabama two years ago.

Newton was also a first-year starter (and one-year wonder), but the insane part is that Manziel still has next year, and even after he becomes NFL-eligible, two years of college after that if he wants.

If Texas A&M can head into Tuscaloosa and beat No. 1 Alabama in the Aggies' first year in the SEC, imagine what happens after Kevin Sumlin finishes a few recruiting cycles.

Anyway, I said this on Twitter last night and I believe it: I have no problem reserving one of the two BCS title-game slots for an SEC team, and I have no problem giving that slot to the 2-loss runner-up of the SEC West.

No team has had a better win this season -- and it's not even close (the top contender up until today was probably K-State winning at Oklahoma).

No team has a better star player. No team has a more impressive balance of slick offense and stout defense.

And it is hard to find a team that has played a tougher schedule. (Which is why I'll overlook the two losses -- if Oregon or K-State or ND played A&M's schedule, they would have more than two losses.)

This was the signature moment of the college football season -- the defending champ knocked out by the spunky up-and-comer. It is why college football is the best.


As for the situation with the BCS, it's pretty simple: If Kansas State and Oregon win out, they will meet for the national title, no matter what Notre Dame does.

If either K-State or Oregon lose -- unlikely, but stranger things have happened (and fairly frequently at that) -- ND moves into the slot provided it doesn't lose, either.

If two of the three lose a game, 1-loss Alabama moves back into the title game, provided it doesn't lose again -- it won't -- and it will steamroll that non-SEC team.

I am inclined to give the SEC champ the benefit of the doubt -- just because a team is undefeated shouldn't automatically mean it is better than a 1-loss team.

That said: It's hard to watch Alabama the past two weeks and not think that both Kansas State and Oregon would give them at least as tough of a game as A&M.

Then again, that is the same kind of logic that ends up getting debunked every...single...year... in the BCS title game.


*Florida didn't deserve to win that game. They deserved to get humiliated by Louisiana-Lafayette, who -- for their part -- deserved to have that "once in a lifetime" moment for a program on the fringes.

THAT SAID: Holy smokes. They came through when it mattered. With that last minute drive and then one of the most improbable plays I have ever seen -- what was essentially a walk-off blocked-punt TD. After 58 minutes of hating this game plus the Northwestern debacle ending -- see below -- it was a day-maker. Luchiez Purifoy, I will never mock you again for wearing the sanctified No. 15 jersey.

*The Northwestern loss to Michigan -- and, make no mistake, it was a Northwestern loss, not a Michigan win -- was the most disheartening of my 20 years of being a fan.

This team is three chokes from being 10-0, and that's not just "oh, if some crazy combination of things happened, we would have won." That's "the game was won, the team couldn't execute down the stretch... again."

It is baffling. It is maddening. And it should be intolerable to any fan of a program that takes itself remotely seriously.

I cannot for the life of me understand why Pat Fitzgerald is such a brutal in-game tactician when things get to the fourth quarter. I cannot understand why he can't produce a competent defense (or employ a competent defensive coordinator).

But a 7- or 8-win season when a 9- or 10- (or 11-) win season -- a spot in the first Big Ten title game was there for the taking -- was absolutely attainable is unacceptable.

I'm going to make myself feel better by watching highlights of Johnny Football.

-- D.S.

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