5-at-10: Alabama in control (and in regardless), Other playoff contenders, AU malcontent with Malzahn, Rushmore of Ed Harris movies

5-at-10: Alabama in control (and in regardless), Other playoff contenders, AU malcontent with Malzahn, Rushmore of Ed Harris movies

November 28th, 2018 by Jay Greeson in Breaking News

Alabama sophomore quarterback Tua Tagovailoa (13), shown running for a first down during Saturday's home win over Auburn, said his touchdown pass to defeat Georgia in January's national championship game is in the past.

Photo by Kent Gidley/Alabama

Penultimate college playoff rankings

Is there a particular word out there that you just flat-out enjoy saying? Penultimate is high on that list for me.

As you know, it's a 50-cent word for next to last.

In terms of the college football rankings released Tuesday night, it could also take on the definition for "final list that actually does not mean anything."

When the playoff committee reconvenes and reemerges with a list of teams, that list will decide the four teams that will play for the whole ball of wax. (Side question: Was there a time when the whole ball of wax had an especially high value or a distinguished designation? I understand playing for "World Peace" or "All the tea in China" — if had all the tea in China, you'd corner the market and make Lipton your minion — but why the 'whole' ball of wax?)

Anyhoo, the next list is the ultimate list, which means Tuesday can be called the penultimate, which means we will take our pen to the penultimate list to try to craft the ultimate list. Deal? Deal. (Hey, Stewwie, it sounded much better in my head.)

Alabama is a clear No. 1. Undeniable in fact even for the most fervent of Tide detesters. It has won every game by at least three TDs, and if that's not dominant enough the Tide has the clear-cut Heisman favorite at quarterback and he's needed to throw all of three passes in the fourth quarter this season. What else do you need to know?

Alabama is in if it wins as the 1 seed; Alabama is in as the 4 seed if it loses a tight game, and unless everything falls completely against the Tide — which would include a double-digit-to-three-TD loss to Georgia — we think the Tide still will be in. Know this: The committee is pulling for Nick Saban's bunch to win more than any other outcome this championship weekend. Plain and simple, an Alabama win makes the debates and the decisions about who is the fourth team seems as serious as which wine to get with dinner.

But if Alabama loses, the committee will have several serious issues with which to debate:

1) Is Alabama the best team in the country? Yep. Has it been that way since Labor Day? Yep. Does one bad day in December derail all of that dominance? Possibly (And let's be honest here, a sizable loss Saturday for Alabama would be about Alabama every bit as it would be about Georgia. Even Julie and Alejandro — two of our biggest UGA-supporting regulars — would have to admit for UGA to put a two-TD-plus win on Bama on Saturday, Alabama is going to have to commit some serious self-inflicted wounds that they have not committed all season, right? Georgia is very good, and I'd be OK calling them great, and the DeAndre Baker vs. Jerry Juedy match-up is worth the price of admission by itself. So UGA is great; Alabama is something we've never seen before friends.)

2) So what about the best team argument, because that's clearly Alabama whether Saturday night's headlines read Georgia 49, Alabama 28 or anywhere in between?

3) What about the broadcast partners needs? And friends, to pretend that is not in this discussion is a bit naive, don't you think? A playoff without Alabama and the all-time greatness chace, will simply put become of regional and or religious interest to a lot of the nation. Yes Atlanta and Birmingham and Chattanooga will watch the whole heck out of a Georgia-Clemson title game, but how many folks in Phoenix or L.A. or even Chicago are checking in on that one? Or a Clemson-OU? 

4) Unless you are an old-school Alabama fan, the natural reaction would be to pull for the Bulldogs to win. We get that because we are drawn to the under-Dawgs by nature, and the simple thought of Nick Saban having to take his Dasani to the Coca-Cola podium and have to politick for a spot in the four Saturday evening makes me smile in my heart. But an Alabama loss will also hasten the expansion to eight teams, which I am vehemently against. Plus, for those of us rooting for other SEC teams, we know Alabama is already light years ahead, and Georgia is a clear No. 2 in the league. But if Georgia wins out, it just means the divide between 1 and 2 in the league will get tighter as the divide between Alabama and Georgia becomes Grand Canyon-esque.

The rest of the list

Wow, we did not expect to write 2,000 worse just on Alabama, but here we are. 

Of course, the SEC title game is not the only one that the committee will have to study this weekend or feature the only teams that are in play to play for it all.

While we are here, Clemson is a 27.5-point favorite. THE Ohio State is a 14-point favorite, and Oklahoma is favored by 8, Alabama by 13 and UCF is a 3-point pick over Memphis. Those are the games that have swing value, and the rest is just for Rose Bowl placement, bowl eligibility and conference title rings.         

As for Georgia, their task Saturday is simple. Win and it's in. Lose and almost assuredly go to the Sugar Bowl. There's no in between in my mind, unless the cosmic tumblers collide and everyone in contention poops themselves. 

For UGA to get in with a close loss Saturday, Clemson will have to be hammered by a rotten Pitt bunch. Oklahoma will have to have lost on a terrible call or an inexplicable play to Texas — Texas can't be too impressive or they will jump into the mix — and THE Ohio State must lose to Northwestern.

Unless all Holy Hades breaks loose, I do not think Clemson has earned a mulligan because of a) how bad the ACC has been all season, and b) a loss Saturday would be as a monster choke job as a four-TD favorite. For comparison sake of the 12-0s, Alabama and Clemson have their closest wins of the season against Texas A&M, believe it or not. Alabama allowed a TD in the fourth quarter to cut the margin to 22; Clemson escaped College Station with a 28-26 win.

So, if we assume — and assumptions are a dangerous thing — that Clemson will handle its BID-ness, then there are three spots accounted for currently.

Clemson, Notre Dame and the SEC winner. Period, and pass the mustard.

We expect THE Ohio State to baptize Northwestern in THE blood of points and Dwayne Haskins TD tosses. THE Buckeyes need to turn THE heads of THE committee, which is high on THE irony scale that a big part of this was to get away from folks running up THE score to impress voters. Simply put, THE Ohio State is back in THE conversation because it dropped a 60-burger on the best defense in the country. THE Buckeyes and Coach Urban Liar would have to believe to hop from No. 6 into the top four, they need a similar showing, right?

And it still may not be enough, because OU has a chance to avenge its one loss of the season — a tight three-point loss to Texas at a neutral site, which ranks as the best loss of the one-loss teams.

If everyone holds serve, we see Sunday's announcement being Alabama, Clemson, Notre Dame, and Oklahoma over THE Ohio State.

If the chaos happens, well the combinations are mind-spinning and where UCF might factor in is very intriguing. And we hate that Milton McKenzie suffered such a gruesome injury, but man, if he was not hurt, the events of last weekend would have put UCF into a strong position to stake a complain. But an injury to the Knights best player gives the committee a very easy excuse.


Auburn football coach Gus Malzahn, left, congratulates Tennessee coach Jeremy Pruitt after the Vols upset the host Tigers on Saturday.

Auburn football coach Gus Malzahn, left, congratulates Tennessee...

Photo by Associated Press /Times Free Press.

Contract contact

We have discussed Gus Malzahn's monster buyout around these parts before.

We are invested, shall we say.

Well, now comes news from Auburn Undercover — the 247 sports site run by Phillip Marshall, who has been covering long enough to almost remember the coaching search after John Heisman left — that Malzahn is in talks to drop down the monster numbers of said buyout

There are some other details in that story about assistants and staffing too, so click on it if you are interested.

But the main talking point here is Malzahn.

Is he open to taking less money because he truly wants to be there? Maybe. Auburn is a really great place. Heck, Chizik, Tuberville and Dye all still retain residences in and around Auburn.

Does he believe he can turn this thing around? God I hope so. (And that starts with making sure Jarrett Stidham has other plans. Stidham has the skills to actually make a living on Sundays. Dude throws a great ball. But his skill-set in Malzahn's offense are square pegs and hexagon holes.)

Does it help on the recruiting trail? It has to, just to have a hard answer one way or the other.

Will it mean — with a lower buyout — that Malzahn will start next season with the hottest seat in college football? 

Absolutely. (That is if he's there to start next year after all.)

This and that

— We love the draft. You know this. But this may be the single biggest evidence of that unequivocal fact. We watched some of the AAF quarterback draft last night. Seriously. Here's the recap and we'll give the Atlanta Legends an A for holding on to Aaron Murray (who will get to work with Mike Vick as his OC in the ATL). There are some old-school familiar college names on that lost for sure, and we'll see if Mike Singletary's Memphis Express got a second-round steal in Christian Hackenburg or if Rick Neuheisel's first-round 'gamble' on Trevor Knight pays off for the Arizona Hotshots.

— Raise your hand if you saw Indiana walking into a slaughterhouse last night at Duke. Yeah, we did too. Few days off. Few days to practice after losing to Gonzaga. Back in the friendly confines. Unless Calbert Chaney, Scott May, both the Van Arsdales, Eric Gordon, Jimmy Chitwood (and Strap — "Make it a good one, Strap"), McInnis, Bellamy and Buckner as well as Isiah Thomas were ready in their primes, that was going to get out of hand. And it did.

— If you are having a good morning and don't want to be sad, well, skip to the next one. Here's a story of a California teen who drowned during a swimming lesson earlier this year. His parents are suing the school and the swim instructor because said instructor has been accused of not watching the kids and looking at his phone. What a nightmare.

— Man, lighten up Francis. Here's a high school coach — after winning the first state football title in school history — going nuts on his own players for giving him the Gatorade shower. 

— For those who follow such things, the racially charged and highly contested US Senate race in Mississippi was Tuesday. Incumbent Republican Cindy Hyde-Smith held off challenger Mike Espy in a very emotional race. Here's more

— The Redskins claimed Reuben Foster off waivers after the 49ers released him over the weekend following his domestic violence arrest. You stay classy Washington. Or even that other Ron Burgandy sign off. Go bleep yourself Washington.

Today's questions

Which way Wednesday is this way friends.

Which way would you lean for the Oscar for best picture? (We ask because the odds were updated, and here they are: A Star is Born -125 — which means you have to bet $125 to win $100 — Roma +500 — bet $100 and win $500 — Black Panther +750; Green Book +900; First Man +1000; If Beale Street Could Talk +1200; BlacKkKlansman +1400; The Favourite +1800; Vice +2000; Widows +2500; The Rider +3300. Odds courtesy @OddsShark on Twitter.)

Which way you going with your money — Georgia, Oklahoma, THE Ohio State — if you have to pick one to get in Sunday?

Which way you going, on this, National French Toast Day: French toast, waffles, pancakes.

Other noteworthy happenings on Nov. 28 include Turkey leftover day. Do know that we have been enjoying that one almost daily since last Thursday.

On this day in 1925, the Grand Ole Opry radio show premiered. That's cool. Bet Willie Nelson sounded great. Kidding. Mostly.

Some interesting birthdays today. Jon Stewart is 56. Henry Bacon would have been 152. He of course invented breakfast sausage. Dave Righetti is 60.

Ed Harris is 68. Rushmore of Ed Harris films. Go, and remember the mailbag.

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