Hey, Alabama fans: Be careful what you wish for

Posted at 4:32 pm on 11/20/2015 by Buddy Martin
You can hear them coming. Better yet, you can feel the ground shaking from the thunderous hoofbeats of the elephant herd. You’d think it was the Red Tide instead of the Crimson Tide. Alabama fans, like locusts, want to devour everything in their path.

Quite frankly, the hardcore Tide fans are ticked off at the College Football Playoff selection committee for ranking the Fighting Sabans only No. 2 and not No. 1, instead of Clemson. After all, how can you elevate anybody above college football royalty?

Callers to programs such as Paul Finebaum’s SEC Network show would brand me as an enemy of the state for saying this, but it is not the inalienable right of Alabama to play in — and win — all championships.

“Legend” is there specifically to remind us idiots that if we don’t agree Alabama is going to run the table and gain its rightful revenge over Urban Meyer and Ohio State, then we are delusional and un-American.

Every fan base has one like “Legend,” who doesn’t just want to win it all — he wants Saban and the Tide to crush Ohio State and bring back Meyer’s scalp.

It was “Legend” who, after Alabama’s shutdown of LSU’s Leonard Fournette, came up with the nickname for Alabama’s defensive front seven: “The Gates of Hell.” And, he added as a warning, “If you go in there, you’ll never come out!”

Ah, delicious Southern smack talk, right up there with sweet tea and hushpuppies. All of which fires up the fan bases.

I’m going to be honest here and admit that since the five-turnover loss to Ole Miss, it looks to me like the best football in America has been played by the Tide, based on their smothering front seven. And I’d have had no problem if the committee ranked Alabama No. 1.

But let’s not FedEx the SEC trophy to Tuscaloosa just yet.

Florida could be as much as a nine- or 10-point underdog in the SEC championship game. After all, the Gators have been counted out of everything since July, when they were picked to finish fifth in most SEC East polls. Even in a season of major surprises by the Gators, a win over Alabama would be epic — almost in the miraculous category.

While Alabama could turn out to be matchup nightmare for Florida in the SEC championship game — if the Tide shut down Leonard Fournette, what could it do to Kelvin Taylor? — there still could be trouble around the bend for ‘Bama.

Clemson’s front four could make it a tough day at the office for Jake Coker and Derrick Henry. And perhaps Florida’s crafty defense could hold its own against Alabama’s offense.

Such utterances as this would be branded as heretical balderdash among Bammers like “Legend.”

There is that Big Ten and SEC dislike going both ways. And it’s smoldering a bit from the SEC side since Ohio State’s win over Alabama in January.

A word to the wise in Bammer Slammer World: Be careful what you wish for. Before “Legend” and his posse start wishing for a piece of Urban Meyer, keep in mind Meyer’s late-season and postseason metrics.

Since Meyer has been head coach of what we used to call “major” schools — now we call them Power Five — his teams at Utah, Florida and Ohio State are 51-7 in November through January. And he is 2-1 against Saban in postseason play.

Of course, there is this little matter of a couple of rivalry games for the Buckeyes first — Michigan State on Saturday and Michigan the following week. And then on to the Big Ten title game, most likely against unbeaten Iowa. For reference purposes, I should remind you that the Buckeyes crushed Wisconsin 59-0 in last season’s conference championship game. All told in the three games leading up to their two playoff games, the Buckeyes rolled their opponents 143-55.

Ohio State could equal its school record of 24 consecutive wins Saturday, and Meyer admitted to me he sometimes is blown away and has to pinch himself to see if this stretch is real.

“When I walk away after a win, I start thinking about the game and what happened, and catch myself thinking, ‘My gosh,’ ” he said. “I try not to look at the numbers, but when somebody is doing a special on our senior class — they’re 48-3! … And they’ll own the two longest winning streaks in school history.”

Then he checks up with a self-warning red flag: “But you can stick a pin in a balloon in whatever game you play.”

We might tend to downplay Meyer’s success, but believe me, he doesn’t take it for granted. Maybe Ohio State isn’t winning the beauty pageant, but the Buckeyes probably would be declared the winner of any talent contest with players such as Ezekiel Elliott, J.T. Barrett and Joey Bosa.

Meanwhile, for the Bammers, there’s a little score to settle from last season’s semifinal game in the Sugar Bowl, won by the Buckeyes 42-35. And therefore a hot new intersectional rivalry is cooking up — one that could spice up Year Two of the playoff. This is a side benefit to the new playoff format. It’s not exactly Alabama-Auburn or Michigan-Ohio State, but definitely the seeds of a new Big Ten-SEC rivalry that could one day grow into a giant oak.

That brings us to this season’s selection committee rankings, featuring Alabama at No. 2 and Ohio State at No. 3. Do we smell a rematch here?

Watch carefully to see how the committee aligns the top four if each wins out. What we all want from the committee is separation between Alabama and Ohio State so there is a chance they could meet for the title. Right now, Clemson would play No. 4 Notre Dame and Alabama would play Ohio State in the semis.

In my business, we root more for matchups than specific teams. I admit to being a big-game junkie. And I want it to be the Tide vs. the Buckeyes — that is, if I can’t have Florida vs. Ohio State.

You can go ahead and admonish me for the deadly sin of jumping ahead to the playoff with so many big rivalry games to be played, but I’m going to call it: Alabama vs. Ohio State for the national title.

What the heck. None of us in the prediction business have been right at any time this season anyway.


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