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Playing Bama means realizing New You is only a little bit better than Old You

Welcome to The Top Whatever, Spencer Hall’s weekly ranking of only the teams he feels like ranking.

Alabama v LSU Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

1. ALABAMA

Beat LSU, 10-0.

It sucks so, so much how little you can change. LSU came into this game like a New You rolling into the year.

They had a new attitude! (Ed Orgeron, who sounds more like a talking rock tumbler than ever.)

A chance for redemption! (For Leonard Fournette, the god-like running back whose mortal efforts against Alabama are the bad data points in an otherwise amazing career.)

New diet! (If it’s like Ed’s family days, it’d be “boudin balls, ribs, dirty rice, [and] shrimp”.) (Maybe that didn’t help, to be honest, especially if eaten before the game.)

Yet when faced with the challenge of Alabama, a team LSU has now lost to six straight times, New You quickly looked a lot like The Same Old You. Alabama’s horrifying supremacy along the line of scrimmage meant Fournette started nearly every play in the backfield with at least one defender wrapped around him like a weighted vest. Their defensive backs — the ones NFL scouts are wary of sometimes because, Alabama’s coaching makes them better than they might actually be — knew LSU’s routes and plays as well as the Tiger receivers did.

This isn’t to make fun of you for trying. This is the best effort Alabama’s gotten all year. LSU’s defense was brilliant, just flat damn brilliant, holding Alabama to 16 first downs and a meager 10 points. The problem coming into 2016 for LSU was not having a quarterback, or much of a passing game, meaning they’d eventually play their biggest games with one hand tied behind their back.

LSU had six first downs and scored zero points. LSU hasn’t changed much from what they were, other than tactically, because a new coach really can’t change much over the course of a season. You have what you have, frustrating as that might be. LSU can’t pass, is one-dimensional, and has a fantastic defense. That’s how you get a 10-0 loss at home.

Worse yet for the SEC and perhaps beyond, that applies to everyone. Alabama was the country’s best team coming into 2016. And here, at the nub end of the year going into November, they haven’t changed much, either. They are, boringly and predictably and frustratingly, still the best college football team in America.

TL;DR: Doom. Doom in all directions. Roll Tide.

2. CLEMSON

Made Syracuse a member of the ten-thousandaires club by helping them put four zeroes on the board, 54-0.

It’s hard out there for the Orange, y’all. Year one for a new coaching staff sometimes means beating Virginia Tech unexpectedly, then losing your quarterback in the first quarter against a Clemson team that was probably going to decimate you anyway.

Deshaun Watson did leave with a shoulder injury, but he says he’s fine. He likely could have continued if the game weren’t already a gigantic, honking blowout.

Watson, by the way, acknowledged the injury by pointing at his shoulder with zero expression on his face, after having two people fall on him. You probably would have given up on the idea of doing anything for six weeks. Watson just sort of pointed at it and walked to the bench. Football players are not normal people.

3. MICHIGAN

59-3 over Maryland. There’s really no reason to watch Michigan games after they send fullback Khalid Hill — aka “The Hammering Panda” — in to announce to the opponent that, yes, this game is over. He’s their finishing move, Harbaugh’s Tombstone Piledriver, and after he lumbers through your cringing defensive line for a score, the game has ended. Michigan’s scrimmage has begun.

Hill rolled into the end zone like a lost water buffalo with 3:52 left in the second quarter. Congratulations on making Michigan play almost a full half of football, Maryland. That’s more than some teams have managed this year, and you should feel pretty good about yourself. Go snort a celebratory line of Old Bay on me.

4. WASHINGTON

The Huskies were sitting at 21-20 with Cal with around six minutes left in the second quarter. It was exactly what Cal would have wanted: to be basically tied about halfway through.

Washington thought that was cute.

That happened before the two-touchdown flurry to make it 35-20, but that’s the point illustrated in a single play. The Huskies can blow up on you like that, and turn a whiff of upset threat into a 66-27 blowout.

UW held Cal’s prolific offense under 20 first downs. That means something, as does Washington ending a game with Cal before the Bears could drag late-night viewers into yet another five-hour shootout.

The Huskies are the West Coast monsters who blow opponents out convincingly and who care about your sleep schedule. See, they love you, East Coasters. Love them back.

5. LOUISVILLE

A 52-7 sleeper over Boston College in a week full of these types of games somehow doesn’t register much, though Lamar Jackson ripping off a NICE NICE NICE IT’S THE INTERNET NUMBER SEE 69-yard touchdown run to start the game kept you interested for a while.

Oh, and this:

ESPN is running out of ways to describe Jackson’s season, too. He put up seven TDs on the day, which is something everyone just expects him to do now. The Louisville defense held Boston College to 57 yards rushing, which, as you’ll recall, is less than Jackson had on his first touchdown run of the game. It went for 69 yards.

They’re real good, their only loss came to top-four team, and they have helmets shinier and redder than polished Skittles. It’s amazing how likable this team is, even when you remember who’s coaching them.

6. OHIO STATE

Destroyed Nebraska, 62-3. Maybe Nebraska should consider just ... not playing Ohio State for a while. It’s not working for them, since Ohio State has scored 60-plus points in the last two matchups, while the Huskers managed an early field goal in this one and just decided, “You know, these points are good for another two weeks, and we should just save them for Minnesota and Maryland.” Kudos for deciding that early, Nebraska.

The big uptick for Ohio State here is a functional passing game. Nebraska’s pass defense had been a top-25 unit coming into the game, and J.T. Barrett threw for four TDs and 290 yards after a stretch of games in which he sometimes struggled to get to 100 yards total. Getting the ball to running back Curtis Samuel, who had 209 total yards and two receiving TDs, seems to be a great idea. Keep doing that, Ohio State!

This is a thing you have to say, because sometimes Ohio State just decides to win games in the hardest way possible by not giving its running backs touches. A running back killed Urban Meyer’s grandaddy in a botched jewel heist in Yuma in 1952! This is the only explanation I’ve ever had for this weird tendency.

Ohio State had 34 first downs and held the ball for a galling 37 minutes. Everything hurts this week, Nebraska, and with reason.

7. WESTERN MICHIGAN?

Sure, if you got this far down the page: undefeated Western Michigan is the best team in the nation. This is their coach, P.J. Fleck, when he was with the San Francisco 49ers, and IS THAT FROSTED HAIR?

San Francisco 49ers 2005 Headshots

It’s not, btw. But I want to believe. FROST THE BOAT.

TWO-LOSS TEAMS WHO COULD SNEAK INTO THE PICTURE

Let me finish this coffee before we get into fanfic I write for your two-loss team.