What your view of sports and life would be if you had too many concussions
Now that the 2018 version of the Twelve Greatest Saturdays are in the books, it’s time to take a quick look back to capture the knowledge brought to us by that baker’s dozen of days. We need to do that because while the regular season may be behind us, the bowl season and the college football play-off are still ahead.
1) Alabama is in a class unto itself
All you “Bama/SEC” haters need to get over yourselves on this one. The 2018 Crimson Tide might be the most impressive college football juggernaut since the Pete Carroll-led Southern California Trojans of the mid-2000s. This team can do it all, do it better than anybody else, will put a ton of players in the NFL, and in 2019 they will reload and do it all again. Face it, Texas A&M, LSU, and Auburn are all pretty damn good football teams, and none of them could stay within three scores of Alabama. While anything is possible, Georgia doesn’t seem to be to do so either; the same likely applies to whomever ‘Bama meets in the play-off.
2) Notre Dame Is over-rated again, but it just doesn’t matter
The three certainties of life; death, taxes, and Notre Dame being over-rated. No matter what shakes out with the various and sundry rankings and the play-off, you can’t tell me that the Irish would have serious trouble handling teams like Georgia, Oklahoma, or LSU. When you stop to consider Notre Dame didn’t play anybody better than mediocre with the sole exception of Michigan (more on them in a minute), and the fact that “how the mighty have fallen” Southern California would have beaten the Irish by two scores if they hadn’t decided to self-destruct with turnovers, you wonder how they have been slotted at #3 for as long as they have been.
But it really doesn’t matter because as I’ve already said, Alabama is #1 until further notice, Clemson is solidly #2, and spots #3 and #4 are interchangeable since any team you put in those spots aren’t going to beat #1 or #2 anyway. So, let’s all agree to let the Irish fans have their moment; they we can snicker at them when Alabama hangs 60 on them.
3) Jim Harbaugh Teams Are No Longer Worthy of Trust
I’ll admit that years ago, I drank the Kool-Aid on this guy, but no more. Every time I think he’s got the Michigan Wolverines on the verge of hitting the proverbial “next level,” he goes full “Lucy pulling the football on me. Well, I’m not hanging around long enough to become Charlie Brown. Fool me once, fool me twice, blah, blah, blah. After four years, in Ann Arbor, I’m not letting Jimbo hold the ball anymore.
Here’s the facts that changed my mind.
I used to give Harbaugh credit as he seemed to be the only guy who was ever able to get anything out of Colin Kaepernick, but given what has happened in the interceding years, that had to be a fluke.
4) Nebraska needs to go back to the Big 12
Let’s be honest. It’s time for the Cornhuskers to admit the whole “B1G Ten” experiment has failed. At first glance, their record since joining the conference isn’t all that bad; 51-39 overall, 32-24 in B1G Ten play. But before leaving the Big 12, Nebraska was one of the pre-eminent programs in all of college football; they had 43 conference titles, 53 bowl appearances, and claim to 5 national championships. Now, the Cornhuskers finished in 6th-place in a division which was just won by Northwestern. On top of that, Northwestern is lively going to lose the B1G Ten Championship game by 30 points.
In other words, Nebraska is not only not elite anymore, they aren’t even competitive. The same school which brought us legends like Johnny Rodgers, Bob Devany, and Tom Osborne is now becoming the homecoming date for the Purdues of the world.
It’s easy to blame a host of reasons like questionable coaching hires for this decline, but trading the Big 12 for the B1G Ten did two detrimental things to Nebraska. First, it ended their big, season-ending rivalry with Oklahoma. It doesn’t help any program to take the pinnacle moment of the season and replace it with a road game to Iowa. But the bigger problem is changing conferences and thus losing the annual dates with Oklahoma and Oklahoma State cut-off the recruiting access to the football hotbeds of the Sooner State and Texas.
That matters because Nebraska has a population of less than two million spread out across an area nine times the size of New Jersey, which is home to nine million residents. That means Nebraska is dependent on recruiting outside the state because they don’t have the population support growing enough home-grown talent.
The solution is easy. The Big 12 and the B1G Ten should swap Nebraska for West Virginia straight up. Not only does that solve both of Nebraska’s issues, but it restores a traditional West Virginia rivalry with Penn State and strengthens the Mountaineers recruiting base in western Pennsylvania and Ohio. Salt that with what taking Morgantown off the every other B1g 12’s travel budget, and this is a win-win-win.
5) I Have No Idea What I’m Doing When It Comes To Betting This Game
Last night marked the end of the J-Dub Gambling Challenge, and not a dollar too soon. Back in those warm evening breezes of August, when promise is still in the air and the challenge bankroll is at its full $5,000, the skies are full of nothing but promise. But as the Gordon Lightfoot depresso-classic “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” warns us, no one know where the love of God goes when the gales of November come early; and for this year’s challenge, those winds came in September. By October, we had water coming and the good ship and crew were in peril. And last night at Texas A&M, the main hatchway gave, and fellows…it’s been good to know ya.
You readers know I had LSU as the Last Payday of the year laying 3.5 on the road at Kyle Field….to the tune of seven Franklins. LSU was 31-24 when they snagged a game-ending interception killing an A&M attempt to tie the game with seconds remaining. I’m looking like gold…until the obligatory replay review showing the Aggies quarterback was in fact down before he threw that game-ending pick. Texas A&M gets the ball back, at which point they tie the game, sending me into a gut-wrenching 7-OT torture-fest in which I get to watch my big winner sink like a stone. I can’t wait for my guest spot on Scott Van Pelt’s “Bad Beats.”
But fear not. The J-Dub Gambling Challenge may be over, but the annual Wally Hotvedt College Football Bowling Challenge is right around the corner. Stay tuned for details!
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