- I think Bama might be in some trouble, and it’s not a scheme thing. It’s a personnel thing. I don’t think they have the skill position talent that is typical of Saban Alabama teams. I think they are inherently limited on offense.
- After Bama’s first touchdown of the game against Texas, which they scored at the 2:34 mark of the first quarter, and which was an 81 yard run, they punted on every possession until they scored a touchdown at the 8:29 mark of the 4th quarter. So almost 2.5 quarters of only punting.
- Bama punted on 6 straight possessions in that game. How does that ever happen at Alabama? How often do they win games against unranked teams by one possession? Much less non-conference unranked opponents? Not very often. Bama, since 2008, Bama averages about 1.6 one possession wins per year. Once per year, on average, somebody scares Bama. That’s it. And it’s already happened once this year. Last season, Bama had 4 one possession wins in addition to their 2 losses. That was the most one possession wins a Nick Saban Alabama team has ever had in a single season. In 2014, they had 3 one possession wins, and in 2008, they also had 3. I don’t know if this is a trend or a sign of Bama’s “decline,” it’s way too early to tell at this point, but Bama is not as dominant as they were in 2020.
- Notre Dame is going to go downhill fast and I think there’s a real chance that Marcus Freeman does not last the season. I think Notre Dame hired him to avoid a mass exodus of players via the transfer portal and he’s not ready to be the head coach of Notre Dame. He’s only 36 years old and had only been a defensive coordinator for two years prior to this year. Dude is in over his head.
- Now the quarterback Tyler Buchner is done for the season and I don’t know where Notre Dame gets a for sure win at this point. They play Cal this week. You might think that should be a win, but remember: NOTRE DAME LOST TO MARSHALL. That was supposed to be an easy win. Things could get out of control real quickly for the Irish here.
- I think Notre Dame put all their eggs in the Ohio State basket. Freeman just wanted to beat his alma mater so badly, and he talked so much trash during the offseason. Once they lost the Ohio State game, I feel like they didn’t emotionally recover. There’s obviously talent on that team but again, I don’t think Freeman is ready for the moment. I have nothing against Freeman, I just don’t think he’s ready to be a head coach. I think the players sort of forced the administration’s hand to hire him, and so he was hired for the wrong reason.
- Notre Dame’s schedule does not get easier for a while. Cal is 2-0. UNC is up after that and can score a lot of points; I don’t know if Notre Dame can keep up with them. BYU is on October 8, and that’s a tough team to play. Then they still have Stanford, Clemson and USC on the schedule. Those look like 3 losses for ND. I really think they’re in trouble. They might go 4-8 or 5-7 at best this year. The only winnable games I see are UNLV, Syracuse, Navy and Boston College. And at this point those games aren’t guarantees at all. Remember, ND just lost to MARSHALL. That was supposed to be the most winnable game on their schedule and they lost it.
- I’m not going to talk about their outdated offensive scheme (people who understand the game far better than I do have done this well enough). I’m not going to talk about their weird traditions and yell leaders and how the entire school appears to be a cult.
- What I want to talk about is how I think Texas A&M was probably just way over-ranked this season. Sure, they pulled in not only the greatest recruiting class in the country this year but in fact the greatest recruiting class ever in terms of aggregate player rating. But most of those guys aren’t playing this year. That will bear fruit in 2-4 years, not this year. Calling Texas A&M a top-6 team in the country is banking on them doing something they have only done once before in Jimbo Fisher’s tenure–finish in the top-10. They finished top-10 in 2020, the Covid year, and since they didn’t ever do it other than that under Jimbo, I would say 2020 was a fluke year for them. The three other years Jimbo coached A&M they went 9-4, 8-5 and 8-4. I think those years are way more indicative of what we should expect out of A&M under Jimbo Fisher.
- It also goes back to his tenure at Florida State. Outside of the two years he had Jameis Winston, he was just good, not great. He went 27-1 and won a National Championship with Jameis, but outside of those two years, he was 56-22. That’s about a 9 win pace. And that’s what I think Jimbo Fisher is: a guy who will get you to 9-3 most years. People think he’s a National Championship-level coach because of Jameis. Yes, he’s won one, and yes, he can recruit well with the bottomless pit of money the Texas A&M boosters provide, but I just don’t think he’s That Guy. He’s not a Nick Saban or an Urban Meyer. He’s not a Gene Chizik, who Magoo’d his way into a National Championship because he had Cam Newton and was mediocre every season without Cam, but he’s not an elite head coach. He’s just coached too many seasons of good-not-great football to say otherwise.
- Texas A&M really needs to win this game against Miami tonight or things could go south fast for this team. They are already 1-1 and their playoff hopes are essentially shot. After this weekend, their upcoming schedule looks like this: Arkansas, at Mississippi State, at Alabama, at South Carolina, Ole Miss, Florida, at Auburn, UMass, LSU. Arkansas is top-10, Mississippi State is not a pushover, Bama is Bama, South Carolina is pretty weak, Ole Miss is ranked, Florida is up and down–they could easily have 4-5 losses by mid-November if they lose to Miami tonight.
- We were expecting the Bama-A&M game this year to be must-see TV. If A&M doesn’t turn this around, that game could be a laugher.
Nebraska vs. Oklahoma
- The rivalry is renewed today. Nebraska vs. OU used to be one of the premier rivalries in college football. Prior to their matchup in Norman last year (OU won 23-16), they hadn’t played since 2010 when they were both in the Big 12. Until the early 2000s, that was a perennial top-10 matchup.
- Betting Nebraska +11 today has become a trendy pick throughout the week. A lot of people are picking Nebraska to cover against Oklahoma. I get it: people think they’ll be charged up and revitalized to play for their interim coach, Mickey Joseph. Mickey Joseph is a former Nebraska QB who played there in the late 1980s/early 1990s. And I think Nebraska will be better under Joseph than they were under Scott Frost. Scott Frost was a disaster.
- But this is still a team that lost to Georgia Southern and gave up 45 points in the process. Do we expect Oklahoma to score fewer points on Nebraska than Georgia Southern? I don’t know, it’s hard for me to envision that happening.
- Now, OU was up just 7-3 on KENT STATE at halftime this past weekend. OU is not some world-beating program right now. They are still finding themselves under Brent Venables. They are still a work in progress. They ended up beating Kent State 33-3, but there’s no doubt OU is an imperfect team at this point in the season.
- I know it’s a rivalry and Nebraska is going to play hard, but it’s hard for me to see Nebraska covering that 11 point spread. I think OU covers.
Those are my thoughts on some of the main matchups for this weekend. It’s still too early in the season for me to really have strong opinions on a lot of these teams one way or another, so for the next week or two I’m not going to really have much to say about them.
But as the season progresses and I start to learn more about these teams, I’ll get more in-depth. After this week there should be enough data available to compile my power ratings.