Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Rick Cleveland: Is Bama best ever?

So, is this Alabama football team the best in college football history?

Seems a perfectly reasonable question at this point. Nate Silver's FiveThirtyEight statistics-based website, says this year's version of Nick Saban's Crimson Tide machine has become the best college football team ever, narrowly surpassing the 1995 Nebraska Cornhuskers. As with all else it does, the website uses a thorough statistical analysis to come to that conclusion.


Of course, FiveThirtyEight also told us there was little if any chance Donald Trump would become President Trump and we all know what happened there.

Bottom line: We shall see. If Alabama defeats Washington in Saturday's national championship semifinal game and then defeats either Clemson or Ohio State in the championship match, a strong case can me made for Bama.

I know this: Alabama is the fastest college team these eyes have seen. I don't need a computer to tell me that. Defensively, they fill gaps and cover the field so thoroughly it often seems as if they are playing with 13 or 14 instead of 11. Offensively, they are so different than they have been in the past, so much more quarterback-oriented. Jalen Hurts, the freshman, gives them a dimension they haven't had. When all else fails, as it seldom does for Bama, Hurts can take off and run. And he can beat you that way.

Bama, a 14-point favorite, should take care of Washington at Atlanta Saturday. Seems hard to believe that a Washington team, which was playing Southern Miss in the Heart of Dallas Bowl this time last year, is playing the Crimson Tide in the national semifinals this time around. Remember how Todd Monken talked about how young and talented that Washington team was? Turns out, he was dead-on.

Still, I think Bama will face a much more difficult task in the national championship game, whether the foe is Clemson or Ohio State.

Don't forget that Alabama, 13-0, had its closest call of all Sept. 17 at Oxford. With Hurts playing his first college football road game, Ole Miss led the Crimson Tide 24-3.

That was late in the first half, remember? The Rebels had the Tide down 17-3 when Hurts went back into the pocket to pass. He never saw Ole Miss defensive end Marquis Haynes coming, full speed, from his blind side. Haynes slobber-knocked Hurts, knocking the ball loose, and Rebel John Youngblood picked it up and raced 44 yards for a touchdown. Not only was Bama down 24-3, but Hurts was clearly groggy.

“I can’t hit anybody harder than I hit him,” Haynes would say afterward. “I came on an outside blitz and nobody touched me. I hit him with all I had. Jalen really earned my respect to come back from that and play the way he did.”

Again, Ole Miss led by 21. A true freshman quarterback, who a year before had been playing high school football in Texas, seemed dazed, but not for long. Hurts did what a great prizefighter does. He got up off the mat, gathered his senses and took the fight to his opponent. In his case, he came right back out and led a quick-strike, three-play touchdown drive. Before the day was done, he ran for 146 and threw for 158 and Alabama survived.

It was the only time this season anyone has played Alabama a single-digit game. LSU came next closest, losing 10-0. Alabama has outscored its opponents a whopping 525-153. That's an average of 40.4 to 11.8 against a schedule that includes 10 bowl teams, and that's scary.

Best in college football history? My guess is yes. But we're about to find out.

Rick Cleveland is a Jackson-based syndicated columnist. His email address is rcleveland@mississippitoday.org.

Kingfish note: Best ever? Nope.  The Alabama and LSU teams that played in the 2012 BCS Title game were better than this team.   Some of the Miami Hurricane teams were better (Jerome Brown, Danny Stubbs, Russell Maryland- who do you double team?).  This is a very good team but to say best ever? Come on Nate, quit trying to make a headline and actually look at your analysis. 

43 comments:

Anonymous said...

There are so many teams to look back and reflect on

Look at Butch Davis and the University of Miami, between 2001 to 2003 - it was unreal the level of talent he had at that time.

Kingfish said...

Yup.

Anonymous said...

That '04 USCw team was pretty damn strong, even though it was filled up with bought and paid for players. Hell, Carroll & Co were almost as notorious as those cheatin' bastards up in Lafayette Co.

Anonymous said...

Let me tell you one thing, Bammer don't want a piece of the Dawgs right now. We are on the rise. Coach Mullens says a new team will be born in January. Our team competes for championships. We are Egg Bowl champions and St. Pete Bowl champions. Next year Bammer is going down.

Anonymous said...

Shit like this comes up every few years and the superlatives fly. It is the mark of a sub-standard journalist that he would entertain and agree with this crap.

Remember the 1984 Valley team and "the offense of the future"? They scored over 600 points that year and were outscoring opponents by 70-80 points in some cases. People were saying the same things - that they were the greatest team of all time - until La Tech beat the snot out of them.

I get really sick of people like Rick jumping on the GOAT bandwagon when a team is riding high. Yeah, they are a good team and will probably win the NC, allowing a bunch of inbreds who never set foot in a college classroom to sit around in their XXXXL houndstooth Under Armor shirts and brag about how "we" won before heading off to do retreads at Tar World in Deliveranceburg, Alabama. But I don't buy that they are the best ever and Silver is just trying to cover his ass for his incredible miss in November.

With all his years of journalism experience, Rick should be more tempered and sober than to jump into this hoohah.

Mullens Wins the Weedeater Bowl! said...

@8:45...I was walking through the outlet mall on Monday when I passed a 350-pounder waddling down the aisle in his brand new t-shirt (that I'm certain Santy Claus brought him). It said, "Silly Bears, This Is Our State!"

I can't think of a better picture of a MSU fan. Funny how they brag that "LSU is their real rival", but can't get Ole Miss out of their little minds. Count how many silly little nicknames MSU fans have for Ole Miss (TSUN, Ole Piss, Mississippi, Black Bears, etc.) to see who is obsessed with whom.

Congrats on that bowl win, guys. That's a victory to brag about for years to come!

Anonymous said...

8:45 is not a Bulldog

Did you and Hugh Kellenburger attend the Cam Akers watch party in Oxford last night and tape the reaction? I bet it was a gas!

Anonymous said...

Not so sure it is the State fans that claim "LSU is their real rival". IIRC, it is the Ole Miss fan base with their "Magnolia Bowl" hoopla to which LSU doesn't really acknowledge.

Kingfish said...

No one gets fired at LSU for losing to Ole Miss. They do get fired when they are unable to beat Bama.

Retired Referee said...

Hey Dawg fans - If not for referees in St. Pete that knew what they were doing, you would have certainly lost the game. Hopefully before they officiate another game they can learn what defensive pass interference is and also that stepping on the sideline is out of bounds and the play stops at that point and not 25 to 30 yards further up the field. As for next year, be happy with your 6 to 7 wins.

Anonymous said...

Serious question - Will Dan Mullen get an extension and/or raise after going 6-7 this year?

Anonymous said...

@9:43

All you have to do is look here.

You may consider LSU your big rival, but LSU does not consider MSU to be their chief rival.

Anonymous said...

Keep up 10:05. That comment on there was speaking in terms of Ole Miss. They really consider themselves LSU's real Rival.

Anonymous said...

For my money, some of those Tom Osborne Nebraska teams are the best ever. They bulldozed people off the line and the option attack allowed them to get their athletes in space at minimal risk. I recognize that other teams, like Miami and USC, had more NFL caliber players, but we all know a college team is greater than the sum of its parts. I've never seen a more dominant force on the field than those Cornhuskers.

Anonymous said...

Are they the best ever. Possibly. They are for sure up there with some of the best runs in college football in history.

Anonymous said...

@9:22 Really? You think State claims LSU is their "real rival"? You are very confused. That has been the OM mantra for many years.

We Went Bowlin' and You Did Not.. said...

"Count how many silly little nicknames MSU fans have for Ole Miss (TSUN, Ole Piss, Mississippi, Black Bears, etc.)"

Almost as silly as (Leg Humpers, Cow College, MSWhoo, TSDS, Starkpatch, Mullens, etc.)

But back to YOUR list. The name of your school is Mississippi. That's what half the broadcasters call you during game play. And Black Bears are the mascot chosen by vote, according to Doctor Jones. So what's the bitch? By the way, you left out Ole Myth.

Kingfish said...

LSU and Bama in 2011 beat a tougher SEC schedule. LSU destroyed several conference champs that year.

OU had no business playing USC in 04. USC got a break not playing LSU or Auburn in 03 and 04. Both teams had much much better defenses than OU. Not so sure Saban's 03 defense at LSU isn't better than this year's Bama. Played better qbs such as Eli, Greene, and Rothlesberger. USC got a break by not having to play a top notch SEC defense against LSU in 03 and Auburn in 04. The one time they played a halfway decent defense in 05, they got beat and that was Texas.

However, some of those Miami teams were killers. Davis's team that won the BCS was a better team. Jimmy Johnson had a couple of teams that were killers as well. Would go out and absolutely destroy #1 ranked teams on their turf.

Nebraska's team had a great year against Florida. One of the most dominating performances ever. But the year before, Warren Sapp almost beat them by himself. Damn receivers could run 4.29 40's but kept dropping the ball so Sapp wore out in the 4th q.

Anonymous said...

Consider this. Ole Miss burned a year of Shea Patterson's Eligibility to try and make it to a bowl game that they are making fun of MSU for winning.

One For The Team Rah Rah said...

EGGselent pernt, 11:04. TSUN fans can savor that thought while sitting at home during bowl season.

Anonymous said...

Coach Mullens said we were only a few plays away from having a 9-10 win season. Take that bears.

Anonymous said...

C'mon Rick, save this "who's the best?" stuff for a year when you really need to stir the pot. The national championship has got everybody's interest and the OM vs MSU piss off is still hot. It's not necessary. There is really no way to judge teams from different eras and different competition. The best you can do is to evaluate how they dominated the teams they did compete against and discuss how they dominated their own time. Who was the most intelligent man of all time? Einstein? Hell, he didn't even have a cellphone.

Taking up residence in your (tiny) mind said...

Keep it up, 10:53. You are proving my point quite succinctly.

:-)

Messick said...

I agree, Kingfish. OU also caught a break by playing the Criminoles instead of the Hurricanes for the 2000 BCS title. That one loss Miami team would've embarrassed Stoops or any other team, for that matter (that sole defeat coming from a good Washington team early in the season).

Anonymous said...

For all our non-sober scUM friends

55-20

Anonymous said...

That's right you scUM fans, we beat you down and you can't take it. We are on the rise and you are falling. We may never lose to you again.

Anonymous We Went Bowlin' and You Did Not.. said...

For all our non-sober scUM friends

55-20


Amen, brother! And don't forget 17-16, our bowl domination of the mighty Red Hawks, while Ole Piss was sitting at home.

And 6-3! I was there when we beat the Bear, and Coach Mullens is gonna beat the bears over and over! I predict we go 10-1 next year while TSUN doesn't win a game.

ST. PETERSBURG BOWL CHAMPS!

Anonymous said...

I have heard Starkville called Starkpatch.

I have heard MSU referred to as a Cow College (like damn near every A&M school ever, e.g. Auburn, Texas A&M, Oklahoma State)

But I have never heard anyone refer to State as TSDS. Ever. That's a State fan who's inventing something to cry about after being called out on his fanbase's irrefutable obsession with their rival.

Just keep bragging about your 6 win season and your low-rent bowl win. Ole Miss fans are not proud of a losing season, but it seems State fans wear theirs like a badge of honor.

Anonymous said...

@ 8:38am

Hell, when aren't they bought and paid for on the BCS level, LOL!!!!

If you aren't cheatin' you aren't trying, LOL!

More On The Rivalry.. said...

3:45....sorry Chollie. That School
Down South (TSDS) broke the ice about six years ago after Mullen began owning the state. That you haven't heard of it is largely irrelevant. Sorta like it's irrelevant that you don't know Sheppie Smith is light in the loafers while waving the Black Bear Banner.

Anonymous said...

Dawgs own this state. Coach Mullens will lock into a long-term contract that will keep us on top for many years. We own the silly bears. Chew on that webels.

Anonymous said...

I have never heard a single MSU fan claim their "real rival" is LSU. OM folk claim LSU as their "real rival" often. Funny how when Freeze beat MSU for the first time the OM faithful stormed the field. MSU fans have never stormed the field after beating OM. MSU seldom beat LSU but when they do the fans don't storm the field.

Anonymous said...

they are a good team and will probably win the NC, allowing a bunch of inbreds who never set foot in a college classroom to sit around in their XXXXL houndstooth Under Armor shirts and brag about how "we" won before heading off to do retreads at Tar World in Deliveranceburg, Alabama.

That's one of the funniest things I've read in a long time!

TSUN-Stay Home Bowl Bound said...

A Webel who has never heard of Starkpatch? That right there is auspiciously unbelievable and even succinct. What big words these TSUN fans are using. Takes 'exceeding expectations' to a uniquely unparalleled level (he says, trying to keep up with the elocutionary contest being trotted out by the Bear base). You boys jess keep on witcho bad selves. A BMW will never pull an F-150 out of a Lafayette County mud-hole!

If we could only post cartoons here. TSUNners have that one Cousin Eddie meme but we got a thousand Cousin Hugh cartoons.

What day is that Stay-Home-Bowl, anyway? And will Katie Perry sing?

Wearin' my new dress-up PFG Bonehead to Billy Bob and Tammy Sue's weddin' said...

Six quality wins.
Golden Egg.
St. Petersburg Bowl trophy.
Bears at home.
A new contract for Dan Mullins.

This was a season to remember.

This is our state, bears.

Anonymous said...

Well said 6:20 - Take that TSUN!

Anonymous said...

In This Thread:

Some Ole Miss fans trolling by pretending (rather poorly) to be State fans.

Some State fans who are pissed at the Ole Miss fans pretending to be State fans.

Some Ole Miss fans who are pissed at both the State fans and the Ole Miss fans pretending to be State fans.

Maybe two guys (plus Kingfish) who are discussing the actual topic.

And this Alabama team is NOT the greatest ever. Nate Silver and Rick Cleveland are both wrong. I wouldn't even put them in the top 10.

Anonymous said...

@10:12 Nate Silver incorrectly predicted that Trupm would lose to the Hilliary. And he thought that the Senate was in play too.

If I were as wrong as he was, I'd be a weatherman

Anonymous said...

LSU has never lowered itself to consider MSU or OM it's rival. Historically the OM game has had more significance, but truth be known LSU, Alabama, Florida Tennessee, GA, and Auburn have always questioned why the white-trash from Miss. are in the SEC in the first place. They don't participate in all sports but they come to the table looking for a check at the end of the year. Welfare schools that have the nerve to look down on somebody else. This discussion is an example.

bill said...

All time is a long time. There have been a lot of great teams, but greatness is often in the eye of the beholder. Oklahoma fans have a team or two to throw into the discussion, as do Texas, Arkansas, Florida State, Ohio State, Southern Cal, Miami...pretty much all the top tier programs have at least one undefeated national championship team that stacks up pretty well. That said, I think the argument for this year's Alabama team is strong, although I might have waited until the championship was won before I started making it.

Anonymous said...

MSU's SEC West champions should be in the conversation. If not for a few plays, they would have beat Tenn in the SEC championship game.

Anonymous said...

Nama is going to lose to Washington. If not them, then in the final.

Book it.

Anonymous said...

A few plays here and there along with some bad calls were the difference when the Dawgs played Bama this year. Next year they are going down. You heard it here first.

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