Stay classy ‘Bama

Published 11:32 am Wednesday, December 5, 2012

I am upset. I’m upset for two reasons: first of all, a great Alabama win was marred for me the moment Quinton Dial blindsided Aaron Murray, who weighs close 100 pounds less than Dial, with an illegal helmet-to-helmet hit.

If that had been James Harrison of the Pittsburgh Steelers, he would have been fined $75,000. Yes, I know Dial is a collegiate player and shouldn’t be fined, but I’m making a point here. Furthermore, Harrison is known for recklessly crashing into wide receivers and not quarterbacks following an interception.

There has been a lot of talk already and I’ll be the first to say: I hope Dial is suspended for the national championship game. There simply isn’t any room for that kind of classless play. That’s not the way Alabama football is supposed to be played.

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Barrett Jones and Jesse Williams, on the other hand, embodied the type of play Bear Bryant established while he was still playing for Alabama. Bryant played against Tennessee with a broken leg. Jones had to have crutches post-game, but it wasn’t apparent to those watching the game because he played through a nasty foot injury that will cause him to miss practice over the next week. Jesse Williams missed a few plays before putting on a knee brace and going back in the game. For Bryant, you played through the pain to help your team win. Both Alabama players did so Saturday night.

Now, the second reason I am upset: this has to be the worst year for the BCS.

Nick Saban called it “ridiculous” that Georgia will not go to a BCS bowl game and I couldn’t agree more.

Georgia was the third-ranked team in the country before the game. If anything, the game was proof they deserve to retain the no. three ranking. But with the BCS, college football is reliant on computers that don’t weigh in the fact that Georgia was five yards short of landing a knockout punch of Alabama.

The college football playoff can’t come soon enough to rectify the BCS wackiness where a 7-5 team and a one-loss team from the weak MAC conference get into elite bowl games while a team that was five yards short of beating a team playing in the National Championship goes to an inferior bowl game.

Saban said he just about had a heart attack following the game.

Todd Gurley ran the ball against a stout Alabama defense as no running back has this season. Only the wily dual-threat quarterback Johnny Manziel was able to run as effectively and that was usually because he took off when unable to find a wide receiver, not during an actual designed run play.

Aaron Murray shredded the secondary, although Manziel and LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger shared similar successes. But unlike Mettenberger, Murray wasn’t making last-gasp third down passing conversions. Murray was throwing 40-yard bombs on first down.
Jarvis Jones stripped the ball from McCarron, Sanders Commings made McCarron look foolish with an ugly interception and Alec Ogletree returned a blocked field goal for a touchdown.

This wasn’t a game like Texas A&M, where Alabama seemed like they didn’t come ready to play. Georgia is simply that good and they fell five yards short of beating Alabama.

If C.J. Mosley didn’t tip Aaron Murray’s pass, Georgia wins the game in the hands of receiver Malcolm Mitchell who was open in the end zone. If they had spiked the ball following the Artie Lynch reception, they likely win the game, too. They had the clear momentum advantage and it was a game where momentum swung like a pendulum.

Let me just go ahead and predict: Alabama and Notre Dame will pale in comparison to this game.
Saban talked about this being like a boxing match between two heavyweights. If that were true, Alabama never landed the knockout punch.

No, this was definitely a TKO and not even a unanimous decision at that.

The only team Notre Dame has faced with a comparable talent level of Alabama is Stanford. Many people still believe Stanford should have gotten a chance at overtime. There were a lot of questions over whether Stanford running back Stepfan Taylor crossed the plain of the goal line or not.

Either way, Notre Dame has squeaked by teams with less talent than Alabama. They’ll face a much better quarterback in A.J. McCarron, they’ll face two elite running backs in Eddie Lacy and T.J. Yeldon and most importantly, they haven’t seen anything that remotely compares with the Alabama offensive line, probably the best in the country and Alabama’s single greatest strength.

The Crimson Tide squeaked by Georgia, but I expect them to pound Notre Dame into submission. Nick Saban is 4-1 in bowl games while at Alabama.

The best comparison point I can find is the shared opponent of Michigan. Notre Dame squeaked by them on their home turf 13-6, while Alabama pounded them 41-14 in a neutral setting. An Alabama win of 31-14 sounds about right to me.

I hope Quinton Dial has to sit the game out for his illegal helmet-to-helmet hit. Trae Elston and D.J. Swearinger were both suspended one game earlier this season for the same infraction.

Meanwhile, I hope Barrett Jones and Jesse Williams will be healthy enough to play in the game and show the best of Alabama football.