Friday, September 13, 2013

College Station Chaos

Once the clocks hit triple zero last year in Tuscaloosa, this weekends game was already being discussed and analyzed as everyone knew it would be pivotal in the SEC and national championships. Teams almost never make it through an entire season unscathed anymore, but it is obvious that a loss can be extremely detrimental to their chances of even getting a spot in the championship game. The BCS computers care about who you lose to but that is garbage. Everyone knows that its when you lose, not who you lose to. One of these teams has to lose, so here is what would likely play out over the rest of the season in either scenario.

If Alabama Loses
No player dares to mess up
with this face always looming.
Alabama is actually favored in this game despite it being a road game for them. That should speak to the abundance of talent and shows how respected (or feared) Nick Saban is. Except for his 2009 team, Saban has lost one game in each season he has won a national title. What he excels at so well is identifying what went wrong in the loss, understanding what he himself needs to do to better prepare his players, and then berating it into them to the point of perfection. Alabama has suffered midseason losses and then come back to absolutely manhandle future opponents unlucky enough to get in his way. If Alabama loses this game, they are in some trouble but not as much as you'd think. Remember, they have only played Virginia Tech so far, so if they lose they would easily be able to work their way back to the top two spots of the polls. Since the SEC championship game is the national semifinals, all the Tide would have to do is win out and get into that game. Considering their schedule, I could see that happening very easily. Alabama somehow finagled their way into only getting four true road games and none of them (except A&M this weekend) look like they would stay within three touchdowns of the Tide (Kentucky, Miss. St., Auburn). The toughest game they have the rest of the season is at home against LSU.

The biggest factor working against Alabama in the event of a loss is that A&M would have a leg up on them in the SEC West race. If Alabama loses, it will be interesting to see how far they fall. A&M is ranked 6 right now, so it would be hard to imagine them still being behind Alabama if they win. No matter how far they drop, you know they have basically an entire season to work their way back up while hoping that A&M loses along the way. This is what it would probably look like at the top of the polls if Bama loses.

1) Oregon Ducks
2) Clemson Tigers
3) A&M Aggies
4) Alabama Crimson Tide
5) Ohio State Buckeyes

If A&M Loses
The A&M Manziels face a bigger uphill battle should they lose to Alabama, mostly due to their current ranking. They would not be penalized too heavily for losing to the number one team in the country, albeit in their own stadium. Yet like Alabama's scenario, they would be forced to play catch up for the rest of the season and pray that Alabama loses to a conference rival. The Aggies also have two road games that could be speed bumps on their way to a national title. They first have to travel to Oxford and play Ole Miss on October 12th. Ole Miss has been recruiting well and has put together a pretty good team this year that could tack on another loss for A&M. And then in their second to last game, A&M has to go to Death Valley to try and avenge one of their two losses from last year. LSU figured out Manziel last year and really limited what he could do on the ground while forcing him to make mistakes throwing the ball. Should A&M lose this weekend, they would probably fall to 10 behind fellow SEC teams LSU and Georgia. LSU has a much more daunting SEC schedule, so I think that A&M would be wedged in between them and Bama in the race for the SEC West. Given Alabama's easier schedule, this game is a must win for the Aggies and rests on the shoulders of their polarizing quarterback.

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