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College Football Preview: Can the Alabama Dynasty Be Stopped? 0

Posted on September 02, 2016 by Dean Hybl
Alabama and coach Nick Saban are looking for their fifth national championship in the last decade.

Alabama and coach Nick Saban are looking for their fifth national championship in the last decade.

So you think there is no way to create a dynasty in today’s college football climate?

Well, then you obviously haven’t been paying close attention to the football being played in Tuscaloosa, Alabama over the last decade.

Since Nick Saban took the reigns at the University of Alabama in 2007, the Crimson Tide have developed into the closest thing college football has had to a dynasty since the glory days of the Miami Hurricanes in the early 1990s.

Excluding his first season when the Crimson Tide went 7-6 (with five of the wins eventually vanquished by the NCAA), Saban’s squad has registered eight straight seasons with double digit wins and has lost as many as three games in a year only once.

Perhaps even more impressive is the fact that they have been ranked number one in the country at some point in each of the last eight seasons while winning four national championships.

With Alabama again beginning the season as the top ranked team in the country, the defending champions continue to have a special aura that makes them the automatic favorite at the start of every season. Read the rest of this entry →

College Football Spotlight: Alabama-Wisconsin is Intriguing Opening Weekend Matchup 1

Posted on September 03, 2015 by Jim Hurley
Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide will be opening the 2015 season with a tough neutral site matchup.

Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide will be opening the 2015 season with a tough neutral site matchup.

Alabama begins its push for another berth in the College Football Playoff on Saturday night against Wisconsin in a neutral-site game at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington (8 PM ET, ABC). The question those of us who handicap teams in Las Vegas have to ask ourselves is this—will the Tide offer better value than last season, when they were a money-burner?

To the average fan, it was business as usual in ‘Bama, as Nick Saban’s team went 11-1 in the regular season and then won the SEC Championship Game before ending up in the way of Urban Meyer’s freight train out of Columbus on New Year’s Night in New Orleans in the Playoff semi-final. But for those who wagered on the Tide, it was a different story—5-7-1 against the Vegas number.

That 5-7-1 ATS record (with one game against Western Carolina off the board) was actually better than it appeared. Tide backers got a big break in the road game at LSU. Alabama was a (-6.5) point favorite and only covered because the game went to overtime in a 20-13 final. Another cover, as (-10) favorite against Auburn came by a single point, 55-44. None of the ATS losses were as close.

What this boils down is that Alabama was overrated in 2014. Before Tide fans rise up in rebellion, remember that the term “overrated” is a criticism of the betting market (the collective wisdom of oddsmakers and the wagering public that ultimately creates the posted line) rather than the football team itself. When you look at those lines ‘Bama was facing—giving nearly a touchdown on the road at Baton Rouge at night, giving double digits to Auburn—you can make a pretty good argument that they simply weren’t reasonable.

But that’s what happens with highly successful dynastic programs. The public wants to bet them. Las Vegas keeps pushing the number higher. Eventually it becomes unsustainable. The question here is whether this was a one-time phenomena, or if Alabama is now a prime go-against team?

Expectations are modestly down this year, which Alabama “only” ranked third in the nation, behind Ohio State and TCU. The Crimson Tide are “only” a (-11) favorite against Wisconsin, as opposed to the (-22) they gave up to West Virginia in last year’s neutral site opener—a 33-23 non-cover win.

But there also personnel challenges, most notably a quarterback situation that remains completely up in the air. You can say the same is true at Ohio State, but we don’t yet know if Alabama’s uncertainty will be due to the same embarrassment of riches that exists in Columbus, or if there’s really going to be some problems at the game’s most important position. Read the rest of this entry →

5 Fearless Predictions for the 2013 College Football Season 4

Posted on August 31, 2013 by Dean Hybl
Will Nick Saban again be lifting the BCS crystal when the season is over?

Will Nick Saban again be lifting the BCS crystal when the season is over?

Though the fact that much of the country has been experiencing some of the warmest weather of the summer might suggest otherwise, the wait really is over and it is time for college football season.

The opening games on Thursday night just wet the whistle for what should be another great year across the country.

Rather than joining the thousands of others who have offered their preseason rankings and conference predictions, here are “5 Fearless Predictions” of things I expect to see happen in college football this season.

1. Someone other than Johnny Manziel wins the Heisman Trophy

This may have been considered an off the wall prediction after the freshman phenom won the Heisman Trophy and  then led Texas A&M to a Cotton Bowl victory last season. However, he has spent the last nine months getting more attention for the parties he has attended and for all the time he spent signing autographs for “free” than for his upcoming sophomore season.

I think Manziel is a talented college football player (though unlikely to be a good NFL player), but his rise to the Heisman last season was a bit of a fluke as it was really the result of one huge performance against Alabama and the lack of a clear offensive star among the elite teams in the game.
Read the rest of this entry →

College Classic Rewind: LSU Knocks Off Dawgs in SEC Slugfest 6

Posted on November 29, 2011 by A.J. Foss

On September 20, 2003, the #7 ranked Georgia Bulldogs traveled to Baton Rouge to take on the #11 LSU Tigers in an early SEC showdown.

The Bulldogs were the defending SEC champions as they ended a 20-year drought of not winning the SEC title, thanks to head coach Mark Richt, quarterback David Greene, and SEC player of the year, defensive end David Pollack.

Greene, Pollack, and several other key starters returned for the 2003 season and helped led Georgia to wins in their first three games of the season.

Even though they would be playing in one of the toughest environments in all of college football, the Dawgs were confident as they had won all nine games played in opponents’ home stadiums since Richt became the coach in 2001.

LSU also entered the game with a 3-0 record as they had won those three games by a combined score of 143-27.
The Tigers were led by head coach Nick Saban, who had LSU to a surprising SEC championship in 2001 and was in his fourth season in Baton Rouge.

LSU was looking to rebound in 2003 following a late-season collapse in 2002 in which the Tigers dropped five of their last six games to lose their grip on the SEC Western Division title and finish the season with an 8-5 record.

The main reason for that collapse was the loss of starting quarterback Matt Mauck, who broke his foot in the sixth game of the season and was lost for the rest of the season.

Mauck had become a folk hero in the eyes of LSU fans as he had come off the bench to lead the Tigers to a 31-20 upset over Tennessee in the SEC Championship Game.

Mauck returned to Baton Rouge for his senior season and was at the helm as the Tigers faced off with Georgia in what turned out to be a preview of that year’s SEC Championship Game.

Both teams traded punts until the Dawgs drove to the LSU 16-yard-line where they had to settle for a 33-yard field goal by Billy Bennett to give Georgia a 3-0 lead with 6:20 left in the first quarter.

On the Tigers’ ensuing possession, Mauck was picked off by Georgia safety Sean Jones, to give the Dawgs the ball at the LSU 40-yard-line.

Two runs by running back Michael Cooper gained 22 yards and the Dawgs were in prime position to expand their lead as they had a 1st-and-10 at the Tigers’ 18-yard-line.

Following a one-yard-loss by Cooper, Greene scrambled ten yards and was poised to get the 1st down when he was hit by LSU defensive end Marcus Spears at the eight-yard-line, forcing a fumble which Spears recovered, ending the Bulldog scoring threat. Read the rest of this entry →

College Classic Rewind: LSU Defeats ‘Bama in Inaugural “Saban Bowl” 55

Posted on November 01, 2011 by A.J. Foss

This Saturday, #1 LSU travels to Tuscaloosa to face off with #2 Alabama in the latest “Game of the Century”.

This showdown between the Tigers and the Crimson Tide is the latest chapter in a SEC rivalry where the intensity has risen since Nick Saban became the head coach at Alabama.

From 2000-2004, Saban was the head coach at LSU where he compiled a 48-16 record, won two SEC Championships, and the 2003 BCS National Championship in his five seasons at Baton Rouge.

Saban left LSU following the 2004 season to become the head coach of the NFL’s Miami Dolphins while Les Miles moved from Oklahoma State to become the LSU head coach.

During the next two years, Miles would lead LSU to back-to-back 11-win seasons while Saban would struggle in Miami as he compiled a 15-17 record during that same time.

Almost immediately after the 2006 NFL season ended, Saban left Miami to become the Tide’s head coach, which in the minds of LSU fans was seen as an act of betrayal since ‘Bama played in the same division as LSU, the SEC West.

So when ‘Bama hosted LSU on the first Saturday in November 2007, it was an emotionally-charged game for the Tigers as the fan base demanded a victory over Saban and the Tide.

Alabama entered the game as the #17 team with a 6-2 record, and were 4-1 in the SEC, tying them with #3 LSU who were 7-1 but also had a 4-1 SEC record. Read the rest of this entry →

College Football Classic Rewind: Spartans Shock Top-Ranked Buckeyes in Columbus 9

Posted on September 28, 2011 by A.J. Foss

During the mid-1990s, the Ohio State Buckeyes had some great teams go through most of the regular season undefeated only to have their arch rival, the Michigan Wolverines, spoil the Buckeyes’ dreams of a national title on three occasions.

But perhaps the Buckeyes’ most heartbreaking loss during this time period came at the hands of that other football team from Michigan.

The 1998 season was the 11th season for John Cooper as the Ohio State head coach as he had complied an 86-32-4 record during his 10 years in Columbus.

Despite his success, Cooper was not embraced by the Buckeye faithful as he had only defeated Michigan once in his first 10 meetings with the Wolverines and was 2-7 in bowl games.

But in 1998, it appeared that the stars were lining up for Cooper and Ohio State to have a magical season.

The Buckeyes began the season as the #1 team ranked in the country because of the 17 returning starters on offense and defense that included quarterback Joe Germaine, wide receiver David Boston, and linebacker Andy Kaztenmoyer.

Through the first two months of the season, Ohio State was dominant as they won their first eight games of the season by a combined score of 306-72.

As the Buckeyes entered the month of November, it appeared that their only obstacle would be arch-rival Michigan on the last game of the season in a game that would be played in Columbus.

So as Ohio State entered their home game with Michigan State on November 7, 1998, it seemed the only question was by how many points would the Buckeyes win over the Spartans.

It appeared that the Spartans were headed for another mediocre season under head coach Nick Saban, who had only gone 19-15-1 in his first three seasons in East Lansing, and were 4-4 at this point of the 1998 season.

The Spartans did have some talent such as sophomore wide receiver Plaxico Burress, who would break the Michigan State season record for receptions, and linebacker Julian Peterson, a junior college transfer from the Valley Forge Military Academy. Read the rest of this entry →

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    • Tony Oliva: Hall of Fame Worthy
      April 21, 2019 | 5:18 pm
      Tony Oliva

      Cuba is known for producing great baseball talent and there has arguably been no one from the island better than the Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month.

      Before injuries cut short his Hall of Fame worthy career, Tony Oliva was one of the best hitters in baseball and combined with Hall of Famers Rod Carew and Harmen Killebrew to make the Minnesota Twins a perennial American League contender during the late 1960s.

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