The Monday After: Why Alabama has made the College Football Playoff irrelevant

Alabama is making the College Football Playoff irrelevant this season. If that wasn’t clear to you before the weekend, after watching the Tide shutout No. 3 LSU 29-0 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, it should be now. Before Saturday night’s latest reminder that Alabama is playing a different sport than every other college team in the country, there were generally two schools of thought.

One was that Alabama is amazing and will crush all those foolish enough to throw themselves in its path. The other was that Alabama is amazing, but it’s been amazing against a bunch of nobodies and also-rans. LSU was supposed to be the first true test the Tide faced in 2018, and to a certain extent, LSU was a test for Alabama.

After all, the Tigers defense held Alabama’s offense to 7.29 yards per play, the lowest number Alabama’s produced this season outside the 7.17 yards per play it averaged in a 62-7 fly-swatting of Ole Miss. Furthermore, the LSU defense limited Tua Tagovailoa to a completion rate of 59.5 percent. It was only the second time this season Tua’s been held below 60. Even more impressive was that Tagovailoa averaged only 7.0 yards per attempt. That was 3 yards below his previous low mark on the season: 10.6 at Tennessee.

Tagovailoa also threw his first interception of the season and had to play in the fourth quarter. There were moments he actually looked flustered for once, which is something we hadn’t seen since he took over during the second half of last season’s title game.

So LSU did live up to the hype of being Alabama’s first real test in 2018. And it still lost 29-0.

While Alabama gets Mississippi State this week, as well as the Iron Bowl to finish the regular season, both games are in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and its hard to consider either an actual threat to the Tide. So the next Big Test for Alabama will be in the SEC Championship Game. A matchup that is already set in stone a month before it will be played against Georgia.

You know, the same Georgia team that lost to LSU by 20, the very team Alabama beat 29-0. I know the transitive property doesn’t apply here, but it’s a bit difficult to ignore the reality of that situation, isn’t it?

There is no team on Alabama’s level. I know we mention Clemson as a possibility, but I think we do that more to give ourselves hope there will be some drama this season. The reality is that while Clemson is also playing on a different level than the rest of the country, it’s on a separate tier from Alabama as well. Think of Alabama as first-class and Clemson as business-class while everybody else is packed in economy, clawing for a bag of peanuts.

BetOnline already has odds posted for hypothetical College Football Playoff games, and Alabama is an 8.5-point favorite over Clemson. It would have to be at least 10 points before I considered betting Clemson at this point.

Coaching Search Advice of the Week

Kansas announced Sunday that it was firing David Beaty effective at the end of the season. I doubt athletic director Jeff Long will be waiting that long to begin his search for Beaty’s replacement, and odds are he’s already done some legwork on that end. As is usually the case when a coach gets fired, candidate lists begin to get published, including one from CBS Sports’ own Dennis Dodd. At the top of Dodd’s list, and the lists of others, is former LSU coach Les Miles. It’s a move that makes some sense on the surface. Miles and Long are familiar with one another, Miles is looking for a gig, and he would immediately bring name recognition to Kansas’ football program.

He’d also more than likely be the wrong hire.

Miles will celebrate his 65th birthday this week. If he were to take over at Kansas, realistically, how long would he be there? The idea behind a Miles hire — establishing an identity for Kansas football — is on the right track, but Miles is the wrong identity. I would advise Kansas to do something I’ve suggested other schools like Purdue and Oregon State in the past. Neither listened to my advice, but maybe Kansas will.

Run. The. Option.

Hire Ken Niumatalolo from Navy or get Jeff Monken from Army. Too many schools are afraid of going to an option offense because they fear how the fans will react to it, but Kansas may be the perfect place to do it as most of its fans have been numbed to Jayhawks football. They’ve reached a point where they might be more willing to consider it than other schools.

Plus, I think running the option would wreak havoc in the Big 12. The conference features defenses that have been explicitly designed to stop the spread offenses they see on a weekly basis. If you were to load up and run right at them, they wouldn’t know how to stop it. Just ask Oklahoma’s defense how it felt going against Army earlier this season.

So, if you’re reading this, Jeff Long, maybe consider hiring the guy who already came close to beating Oklahoma this season. 

Viral Sensation of the Week

I do not know this woman’s name, and to be honest, I hope I never learn it. I’d prefer to remember her as this perfect encapsulation of every college football fan who has had to watch their team play Alabama. Oh, and if that moment alone isn’t enough, this was pretty great, too.

Stat of the Week

Illinois beat Minnesota 55-31 on Saturday in a game I’m sure nobody but myself and the parents of the players involved watched. It was an impressive performance from the Illinois offense, as the Illini scored touchdowns on a 72-yard run from Reggie Corbin, a 72-yard run from Dre Brown, a 77-yard run from Corbin again, as well as a 67-yard pass to Ricky Smalling. That’s four touchdowns of 67 yards or more in the same game, and the Illini defense also returned a fumble for a 62-yard score, but it was overturned and (controversially depending on which team you were rooting for) ruled an incomplete pass.

None of those is the stat we’re featuring, however. No, the most interesting aspect of this Illinois win was that it came against a Big Ten West opponent. It was the first time Illinois picked up a conference win over a divisional opponent in 1,092 days. The last win was a 48-14 victory against Purdue on Nov. 7, 2015.

Catch of the Week

That’s Iowa State’s Hakeem Butler rag-dolling the ironically named Hasan Defense for the grab and then the touchdown. 

Hot Take of the Week

Well, that’s certainly an opinion. I mean, if you’re calling Tagovailoa “overrated” because some talk about him like he’s the greatest quarterback ever to play the game, sure, you could make that argument. It’s a bit of a strawman, but I’d at least understand your point of view to an extent.

But when you then claim Tua is “Tim Tebow with a slightly better arm,” you tend to lose credibility. If Tebow’s arm were only “slightly” worse than Tagovailoa’s, he’d still be playing in the NFL instead of saying stupid things about Maryland and DJ Durkin.

Stat of the Week II

This stat comes courtesy of The Athletic’s Chris Vannini: Akron hasn’t scored a point on offense in the fourth quarter this season. The Zips scored two touchdowns against Northwestern in the fourth quarter of their upset win in September (hey, remember when likely Big Ten West champion Northwestern lost to Akron?), but both were defensive touchdowns. They’re really putting the Zip in Zips.

AP Voters of the Week

Listen, usually this is a spot where I call out a voter for doing something I believe to be stupid with their ballot, but I’m not doing that this week. Frankly, once you get outside the top 10 right now, it’s anybody’s game. Hell, saying there’s a clearly-defined top 10 is probably stretching it a bit as well.

So instead, I’m going to give a pat on the back to the following voters: Brett McMurphy, Jim Alexander, John Bednarowski, Kellis Robinett, Lauren Brownlow, Dave Southorn, Brandon Marcello, Matt Brown and Tony Parks. Kudos to you all for all of you had UAB on your ballot somewhere. At a time like this when you’re debating whether or not to include 5-3 Iowa State or 5-4 Northwestern (seriously, four people ranked 5-4 Northwestern), why not reward a Group of Five team like UAB that’s having a terrific season?

That’s something the 51 voters who didn’t rank the Blazers should ask themselves.

College Football Playoff Projection of the Week

Until the next Monday After!

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