Starting 11: Alabama should be number one edition

It’s a bleary-eyed Labor Day here for me.

After three games in three days in three cities, I’ve managed to contract a cold that’s so intense I can feel my heart beating in my eardrums. This is vaguely alarming. But I’m not taking off any days. This afternoon we’ll be doing a Labor Day live show on 3HL and this evening I’m hopping a flight to Kansas City in preparation for talking to the KC Tiger Club on Tuesday at noon. Hope to see some Kansas City OKTC readers there.

Without further ado, here’s what caught my eye for week one’s Starting 11.

1. Alabama should be your number one team in the country.

Here’s the deal, when you’re the only highly ranked team to beat a top-ranked team — even if Michigan was overrated — then you deserve to be rewarded for that accomplishment. Last year LSU beat Oregon in this same game and I said the Tigers should be number one. This year Alabama beats Michigan while USC is playing Hawaii and LSU is playing North Texas. So give the Tide the number one ranking.

Saban’s team deserves it.

2. There’s a power quad ruling at the top of the college football universe.

I know some people want to convince you that Florida State and Oklahoma are elite teams, but I don’t buy it. There are four elite teams in college football: Alabama, LSU, USC, and Oregon. Which means November 3 is a default national semifinal. (Of course USC and Oregon will probably have to play twice which means the outcome of their November 3rd game really doesn’t matter very much — whoever wins the Pac 12 title game would be higher ranked — but it will take another month or so before most people realize this). 

There will be other pretenders to the throne, but these four teams will be at the top of the rankings all season long.  

3. Who ya got for best freshman runner in the country: Bama’s T.J. Yeldon or Georgia’s Todd Gurley.

Yeldon carried the ball 11 times for 111 yards while Gurley carried the ball eight times for 100 yards and tossed in a 100 yard kickoff return touchdown as well.

It’s early, but Yeldon and Gurley have a little bit of the Julio Jones, A.J. Green vibe about them. Recall that Jones and Green both came into the SEC in 2009 and were drafted in the top six of the 2011 draft. Lots can happen with true freshmen who experience success — see Crowell, Isaiah — but these guys look special, really damn special.

4. Were you rooting for or against Penn State in the Nittany Lions game against Ohio?

I’ll admit it, I was rooting for Ohio.

I know some of y’all were probably rooting for Penn State, but it’s going to be a long time before I’m rooting for the Nittany Lions in any game.

Okay, that was kind of depressing, so here’s 4a, I picked Mississippi State to win ten games in 2012.

Here’s their team entering the field Saturday:

Who knew you could trip on dry ice?

5. What’s the over/under going to be for West Virginia/Oklahoma State on November 10th?

In case you missed it West Virginia posted 69. Not to be outdone Oklahoma State scored 84, including 395 yards rushing.

I’m going with 85 as the over/under for this game and it’s going to last five hours.

Meanwhile, Geno Smith needs to be your Heisman frontrunner, he went 32 of 36 for 323 yards and four touchdowns and also rushed for sixty-five yards and another touchdown.

His numbers are going to be absolutely freakish this year.

6. Using week one as your proxy: Tennessee is the best team in the SEC east.

I know, I know, it’s early, but the Vols played the best competition and looked the best of any SEC east team. South Carolina and Florida both looked woeful on offense, Georgia was unimpressive on defense, and Mizzou played a weak opponent. (Kentucky’s not even worth consideration). Vanderbilt looks improved, but only managed 13 points against the Gamecocks. 

That leaves Tennessee as the most impressive team in week one.  

September 15th looms large for both the Gators and Vols. If Tennessee can beat the Gators, the Vols will roll into Athens at 4-0 for the first time since 2004. That year the Vols engineered an upset of the Dawgs behind the play of freshman Erik Ainge. The Dawgs would be favored in this game, but Dooley and his team would be playing with house money. At least for the time being. Remember that I predicted the Vols to start 4-0 and then lose their next four in a row (at Georgia, at Mississippi State, Alabama, at South Carolina).  

7. I passed this bumper sticker as I left Jerry’s World Saturday night:

“Honk if you paid Cam.”

8. Kentucky needs to dump Joker and hire Bobby Petrino.

I told y’all before the season that UK was a lock to win under 4.5 games.

Then the Wildcats went out and proved me right in their opening week performance against Louisville. There’s a big gap between Kentucky and the other six teams in the SEC east. That gap is continuing to grow — right now Kentucky is thirty spots behind the 13th best recruiting class in the SEC — and there’s only one cure for program malaise. 

Bobby Petrino. 

He’s won at Louisville, he could win at Kentucky too. 

Show him the money. 

Or continue to suck in football. 

It’s really a simple decision.  

Much simpler than this poorly executed high five which you now won’t be able to stop watching.

9. If Muschamp loses to Texas A&M and Tennessee, both very possible losses, how hot is his seat? 

Very.

They don’t mess around at Florida.

Remember that Ron Zook was fired midway through his third season with the Gators. If Muschamp loses to A&M and the Vols, he’ll be 1-2 on the season, 0-2 in the SEC. WIth LSU coming to town on October 6th, Muschamp could be staring down 1-3 before the season even gets rolling.

Starting this week the Gators have eight straight SEC opponents.

Plus, the Gators finish their SEC schedule on November 3rd. So the maturation of a new quarterback might not arrive until the final month of the season, a time when the Gators are already eliminated from the SEC east race.  

10. My Dallas hotel had a Ten Commandments statue at the outside entrance.

Next door was a high-end strip club.

I think this sums up Texas perfectly.

11. Gene Chizik would already be fired if Auburn hadn’t bought Cam Newton. 

Here is Chizik’s career coaching record in games when Cam Newton wasn’t his quarterback:  21-30, 7-9 in the SEC. 

Here is Chizik’s record when Cam Newton was his quarterback 14-0. 

Without Cam in 2009, Auburn is probably a 7-6 or 8-5 team. (Hell, even with Cam they almost lost three or four games).

There’s a very good chance that Chizik’s Tigers arrive at Vandy sitting at 2-4 on the season. Go ahead and circle this game now because that’s the game that will determine whether or not Auburn can get to a bowl. Lose that game — and I think there’s a very good chance Auburn will lose to Vandy — and Chizik’s on the hot seat just two years after a national title.

I know Chizik has a national tittle, but even Auburn fans have to realize how much of an aberration that season was. You bought the best player for the best single season in the history of the SEC. Well done. But the foundation on the Plains is really, really weak.   

Okay, I know you want to see the Tennessee fan again.

Yes, he was at the N.C. State game and wins our awkward fan photo of the weekend contest.

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