10 things I'm absolutely overreacting to after Week 12, starting with the decision to play Tua
I don’t want to hear it, a’ight?
Nick Saban blew it — and his decision to play Tua Tagovailoa just altered the College Football Playoff chase and maybe his star QB’s NFL future.
Of course Tagovailoa’s season-ending hip injury is going to dominate the 10 things I’m absolutely overreacting to after Week 12 in and around the SEC.
10. Well, Nick, you outsmarted yourself this time
The practical thing was to put Tua Tagovailoa in bubble wrap for 2 weeks and save him for Auburn. That’s what I wrote last week in this space. There was no way I would have played Tua against Mississippi State or Western Carolina. I would have sat him and made sure he was 100% healthy for Auburn.
Again, this isn’t second-guessing after the fact. It’s what I wrote last week.
Alas, nobody tells Nick Saban how to run his program.
Now? This very likely will be the last play we see from Tagovailoa in a Bama uniform.
— Collin Wilson (@_Collin1) November 16, 2019
Again, why did he play?
You can say, oh, it was a hip injury. You can say it was a fluke. Saban called it a freak injury and made sure to note it was unrelated to any other injury. You could say, like Saban did at halftime, that Alabama needs to block better so he doesn’t get tackled.
I’d say he couldn’t escape pressure because of his right ankle.
He shouldn’t have been in the ballgame at any point, much less up 35-7 late in the 1st half.
Why in the hail is Tua in the game when you are up 35-7? That makes no sense. None!
— David Pollack (@davidpollack47) November 16, 2019
It’s indefensible. It’s borderline irresponsible.
And it probably just cost Alabama a shot at the national title and, depending on the severity of his dislocated hip, might have cost Tua a shot at being the No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft.
Here’s Nick Saban’s halftime interview with ESPN on Tua Tagovailoa’s hip injury and the plan before halftime pic.twitter.com/ZKixkhf2Ds
— Marq Burnett (@Marq_Burnett) November 16, 2019
Too bad? Too bad? The optics of this interview were worse than Saban intended, but the heat he should catch for his decision? Yeah, too bad.
9. Alabama’s Playoff hopes are done
They’re not the same team with Mac Jones. It’s as simple as that. That’s not an insult. That’s not throwing shade. It’s acknowledging the obvious.
Alabama won by 31, so maybe the Playoff committee will keep them at No. 5.
I wouldn’t. There is a new reality that can’t be ignored.
If this Tide defense were as dominant as some of its earlier glory-year versions, I’d be willing to listen to how, at 11-1, Bama still could deserve a No. 4 Playoff seed. If I truly believed it, I’d campaign for it. But this Tide defense isn’t close to that.
This Tide team had to outscore you. And this Tide team, with Mac Jones slinging the arrows instead of Tua, simply can’t.
Alabama scored 3 points after Tua was carted off with a season-ending injury.
No Tua, no logical argument for inclusion.
8. Will this impact younger brother Tualia?
This is a fascinating storyline nobody is talking about. Yet.
But if you are the Tagovailoas and your oldest son potentially just saw his future change because of a questionable decision to play him when he wasn’t 100%, does that change your opinion of the head coach?
I don’t know. The Tagovailoas are deeply religious and likely will see Saturday as part of a higher plan. And maybe he can recover from a dislocated hip and have a productive NFL career. Maybe he’ll still go early in the 1st-round and be set financially for life.
But what if this injury is Bo-like?
If it’s as bad as it looked, the family’s view is certainly something to monitor moving forward.
7. Don’t ever count out Jalen Hurts, Part 324 …
Oklahoma’s Playoff hopes were done.
Undefeated Baylor, playing at home, led Oklahoma by 25.
It was over.
Nah. It was Jalen Time.
Jalen Hurts, who had 2 early turnovers that contributed to the early deficit, rallied the Sooners with one of his greatest games. Obviously, that’s saying something.
He engineered the largest comeback in Oklahoma football history. Obviously, that’s saying something.
Hurts finished with 297 passing yards, 4 passing TDs and 114 yards rushing as Oklahoma, down 28-3, won 34-31.
Hurts threw 3 of the TD passes in the second half, including 2 in the 4th quarter as the Sooners closed with a 24-0 run to stay in the Playoff hunt.
Hurts won’t win the Heisman. Joe Burrow will. But Hurts will be in New York to congratulate him.
6. What to do about Mizzou …
Do you get rid of Barry Odom? Do you get rid of Derek Dooley? You already know you’ll have a 3rd starting QB in 3 years next year. Do you have any confidence in either at this point?
Florida’s defense is outstanding, so that should temper some of the overreaction after Mizzou’s latest offensive dud.
But that’s the thing: It was merely Mizzou’s latest offensive dud. It wasn’t an outlier.
Mizzou has averaged 6.8 points in its past 4 games and scored 1 TD in its past 3 games.
Mizzou is 5-5 in a season in which many predicted they would contend for an SEC East title.
I was not among that group, however. In the offseason, I picked Mizzou as 1 of the 3 teams I thought would win 3 fewer games in 2019 than they did in 2018. Maybe that’s why I haven’t overreacted to some of their previous losses. I never thought this team was going to be that good.
Mizzou is what it is. The question for school officials is, is that good enough?
5. Bottom 5 of Power 5
The worst of the weak, in order of ineptitude, because the alphabet is far too forgiving.
1. Texas (Big 12): Can everybody agree that the Longhorns are not, in fact, back? How many times do they have to lose before they fall out of the Top 25 for good?
2. Michigan State’s offense (Big Ten): For the 4th time in the Spartans’ 5 losses, they were held to 10 points or fewer. They are 12th in the B1G in scoring … after finishing ahead of only Rutgers in 2018. MSU hasn’t finished higher than 10th in its conference in scoring since 2015 — and that team was promptly shut out in the Playoff loss to Alabama.
3. Missouri’s play-calling (SEC): The misuse of Larry Rountree is puzzling. He hasn’t had more than 15 carries in any of Mizzou’s past 4 games — again, all losses. He had just 7 carries Saturday against Florida.
4. Northwestern (Big Ten): I’d say they overpaid … but the Cats put up a season-high 48 points and scored more than they had in their previous 5 games combined.
UMass (1-9) at Northwestern (1-8) today.
Two seats on the 50 are available for $4.
— Brad Crawford (@BCrawford247) November 16, 2019
5. Scott Frost, Nebraska (Big Ten): Imagine what the extension would have been if Nebraska were, you know, actually good.
4. The 4 Playoff teams are …
No. 1 LSU, No. 2 Ohio State, No. 3 Clemson, No. 4 Georgia.
There’s no debate. No drama. No dispute.
Oregon should move up to No. 5, jumping Alabama. But the Ducks have no chance to catch Georgia unless Georgia loses. And the Ducks won’t pass LSU, either, if the Tigers’ only loss is against Georgia in the SEC title game.
LSU beat Auburn. Georgia outlasted Auburn (at Auburn). Auburn beat Oregon in a neutral-site game. As I’ve noted numerous times, Oregon’s Playoff hopes hinged on Auburn beating Georgia and Alabama.
Minnesota? I’ve told you for 2 weeks don’t waste mental energy worrying about the Gophers because they weren’t good enough to run the table.
Sorry, Tim Brando. Grab a life jacket. More water is coming.
— Terrance Donnels (@LSUFreek) November 17, 2019
Oklahoma is officially back in the hunt, too. They’ll be back at No. 6 when I predict the top 10 on Tuesday morning.
I’m still trying to figure out what’s realistic and fair for Alabama.
3. Butch Jones to Arkansas? I like the idea
It’s Flight Tracking SZN, so we spent the past week sorting out rumors about Arkansas’ coaching search. I like several of the Group of 5 coaches reportedly drawing interest, but I really like the idea of Butch Jones getting a second chance at Arkansas.
It’s fair to question whether he’s even a candidate. There are reports on both sides.
Wish all you want, but you’re not getting Mike Leach, unless he’s ready to retire in 4 years, anyway. You’re not poaching a successful, well-paid Power 5 head coach.
You’re getting somebody who deserves a second chance or a Group of 5 type.
But Jones is the right kind of fit for Arkansas: gritty, hard-nosed, a football coach’s football coach who has had success in this league.
Tennessee had good recruiting classes, but other SEC teams had better ones. You could argue Jones got at least as much out of that talent as the rankings suggested he should. That’s paramount at a place like Arkansas, which won’t ever be better than 4th in SEC West recruiting.
2. Can Jake Fromm really win a national title?
His Bulldogs won again, at Auburn, in a Playoff résumé booster. There is no doubt after Saturday that Georgia will stay at No. 4 in Tuesday’s Playoff rankings.
Fromm threw his best pass of the season, maybe his best pass as a Bulldog, to give Georgia early control.
Jake Fromm wanted it ALL on this one. pic.twitter.com/uO8Z56XnSB
— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) November 16, 2019
More questions about his ceiling, his arm strength … his ability to win it all. He finished with 3 TDs, but the 3rd was a short swing pass after a questionable personal foul that extended Georgia’s drive. That completion pushed Fromm’s stat line to 12-for-24 for 110 yards.
He finished 13-for-28 for 110 yards, a Vanderbilt-esque 3.9 yards per attempt. You could argue that in the 2nd half, counterpart Bo Nix outplayed him.
You can debate whether Fromm is the weakest QB in a field that includes Joe Burrow, Justin Fields, Trevor Lawrence, Justin Herbert. I think he is.
But what you can’t debate is Fromm has had the poorest season in the group.
Maybe Georgia’s defense is so good that it won’t matter. Maybe Georgia’s defense is so good that it can hold Burrow and LSU to 24 points and win the SEC championship. Auburn held Burrow and the Tigers to 23.
But Playoff games tend to reach the 30s and it’s difficult to see this Georgia offense getting there.
1. As in … Joe Burrow’s place in LSU record book
Another week, another broken record.
Burrow already holds LSU’s single-game record for TD passes. Every week he adds to his single-season record for TD passes (now 38). Saturday, he broke LSU’s single-season record for passing yards. He now has 3,687.
He’s well ahead of pace to break the SEC marks for passing yards (Tim Couch, 4,275) and TD passes (Drew Lock, 44), especially if you account for postseason games. He might break both in the regular season.
For those who want to note that Couch set the record in 11 games in 1998, fine. Just know that he threw 553 passes — an average of 51 passes per game.
Burrow is averaging 34 passes per game — so he couldn’t even get to 553 unless the Tigers played 16 games — which they can’t. And he still might break it in 11 games.
Admire what he’s doing. It’s historic.