SDS Mailbag: Best team not in a conference title game, Mizzou pain and most devastating loss as a fan
I always love it when we find out what teams are playing in which bowl games. I love the speculation that leads up to it, the passionate debates and then the final selections.
This is going to be like college football’s version of Selection Sunday, and I can’t wait. Sadly, my school (Mizzou) won’t be participating in a bowl game despite having a 6-6 record, but there should still be plenty of intriguing matchups.
It’s important to note that the season shouldn’t just be all about the Playoff. Bowl games are a great way to reward players for their hard work. And, they’re great to watch over the holidays.
Get excited for bowl season, everyone! While you build that excitement, here are the questions for this week’s SDS Mailbag:
What’s the best team that isn’t playing in a conference championship game?
I’ll need to look over what I signed, but I think I’m contractually obligated to say Alabama here. The Tide is indeed a great team that fell on hard times when perhaps its best defensive player (LB Dylan Moses) went down before the season and its star QB (Tua Tagovailoa) went down just before the stretch run started.
However, I also want to use this space to give props to teams like Florida, Penn State, Minnesota and Auburn. The Tigers just beat Alabama last weekend, after all. In the Group of 5, I think Memphis has proven itself as the top team. Memphis’s only loss this year was against Temple in Philadelphia, where dreams go to die.
Still, if those six teams I just mentioned had a tournament, I’d put my money on Alabama to win it, so I’m going to go with the Tide as the best team that will be sitting at home this championship weekend.
BONUS: Dobbe’s Locks of the week went 1-2 last week. Perhaps conference championship weekend and bowl season will get him back on track? Here are his picks for this week:
- Oklahoma vs. Baylor (under 64) — There were 65 points in their November matchup. I can’t imagine this game being better than last time, so I’m going under. Oklahoma and Texas scored 27 fewer points in their Big 12 title game rematch last year.
- LSU (-7) vs. Georgia — LSU hasn’t given me a reason to doubt them.
- Oregon (+6.5) vs. Utah — Close your eyes and picture Utah in the Playoff. I can’t see it. Ducks win outright. Plus, it’s going to rain. Ducks love rain.
Dobbe’s Locks of the Week 2019 record: 18-25-1
Why is it so challenging to be a Mizzou fan? I think about all the great times we had during our time at Mizzou, from being a half away from the national championship game (via a Big 12 title game loss to Oklahoma) to an Elite Eight appearance in hoops. We are now unwatchable in basketball and on our third coach since Mike Anderson, and apparently no one other than Willie Fritz wants to be our football coach. Other than Max Scherzer winning a World Series, what do we have to be excited for?
Well, that is definitely a loaded question, but it can be summed up with this — just when you think nothing else can go wrong, it does. Think the NCAA will do the right thing and overturn a ridiculous bowl ban? Think again.
Think the Tigers will get off to a good start on the road against Wyoming? Nope. Think a game against 1-5 Vanderbilt is a good way to pick up your first road win of the year? Ha.
Think the Porter brothers will help turn the men’s basketball team around? Well, in Michael’s only year, he played 2 minutes before suffering a serious back injury. And in Jontay’s second year, he tore his ACL.
Think it’ll be an easy game against a Charleston Southern team that entered ranked No. 287 in KenPom.com’s rankings of all 353 Division I basketball teams? Nah, the Tigers are going to lose by 8 points in embarrassing fashion.
Those are just things that have happened within the past three years, too. That’s why AD Jim Sterk is under so much pressure right now. If he hires a boring head coach to replace Barry Odom, it’s not going to do anything to reinvigorate the fan base.
The Tigers need someone who can recruit, someone who can excite fans and someone who can impress boosters. You know who can’t really do any of those things? Jim McElwain, who is being mentioned a disturbing amount in this search. Heck of a coach, Mac is, but he just doesn’t check any of those important boxes that Mizzou absolutely needs.
See, I’m already getting frustrated and the new hire hasn’t even happened yet. That’s why it is so frustrating to be a Mizzou fan, as I’m sure you’re well aware.
What is the most devastating loss you have endured in your sports fandom?
Great, so first I have to talk about the pain of being a Mizzou fan, and now I have to relive some of the most devastating losses I’ve ever experienced as a fan? This Mailbag is taking me to some dark places.
One of the worst ones was last year’s Mizzou loss to Kentucky. The Tigers didn’t have a single first down in the second half and yet still should have won the game. A brutal pass interference call gave the Wildcats an untimed down at the end of the fourth quarter. Naturally, they scored the game-winning touchdown on the next play.
Then there was a Green Bay Packers playoff game back in 2004 that still stands out in my mind. The Packers were playing the Philadelphia Eagles in the divisional playoffs and led 17-14 late in the fourth quarter. The Eagles faced a fourth and 26.
By now, you’ve probably figured out that this story doesn’t have a happy ending for us Packers fans. The Eagles gained 28 yards on fourth down, kicked the game-tying field goal and then won 20-17 in overtime.
To make matters worse, I was 13 at the time and got sent to my room after the game for throwing a water bottle at the wall in anger. Brutal night.
If you were a bowl game or the SEC, would you try to put Texas (7-5) and Texas A&M (7-5) in a bowl together?
There are two different answers to this question. If you’re a bowl game (say, the Texas Bowl, for example), you absolutely want the Longhorns and Aggies to square off. That would really spice up a mediocre bowl game. And, as you mention, both teams are a disappointing 7-5.
Getting the Longhorns and Aggies together would almost guarantee a sellout and also help the bowl game with ratings.
However, if you’re the SEC or Big 12, you want what your member school wants. Right now, it doesn’t seem that the two schools want to play each other. So, both conferences will probably put pressure on the bowl committees to avoid having them share a field.
Hopefully something changes between the Aggies and Longhorns soon, but for now, we’ll have to settle for Sunday’s matchup between the former rivals on the basketball court.
Have a question for next week’s Mailbag? Tweet at us using #SDSMailbag or email me at ASpencer@SaturdayDownSouth.com.