Holiday hijinks kept me from posting much here in the last few weeks. I wrote a recap of the Orange Bowl for Crimson and Cream Machine that summed up my thoughts on the game itself. You can check it out there.
Generally speaking, things played out as I expected. No, I didn’t see that early blitzkrieg coming. For the course of four quarters, though, OU probably moved the ball on the Alabama defense better than anyone else this season. Interestingly, even though OU’s ramshackle defense didn’t play particularly well, it seemed like the Sooners didn’t look much different versus the Tide O than all of the supposedly superior Ds in the Southeastern Conference.
A few other ramblings:
*If you’re a fan who enjoys being miserable or just a hater, you might look at the last two seasons as OU wasting all-time great offenses by pairing them with putrid defenses. But think about it through the wide-angle lens.
We can try to fool ourselves about five-star hearts and coaching genius, but nothing matters more than talent when it comes to winning college football games. OU has a great roster, but it sits a cut below teams such as Alabama, Clemson and Georgia. To wit, the Sooners ranked 11th in the 247Sports College Football Team Talent Composite for 2018, up from 16th in 2017.
I’d concede that you could make an argument that a better D might have put OU over the top a year ago – there wasn’t a team in the country on par with the 2018 editions of Bama and Clemson. (I would point out that if we’re talking specifically about the UGA game, special teams also gave OU a swift kick to the crotch.)
However, even if OU was playing far better defense this year, the idea that the Sooners could have beaten the Tigers and the Tide in back-to-back weeks this year with their depth is a stretch. Just take a look at the condition Hollywood Brown was in for the Orange Bowl.
There are always going to be things in a season that you’d like to see play out differently, and there’s no excuse for the play of OU’s defense the last two years. But the highest stratosphere of overall talent has become something close to a necessary condition for winning a national championship. OU isn’t quite there yet, but it still had the third- or fourth-best team in the country. That’s as much a reason for optimism about the future as for regret about what could have been.
*On a similar note, my opinion of coaching in the SEC gets lower and lower every year. Nick Saban has built the greatest program in college football history in Tuscaloosa, but most of these supposedly talent-rich teams in the conference can barely make Bama sweat. (Keep in mind the boost in reputation that Georgia got this year because the Bulldogs almost won in the SEC championship game while Tua Tagovailoa was rolling around in Atlanta on one leg.)
Put another way, as great as the Tide are, their dominance over their conference mates in practice exceeds their advantages in theory. At some point, contending with Alabama every year turns into a convenient crutch for the rest of the league.
*I really don’t understand Jake Fromm. The ball often looks great leaving the Georgia quarterback’s hand, but he has those games where he sprays the ball everywhere. The Sugar Bowl performance was one of his worst.
*We can take Dana Holgorsen’s willingness to skip town for Houston as a sign of what to expect out of West Virginia next year.
*I know nothing about Lincoln Riley’s plans for hiring a new defensive coordinator. I guess if Alabama co-coordinator Pete Golding is the hire, it would make sense that there would be no word until after the Tide’s final game. However, plenty of knowledgeable people seem to think OU will end up going in a different direction for one reason or another.
*I think Alabama will beat Clemson in undramatic fashion, which would be appropriate for this season. Call it 35-20.