College football games, week 11: Ole Miss, Lane Kiffin gets third shot to defeat injured Alabama, Nick Saban

College football games, week 11: Ole Miss, Lane Kiffin gets third shot to defeat injured Alabama, Nick Saban

No. 11 Ole Miss and No. 9 Alabama is in some weird places this week. Usually, Nick Saban trotted out the usual “rat poison” credentials as a 12-point favorite on the road in the closing stages of another national championship pursuit. Instead, Lane Kiffin found himself making up an antidote for the dreaded RP

“GOAT Fuel”, he calls it. You know, any talk about the end of the Alabama dynasty is motivation for the greatest coach of all time.

“I’m sure it was on his desk Sunday morning,” Kiffin said of any reference to Saban’s dynasty possibly collapsing.

The question is what Saban and Crimson Tide make of these claims. It doesn’t look like Alabama should be a 12-point favorite at Ole Miss. It’s another chance for a former Saban assistant to beat him. This has happened twice in the last five such meetings after never having happened before. Saban opened 24-0 against his proteges.

Kiffin is winless in three tries against his ex-boss. Not without the usual hype. The Rebels visited the Tide undefeated last season. Kiffin told CBS Sports before the game to “get your popcorn ready.” Ole Miss trailed 35-0 and lost 42-21.

Kiffin is the Twitter troll who never stops trolling. This week, he tweeted a picture of a Saban book on leadership based on Ole Miss’s defensive call sheet. It could have been a reference to Saban cryptically suggesting in 2020 that Ole Miss’s defense knew what came of Bama’s attack.

More than Alabama’s pride is hurt after Saturday’s loss to LSU. That result likely bounced the tide out of pre-Thanksgiving college football playoff contention for the first time.

Ole Miss and Kiffin deserve the love they receive. They’re on the rise, in contention for a New Year’s Bowl Six and still a long way off for SEC West. But it’s Alabama that’s generating most of the headlines.

Another defeat would be the biggest in a season for Saban since 2010 (three). There could be the ugly specter of disclaimers before a mid-level bowling game. It’s the dichotomy. Saban still has all those NFL prospects. But something happened this year.

The tides are vulnerable. Their wide receivers don’t have the ability to split. There is no sneaky, bulldozing running back in the mold of Najee Harris, Derrick Henry or Josh Jacobs. (Jahmyr Gibbs shows incredible ability but not often enough — and he can’t do it alone.) An LSU offensive line with freshmen at every tackle pushed Bama in the second half to 148 yards and 7.4 per carry. Defending Heisman Trophy winner Bryce Young was outplayed by Jayden Daniels.

So, there’s something more there than just knocking out two losses by a total of four points. If Ole Miss needs motivation — it probably doesn’t — this 12-point line hangs out there like a handy tweet.

Who knows what Kiffin will do if his team pulls off the surprise? For now, it’s perhaps best to say that Alabama’s current football reputation is an underdog this week.

Back to Texas

No. 4 TCU at No. 18 Texas could mark the first time a top-five FBS team, 9-0, enters a game against an opponent ranked as a touchdown underdog. This line favoring Longhorns over Horned Frogs requires a few layers of thought.

  • TCU’s top offensive weapon, WR Quentin Johnston, took two snaps last week against West Virginia due to a lower-body injury. He trained on Wednesday and Thursday.
  • TCU is on the road in this rivalry, which escalated when the Frogs joined the Big 12 in 2012. But since then, TCU is 4-1 at Texas and 7-3 overall in the series.
  • Texas (6-3) played like they could win the Big 12. They already control their own destiny for the championship game. He just has to keep winning. Texas is preferred to an AP top-10 team for the first time in a decade.

And then there’s Texas defensive analyst Gary Patterson, who faces his former team for the first time. Patterson was fired a year ago at TCU after a 3-5 beginning. A large majority of the frogs were guys he had recruited. You better believe Coach P has something ready for TCU.

“He texted me after Oklahoma won,” said new TCU coach Sonny Dykes. “It was really nice of him to do that. I texted him back. Look, Gary loves TCU and he loves his players. He wants nothing but success for his players.”

Saturday excluded.

If the Horns beat the Frogs and then followed by leading the table by defeating Kansas and Baylor in the regular season finale, Texas would clinch a spot in the top two of the Big 12.

Win the Big 12 Championship Game and the Horns will go to the Sugar Bowl at 10-3. The last time Texas won 10 and went to Sugar was in 2018. They beat Georgia in that game with QB Sam Ehlinger sadly saying, “Longhorn Nation, we’re baaaack.”

Again, we’ll see. It’s still quite a comeback from a program that floundered at 2-2 after an overtime loss Sept. 24 at Texas Tech.

LSU Point of View

No. 7 LSU can see a national championship from here. At 7-2, he’s in control of his ability to win the SEC West and the SEC, which could mean a spot in CFP. Try to keep LSU out of the top four if they win against Arkansas, UAB, Texas A&M and possibly Georgia. LSU can clinch a spot in the SEC Championship Game with a win and an Ole Miss loss.

Daniels is the latest bloomer. Since losing to Tennessee, he’s had 14 touchdowns (seven assists, seven carries) in the last three games. The only other Power Five quarterbacks since 2000 with those totals over a three-game span are Tim Tebow, Jalen Hurts and Lamar Jackson. It’s possible the transfer from Arizona State is currently the best quarterback in the SEC. Yeah, that’s considering what Hendon Hooker did.

Rocky Top is not arrested

The further we get from last Saturday, the better. 5 looks from Tennessee. Those of us who were there witnessed a beating. The final score (27-13) does not indicate it on paper. That’s why the Volunteers (hosting Missouri) still have a hell of a shot at getting back into the CFP top four.

Here is the best case scenario:

  • Win against Missouri, South Carolina and Vanderbilt
  • Georgia Wins SEC Championship
  • Ohio State wins as Big Ten champion
  • The Big 12 champion is a team other than TCU with at least one loss
  • Utah, already with two losses, wins the Pac-12

That creates at least one, probably even two, spots in the top four where the CFP selection committee couldn’t help but place Tennessee.

Here is the worst case scenario:

  • LSU wins as SEC champion, earning second-place finish with SEC next to Georgia
  • Michigan prevails with narrow win over Ohio State and Big Ten championship victory

In this scenario, Tennessee would be all but ruled out with potentially two from the SEC and two from the Big Ten on the court, depending on what happens elsewhere.

Dude beat my homie

It’s the beginning of the end (of the season) for No. 1 Georgia. There will be a significant challenge in the state of Mississippi. Mike Leach’s offense has been average this season – by his standards. The SEC number. 2 passing offense faces No. 1 in the nation. 5 defense. If the Dawgs kept Hooker at 195, a season low meters of overtaking, what will they do with Will Rogers? Take a closer look at Mississippi State’s Quinshon Judkins, who leads freshman rushers with 1,034 yards. Georgia earns a berth in the SEC Championship Game with a win or loss to Tennessee.

Big Ten West Parity

If Purdue, Minnesota and Iowa win their games this week, the top Big Ten West would have Illinois, Iowa, Purdue and Minnesota all sitting 4-3 in Big Ten play with two weeks left. Good luck resolving this tiebreaker. Illinois, Purdue and Minnesota have never participated in the Big Ten Championship Game.

ACC is almost set

Maybe the Quarterback of the Year Battle will air in Wake Forest. North Carolina QB Drake Maye is now a realistic contender for the Heisman Trophy. Saturday’s game totals 55 touchdown passes between Maye and Sam Hartman. The no. 15 Tar Heels can clinch the ACC Coastal with a win or losses at Duke and Georgia Tech.

Meanwhile, has there ever been a quieter clinch? No. 10 Clemson clinched the ACC Atlantic and a berth in last week’s ACC Championship Game despite that horrific loss to Notre Dame. He will have to win against Louisville, Miami and South Carolina to have a chance at CFP.

Can’t wait for the playoffs, episode 373

Just think about what No. 22 UCF at No. 17 Tulane would love to have an expanded playoff. The winner wouldn’t just be alive for a New Year’s Six game (Cotton Bowl, this season), but a playoff berth. Tulane (8-1) hasn’t hosted a game between two ranked teams since 1949. The winner will virtually earn a spot in the AAC Championship Game. The Green Wave is a witch defensively in the red zone. Only No. 21 Illinois and Georgia have allowed fewer touchdowns in the red zone.

Quick Kicks

Coaches Carousel Update: Scott Frost looks like a good candidate for South Florida, as does Dan Mullen… Illinois defensive coordinator Ryan Walters is looking more and more like a slam dunk at the Colorado … Patterson and Bronco Mendenhall have expressed interest in the Buffaloes gig too … Nebraska (at No. 23 Michigan) has lost 20 straight games against. Top 25 AP Opponents. Saturday marks the first time the Huskers have been at least 28 underdogs since 2004… Is that a James Franklin stat or what? No. 14 Penn State (vs. Maryland) is 7-0 against ranked teams, 0-2 against ranked teams…TCU leads the FBS in winning six games by 10 points for under. Ohio State in 2002 won seven of its 14 games by a touchdown or less en route to a national title… if not. 6 Oregon defeats No. 25 Washington, it will only have to beat No. 13 Utah next week to clinch a spot in the Pac-12 Championship Game… Ducks coach Dan Lanning has apparently muffled any Auburn talk… Bo Nix leads the FBS with 36 total touchdowns… Nope. 12 UCLA (vs Arizona) has scored 30+ points in 12 straight games, FBS’ longest active streak

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