I. I’ll take a “Game Manager” any day.
The phrase most often associated with undefeated Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron is “game manager” and, at this point, it’s really becoming insulting. If a game manager is a quarterback who passes for over 1,600 yards, 18 TDs and ZERO interceptions, then college football fans should want one on their favorite team. That’s the problem in America, sometimes we desire for a freakish skill set over getting the job done. Look at a former sensational QB like Cam Newton: ridiculously big and fast with an arm that can throw a ball out of a stadium if he has to. But where is the consistency? Where are the wins? A.J. McCarron is not a slave to his own skill set. He doesn’t have a rocket arm or spectacular scrambling ability so therefore he doesn’t have the pressure to take an entire game onto his shoulders. Instead he plays within himself, doesn’t force things and simply focuses on whatever is most needed to get the job done.
II. Manti Te’o: Unquestionably the best LB in the country
If that statement wasn’t clear before this weekend, it is now without any doubt. Te’o is the heart and soul of the Irish’s dominating defense and I watched him make plays all over the field last Saturday. I’ll be the first to say that I was NOT impressed with Te’o his first two seasons. I thought he missed too many tackles and frankly looked like a slug out there at times. Well, his decision to drop 15 pounds before this season and the resulting gain in speed and athleticism is noticeable. Arguably the best linebacker in the NFL the past decade, Ray Lewis, took a similar approach in dropping weight and subsequently was playing great before injury. Both these guys have realized that today’s football is all about speed and playing in space. The days of the big, run-stuffing MLBs are ancient history.
III. Watkins explodes…finally
In my very first Rocky’s V post, I declared Clemson wide receiver Sammy Watkins as my dark-horse Heisman candidate. After a two-game suspension and missing a game due to illness, Watkins had not yet displayed the play-making ability that made him the most exciting freshman in the country last year. Finally, last Thursday, he exploded versus Wake Forest for 209 yards receiving and a TD. He won’t come close to a Heisman this year, but as Sammy’s only a sophomore, there is always 2013…
IV. Colorado should be embarrassed
I know Oregon’s offense is dynamic and full of explosive players, but c’mon! How does Colorado give up 447 yards and 56 points… in the first half? Colorado’s developmental and fundraising department better be sending out fruit baskets to alumni donors if they hope to receive any future funds. That kind of performance from a prestigious university like Colorado should NEVER happen.
V. The street fight in Baton Rouge this weekend
So fierce is this Alabama/LSU rivalry and so physical are the players in both sides that this game is going to be an all-out brawl. There will be a personal foul and/or unsportsmanlike conduct penalty within the first 10 plays of this game. Write it down. I can’t decide if the game is going to take under three hours to play because of both team’s commitment to the run game, or four hours plus because of all the potential flags. Let me throw out a number: 18 flags. That’s just a guess, but it could easily happen. It’s in this department where I give Alabama the edge in this game. The discipline instilled on his team by Nick Saban will keep the Crimson Tide under composure in what is obviously a monster game. My prediction: 28-20 Alabama.
— Rocky Boiman
Rocky Boiman is an analyst for Westwood One’s coverage of NCAA Football. Each week in “Rocky’s V,” the former Notre Dame captain and Super Bowl champion writes about five topics that have captured his interest from around college football. You can also follow Rocky on Twitter.