After a huge win last weekend at Texas A&M, the Crimson Tide were not quite playing at top speed against Colorado State Saturday evening. They didn’t need a championship caliber level performance in their home opener though as the Crimson Tide put away Colorado State 31-6.
Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron had a decent day in the box score, completing 20-of-26 for 258 yards and a touchdown. McCarron was replaced in the fourth quarter by Blake Sims, who tossed a touchdown on his only pass attempt of the game. He was also intercepted once. T.J. Yeldon sat out the first quarter to serve a suspension and rushed for 49 yards, which ended up leading the team in rushing.
Colorado State held their own for a while, but found out you just cannot make mistakes against a team like Alabama and expect to get away with it. A Colorado State punt attempt was blocked and returned for a touchdown in the second quarter. Rams quarterback Garrett Grayson had an encouraging outing, passing for 208 yards and avoiding a turnover as well.
Head coach Jim McElwain, a former offensive coordinator for the Tide under Nick Saban, can use this game to show his program what it takes to build a winning program. Colorado State may never be a program that competes for consecutive BCS titles, but if McElwain can take what has learned during his time at Alabama it could be realistic we will be seeing the Rams start to become a factor in the Mountain West Conference soon enough.
Now, can we take anything out of this performance by Alabama? It was probably likely there would be a bit of a letdown after last week’s roller coaster ride in College Station, and Saban was not exactly trying to embarrass one of his former assistants in his return to Alabama. If Alabama wanted to put this game away early on, they probably could have. I’m not convinced we saw the Rams exploiting any holes in the Crimson Tide on this night.
Alabama has a huge SEC West game next weekend in Tuscaloosa when Ole Miss comes to town. The Rebels will be coming off a bye week after defeating Texas last week in Austin. Ole Miss has been flying on offense so Alabama’s defense will be tested. But will Ole Miss be able to move the football all over the field the way Texas A&M did? If they can, Alabama will have to have a more urgent pulse from the start.
We should expect nothing less from a Saban-coached team though.
Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema will not be disciplined by the SEC office for his brief interaction with Alabama offensive lineman Cam Robinson last weekend. A video showing Bielema exaggerating his interaction with Robinson at the end of a play was reviewed by SEC commissioner Greg Sankey, and the commissioner has discussed the situation with the Razorbacks coach.
“I visited with Bret over the phone on Monday and we discussed the play that has now become widely reviewed through a brief video clip,” Sankey said in a released statement. “Football is played in an intense competitive environment and I reminded him of the need for head coaches to resolve with their own players issues that may arise, which was his intent. The unsportsmanlike penalty assessed on the play was not directly associated with Bret’s efforts to intervene at the end of the play and we are moving forward in a positive manner.”
That appears to be the end of the discussion regarding Bielema’s act. I personally think there should have been some more done here by the league’s commissioner, but we will see if Bielema avoids putting himself in a similar position moving forward.
In the midst of what could be a dream season in South Philadelphia, the Temple Owls announced a rare sellout for a football game this afternoon. The October 31 game at home against Notre Dame has sold out Lincoln Financial Field. This is the first time Temple has sold out two home games in the same season since 1976, when the Owls began playing home games in one of Philadelphia’s pro sports stadiums.
This is the second sellout of the season for Temple, but it is also worth mentioning who the opponents are for those two games; Penn State and Notre Dame. Penn State is always Temple’s biggest draw when they get a chance to host the Nittany Lions and their legions of fans in and around the Delaware Valley. Temple dominated Penn State in the season opener, snapping a long losing streak against the in-state power. Notre Dame is also a big draw everywhere the Irish go, and there is a solid fanbase in the southeastern part of Philadelphia as well.
It is also a rare trip to Philadelphia for Notre Dame. The Irish last played in Philadelphia in 1993 when they faced Navy in Veterans Stadium. Navy also hosted Notre Dame in Philadelphia in 1960, 1962, 1964, 1966, 1968, 1970, 1972 and 1974. Notre Dame and Temple have never played in Philadelphia, although they did face each other in the 2013 season opener. This year’s game is the second game of a home-and-home series.
The game could potentially prove to play a key role in the evolving College Football Playoff and Group of Five conversation as well. If Temple avoids slipping up this week against UCF and next week at East Carolina and USC holds off USC, then we could have an undefeated and top 25 Temple program hosting a top 15 or even potential top 10 Notre Dame on Halloween. Let’s not put the cart ahead of the horse here, but that could be a very attractive matchup worth paying attention to at the end of the month for many fanbases.