Good morning, I’m Dan Gartland. Yesterday was an intriguing day in the NFL, but we need to take a look at Saturday’s most shocking college football result in more detail.
In today’s SI:AM:
Colorado’s emergence as the nation’s most compelling team isn’t the only way the college football world has been turned on its head this season. Alabama—the most consistently dominant team in the sport—suddenly looks more than vulnerable.
The Crimson Tide left Tampa on Saturday. a 17–3 win over South Florida that has raised serious questions about Bama’s dynastic grip on the sport.
The final score can be deceiving in Alabama games. A low-scoring game can be the result of a methodical suffocation of the Tide’s opponent. This was not the case. The game was shockingly even.
Alabama recorded 15 first downs during the game. USF scored 14. The Tide outgained their opponents by the alarmingly slim margin of 310–264. The Bulls rushed for 177 yard and won the possession battle by a narrow margin. The game was tied 3–3 until Bama finally scored its first touchdown with 4:35 to play in the third quarter.
This is a reminder that USF, an AAC team that went 4–29 over the past three seasons and has not beaten an FBS opponent since 2019. Alabama should have been able to wipe the floor with a team like that. Tuscaloosa is a little alarmed by the fact that this game was so competitive.
The knee-jerk reaction is to pin Alabama’s struggles on its quarterback situation. Jalen Milroe, who was less than stellar in last week’s loss to Texas, was benched in favor of Notre Dame transfer Tyler Buchner. Buchner, however, was awful against USF. He completed just five out of fourteen passes for 34 yard and was benched by the end of the second quarter. Ty Simpson. Simpson led Bama’s two touchdown drives. Bama relied on its running game and Simpson threw nine passes.
An underwhelming performance like that can’t be chalked up to a deficiency at one position, though. Alabama should have been so superior to USF in other aspects that it made lousy QB play a nonfactor, but it wasn’t. The Tide’s offensive line, usually the team’s hallmark, was a disappointment, Pat Forde writes:
Alabama’s offensive line finally started to lean on the Bulls in the fourth quarter, springing Roydell Williams for a couple of big runs on his way to 129 rushing yards on the night. The first half was a bit of a slog for the running game, and the offensive line failed to protect Buchner or Simpson well. They allowed five sacks. The Tide has now given up 12 sacks over three games after giving 22 sacks all last season.
So what’s the root issue? The finger could be pointed to the new Alabama offensive coach Tommy Rees, who was hired away from Notre Dame after Bill O’Brien joined the Patriots. Nick Saban has a lot of options if he decides to change things and remove Rees’ play-calling responsibilities. Former Tennessee coach Derek DooleyFormer NFL Head Coach and Offensive Coordinator Ken Whisenhunt Former Rutgers offensive coordinator John McNulty are all on Saban’s staff as offensive analysts and have experience calling plays.
The nail biter against USF dropped Alabama from No. 10 to No. 13 in this week’s AP poll. It’s the first time since 2015 that the Tide have been ranked outside the top 10, snapping a streak of 128 straight weeks. Next week, Bama will face one of its biggest challenges left when the No. Tuscaloosa welcomes No. Alabama’s past two weeks were disappointing, but the conference season is a chance for a new start. A win against a top opponent could help the Tide cement their position as a contender in the SEC. But what if they lose? A loss is a sign that the guard has changed.
The best of Sports Illustrated
- Here are Albert Breer’s Week 2 takeaways, leading with the Ravens’ big win and the Cowboys’ stellar defense.
- Conor Orr is disappointed after losing to Baltimore it may be time to start freaking out about the Bengals.
- The Dolphins’ ugly win over the Patriots was actually a good sign for their future, Gilberto Manzano argues.
- That loss to Miami dropped New England to 0–2 for the first time in more than 20 years.
- You may have seen Jon Wertheim’s interview with Deion Sanders on 60 Minutes last night. Here are some outtakes from his conversation with college football’s most popular coach.
- Sanders’s instant success comes with fascinating implications for the future, Pat Forde writes.
- Tom Verducci speaks with Braves President of Baseball Operations Alex Anthopoulos how Atlanta is gearing up for the playoffs after a dominant regular season.
- The Angels botched the end of what is likely Shohei Ohtani’s last season Emma Baccellieri explains how to get the most out of your franchise.
The Top Five…
… moments from Week 2 of the NFL season:
5. Ian Eagle’s Taylor Swift reference after Travis Kelce’s touchdown.
4. Davante Adams’s nifty route.
3. This mascot’s brutal stiff arm on a kid during the Falcons’ halftime entertainment.
1. Patriots special teamer Brenden Schooler’s running start to block a field goal.
Garrett Crochet’s professional debut took place on this day in 2010. You can also find out more about the following: The White Sox made their big league debut in the majors, bypassing the minors. Crochet was not the first player to play in the MLB before making his MLB debut.
- David Price
- Chris Sale
- Brandon Finnegan
- Mike Leake
Friday’s SIQ: Which quarterback became the third NFL player (after Steve Young & Kurt Warner), to have six consecutive games of 300-yards passing, on Sept. 15, 2002?
- Tom Brady
- Drew Bledsoe
- Daunte Culpepper
- Rich Gannon
Answer: Rich Gannon. Steve Young and Kurt Warner were the two first players to have six games in a line. Before them only one player Joe Montana, in 1982, had even five consecutive 300 yard games.
Gannon’s name was unlikely to be etched in history. He was 36 and had an unremarkable, mostly average career. Gannon’s previous stints in the NFL with the Chiefs (as well as Vikings and Washington) never saw him average more than 200 yards passing per game. Jon Gruden’s presence in Oakland re-educated him. He went to his first Pro Bowl during his first Raiders season in 1999. Then, in 2000, he was selected for the All-Pro first team. In ’02, Gannon led the league in passing yards and won the MVP as he led Oakland to an AFC championship.
In the two decades since Gannon’s streak, 300-yard passing games have become increasingly common, but the list of guys who have strung together six in a row is still fairly short. Since Gannon there have been nine such streaksSix different players have done it. Patrick Mahomes did it three times including an eight-game streak last year. Drew Brees holds the record with nine straight 300-yard games—a feat he accomplished twice in his career.