December 01, 2009
Daily headlines, notes and errata in anticipation of the Intra-Conference Game of the Decade of the Year.
• Dunlap. Florida coach Urban Meyer said he hasn't spoken to top pass rusher Carlos Dunlap or his family after the Gators' sack leader and reigning BCS Championship MVP was arrested for drunk driving in the wee hours this morning, but Meyer did end practice today by assuring the media that "obviously" Dunlap won't be in the lineup Saturday. Veteran backups Justin Trattou and Jaye Howard, which could dramatically affect Alabama's strategy when it comes to the attention it has to give the Gator pass rush without its most attention-grabbing cog.
• Game of the year, let's play two! Not content to revel in just one awesome collision of rapidly expanding supernovas destined to blind the fools who look directly at the field during Saturday's kickoff, veteran SEC guru Tony Barnhart went out of his way to rehash the prospects of an Alabama-Florida rematch for the national championship -- with the Tide and Gators running so far ahead of would-be party crashers TCU and Cincinnati in the latest BCS standings, all it would take for the computers to get them back together in Pasadena is another reasonably close game and a Nebraska upset over Texas in the Big 12 Championship Saturday night:
It will all come down to the human voters and how far they drop the SEC championship game loser. If the loser of that game only drops to No. 3 or No. 4 in the human polls, then it can finish No. 2 in the BCS standings because of the computers. So it could be that a 12-0 TCU, a 12-0 Cincinnati and a 13-0 Boise State get squeezed out.
Barnhart made the same argument back in October, when Iowa still looked like a serious interloper; voters wouldn't snub an undefeated Big Ten champion. Nouveau riche like Cincinnati and TCU, though, are another story in terms of perception -- if the Longhorns go down in Dallas and the SEC title game goes down to the wire, it's a lot harder to argue a rematch can't happen than it was a month ago.
• Ingram commands: Thou shalt not bow down to graven images... Alabama running back Mark Ingram assured reporters Monday he would "most definitely" be ready to play despite suffering a hip pointer last Friday at Auburn. That's good news for the Tide offense, although, after Ingram was surprisingly bottled up and yielded to freshman Trent Richardson for much of the second half of that game, some Bama fans have to be wondering along with Football Outsiders' Robert Weintraub whether Ingram is still the obvious go-to guy:
The dirty secret Tide fans whisper to each other in dimly lit Tuscaloosa speakeasies (password for entry: "Rammer Jammer") is that, for all of Ingram's excellence, Richardson might be better. The frosh has better hands and can run outside as well as between the tackles.
Actually, Tide fans are probably thinking to one another, "Richardson's best games were against Florida International, North Texas and Chattanooga" while Ingram handled the heavy lifting throughout SEC play prior to the Iron Bowl, but if the man is just trying to suggest that 'Bama has two first-rate runners at its disposal, well, they can let a little blasphemy slide.
• Line Watch. The initial speculation suggested the Gators would probably enter as 3.5-point favorites, but after their divergent performances against in-state rivals last weekend, Florida opened up as a four-point favorite and is already up to –5.5 today. At the current rate, UF could find itself a full touchdown favorite by the end of the week.