Second Thoughts: All-SEC title game would ruin the new year

Dec 30, 2017
NASHVILLE, TN - SEPTEMBER 23: Head coach Nick Saban of the Alabama Crimson Tide runs onto the field with his team prior to a game against the Vanderbilt Commodores during the first half at Vanderbilt Stadium on September 23, 2017 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)

Happy New Year, everyone. Let’s hope the champagne doesn’t freeze. Took the family to Arizona for Christmas, and if it weren’t for the constant buffoonery of our airlines I’d consider going back tomorrow.

Let’s go, Clemson and Oklahoma. The only thing worse than computer problems on an Airbus A319 is a national championship game featuring two SEC teams. That’s what we’re looking at if Alabama and Georgia ring in 2018 with College Football Playoff victories on Monday. That would ruin the year. I think the best bet to crash that party is Oklahoma. You can talk all you want about Georgia’s tremendous defense, but the most important position in football is quarterback. I’m taking the ailing Baker Mayfield (and chicken soup) over Jake Fromm (a freshman).

In the nightcap, I predict Alabama’s defense will go all 1985 Bears on Clemson. The Tigers offense doesn’t have the firepower it’s had the last two seasons, and the Tide has a tremendous running game, starting with Jalen Hurts, who never saw a scramble he didn’t like. Get ready for SEC slayer Oklahoma vs. Alabama for all the marbles.

Marvin Lewis likely will coach his last game with the Bengals today in Baltimore. John Harbaugh’s not expecting a big crowd because it’s New Year’s Eve and the NFL moved the game to the late-afternoon window. The fans should at least show up and clap for Marvin, who was the Ravens’ defensive coordinator on their team that trounced the Giants in Super Bowl XXXV.

I’d last about one quarter coaching an NBA team. I watched in horror on Christmas Day as the Cavaliers refused to play legitimate defense against the Warriors — and it wasn’t just LeBron loafing. Yes, Kevin Durant fouled The King in the last minute, but the Cavs should’ve had that game locked up. Strange team in Cleveland. Talent? Yes. Desire? That remains to be seen.

Army and Navy won their bowl games last week, marking the first time the two service academies have won bowls in the same season. Army has been particularly exciting in recent postseason play. The Black Knights beat San Diego State in the Armed Forces Bowl on a last-minute 2-point conversion. Last season, Army won a bowl game by scoring a touchdown on fourth down in overtime.

Maybe Utah should’ve been in the College Football Playoff. The Utes are nearly unbeatable this time of the year. Coach Kyle Whittingham is 11-1 in bowl games at Utah. … Purdue QB Elijah Sindelar led the Boilermakers past Arizona in the Foster Farms Bowl, getting the Big Ten off to a good bowl-season start. Sindelar played with a torn ACL. … UCLA star Josh Rosen looked pretty chipper for being in concussion protocol. I’m guessing Chip Kelly told him to take a seat so he could see what he’d be working with next season. … Why did I pick Toledo?

Trending up: Mark Dantonio, Todd Gurley, Derrius Guice. It was good to see Michigan State’s coach smile after the Spartans spanked Washington State in the Holiday Bowl. Dantonio has won 100 games at MSU and is always an underdog in the Big Ten East, home to some of college football’s blue bloods. With LJ Scott returning, the Spartans could make life miserable for a lot of teams next season.

Trending down: Bowl weather, Eli Apple, Disneyland. Did you catch any of the Pinstripe Bowl? Iowa beat Boston College on a frozen baseball field. It was just one of many bowl games played in awful conditions. About a dozen people showed up on a miserable day for the Heart of Dallas Bowl. Might be time to launch a bowl game in Cancun.