Ratto's Top 25: Alabama falls until they challenge the MAC


Ratto's Top 25: Alabama falls until they challenge the MAC

There is nothing better about college football than the Mid-American Conference, because everything else is, well, kind of a series of lies that end up assembling into a truth about who the best team actually is.

More or less. Most of the time.

Anyway, we prefer to reflect that fact in this week’s Top 25. If all other programs disbanded and became gigantic shop classes, leaving only the MAC, this would be a better nation for all of us, and if you think otherwise, you’re a dope, and all the rest of us hate you for it.

There. That seems reasonable. Now, down to cases (as always, the parentheticals indicate actual record, against the line and over/under).

1. LOUISVILLE (3-0, 3-0, 3-0): Okay, now we lied. But say what you want about that lunatic Bobby Petrino, this is a hell of a team. Ask any footprint on any Florida State player, and he’ll tell you as much.

2. THE REBEL YELL (no record): The UNLV student paper is almost certainly composing an editorial asking CENTRAL MICHIGAN (3-0, 3-0, 3-0) to give back its win Saturday out of a sense of integrity. It should be mentioned that TRY is changing its name to something less provocative, so send any ideas you have to the editorial types.

3. WESTERN MICHIGAN (3-0, 3-0, 2-1): Got paid $1.2 million to go to Illinois and kick four touchdowns worth of ass in Champaign. Nice gig if you can get it.

4. EASTERN MICHIGAN (2-1, 2-1, 2-1): Due to penalties in their easy-as-a-monochrome-Rubik’s-cubs win over Charlotte, the Iggs got to try an onside kick from the Charlotte 20. It didn’t work. It doesn’t matter.

5. TOLEDO (3-0, 3-0, 2-1): The fourth piece of the mighty MAC West, which is 13-5, 14-4, 11-7. By comparison, the SEC is a pale imitiation of a mockery of a sham.

6. NORTH DAKOTA STATE (3-0, 1-1, 0-2): They beat Iowa, and they’re the Bison. Take a knee before your buffalonian overlords.

7. ARMY (3-0, 3-0, 1-2): Betting unders is a step above playing Fan Kings or Duel Draft, but Army did throw for 178 yards in a 66-14 win over UTEP, which for a service academy is tantamount to teaching the spread offense to North Korea.

8. NAVY (3-0, 2-0-1, 2-1): In other let’s-play-offense-drunk news, quarterback Will Worth was 5-for-12 for 59 yards, which was two completions and 38 yards better than Tulane’s Johnathan Bradley. Evidently the armed services don’t stand for anything any more.

9. MICHIGAN (3-0, 2-1, 3-0): Jim Harbaugh missed a third consecutive cover by a point, and Bo Schembechler spits on him from Valhalla. Bo always took great care to mind the number in his day.

10. SOUTH FLORIDA (3-0, 3-0, 2-1): Beat Syracuse, if that’s your idea of a good time.

11. OHIO STATE (3-0, 3-0, 2-1): Advancing the likelihood of that national title showdown against either Louisville, Western Michigan or the New York Jets.

12. MIAMI OF OHIO (0-3, 2-1, 1-2): For embracing the new metric world by employing as its starting quarterback (wait for it) someone named Billy Bahl.

13. CLEMSON (3-0, 1-2, 0-3): For shortening the third and fourth quarters of its 59-0 win over South Carolina State to 12 quarters out of respect to the Bulldogs, but with a blatant disregard for the over (63½). That’s not teaching good American values, Dabo. Cover the number, then indulge your humanitarian instincts.

14. THE NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE (16-0, 14-14-4, 18-14): For allowing fans to buy customized jerseys with “HARAMBE” on the back. At the everyday extortionate rate, of course.

15. FC SCHALKE (3-2): Beat Nice in the Europa League, which is only fair given their basic human decency. This offseason, they hired the coach from Augsburg, who hired the coach from Darmstadt, who hired the coach from Arminia Bielefeld, who hired the coach from Sannehof Grossapach, who hired the coach from Eichede, who hired the coach from Wedelen, who asked Schalke for a make-good on raiding them from six cities away. The payoff? Fifty crates of beer, the best transfer day deal ever.

16. TENNESSEE-MARTIN (1-2, 2-0, 1-1): Beat Bacone, 84-6, in a game shortened to 10-minutes quarters after halftime. Next up in the Coldcut League: Sausage in two weeks.

17. PENN STATE (2-1, 1-2, 3-0): Failed to cover against Temple, and also did some Joe Paterno remembrance stuff.

18. BAYLOR (3-0, 0-3, 0-3): Now that’s hard to do even with the karma the program has coming.

19. NEBRASKA (3-0, 2-0-1, 2-1): Gets a push against Oregon only because Mark Helfrich went for two every time his team scored and converted only one of them. If you had the Huskers, even for sentimental reasons, you don’t deserve to get your money back.

20. LISBURN DISTILLERY (1-3-1): Big win this week over Queen’s University in the Irish Something-Or-Other League, after a 2-2 draw and losses of 6-1, 11-1 and 4-1. Why does this matter? Because it’s a team named after distillery, you cloth-eared nits.

21. STANFORD (2-0, 2-0, 0-2): David Shaw is 29-40 against the total in his career. The physics department is not pleased. I’m just sayin’.

22. CHICAGO CUBS (94-54, 67-73-8): The magic number is still minus-one after their hangover game Saturday.

23. FLORIDA INTERNATIONAL (0-3, 0-3, 0-3): If you can’t ABC (Always Be Coverin’), there’s nothing wrong with NBC (Never Be Coverin’). We just need to know ahead of time how this is going to play out.

24. ALABAMA (3-0, 2-1, 2-1): This is the team of the new century? Go play some MAC teams, then come back to us.

25. SANTIAGO CASILLA (record withheld by request of corporate lawyers and current obscenity laws): There are still 14 games to play, so cheer up, suckers.

Happy now? Of course not. Go away.

NCAA Tournament schedule 2019: Bracket, dates, times for 68-team field


NCAA Tournament schedule 2019: Bracket, dates, times for 68-team field

The 2019 NCAA Tournament field was announced Sunday, with Duke, Virginia, North Carolina and Gonzaga earning the four No. 1 seeds.

The tournament will have a definite Northern California flavor, as Mississippi State, Liberty, Virginia Tech, Saint Louis, Wisconsin, Oregon, Kansas State and UC Irvine all will play their first-round games in San Jose. Additionally, the West Coast Conference champion Saint Mary's Gaels earned a No. 11 seed, and will face No. 6 Villanova in Hartford, Conn.

Below are the matchups, game days and scheduled start times for each first-round game. Let the bracket-filling commence!

At Columbia, S.C.
No. 1 Duke vs. No. 16 NC Central/North Dakota State -- Friday, March 22 at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT
No. 8 VCU vs. No. 9 UCF -- Friday, March 22 at 9:30 p.m. ET/6:30 p.m. PT

At San Jose, Calif.
No. 5 Mississippi State vs. No. 12 Liberty -- Friday, March 22 at 7:15 p.m. ET/4:15 p.m. PT
No. 4 Virginia Tech vs. No. 13 Saint Louis -- Friday, March 22 at 9:55 p.m. ET/6:55 p.m. PT

At Jacksonville, Fla.
No. 6 Maryland vs. No. 11 Belmont/Temple -- Thursday, March 21 at 3 p.m. ET/Noon PT
No. 3 LSU vs. No. 14 Yale -- Thursday, March 21 at 12:30 p.m. ET/9:30 a.m. PT

At Des Moines, Iowa
No. 7 Louisville vs. No. 10 Minnesota -- Thursday, March 21 at Noon ET/9 a.m. PT
No. 2 Michigan State vs. No. 15 Bradley -- Thursday, March 21 at 2:30 p.m. ET/11:30 a.m. PT

At Columbia, S.C.

No. 1 Virginia vs. No. 16 Gardner-Webb -- Friday, March 22 at 3 p.m. ET/Noon PT
No. 8 Ole Miss vs. No. 9 Oklahoma -- Friday, March 22 at 12:30 p.m. ET/9:30 a.m. PT

At San Jose, Calif.
No. 5 Wisconsin vs. No. 12 Oregon -- Friday, March 22 at 4:20 p.m. ET/1:20 p.m. PT
No. 4 Kansas State vs. No. 13 UC Irvine -- Friday, March 22 at 1:50 p.m. ET/10:50 a.m. PT

At Hartford, Conn.
No. 6 Villanova vs. No. 11 Saint Mary's -- Thursday, March 21 at 7:15 p.m. ET/4:15 p.m. PT
No. 3 Purdue vs. No. 14 Old Dominion -- Thursday, March 21 at 9:45 p.m. ET/6:45 p.m. PT

At Columbus, Ohio
No. 7 Cincinnati vs. No. 10 Iowa -- Friday, March 22 at Noon ET/9 a.m. PT
No. 2 Tennessee vs. No. 15 Colgate -- Friday, March 22 at 2:30 p.m. ET/11:30 a.m. PT

At Columbus, Ohio
No. 1 North Carolina vs. No. 16 Iona -- Friday, March 22 at 9:15 p.m. ET/6:15 p.m. PT
No. 8 Utah State vs. No. 9 Washington -- Friday, March 22 at 6:45 p.m. ET/3:45 p.m. PT

At Salt Lake City, Utah
No. 5 Auburn vs. No. 12 New Mexico State -- Thursday, March 21 at 1:20 p.m. ET/10:20 a.m. PT
No. 4 Kansas vs. No. 13 Northeastern -- Thursday, March 21 at 3:50 p.m. ET/12:50 p.m. ET

At Tulsa, Okla.
No. 6 Iowa State vs. No. 11 Ohio State -- Friday, March 22 at 9:45 p.m. ET/6:45 p.m. PT
No. 3 Houston vs. No. 14 Georgia State -- Friday, March 22 at 7:15 p.m. ET/4:15 p.m. PT

At Jacksonville, Fla.
No. 7 Wofford vs. No. 10 Seton Hall -- Thursday, March 21 at 9:30 p.m. ET/6:30 p.m. PT
No. 2 Kentucky vs. No. 15 Abilene Christian -- Thursday, March 21 at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT

At Salt Lake City, Utah
No. 1 Gonzaga vs. No. 16 Fairleigh Dickinson/Prairie View A&M -- Thursday, March 21 at 7:15 p.m. ET/4:15 p.m. PT
No. 8 Syracuse vs. No. 9 Baylor -- Thursday, March 21 at 9:55 p.m. ET/6:55 p.m. PT

At Hartford, Conn.
No. 5 Marquette vs. No. 12 Murray State -- Thursday, March 21 at 4:20 p.m. ET/1:20 p.m. PT
No. 4 Florida State vs. No. 13 Vermont -- Thursday, March 21 at 1:50 p.m. ET/10:50 a.m. PT

At Tulsa, Okla.
No. 6 Buffalo vs. No. 11 Arizona State/St. John's -- Friday, March 22 at 3:50 p.m. ET/12:50 p.m. PT
No. 3 Texas Tech vs. No. 14 Northern Kentucky -- Friday, March 22 at 1:20 p.m. ET/10:20 a.m. PT

At Des Moines, Iowa
No. 7 Nevada vs. No. 10 Florida -- Thursday, March 21 at 6:45 p.m. ET/3:45 p.m. PT
No. 2 Michigan vs. No. 15 Montana -- Thursday, March 21 at 9:15 p.m. ET/6:15 p.m. PT

Quinnen Williams, possible Raiders draft target, misses mark in Alabama's loss


Quinnen Williams, possible Raiders draft target, misses mark in Alabama's loss

SANTA CLARA -- Quinnen Williams proved Monday night that he can talk a big game, even if he doesn’t play one.

The Alabama defensive tackle, whom many project to be a top-five pick if he leaves school for the 2019 NFL draft, didn’t exactly show out in the College Football Playoff National Championship at Levi’s Stadium. The redshirt sophomore finished with just four total tackles (three solo, one assist) and 1.5 for loss.

Williams went relatively unnoticed in Clemson’s 44-16 rout, except for this first-quarter stop that showcased his power.

Williams, who entered the game tied for second on the Crimson Tide with eight sacks this season, didn’t register any noticeable pass rush -- to be fair, no one on Alabama did -- as the Tigers handily won the title.

Still, Williams wasn’t that impressed by what he saw from the now-national champions.

“They really didn’t do anything that caught us off guard,” Williams said. “We knew everything that was coming. They ran zone. They ran go routes, 50-50 balls.

“[Clemson QB] Trevor Lawrence threw the ball, and it looked like he put it on the money. He didn’t drop dimes, none of that. He threw it up, and the receivers made plays. All the respect to the receivers.”

While Williams later called Lawrence “good,” his comments were reminiscent of his pre-Orange Bowl words on Kyler Murray, when he smartly stopped himself from criticizing Oklahoma’s Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback. Williams showed no such restraint this time, and while you could chalk it up to the hurt of losing a national title game, NFL teams surely will ask him in pre-draft interviews about how he'll handle such situations.

As for his NFL draft status, Williams didn’t want to say much, claiming he really hadn’t thought about the possibility of turning pro after the season.

“I don’t know yet, man,” he said. “I got to go home, watch this film first, get with my teammates and let them know, man, everything.”

New Raiders general manager Mike Mayock, whose team has been linked to Williams with the No. 4 overall pick in numerous mock drafts, saw the defensive tackle in person Monday. Whether he liked what he saw or heard remains to be seen over the next three months.