NCAA

Ratto's Top 25: Missing O/U forgivable when holding Stanford to five points

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AP

Ratto's Top 25: Missing O/U forgivable when holding Stanford to five points

Friday's Cal-Oregon game took four hours, 18 minutes to play. It had 203 offensive plays. It saw 101 points scored (no big deal) and covered a 90-point over (very big deal). In other words, it was not much enjoyed except by the noted torturer Sonny Dykes, whose team is winning by an average score of 44-41.

Or, for context, roughly three quarters of Oklahoma-Texas Tech.

Fortunately, the Pacific 12 Conference is running a stealth league this year, and Cal will play this coming Thursday night at USC, which means that while they may not beat the 90, they have an excellent chance to beat the 4:18 and both irk and exhaust the fan base one more time.

And now, the things that matter.

1. COLORADO (6-2, 8-0, 3-5): Stanford scored five points. Five. Half of ten. One fist. FIVE, FOR GOD’S SAKE! Oh, and missing the total (50) by five touchdowns is forgivable in this case, because anyone who thought this game was hitting 50 is too unstable to have money.

2. CHICAGO CUBS (playing through the acrid fumes of a town set ablaze by happy drunks): Win a World Series before you pop off, you maniacs.

3. CLEVELAND INDIANS (playing in a town spoiled by championships): The over/under on relievers used per game in the World Series has been set at 9½.

4. TEMPLE (5-3, 7-1, 5-3): A much different team than the one that lost on opening day to Army (which had seven turnovers Saturday), which lost to North Texas, which lost to SMU, which lost to TCU, which never covers.

5. EASTERN MICHIGAN (5-3, 7-1, 3-5): Lost to Western Michigan (8-0, 6-2, 4-4), but had the good sense to ignore the meaningless scoreboard in Kalamazoo for the far more important one in Las Vegas. In other words, simultaneously losing by 14 and winning by 12½ is a good thing.

6. AUBURN (5-2, 6-1, 3-4): Trust is an important thing if you want to bet the Iron Bowl.

7. ALABAMA (8-0, 6-2, 4-4): Like we said, trust is an important thing if you want to bet the Iron Bowl.

8. PATRICK MAHOMES III (52-for-88, 734, 5 TD, 1 INT, 145.6 rating): The Texas Tech (3-4, 5-2, 4-3) quarterback who killed all the video games in the world, broke the Russian hacker network, and still lost by a touchdown. On the other hand, Tech did cover the 16½, and if you had bet the over of 124, you still won.

9. WISCONSIN (5-2, 6-1, 2-5): Cal and Oregon had to cover a 90 total and took all night to do it. The Badgers and Iowa didn’t come close to hitting the lowest total of the day (a pathetic 42½) in a 17-9 win in good weather. Look, fellas, trying doesn’t just mean beating the line.

10. BOWLING GREEN (1-7, 2-6, 4-4): Couldn’t cover against Miami of Ohio. Couldn’t beat Miami of Ohio. Can’t be helped. Can’t be saved.

11. COLORADO STATE (4-4, 6-2, 3-5): Very stealthy cover machine. I say that without knowing a single member of the university – that’s how stealthy the Rams (yeah, that’s it, Rams) truly are.

12. FINLANDIA (1-6): Our favorite vodka-inspired university beat Maranatha Baptist, 27-22, for the Fightin’ Screwdrivers’ first win of the year. Sadly, that is not their real nickname.

13. LOS ANGELES SPARKS (32-11, 21-22, 23-20): Won the WNBA title on a questionable call, which is fine as far as that goes as it didn’t affect the line. But as you can see, not a good team against the number, and barely adequate against the total. If Nneka Ogwumike wants to be remembered as more than a great player and future entrepreneur, those last two numbers must improve next year, She will discover that ABC (Always Be Covering) is not just a slogan, it’s a way of life.

14. NEVADA (3-5, 1-7, 1-7): If you can’t ABC, there’s nothing all that wrong with NBC (Never Be Covering, not our corporate overlords).

15. OREGON (2-5, 0-6-1, 5-2): Another fine example of this phenomenon, until Phil Knight screws up and hires someone who prioritizing the art of covering every once in a while and makes our work more difficult.

16. MIDDLE TENNESSEE (5-2, 4-2-1, 4-3): Boxed Missouri, 51-45, which merits a vote even with the barely adequate record against the line.

17. QI (unbeaten, untied and unscored upon in 13 years): Back on the tube for a new season with new host Sandi Toksvig. And no, I could not be less interested in your quizzical confused-puppy-in-a-rainstorm look. Do your own Top 25 if you don’t like it.

18. NEW MEXICO (4-3, 3-4, 7-0): Bob Davie is rumored to be in on the Notre Dame job, even though he has already been fired by Notre Dame. “Touchdown Jesus bets overs too,” said university president John Jenkins.

19. MONTREAL CANADIENS (4-0-0-1, 5-0, 3-2): All covering matters, even with subpar currency.

20. JACKSONVILLE (3-3): Beat Morehead State, 61-49, and sent its offensive videos to Cal and Oregon, just to show them how it’s done.

21. THE HERITAGE CLASSIC (Calgary at Winnipeg, combined records 3-5-0-1, 2-7, 7-2): It’s going to be 48 degrees by game time Sunday, so what exactly is the point of playing outside if outside isn’t going to make an effort?

22. OKLAHOMA (5-2, 2-5, 5-2): So you gained 854 yards, committed no turnovers and still couldn’t cover 16½? Your conference shouldn’t expand, it should relegate.

23. BOISE STATE (7-0, 2-5, 2-5): As the Buddhist scholar and lecturer Vernon Wormer once said, “Winning and never covering is no way to go through life, son.” This sort of stuff never happened when Chris Petersen was alive.

24. SAN JOSE SHARKS (3-3-0-0, 1-5, 1-5): The crap record against the line and total belie the fact that in the entirely mythical ESPN Ultimate Standings, L’Ailette jumped 58 places from the year before, when they dropped 57 places. I’d like a job like that, where you just make up standings and rankings while drinking out of a janitor’s pail. Uh-oh, wait. I think I have one.

25. SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS (1-5, 1-5, 4-2): Speaking of the Ultimate Standings, the data here, being ranked dead last overall, in fan relations, and in the bottom 10 in five of the other nine categories reminds one of the actual line from Sally Field’s 1985 Oscar speech: “I can’t deny the fact that you like me, right now, you like me.” Only Jed York’s phone autocorrects it from “like” to “hate with a near-solar intensity.”  

But hey, Sunday’s another day, for all the good that’ll get you. Just remember, there are 17 days until the election, and six years, eight months and 23 days before the last of the post-election lawsuits are dismissed as being frivolous, or all the lawyers die. Either way, keep a good thought, and go away.

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

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USATSI

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.

DeAndre Hopkins explains how Clemson keeps producing NFL-level talent

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AP

DeAndre Hopkins explains how Clemson keeps producing NFL-level talent

SANTA CLARA -- The Clemson Tigers came into Monday night's College Football Playoff National Championship with a shorter list of 2019 NFL Draft talents than their counterparts, the Alabama Crimson Tide. But not if you ask some notable alumni.

To Houston Texans All-Pro wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, the next wave of NFL stars are Tigers.

“The way they prepare here at Clemson, the strength and condition program, Joey Batson and Larry Greenlee do a good job of getting those guys ready for the next level," Hopkins told NBC Sports Bay Area after Clemson's stunning 44-16 blowout win in the title game at Levi's Stadium. "I think they’re definitely ready for the next level."

Clemson has produced 29 picks in the last five NFL drafts. The last time the program didn't have one of its players called come April was all the way back in 2002.

Watching with former Clemson stars Deshaun Watson, Vic Beasley Jr., Mike Williams, and Tajh Boyd, Hopkins witnessed one of the greatest teams in college football history. The 2018 Tigers accomplished a feat 121 years in the making, becoming the first FBS football team to go 15-0 or 16-0 since Penn in 1897.

“To me, it means a lot. I’m from Clemson, S.C., so to see this team do what they did … I think they are (the greatest ever)," Hopkins said. "I think they can be one of the best teams ever. Do it again next year, for sure.”

The last statement is what means the most to Hopkins and everyone else who once wore a Clemson Tigers jersey. Coach Dabo Swinney took to the podium immediately after the win and said he'll soak it all up now, but he'll get back to film Friday and start preparing for next season.

“I think this is the next dynasty," Hopkins said. "Deshaun Watson started it by winning a national championship here. I think those guys are going to continue it.

"I think they’re gonna be here next year and the year after.”

That's not hard to imagine, either.

Freshman quarterback Trevor Lawrence wowed with his precision passing, throwing for 347 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions. His top target, Justyn Ross, made one-handed catches as a recently turned 19-year-old and finished the night with six catches for 148 yards and two TDs.

Clemson made its fourth playoff clash with Alabama look easy. The biggest names in the NFL know, too, that these could be the next stars of not only Saturdays but Sundays before we know it.