Ratto's Top 25: Boise State over Alabama, obviously


Ratto's Top 25: Boise State over Alabama, obviously

If the gambling revolution is truly upon us (as in, if the government finally figures out how to get its cut without slicing the golden goose into feathers, beaks and feet), the time has come to give it its true heed by prioritizing covering over mere winning.
A sport which is being ossified by the dulling repetition of the same teams challenging for championships all the time needs a new way to figure out who’s who and what’s what, and what better way than to rank the teams by how they do against the neutral arbiter that is Las Vegas?
Thus, we give you a better, bolder and far more cynical Top 25, with emphasis on, first, covering against the line, then beating the over and then worrying about winning the game straight-up. It’s the only fair way, I put it to you, to determine who is providing the customer (as opposed to the coach, the donor or the athletic director) a true sense of what matters in this sport.
Thus, the True Top 25. You’ll see a team, it’s record against the line (ATS) against the total (O/U) and then straight up (SU). The tiebreaker will be a numberical value based on the number of points by which a team covered, thus proving to measure of bettor stress – I mean, who wouldn’t want to cruise to an early and easy win whenever possible?
1.        BOISE STATE (2-0 ATS, 2-0 O/U, 2-0 SU): Comfortable wins at Troy -8 ½ and at home against Connecticut -33 ½ put them atop the list, because (and this is important) all opponents are equal in God’s eyes.

2.        ALABAMA (2-0, 2-0, 2-0): Arkansas State was easy, but Louisville was easier. This poll may end up with them winning, which is bad for school diversity, but covering is covering.

3.        MISSISSIPPI (2-0, 2-0, 2-0): An easy cover at Texas Tech is a better win than a nail-biter at home against Southern Illinois, but cash is a cash.

4.        BOSTON COLLEGE (2-0, 2-0, 2-0): UMass and Holy Cross. This won’t last.

5.        SYRACUSE (2-0, 2-0, 2-0): At Western Michigan and home against Wagner. Neither will this.

6.        MISSOURI (2-0, 2-0, 2-0): Covered big numbers twice, the second against Wyoming, which is decent enough.

7.        HAWAII (2-1, 3-0, 3-0): You have to put away a team like Rice at home. You just have to.

8.        APPALACHIAN STATE (2-0, 2-0, 1-1): They’re a traditionally safe bet as a big dog, which accounts for the ease of their covers.

9.        UTAH STATE (2-0, 2-0, 1-1): Hung tough with Michigan State in Week 1, did the business against New Mexico State in Week 2.

10.      TEXAS A&M (2-0, 2-0, 1-1): The one loss was to Clemson, but the cover will never die.

11.       UNLV (2-0, 2-0, 1-1): Covered at USC getting 25. Hey, tough ones matter too.

12.       RICE (2-1, 3-0, 1-2): Could be a consistent over play this year.

13.       MARYLAND (2-0, 1-1, 2-0): Maybe you don’t need coaches who are maniacs on the side.

14.       VIRGINIA TECH (2-0, 1-1, 2-0): Covering against Florida State in Week 1 doesn’t seem quite as impressive now.

15.       EASTERN MICHIGAN (2-0, 1-1-, 2-0): Beating Monmouth gave them the confidence to win outright at Purdue.

16.       MINNESOTA (2-0, 1-1, 2-0): Not sure what to make of being a pick’em at home against Fresno State, but they were the side to pick in the end.

17.       DUKE (2-0, 1-1, 2-0): An easy cover and win at Northwestern silenced a lot of sportswriters, and who doesn’t think that’s a good idea?

18.       OHIO STATE (2-0, 1-1, 2-0): I think Ryan Day is the man to lead this team.

19.       WEST VIRGINIA (2-0, 1-1-, 2-0): A good solid win and cover at Tennessee laying 10 after a nailbiter against Youngstown State shows the Mountaineers are trending upward, to use a phrase that should never be allowed again in civilized society.

20.       ARIZONA STATE (2-0, 1-1-, 2-0): Herman Edwards is a genius, I tell you, a bloody genius.

21.       WASHINGTON STATE (2-0, 1-1-, 2-0): Barely covering the 30 ½ at home to San Jose State is no way to go through life, son.

22.       TULANE (2-0, 1-1, 1-1): Not sustainable.

23.       FLORIDA INTERNATIONAL (2-0, 1-1, 1-1): Maybe sustainable.

24.       STANFORD (2-0, 0-2, 2-0): David Shaw has always been a solid fade against the total (40-54 lifetime), and reverse trends can be just as valuable.

25.       IOWA (2-0, 0-2, 2-0): Kirk Ferentz is the longest serving at coach at his present school (19 years), and covering is the reason.
OTHERS RECEIVING VOTES: Really? You honestly thought this was going to happen? Go take a nap.

Report: 49ers to host former Alabama defensive star for pre-draft visit


Report: 49ers to host former Alabama defensive star for pre-draft visit

The 49ers are reportedly visiting this week with the prospect who was named as the best defensive player in college football in 2017. According to Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee, the 49ers are hosting former Alabama star Minkah Fitzpatrick. 

Fitzpatrick won the Chuck Bednarik Award, given to the nation's best defensive player, and the Jim Thorpe Award, handed to the nation's top defensive back. Standing at 6-foot-2 and weighing just over 200 pounds, Fitzpatrick is full of versatility. 

At Alabama, Fitzpatrick played safety and cornerback, and played multiple roles on special teams as well. 

In three years with the Crimson Tide, Fitzpatrick came away with nine interceptions, four returned for touchdown, 24 pass defenses, five sacks, and 171 total tackles. The 49ers hold the No. 9 pick in the first round of the NFL Draft. 

The first round of the NFL Draft begins April 27, just over three weeks away. 

Alabama wins national title on epic walk-off touchdown in OT


Alabama wins national title on epic walk-off touchdown in OT


ATLANTA -- To add another championship to the greatest dynasty college football has ever seen, Alabama turned to its quarterback of the future, and Tua Tagovailoa proved that his time is now.

The freshman quarterback, who had played mostly mop-up duty this season, came off the bench to spark a comeback and threw a 41-yard touchdown to DeVonta Smith that gave No. 4 Alabama a 26-23 overtime victory against No. 3 Georgia on Monday night for the College Football Playoff national championship.

Tagovailoa entered the game at halftime, replacing a struggling Jalen Hurts, and threw three touchdown passes to give the Crimson Tide its fifth national championship since 2009 under coach Nick Saban.

"He just stepped in and did his thing," Hurts said. "He's built for stuff like this. I'm so happy for him." The Tide might have a quarterback controversy ahead of it but first Alabama will celebrate another national title.

For the third straight season, Alabama played in a classic CFP final. The Tide split two with Clemson, losing last season on touchdown with a second left.

What was Saban thinking as the winning pass soared this time?

"I could not believe it," he said. "There's lots of highs and lows. Last year we lost on the last play of the game and this year we won on the last play of the game. These kids really responded the right way. We said last year, `Don't waste the feeling.' They sure didn't, the way they played tonight."

Smith streaked into the end zone and moments later confetti rained and even Saban seemed almost giddy after watching maybe the most improbably victory of his unmatched career.

After Alabama kicker Andy Pappanastos missed a 36-yard field goal that would have won it for the Tide (13-1) in the final seconds of regulation , Georgia (13-2) took the lead with a 51-yard field goal from Rodrigo Blankenship in overtime.

Tagovailoa took a terrible sack on Alabama's first play of overtime, losing 16 yards. On the next play he found Smith, another freshman, and hit him in stride for the national championship.

Tagovailoa was brilliant at times, though he had a few freshman moments. He threw an interception when he tried to pass on a running play and all his receivers were blocking. He also darted away from the pass rushers and made some impeccable throws, showing the poise of a veteran. Facing fourth-and-goal from 7, down seven, the left-hander moved to his left and zipped a pass through traffic that hit Calvin Ridley in the numbers for the tying score with 3:49 left in the fourth quarter.

He finished 14 for 24 for 166 yards. The winning play was, basically, four receivers going deep.

"After the sack, we just got up and took it to the next play," Tagovailoa said. "I looked back out, and he was wide open. Smitty was wide open." Freshmen were everywhere for the Alabama offense: Najee Harris at running back, Henry Ruggs III at receiver, Alex Leatherwood at left tackle after All-American Jonah Williams was hurt. It's a testament to the relentless machine Saban has built.

But this game will be remembered most for his decision to change quarterbacks trailing 13-0.

"I just thought we had to throw the ball, and I felt he could do it better, and he did," Saban said. "He did a good job, made some plays in the passing game. Just a great win. I'm so happy for Alabama fans. Great for our players. Unbelievable."

Saban now has six major poll national championships, including one at LSU, matching the record set by the man who led Alabama's last dynasty, coach Paul Bear Bryant.

This was nothing like the others.

With President Trump in attendance, the all-Southeastern Conference matchup was all Georgia in the first half before Saban pulled Hurts and the five-star recruit from Hawaii entered. The president watched the second half from Air Force One.

"I don't know how Coach Saban found me all the way in Hawaii from Alabama," Tagovailoa said. "Thank God he found me and we're here right now."

The Tide trailed 20-7 in the third quarter after Georgia's freshman quarterback, Jake Fromm, hit Mecole Hardman for an 80-yard touchdown pass that had the Georgia fans feeling good about ending a national title drought that dates back to 1980.

Fromm threw for 232 yards for a while it looked as if he was going to be the freshman star for the game, the first to true freshman to lead his team to a national title season since Jamelle Holieway for Oklahoma in 1985.

"I mean, if you want to find out about Jake Fromm, go ask those guys on the other side of the ball, and they'll tell you because that's a really good defense he just went against," Smart said.

A little less than a year after the Atlanta Falcons blew a 25-point lead and lost in overtime to the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl, there was more pain for many of the local fans. Two years ago, Georgia brought in Saban's top lieutenant, Kirby Smart, to coach the Bulldogs and bring to his alma mater a dose of Alabama's Process.

Smart, who spent 11 seasons with Saban - eight as his defensive coordinator in Tuscaloosa - quickly built `Bama East. It was Georgia that won the SEC this season. Alabama had to slip into the playoff without even winning its own division.

With the title game being held 70 miles from Georgia's campus in Athens, Dawg fans packed Mercedes-Benz Stadium, but it turned out to be sweet home for Alabama and now Saban is 12-0 against his former assistants.

But not without angst.

Alabama drove into the red zone in the final minute and Saban started playing for a field goal that would end the game and win it for the Tide. A nervous quiet gripped the crowd of 77,430 as `Bama burned the clock. With the ball centered in the middle of the field, Pappanastos lined up for a kick to win the national championship. The snap and hold looked fine, but the kicked missed badly to the left.

For the second straight week, Georgia was going to overtime. The Bulldogs beat Oklahoma in a wild Rose Bowl in double overtime to get here, and after Jonathan Ledbetter and Davin Bellamy sacked Tagovailoa for a big loss on the first play, Alabama was in trouble - second-and-26.

Not for long. Tagovailoa looked off the safety and threw the biggest touchdown pass in the history of Alabama football.