MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (AP) The BCS title game's television rating was up from last season, but the lopsided score kept viewership down.
Alabama's 42-14 rout over Notre Dame drew a 15.1 fast national rating Monday on ESPN, the network said Tuesday. The 26.4 million viewers were up 9 percent from last year's game, another blowout Crimson Tide victory, 21-0 over LSU.
But that's down from the 27.3 million for ESPN's first BCS championship two years ago, Auburn's win over Oregon that was decided in the final seconds. This year's game posted the second-largest audience in cable history behind the 2011 championship.
The matchup between traditional powerhouses in Alabama and Notre Dame created the potential for a record-setting audience. But once the Crimson Tide went up 28-0 by halftime, viewers had reason to skip the second half. Ten previous BCS title games drew a higher rating.
Ratings represent the percentage of U.S. homes with televisions tuned into a program. The game was on in 17.5 percent of homes that get ESPN.
The first half was watched by 20.4 percent, significantly higher than 17.9 for Auburn-Oregon. Typically viewership increases throughout a game if it is competitive. But on Monday, the rating peaked between 9 and 9:30 p.m. EST - midway through the first half - and decreased from there as Alabama pulled away.
ESPN executives were hopeful of a massive audience but warned that it probably wouldn't happen without a close game. CBS Corp. CEO Leslie Moonves acknowledged that reality at a media day Tuesday about the network's upcoming Super Bowl coverage.
``Hopefully we don't have a game like they had last night,'' he said.
Alex Smith in, Kirk Cousins out.
That's certainly the headline, but there are plenty of other questions for the Redskins, particularly on the offensive side of the ball.
For the last two seasons, most of the questions going into OTAs for Washington came from the defensive side of the ball. After consecutive drafts with a first-round defensive lineman selection, the defense should be much improved.
On offense, however, there are a lot of new parts.
- The headliner - No position in sports is as important as NFL quarterback. This will be Alex Smith's first action in a Redskins uniform with media present. The 34-year-old veteran is coming off the best season of his career, and if he can continue that level of accuracy and play-making, the Redskins could be poised for an explosive year.
- The speedster - Washington's wideouts lacked separation in 2017. It was apparent through much of the year, and likely played a roll in some of Kirk Cousins' reluctance to make tough throws. Free agent addition Paul Richardson is supposed to help, immediately. He has elite deep speed and the 'Skins brass hopes he can bring a similar element to the offense that DeSean Jackson provided a few years back. Time to prove it Paul.
- The injuries - There are big reasons for concern, namely two very large men in Jordan Reed and Trent Williams. Reed will not participate in OTAs, and has been dealing with a foot/toe injury for the better part of a year. Williams, who seems highly unlikely to attend OTAs, underwent knee surgery in January. Beyond Smith, Reed and Williams are probably the two most important offensive players on the Redskins. OTAs aren't important, Reed and Williams participating, or even attending, OTAs is not important. Both men being healthy and ready to go in September is quite important.
- The Rookie - Has Derrius Guice become the most popular player on the Redskins? Maybe. The dynamic rookie running back, with an interesting draft weekend slide, has the charisma and ability to be a star. The "off-field concerns" that hurt his draft status seem like myths at this point, but there was some injury concern his junior season at LSU (see video above). Guice has an opportunity to be a huge part of the Redskins offense, and all eyes will be watching the rookie.
- The leap? - In 2017, Josh Doctson showed flashes of the player that warranted a first-round pick in 2016. Will 2018 be the year he proves it, week after week, game after game? Getting off to a good start with Smith should help, and even more important would be an injury-free offseason.
There are questions for the defense too, particularly at cornerback after Josh Norman, but this year, the offense has more new parts.
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The Eastern Conference Final is going the distance!
After losing three straight to the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Capitals won Game 6 to force a Game 7 in Tampa Bay. Can the Caps beat the Lightning one more time and advance to the Stanley Cup Final?
JJ Regan, Tarik El-Bashir and special guest cameraman Mike D break it all down.
PLEASE NOTE: Due to schedule and time constraints, this podcast was recorded by phone and the audio quality is not up to our usual standards.
Check out their latest episode in the player below or listen on the Capitals Faceoff Podcast page.