Well, maybe. One can dream, right?
Whether you believe Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron deserves an invite to New York for the Heisman Trophy or not, it's hard to argue with his winning the 2013 Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award on Monday. The honor is handed out annually to the top senior or fourth-year junior quarterback in the country.
"It is an unbelievable honor to win the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award," McCarron said in a statement released through UA. "I can’t thank the Unitas family enough for selecting me as the 2013 winner. To have my name next to all of the great quarterbacks who have won this award in the past is truly an honor. I want to thank my teammates, Coach [Nick] Saban and all of our assistant coaches for making this possible."
Past award winners include Peyton Manning, Carson Palmer, Eli Manning, Matt Ryan and Andrew Luck. The award, which judges on merits such as character, scholastic achievement and leadership, will be presented to McCarron on Dec. 13.
"You know, I think AJ McCarron is the best player in the country, I really do," Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said on Sunday. "If I had a vote [for the Heisman trophy], that's who I'd vote for."
Saban, for his part, hasn't had enough good things to say about McCarron's leadership of the Tide, putting the success of the team before his own individual stats and accolades.
"That's the attitude you'd like for every player to have," Saban said of McCarron earlier in the season. "Does every player want the ball, does every receiver want to catch passes, does every runner want to gain yards? Absolutely. That's all great to have those kind of individual goals and I'm sure AJ has a lot of individual goals as well. To put that ahead of team success is something that would be detrimental to us being effective. When you have leaders on your team like C.J. Mosley and AJ McCarron who definitely put the team first, definitely put winning first, definitely willing to do whatever it takes to make that happen, I think that's the only way you can have a successful team that plays with any kind of consistency that has a chance to be successful in the long run."
McCarron, who has the ninth highest-rated Total QBR in the country, won the prize over finalists Aaron Murray (Georgia), Derek Carr (Fresno State), Jordan Lynch (Northern Illinois), and Tajh Boyd (Clemson).
McCarron is also a finalist for the Maxwell Award, Davey O’Brien Award, Manning Award, Senior CLASS Award and the Walter Camp Player of the Year award.
1. Florida State
4. Michigan State
7. South Carolina
9. Ohio State
14. Oklahoma State
17. Arizona State
20. Texas A&M
21. Fresno State
24. Northern Illinois
1. Florida State
4. Michigan State
7. South Carolina
8. Ohio State
12. Oklahoma State
16. Arizona State
20. Fresno State
21. Texas A&M
24. Northern Illinois
- Tre Mason was on the outside looking in on this Heisman race before running 46 times for 304 yards in Saturday's SEC championship game against Missouri. With ballots due today at 5 p.m., he's in the thick of it.
- Auburn coach Gus Malzahn on his new contract: “This is where I want to be.”
- The SEC issues a statement on oversigning loopholes.
- Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops -- whose team will play Alabama in the Allstate Sugar Bowl -- bristled Sunday when reminded of his comments questioning the overall strength of the SEC.
- An AT&T Cotton Bowl berth and a matchup against Oklahoma State is a worthy prize for SEC runner-up Missouri, which won its division in just its second season in the conference.
- South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier said the Capital One Bowl is “by far is the best bowl for our university” to play in on Jan. 1.
- The Advocate's Matthew Harris writes that there's not much sizzle in this Outback steak for LSU.
- Texas A&M's Kevin Sumlin and Duke's David Cutcliffe discuss their upcoming Chick-fil-A Bowl matchup.
- With Texas rumors circulating, Sumlin must still sign his new contract with the Aggies.
- Alabama named CJ Mosley, AJ McCarron and Kevin Norwood as its permanent team captains for this season.
- Georgia will face Nebraska for the second straight year in its bowl game.
- Ole Miss' Hugh Freeze and Mississippi State's Dan Mullen break down their upcoming bowl matchups.
- Vanderbilt will play out of state in its bowl game for the first time under James Franklin when it faces Houston in the BBVA Compass Bowl.
Auburn’s offensive line: There’s a lot of love being passed around right now to Auburn coach Gus Malzahn, quarterback Nick Marshall, Mason and just the incredible pace, tempo and precision that the Tigers play with on offense. But it all starts with those guys up front. Auburn’s offensive line has been devastating this season, and you’d be hard-pressed to find an offensive line playing any better right now in college football.
Chances of Nick Saban going to Texas: Every day, there’s some new speculation or tidbit about Saban going to Texas if Mack Brown does indeed step down. One more time (and with emphasis), Saban is not going to Texas. He has said it. His wife has said it, and those closest to him have said it. He will be the coach at Alabama next season.
South Carolina: Steve Spurrier continues to amaze at South Carolina in what he’s been able to accomplish there. The Gamecocks won 10 games again in the regular season and will face Wisconsin in the Capital One Bowl. Alabama and South Carolina are the only SEC teams to have won 10 or more in each of the past three seasons. What’s more, the Gamecocks are the only team in the country this season to have beaten three teams (Clemson, Missouri and UCF) that finished in the top 15 of the final BCS standings.
Vanderbilt’s bowl perception: Despite going 8-4 (and 4-4 in the league), Vanderbilt was the last SEC team selected and will play in the BBVA Compass Bowl in Birmingham. It's the third straight season that the Commodores have played in a bowl game, but coach James Franklin said it best. The best way to change their circumstances is to buy up as many tickets as possible and make a statement at the game. Of course, the truth is that "deserve" rarely has anything to do with the bowl selection process.
Coaching salaries in the SEC: Texas A&M's Kevin Sumlin goes to $5 million (when he signs his contract). Malzahn's new deal averages $4.5 million. You can bet Saban will get another bump, and it sounds like Missouri's Gary Pinkel also will get a raise. The bottom line: If you're making $3 million a year these days in the SEC, you're probably in the lower half of the league in terms of salary.
Missouri's run defense: Really, the Tigers were pretty stout against the run all season. But get this: They entered the SEC championship game ranked second in the league in rushing defense and came out of the game ranked eighth. That’s what happens when you give up 545 yards on the ground in one game.
Auburn’s respect: It has been a magical season for the Tigers, who beat four teams in the final BCS standings, but they’re a decided underdog in the VIZIO BCS National Championship. Florida State is an 8½-point favorite over Auburn, which makes the Tigers the biggest underdog of any of the SEC teams during the league’s seven-year national championship streak. In fact, this is the first time an SEC team hasn't been favored in the game by oddsmakers since Florida upset Ohio State in 2006 to ignite the streak. Auburn can become the only team in the BCS era to win a national title after starting the season unranked in either of the polls.
After another outstanding year with the Tide, the senior was named the winner of this year's Butkus Award, which is given annually to the nation's top linebacker. Mosley, who became the third Alabama player ever to win the prestigious award, was presented the award Sunday evening during Alabama's team banquet.
On the season, Mosley leads Alabama -- and is tied for fourth in the SEC -- with 102 tackles (56 solo) and nine tackles for loss (for a total of minus-20 yards). He also has five pass breakups, eight quarterback hurries and a forced fumble.
Also in the running for this year's award were Buffalo’s Khalil Mack, UCLA’s Anthony Barr and Ohio State’s Ryan Shazier.
Here's the statement from the Butkus Award committee on Mosley winning this year's award:
"This year's college linebacker class was among the best history. Mosley's combination of instincts, range, playmaking ability, on-field leadership and work ethic distinguished his performance. His selfless contributions on special teams and in the community speak to his strength of character and support the Butkus Award mission.”
As far as BCS finishes go, this season's was uneventful.
After the upset of No. 2 Ohio State in the Big Ten title game, Florida State and Auburn sat atop the polls and computer ratings Sunday and easily became the choices to play in the BCS championship game on Jan. 6. Unlike many past seasons, there was no drama and no debate on the day the last standings were released.
Next season, however, the decisions about which teams deserve to be part of a new four-team playoff will be left to a 13-person selection committee. And if that committee had been charged with the task of selecting four teams for a playoff this season, its work would have been far more disputed than the final edition of the BCS standings was.
We can all agree that Florida State and Auburn would both be part of a four-team playoff, had one existed in the 2013 season. But which teams would have joined them?
To continue reading this article you must be an Insider
With signing day less than two months away, the SEC regular season is now complete and recruiting will now become a primary focus for each of the conference’s 14 teams. As Feb. 5 quickly approaches there will be official visits, All-American games and different recruiting scenarios unfold. Here’s a closer look at the latest happenings in the SEC:
Biggest weekend performance: The high school season is just about over, but there are still a few SEC recruits in the playoffs. Here’s a look at who had some of the best performances.
To continue reading this article you must be an Insider
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Alabama starting safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix had an operation on his knee following the team's regular-season finale at Auburn but should be ready to practice again within the next two weeks, according to coach Nick Saban.
"Ha Ha will be fine," Saban said during a teleconference Sunday previewing the third-ranked Crimson Tide's matchup with No. 11 Oklahoma in the Allstate Sugar Bowl in New Orleans on Jan. 2. "I think that he had a scope, which probably in two weeks he'll be ready to practice and go again.
"We're not going to rush him back, but I certainly think he's going to be OK [to play]."
Alabama hasn't announced when it will start preparations for the Sooners, but it should be at least another week before the team practices again. Clinton-Dix, meanwhile, has more than three weeks until the bowl game.
Clinton-Dix, a junior, is ranked among the top 20 of Scouts Inc.'s Top 32 draft prospects for 2014. He finished the regular season fourth on the team with 46 tackles to go along with two interceptions and six passes defended.
"Any time you play Alabama, they're very well prepared, they're very well coached and they have excellent players. All 85 of those guys can play," Oklahoma defensive coordinator Mike Stoops said during the bowl teleconference. "We know the challenges that will exist once we line up on Jan. 2. They're going to be prepared to play, I know that. I've never seen a Nick Saban team not be prepared to play and play at a very high level."
Rose Bowl Game presented by Vizio
4 Michigan State Spartans vs 5 Stanford Cardinal
January 1, 2014, at 5 ET on ESPN
Michigan State: First Rose Bowl appearance since the 1987 season and its first appearance in a BCS bowl. The Spartans have reached a bowl game in all seven seasons under head coach Mark Dantonio after making no bowl appearances from 2004-06.
Stanford: Second consecutive appearance in the Rose Bowl (def. Wisconsin 20-14 last season). The Cardinal are making back-to-back Rose Bowl appearances for the first time since 1970-71. Stanford has reached a BCS bowl in four straight seasons after making just one from 1998-2009.
Tostitos Fiesta Bowl
15 UCF Knights vs 6 Baylor Bears
January 1, 2014, at 8:30 ET on ESPN
UCF: First BCS bowl berth in school history. Won 11 games this season, tied for the most in school history (also won 11 in 2010).
Baylor: Like their opponents in the Fiesta Bowl, the Bears receive their first BCS bowl berth in school history. Baylor looks to extend a school-record 11 wins this season to 12 in this game.
Allstate Sugar Bowl
11 Oklahoma Sooners vs 3 Alabama Crimson Tide
January 2, 2014, at 8:30 ET on ESPN
Oklahoma: Ninth BCS bowl appearance, second-most all-time. The Sooners are 3-5 in BCS bowl games, snapping a five-game losing streak with a win in the 2011 Fiesta Bowl vs Connecticut.
Alabama: Third straight BCS bowl appearance and fifth in the last seven seasons under Nick Saban. The Crimson Tide will make their first Sugar Bowl appearance since the 2008 season (lost to Utah in that game).
Discover Orange Bowl
12 Clemson Tigers vs 7 Ohio State Buckeyes
January 3, 2014, at 8:30 ET on ESPN
Clemson: First BCS bowl appearance since 2011, when the Tigers played in the Orange Bowl. Those two games mark the only BCS bowls in school history. Speaking of history for the Tigers, they will make a school-record ninth straight appearance in a bowl game.
Ohio State: Tenth BCS bowl appearance, most all-time. The Buckeyes will make their first Orange Bowl appearance since the 1976 season against Colorado. Their last BCS appearance came in a 2011 Sugar Bowl win over Arkansas.
Vizio BCS National Championship Game
1 Florida State Seminoles vs 2 Auburn Tigers
January 6, 2014, at 8:30 ET on ESPN
Florida State: After beating Northern Illinois in last year’s Orange Bowl, the Seminoles return to a BCS bowl game. It marks their first back-to-back BCS bowl appearances since 2002-03. This will be their first BCS Championship Game appearance since 2000 and fourth overall.
Auburn: Second BCS Championship Game appearance, first since winning the national title over Oregon in the 2010 season. This marks the third BCS bowl appearance for the Tigers, who are unbeaten in such games thus far.
Oklahoma Sooners (10-2) vs. Alabama Crimson Tide (11-1)
Jan. 2, 8:30 p.m. ET, New Orleans (ESPN)
OKLAHOMA SOONERS BREAKDOWN
Outside of his 2000 national championship, this season might constitute Bob Stoops’ best coaching finish.
The way the Sooners won Bedlam underscores just how improbable a finish it was. Oklahoma didn’t even score an offensive touchdown until the final 19 seconds of the game, yet somehow toppled the heavily favored, then sixth-ranked Cowboys, 33-24.
Unlike the Jason White, Sam Bradford and Landry Jones eras, the Sooners are not equipped to win in shootouts. But led by a veteran offensive line, a reliable running back in Brennan Clay and its mobile quarterbacks, Oklahoma does have a strong running game, ranking 18th in the country.
Even without a surefire all-conference player, the Sooners also have their best defense since 2009. They are undersized up front, but the pass defense is prolific. Aaron Colvin is a proven lockdown corner, and Eric Striker is one of the best blitzing linebackers in college football.
The true strength of this team, however, is special teams. Jalen Saunders, who had a touchdown return in Bedlam, is one of the most electric returners in the country. Roy Finch leads the Big 12 in kickoff returns. And Michael Hunnicutt is a reliable field-goal kicker.
It will be interesting, as it has been all season, to see what the Sooners do at quarterback in the bowl. Freshman Trevor Knight won the job late in the season and was terrific at Kansas State. But he suffered a dislocated shoulder just before halftime at Oklahoma State. Knight should be fine for the bowl. But Blake Bell, who struggled in the losses to Texas and Baylor, led Oklahoma on the game-winning touchdown drive in the final seconds of the fourth quarter that beat Oklahoma State. -- Jake Trotter
ALABAMA CRIMSON TIDE BREAKDOWN
The sting of losing the Iron Bowl remains. The Crimson Tide didn't expect to fall to the Tigers in the final week of the regular season, miss out on the SEC championship game and, as a result, a trip to Pasadena, Calif., for a shot at a third-straight BCS championship. All of which begs the question: How will Alabama respond now that it has been relegated to the Allstate Sugar Bowl? And does Oklahoma stand a chance?
But Alabama isn't the same team it was then.
On offense, Alabama is actually much better as Doug Nussmeier has guided UA to 38.8 points per game -- the most in the Nick Saban era. AJ McCarron might not win the Heisman Trophy, but he has a shot at making it to New York having thrown for 2,676 yards, 26 touchdowns and only five interceptions. The offensive line that was rebuilt after being the best in college football a year ago has actually allowed 12 fewer sacks this season than the last. And the running back tandem of T.J. Yeldon and Kenyan Drake hasn't disappointed either, combining for 1,857 yards and 21 touchdowns.
The defense, though, has endured its ups and downs. Against Texas A&M, it gave up the most yards in school history, and against Auburn, it allowed the most rushing yards since 2011 (296) and the most rushing yards by a quarterback (99) in the Saban era. Discipline was an issue in those games and the back end of the defense was a troublesome spot throughout as strong safety Vinnie Sunseri was lost to injury midway through the season and the cornerback spot opposite Deion Belue was a revolving door with John Fulton, Cyrus Jones, Bradley Sylve, Eddie Jackson and Maurice Smith all taking unsuccessful turns.
The Tide’s defense will be tested by Oklahoma. With a few QBs that can run, if Alabama doesn't come out ready to play, it could turn into a shootout as the Sooners possesses the kind of spread offense that has given the Tide trouble (http://espn.go.com/blog/sec/post/_/id/75890/alabama-at-loss-defending-spread-offenses). LSU had the best tandem of receivers Alabama faced this season, but Oklahoma might have the best receiver corps with three wideouts with 20 or more catches. Jalen Saunders has 615 yards and five touchdowns of his own and Sterling Shepherd, who has 428 yards and six touchdowns, is the kind of shifty receiver that can hurt you. -- Alex Scarborough
Alabama heads to the Allstate Sugar Bowl facing the same kind of challenge it encountered the last time the Crimson Tide played in this game.
They will need to stay motivated after their national title hopes have vanished.
Alabama was atop the polls all season and seemed headed toward a shot at a third straight national title before falling 34-28 to No. 2 Auburn. The third-ranked Crimson Tide (11-1) instead will face No. 11 Oklahoma (10-2) in the Sugar Bowl on Jan. 2 at New Orleans.
These two storied programs will be facing each other for only the fifth time ever. Oklahoma leads the series 2-1-1 and beat Alabama 20-13 when they last met in 2003 at Tuscaloosa.
Two of their prior meetings came in bowl games. Oklahoma and Alabama tied 24-24 in the 1970 Bluebonnet Bowl. Alabama beat Oklahoma 17-0 in the Orange Bowl on Jan. 1, 1963.
"Even though there is some disappointment in terms of how we finished our season this year, we're not disappointed at all in the opportunity that we have to play in the Sugar Bowl and to play against a great team," Alabama coach Nick Saban said. "I'm hopeful that our team will look at this as a challenge and an opportunity for them to prove the kind of football team we can be."
Alabama faced a similar situation five years ago.
When it earned that Sugar Bowl invitation in 2008, Alabama had just lost the SEC title to Florida with a BCS championship game appearance at stake. Alabama fell behind 21-0 to Utah and went on to lose 31-17. The Tide had a more pleasant Superdome postseason memory when they capped their 2011 national title with a 21-0 victory over LSU in the BCS championship game.
Red Smith, the poet laureate of sweat, once wrote that 90 feet between bases is the nearest to perfection that man has yet achieved. The basepath has nothing on the length of college football's regular season, which, with the patience of a kindergarten teacher and the tenacity of Scotland Yard, identified Florida State and Auburn as the two best teams to play for the BCS National Championship.
Tenacity is the lifeblood of a sport that demands physical and mental exertion for 60 minutes. Patience, not so much. Patience in college football is attributed to tailbacks who wait for a hole to appear. But in a sport in which a quarterback may have three seconds to complete a pass without getting his slobber knocked, patience often goes untapped.
Yet patience has never been more important than it has been in 2013, and not just because it was nearly midnight on the final Saturday of the regular season before Michigan State proved that Ohio State didn't have the credentials to play for the crystal football. In a season made predictable only by its unpredictability, patience became the coin of the realm.
Patience rewarded no fans more than at Auburn. It didn't take any patience to appreciate the rapid rise of the Tigers from 3-9 in 2012 to 12-1 this year. But the way that the Tigers waited until the very end to upend Georgia on a Hail Mary tipped pass and defeat archrival No. 1 Alabama on a 109-yard field goal return for a touchdown, focused upon the power of faith no matter what reality promised.
Patience proved critical at Florida State, not because head coach Jimbo Fisher decided to start a redshirt freshman at quarterback. Jameis Winston played with poise and the acumen of an upperclassman as the Seminoles cruised to a 13-0 record (12 wins by at least 27 points). But Florida State fans had to hold their collective garnet-and-gold breath for several weeks before local authorities decided not to charge Winston in a sexual assault case.
Patience paid off at Missouri, which had endured a 5-7, injury-filled debut in the SEC in 2012. Coach Gary Pinkel revamped his training and practice methods, and took advantage of the depth that resulted from playing so many players in 2012. The Tigers won the SEC East and finished 11-2 this season.
To continue reading, click here.