Thursday, September 9, 2010
Nickel Package: Why Alabama will win
By Brad Edwards
1. Not many people are predicting that the No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide will fall to the No. 18 Penn State Nittany Lions this weekend, partly due to the Nittany Lions starting a true freshman at quarterback. Here's one more reason to like the Tide. In the last 15 years, the No. 1 team in the AP poll is 26-0 at home against ranked opponents, with an average victory margin of nearly 22 points.
The last AP No. 1-ranked team to lose at home to a ranked opponent was Steve Spurrier’s Florida Gators, who dropped a 36-33 decision to sixth-ranked Auburn in 1994.
2. Alabama and Penn State are the only teams in the FBS that haven't allowed more than 24 points in a game since the start of last season. Recent history suggests that trend is in no jeopardy of ending for either side on Saturday. In Penn State's last four trips to Alabama, the teams have combined for 52 points. That's 13 per game with an average score of PSU 9, Bama 4. Without scoring a TD in any of the four games, the Tide somehow managed to win half of them ... mainly because Penn State mustered only two TD (both in 1986). The cumulative scoring of the teams in PSU’s last four visits to Alabama: 12 FG, 2 TD, 1 safety.
3. In the spirit of the Auburn Tigers return to Starkville to play the Mississippi State Bulldogs this week (Auburn won 3-2 there in 2008), here's another SEC offensive futility trend. The South Carolina Gamecocks host the Georgia Bulldogs on Saturday, and the last four times the Bulldogs have gone to Columbia, the Gamecocks have averaged 7.5 points, scoring a total of three offensive TD. On the other side of the ball, UGA hasn't scored more than 20 in any of its last seven visits to Williams-Brice Stadium ... yet has managed to win five of those seven games.
4. The weekly AP poll began in 1936, and the first 25 times the Michigan Wolverines and Notre Dame Fighting Irish met in the poll era, at least one of the teams was ranked. Times have changed. Saturday will mark the third time in the last four meetings that neither team has a number to the left of its name.
5. The Big 12 has a big weekend of non-conference games, highlighted by the Oklahoma Sooners visit from the No. 17 Florida State Seminoles. The Kansas Jayhawks also host the No. 15 Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, and the Iowa State Cyclones travel to the No. 9 Iowa Hawkeyes. One of those teams needs to save a little face for the conference. Why? Because, last season, the Big 12 didn't have a single non-conference win against the final AP Top 25. Going by that final poll, the best out-of-conference win for the Big 12 in 2009 was Oklahoma's victory over the Stanford Cardinal in the Sun Bowl.