By Drew Markol, TSN Contributor - Archive - Email
Nobody asked me, but...
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Remember way back, about two weeks ago, when a certain famous football coach said that Alabama could beat a couple of NFL teams?

The Ol' Ball Coach, Steve Spurrier, was obviously just blowing smoke at the Tide, but, then again, that's what he does.

Now, of course, Spurrier made his remarks before last Saturday when Alabama, playing at home, lost to Texas A&M.

There are always shockers in college football (not as many this year, so it seems) but the Aggies rolling the Tide in Tuscaloosa ranks right up there with the biggest upsets college football has seen in a long time.

How many of us (all of us?), had Alabama as a mortal lock to be playing in the national championship game yet again this year?

It wasn't if the Tide would make it, but who they would be playing. Oregon?

Kansas State?

Notre Dame?

The look on the face of Nick Saban was priceless. It had to make all of those Miami Dolphin fans smile. Remember what he did to them? But I digress.

Where does this leave Alabama? They, probably, won't lose again. They will likely have to play Georgia in the SEC title game.

But even if the Tide win the SEC championship again, where does that leave them at the end of the day? Likely on the outside looking in.

The one domino nobody expected to fall, fell.

So, we won't have a repeat of last year and we won't have to hear any coaches telling us that Alabama could win in the NFL.

Heck, maybe they could. They only lost one game, and it took an unbelievable effort by a really solid Aggie team to do it.

But losing one game, this late in the season, is the death knell for a team with national title hopes. That's one thing about college football that isn't quite fair. (There are others, but not today).

To think the New York Giants lost seven times in the regular season last year and won the Super Bowl makes one think of how nice it would be if big time college football had a real playoff system, with 16 teams involved.

Think Alabama might be in favor of such a thing right about now?

Now, think if you're one of the undefeated three: What were those teams thinking after they saw Alabama go down?

Well, if you're Oregon or Kansas State, it was probably let the party begin. Yes, the Ducks have a tougher road to stay undefeated, so their celebration had to be a little muted. They still have to play, and beat, Stanford and then travel to Corvallis for their rivalry game against a pretty tough Oregon State side.

But for the Wildcats, whose path to a shot at the Holy Grail is easier, the party was likely a humdinger. (Although Baylor might have something to say about all of this when they play Kansas State on Saturday).

So, that leaves Notre Dame. I'm sure there was no party in South Bend on Saturday night.

The impossible happened for the Fightin' Irish with Alabama losing, but Notre Dame can't celebrate until either Oregon or Kansas State (or both) also drop from the ranks of the unbeaten.

More importantly for the remaining three is that the Tide are out. There is no more big bully on the block (unless a bunch of weird things happen and Alabama somehow works its way back into things) that could have (would have) been a double-digit favorite against whomever it played in early January.

The field is wide open for the first time in a long time.

Hey, anybody want to talk today about how Oregon or Kansas State (maybe even the Fightin' Irish) could knock off the Cleveland Browns or the Carolina Panthers on a Sunday afternoon? I didn't think so.

Drew Markol has been a sportswriter and columnist for several newspapers in the Philadelphia area for more than 25 years.

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