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Mr. Sports: Can Bama get back into the BSC title race?

By Bob Labbe

The finish felt like a deflated balloon for Alabama fans last weekend as the No. 1 Crimson Tide fell like a heartbreak to Texas A&M. I’ve been saying for the past month the Aggies presented the toughest obstacle for the top ranked Tide as its brand of offensive football would present problems for the country’s top rated defense. Although, I thought Alabama’s offense would stand up to the Texas A&M challenge and outscore the Aggies. Well, I was half-correct.

Now the Tide has to have lots of good luck from the “Football Gods” in order to play for the BCS National Championship after falling to fourth in the rankings behind three undefeated teams.

Kansas State is tops in the BCS Rankings followed by Oregon and Notre Dame, all of which have a spotless record. I feel as though two of those three teams will suffer a loss before the season is complete, which could propel Alabama backed into title contention.

The BCS top 10 is filled with SEC teams as just behind Alabama, in this order, are Georgia, Florida, LSU, Texas A&M and South Carolina. That’s six of the top 10 teams coming from the SEC. That’s really impressive, but doesn’t mean a thing if the conference doesn’t have the top spot….there is lots of football yet to be played.
This Week In College Football

The Texas A&M-Alabama game last Saturday afternoon was the second most watched college football game of the season according to CBS, which carried the upset of the Aggies over the Crimson Tide. So far, the top rated game was the LSU-Alabama bonanza two weeks ago.

The Bama upset also means the SEC will not have an unbeaten team in conference play for the first time since 2007 and only two since 1999.

The TV schedule this weekend for college football is actually kind of light, compared to other weeks. The SEC features numerous PPV games with national networks picking up very few of the conference games. Channel 54 here in Huntsville will be showing the Alabama game versus Western Carolina (11:20 a.m.-Channel 54), as the SEC Network is splitting its weekly coverage with the second game featuring Arkansas-Miss State. Additional games this Saturday feature Ole Miss-LSU (2:30 p.m.-Channel 19), Syracuse-Missouri (6 p.m.-ESPNU), Tennessee-Vanderbilt (6 p.m.-ESPN2), Southern Cal-UCLA (2 p.m.-Channel 54) and Stanford-Oregon (7 p.m.-Channel 31).

High School Playoffs

The Bob Jones Patriots and the Madison Academy Mustangs advanced to the second round of the state football playoffs and will again host games this Friday night beginning at 7 p.m. The Pats (8-3) tangle with No. 7 Mountain Brook (10-1) while the fifth-ranked Mustangs (9-2) face Plainview (9-2) from Rainsville, which was recently nearly destroyed by a killer tornado. It’s good to see Plainview come storming back from the tragedy.

Kevin Rose, head coach of Bob Jones, is excited about being among the top 16 teams still in the 6A playoffs. “Our team has improved every week and has beaten five playoffs teams this season. Our opponent this week, Mountain Brook, is very well coached and will be a difficult game for us. We look forward to find a way to win at the end.”

I encourage fans to get out and support the teams in the playoffs as this is the time each player needs your support more than any other time during the season.

The quarterfinals of the state playoffs are Nov. 23, the semifinals Nov. 30 and the Super 6 state finals Dec. 6-7 in Auburn at Jordan-Hare Stadium.

NASCAR

An incredible turn of events has pushed Brad Keselowski ahead of Jimmie Johnson in the points standings in The Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship. In last week’s race in Phoenix, Johnson had mechanical problems causing the five-time NASCAR champ to finish the race 38 laps behind in 32nd position well behind Keselowski, who finished in sixth place. Johnson now trails Keselowski by 20 points heading into the final race of the 2012 season at Homestead-Miami this Sunday (2 p.m.-ESPN).

To finish The Chase and win the Sprint Cup, Keselowski has to finish 15th or better…no matter how Johnson finishes the season ending race.

BITS & PIECES
A familiar face to Bob Jones and James Clemens volleyball teams is featured in the latest edition of Sports Illustrated. Jessica Lewis of Huntsville High is among the “Faces in the Crowd” in the publication. Lewis, only senior on the Panthers’ team, was named state tourney MVP as the Panthers collected its fourth straight state title.

Mark McGwire, who I befriended when he played for the Huntsville Stars just prior to him making it to the Major Leagues and superstardom, has been hired as hitting coach for the Los Angeles Dodgers. McGwire, who broke baseball’s single-season home run record in 1998 while playing for the St. Louis Cardinals, lives near Dodger Stadium, was the hitting coach for the Cardinals the past three seasons.

The 12-time All-Star led the Cardinal’s hitting presence to tops in the National League in both batting average (.269) and on-base percentage (.337). McGwire grew up near L.A. and attended Southern Cal where he set a school record with 34 homers in 1984.

In preparation for the Iron Bowl on the 24th, the Huntsville Quarterback Club will host its final meeting of its 2012 season with the annual Iron Bowl Night. Former Alabama and Auburn players will on hand to tell of their experiences from their play in Iron Bowl games. The QB Club meets Tuesday evening at The Ledges in Huntsville. More details available at http://www.huntsvilleqbclub.com/.

The Huntsville Havoc is on the road this weekend and will return for home matches next Thursday and Friday. The Havoc will play on Thanksgiving night, which will make for a great way to end the day of thanks and festival gatherings with family and friends.

Minor League Baseball and the Topps Company, famous for its baseball cards, named Hunter Morris the Southern League Player of the Year for 2012. Morris, a native of Huntsville, led the Huntsville Stars with a .303 batting average, jacked 28 home runs and had 113 RBIs while leading the league in fielding percentage at first base. Morris is currently playing in the fall Arizona League and hopes to be called up to the Milwaukee Brewers next season.
I missed picking the upsets of Alabama and Tennessee last week, so let me try again this week with these picks: Arkansas over Miss State, LSU over Ole Miss, Missouri on top of Syracuse, Tennessee defeating Vandy, USC over UCLA and Oregon escaping a victory over Stanford.