Mr. Sports: Roll Tide, Philip Rivers, Swim Teams and more

By Bob Labbe

The first Bowl Championship Series rankings are out and there is no surprise the Alabama Crimson Tide is at the top of the BCS, but there are two major surprises within the rankings that certainly caught my attention.

First surprise is how much Alabama is ahead of any possible contender. The point total for the Tide is .9761 while the runner-up team is just at .9092. In the world of rankings the difference between No. 1 and No. 2 this amount is significant. The numbers don’t lie. At this point in the 2012 season Alabama “is” that much better than everyone else.

The second major surprise is the runner-up team Florida. The Gators edged Oregon for the No. 2 spot in the season’s first BCS rankings. Oregon is third, Kansas St. fourth and Notre Dame in fifth. In all, there are seven teams from the SEC among the elite top 25 according to the BCS rankings, as well as, both the Associated Press and USA Today polls. The conference is dominant, let’s just go ahead and give the BCS National Championship Game to two teams from the SEC and let all of the remaining teams play for their own “championship”.

Alabama Dominance

The Crimson Tide’s defense continues its marvel in NCAA statistics leading the nation in all of the major categories (which it led after last season’s national championship run). This squad is as stingy as any defense in history. The Tide leads in the following defensive categories: rushing (55-ypg), pass efficiency (80-ypg), pass (125-ypg), scoring (7.5-ppg), total (181-ypg), and turnover margin (2.17-pg).

Alabama has scored 98 points when starting off opponents turnovers and have NOT allowed a single point when opponents start drives off Tide turnovers. That one stat is remarkable. Alabama is also among the top 10 in kickoff returns and passing efficiency.
Need I say more?

College Football

A wild Saturday of college football was certainly on hand last weekend as upsets and wild scores and games dominated the scene. The college action included Alabama vs. Missouri which was interrupted by thunderstorms and yet another game that was called off during the second half, due to severe weather. So thunder and lightning weren’t just on the playing fields as usual.

This week in college football, highlighted games include second ranked Oregon vs. Arizona State on Thursday night (8 p.m.-ESPN). On Saturday, the action continues with LSU at Texas A&M (11 a.m.-ESPN), Auburn at Vanderbilt (11:20 a.m.-Channel 54), South Carolina at Florida (2:30 p.m.-Channel 19), Alabama at Tennessee (6 p.m.-ESPN), Kansas State vs. West Virginia (6 p.m.-Channel 54) and Texas Tech vs. TCU (2:30-Channel 31).

We’re halfway through the 2012 season and Iowa State has the overall toughest schedule in the country with Kansas second, Arkansas third and Kentucky fifth. The overall stat includes the past teams and future teams on the schedule. In the games they’ve already played, Iowa State has the meanest schedule of opponents with Kentucky second. Auburn’s schedule is No. 19, Tennessee is No. 42 and Alabama No. 51. The future schedules have Arkansas having the toughest schedule awaiting the Razorbacks.

Philip Rivers

One of our local NFL football players is featured in a marvelous feature article in the Oct. 15 edition of Sports Illustrated. The article features the fact Philip, who I have known since he was a small boy, has posted some of the great numbers in the league as a quarterback and is thought to be among the elite signal callers in the NFL, but winning games in the postseason is something he is lacking.

As starting quarterback of the San Diego Chargers, dating back to 2006, Philip is ranked second in yards and wins and third in touchdowns. He’s also ranked sixth in quarterback rating.

Philip has the numbers, but overall the teams in San Diego are not up to his caliber of play. The offensive lines are also second rate and the team’s defenses don’t seem to keep the opposition from scoring. So, Philip has his back up against the wall every time he takes a snap. Philip has always been a feisty, competitive athlete. That’s what makes him play at a stellar level in the NFL.

Swim Teams

The swim teams representing both of Madison’s high schools continue to be impressive. Bob Jones remains as the best-of-the-best, but it is the squad from James Clemens that is really making waves. In a recent six-team swim meet, the Jets’ boy’s team finished second behind Bob Jones. What is really impressive is the fact the team finished ahead of perennial swim powerhouse Grissom High. This is the first for the new school under head coach Kate Wade.

With underclassmen and many new students from across the country filling the team roster, the Jets have made a big splash in the local swim scene.

Bits And Pieces

It’s an upcoming special weekend for the Huntsville Havoc hockey team as it completes its training camp with two pre-season matches. This Friday (Oct. 19), the Havoc play host to Knoxville at the Von Braun Center beginning at 7:30 p.m. Then, on Saturday (Oct. 20), the Havoc travel to Nashville for a special pre-season match against Knoxville to be played at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena, home of the NHL’s Nashville Predators. With the NHL on lockout, Nashville is looking to supply some type of hockey action for its fans, so it invited its nearest hockey teams to play. Face-off in Nashville is 7 p.m.

The 2012 season for the Havoc begins on the road Oct. 26 with the first home match of the new season set for Nov. 10.

It’s “Ladies Night” for the upcoming weekly meeting of the Huntsville Quarterback Club. On Tuesday, Oct. 23, the club hosts its annual special night for women. Two time Olympic silver medalist Margaret Hoelzer will be the guest speaker. She will certainly enlighten the crowd with her own stories of growing up in Huntsville and making it to the Olympics. The Club meets at The Ledges in Huntsville. More details available online:

Another female athlete wants to cross that “male” bearer as four-time women’s World Cup Skiing Champion Lindsey Vonn is asking permission to compete in the men’s downhill races on Nov. 24 in Lake Louise, Alberta. No answer, yet, from the race officials.

The chase for the NASCAR Cup got tighter over the weekend as Brad Keselowki’s lead fell to just 7-points over five-time champion Jimmie Johnson and 15-points over 31-year old Denny Hamlin. There are just five races remaining as the Cup will be awarded on Nov. 18. NASCAR has remaining races at Kansas, Martinsville, Texas, Phoenix and Homestead-Miami Speedways.

My picks for this week’s football match ups include Texas A&M over LSU, South Carolina to derail Florida, Alabama on top of Tennessee, Kansas State beating West Virginia and Texas Tech knocking off TCU.