The Eye Test: Don’t you dare bash Alabama’s strength of schedule

Alabama-SEC-The Eye Test

Every season, a debate over strength of schedule engulfs the College Football Playoff discussion, and we’re certainly headed that way in 2017. Fans outside the SEC are already upset about Alabama’s No. 1 ranking over No. 2 Clemson in the major polls.

One of the primary talking points concerning Alabama is, “They haven’t played anybody!”

To that I say, “Hush.”

Analysts and fans that focus on strength of opponents often only consider what the opponent accomplished after its meeting with the team in question, as if the loss to the team in question had no bearing on the remainder of the opponent’s season.

I’m talking about Florida State, which was unanimously crowned as the ACC’s preseason champion. Alabama smashed the No. 3-ranked Seminoles in Atlanta and knocked out star quarterback Deondre Francois for the season. If FSU had not played Alabama, it very likely would be the nation’s No. 2 or No. 3 team right now. People calling that win “weak” are delusional, no matter how the Seminoles play the rest of the season without Francois.

RELATED: Is the ‘Bama Effect real?

To be clear: Clemson has played a tougher schedule than Alabama. At present, the Tigers probably deserve the No. 1 spot because of a combination of their 2017 résumé and their defeat of the Crimson Tide in January.

But that’s based on what Dabo Swinney and his team have accomplished. Not on what Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide haven’t done. Convincing yourself that a win over the No. 3 team in the country and a combined 125-3 score against two SEC opponents are meaningless reveals an obnoxious bias against the strongest football program of this millennium.

Any conversation about Alabama’s schedule — now or in December — had better give the Tide full credit for its Week 1 win, as well as its historic dominance against inferior opponents.

LSU-Troy should not have shocked you

Let’s give one last round of applause to the best tweet of the weekend:

Sunday morning, after the dust had settled on Troy’s 24-21 upset of then-No. 25 LSU in Baton Rouge, my colleague Alec Shirkey did a bit of gloating. He tweeted a reminder of his prescient thoughts on the matchup from this preseason.

“You laugh, but Troy won 10 games in 2016 and nearly upset eventual national champion Clemson,” Shirkey had written.

If y’all were paying attention this last week, I tried to warn you, too.

Troy has given LSU a major scare twice in the last 13 years. In 2004, Nick Saban’s Tigers escaped, 24-21. In 2008, Les Miles’ team survived, 40-31. Coach Larry Blakeney is gone, but his legend lives on for a team that nearly upset No. 2 Clemson last season. Beware!

The heat may be on coach Ed Orgeron after such a disappointing performance, but it can’t get too hot. His contract has a $12 million buyout, and the school is still paying Les Miles for his work.

butch jones-tennessee
Is this the end of the Butch Jones era at Tennessee? (Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

Rocky Flop

Following a 41-0 loss to Georgia, Butch Jones is a “dead coach walking,” per Tom Fornelli of CBSSports.com.

The portion of the fan base that stuck with Jones through three mostly bizarre seasons now has no rationale for defending him. Before Saturday, Tennessee had not lost by 41 points in Knoxville in 112 years (that’s not a typo).

Moving forward, there’s not much reason for optimism. A three-game slate — vs. South Carolina, at Alabama and at Kentucky — threatens to drop Tennessee to 3-5 on the season. If the Vols cut Jones loose, they’ll owe him a cool $9.2 million. How far is leadership willing to watch the program fall before it makes a move?

Things that caught our Eye in Week 5

Alabama strength coach Scott Cochran caught an injured player texting during the fourth quarter of a blowout win over Ole Miss. You can probably guess what happened.

Did you notice South Carolina quarterback Jake Bentley wobbling around the field before the final play of a 24-17 loss at Texas A&M? He had taken a hard hit near the head while scrambling, stood up to get his offense in order and appeared unable to catch his balance. There are always going to be blind spots in the concussion protocol, but it was a bit of a scary sight.

San Diego State running back Rashaad Penny is second in the country with 823 rushing yards. He was also the recipient of an evil, evil eye-poke against Northern Illinois.

Rest in peace Joe Tiller, who died Saturday at the age of 74. Purdue football has won one Big Ten championship in the last 50 years, and Tiller was the man who pulled it off. His 2000 Boilermakers team, featuring quarterback Drew Brees and offensive tackle Matt Light, reached the Rose Bowl after wins over No. 6 Michigan and No. 12 Ohio State.

The post The Eye Test: Don’t you dare bash Alabama’s strength of schedule appeared first on SEC Country.

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