ESPN's Maisel To Football.com: Historical Rose Bowl Rematch?
By Dan Harralson
The 2013 college football season is officially one week away and the excitement is in full force.
This season has a chance to end on a historic note.
To help continue Football.com's countdown to kickoff, ESPN's Ivan Maisel discussed the upcoming season with me.
Maisel is a Stanford alum and a native Alabamian (Mobile), which is ironic with the historic Rose Bowl between the Cardinal and Crimson Tide in 1927.
Alabama and Stanford are Top-5 teams this year and have a realistic shot of playing for it all. Both schools have a chance to replicate their only two meetings, both of which took place in the Rose Bowl. Both historical matchups showcased unbeaten teams playing for the national championship.
The preseason polls have both schools ranked high and offer a potential chance of seeing the two again square off for the national championship.
"It's certainly possible, but preseason rankings and predictions in this sport have a good steady habit of going irate pretty quickly," Maisel said. "They certainly look like they are built for the long haul, Alabama and Stanford; each have won 35 games over the last three seasons, won BCS games over the last three seasons, and both have a lot of talent coming back."
The 1927 Rose Bowl allowed Alabama and Stanford to play for the 1926 national championship and they played to a 7-7 tie. Polls touted both as national champions.
The 1935 Rose Bowl once again saw the two unbeaten schools play for it all. This time there was not a split national championship as Alabama beat Stanford, 29-13, and was crowned the 1934 national champs.
With the last BCS national championship in Pasadena and Alabama and Stanford as serious contenders, perhaps it is meant to be.
"But I just can't imagine if we could be that accurate and pinpoint that Alabama and Stanford will play for the national championship. That just does not happen that often," Maisel said of the two playing each other.
In order for both to square off Jan. 6, they will have to be ranked as the No. 1 and No. 2 teams, respectively.
The game will mark the end of the BCS. With the four-team college football playoff on the horizon, the BCS will be remembered as the gateway to a playoff.
"I think we will probably learn to appreciate the BCS," Maisel said. "It served a purpose, which was not only to infuriate us, but it did what it was designed to of matching one versus two. More often than not, it got that right."
During the BCS era, the majority of college football teams migrated to spread offenses and uptempo styles of play, something that differentiates Alabama and Stanford's smash-mouth style and pro formations from the rest.
Spread offenses have created a less physical game and allow players to be in the open field more often, causing an increased chance of injury.
"I know coaches are really nervous about the new targeting rule. Not so much about the rule itself, but about the penalty," Maisel said. "They're worried that the ability to discern a bang-bang play. That the player was targeting. It wasn't just a slip, but it ended up being a head blow because somebody slipped or ducked and it wasn't intentional. That's perplexing to a lot of coaches.
"They think the rule can be applied. They just question whether the rule can be applied correctly. I'm concerned like everyone else that it can be applied unfairly."
There's another kind of targeting sure to take place in 2013 as teams hope to knock Alabama from the mountaintop of college football.
No team ever has won three consecutive national championships. Nick Saban and Alabama are eying history.
Much like the college football world, Ivan understands the historic magnitude if Alabama is able to win three straight national titles.
"When you think about the fact that rosters turn over every four years, probably every five to be most accurate, it's a little more understandable that no school has won three consecutive national champions," Maisel said. "There really have not been many that won two in a row, so I think that what they have done already with three in four years is a tremendous achievement. There will be an incredible amount of focus and pressure externally if they take their title run into December and January."
We are one week away from the start of a new season with new rules, a BCS finale in college football's most historic venue and the potential to witness history with Alabama's quest of winning three straight national championships.
The irony of the new age college football: up-tempo offenses, rule changes, and the plethora of alternate uniform designs, and it can all end with two smashmouth, defensive teams playing against each other in their third national championship game. In the Rose Bowl.
The road to Pasadena, Jan. 6, is seven days away. Both Alabama and Stanford will try to remember the Rose Bowl again.