Points Over Pints: Alabama Retains The Throne
By Joe Jenkins
This Week’s Beer
Iron Throne by Brewery Ommegang.
If you’ve been to Central New York to visit the Baseball Hall of Fame, you know what an amazing place Cooperstown, N.Y., can be.
If you went to Cooperstown and didn’t manage to make the six-mile drive to Brewery Ommegang, you blew it. That would be like going to see the Pyramids of Giza and skipping out on the Sphinx. Some of the world’s finest beer is brewed 11 minutes away from the Baseball Hall of Fame. You can stand to take a break from staring at “Pud” Galvin’s plaque for a few hours.
Ommegang has been contracted to brew limited-edition beers in honor of the HBO series “Game of Thrones.” The first release in this line of brews is The Iron Throne, a Belgian golden ale with citrus flavoring that is present, but not overwhelming, which makes for great drinkability.
The Belgian golden is a nod to the Lannister family, who still sit atop the Iron Throne at the conclusion of HBO’s third season. No matter what challengers come before the Crimson Lions of Casterly Rock, they always wind up on top — even if it means the use of nefarious deeds and black magic.
Which leads me to Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide.
But before we get started, pop the cork on that bottle of Iron Throne and fill up that pint. We’ve got work to do.
The First Sips
There wasn't any black magic behind Alabama’s big win in College Station on Saturday.
The Crimson Tide won by exposing the most glaring weakness the Aggies have this season: They can’t stop the run.
A&M’s defense is surrendering 260 rushing yards per game and 6 yards per carry. Three games is a large enough sample size to say this will be a major problem.
Johnny Manziel’s mercurial talent can’t be put on display if teams know they can sit back and orchestrate seven and eight-minute drives by gaining 12 yards every two carries. Expect teams to keep exposing this until Kevin Sumlin’s team figures out how to stop it.
In the battle of “who’s the better quarterback?” AJ McCarron may not have had all of the flash that Johnny Football provided, but his performance was incredible nonetheless. The senior signal-caller completed 69 percent of his passes for more than 300 yards and four touchdowns. His ESPN total quarterback rating was 93.8 out of a possible 100 — 19 points higher than Manziel.
When his team was down 14-0 on the road, McCarron put his team on his back and threw his way to a shootout win.
• Braxton Miller’s Heisman campaign likely is over because he might not be the best quarterback on his team, much less the country's. Senior Kenny Guiton looked impressive in Ohio State’s 52-34 win over Cal, accounting for 368 yards of total offense and four touchdowns. He just might keep Miller on the bench.
• Brett Hundley and UCLA scored 38 unanswered points and beat up Nebraska in Lincoln, 41-21. The Bruins have the look of a BCS team this year. Overall, the Pac-12 went 3-1 against Big Ten teams on Saturday.
• This just in from the Unsustainable Statistics Department: Oregon is averaging more than 61 points per game with an average margin of victory of 52.3 points. The Ducks might have the best chance of beating Alabama at a neutral site.
• Lane Kiffin probably didn’t save his job with USC’s 35-7 win over Boston College, but he did secure a stay of execution. In the process, he may have found a serviceable quarterback in sophomore Cody Kessler, who completed 88 percent of his passes and threw for two touchdowns.
• Mack Brown, on the other hand, might not make it through his 16th season at Texas. His teams have performed below expectations recently, but now people are beginning to say the Longhorns have fallen behind Texas A&M in terms of relevancy. The run of success with Vince Young and Colt McCoy are too far gone to save Brown now.
• Temple lost to FCS opponent Fordham on a last-second touchdown pass from Michael Nebrich to Sam Ajala. Nebrich’s heroics came one day short of the five-year anniversary of Buffalo beating the Owls on a Hail Mary from Drew Willy to Naaman Roosevelt.
The Last Gulp
Since it appears all of the coaches in college football managed to keep the peace on the sidelines this week, our last-gulp toast will go back to the coach that made the most head-scratching decision.
I’d like for all of you to raise your pint to Akron head coach Terry Bowden.
With the first half coming to a close, the Zips drove to the Michigan 23-yard line. On fourth-and-1, Bowden’s initial decision was to keep his offense on the field and try for the first down.
Upon further reflection, Bowden decided that putting points on the board was the more prudent move and sent his field goal unit running out with 10 seconds left on the play clock and no time outs. The ensuing delay of game penalty pushed the ball back to the 28-yard line, where Robert Stein’s kick bounced off the upright.
No one can say for sure how that would have changed the course of the game, but when Akron had fourth-and-goal with five seconds remaining, the Zips were down four. Instead of needing a touchdown, Bowden would have needed a chip shot to pull off the biggest upset of the year.
So here’s to you, Terry Bowden. Your family may be part of college football royalty, but for this week…
The Lannisters send their regards.
• Nebraska QB Taylor Martinez was seen wearing a walking boot after the Cornhuskers' loss to UCLA. The extent of the injury is unknown.
• Alabama’s top defensive back Deion Belue suffered a toe injury in the second quarter against Texas A&M.