It’s easy to get too high or too low after each week’s results in college football. Such is the nature of the sport that breeds emotional responses based on what happens positively or negatively every Saturday.
That’s why we’re here. A step back from the action can provide perspective that rightfully will temper some of the misplaced enthusiasm from positive performances and lift up those feeling down in the dumps after negative results from the weekend.
Week 12 had plenty of examples on both sides of the coin. Here are the five biggest overreactions from the action on the field.
Alabama won’t be able to hang with Georgia
The last two games for the Crimson Tide against SEC opponents have seen them struggle at home against LSU and Arkansas and win by a combined 13 points. The defense has shown cracks throughout the season and the Razorbacks exposed their secondary Saturday with several big plays. However, there’s one area where Alabama will have a big advantage when the teams meet in the SEC title game. Its passing game is significantly better than any Georgia has seen all year. With Bryce Young throwing and John Metchie and Jameson Williams catching passes, the Crimson Tide are going to be able to put points on the board. Their defense may have issues, but the Bulldogs don’t have an offense that is overwhelming. They typically wear down defenses because the opponents’ offenses can’t stay on the field. That won’t be a problem for Alabama in what should be one of the best games of the year.
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Spencer Rattler was the problem for the Oklahoma offense
The switch from Rattler to true freshman quarterback Caleb Williams appeared to solve the issues for the Sooners offense as he put himself in Heisman contention with three impressive starts. After two consecutive disappointing performances, it’s time to start wondering if all the criticism about Rattler was misplaced. Williams failed to complete more than 50% of his passes against Baylor and Iowa State, and has thrown for just 229 yards with one touchdown and three interceptions in the two games. They’re much worse numbers than Rattler put up before being pulled. There’s more going on besides the quarterback struggles and there’s not a lot of time for Lincoln Riley to find a solution to the issues with a road defeat of Oklahoma State, the Big 12’s top defense, required to make the conference title game. It wouldn’t be a shock if Rattler gets another opportunity next week if Williams struggles in a must-win situation.
Michigan State was exposed as overrated
The simple response to the Spartans being blown away by Ohio State would be to write off their 9-2 start as a mirage and criticize the school for its efforts to sign coach Mel Tucker to an enormous contract extension. The truth is that the Buckeyes were an awful matchup for Michigan State and its weak secondary. Many Top 25 teams would get blown out in that situation. Certainly, the final score was ugly and raises questions. The loss, though, shouldn’t overshadow a remarkable turnaround for a program that had gone 16-17 in three years since its last 10-win season in 2017. It’s easy to forget this is Tucker’s first full year and that it takes time to build a culture. His reaction to the loss was to demand accountability, dismiss excuses and embrace the work required to match the elite teams in the Big Ten. That’s exactly the response you’d want as bad defeats can be the biggest opportunities for growth.
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This is Dabo Swinney’s best coaching job
OK, the sentiment is understandable given how bad the Tigers started the season and the improvement they have shown in the second half. It’s easy to forget how below standard this year’s team is when it is blowing out Wake Forest, an opponent it can physically overwhelm on both lines of scrimmage. Recency bias shouldn’t overshadow Clemson barely beating Louisville and Florida State in its previous two ACC games. Many of the problems with this team fall at the feet of Swinney. The offensive line struggles were noticeable when Trevor Lawrence was playing quarterback, but he helped paper over them. The same is true with the lack of development of skill players. A team that recruits as well as the Tigers should never struggle like this against ACC opponents. Give credit to the players and coaches for staying motivated and a great effort Saturday. Just don’t confuse it with the outstanding work Swinney did to win two national championships while beating Alabama and other elite programs in the playoff.
It’s just a bad year for Stanford
The Cardinal will conclude their season at home against Notre Dame without a trip to a bowl game and concerns about where things are headed in a program that had been one of the best in the Pac-12. David Shaw did a remarkable job picking up the baton from Jim Harbaugh and winning 82 games in his first eight seasons. Stanford is just 11-18 since that span and Saturday’s demoralizing 30-point defeat to rival California shows how far the bottom has dropped out on the team after its surprising upset of Oregon. The last three of their six consecutive defeats have been by a total of 96 points. Where has it all gone wrong? It starts with the lack of a running game and talented offensive line that was usually the backbone of the program. The Cardinal rank fifth from the bottom (126th) in the Bowl Subdivision with fewer than 90 yards rushing per game. Shaw has built significant goodwill with his past success and Stanford isn’t typically eager to make a major change. If things don’t improve in 2022, though it wouldn’t be a shock to see him move on.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: College football overreactions: Alabama, Oklahoma lead Week 12 fallout