Cavalcade: Barry Sanders vs. Melvin Gordon

Cavalcade of Whimsy: Barry Sanders vs. Melvin Gordon.

Cavalcade of Whimsy

Nov. 25

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- 2013 Cavalcades 
- Aug 26 Josh Shaw, playoff talk, and there's a new network?  
- Sept 2 College Football's big new problem  
- Sept 9 The impossible: defending the Big Ten 
- Sept. 16 More Big Ten issues, UCLA Jerry & More 
- Sept. 23 Read it right in the ...  
- Sept. 30 No, Florida State isn't No. 1 
- Oct. 7 Trevor, Katy & Ole Miss
- Oct. 14 Gurley, Jameis & Autographs 
- Oct. 21 The Play, and is Florida State that good?
- Oct. 28 What matters in the rankings
- Nov. 4 The Playoff Doomsday Scenario 
- Nov. 11 Return Of The Big Guys 
- Nov. 18 The Gurley Situation 

November 25th
- Part 2 The Ten Changes Needed in the Playoff Process

Sorry if this column sucks, it’s not my fault … I just want my center to snap the ball so I can get the play going, is that so wrong?

”This is the noise that keeps me awake/ My head explodes and my body aches” … If I’m an Ohio State or TCU fan, I’m breaking something tasteful.

I’m glad Jameis Winston wasn’t thrown out of the Boston College game. It wasn’t a malicious push of the official who was trying to slow things down to ready both sides for the next play; it was Winston trying to do his job. However, by the strict letter of the law, Winston probably should’ve been given the heave-ho, and had that happened, does Florida State pull off the win? It’s still possible, and I don’t want to see Florida State lose its winning streak on something like that, but that one non-call might turn out to make a massive difference in the national title chase.

Please, Burt Reynolds, don’t shove your flaming spear into me when I pick the Gators … Dog Florida State all you want to for its lackluster performances and close calls – and I do – but if it remains unbeaten after dealing with a Florida Gator team with a terrific defense and tough running game that are both still playing hard, and a Georgia Tech Yellow Jacket squad with its curveball offense that’s tough to hit on the right day, then there’s no beef whatsoever anymore about tight wins and schedules with a 13-0 record.

Yes, Coach Helfrich and you sixth grade kid asking the question, Marcus Mariota will be an Oakland Raider next year at this time … Along with the Voynich Manuscript and the Shugborough inscription, the world’s greatest minds and scholars will forever be puzzled by the mysterious fourth “thing” that “everyone” at Papé's O'Hara Catholic School in Eugene currently talks about besides Jesus, girls and Marcus Mariota.

One think tank met in secrecy before releasing its finding through the proper channels: pizza. Another split between “Assassin’s Creed” and “World of Warcraft.” One out-of-touch graybeard muttered something about “penny whistles and moonpies,” another surmised that, when played backwards, the question somehow meant that Paul McCartney was dead, and a FOX News analyst warned that the line of questioning was an elaborate code designed to trigger an al Qaeda attack. The correct answer, of course, is more girls.

Or he could just save himself the wear and tear of 250 touches and get paid next year by the pros to figure out the position … Other than to torture my brutally unlucky fantasy football team, how is it that Denard Robinson couldn’t seem to carry the ball more than three times in a row at Michigan without suffering a sprain of some sort, but now he’s a featured running back in the NFL? Braxton Miller, take note.

Robinson isn’t an NFL quarterback, and neither is Miller, and that’s important considering there’s already a debate about whether or not it should be Miller or J.T. Barrett under center on 2015. The obvious answer is to have a quarterback derby in the offseason, and the one who plays better gets the gig, but the smarter solution – at least for Miller – is to move to a jack-of-all-trades running back/receiver. It’s a win-win. Ohio State has a Heisman-caliber quarterback in Barrett to build around, a Heisman-caliber No. 1A quarterback to slip into the mix once in a while, and Miller ups his draft stock and prepares for the next level.

However, Buckeyes, you’re making it really, really, REALLY hard when you’re sucking so badly against Indiana and with Virginia Tech losing to Wake Forest … Ohio State fan, I’m trying. TCU and Baylor, I’m starting to make the push. If Alabama beats Auburn and wins the SEC West, I don’t need to see Mississippi State in my 2015 College Football Playoff, and, yeah, I’d rather see a Power 5 champ get in.

I thought I was cool with the whole “four best teams” thing for the playoff, but as we get closer to making this a reality, I’m just not. My playoff can’t have a team in it that can’t win its own division, much less its conference. My playoff should have four Power 5 champions. My playoff needs to be better than the boring – yeah, I said it, boring, and not because it was defensive football – Alabama win over the Bulldogs. My championship should involve champions of something. It’s a simple solution: win your conference championship, or else you don’t have a legitimate beef.

Semi-proof that barrages of angry e-mails and tweets do wear me down – or it’s just the 114 straight days with no sleep … Okay Buckeye, Horned Frog and Bear fans, I’m starting to buy your points – at least a little bit. While I’ll continue to argue that the SEC West has proven to be the best division in the history of college football, and the SEC is by far the best conference in college football, Mississippi State playing Southern Miss, UAB and South Alabama in non-conference action really is a tad soft. In the Nov. 18 CFP rankings, the Bulldogs were ranked fourth despite generating just one win over a top 25 team. Also helping the cause was the biggest break possible from the East, playing Kentucky – and struggling – along with Vanderbilt, missing Georgia, Missouri and – don’t laugh; the D is nasty – Florida. The Texas A&M, Arkansas and Auburn wins were at home, and the LSU road win was the one good victory away from Starkville. I’m not going to argue too hard against Mississippi State, but there’s a really, really strong case to be made that it shouldn’t be in.

”Johnny … Hogs. Communists. Think about it.” … I demand a formal, heartfelt apology from some of you – preferably delivered by barbershop quartet or naughty nurse strip-o-gram (female, this time, please) – for being openly mocked, ridiculed, and humiliated for correctly suggesting months ago that Arkansas would probably win the Big Ten championship, or at least come close.

”You can push them out of a plane, you can march them off a cliff, you can send them off to die on some God-forsaken rock, but for some reason, you can't slap them. Now apologize to that boy immediately.” … College football players can get the snoot beaten out of them, they can be exploited by adults to make tens of millions of dollars, they can bash their brains on the insides of their skulls, and they can suffer massive injuries all for the joy of representing State U. But don’t shake hands at midfield before the game – like Penn State failed to do earlier in the season against Maryland, and Central Michigan didn’t do in a key showdown against Western Michigan on Saturday – and ooooooh. Now you’re messing with the “core values of intercollegiate athletics.”

Of course, you’ll get your wish in a few years when a bajillion dollars are put on the table to expand … Stop, stop, stop, stop, stop with the eight-team playoff discussion as soon as possible. Back when there were six BCS leagues, I was all for the idea of the six conference champs getting in along with the top-ranked mid-major champ and one wild-card. But now, with the Group of Five conferences watered down, and with the Big East now the neutered American Athletic, I’m good with the top four conference champions being in, and that’s it. Like the Bill Belichick concept of it being better to cut a player a year too early than a year too late, I’ll live with a good team being out if it means we’re not forcing above-average teams to get in.

This year, if everyone of note wins out, a tournament with Alabama, Oregon, Florida State, Mississippi State, TCU, Ohio State and Baylor would have two head-to-head games already decided – Bama over MSU and Baylor over TCU – and who’s that eighth team? It would be an unnecessary reach – an eight-team playoff really would devalue the regular season. Four is fine. Leave out Ohio State? Don’t lose at home to Virginia Tech. Leave out a Big 12 champion? Baylor, don’t schedule Buffalo, and TCU, don’t lose to the team that scheduled Buffalo.

It's too bad that Sanders guy never made anything out of his pro career … While the world is on the topic of Melvin Gordon and Samaje Perine, take a moment to once again put into perspective the greatest season in the history of college sports – Barry Sanders in 1988.

Someday, the NCAA will retroactively count bowl stats for all players, but for now, Sanders is in the books with a 2,628-yard season, done in 11 games. Throw in the 222 yards against Wyoming in the Holiday Bowl, and Sanders finished his 12-game campaign with 2,850 yards and 44 touchdowns on 373 carries. However – obviously the more carries brings a durability part of the equation –Gordon has only carried the ball 254 times. If he ran it 373 times, like Sanders did in 1988, his stats would work out to around 3,097 yards and 37 touchdowns.

Also, Sanders faced more than his share of cream-puff defenses, but was needed to carry the workload for a far longer time in several tight games. Several of Wisconsin’s games didn’t need Gordon – who probably could’ve run for 500 against Nebraska had he played in the fourth quarter – in the second half, but again, that goes to the MVP and durability part of this. Sanders actually did it by touching the ball more than 400 times.

So let’s do this. Let’s go rushing yards blow-by-blow, game-by-game - at least through 11, with opponent current record next to Gordon’s performances – taking into account yards per carry, worth to the game early on, and quality of opponent. No, I’m not arguing that Gordon is having a better year than Sanders did in 1988 – I am saying it’s at least worth comparing and contrasting.

Game 1: Gordon vs. LSU (7-4) L 28-24: 16 carries, 140 yards, 1 TD
Sanders vs. Miami University (0-10-1) W 52-20: 18 carries, 178 yards, 2 TD

Game 2: Gordon vs. Western Illinois (7-4) W 37-3: 17 carries, 38 yards
Sanders vs. Texas A&M (7-5) W 52-15: 20 carries, 157 yards, 2 TD

Game 3: Gordon vs. Bowling Green (7-4) W 68-17: 13 carries, 253 yards, 5 TD
Sanders vs. Tulsa (4-7) W 56-35: 33 carries, 304 yards, 5 TD

Game 4: Gordon vs. South Florida (4-7) W 27-10: 32 carries, 181 yards, 2 TD
Sanders vs. Colorado (8-4) W 41-21: 24 carries, 174 yards, 4 TD

Game 5: Gordon vs. Northwestern (5-6) L 20-14: 27 carries, 259 yards, 1 TD
Sanders vs. Nebraska (11-2) L 63-42: 35 carries, 189 yards, 4 TD

Game 6: Gordon vs. Illinois (5-6) W 38-28: 27 carries, 175 yards, 4 TD
Sanders vs. Missouri (3-7-1) W 49-21: 25 carries, 154 yards, 2 TD

Game 7: Gordon vs. Maryland (7-4) W 52-7: 22 carries, 122 yards, 3 TD
Sanders vs. Kansas State (0-11) W 45-27: 37 carries, 320 yards, 3 TD

Game 8: Gordon vs. Rutgers (6-5) W 37-0: 19 carries, 128 yards, 2 TD
Sanders vs. Oklahoma (9-3) L 31-28: 39 carries, 215 yards, 2 TD

Game 9: Gordon vs. Purdue (3-8) W 34-16: 25 carries, 205 yards, 1 TD
Sanders vs. Kansas (1-10) W 45-27: 37 carries, 312 yards, 5 TD

Game 10: Gordon vs. Nebraska (8-3) W 59-24: 25 carries, 408 yards, 4 TD
Sanders vs. Iowa State (5-6) W 49-28: 32 carries, 293 yards, 4 TD

Game 11: Gordon vs. Iowa (7-4) W 26-24: 31 carries, 200 yards, 2 TD
Sanders vs. Texas Tech (5-6) W 45-42: 44 carries, 332 yards, 4 TD

Two key parts of the puzzle to factor in, as well. Sanders was an elite kick and punt returner in 1987, but he was just okay in 1988, averaging 20 yards per kickoff return with a score, and 9.4 yards per punt return with a touchdown. He only caught 19 passes for 106 yards with no touchdowns. Gordon isn’t a top receiver, but through 11 games he has 11 catches for 147 yards and two touchdowns. However, he came up with a key late catch to set up a score against Iowa.

Part One would’ve been better … but everyone is mad at me for scheduling an FCS game this late in the season.

- Part 2 Ten Changes To Make To Playoff 

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