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                        === Nobody asked me, but ... ===
 
 By Drew Markol, Contributing Editor
 
 Philadelphia,  PA  (Sports Network) - Remember  way back, about two weeks ago,
 when  a certain famous football coach said that Alabama could beat a couple of
 NFL teams?
 
 The  Ol'  Ball Coach, Steve Spurrier,  was obviously just blowing smoke at the
 Tide, but, then again, that's what he does.
 
 Now,  of course,  Spurrier made his remarks before last Saturday when Alabama,
 playing at home, lost to Texas A&M.
 
 There  are always  shockers in college football  (not as many this year, so it
 seems) but the Aggies rolling the Tide in Tuscaloosa ranks right up there with
 the biggest upsets college football has seen in a long time.
 
 How many of us (all of us?), had Alabama as a mortal lock to be playing in the
 national championship game yet again this year?
 
 It  wasn't  if  the Tide  would  make  it,  but  who they  would  be  playing.
 Oregon?
 
 Kansas State?
 
 Notre Dame?
 
 The  look on the face of Nick Saban was priceless. It had to make all of those
 Miami Dolphin fans smile. Remember what he did to them? But I digress.
 
 Where  does  this leave Alabama?  They, probably,  won't lose again. They will
 likely have to play Georgia in the SEC title game.
 
 But  even  if the Tide  win the SEC championship  again, where does that leave
 them at the end of the day? Likely on the outside looking in.
 
 The one domino nobody expected to fall, fell.
 
 So,  we won't have a repeat of last year and we won't have to hear any coaches
 telling us that Alabama could win in the NFL.
 
 Heck,  maybe they could.  They only lost one game, and it took an unbelievable
 effort by a really solid Aggie team to do it.
 
 But  losing one  game, this late in the  season, is the death knell for a team
 with  national title hopes. That's one thing about college football that isn't
 quite fair. (There are others, but not today).
 
 To  think the New York Giants lost seven times in the regular season last year
 and  won  the Super Bowl makes  one think of how  nice it would be if big time
 college football had a real playoff system, with 16 teams involved.
 
 Think Alabama might be in favor of such a thing right about now?
 
 Now,  think if  you're one  of  the undefeated  three: What  were those  teams
 thinking after they saw Alabama go down?
 
 Well,  if you're Oregon  or Kansas State, it was probably let the party begin.
 Yes,  the  Ducks have a tougher  road to stay undefeated, so their celebration
 had to be a little muted. They still have to play, and beat, Stanford and then
 travel to Corvallis for their rivalry game against a pretty tough Oregon State
 side.
 
 But  for the  Wildcats, whose path to a  shot at the Holy Grail is easier, the
 party  was  likely a humdinger.  (Although Baylor  might have something to say
 about all of this when they play Kansas State on Saturday).
 
 So,  that  leaves Notre  Dame. I'm  sure there was  no party  in South Bend on
 Saturday night.
 
 The  impossible happened for the Fightin' Irish with Alabama losing, but Notre
 Dame  can't celebrate  until either Oregon or Kansas State (or both) also drop
 from the ranks of the unbeaten.
 
 More   importantly  for  the  remaining  three  is  that  the  Tide  are  out.
 There is no more big bully on the block (unless a bunch of weird things happen
 and  Alabama  somehow works its  way back into  things) that could have (would
 have)  been  a double-digit  favorite  against  whomever  it played  in  early
 January.
 
 The field is wide open for the first time in a long time.
 
 Hey,  anybody want to  talk today about how Oregon or Kansas State (maybe even
 the  Fightin' Irish)  could knock  off the  Cleveland Browns  or the  Carolina
 Panthers on a Sunday afternoon? I didn't think so.
 
 Drew  Markol  has been a  sportswriter and columnist for several Philadelphia-
 area newspapers for over 25 years.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 11/15 14:20:22 ET

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