Welcome to the ninth edition of the sophomore season of The Hangover, where I recap the previous weekend in college football. After an off week in preparation for a broadcast, The Hangover comes to you from Woodberry Forest, Virginia, where I called the 118th consecutive playing of The Game between Woodberry Forest and Episcopal. Congrats to the Maroon on the 25-21 victory. If you follow me on social media, this fact isn’t breaking news. Because I was shaking hands, chatting with folks, and broadcasting all afternoon on Saturday, I had no idea what happened in the world of college football until that night. Now that I’m caught up, let’s break everything down.

Now, we wait. When the calendar hit November, I think we all thought chaos would strike college football. Instead, things seems pretty straightforward. Alabama, Clemson, and Notre Dame are undefeated. Michigan has a firm hold of the four spot in the CFP Rankings. If all four win out, and that’s a strong possibility, the committee could have the easiest decision its faced since the playoff began.

And yet, chaos feels inevitable.

This is college football, after all. A few weeks ago, I wrote something similar to the above paragraph. I wrote that things seemed obvious and clear-cut. The next weekend, Purdue destroyed Ohio State. Still, right now the entire college football world is in a holding pattern, waiting for something to happen. That something could come thanks to a hot Syracuse team taking on Notre Dame in Yankee Stadium on Saturday. Win, and the Orange shake everything up. A Notre Dame loss opens the door for a conversation between a one-loss Fighting Irish, one-loss Michigan, one-loss Washington State, and a potential one-loss Oklahoma or West Virginia for two playoff spots (and that’s only if Alabama beats Georgia). 

Want to kick it up a notch? Sure, why not. Let’s say Notre Dame loses to Syracuse and finishes 11-1, Alabama falls to Georgia and both finish 12-1, Michigan wins the Big Ten at 12-1, Washington State wins out, and Oklahoma or West Virginia ends the year at 12-1 (notice I don’t have Clemson listed; that’s because I don’t see any potential pitfalls ahead on the Tigers’ schedule). Who gets in?

The above situation is the nightmare scenario for the committee. Conventional wisdom says the SEC Champion gets in with Clemson, and then it gets dicey. Do you put in a Michigan team that has looked impressive the last few months, or the Notre Dame team to whom it lost? Has Washington State done enough? Will a barrage of ranked wins late in the year bolster the Big 12 champion? What do you do about Alabama, the team that has dominated everyone and has been the committee’s top team every week thus far. Are they suddenly not one of the four best teams in the country after a potentially close loss to Georgia?

As you can see, we’re on the cusp of chaos. It’s right there, the first domino needs to fall. Once that happens, watch out. This seemingly tame season can get wild in a hurry.

Gray’s Top 10

  1. Alabama
  2. Clemson
  3. Notre Dame
  4. Michigan
  5. Georgia
  6. Washington State
  7. Oklahoma
  8. West Virginia
  9. UCF
  10. LSU

The top remains the same as we head down the stretch. Alabama is the best team in the country, but it’s getting closer. Clemson is starting to win in a variety of ways; Saturday, it was victory by suffocation of a struggling Boston College offense. Notre Dame blew out Florida State, which oddly doesn’t mean much this year. Syracuse will prove to be a stiffer challenge this weekend. Michigan did what everyone does to Rutgers, and Georgia ran past Auburn to stay firm at five. Here’s where I’ve decided to switch things up: Washington State moves up to six. Why? I think they’re a more complete team than both Oklahoma and West Virginia right now, especially defensively. The Cougars are playing fantastic on both sides of the ball, while the Sooners are struggling mightily on defense and I still have some questions about the Mountaineers. It’ll all get sorted out in the next few weeks, but I think the log jam between those three is fascinating. Finally, I moved UCF up to nine and dropped LSU to ten. Why? Not really sure, it just felt like the right move this week. I still don’t think UCF will finish the season undefeated, though.

Coach of the Week

Over the last year and a half since The Hangover began, I’ve sung the praises of Bill Clark at UAB many times. Well, start the chorus once again, because Coach Clark continues to defy the odds with this Blazers program. On Saturday night, UAB defeated Southern Miss 26-23 in overtime to secure the Western Division title for Conference USA, improving to 9-1 on the season in the process. Keep in mind, as I’ve mentioned before, this is a program that literally didn’t exist two years ago. That makes this turnaround even more unreal. What Bill Clark has done at UAB is nothing short of miraculous, and I implore the College Football Playoff committee to put the Blazers in the rankings on Tuesday night. This program deserves it, and Coach Clark deserves all of the awards that will hopefully come his way. I’m not sure I could point to another coach (other than maybe Nick Saban) that has done a better job in my lifetime.

Idiot of the Week

While perhaps we should’ve highlighted him many times before, we need to send a shout-out to Randy Edsall at Connecticut. The Huskies are bad, people. I mean shield-the-eyes, hide-the-family bad. Edsall’s group sits at 1-9 after the weekend’s 62-50 loss to SMU, and yet the head coach of the Huskies got a salary bonus for the effort. Seriously.

Yes people, this is real. Edsall got a bonus for converting a better percentage of third downs than the opposition. Nevermind that the Huskies have given up 49 or more points eight times this season and are allowing a historically awful amount of yards per play. This is the stuff that matters. Keep converting third downs, Connecticut. You’ll get your coach another $2,000 every time you do.

Random Rankings

Admittedly, your friends at Random Rankings HQ were struggling this week. Do we make something Woodberry-centric, perhaps top plays from The Game (with highlights courtesy of our friends at WFSPN)? Perhaps we premiere our first alcohol-related list (don’t worry, all employees of Random Rankings HQ are 21+)? Do we finally get to the play-by-play list to complete our series? All good ideas, and then Stan Lee passed away. The legendary Stan Lee, the creator of so many Marvel comic and a fixture in the superhero industry, passed away at the age of 95 on Monday. With that in mind, it only makes sense to rank our top five best movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. *Disclaimer*: per usual, once Random Rankings are posted, they aren’t changing. If you have issues with any of the choices, comment or reach out on Twitter. And yes, the absence of one isn’t an accident. Also, some explanations may include spoilers, so proceed at your own risk. *Other disclaimer*: Not all Marvel movies have been viewed by the folks at Random Rankings HQ. Yes, we know that makes things difficult. Sorry. But we’re just doing our best to honor Stan Lee here, so take your faux outrage elsewhere. Let’s get to the rankings:

1. Avengers: Infinity War

Two words: emotional devastation. In early May, I settled into my seat in the theater by myself in Tuscaloosa. In the midst of calling softball for the Crimson Tide Sports Network, I had some time before a night game to go see this film. While it may not be the cleanest of plots, directors Anthony and Joe Russo did about as well as anyone could’ve with so many different storylines to balance. The film is engrossing from the first second, and every moment of the film holds weight. There are so many scenes that scream “bada**,” especially the various scenes where we meet our heroes for the first time in the movie. Then comes to ending, which had me in tears for a solid half-hour. Bring on the second part of this story, please. 

2. Captain America: Winter Soldier

Once again directed by the Russo Brothers, Winter Soldier shows just how successful a franchise can be when it decides to tear everything apart. There’s an emotional storyline, real stakes with every decision, and the final scenes have a lasting impact on the rest of the MCU. Plus, the entire film is beautifully acted and shot, specifically the legendary elevator fight scene.

3. Marvel’s The Avengers

It’s the film that showed the scope of Marvel’s vision and changed movies forever. Before Avengers, some didn’t think this MCU idea could work. How could one movie fit in all of the superheroes we wanted to see? How would the plot fit everyone and give everybody a good story to tell? Well, Joss Whedon figured it out. This movie is a feat of cinema, showing that telling a story of this magnitude can not only be done, but can be done well.

4. Iron Man

There are certain roles that seem to fit certain actors like a glove, and one of those is Robert Downey, Jr. as Tony Stark. It just works, and Iron Man showed that Marvel was committed to making quality movies in the MCU. With a solid villain, cool visual effects, and lots of humor, this movie works on all levels and proved to be a very strong start to the Marvel movie-making legacy.

5. Captain America: Civil War

It’s the movie where we meet T’Challa and get the ultimate Avengers fight scene. The battle between Steve Rogers and Tony Stark is a good one, with both thinking they’re in the right. It’s another film with lasting implications for the MCU, as the Avengers suffered a rift that was felt in the next few movies. And again…that airport scene. Epic.

 

SEC Power Rankings

I’m an SEC guy through and through, so I have to include my SEC Power Rankings. Lots of changes over the last two weeks. At this point, we’re all just waiting for the SEC Championship Game on December 1st.

  1. Alabama (1)
  2. Georgia (3)
  3. LSU (2)
  4. Florida (5)
  5. Kentucky (4)
  6. Mississippi State (6)
  7. Texas A&M (7)
  8. Auburn (8)
  9. South Carolina (9)
  10. Missouri (10)
  11. Tennessee (13)
  12. Ole Miss (11)
  13. Vanderbilt (12)
  14. Arkansas (14)

So Who’s Ready for Week Twelve?

The slate next weekend looks lackluster, which means chaos is looming. Here’s what’s coming up:

Pittsburgh at Wake Forest

#13 Syracuse at #3 Notre Dame

#9 West Virginia at Oklahoma State

Duke at #2 Clemson

UAB at Texas A&M

Cincinnati at #12 UCF

#22 Iowa State at #19 Texas

Arizona at #8 Washington State

That’s all from us at The Hangover. I’ll be in Knoxville this weekend for Tennessee-Missouri, and I’m hosting TideTV on Thursday. Check that out on http://RollTide.com, if you’re so inclined. See you next week!

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