Starting 11: Alabama Is the Best Team In the Nation

Videos by OutKick

Coming home from the Alabama-Tennessee game on Saturday, I started to feel sick. It was the final kick in the gut after the Tide produced one of the most dominating wins in the history of the third Saturday in October. I laid down on a couch on our bus ride back to Nashville and watched the Ohio State at Wisconsin game while trying to avoid throwing up. 

Then I got back to Nashville, hopped in my car, and immediately felt worse. 

I had a decision to make — do I pull over and throw up or try to make it home?

I decided to try and make it home for two reasons: 1. I also felt like I was going to poop my pants and if I threw up I was afraid the poop would come out the other end and I’d have to throw my pants away and drive home without underwear or pants on. 2. I didn’t want to pull off on the side of the road and throw up near midnight on Saturday night because even though I was completely sober I knew what this would look like to the police.

So I tried to hold it in.

Big mistake.

I made it all the way to our neighborhood, less than a mile from my house before the puke just overwhelmed me. One moment I was fine and the next I literally had a mouth full of puke in a moving car and I was trying to pull off to the side of the road without crashing.

Unfortunately I wasn’t fast enough and it turns out you can’t hold puke in your mouth very long — puke went everywhere in my car, the dashboard, the steering wheel, all over me and my beautiful orange pants. Eventually I got the door open and puked all over the road too. (There was so much puke that I just drove by it this morning coming back from the radio show and it was still there on Monday).

The only positive was that I didn’t also shit myself while puking all over myself. 

Thank God for small miracles. 

I got home, took my pants off, and set about cleaning the interior of my car, pantsless in my back yard at midnight. It looked like I was trying to clean up a puke murder scene. Coincidentally, Tennessee’s offensive gameplan against Alabama was code named, “the puke murder scene.”

Eventually I got inside, took a shower to wash the rest of the puke off of me and then fell into bed for a fevered sleep. (My two year old also had a stomach bug and spent all day puking. I’m blaming him for why I got sick. Kids are always puking or their noses are always running. It’s a mess with young kids.)

So I didn’t work yesterday at all, which is why the number one prong on the Starting 11 is this week’s Outkick top ten, which usually goes up either late Saturday night or early Sunday morning. 

1. Here’s the Outkick top ten.

1. Alabama

2. Washington

3. Michigan

4. Ohio State

5. Texas A&M

6. Clemson

7. Louisville

8. Baylor

9. Nebraska

10. Wisconsin

By way of explanation, I moved up Michigan because they were much better against Wisconsin than Ohio State was. I moved Clemson down because they would have lost to N.C. State if a college kicker could make a chip shot field goal. 

I elevated Baylor and Nebraska because I had no one else to elevate and I left Wisconsin in the top ten because they played close games against my number three and four teams. 

2. Alabama is the best team in college football and the Tide can get a ton better before the end of the year. 

What’s amazing about Alabama’s offensive performance against Tennessee — and most teams they’ve played this year — is that they haven’t really thrown the football very much. 

Calvin Ridley, Ardarius Stewart, Gehrig Dieter and OJ Howard are all going to be pretty high NFL draft picks and all four of them combined so far only have 1240 yards receiving on the year. That’s an average of just 177 yards passing per game. Those numbers look even smaller when you consider the amount of offensive plays that Alabama is running so far this year. 

Against Tennessee Alabama ran the ball 49 times for 438 yards. The Vols, meanwhile, ran it 32 times for 32 yards.

It’s almost impossible to physically dominate another team this badly.

Granted, Tennessee has a ton of defensive injuries and playing Florida, Georgia, and Texas A&M back to back to back finally caught up with them, but Alabama was just playing at another level on Saturday.  

I like to think about college football teams in terms of their ceilings, that is, how much better can a team get? Alabama has, maybe, the best pass catching talent in college football this year and they have a freshman quarterback who is just learning the passing game. 

The Tide are already dominating everyone they play and are the best team in the nation and they can get much, much better before the season is over.

They haven’t even approached their ceiling yet.  

I really do think it’s going to be just as ugly against Texas A&M this coming week. 

3. Georgia doesn’t look very good in the first year of the Kirby Smart regime. 

Right now Bulldog fans are all trying to convince themselves that Nick Saban wasn’t very good his first year at Alabama either — and they’re all blaming Mark Richt for leaving behind bad talent, which is what every team says about the fired coach — but the truth of the matter is this — Georgia just lost at home to Vanderbilt as a two touchdown favorite. 

That’s an indefensible home loss. 

Figure on losses in two of these three games — Florida, Auburn, and Georgia Tech — and the Bulldogs will go 7-5 in year one under Kirby Smart. That’s not good.  

Missouri is also awful and Georgia needed a fourth down conversion to beat them. 

The Commodores only produced 171 yards of total offense and aside from the Mizzou game — which will be a toss up — Vandy isn’t likely to beat anyone else in the SEC this year either.

Maybe there will be a drastic improvement in year two for the Bulldogs — certainly that should be the hope with Jacob Eason rounding into his second season — but it’s hard to watch this product on the field and think it’s very much improved.

In fact, it’s worse. 

Plus, easy on those Saban comparisons. In his first year Nick Saban dominated a Tennessee team that went on to win the SEC East and nearly beat national champion LSU. What great win has Kirby Smart produced in year one? With two weeks to get ready for Florida, he can go a long way towards improving optimism with a win in the Cocktail Party, but so far the results have not been good.

Nick Saban also has never gotten down 45-0 to any team in any season.

Much less to a 3-3 Ole Miss team.  

It’s possible Kirby Smart is going to be the hire that takes Georgia to the promised land, but in his first year it looks much more possible that he’s going to keep Georgia wandering in the wilderness. 

4. There’s no need for conference title games this year, or pretty much any year.

We don’t need a conference title game to decide a champion, that’s the point of the entire regular season. We typically know the best team in the conference already. And if we do need a conference title game, it should be played by the two best teams in the conference, not by arbitrary division champs.

If I were made college football tzar tomorrow, the first thing I would do is eliminate divisions and the second thing I would eliminate would be conference title games.

Instead of playing conference title games I’d expand the playoff to eight teams, take the five regular season conference champs, and three wild cards.  

That’s because this year, like most years, we won’t need a conference title game to tell us who the best team in the conference is, that’s the purpose of the regular season.

Alabama is likely to play a rematch against Tennessee in the SEC title game. Why do we need to see that game? We already know Alabama is better than Tennessee. In the extremely unlikely event that Tennessee pulls off an upset, does that change who the SEC champ should be? Alabama might well be 12-1 and Tennessee would be 11-2 in this scenario. But Alabama would still have the better record and resume in the conference. So why even play this game at all?

And it’s not just the SEC either. 

Ohio State is likely to play a rematch against either Nebraska or Wisconsin in the Big Ten title game. (Michigan could rematch with Wisconsin as well.) But isn’t the Big Ten title game really being played in Columbus the week before the actual Big Ten title game when undefeated Michigan is likely to play undefeated Ohio State?

Of course it is.  

Washington is unchallenged in the Pac 12 right now, why do we need to see them play a two or three loss Pac 12 South champ?

Who knows what will happen in the ACC, but if Clemson goes 12-0 why would we need them to play a two loss ACC team to win the conference title?

The point is pretty simple — we play the regular season to decide a conference champ, we don’t need a conference title game at all. And for those rare occasions when you have two 12-0 teams that don’t play? Just name them co-champs and let both of them advance to the playoff.  

5. 2016 Clemson looks like 2014 Florida State.

N.C. State had Clemson beat and totally shanked a chip shot field goal. 

Remember how FSU, the year after their national title win, looked awful in many games, winning several closely along the way, before getting blown out by Oregon in the college football playoff?

That’s where we’re headed with Clemson if they’re fortunate enough to make the college football playoff this year.

Except unlike FSU in 2014 I don’t think Clemson will be undefeated this year because I think the Tigers will lose to Florida State in two weeks. 

Given the fact that the ACC Coastal is already a mess and that whoever emerges as the division winner is likely to have two losses, there’s a decent chance 11-1 Louisville could snag a playoff bid without winning its division if Clemson were upset in an unnecessary ACC title game.  

6. It’s time for Ole Miss to institute a bowl ban this season.

The Rebels are 3-3 on the season and already have two losses in the SEC West. They have no chance of winning the SEC and are likely to lose at least a couple of more games considering they still have at LSU and at Texas A&M left on the schedule. 

So why even play for a bowl game?

Is a 7-5 team taking a trip to the Music City Bowl or the Liberty Bowl really worth it when you can put all the NCAA mess behind you and just sit out a mediocre bowl game trip? 

Just take a bowl ban this year and move on. 

7. Nebraska is not very good, but I don’t have anyone else to put in the top ten.  

The top seven teams in the country have really separated themselves from the rest of the teams in college football. 

Nebraska is going to lose to Wisconsin and Ohio State, probably, in the next two weeks and fall back down to around the 20th best team in the country, which is where they belong. 

Then we’ll see which Big Ten West teams earns the right to get a drubbing from either Ohio State or Michigan. 

Again, the Big Ten title game this year is going to be as unnecessary as the SEC and Pac 12 title games. 

We’ll already know the best teams in all the conferences before we even play the title games. 

Why do we need to follow up Michigan at Ohio State with a drasticially inferior match up?

8. Baylor and West Virginia are still undefeated in the Big 12.

I just feel like I should mention that since we’ve all written off the Big 12 from the playoff race. 

It’s also incredibly unlikely, but both of these teams could theoretically be undefeated on December 3rd when they’re scheduled to play in Morgantown. 

9. I had an awesome time meeting hundreds of Outkick readers, listeners and viewers at Bama-UT.

Thanks to all who came by the Outkick tailgate.

At one point on Saturday I also gave a don’t be a pussy pep talk to the Kappa Sigma 2016 pledge class inside their fraternity house.

So, yeah, everything before the game was pretty fantastic.

Also, can y’all believe that after my week long feud with the Alabama band that a member of the Crimson Tide band injured himself dancing to Beyonce and had to be carted off the field?

I mean, is this real life? 

10. Why not add an extra bye week to the SEC football schedule?

Since I’m all about solving problems, doesn’t it seem like it would make sense to build in two bye weeks into the SEC season?

The injury situation can be pretty brutal when these SEC teams are all running through the schedules and in the event that there are cancellations it would theoretically make rescheduling games much easier. 

The Big 12 has been playing with two bye weeks for a while now. 

So why not add an extra bye week to the SEC football schedule and start the football season a week earlier?   

11. Outkick’s SEC power rankings 1-14:

1. Alabama

2. Texas A&M

3. Tennessee

4. Florida 

5. Auburn

6. LSU 

7. Arkansas

8. Ole Miss

9. Georgia

10. Kentucky

11. Vanderbilt

12. Mississippi State

13. South Carolina 

14. Missouri

Written by Clay Travis

Clay Travis is the founder of the fastest growing national multimedia platform, OutKick, that produces and distributes engaging content across sports and pop culture to millions of fans across the country. OutKick was created by Travis in 2011 and sold to the Fox Corporation in 2021.

One of the most electrifying and outspoken personalities in the industry, Travis hosts OutKick The Show where he provides his unfiltered opinion on the most compelling headlines throughout sports, culture, and politics. He also makes regular appearances on FOX News Media as a contributor providing analysis on a variety of subjects ranging from sports news to the cultural landscape. Throughout the college football season, Travis is on Big Noon Kickoff for Fox Sports breaking down the game and the latest storylines.

Additionally, Travis serves as a co-host of The Clay Travis and Buck Sexton Show, a three-hour conservative radio talk program syndicated across Premiere Networks radio stations nationwide.

Previously, he launched OutKick The Coverage on Fox Sports Radio that included interviews and listener interactions and was on Fox Sports Bet for four years. Additionally, Travis started an iHeartRadio Original Podcast called Wins & Losses that featured in-depth conversations with the biggest names in sports.

Travis is a graduate of George Washington University as well as Vanderbilt Law School. Based in Nashville, he is the author of Dixieland Delight, On Rocky Top, and Republicans Buy Sneakers Too.