You know how movies sometimes freeze all background action to highlight the seriousness of a moment—as if the main characters are all that matters, and the rest of the world is just superfluous noise? K-State, along with most of its NCAA brethren, was in such a day of irrelevant stasis yesterday, with the college football championship* game stealing all the attention.
Literally nothing happened in the world of Kansas State athletics yesterday. Oh, I’m sure dozens of dedicated young men and women worked out, practiced and prepared for their next day of competition, while coaches schemed and planned and recruited the next generation of Wildcat athletes. But nobody reported on that, so we have nothing to say about it in the Slate. All we can do is look forward. Nothing wrong with that.
* I see you, University of Central Florida. Raise your banners, print your “undefeated national champs” t-shirts and celebrate all you want. Nobody can stop you. And we here at Bring on the Cats love few things more than a finger in the eye of the Establishment.
Football National Championship
If you believe dynasties are sickening, then last night’s NCAA championship game sent you to bed angry. Though Georgia dominated the first half of the game in Atlanta and led 13-0 at halftime, Alabama rode the hot hand and amazing left arm of true freshman quarterback Tua Tagovailoa to a 26-23 overtime victory and its 17th national championship. Must be nice to reach into your bin of spare parts, pull out a five-star, No. 1 overall recruit, and plug him in at QB to win the biggest game of the year. ESPN coverage painted him as a folk hero, which is nonsense. Yeah, he was a freshman and the backup. But he hardly rose from obscurity.
If you just love college football and don’t care who is playing, the game was nirvana. Georgia made big play after big play early, and appeared poised to win on cruise control. But Alabama’s defense finally clamped down, and its offense, behind a blend of zone read, quarterback runs and option passes (sound familiar?) pulled even, 20-20, on a 4th down throw to a crossing Calvin Ridley. The play was a scrambling improvisation by the freshman QB (again, sound familiar?), and the throw might have been intended for another receiver, who was crossing in the opposite direction deeper in the end zone.
After Georgia failed to move the ball, and Alabama missed a field goal attempt for the second time on the night, the game went to overtime.
The ‘Dawgs lost nine yards on their overtime possession, forcing Rodrigo Blankenship to hit a clutch 51-yard field goal for a 23-20 lead. Alabama, whose kicker had badly hooked two field goal attempts earlier in the game, would not need a kick to decide the outcome. After suffering a 16-yard sack on first down, Tagavailoa threw a perfect dime down the left side for a 41-yard walk-off win.
Because salt in other people’s sports-fan wounds is kind of fun, there’s this: Devonta Smith, who caught the pass to win the game for Alabama, was originally committed to Georgia, but flipped because Kirby Smart’s staff did not contact him after taking over. Ruh-roh.
WR DeVonta Smith, who caught the game-winner for Alabama in overtime, decommitted from Georgia about this time two years ago. Why? He said Kirby Smart’s staff didn’t have any contact with him after taking over.— Bryan Fischer (@BryanDFischer) January 9, 2018
Don’t look for the Crimson dynasty to end soon, either. Tagavailoa, as noted, is a freshman. The team’s leading rusher last night, Najee Harris, is also a freshman. Henry Ruggs, III, who caught the first touchdown pass from Tagovailoa, and DeVonta Smith, who caught the game-winning score: Freshmen. Is it out of bounds to compare a team from the Deep South to the Damn Yankees?
Here are just a few of the recaps:
Question to contemplate: Will K-State ever reach one of these title games? Or do circumstances conspire too heavily against us?
Our limited K-State sports news has to do with basketball. Next up, the women’s squad breaks the seemingly interminable chain of ranked opponents to play Iowa State Wednesday at 6:30. Unfortunately for the ladies, the game is in Ames.
Corbin McGuire spotlighted Amaad Wainright and his family’s basketball lineage for K-State Sports Extra.
Though our own athletic department has not released a game preview, the folks at Oklahoma State consider Wednesday’s contest a “Key Big 12 Road Trip.” It’s safe to say the game is important to both teams’ hopes of avoiding the conference basement.
The men’s January 16 match-up against Oklahoma has been dubbed the “Diveristy and Inclusion” game. As a bonus, you can see Trae Young in person, and for the bargain price of only $12.50.