YouTube is an absolute goldmine for finding full college football games at this point. We should probably take advantage of that. ESPNU is currently showing us the best games from last year, and that's awesome, but ... I remember those games. I'm more interested in the games I either haven't seen in a long time or haven't ever seen. First up: a bullet dodged by the eventual national champs.
Five thoughts from this game:
- Even great teams fall asleep. You watch this game, and you come away in awe of the Alabama defense. It was so fast and so disciplined, and it almost completely dominated the MSU offense in the first, second and fourth quarters. But that third quarter was a trainwreck. Jay Barker made some mistakes, the MSU defense made some plays, and suddenly MSU offensive coordinator Watson Brown was able to poke some holes in this incredible defense. Of course, those holes closed up relatively quickly..
- Even great teams need some luck. Alabama was absolutely fantastic in 1992, outlasting Florida in the first SEC championship game and destroying Miami in the Sugar Bowl for the national title. But they still needed some occasional help from officials. At the 1:43:53 mark, with Alabama down early in the fourth quarter, refs made an absolutely horrendous call on an "incomplete pass" by Barker (which was clearly a fumble). A correct call there, and Mississippi State would have had the ball inside Alabama territory with a chance to go up eight points. (And no, Bama fans, the point is not to say that "BAMA GOT LUCKY/BAMA OWNS THE REFS/MSU GOT SCREWED"; the point is simply that every national champ ends up getting a few calls along the way (even as there were some interesting calls that went against them in this same game).
- Jay Barker was NOT a game manager. When I think of the prototypical "game manager," I think of a Craig Krenzel type who plays conservatively, takes advantage of what the defense gives him, and gives defense and special teams a chance to win the game. Barker had an insanely good defense in his corner, but he was a bit of a gunslinger, an improviser who made some great plays and silly mistakes. He definitely won a lot of games, to say the least, but he also brought a certain level of insanity to the process. In this game, he threw a couple of bad picks ... and he also made the hilariously great play at the 27:21 mark.
- David Palmer and George Teague were two of my favorite players of the early-1990s. This game is a very, very good reason why. Palmer was hold-your-breath dangerous every time he touched the ball, and Teague seemed to have a hand in every MSU turnover (and about six near-turnovers). So much fun to watch.
- During the telecast, ESPN kept you abreast of the exciting San Diego State-Hawaii game going on at the same time. One of the highlights: a lovely touchdown catch by Darnay Scott. Yeah, I had completely forgotten that Scott was on the team at the same time as Marshall Faulk. That SDSU averaged only 30.4 points per game that year is criminal.