Andy Staples explains Notre Dame's best path to playoff, offers his hot sauce power rankings and more in this week's #DearAndy mailbag.
The slate of games doesn’t look particularly appetizing this week, but your questions were.
In the video, we address the following:
• Would Nick Saban make a good personal shopper?
• Two questions regarding steak etiquette, but only one has the potential to cause a divorce.
On to the rest of your questions…
This is a team-specific question that actually provides a pretty good blueprint for how the College Football Playoff selection committee should be looking at every contender. (But probably won’t because people usually get wrapped up in conference strength whether they mean to or not.) The answer to Julian’s question would depend on the performance of the rest of the teams on Notre Dame’s schedule. Let’s use Julian’s hypothetical and say Notre Dame goes 11-1 with a loss against Florida State on Oct. 18 in Tallahassee. Obviously, it would help if Florida State made the playoff. If the Seminoles get past the Fighting Irish, the remainder of the schedule is conducive to going undefeated for a team as talented as Florida State.
At that point, Notre Dame’s best chance of getting into the playoff is if Stanford meets either Arizona State or USC -- all three are Notre Dame opponents -- in the Pac-12 title game and that Pac-12 champ makes the playoff. At this point, the Fighting Irish would have to hope that team is Arizona State and its only loss is to Notre Dame. This part could get blown up as early as Thursday, when the Sun Devils host UCLA.
It also would help if some of the other teams on Notre Dame’s schedule would pitch in, but the Big Ten wing (Michigan, Purdue, Northwestern) isn’t offering much optimism, and Louisville’s loss to Virginia plus North Carolina’s recent shellacking by East Carolina don’t provide much hope for the rest of the ACC wing.
But have you noticed what we’re doing in examining Notre Dame’s schedule? We’re parsing every team the Irish play. Because Notre Dame isn’t in a conference -- though it’s sort of in the ACC -- we can’t fall back on “Welp, the SEC is strong again this year” or “Boy, the Big Ten was down.” The committee needs to treat every team this way, even if they are in a conference.
With the exception of the Big 12, where they play a full round-robin, all conference schedules aren’t created equally. Sure, the SEC West is tough, but it’s tougher if one team has to play No. 1 and No. 2 from the East and easier if one team has to play No. 6 and No. 7 from the East. Hopefully, the committee will recognize this and just imagine every team is Notre Dame. That way, the schedule will matter more than simple conference affiliation.
Let’s say opening-day starter Keith Ford comes back from his foot injury in time for the TCU or Texas game. Do the Sooners feed him? Or do they feed Perine, a 243-pound true freshman from Pflugerville, Texas, who ran for 242 yards and four touchdowns against West Virginia? And what about Alex Ross, who is averaging 6.5 yards a carry?
The answer is this: It’s 2014. Feed all three. It makes the team better, and it makes everyone happy. It doesn’t matter who the No. 1 tailback is anymore because coaches want to spread the wealth -- to keep backs fresh -- and the best backs want the wealth spread so they don’t wear all the tread off their tires before they reach the NFL. Gone are the days of running backs who sulked if they didn’t get 30 carries a game.
At Alabama, Derrick Henry, T.J. Yeldon and Kenyan Drake will get the ball. Georgia’s Todd Gurley might be the nation’s best back, but he’s sharing carries with Nick Chubb, Sony Michel and Keith Marshall (when Marshall is healthy). At Florida State, Jimbo Fisher is hoping freshman Dalvin Cook improves in pass protection so he can share more time with Karlos Williams and Mario Pender. The best teams now have a stable of good running backs, and when Ford is healthy, Oklahoma’s group looks like the deepest in the Big 12 and one of the deepest in the nation.
Of course, this does not address the difficulty of literally feeding Perine, who sounds as if he has a healthy appetite. After his breakout game, Perine’s mother, Gloria described her son’s restaurant routine to RJ Young of SoonerScoop.com. “He goes through food like crazy,” she said. “If we go out to eat, he’ll mostly order two entrees and then eat my food as well.”
Normally, I’d recommend against being the guy who wears a completely out-of-place jersey just because he feels he must wear a jersey to a sporting event. (“Hey, I’m going to Texas-Ohio State. Guess I’d better wear this Sebastian Janikowski Raiders jersey.”) But I could possibly understand rocking the Laimbeer jersey if your Florida degree makes you feel like a heel among so many Bulldogs and Volunteers.
Still, don’t be random jersey guy. Your jean shorts will be telling enough. Wear a nondescript polo in the color of neither team. I’m guessing you don’t own any Tennessee orange clothing, but red and black are quite a bit more common in the average closet, so this may take a little careful laundry planning. Otherwise, enjoy. You went to Florida, so the chances are good that you’ve never seen a game Between the Hedges before. It’s a truly magical experience made even better by the fact that your team cannot possibly lose.
From @celebrityhottub: Hot sauce rankings, plz.
Our favorite lawyer-turned-fabricator of startlingly realistic Steve Spurrier quotes asks a great question. I delivered a Hot Take Monday with regard to barbecue sauce, but I have yet to offer a Hot Sauce Take. Unlike barbecue sauce, which is unnecessary if the meat is cooked properly, hot sauce is essential. This might be because so many of the dishes that can be improved by hot sauce don’t exactly use prime beef. I’m looking at you, burritos. So without further adieu, here are your hot sauce power rankings.
Some sauces rely on their names. That’s how you wind up with a bottle of Smack My Mule and Call Me a Monkey’s Uncle Scorned By a Woman Insanity Death Sauce in your stocking at Christmas. They rely on shock value, and they’re usually too hot to actually enjoy. This sauce’s name is quite boring. It describes exactly what it is, the flavors of two pieces of Georgia produce blended into a hot sauce. It goes on pretty much anything, but it’s especially good on a burrito or taco. If you’re lucky enough to live in one of the six states with Tijuana Flats locations, it’s on the hot sauce bar.
2. Huy Fong Sriracha
The rooster instantly makes any bland meat 300 percent less terrible. It’s science. It’s also, apparently, fairly smelly to produce. Fortunately, its Irwindale, Calif., factory is no longer considered a public nuisance.
Jamaica’s finest sauce also comes in a hot variation that adds even more Scotch Bonnet peppers. The original has just enough of a kick to make things interesting, though.
4. That bottle of pepper sauce at the barbecue joint
It’s just peppers floating in vinegar. It goes on your collard greens. Sprinkle generously.
Take a fried chicken drumstick. Shake on between three and five drops of Cholula. Bite down. You’re welcome.