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TRips: Monday morning thoughts

Random thoughts and observations on a post-SEC Championship Game Monday morning:

The future appears bright for true freshman Geno Smith.

*For Alabama, the location for this year's BCS National Championship Game could be a positive sign of things to come for the Crimson Tide.

Or maybe not.

Nebraska secured its third national title in four years by beating a Peyton Manning-led Tennessee team at Sun Life Stadium in the 1998 Orange Bowl. The other side of that is that Florida State saw its bid for back to back BCS titles go by the boards at the very same venue in a 13-2 defeat to Oklahoma in the 2001 Orange Bowl.

*Given the impressive play of freshman cornerback Geno Smith in the SEC Championship Game, the star position in Alabama's nickel and dime packages looks to be in good shape for the next few seasons. The question is, who will join Smith and Deion Belue as one of UA's top three corners if Dee Milliner leaves for the NFL? Right now, it would be hard to bet against John Fulton.

*Good stuff from former UA and NFL linebacker Cornelius Bennett on Atlanta sports talk station 92.9 The Game Sunday morning. When asked about dealing with a running game like Alabama's, Bennett had this to say: "The thing is, by the second half (UA's running backs) are looking you up and you're not sure you want to tackle them anymore ... Then they bring another guy off the bench and he's better than the guy who was in there."

*Anyone who doesn't like SEC Express on CBS Sports Network is a Big 10, Big 12, ACC, Big East or Pac-12 fan. That or they don't have children and have the time required to watch full length game replays.

*In getting paired up with LSU in the Chick-fil-A Bowl, Clemson drew a tougher bowl matchup than last year. Considering that the Tigers gave up 70 points to West Virginia in the 2012 Orange Bowl, that's saying something.

*Georgia running back Todd Gurley was outstanding with the ball in his hands against UA but I was most impressed by the true freshman's ability to pick up the blitz. Thinking back to last season, I'm pretty sure Isaiah Crowell required a dose of Benadryl after engaging in pass protection.

*Alabama 2012 permanent captains Barrett Jones (49), Chance Warmack (39) and Damion Square (32) have combined to make 120 career starts. That's a lot of football for three players.

*All that is left of the Orange Bowl's once proud tradition is the halftime show. As a college football fan in his formative years, I looked forward to hearing Don Criqui and John Brodie call a game that was worth staying up for on New Year's night. Instead of watching Florida State-Northern Illinois, I think I'll stain some furniture or something.

*How good were Alabama tight ends Brian Vogler and Michael Williams in the running game against Georgia? So good that on Eddie Lacy's 41-yard touchdown run in the second quarter, the duo managed to pull the rare double of two double teams on one play, taking care of UGA outside linebacker Jarvis Jones before moving on to safety Shawn Williams.

*Speaking of Jones, he's a dynamic pass rusher, but he'll need to be a Von Miller-type in the NFL because he's not going to have a lot of success setting the edge against the run.

Then again, considering that Miller dealt with just 19 called runs from Tampa Bay during the Broncos' 31-23 win on Sunday, it's not like Jones will come anywhere close to seeing 51 runs in a game, which is what Alabama dialed up on Saturday. It's all about rushing the passer at the next level and that's why Jones is a good bet to go in the first five picks of the 2013 NFL Draft.

*My 16-year-old son recently mentioned how he would have liked to have attended an Alabama-Auburn game in Birmingham back when tickets were split evenly between the two fan bases. With Georgia and Alabama fans appearing to be fifty-fifty in the Georgia Dome, he experienced something close to an Iron Bowl in Atlanta.

*Now that I think about it, maybe Northern Illinois getting an Orange Bowl bid will help Alabama's 2003 strength of schedule ranking.

*After watching the Alabama offense in the opening half of the SEC Championship Game, I concluded that the no huddle offense without the uptempo aspect isn't worth not huddling for.

*During his time as Michigan State head coach, Saban posted a 3-0 mark against Notre Dame, taking three straight from the Irish from 1997-1999.

*With former UA quarterback Greg McElroy stepping in for an ineffective Mark Sanchez in the New York Jets' 7-6 win over Arizona, the Gotham Ginger may have thrown a monkey wrench into the plans of two teams: the Jets and the Jacksonville Jaguars.

In anticipation of Tim Tebow's return to Jacksonville this week, the Jaguars are expecting their biggest crowd of the season. However, if Jets head coach Rex Ryan names McElroy the starter for the Jacksonville game, Tebow's homecoming will hit a snag. Of course, there's also that minor issue of Tebow's health to consider, as the former Florida Gator has been dealing with a rib injury.

*Best non-BCS title game bowl matchup is Oklahoma-Texas A&M in the Cotton. In fact, it's more appealing than the Orange, Rose and Sugar Bowls. As long as a championship isn't on the line, I'm all for games that produce 80 or more total points.

*Bowl games that will attract more fans/viewers than the Orange Bowl: All of 'em.

*Like last year's BCS title game, don't expect ticket prices for Alabama-Notre Dame to drop much from their current UA tuition levels.

*One guy's All-SEC team:
QB -- Johnny Manziel, Fr., Texas A&M
RB -- Eddie Lacy, Jr., Alabama
RB -- Todd Gurley, Fr., Georgia
OT -- Luke Joeckel, Jr., Texas A&M
OG -- Chance Warmack, Sr., Alabama
C -- Barrett Jones, Sr., Alabama
OG -- Dallas Thomas, Sr., Tennessee
OT -- DJ Fluker, Jr., Alabama
TE -- Michael Williams, Sr. Alabama
WR -- Cobi Hamilton, Sr., Arkansas
WR -- Ryan Swope, Sr., Texas A&M

Defense
DE -- Jadeveon Clowney, So., South Carolina
DT -- Sheldon Richardson, Jr., Missouri
DT -- Sharrif Floyd, Jr., Florida
DE -- Damontre Moore, Jr., Texas A&M
LB -- Jarvis Jones, Jr., Georgia
LB -- C.J. Mosley, Jr., Alabama
LB -- Kevin Minter, Jr., LSU
CB -- Dee Milliner, Jr., Alabama
CB -- Marcus Roberson, So., Florida
S -- Matt Elam, Jr., Florida
S -- Eric Reid, Jr., LSU

Special teams
PK -- Caleb Sturgis,Sr., Florida
P -- Kyle Christy, So., Florida
KR -- Cordarrelle Patterson, Jr., Tennessee

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