On January 1st, the #1 ranked Alabama Crimson Tide (12-1) will face off against the #4 ranked Ohio State Buckeyes in the AllState Sugar Bowl, the second of two games headlining the inaugural College Football Playoffs. ‘Bama finds themselves in the mix for a national championship for the fourth time in the past six years, but they may not be in such a position without the electrifying play of star junior wide receiver Amari Cooper. Cooper, a projected top 5 pick in the upcoming NFL draft, has put up some of the most jaw-dropping numbers for a wide receiver in the NCAA in the recent memory. To understand his impact on his college football, the Alabama team as a whole must be analyzed, and his season must be compared head to head with some of the other college greats.
Alabama’s running game is not playing up to its expected standard of excellence. For only the second time since 2008, no single Alabama halfback has run for more than 1,000 yards. This has resulted in an increased reliance on the passing game. Senior quarterback Blake Sims has set a school record this year, throwing for 3,250 yards on 355 attempts. However successful he may be playing, Sims has found a hard time spreading the ball around. Cooper has accounted for an astronomical 50.8% of Sims yards, as the product hailing from Miami, FL has reeled in an Alabama record 1,656 yards on 115 receptions and 14 touchdowns. Playing in a conference with some of the most brutal team defenses, Cooper’s numbers have landed him 1st in receptions, 2nd in receiving yards, and 3rd in touchdowns. His 1,656 yards are 1,217 more yards than the Tide’s second leading receiver, DeAndrew White. His 127 yards per game is nearly unheard of, and his play has single handedly put Alabama in contention for the national championship.
Let’s see how Cooper stacks up against some of the other college football greats, just so we can see how astounding his play truly is.
Amari Cooper, Alabama 2014
Rec: 115 Yards: 1656 TDs: 14
Julio Jones, Alabama 2010
Rec: 78 Yards: 1133 TDs: 7
Calvin Johnson, Georgia Tech 2006
Rec: 76 Yards: 1202 TDs: 15
Sammy Watkins, Clemson 2013
Rec: 101 Yards: 1461 TDs: 12
Perhaps the only players to transcend Cooper’s absurd level of play were Larry Fitzgerald’s (Pitt 2003) 92 receptions 1,672 yards and 22 touchdowns and Michael Crabtree’s (Texas Tech 2007) 134 receptions 1,962 yards and 22 touchdowns. All 3 of these seasons are incredible, and if Cooper translates over to the NFL like the rest of the players previously mentioned, he should make whatever organization that picks him very happy.
Prediction for the playoff game: Cooper continues his absurd level of play, but it will not be enough to overcome an Ohio State team rallying around its 3rd-string QB. Ohio State upsets Alabama in a nail-biter, 21-17.