There's a reason Jarvis Jones and Manti Te'o weren't cast for the Hunger Games.
Aside from the obvious age difference — or the expected lack of skills in pressing buttons quickly — those kids would not stand a chance against the nation's top two linebackers. They are warriors, beasts, monsters … whichever positive adjective you choose to describe them will certainly house some form of truth. Rare are the times when such defensive talent dominates the collegiate game week after week, and yet, here we stand with two of the best linebacker prospects in the past decade doing it at the same time.
As Georgia and Notre Dame rolled to victory on the wings of Jones' and Te'o's efforts, respectively, the possibility of not one, but two, defenders making it to New York for the Heisman ceremony no longer appeared far-fetched. It almost seems appropriate. If we're honoring the top players in college football, these two imposing figures are impossible to overlook.
Jones, like Te'o, is in top form when the lights come on. He proved it once again versus rival Florida, logging three sacks, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries in just 60 minutes of play. That's a respectable season for most players. Jones now leads the nation with 2.33 tackles for loss per game — that's called camping out in opponents' backfields.
Te'o, for his part, spearheads the Irish's undefeated run back into national prominence. In the biggest game of the Brian Kelly era — a road game against Oklahoma — Te'o submitted another Heisman moment. He notched 8.5 tackles, two for loss and an interception off quarterback Landry Jones that sealed the team's eighth win of the season.
So, to rest of the nation's offenses, best of luck with all of that training — it probably won't save you from the likes of Jones and Te'o. Try hiding, maybe.
Alabama is one of five undefeated teams in the country — not including, bowl-ineligible Ohio State — but the competition seems far away, wallowing in a world of human mistakes and close outcomes. Because the Crimson Tide do not look human. Because the only explanation in the machine-like efficiency with which Nick Saban's band of terrors is that, well, it is a machine, invulnerable to feeling or error.
Mississippi State was the latest victim of the onslaught. Posting "WE BELIEVE" signs all over campus, and even on Saban's statue outside Bryant-Denny Stadium, the unbeaten Bulldogs rode a wave of confidence into Tuscaloosa. They rode a wave of dejection back out. Alabama dispensed Dan Mullen's team with a wave of its collective hand, winning 38-7. It looked too easy.
Oregon, Kansas State and Notre Dame are all lining up to fight for a national championship, presumably against Alabama. At this point, it doesn't look like it will be an enjoyable experience.
A short note on Marcus Lattimore: Having covered him a few times, and reading plenty of personal stories in the past 24 hours, it should be stated once again that he's a wonderful young man and outstanding running back, far more deserving of accolades than the knee injury he suffered against Tennessee.
If emotion is unfitting for sports, then there is no explanation for the scene at Williams-Brice Stadium Saturday. As Lattimore cried, his face buried beneath a towel, both sidelines emptied to pay their respects. That never happens. Marcus Lattimore holds that much respect in this game we so not-so-casually watch. He's unique.
After working so hard to recover from the ACL tear in his left knee that robbed him of his 2011 season, it appears the junior is back to square one (the video speaks to the severity even without diagnosis). He's done it before. Never doubt this man's drive.