Watching Alabama absolutely thrash Georgia State (as expected) last night, a question popped into my head: Is it better to have an off week or play a cupcake opponent the week before a big game? This is the scenario that is playing out before the Iron Bowl next week. Auburn is off this weekend after defeating Georgia while Alabama played a first year program in Georgia State that they could have beaten with their walk-ons playing the whole game. Here are my thoughts on each:
Off weeks are typically never a bad thing in college football, particularly when they occur later in the season. In addition to two weeks to focus on one opponent, they allow the chance for a team to get healthy. We all know that Florida often schedules an off week prior to Georgia game. As he has done in the past, Urban Meyer used this extra week this season to add a wrinkle to his offense that made it difficult for Georgia to prepare. Florida's success in the last two decades, while not entirely the result of the off week scheduling, at least shows the value it has to have an extra week to prepare. Georgia is fortunate to have its off week this week as quarterback Aaron Murray is banged up and would most likely be unavailable to play.
While having a week off is great, I almost think that scheduling a cupcake game may actually be a better option. Particularly since almost every team has at least one 1-AA game on its schedule, why not play that game the work before a big match up? You can still take advantage of the game planning you would with an off week but it also gives you a chance to put any wrinkles into action. If a starter is hurt and needs the time off, there is no fear about resting them. Plus, if the team is playing well, you won't lose the momentum you had by not playing at all.
Given the choice of scheduling a weak opponent against an off, particularly late in the season, I would lean towards the cupcake. I think Alabama will be in a much better position than Auburn heading into next week. While they may have been preparing for Auburn some this week, the Georgia State game offered them a break from the pressure of winning their biggest game of the season.
Please give your thoughts an opinions in the comments.