For once this season, the Nebraska Cornhuskers got the luck to swing their way at the end of a game. All it took was a completely botched call. That’s all. On the final touchdown, the receiver took about seven steps out of bounds but re-established himself on the field. That’s fine and all but he can’t make a reception in that case if he went out on his own. He clearly did and somehow the ref said he was pushed out. Worst part? Finding out if someone was shoved out of bounds only to come back inbounds is not a reviewable call. Just great. So just like that, Michigan State falls from the ranks of the undefeated. Now all they need is to run the table (including a win over Ohio State and Iowa in the Big Ten Championship) to have a shot at the College Football Playoff. As for Nebraska, they still need to win their last two (including against Iowa) to go bowling. So no guarantees their either. College football is fun isn’t it?
OK time for the rest of the recap:
You’re not undefeated and you’re not undefeated and you’re not undefeated… Michigan State, Toledo, Memphis, and TCU all fell from the ranks of the undefeated. Michigan State’s loss I just outlined above. TCU was completely outplayed by Oklahoma State. Toledo lost a close game to their arch-nemesis, Northern Illinois. Then arguably the most baffling loss was Memphis losing to Navy. Not that Navy isn’t a good team (they are) but Memphis looked lax. Like they were looking forward to the game against Houston. And that may very well be the case. Well, unless there’s a bunch of miracles (don’t count that out yet), Toledo and Memphis have just played themselves out of the New Year’s Six.
Clemson has finally ascended the ACC Mountain. They finally slayed the Seminole dragon. It wasn’t pretty and there were times there where you thought “Florida State is going to pull this out yet again.” Then Clemson finally pulled away themselves and have basically set up a date for the ACC Championship. Win there and they are in the College Football Playoff (unless they shockingly lose before that…and it would be shocking for sure).
Well at least the media is happy now. Alabama beat LSU pretty easily the other night. The game never lived up to the hype. And more importantly (to the media at least), Leonard Fournette had a bad game. Alabama stuffed the run like no other team I have seen before. And Fournette having a bad game means others can truly get into the Heisman race. He’s still the frontrunner but the media (most of them at ESPN) have been clamoring for this. They hated the fact Fournette was so dominant until this game. It meant they really couldn’t talk about the Heisman race. Oh wait, that’s a lie. They totally did and many were trying their best to downplay Fournette’s achievements. Some went so far as to say that they wouldn’t pick him for the Heisman before the Bama game. Remember, if there isn’t news, they need to create it. And that’s what they tried to do. Well they got their wish. I hope Fournette runs for 200 a game the rest of the way to shut them all up. And no I am not an LSU fan but I get sick of these media guys trying their best to cut down the best team or player on a weekly basis.
The Hawkeyes just keep winning. And I have this funny feeling that unless something crazy happens (again, it’s college football…this could very well happen) that Iowa will be, at best, 5th in the CFP poll come Conference Championship week. The rest of their schedule is almost as easy as you can get as a Power Five school. They can’t do what they did against Indiana and expect to get the voters’ attention.
Ladies and Gentlemen, your 2015 SEC East champs, the Florida Gators. Well that was quick. To be honest, you could almost say the SEC East is one of the worst divisions in college football. It’s a big bag of mediocrity with one team clearly above the rest and that’s Jim Bob McElwain’s Gators. And they could throw one of the biggest monkey wrenches of all in the CFP picture if they can win the SEC Championship as it looks like they are heading straight into a matchup with Alabama. The hype will be insane for that game I’m sure.
Now THAT’S a lateral! The ending to that Arkansas-Ole Miss game was just another crazy finish that we are getting way too used to. The lateral on 4th and 25 where he basically heaved it halfway across the field was insane enough. Then Alex Collins picks it up and rambles almost 30 yards with it. Then the Fighting Bielemas go for two, don’t get it, but the Rebels are called for a facemask. Next play, of course, they get the two-pointer and ruin Ole Miss’s chances of ruining the SEC this season.
Now it’s up to Houston. The Cougs are firmly in the driver’s seat with no cars within a mile of them at this point. They win out and beat Temple (probably) in the AAC Championship, they are going to the Peach or Fiesta Bowl. No doubt about it. Lose and it puts the whole thing in chaos which would probably be more fun for us fans.
Now that was a beatdown. North Carolina laid the smackdown on Duke’s candy ass this past weekend. 38-10 at the break? 66-30 final? Yeah, the Tar Heels want a piece of Clemson in the ACC Championship. This could be another instance of a team throwing the entire CFP process into the blender if the Heels can somehow beat the Tigers. I mean they haven’t clinched the division yet, but I’d be shocked if they didn’t the way they are playing.
Finally, the Fire Mark Richt buzz that comes up every couple years has a bit of steam behind it. Things are going OK in Athens. Which in Bulldog country means they are basically going backwards. They already have no chance at the SEC East and might struggle to be in a good bowl game. And to top it all off, for the first time ever, Mark Richt doesn’t seem to be fully behind being the head coach of the Dawgs beyond this season. Normally, it wouldn’t be an issue and come next August he’d be on the sidelines again. However, with this many job openings, he has to wonder if it’s time to move on since, other than a National Championship, he’s done almost all he can for that program.
Don’t count the Trojans out just yet. USC is playing pretty damn good ball under Clay Helton. All it will take is one Utah slip-up and guess who is going to the Pac-12 Championship? That’s right, the Pac-12’s craziest program, your USC Trojans. Also, if USC wins their last three games, regardless of if that gets them to the conference championship or not, that probably puts Helton in their top three of potential hires. Even one loss, though, eliminates him from any chance at the head job.
OK now it’s time for my picks for the College Football Playoff Final Four…hmm, am I even allowed to use the term Final Four here? With the NCAA you never know.
Orange Bowl: #1 Alabama vs. #4 Notre Dame
Cotton Bowl: #2 Clemson vs. #3 Ohio State
The top three still have not changed for me although the order has. Let me go through the thought process since this is not like the ten million ESPN semi-final brackets we have seen so far. Bama will win out and with the difficulty of their games (Mississippi State, Auburn, and Florida), they should eventually overtake Clemson for the #1 spot. The Tigers will also win out but their strength of schedule the rest of the way won’t nearly be what Bama’s is (although let’s see where UNC is going into Conference Championship week). Ohio State will also win out. They have played hardly anyone up to this point but have Michigan State and Iowa coming up (if they beat MSU). Two really good teams but it won’t be enough to allow them to catch the two above them. That leaves the last spot. Florida and Iowa, if either of them ran the table and won their respective conference championship, would almost be a shoo-in for this spot. I can’t see either of those scenarios happening. The only team left that will probably win out (that’s in the top 10) is Notre Dame and that’s why I have them there to try and get revenge for the embarrassing National Championship loss from a few years back.
And here are my New Year’s Six picks:
Sugar Bowl: LSU (SEC #1) vs. Baylor (Big XII #1)
Rose Bowl: Iowa (Big Ten #1) vs. Stanford (Pac-12 #1)
Fiesta Bowl: Oklahoma State (at-large) vs. Utah (at-large)
Peach Bowl: Michigan State (at-large) vs. Houston (Go5 #1)
You could make the case for at least three other teams to be here and many will be a bit surprised at their exclusion (those teams being TCU, Oklahoma, and Florida). For TCU and Oklahoma, it basically comes down to picking one team from the Big XII to be the at-large since I can’t see the committee picking two at-large teams from the Big XII, along with a Big XII champ (Baylor is my choice right now). I see enough to think the Pokes will be second in the Big XII and be just ahead of the Horned Frogs and Sooners. As for Florida, I do wonder if they will get high enough in the rankings before their predicted SEC Championship loss. If they are only as high as #8, there’s a good chance that loss would drop them out, which is what I think will happen. If they are higher than that, then chances are they probably grab Michigan State’s spot since they are in a tenuous position right now as the last at-large invitee. They need to stay close with Ohio State and win their other two games big to have this shot. Anything short of that and I see The Committee trying their best to find another candidate.
At this point, a lot of debate can be had for these. The only easy picks would be Baylor and Iowa since the chances of them falling far enough to warrant no consideration are slim. Same with Houston. They have to lose to fall out of that Group of Five spot. They win out, they get the spot and that’s it. No debate. With a lot of the top 15 teams playing each other the next three weeks a lot can (and will change). It should be fun…for us, not a lot of the players and coaches since they will be stressed out big time over the next few weeks.
Hey what do we have here tomorrow night? That’s right it’s some MACtion baby! And again the next night! Sweet! We have come to the glory month of the college football season. Glorious for fans who want to watch shitloads of college football. Glorious for the teams that win the important games this month. Not so glorious for the teams that do the opposite. Alright, tomorrow night TSN1 will have Toledo-Central Michigan and the Kent State-Ohio game is on the specialty pack. Wednesday night, both MAC games (NIU-Buffalo and Bowling Green-Western Michigan) are on the specialty pack due to Raptors basketball taking up most of the TSN channels. And of course, Thursday night will have its usual plethora of football but we will get to that later in the week.