“Who’s In?” You’ve seen the commercials for ESPN’s College Football Playoff selection show. And you know what? That’s a great question.
This conference Championship Week was supposed to help clear some of that up, but that simply wasn’t the case. If anything, picking the top four teams was harder on the selection committee than it has at any other point this season. Ultimately, Ohio State’s huge victory over Wisconsin was enough to catapult them into the playoffs. Baylor and TCU, the BIG 12 co-champions, will be left feeling ripped off.
Here’s how we got to this point:
The one conference that needs a conference championship game the most, doesn’t have one.
Baylor and TCU will be co-champions of the BIG 12, which is funny because I’ve seen these BIG 12 commercials where their slogan is ”One True Champion.” You know, they really could have had “one true champion” if they had a conference title game like everyone else.
Had Baylor and TCU squared off in a BIG 12 title game on Saturday, the winner would have undoubtedly been the fourth team in the playoff, but that wasn’t the case. Instead TCU beat up on a poor Iowa State team 55-3, and Baylor defeated No.9 Kansas State 38-27. Neither victory proved to be impressive enough in the eyes of the committee.
It’ll be interesting to see if the BIG 12 opts to have a conference championship game going forward because the lack of a title game inevitably kept them out of the big dance.
If there were questions of Oregon jumping Alabama in the rankings, those thoughts were quickly dispelled. The Tide rolled. No.1 Alabama won convincingly, 42-13, over No.16 Missouri. The Crimson Tide’s defense was suffocating; they allowed 0nly 41 rushing yards with Missouri averaging less than two yards per rush attempt … Missouri was actually within striking distance with the score being 21-13 at the end of third quarter. But ‘Bama piled it on in the the fourth, scoring three touchdowns. Two of those touchdowns came from running back Derrick Henry who had his biggest game of the year rushing for 141 yards. Alabama’s usual suspects shined, as well. QB Blake Sims was 23-of-27 for 262 yards and two touchdowns, and Amari Cooper had 12 catches giving him 115 on the season – that’s an SEC record, BTW.
I guess that’s one way you can a avenge a loss … No. 2 Oregon absolutely dismantled No. 7 Arizona, 51-13. The victory is, without a doubt, the Ducks’ most impressive, and it’s probably the most impressive single- game performance we’ve seen out of any team in the country (with the exception of what Ohio State pulled off Saturday).
Who else has blown out a Top-10 opponent by 38 points? Um, nobody. And in all reality the Ducks could have blown them out by an even larger margin. The Ducks actually got off to kind of a “slow” start (in Oregon terms) and didn’t score their first touchdown until their seventh possession.
Defensively, Oregon was lights out. The Wildcats could only muster 224 total yards (They went into the half with 25 total yards.) and were effectively shut down the entire game. The Ducks gave up a 79-yard touchdown pass with blown coverage, and Arizona tacked on a touchdown at the very end of the game. Other than that, Oregon’s defensive unit was nearly flawless … Oh yeah, and that Marcus Mariota guy had five total touchdowns.
B1G 10 Championship:
No Heisman candidate quarterback, no problem. It looked as if Ohio State was going to be left out of the the playoff picture after losing J.T. Barrett, but the committee is going to have an extremely hard time keeping the Buckeyes out now. To say the Buckeyes were brilliant would be an understatement. This wasn’t a really a game, it was a show for the Buckeyes to display all of their talents. The Buckeyes shut down Heisman-hopeful Melvin Gordon, holding him to just 73 yards, and they kept the Badgers off the scoreboard.
Ohio State was explosive on offense. Third-string quarterback Cardale Jones played as if the job had been his all along. Jones was 12-for-17 with 257 yards and three touchdowns. Devin Smith was the recipient of all three touchdown tosses. Running back Ezekiel Elliott had a monster day compiling 220 yards and two touchdowns on the ground. Ohio State lit up the score board all night long, and when the final whistle blew it read: Ohio State-59, Wisconsin-0.
You can’t always get what you want. All eyes were on Florida State and Georgia Tech tonight with the hopes that Jameis Winston and Co. might finally go down. But it was for naught. The Seminoles won in the same fashion they always do, and narrowly beat Georgia Tech, 37-35.
While he’s struggled in the past couple of weeks, Jameis Winston thrived tonight. Last year’s Heisman recipient threw for 309 yarsds with three touchdowns and no interceptions.
Unlike Florida State’s prior wins, it was honestly an impressive team when it took the field Saturday night. Georgia Tech has a very good football team and gave Florida State all it could handle. But at the end of the day Flordia State has won 29 straight games and will be in the College Football Playoff.
Did the committee get it right? That’s up for debate. The truth is that Ohio State, Baylor, and TCU are all very deserving teams, and you could make a valid argument for all three programs. In a perfect world, we would have had a six team playoff this season.
Still, this is a dream scenario for college football fans. In the Sugar Bowl we have Alabama against Ohio State. That’s two college football’s most storied programs squaring off against one another. It also reopens the old Nick Saban-Urban Meyer rivalry, which is fantastic. In the Rose Bowl, we’ll get Oregon and Florida State. Former Hesiman winner Jameis Winston will take on (soon to be Heisman recipient) Marcus Mariota in a game that’s sure to light up the scoreboard.
The College Football Playoff may not be perfect, but it’s still far better than anything we’ve ever had in the past.