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College Football Random Thoughts From Around the Country: Nearing the Finish Line

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The wild, wacky, and wonderful world of College Football!

It is up and it is good. So good.
It is up and it is good. So good.
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

The College Football Playoff Committee's fifth rankings will be announced Tuesday evening at 6:00pm/7:00pm. There is no reason to think the top 4 will change. My prediction of the CFP Top 4:

  1. Clemson
  2. Alabama
  3. Oklahoma
  4. Iowa

With Notre Dame losing and despite Michigan State looking like the strongest Big 10 team, Iowa will stay in there. The Committee seems to have a penchant for ranking a team that they know will lose the next week. You may recall last season when Mississippi State was ranked #1 before they played #5 Alabama. And this season, LSU was in the second slot before playing the Tide.

This leaves the final playoff rankings for next week a little predictable. The way I see it:

  1. Clemson - The Tigers should be able to defeat the surging Tar Heels. UNC is looking good but let's get real, it's North Carolina.
  2. Alabama - The Gators should be no match for the Tide.
  3. Michigan State/Iowa winner - The CFPC will leapfrog them into the three spot because championship games matter to them, while Okie is just sitting around.
  4. Oklahoma - The Sooners and Ohio State both ended their regular seasons. The Big XII has the Pac-12 cannibalization to thank for their inclusion into the playoff. It would be inconceivable to think that the Buckeyes would jump Okie with both teams idle and a Big Ten team already in the final four.

First two out: Ohio State and Stanford.

Bowl Date Location Matchup Prediction
Cotton Bowl 12/31/15 Arlington, Tex. Semifinal #2 Alabama vs. #3 Michigan State/Iowa
Orange Bowl 12/31/15 Miami, Fla. Semifinal #1 Clemson vs. #4 Oklahoma
Championship Bowl 01/11/16 Glendale, Ariz. Winners TBD

ELIMINATED:

Stanford 38 Notre Dame 36

Coming into this season, many touted Stanford QB Kevin Hogan as the next John Elway. It didn't quite turn out that way but he saved his best performance for the last game, passing 17 for 21 and 269 yards with 4 touchdowns. The Irish's DeShone Kizer led a masterful 15 plays, 88 yards drive that ate up 6:18 that ended with the go-ahead touchdown with 30 seconds left and a one point lead. Who knew that was just enough for Hogan and company to get in position for the game-winning field goal? A Notre Dame face mask penalty and a Hogan 27 yard completion to Devon Cajuste was all Conrad Ukropina needed to connect from 45 yards as the clock hit all zeroes.

TCU 28 Baylor 21 (2OT)

On a cold and rainy Friday night, the two teams started out their usual way with touchdowns on the first three possessions. But that was the end of offensive scoring during the regulation time. Things turned sloppy and the ball started hitting the turf with regularity. Baylor lost four fumbles, one of which was returned for a score to make it 14-14 in the second quarter. The two teams amassed a total of 22 punts and seven turnovers. In the second OT, Trevone Boykin connected on an 8 yard score to take the lead. Baylor was unable to move the ball ten yards in their half of the frame and game was mercifully over.

Oklahoma 58 Oklahoma State 23

With Baylor's loss, this game suddenly meant the winner would wear the Big XII crown. The Cowboys jumped out to a 10-7 lead but the Sooners scored the next 27 putting this game away early. Seven different Sooners found the end zone. Joe Mixon and Samaje Perine both had over 130 yards rushing and two TDs each. Baker Mayfield was 17-25 for 180 yards, 2 TD, to go with 11 rushes for 77 and a score.

SEC logo

SEC:

Alabama 29 Auburn 13 - Derrick Henry took another step towards the Heisman. Well, more like 271 steps as he ran at will on the Tigers defense despite a slick field. PK Adam Griffith connected from 26, 40, 26, 50, and 47 yards.
Clemson 37 South Carolina 32 - Deshaun Watson had 279 yards through the air with 114 on the ground and 3 rushing scores. The Gamecocks put up a valiant effort and found a good meshing of passing QB Perry Orth and running QB Lorenzo Nunez. Too bad their season is over.
Florida State 27 Florida 2 - Gators QB Treon Harris was his usual horrible self (19-38, 134 yards) and could not generate much offense despite Kelvin Taylor's 136 rushing yards. FSU's Dalvin Cook ran for 183 yards and two touchdowns while Roberto Aguayo kicked field goals of 45 and 51.
Ole Miss 38 Mississippi State 27 - Dak Prescott had a fumble and an interception on MSU's first two possessions that the Rebels converted into touchdowns and a 21-0 first quarter lead. Chad Kelly had 236 passing and 74 rushing with three touchdowns overall. Dak was sacked seven times and threw a pick-six.
LSU 19 Texas A&M 7 - Running on "Keep Les Miles" emotion, the Tigers found some fight at the expense of the Aggies, who finished with 161 yards passing and 89 rushing. Leonard Fournette topped 150 yards (32-159, TD) for the first time since the week before the Bama game. Brandon Harris had a typical outing: 7-21, 83 yards, 0 TD, INT.
Arkansas 28 Missouri 3 - Behind Alex Collins' 130 yards rushing and three touchdowns, the Hogs won for the fifth time in six games and secured their first winning SEC record since 2011.
Tennessee 53 Vanderbilt 28 - The Vols led early and often as they rolled to their fifth win in a row since losing to Alabama. Before you get too excited, those five opponents all finish 2015 with losing records.
Georgia 13 Georgia Tech 7 - No, this is not the score from the 1912 game. Two anemic offenses went head to head, single-handedly curing insomnia across the Peach State. Oddly enough, the winning coach got fired with a 9-3 record, while the loser gets to keep his job despite finishing 3-9. Nick Saban had some choice words about Mark Richt's dismissal.
Louisville 38 Kentucky 24 - The Wildcats led 24-7 at halftime and decided that was good enough. The 'Ville kept playing and scored the next 31. UK finishes the season 5-7 but amazingly and sadly still have a shot at going to a bowl. (See #TooManyBowls! section below.)

tiny football

GRAB BAG

North Carolina 45 NC State 34 This was not as close as the score looks. The Tar Heels put up 35 first quarter points and cruised from there. Elijah Hood ran for 220 and 2 TDs.
Ohio State 42 Michigan 13 - Too little too late. Ezekiel Elliott stopped whining long enough to run 30 times for 214 yards and two scores. J.T. Barrett added 139 yards and 3 rushing TDs on 19 attempts.
Southern Cal 40 UCLA 21 - The wishy-washy Bruins ended their season with a clunk and a loss to their cross-town rival. The Trojans held the ball 40:01 to UCLA's 19:59.
Iowa 28 Nebraska 20 - The Hawkeyes just won't go away. Iowa was outdistanced in every category but turnovers. Nebraska had 12 more first downs, 183 more yards, and held Iowa to 0-9 on third down. But four interceptions by the Cornhuskers' Tommy Armstrong was the difference.
Miami (FL) 29 Pittsburgh 24 - The 'Canes jumped all over Pitt with 17 first quarter points before the Panthers knew what hit them. The 'U' went 5-1 under interim coach Larry Scott and 8–4 (5–3 ACC) overall. If Miami does not keep him, he will get a head job somewhere else. Memphis, I'm looking at you...
Houston 52 Navy 31 - The Middies lost but Keenan Reynolds scored his 83rd career touchdown to match the FBS record set by Wisconsin's Montee Ball. He should top that in two weeks against Army.
Washington 45 Washington State 10 - If Mike Leach was coaching for a better job, he blew it on Saturday as the 20th ranked Cougars fell flat on their faces. Wazzu lost 5 fumbles and had two balls picked off. With the victory, the Huskies finish 6-6.
Texas Tech 48 Texas 45 - It took a fluke TD and a trick play by the Red Raiders but they got their first road win in this rivalry since 1997. Both teams scored 21 points in the final quarter, causing Darrell Royal to turn over in his grave.

~~~~~

alabama helmet

BAMA STRENGTH OF SCHEDULE

Wisconsin (9-3) tops Minnesota 31-21 and finds themselves ranked #25 in the two irrelevant polls.
Middle Tennessee (7-5) beat Texas-San Antonio 42-7. Up next: bowl game!
Louisiana Monroe (1-10) lost to Hawaii. Sadly for the Warhawks, they have one more game to play vs. New Mexico State.
Georgia (9-3) snuck by Georgia Tech 13-7 and fired their coach.
Tennessee (8-4) beat up on Vandy 53-28.

~~~~~

ELIMINATED:

All non-Power 5 teams.
OHIO STATE
BAYLOR
NOTRE DAME
Arizona
Arizona State
Arkansas
Auburn
Boise
Boston College
Brigham Young
Colorado
Duke
Florida
Florida State
Georgia
Georgia Tech
Illinois
Indiana
Iowa State
Kansas
Kansas State
Kentucky
Louisville
Lsu
Ole Miss
Maryland
Miami-Fl
Michigan
Minnesota
Mississippi State
Mizzou
Navy
NC State
Nebraska
North Carolina
Northwestern
Oregon
Oregon State
Penn State
Pitt
Purdue
Rutgers
South Carolina
Southern Cal
Stanford
Syracuse
Tennessee
Texas
Texas A&M
Texas Christian
Texas Tech
Ucla
Utah
Vandy
Virginia
Virginia Tech
Wake Forest
Washington
Wazzu
West Virginia
Wisconsin

* 2007 and all that.

boxers

THE CONTENDERS

Below is a theorized breakdown of teams that could make it into the playoff:

  • ACC (0 or 1) - Clemson has UNC in the ACCCG remaining.
  • Big Ten (1 or 2) - Winner of the Iowa (12-0) vs. Michigan State (11-1) in the B1GCG.

B1G 12-5-15

  • Big 12 (0 or 1) - Oklahoma's win over Oklahoma State puts them in position but it's no guarantee. So long Baylor.

B12 Nov 30 15

  • PAC-12 (1 or 0?) - Stanford's (10-2) win over Notre Dame is nice but not enough.
  • SEC (1 or 2) - It's Alabama or nobody after Florida faceplants against FSU.
  • Notre Dame (10-2) is eliminated after their loss to Stanford.

~~~~~

Kristi_malzahn_says_shut_up_medium

Krazy Kristi's "SHUT UP!" of the Week goes to Notre Dame. Join a conference already!

~~~~~

Sad_face_medium

  • Alabama  outside linebacker Denzel Devall left the Iron Bowl when he suffered a sprained knee. He should be fine for the SEC Championship Game. Kenyan Drake dressed out for the game but did not see action. Nick Saban said the senior running back is still "day-to-day."
  • After being benched in favor of freshman Drew Barker, Kentucky junior QB Patrick Towles plans to grad-transfer.

sad face

  • Mark Richt was let go after 15 seasons, a bowl appearance every season (9-5 record), 145–51 overall record, 83–37 in the SEC, two SEC titles (2002, 2005), no probation, many many players arrests, and an actual lost of control of the program. ESPN's Mark Schlabach, a Georgia grad, put it best: "Mark Richt won a lot of games at Georgia, just not the right ones." Reports have surfaced that Richt is traveling to College Park, Maryland Miami today. Stay tuned...
  • Les Miles will remain as coach at LSU. However, now it is athletic director Joe Alleva who might be on the hot seat. He is being roundly criticized for the handling of the whole situation.
  • Southern Cal has retained interim coach Clay Helton who went 5-2 after Steve Sarkisian's dismissal. He also coached the Trojans to a win in the 2013 Las Vegas Bowl over Fresno after Ed Orgeron left in a huff. The 43-year-old Helton, who has been an assistant with Southern Cal since 2010, spent three years as a back-up quarterback at Auburn before transferring to Houston to play for his father, Kim Helton, for two seasons. IMHO, this is a mistake hire. Euphoria fades. Alabama faces the Men of Troy in Arlington, TX to kickoff the 2016 season.
  • The biggest surprise appears to be Tom Herman saying he will stay at Houston. Believe that when you see it.
  • Virginia Tech struck first claiming Memphis' Justin Fuente to replace long-in-the-tooth Frank Beamer.

  • Iowa State dumped Paul Rhoads in favor of Toledo head coach Matt Campbell.

  • Illinois and Minnesota have already promoted from within from the staff of the departing coach. Way to think big there Big Ten!

As of this writing, there are eight Power 5 coaching positions available, three in the SEC alone. Ranked in order of IMHO:

  1. Georgia Bulldogs - Recruiting base, football facilities, fan base, and SEC money make this the number one job. Kirby Smart's name is being batted around.
  2. South Carolina Gamecocks - SEC money and lower expectations from a large and loyal fan base.
  3. Missouri Tigers - Big shoes to fill. Tough recruiting. SEC $.
  4. Maryland Terrapins - The CEO and founder of Under Armor is a Terps grad and wants to be the next Phil Knight (a lot of good that has done Oregon).
  5. Miami (FL) Hurricanes - Why so low? The luster of the persona of "The U" is long gone. The fickle front-running fans of that city have no loyalty. But there are plenty of recruits in South Florida waiting to be swooned.
  6. Virginia Cavaliers - ACC with decent facilities and a 61,500 seat stadium. The fanbase will show up with some middling success.
  7. Rutgers Scarlet Knights and Syracuse Orange (tied) - Basketball comes first. Memphis might be a better job than these two black holes.

~~~~~

ADOPT-A-TEAM

  • South Alabama (5-6) got stomped by Georgia Southern 55-17. They'll need a win over App State (9-2) to get to a bowl game. Don't book any hotel rooms just yet.
  • Toledo (9-2) lost to WMU 35-30 and blew their chance at winning the division title. Phillip Ely: 16-33, 280 yds, 2 TD, 0 INT.
  • GO NAVY! loses to Houston 52-31. They have a shot at 10 wins against Army in two Saturdays.
  • Memphis (9-3) destroyed SMU 63-0 but lost their coach to Va Tech. IMHO, he could've done better.

stadium

#TooManyBowls!

75 teams are bowl eligible for 80 slots. Kansas State, Georgia State, and South Alabama stand at 5-6. Wins on Saturday will get them into a bowl. K-State has a chance as they host West Virgina. Ga State likely loses to Ga Southern and USA is a big underdog to App State.

Are you following me here? If the NCAA allows these bowl games to go forward, then two 5-7 teams are guaranteed to make a bowl and as many as five could see the post season. The five most likely candidates are Minnesota, Nebraska, Missouri, Illinois, and Kentucky. Pathetic.

However, professional blabbermouth and Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby said Sunday that some bowls may have to be cancelled. Stay tuned...

flat

Kansas and UCF accomplished a fantastically awful feat in gaining triple "Golden Sombreros". Congrats to two terrible teams.

Gump 4 Heisman

HEISMAN HYPE
With the exception of one year, the Heisman Trophy voting is basically a hype award. That being the case, we'll bring you "Who Will Win" and "Who Should Win".

  • Who Will Win - Derrick Henry appears to still be the leader but you never know with these guys. They still think that there needs to be a "Heisman moment". Clemson QB Deshaun Watson and Stanford RB Christian McCaffrey are getting notice, as is Oklahoma's Baker Mayfield.
  • Who Should Win - Henry continues to cement his place with another outstanding record-breaking performance. He has one more game to impress with ballots due on December 7. The ESPN-poisoned Heisman show will begin 7pm/8pm on Saturday, December 12. Expect the announcement to come about 50 minutes later.

Black_white_tv_salesman_medium

CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIP SATURDAY!

Saturday, December 5, 2015

BIG 10: Michigan State vs. Iowa 7pm/8pm FOXFOX wordmark.svg - Colts' Stadium - Indianapolis, Indiana
ACC: North Carolina vs. Clemson 7pm/8pm ABC - NFL Panthers' Stadium, Charlotte, NC
PAC-12
: Stanford vs. Southern Cal 6:45pm/7:45pm ESPN - 49ers' Stadium, Santa Clara, CA

Other:

MACtion on Friday night: Bowling Green vs. Northern Illinois 7pm/8pm, ESPN2 - Ford Field, Detroit, MI
AAC Temple vs. Houston 11am/12pm, ABCABC- University of Houston's Stadium, Houston, TX
C-USA: Southern Miss vs. WKU 11am/12pm, ESPN2 – Bowling Green, KY
MWC: San Diego State at Air Force 6:30/7:30, ESPN2 - Falcon Stadium, USAF Academy, CO

Big 12 has two meaningless-play-out-the-season games that I will not dignify. FSR-4cBluetxt-color-hi-res.png

Ten teams in the Sun Belt play each other for their final regular season games. All can be seen on espn3.

alabama logo script a 100x100

#ALABAMA

SEC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME:

Florida vs. ALABAMA 3pm/4pm, CBSGeorgia Dome, Atlanta, GA - With great success comes great challenges... Listening to Unka Verne and Gary D with Allie LaForce is one of them.

#RollTide!