What an awesome slate of games yesterday.
While we had some expected results, how it happened was unexpected:
- Who would have guessed that Ohio State would be forced to rely on their running game after Heisman hopeful Justin Fields had the worst game of his career?
- Alabama strangely didn’t destroy Florida. The Gators stuck in this game and only trailed by one possession multiple times in the fourth quarter.
- How about Notre Dame? The Irish absolutely laid an egg in their 34-10 (!?!?) loss to Clemson
Clemson, (not Alabama), looks like the odds on favorite to win it all. I did not think that was possible at the beginning of the day.
Let’s set that aside, however, and recognize that the regular season is over and done with. It’s all about the Playoff.
Three of the four teams are locks. Alabama without question is going to be #1. Clemson will move up to two after dominating Notre Dame. Ohio State will take that 3rd spot despite trailing Northwestern for three quarters. So, who’s the fourth team?
The Notre Dame Fighting Irish
The Irish came into the ACC Championship 10-0 with an impressive resume and the best win of all against #3 Clemson. The Irish were a near lock to be in the playoff at the beginning of the day… The only way Notre Dame wasn’t going to make it (possibly) was if they were blown out.
After missing a chip shot field goal which would have given them a 6-0 lead, Clemson went on a tear with 34 straight points. John Elway, I mean, Trevor Lawrence (25 for 36, 322 yards, 2 TD’s, 90 rush yards, 1 TD) was totally unstoppable. The Clemson defense shut ND down with 6 sacks, 10 tackles for loss and held Quarterback Ian Book to a pedestrian 20/28 for 219 yards and 0 touchdowns. The Irish, who burned the Tigers in their last match up for over 200 yards on the ground, mustered a measly 44.
Notre Dame finished the season 10-1 but failed the eye test BIG TIME in this game. Did they look like a College Football Playoff team? Does a College Football Playoff team lose this badly? We will see.
The Texas A&M Aggies
After a dominant 34-13 win at Tennessee, the Aggies finished their season 8-1. Texas A&M Head Coach Jimbo Fisher passionately stated their case for the playoff:
“You want me to tell you why?” Fisher said to ESPN’s Quint Kessenich after his team’s win against the Vols. “We play in the best league in ball. We got beat by the No. 1 team in the country who also had another superstar on the team when they played us named [Jaylen] Waddle. People ain’t even playing them with him now. No team in SEC history has ever lost but one game and [not] been in it.
“The other leagues, I love them all, but if we can’t play in this league and be in the playoff, something is wrong.”
The Aggies can back this talk up. The team has won seven straight games while fighting through three postponed due to COVID complications. A&M has a productive offense led by Quarterback Kellen Mond (1,769 yards, 18 TD, and 2 INT) and running back Isaiah Spiller (897 yards, 6 TD’s). They average a little over 31 points and give up right around 17.
The Aggies’ main claim to the 4th spot is their 8-1 record against SEC only competition. Their biggest win came against 8-3 Florida and while they got blown out 52-24 against Alabama, it was early in the season and the team has grown since then.
With Notre Dame’s terrible loss imprinted on the committee’s mind, could Texas A&M jump the Irish?
THE REST OF THE FIELD
The Oklahoma Sooners
The Sooners are a team on the rise.
Oklahoma won the Big 12 Championship for the 4th time in a row beating #6 Iowa State Cyclones 27-21. The Sooners were able to avenge their only loss of the season.
Their ascending Quarterback Spencer Rattler threw for 272 yards and a touchdown. Running back Rhamondre Stevenson had 97 yards rushing while receiver Marvin Mims had 101 through the air. The team was held to only 3 points in the second half after going into halftime up 24-7.
Iowa State battled back from the half time deficit, but the Sooners defense rose up to the challenge at the end. The unit that only gave up 85 points in their last seven games picked off Iowa State Quarterback Brock Purdy to seal the win. The defense wreaked havoc causing three turnovers and holding Big 12 Offensive Player of the year Breece Hall to 3.4 yards per carry.
Oklahoma is playing their best football at the right time. I would personally pick them to be in the playoff, but the Committee will find it extremely hard to justify a jump from #10 to #4.
The Bearcats finished their undefeated season with a 27-24 walk off win against a ranked Tulsa team. This capped their 9-0 regular season and an American Athletic Conference championship.
The Bearcats have every reason to believe they should play against #1 Alabama. They are undefeated with impressive wins against Memphis (by 39 points), SMU (by 29 points), and this win against #23 Tulsa. Neither Notre Dame nor Texas A&M can say that they have better quality wins nor a conference championship. Notre Dame and Texas A&M also were already were blown out by Clemson and Alabama. So why wouldn’t they get blown out again by Alabama? Why not let Cincinnati get blown out?
We ALL want to see Cincinnati here! The Committee clearly doesn’t as they punished them last week dropping them to #9 (behind three teams with two losses) simply because of COVID cancellations.
There has never been a non-power five school in the College Football Playoff. Cincinnati is an undefeated team with a conference title under their belt. They deserve to be the first.
WHO IS IT GOING TO BE?
As I stated above, Notre Dame has the best win in the country against a short-handed Clemson team. They also have an extremely solid win at #15 North Carolina and were undefeated in their first ACC season despite not winning the championship.
Texas A&M is frankly impressive. Joel Klatt says it best:
The Aggies aren’t the most exciting team to watch. Their best win is against a Florida team that has lost two straight, and as stated, they were already blown out by Alabama. Do we want to see that again? They didn’t even win their division to play for a Conference Championship.
Oklahoma has too much ground to make up despite their recent hot streak.
Cincinnati is deserving but its’ clear that the committee doesn’t think so.
Notre Dame is likely going to make the playoff, but will it be mainly a football decision? More viewers are going to tune in to see Notre Dame vs. Alabama then Texas A&M vs. Alabama. Notre Dame means $$$ for College Football and that will be the final straw.
THE COLLEGE FOOTBALL PLAYOFF:
#4 NOTRE DAME VS. #1 ALABAMA
#3 OHIO STATE VS. #2 CLEMSON
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