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Week 14: Results, Analysis, and News
Top 4 Conference Championships and Playoff Analysis
No. 1 Clemson / No. 7 Miami 38-3 From the opening drive Clemson dominated the game on offense and defense to win the ACC championship. Nothing spectacular, just steady play, beating Miami in nearly every situation that developed. The vaunted turn-over chain, invented by defensive coordinator Manny Diaz and instituted by Mark Richt, only came out once. Clemson forced the Hurricanes to cough-up the ball numerous times though, and they only celebrated with a simple high-five. QB Malik Rosier was thwarted repeatedly by Clemson’s talented and tireless army of behemoths on the front line. His receivers were relentlessly covered. There was simply no strategy that could provide them with an avenue to score. Clemson’s offense showed an efficiency that was devastatingly simple. QB Kelly Bryant picked apart the Miami defense with short outside routes all night. The running game provided yardage when needed, but the stat sheet showed only 80 yds. The lack of mistakes stood-out. Other than the foibles of Mr. Butter-fingers, Ray-Ray McCloud, who drops kicks and fumbles far too often, this was a precision effort. By contrast, Mr.Sticky Hands, Hunter Renfrow, catches and handles the ball like it was the Hope Diamond.
This game was a validation for ranking the Tigers on top of the college football world. They are the reigning champs, and they have the best record of any team this year. They have beaten more ranked teams than anyone else all season, and have suffered but one minor hiccup with a loss at Syracuse when Kelly Bryant was crippled from the previous week, and then suffered a concussion when pile-driven into the turf in the first half. That loss was simply a coaching collapse. He should not have suited-up for the game. Even the kicking game has improved as of late, as Drew Spence actually made all his extra points and converted his longest field goal ever, a 46 yarder that missed the right upright by an inch, and cleared the crossbar by half that much. Two of his kickoffs even carried into the end zone. Dabo Swinney gave nearly all of his players time on the field, which develops their skills, and keeps morale high, as everyone becomes a contributor to the success of the team. This is a well-oiled and peaking team.
No. 2 Auburn / No. 6 Georgia 7-28 Three weeks ago Auburn humiliated the then undefeated Bulldogs at home, winning by 23 points. The rushing dominance that Georgia flaunted over everyone else all year was stymied, holding the dynamic duo of Nick Chubb and Sony Michel to a combined 48 yds. Not yesterday! Auburn jumped-out to a one TD lead after the first quarter, but they never scored again. The aforementioned running tandem for the Bulldogs, and five others, cut through the Auburn defense like a hot knife through butter, racking-up 238 yds. The Auburn offense was hampered by their crack rusher Kerryon Johnson visibly favoring a damaged right shoulder, fumbling-away the ball, and only gaining 44 yds, as opposed to the 167 yds he gained 3 weeks ago. The revenge-seeking Bulldogs beat the Tigers down, once they tasted blood.
This game virtually flipped the two teams in the standings. Georgia has had a roller coaster ride since their No.1 ranking, falling out of the Top 4 after the Auburn beating, and now rebounding after the Auburn win. It matters not whether Georgia is ranked second or third, because the 2 and 3 teams play each other in the next match-up. Avenging for Georgia’s only loss of the year makes for a very good resume, especially since their loss was against a No. 2 team. Other than their one point win at Notre Dame, none of their other wins were even close. There is no argument that they should be No. 1 because their strength of schedule was much weaker than Clemson’s, having only played 3 ranked opponents all year, as opposed to the 6 that Clemson beat.
No. 3 Oklahoma / No. 11 TCU 41-17 As had happened only three weeks ago, the Sooners overwhelmed the Horned Lizards and won the Big 12 Championship. The box score showed some interesting numbers. Oklahoma jumped to an early lead by scoring 17 unanswered points in the first quarter. The Lizards countered with 17 in the second quarter against only 7 by the Sooners. The Sooners then closed-out the scoring with 17 unanswered points in the third quarter. Kenny Hill played like he was possessed, completing 27 of 37 passes for 237 yds and 2 TD’s, and also running for 51 more. Unfortunately for him, no one else for TCU contributed much on offense. Oklahoma’s Brash Baker Mayfield had his usual spectacular game throwing bombs that appeared to be lazer-guided, completing 4 TD’s, and also scrambling for another 65 yds. Fortunately for him and the Sooners, he had a supporting cast, with Rodney Anderson and Trey Sermon contributing another 156 yds on the ground with 34 carries.
Oklahoma easily holds-on to their No. 3 ranking, or even moves up one. Throughout the year they have consistently scored no less than 29 points, and have vanquished all their opponents except for that inexplicable loss at home to Iowa State. They had a few narrow escapes though, such as the 8-point win over hapless Baylor, a 4-point win over Texas, and a one-score win over Kansas State. That happens to all teams, slight lapses from time-to-time. But, their defining win came when they overwhelmed Ohio State by 15 in Columbus. The offense is a juggernaut with obvious Heisman winner Mayfield as the field general. It will take a smart, fast, and powerful defense to slow-down their attack, and an offense that can put many points on the board. Georgia and Clemson both could be formidable opponents.
No. 4 Wisconsin / No. 8 Ohio State 21-27 The Badgers struggled throughout the game and trailed from the first score until the final whistle of this Big Ten Championship. The outcome of the game never seemed to be in doubt, but the Badgers did put together a run in the last quarter to get within a field goal. They were driving for the go-ahead score when a costly 15 yd holding penalty took them out of their rhythm and forced desperation passes, which is not in the wheelhouse of QB Alex Hornibrook. The game ended when he was picked-off on 4th and long with a minute left. JT Barrett was not stellar, completing less than half of his throws, including 2 interceptions. But, JK Dobbins was fearsome, running for 177 yds on only 17 carries. Wisconsin’s banged-up star runner Jonathan Taylor only contributed a meager 41 yds on 15 carries. The Badgers did well to stay in the game without a dominant performance by him.
This correspondent believes that Ohio State will secure the final play-off spot with this win. The only other team that has any argument with such a choice would be Alabama. Even though Alabama has only the one loss to Auburn, as opposed to Ohio State’s two, it cannot be forgiven of Alabama to have had such a weak schedule. Of the 4 ranked teams that they played, only 2 were away games, and they lost one and barely won the other. FSU was ranked 3rd the first week of the season when Bama beat them at home, but we all know that the Seminoles fell precipitously from that point, concluding with their worst season in 40 years. The most contemptuous ploy by Bama, that the Crimson Tide fans attempt to ignore, is that their schedule only had 4 away games. Enough said, they do not belong in the playoffs! NEWS FLASH!!!! Alabama was just afforded the 4th spot. We are aghast to hear this. Now it will become the norm to schedule patsy teams to pad the resume. Sad!
The rest of the Story
- Playoff predictions:
Clemson should defeat Ohio State, in the semi-final. Only severe injuries to Kelly Bryant, Hunter Renfrow, Travis Etienne, and the defensive front four could possibly derail them in that game.
Oklahoma and Georgia is a pick-em game. A great challenge for both of these teams. The coordinators of both teams will be drinking a lot of 5-Hour energy drinks between now and Jan 1st to prepare for this game, and simultaneously recruit high school athletes.
- Championship final prediction:
Clemson will win against either Oklahoma or Georgia, and become repeat champions.
- Heisman Talk:
There is no talk. Brash Baker Mayfield wins the Heisman in a rout, regardless of his boyish antics. The only other candidate is Lamar Jackson, and no one will consider him because Louisville is off the radar. That is a shame, because he is the best player in the country.
- Coaching nonsense:
Head coach hiring drama is in full force. Jimbo Fisher signs for a guaranteed $75M over 10 years to coach Texas A&M. The math says that he will be paid $20,500 per day, 365 days per year, for life! Does anyone else in the world find this insane and obscene?
Tennessee athletic director John Currie makes a total mess firing Butch Jones and then trying to hire Greg Schiano. Currie gets deservedly fired, and Tennessee still doesn’t have a coach, although they are on the hook for $13M. Does anyone else in the world find this insane and obscene?
- FSU chaplain called out:
Clint Purvis, FSU chaplain for life, has been called-out by athletic director Stan Wilcox and university president John Thrasher to present reasons why he shouldn’t be fired. Obviously he hasn’t been praying hard enough, or inspiring the players to pray hard enough, as FSU had its worst season in 36 years, Jimbo quit with his first-ever losing record of 5-6, and the fans hate everybody.
- Quote of the Year:
FSU athletic director Stan Wilcox quoted on November 16: “Jimbo is here forever.”
- Irony of the Year:
University presidents are responsible for hiring football coaches, yet their salaries are one tenth as much as the salaries of the coaches they hire. Of course coaching football is much more important than running a university, and so much more stressful. Pundits are so giddy to make a case that a certain coach is worth the million of dollars they are paid. No one ever makes arguments that university presidents are worth the hundreds of thousands of dollars that they are paid. Am I the only person in the world that finds this insane and obscene?
- PAC 12 overlooked:
The champioship game for the PAC 12 was a nail-biter until the end. USC QB Sam Darnold and running back Ronald Jones II racked up 465 yds, which is 165 more than the entire Stanford offense. Too bad for these teams that the Pac 12 has been considered irrelevant, and thus overlooked all year.
- Tough Guy of the Week Award:
This week we have a repeat winner. Bryce Love of Stanford limped all night long, but he carried the rock for 125 yds on 22 carries. Kudos to you Bryce!
- Game of the Year:
UCF and Memphis played the most exciting game of the year for the American Athletic Conference Championship. It was a slugfest with undefeated UCF pulling out the win 62-55 in 2 overtimes. Each team tallied over 700 yds of offense. Incredible! Riley Ferguson for Memphis and McKenzie Milton were throwing the ball all over the field, and it was as exciting as a football game can get. The Golden Knights will probably earn a birth to the Peach Bowl on Jan 1st, against Auburn. They could really stamp credibility on their season with a win here, and a perhaps a Top 5 final ranking.