Tag Archives: College Football Playoff National Championship

Pac-12 Pac(ks) Less Punch

We’re two weeks into the 2016 season and I must admit that I am afraid the Pac-12 has lost a lot of its mojo as a Power 5 Conference. Yes, that’s quite a bold statement. Looking at the Pac 12 as an entire conference, I’m not convinced that any team will have a shot at making the College Football Playoff. Moreover, I feel the Pac-12 is not what it should be.

I’m sure there are dozens of people who would vehemently disagree with my claim. And I would agree that those who oppose my position would have a valid argument or two to refute my point. However, the sample size over the past two weeks has provided me with ample cause for concern. Now, before we get too deep into this, let me preface my point in saying that I think the Pac-12 is still worthy of Power 5 Conference membership, but, the quality of teams that comprise this conference has dipped a bit from last season to this one. That “dip” is evidenced in the level of consistent performances from the top teams in the Pac-12, both in the North and South divisions.

Pac-12 North Division

The favorites in this division (Stanford, Oregon, Washington) have performed as expected, strictly from a win-loss record perspective. Take a closer look at the games played. The opponents aren’t world-beaters by any stretch of the imagination.

Washington beat up Rutgers and the University of Idaho. Quite the daunting task, no? Oregon quacked past UC Davis and Virginia. Although the wins were rather lopsided, Oregon’s defense is allowing 27 points per game. Is this what they brought Brady Hoke in for?

Stanford only has one game under their belt and their ho-hum 26-13 win over Kansas State certainly didn’t turn any heads. Christian McCaffrey bears the weight of the Cardinal and to some extent the Pac-12 on his shoulders being one of few stars in the division. Bottom line, if he struggles, Stanford struggles. It’s as simple as that.

California and Washington State are in some serious trouble in the coming weeks. The Bears outplayed Hawaii down under, but did surrender some points and down the stretch. Some would point to that as a lack of focus in putting away an opponent. Last week’s heart breaker to San Diego State was just that, a heart breaker.

I won’t poo-poo the Aztecs. They are a quality opponent with a workhorse running back that ran rough shod over the Bears. Next for California is a surging Texas team that has found new life. Last year’s narrow escape against the Longhorns will only prove one thing, if Cal can’t catch that same miracle; it’s going to be a long season, because it doesn’t get any easier for them.

Washington State, a team many thought would add some complexity to the division has not been able to catch a break. The Cougars are 0-2 with both losses each by three points. It’s that same old so-close-yet-so-far vibe. Luke Falk has continued to live up to the bill though. He’s thrown for nearly 1,000 yards and has eight touchdowns. Respect due Luke, but if those stats don’t churn out wins, that’s what they are, stats and nothing else.

Pac-12 South Division

I certainly thought the Pac-12 South was going to have the greatest opportunity to re-establish the Pac-12’s reputation of being one of the nation’s premier divisions. With the favored teams in the division sporting nifty 1-1 records (with the exception of Utah, 2-0), Colorado and Arizona State have jumped out the gate undefeated. That’s right. Colorado is undefeated.

UCLA came up short against Texas A&M, but bounced back the following week, doubling up UNLV 42-21. I’m not sold on UCLA. Yes, they have a talented squad, but not enough to crack the top four teams in the land. Their only saving grace is that A&M somehow, some way, makes some serious noise in the SEC and UCLA handles their business. Then and only then, maybe, they’ll get a respectable bowl bid. Maybe.

Oh USC. Where do I begin? I figured the match up with Alabama would give some serious credence to the Pac-12 if they won or made it a close contest. Alas, Trojans couldn’t get either one to go their way. To add insult to injury, after a 52-6 beat down at the hands of the Tide, an SC player got himself ejected for stomping on an Alabama player. I guess he couldn’t bear the embarrassment of being on the field any longer than he had to.

Pac-12 Outlook

It’s still too early to tell how the Pac-12 will shake out. There’s still hope that the expected teams in the conference will show and prove and establish their presence to the nation and the College Football Playoff committee. However pessimistic I may be about that actually occurring, I will gladly eat crow if at least one team from the Pac-12 were to make a substantial run toward the National Championship. However, in ironic bit optimism, I think the birds will be safe this year.

E-mail David at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @VirgosAssasin.

Photo: Neon Tommy/Flickr.

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Predicted: New Year’s Six and the College Football Playoff National Championship

This is the third and final part of my 2016 College Football Preview. The picks in this article directly reflect my first and second article, so check those out before reading this one.

Orange Bowl (ACC vs. Big Ten/SEC/ND) 12/31/16

Miami (9-4) vs. LSU (10-2)

The Matchup: Miami will get the automatic ACC bid, as the Hurricanes are the best ACC team not in the CFP. LSU squeezes its way into the New Year’s Six over the likes of Notre Dame, the second team in line who just misses the New Year’s Six due to their indecisiveness at the QB position early in the season, which cost a few games. Other teams who are in the hunt for the Tigers’ Orange Bowl spot are Michigan State, Ole Miss and Arkansas, but none of them finish over 9-3.

The Game: This is Leonard Fournette’s final game in an LSU jersey. He will eat up the Miami defense, which will have to deal with a bit of Les Miles madness. LSU will come out passing early and often, as the Miami defense gets weaker the further away from the line of scrimmage you go. Once the Tigers expose Miami’s pass defense, LSU will catch the Hurricanes on their heels by simply letting Fournette run over the competition. Fournette’s early season injury may keep him out of the Heisman Race, but he will sure look like a Heisman winner after this game is all said and done. LSU will simply put up too many points for the Hurricanes to keep up with.

Final Score: LSU Tigers 38 – Miami Hurricanes 20

Cotton Bowl (At-Large vs. At-Large) 1/2/17

Michigan (11-1) vs. UH (12-1)

The Matchup: Michigan is not happy to be here. The Wolverines believe that it belongs in the CFP. However, it ends up playing in Dallas facing off against a Houston Cougars squad whose excitement to be in this spotlight inversely mirrors the Wolverines.

The Game: The team’s respective enthusiasm for this particular game reflects into the matchup’s first half to a large degree. Michigan comes out uninterested and sluggish, which a Greg Ward, AAC player of the Year, powered Cougar offense heavily exploits. The First Half ends with the Cougars up 14-10. The Wolverines swing back in the second half, and take a three-point lead over UH with just over a minute left in the game. Greg Ward leads a final charge down the field into the red zone with time winding down. However, after two incomplete passes, Jabrill Peppers fools Ward, after Peppers fakes a blitz before dropping back into coverage. The strong Wolverine defensive line forces Ward to rush a decision, and he overlooks Peppers before throwing a pass which Peppers intercepts.

Final Score: Michigan Wolverines 41 – Houston Cougars 38

Rose Bowl (Big Ten vs. Pac-12) 1/2/17

Iowa (9-4) vs. Stanford (11-2)

The Matchup: Iowa, who lost the Big Ten championship to Ohio State, gets the automatic Rose Bowl bid. Stanford, meanwhile, wins the Pac-12 and because no Pac-12 team gets into the CFP, are the other automatic bid, which makes the 2017 Rose Bowl an identical matchup to the 2016 game.

The Game:  This game will have a similar outcome as the matchup the previous year. Stanford will let Christian McCaffrey run free, and he will single-handedly slaughter Iowa. Iowa, in all honesty, does not belong in the Rose Bowl, and once again, the game’s result shows that. This one is not even close.

Final Score: Stanford Cardinal 31 – Iowa Hawkeyes 6

Sugar Bowl (Big 12 vs. SEC) 1/2/17

TCU (10-2) vs. Tennessee (10-3)

The Matchup: I’m going to be honest. Even though I picked them to be here, I would be surprised if Tennessee can win the SEC East and get the automatic bowl berth. The Volunteers’ inconsistency over the last several years makes I hard to believe that it can string together a solid season and take the East over Georgia and Florida. But, that’s what my mind believed when I wrote last week’s prediction article, so here we are. If the Volunteers manage to make it to the Sugar Bowl, it will face off against TCU, winners of the lackluster Big 12.

The Game: Despite the fact that I don’t think it will make it to this game, I think the SEC will prove too much for TCU. Tennessee, behind powerhouse running back Jalen Hurd and a Joshua Dobbs who develops into a great passer throughout the season, are able to out muster the Horned Frogs offensively. Tennessee’ defense, which nine starters, will shut down the Horned Frogs’ offense. This will be a defensive battle between these two teams, but the Volunteers prevail.

Final Score: Tennessee Volunteers 24 – TCU Horned Frogs 17

Peach Bowl (College Football Playoff Semifinal)  12/31/16

#1 Ohio State (13-0) vs. #4 FSU (11-1)

The Matchup: Ohio State, still riding off “The Game of the Century” Part 2, in which the Buckeyes beat #2 ranked Michigan, gets the #1 overall seed for the third annual College Football Playoff. FSU, meanwhile, campaigns hard for its spot, which the Seminoles fight Michigan, Stanford, TCU and Houston for. However, dominating wins late in the season after a close defeat to Clemson allow FSU to squeeze into its second College Football Playoff appearance.

The Game: Lead by recently crowned Heisman Trophy winner, J.T. Barrett, the Buckeyes get off to a quick start, scoring quickly on a pass over the middle against the weakest part of the Seminole defense. However, the Buckeyes’ inexperienced defense will struggle to do anything to stop the Dalvin Cook Seminole offense, and FSU goes up by 10 heading into halftime. Coming out of the half, Dontre Wilson brings the kickoff all the way back for a touchdown, making the Buckeyes deficit only three. Both defenses then hunker down, with the likes of Raekwon McMillan and DeMarcus Walker dominating for the Buckeyes and Seminoles respectively. Late in the 4th, J.T. Barrett leads Ohio State down the field, but Urban Meyer has to settle for a field goal. However, with two minutes to work with, Dalvin Cook is able to take his time and rush the Seminoles into Field Goal position with only a few ticks left. Ricky Aguayo gets a perfect hold ad knocks home a 52-yard field goal as time expires to allow the Seminoles to win.

Final Score: Florida State Seminoles 23 – Ohio State Buckeyes 20

Fiesta Bowl (College Football Playoff Semifinal) 12/31/16

#2 Clemson (13-0) vs. #3 Alabama (12-1)

The Matchup: Winners of the ACC and SEC respectively, Clemson and Alabama both come off monster season to qualify as the middle seeds for the College Football Playoff. Heisman runner-up Deshaun Watson, Clemson finished undefeated, while Alabama’s only loss came to Ole Miss early in the season.

The Game: This game will ultimately come down to Clemson’s offense vs. Alabama’s defense. The Alabama offense will struggle with Cooper Bateman at the helm, but Clemson’s defense will not be nearly as dominant as years past, allowing the Crimson Tide to find holes to score both on the ground and in the air. However, the issue for Alabama is that Clemson’s offense simply has too many pieces, as if the passing game to wide outs Mike Williams and Artavis Scott struggles, Deshaun Watson and Wayne Gallman, both of whom were 1000 yard rushers in 2015, can simply push Alabama back behind the Tigers’ O-Line. Though Alabama remains in the game in the first half, Clemson comes out firing in the second and breaks the game wide open. Alabama, though talented, won’t have an answer for Clemson, and the Tigers win the game by a fairly wide margin. The Crimson Tide’s shot at returning to the College Football National Championship is cut one game short.

Final Score: Clemson Tigers 45 – Alabama Crimson Tide 24

 College Football Playoff National Championship 1/9/16 (Tampa, FL)

#2 Clemson Tigers (14-0) vs. #4 Florida State Seminoles (12-1)

The Game: This game is going to be a rematch of possibly the best offensive matchup of the 2016 season. Earlier, Clemson beat out FSU in Tallahassee, and that is why the Tigers remained undefeated the entire year. The National Championship, featuring two teams less located less than 600 miles from the game’s location, Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida, will be an offensive bout the likes of which we haven’t seen in man years. While both teams have competent defenses, Clemson and FSU will look to win the National Championship with offensive firepower. This game will actually not be as much of a nail-biter as their first matchup, as Deshaun Watson, in his second straight title game, will come out firing on all cylinders. FSU will stay in the game, but the Clemson offense will prove to be too much, and keep a constant lead over the Seminoles the entire game. The Clemson Tigers will have its first National Title since 1981.

Final Score: Clemson Tigers 48 – Florida State 35

E-mail Cooper at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @uf_goetz.

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Image Courtesy of Counse – Flickr