Tag Archives: Penn State Nitanny Lions

J.T. Barrett and Ohio State Are Downright Scary

Coming into the 2017 season, the Ohio State Buckeyes were ranked No. 2 in the polls, which garnered both negative and positive reactions. Some eyebrows were raised due to the fact the Buckeyes had been obliterated 31-0 in the 2016 College Football Playoff and were seemingly rewarded based on their namesake alone, while fans argued that despite their embarrassing loss, they lost to the eventual national champion Clemson. Not even almighty Alabama could defeat them. Also, if it wasn’t for a few fortunate opportunities that went Penn State’s way, they would’ve won that game and advanced to the Big Ten Championship game as the presumed favorites versus Wisconsin. Whatever your position was, it was a fortuitous spot to be ranked ahead of the reigning Big Ten champs Penn State and put the pressure on Ohio State to prove their worth.

In their first battle or “test” of the season against Oklahoma, the Buckeyes, seven-point favorites in Columbus, suffered their biggest loss at home since 1999 (46-20 loss to Illinois) and were mocked as overrated. J.T. Barrett was just 19 of 35 for 183 yards as the passing game was wildly inconsistent and below average. It appeared the naysayers were right and much to their delight, the Nittany Lions leapfrogged the Buckeyes in the rankings.

Since that time heading into last Saturday, Ohio State had been playing very good, fundamentally sound football. Yes, the opposition wasn’t exactly challenging but their offense had looked like a well-oiled machine and the defense hadn’t surrendered many points. Sometimes all you need is a few solid games to build momentum and confidence and regain your swagger.

Last weekend before the epic showdown, I was asked the question several times who was the best team in conference and I said Ohio State. Some gave me interesting looks while others laughed and said good luck versus Penn State. Others said I was a traitor for not saying my alma mater, Wisconsin. However, as hard as it is to support Ohio State, I had predicted much earlier this year, Wisconsin would meet Ohio State in the title game and I had to stay true to my word.

Also, I just had this premonition the Buckeyes would get the job done. The game was in Columbus and it’s not the easiest place to play. It’s like meeting a rabid animal in its very own den – its possible to survive but its no simple task either. Second, these teams were only separated by four spots in the rankings. It seemed everyone was already writing the Silver Bullets off much too soon and media outlets criticized Barrett for failing to show up in big games but you can never count out a Buckeye squad that has been written off too early.

We’ve seen this story before in 2014 when Ohio State lost to Virginia Tech only to come back and win the national title. Just when they appear dead to rights, they come back and shock you. To me, it’s simple: Hell hath no fury like a scorned Urban Meyer. Besides Nick Saban, no one plans, prepares, adjusts and responds in the face of adversity better than Meyer.

Things didn’t look great early on for the Buckeyes as Penn State raced out to a 21-3 advantage and although they closed the gap 28-17 by halftime, the Nittany Lions were in control as they built a 35-20 lead in the fourth quarter and appeared they would knock Ohio State out of playoff contention.

Yet, in spite of the big lead, turnovers, poor special teams, and questionable calls, Barrett rose to the occasion. All the qualities people said he didn’t have, he displayed: leadership, poise, resolve and a strong, accurate arm capable of leading his team to victory. The sign of a great leader is how he reacts and responds to adversity and all Barrett did was calmly throw 13 for 13 in the final quarter for 170 yards and three touchdowns including the game-sealing pass to Marcus Baugh with 1:48 left. It was the most impressive performance of his collegiate career in a classic game and showed once again the power of never giving up.

Yes, the jury is still out on Barrett and the Buckeyes as they are far from the being the top contender but the critics have been silenced, at least for moment. The takeaway here is really quite simple: Barrett vaulted himself back into the Heisman race as a front-runner and cemented Ohio State’s spot in the middle of the playoffs, though the initial rankings surprisingly did not place them in the top four. The Buckeyes are peaking at the right time and Barrett is a dangerous man. If they can fix their special team problems, it could be 2014 all over again and that is downright scary.

E-mail Mike at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @MDeuces2051

Image courtesy of flickr

2017 Big Ten Predictions

I almost canceled my Bold Big Ten Predictions last season after I made some questionable calls from 2015. But last season, well, I’m going to take a moment to brag and have my confidence restored. I completely nailed the decline of Michigan State, Iowa’s C.J. Beathard, and that the Big Ten would come down to the very last game of the season. Although I might have been a tad off on Indiana getting to eight wins.

Let’s focus on the positives and forget the stuff I got wrong and get on with this year’s bold predictions.

The Big Ten East is a mess again and it’s glorious

I know both teams are loaded with talent, but Michigan and Ohio State sent a ton of players to the NFL last season. Penn State lost their top receiver but bring back Saquon Barkley and Trace McSorley. Those are your big three in the East that are going to be jockeying for the top spot.

Penn State gets Michigan at home and goes to the Horseshoe but Ohio State goes north for the 2017 version of The Game. There’s a chance that they all end up at the last game of the season at 11-1. It’s unlikely but possible. I see a team like Indiana throwing a wrench into things or possible P.J. Fleck making his mark on the Big Ten world when the Buckeyes go to Minnesota.

Since they got a decent ranking to start the season, the Nittany Lions could potentially end up as the highest ranked team when it’s all said and done and they’re my pick to win the East.

A new contender rises in the Big Ten West

OK, here we go again. Get your purple and white ready because we’re getting back on the Northwestern bandwagon! I’ve been saying for a while that head coach Pat Fitzgerald has been criminally underappreciated by everyone but Northwestern fans. This year he’s going to force them to appreciate him as the Wildcats win the Big Ten West after they return almost everyone from 2016.

Stick with me because this makes sense instead of a hunch.

Northwestern should enter Week Four at 3-0 and headed to Wisconsin followed by Penn State at home. That’s rough and they’ll probably enter Week Six at 3-2. After that, the toughest game for Northwestern is traveling to Nebraska who lost basically everyone from 2016.

Wisconsin has an unproven young quarterback in Alex Hornibrook who lost his job last season. They end the season on the road at Indiana, home for Iowa and Michigan, and then back on the road to Minnesota. That is a rough stretch and I think the Badgers split the series at best. Wisconsin stumbles at the end and Northwestern finishes strong to end at 10-2 and their first trip to Indianapolis.

The Big Ten dominates the rankings

As you might’ve guessed, I expect the Big Ten to be pretty good this season. It’s going to be one of those years where the teams keep beating one another to prevent any one team from getting too high up in the polls but there’s going to be a lot of them there. You’ve got the obvious teams in Ohio State, Michigan, and Penn State in the rankings to start the season. As you might expect, I’m predicting Wisconsin and Northwestern to find themselves in the top twenty to top fifteen.

Then there’s Minnesota. Maybe it’s because I have ESPN and their show on P.J. Fleck on but that guy just seems special. I think Minnesota is going to shock some people and spent a healthy part of their season inside the Top 25.

Bonus super bold prediction: Jim Harbaugh gets someone from the SEC mad again.

I know, super bold, right?

Image courtesy Flickr

E-mail Tim at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @tbach84.

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Auburn: No Need to Curb Your Enthusiasm

I just completed reading an article written by my friend, and co-host of the SEC 411 podcast, Seth Merenbloom. Seth is also an editor here at Campus Pressbox. I have a great deal of respect for his opinions on sports, in general, and on the SEC, in particular.

But I am going to have to part ways with my colleague on this one. He is of the opinion that Auburn is overrated. This piece from SEC Country deals with the Sports Illustrated prediction of Auburn as the number 10 team in the country. The column also mentions the Tigers as CBS Sports’ pick as number nine in the preseason.

The only poll we have at this point belongs to the coaches. Auburn ranks 13th there.

Let’s pause for a moment and reconsider the fact that all of this is merely talk, opinion, conjecture. Teams have begun practice all across the land but no one has played a single game just yet.

But talk is what we rabid fans do this time of year in the dog days of summer. The actual games begin on August 26th and the first game in the SEC, Florida A&M at Arkansas, follows on August 31st.

Back to Auburn and my take on the matter. I am with CBS Sports. I would put Auburn in the number nine slot. Also, I would precede my Tigers with 1. Clemson (I am of the old school opinion that the number one team from the previous year remains numero uno until/if they are defeated during the upcoming campaign. See September 9, Auburn at Clemson) 2. Alabama 3. Ohio State 4. Washington 5. Florida State 6. Penn State 7. Oklahoma 8. Southern Cal.

I would put Michigan at 10.

And I do my rankings based on how strong I foresee teams. I don’t take into account schedules, conferences, etc. I ask myself, “How good is this team in relation to the other teams in the FBS? How strong are they overall? What if this team played ‘X’ on a neutral field?”

Now, here is my reasoning on Auburn’s ranking as a top ten team.

Auburn returns seven starters on the defensive side of the ball, including its three top tacklers. Carl Lawson and Montravius Adams must be replaced but there is a ton of talent to go around on this surly defense.

Marlon Davidson is a beast and with help from the likes of Dontavius Russell, Derrick Brown, Tre Williams, Darrell Williams, DeShaun Davis, Carlton Davis and Tray Matthews, to name just a few, the D is stacked with top line SEC talent. There is also enough quality depth to make this unit as good or better than the 2016 group. And Kevin Steele is back as the coordinator. That’s big.

The offense should be lethal. We all know about Jarrett Stidham but the Tigers are three deep at quarterback with Sean White and Malik Willis. Running back? Loaded. Kamryn Pettway, Kerryon Johnson, Kam Martin, Malik Miller, and C.J Tolbert give Auburn a stable of horses second to none in the conference.

The offensive line is more talented and deep than it has been in years. Pat Dye thinks they have the potential to be as good as any since he began coaching at Auburn in 1981.

Wide receivers? Eli Stove, Darius Slayton, Nate Craig, Kyle Davis, Will Hastings, Ryan Davis, Marquis McClain and, now, John Franklin, will give Auburn very good talent and depth here.

Also, the tight end position should be much improved with Jalen Harris returning and transfer Sal Cannella, and his excellent hands, making this a position of strength.

Oh! Auburn has the best placekicker in the country in Daniel Carlson, as well.

The talent, experience, and depth is all in place down on the Plains. And, I think, Gus Malzahn has put together the complete and cohesive staff he has been looking for since he took over in 2013.

When you mix all of these ingredients together along with a great team chemistry and a hunger to win, I think you might be looking at a very special season down in the Loveliest Village.

I don’t think I can “Curb My Enthusiasm.”

Over/Under: Big Ten East

Last time I wrote, I did over/under projected victories for the Big Ten West this upcoming season based on what we know as of now and as promised, I have the Big Ten East this time around.

Indiana 6-7, 4-5 = Over 7-5, 4-5

Defensive coordinator Tom Allen takes over at head coach and the Hoosiers are eager to continue to build upon their success from 2016 when they made back-to-back bowl trips for the first time since 1990. In Allen’s first year, the Hoosiers defense made vast improvements, improving from 121st in yards allowed per game (509.5) in 2015 to 45th (380) in 2016. Linebacker Tegray Scales led the FBS with 23.5 tackles for loss and Rashard Fant led the conference with 17 pass breakups. Yet, despite the defensive success, Indiana struggled mightily on offense with 29 turnovers (123rd) and a 71.4 red zone score percentage (127th). If the Hoosiers can improve in these areas, getting several more wins shouldn’t be hard.

Maryland 6-7, 3-6 = Under 4-8, 1-8

In head coach DJ Durkin’s first season, Maryland improved from a 3-9 record to finish 6-7 and nabbed a bowl bid after drastically reducing their interceptions from an FBS-leading 29 to nine and also brought in the 17th-ranked recruiting class for 2017 in the off-season. There’s a lot of optimism and the future looks bright for the Terrapins but there are some huge obstacles including inexperience at quarterback with Perry Hills and Caleb Rowe moving on, suspect pass protection (49 sacks, 127th) a bad turnover margin (minus seven, 107th), not to mention a tough Big Ten East division. Remember Ohio State, Penn State and Michigan outscored Maryland 159-20. I see the Terrapins taking a step back before they go forward.

Michigan 10-3, 7-2 = Over 11-1, 8-1

With the departure of 17 starters and finishing 1-3, it is going to be a fascinating season for Michigan as they look to improve upon a 10-3 record in Jim Harbaugh’s third season. For most teams, losing that many starters would certainly be a devastating blow but with three loaded recruiting classes and continuity at quarterback with Wilton Speight returning, the Wolverines should remain a top contender for a conference championship. Plus, defensive coordinator Don Brown, who helped Michigan finish No. 2 in total defense and produced similar results at Boston College in 2015 with much less talent, returns. Yet, even if these underclassmen can deliver, I still think that the more experienced Buckeyes have the edge.

Michigan State 3-9, 1-8 = Over 5-7, 3-6

Coming off a disappointing 3-9 season and with a sexual assault investigation against several Spartans underway, things are not exactly sunny in East Lansing. Plus, there is a lot of uncertainty surrounding this team such as if projected starting quarterback Brian Lewerke, who had shown some flashes of potential in his limited experience before breaking his leg against Michigan, can be a reliable playmaker. He will need to deliver for an offense that was minus 58 in fourth quarter point differential. Also, can the Spartans improve upon a weak pass rush that yielded a measly 11 sacks? A lot of improvement will be needed to contend again but getting to a bowl is still within reach.

Ohio State 11-2, 8-1 = Over 13-0 (Big Ten champion), 9-0

In 2016, Ohio State appeared poised for another title run but J.T. Barrett had problems getting the ball downfield as the Buckeyes averaged 6.8 yards per pass attempt (88th in FBS) so new offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson and quarterbacks coach Ryan Day were hired to fix that. I and my fellow writer, Mark Silverman feel this could be a deadly offense with Wilson calling shots. On defense, only one team was more effective in the red zone, with the Buckeyes giving up touchdowns just 37.5 percent last season (15-40). With the exception of Raekwon McMillan, starters return at every spot in the front seven. If Barrett returns to 2014 form and the defense delivers, this is a legitimate national title contender.

Penn State 11-3, 8-1 = Under 10-2, 7-2

Despite starting 1-2, the Nittany Lions won nine straight to take the Big Ten due in large part to an explosive offense led by Trace McSorley and Saquon Barkley. Averaging a conference-best 9.3 yards per pass attempt, McSorley made tremendous strides in his second season, totaling 29 touchdowns, eight interceptions and 3,614 yards (No. 1 in Big Ten), while Barkley led the conference with 18 rushing touchdowns. On defense, there are holes up front with both starting defensive ends gone but an experienced secondary with Marcus Allen and Grant Haley. There’s a lot to like here and while I don’t see them beating Ohio State in magical fashion again, I see them securing another 10-win season.

Rutgers 2-10, 0-9 = Neutral 2-10, 0-9

The gap between Rutgers and the league’s elite is already massive as the Scarlet Knights were outscored an insane 224-0 against Ohio State, Michigan, Penn State and Michigan State. Unfortunately, at the rate the elite teams are growing and recruiting, I see the gap becoming larger before it gets smaller. Even with the hiring of Jerry Kill as offensive coordinator and the return of Janarion Grant, who is tied for the most kick and punt return touchdowns in history with eight, there’s only so much a few men can do here. Plus, it’s still a mystery if presumed starter Giovanni Rescigno is the answer at quarterback. It’s going to be another long year as Rutgers remains the conference’s doormat.

E-mail Mike at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @MDeuces2051.

Photo courtesy of Flickr user Bilal Kamoon

The Best and Worst of 2016: Big Ten

There was a lot that happened in 2016. Teams rose and teams fell. There were highs and there were lows. So, you know, the average year. It did not end with a National Championship but the 2016 edition of the Big Ten was still fun.

I was tasked with coming up with the best and worst things that happened in the conference this season and there was a lot to choose from. Although there were singular dramatic moments, I tried to focus on the larger picture. For example, Penn State beating Ohio State on a blocked field goal return. A great moment? Absolutely but was it one of the greatest parts of the season? Well, I guess if you’re a Penn State fan probably but it was less meaningful to the entire conference.

You might agree, you might not. Let me know in the comments what you think.

BEST

Early Season Big Wins

The pre-conference season is always important because if you lose early, you might not recover. If you win over big time teams, you can really earn your team and your conference some much-needed credibility. That’s what the Big Ten did this season. The conferenced racked up some early big wins like:

Ohio State over Oklahoma

Michigan State over Notre Dame

Wisconsin over LSU

Nebraska over Oregon

Later it would turn out that Michigan’s win over Colorado would count in that list of big wins. Sure, some of those teams didn’t turn out to be as good as everyone thought but at the time they were all ranked. It’s not just about who you beat but when you beat them too. These early season wins lead directly into the next of the best of the season.

The Polls

The College Football Playoff committee doesn’t release their first official poll until week nine but from week nine to week 14, the Big Ten had a serious presence. Never at any time did they have less than four teams in the top ten. Ohio State, Michigan, and Wisconsin were the mainstays with Nebraska starting there and then being replaced by Penn State. For a conference that had been perceived as weak for the last few years, it was a nice turnaround. Even if you go by the AP poll, there was always at least three teams in the top ten.

Penn State’s Return to Prominence

The Nittany Lions have had a rough go of it since the Sandusky scandal. Stripped of scholarships and their total availability reduced, banned from postseason play for a time, and of course monetary sanctions. It’s not an easy thing to recover from even for one of the most storied programs in history.

Head coach James Franklin started out the season on a lot of people’s coaches hot seat list. Most people though the writing was on the wall his team lost to Pittsburg by a field goal and then absolutely trampled by Michigan. Something happened in the game against Ohio State, though. A switch was flipped after that blocked field goal and the Nittany Lions didn’t look back all the way to the Big Ten Championship game. Sure it ended in a Rose Bowl loss on a last second field goal to USC but it was a dramatic turnaround that’s restored Penn State to powerhouse status for now.

The Game

Ohio State vs Michigan hadn’t been what it had been in quite a while. ESPN and all the other sports media outlets continued to hype it anyway. Well, this year it lived up to the hype. Michigan came into Columbus with a half-strength quarterback and went blow for blow with the Buckeyes into the rivalries first overtime and then a second overtime. In the highest-rated game of the regular season, the Buckeyes used a controversial play to knock the Wolverines out of the Big Ten Championship berth and send themselves to the College Football Playoff.

WORST

The Fall of the Spartans

Losing an NFL-caliber quarterback always hurts but the season for Michigan State was just stunning. We didn’t blink when the Spartans knocked off Notre Dame, figuring that Michigan State was just picking up where last season left off. Well, it turned out Notre Dame was terrible. That was Michigan State’s last win until they defeated Rutgers in Week 10 for their one and only Big Ten win. Rutgers went winless in the Big Ten so at least the Spartans had that going for them.

No one expected Rutgers to be any good but the fall from the top tier of teams for Michigan State was a shock. For comparison’s sake, Western Michigan had two Big Ten wins which are better than three Big Ten teams. The top of the Big Ten might have been good but the bottom was bad.

Postseason Controversy

Usually, it’s a good thing if the nation is talking about your conference. The week leading into the final reveal of the College Football Playoff bracket, it was all anyone could talk about. Penn State and Michigan both had legitimate claims to the 4th seed. Neither of them ended up making it in favor of Pac-12 Champion Washington but that’s not the problem.

The issue that the nation had was that Ohio State despite not winning the Big Ten Championship or even the East division was firmly locked into the Playoff. That didn’t sit well with a lot of people. Penn State, winner of the East and Big Ten Championship game, who defeated Ohio State was left on the outside looking in possibly (if you ask me) for non-football related reasons.

Ultimately, Ohio State proved that it didn’t belong after being manhandled and shut out by eventual National Champion Clemson. Penn State didn’t get a win either but they did have one of the best Rose Bowl games of all time, showing that maybe the committee got it backward.

Bowl Season

The Big Ten sent 10 of its 14 teams to the postseason. That’s the good news.

Michigan and Penn State were part of some entertaining games but ultimately lost. Ohio State got trampled. Wisconsin was the only “marquee” team that got a win.

Only three teams won with Minnesota and Northwestern joining Wisconsin in the win column. Three teams lost by more than two touchdowns and Ohio State and Iowa didn’t score a single touchdown. Things certainly could’ve gone better.

The Minnesota Situation

Look, I’m not going to rehash the entire ordeal that happened at Minnesota. You can read my piece on it but the long and short of it is head coach Tracy Claeys supported his players who were asking for due process instead of being outright suspended. That support got him fired. I can’t do much on this because I’m so furious that Minnesota is going to come out of this with one of the hottest coaching names in P.J. Fleck. A school shouldn’t come out of a scandal better off than they were.

E-mail Tim at tim [dot] bach [at] campuspressbox [dot] com.

Image courtesy Flickr via Creative Commons

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Mock College Football Playoff 2016: Final Rankings

Welcome to the season finale of Campus Pressbox’s official mock playoff committee. Thank you to all the readers who kept up with our weekly rankings. Special thanks to all the wonderful people on this year’s committee. You can view the previous weeks’ results here.

The committee:

Tim Bach (@Tbach84)
Kristen Botica (@OGKristenB)
Damien Bowman (@damienbowman)
Mitch Gatzke (@GreatGatzke)
Cooper Goetz (@uf_goetz)
John Horlander (@John_Horlander)
Seth Merenbloom (@SethMerenbloom)
Evan Skilliter (@EvanSkilliter)
Ben Belden (@bbelden330), Founding Writer- Golden Domer Daily
Cole Hankins (@Cole_Hankins), Writer- SB Nation
Thomas Gardner
J.R. Goetz

The rules:

Each week, committee members will submit their top 10 teams and each team will receive points based on their position. The team’s will be ranked 1-10 based on which has the most points. Ties will be broken by which team has the highest votes in a specific position.

Points are assigned as follow: first place – 10, second place – 9, third place – 8, fourth place – 7, fifth place – 6, sixth place – 5, seventh place – 4, eighth place – 3, ninth place – 2, tenth place – 1.

Final Results:

Place Team Points First Place Votes
1 Alabama (1) 120 12
2 Clemson (3) 99
3 Washington (4) 94
4 Ohio State (2) 89
5 Penn State (7) 73
6 Michigan (5) 60
7 Oklahoma (8) 52
8 Wisconsin (6) 28
9 Western Michigan 21
10 USC (10) 16
Additional Votes: Colorado (9) 5
Oklahoma State 2
Florida State 1

(#)=last week’s position.

Playoff:

Bowl Matchup
Peach No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 4 Ohio State
Fiesta No. 2 Clemson vs. No. 3 Washington

New Year’s Six:

Bowl Matchup Tie In
Orange Florida State vs.  No. 8 Wisconsin ACC vs. Big Ten, Big 12 or SEC
Cotton No. 9 Western Michigan vs. No. 6 Michigan At Large vs. At Large
Rose No. 5 Penn State vs. No. 10 USC Big Ten vs. Pac-12
Sugar No. 7 Oklahoma vs. Auburn Big 12 vs. SEC

Notes and Observations:

  • It’s official. Alabama has completed a clean sweep of this year’s rankings. The Crimson Tide were the unanimous No. 1 team every week.
  • Penn State’s great showing in the Big Ten Championship allowed the Nittany Lions to steal a Playoff spot on many of our committee member’s rankings this week.
    • Penn State’s performance is also the reason for Ohio State’s drop from No. 2 to No. 4.
  • As Big Ten Champs, the Nittany Lions should absolutely get a bid to this year’s Rose Bowl.
  • Ladies and gentlemen, the boat has been rowed. Western Michigan, after being in the honorable mentions for multiple weeks, has at long last broken into the top 10.
    • Committee members had the Broncos ranked as high as 7th in the final rankings of the year.

Our Work:

For transparency, here is how each member of the committee voted this week:

final-ranks

E-mail Cooper at [email protected]or follow him on twitter @uf_goetz
Photo courtesy of Pixabay
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The Sunday Morning Notebook: Conference Championship Edition

December is for contenders, and the rest of the season is for pretenders. Unless, of course, you’re Ohio State, in which case you can be a contender without even playing in December. The College Football Playoff picture just got a lot clearer after a weekend chock-full of marquee matchups. Or, perhaps it’s just as murky as it was in November.

Somebody call 9-1-1! I think he’s dead!

But just to make sure, Derrick Gore pounded it home from 10 yards out with 3:48 to play to cap off Alabama’s 54-16 evisceration of Florida. In a game that meant little to either team’s playoff chances, Saban decided to press the pedal to the floor and try to earn Alabama a bye in the College Football Playoff, purely out of mercy to whichever sorry team gets placed at #4 (That was a joke, by the way, Alabama can’t get a bye in the playoff. The #4 team will have to play Alabama. Keep EMS on standby to resuscitate whomever it may be).

Game Notes:

  • Jalen Hurts had a lackluster day, throwing 11/20 for 138 yards and just one touchdown. It’s not his fault he didn’t rack up big numbers, though. There was a six-minute span in the first quarter in which the Tide gained one yard, and yet they scored 16 points.
  • The Crimson Tide had a pick-6 and a blocked punt returned for a touchdown in that time frame, and they picked off Gator quarterback Austin Appleby twice more for good measure
  • Three Alabama running backs notched touchdowns: Derrick Henry–erm, I mean Bo Scarbrough, Joshua Jacobs, and Derrick Gore.

Pac-12 Champion playoff bound after all?

Sko Buffs! Colorado must have forgotten that the Pac-12 Championship was Friday night and not Saturday. In another blowout conference title game, Washington made it clear that it wants its shot at the College Football playoff, as the Huskies dominated the Colorado Buffaloes 41-10.

Game Notes:

  • The Washington defense was stifling all night, and held the Buffaloes to 81 yards passing and 82 yards rushing. Lockdown.
  • Jake Browning, who for some reason is still in the Heisman race, put up an abysmal 118 yards on 9/24 passing.
  • Browning didn’t need to do much, though, because running backs Miles Gaskin and Lavon Coleman lacerated the Colorado defense for 159 and 101 yards rushing, respectively.
  • Despite this convincing win, I still don’t think Washington will make it into the top 4 tonight. I think that the Pac-12 has spent this whole year beating up on itself, and now they’re going to be left in the dust.

On the BIGgest stage, the true contenders perform

After trailing 28-7 with just a minute to go in the first half, the Penn State Nittany Lions rallied to defeat the Wisconsin Badgers 38-31. On the back of a 10-point fourth quarter, Penn State stonewalled Badger running back Corey Clement on fourth down to seal the victory.

Game Notes:

  • Trace McSorely wants Bama! (No you don’t) The Nittany Lion gunslinger notched 384 yards and four touchdowns on 22/31 passing,
  • Clement had himself a game as well for the Badgers, chalking up 164 yards and a touchdown on the ground.
  • Unfortunately, this win doesn’t totally seal the deal for the Nittany Lions. The committee will be forced to think long and hard about the value of a conference championship, because as it stands now, Ohio State is going to get in over Penn State, despite losing the head-to-head battle.

Other Notes:

  • Clemson hung on to defeat Virginia Tech 42-35. It will probably be enough to get them into the playoff, but Clemson has not been dominant this year. If it were purely up to personal preference, they can have the Orange Bowl.
  • Western Michigan beat Toledo 29-23 in the final installment of #MACtion. The Broncos capped off an undefeated season with a hard fought 13th win in the MAC title game. They’ll be rowing the boat in the Cotton Bowl, though. No chance for playoff berth here.
  • Baker Mayfield’s 288 yards and three touchdowns gave Oklahoma their second straight Big XII title, but it was all irrelevant bedlam. The Sooners beat Oklahoma State 38-20, but they also don’t look likely to make the playoff.
  • Navy lost, so that makes life easy for the bowl selection committee.
Email writer John at [email protected] or connect with him on Twitter: @John_Horlander.

Photo: Flickr – David Smith

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What Happens With Michigan Now?

If you didn’t witness the 2016 edition of The Game, you either don’t like football or you’re a SEC slappy who thinks the Big Ten isn’t worth your time. Either way, you need to get out. That was one of the best college football games of the season especially if you look at the numbers.

But that’s not why we’re here. Whether you want to talk about how terrible the officials were, or possibly even a conspiracy against Michigan, you have to admit that it was a great game. It was a great game and Ohio State won. Ohio State is going to be in the College Football Playoff despite not winning the Big Ten Championship or even the Big Ten East division. It’s happening and we need to deal with it.

That’s also not why we’re here. What we need to talk about are Michigan’s playoff chances. Writers are still talking about how the Wolverines can make it to the playoff. ESPN keeps teasing the thought of it and even respected college football personality Kirk Herbstreit thinks it could happen and should happen if Colorado wins the Pac-12 Championship.

The University of Michigan should absolutely not make it into the Playoff no matter what.

Yes, this is article is written by a Michigan fan. Buckle up.

Now don’t get me wrong, if Michigan ends up in the College Football Playoff I’m not going to be terribly upset but they should not be there. There’s already one team in that didn’t win its conference so there is no room for another.

I’m sure you’re thinking “Hold on here. Michigan has three wins against teams in the top ten!” and you’d be right. Michigan also only has road wins against Michigan State and Rutgers, neither of whom are very good. For comparison’s sake, those two teams combined for one Big Ten win. Western Michigan University has two. The other two road games for Michigan were losses at Ohio State and Iowa.

So let’s say that Washington and Clemson, who are ranked three and four to Michigan’s five, lose their championship games. That’s the scenario because even if Alabama loses, they won’t fall out of the top four spots. How can they leave Michigan out then? Well, it’s easy.

One spot goes to the Big Ten champion. Penn State is ranked seventh and Wisconsin sixth. Those teams won both their divisions and a conference championship. There’s no way you can deny the winner of that game a bump up of a couple spots. Did Michigan beat them both? Absolutely but that was earlier in the season and we’re concerned with the best teams right now. Michigan has just lost two of three.

The next spot should go to the winner of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State. Why? Because whoever wins is the Big 12 Champion. You can’t tell me that the Playoff Committee has so little respect for the Big 12 that they’d put a two-loss Michigan in over a conference champion, especially when you consider that Oklahoma is probably the hottest team not named USC.

There’s only one reason that Michigan would make it into the playoff: money.

The University of Michigan is rated as having one of the biggest and best fan bases in America. Michigan sells tickets and Michigan gets TV ratings. No offense to Colorado or even Penn State or Wisconsin, but not many fan bases travel like the Wolverines do. No matter what they or anyone says, the NCAA is a business and they like to make money.

We all said that the BCS was a terrible system and that a playoff would be better. With the BCS we had a bunch of individuals voting for who was the best and who would get to play for the championship. With the College Football Playoff, we have a group of people in a room deciding who should be playing for the championship. These are all people picked by the College Football playoff, each with their own agendas and allegiances and little to no transparency. Per their own website, “The selection committee is an independent body that operates according to the objectives established by the board of managers and management committee.” That’s pretty vague.

So if this is legit and we’re picking the best teams in college football, unfortunately, the league champions have more right than Michigan. Sorry Wolverines. Maybe next year.

E-mail Tim at .

Image courtesy Creative Commons

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Mock College Football Playoff 2016: Week 13

Welcome to week five of Campus Pressbox’s official mock playoff committee. Every Tuesday I’ll be publishing the top 10 based on a group vote. You can view the previous weeks’ results here.

The committee:

Tim Bach (@Tbach84)
Kristen Botica (@OGKristenB)
Damien Bowman (@damienbowman)
Mitch Gatzke (@GreatGatzke)
Cooper Goetz (@uf_goetz)
John Horlander (@John_Horlander)
Seth Merenbloom (@SethMerenbloom)
Evan Skilliter (@EvanSkilliter)
Ben Belden (@bbelden330), Founding Writer- Golden Domer Daily
Cole Hankins (@Cole_Hankins), Writer- SB Nation
Thomas Gardner
J.R. Goetz

The rules:

Each week, committee members will submit their top 10 teams and each team will receive points based on their position. The team’s will be ranked 1-10 based on which has the most points. Ties will be broken by which team has the highest votes in a specific position.

Points are assigned as follow: first place – 10, second place – 9, third place – 8, fourth place – 7, fifth place – 6, sixth place – 5, seventh place – 4, eighth place – 3, ninth place – 2, tenth place – 1.

Week 11 Results:

Place Team Points First Place Votes
1 Alabama (1) 120 12
2 Ohio State (2) 101
3 Clemson (4) 99
4 Washington (5) 88
5 Michigan (3) 64
6 Wisconsin (6) 57
7 Penn State (8) 43
8 Oklahoma (7) 33
9 Colorado (9) 33
10 USC 10
Additional Votes: Oklahoma State 6
Western Michigan 6

(#)=last week’s position.

Playoff:

Bowl Teams
Peach No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 4 Washington
Fiesta No. 2 Ohio State vs. No. 3 Clemson

New Year’s Six:

Bowl Teams Tie In
Orange Florida State vs. No. 6 Wisconsin ACC vs. Big Ten, Big 12 or SEC
Cotton At Large vs. At Large
Rose No. 5 Michigan vs. No. 9 Colorado Big Ten vs. Pac-12
Sugar No. 8 Oklahoma vs. Auburn Big 12 vs. SEC

Notes and Observations:

  • I’m unsure whether or not there is a need to acknowledge that Alabama is the unanimous #1 for the fifth straight week.
    • I am also beginning to doubt my continued inclusion of the First Place Votes column in the Weekly Results.
  • Oklahoma and Colorado tied for total points this week. Normally, the tie breaker would be who received the most votes at the highest position, but both teams received a single vote at No. 6. Thus, the tie breaker came down to the seventh place votes, where Oklahoma received two more than Colorado, giving the Sooners the No. 8 spot over the Buffs.
    • Oklahoma, interestingly enough, had its total points drop 14 points (47 to 33), which is fairly substantial.
  • Despite Tim’s heroic attempt to get WMU in the top 10 by putting them at No. 9 in his rankings, the Broncos still fell a few points short of being ranked this week.
  • Michigan received a single tenth place vote.
  • In my mind, the winner of the Big Ten championship is all but guaranteed one of the two possible Big Ten New Year’s Six bowl spots.
    • The Big Ten Championship is being played by the third and fourth best Big Ten teams according to our panelists.
  • The winner of this year’s Bedlam Series will win the Big 12 and earn the conference’s bid to the Sugar Bowl.

 This Week’s Marquee Matches:

No. 9 Colorado @  No. 4 Washington (Friday 9 PM in Levi’s Stadium)

Oklahoma State @ No. 8 Oklahoma (Saturday 12:30 PM)

No. 6 Wisconsin @ No. 7 Penn State (Saturday 8 PM in Lucas Oil Stadium)

Our Work:

For transparency, here is how each member of the committee voted this week:

rankings

E-mail Cooper at [email protected]or follow him on twitter @uf_goetz
Photo courtesy of Sam Howzit – Flickr
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Mock College Football Playoff 2016: Week 12

Welcome to week four of Campus Pressbox’s official mock playoff committee. Every Tuesday I’ll be publishing the top 10 based on a group vote. You can view the previous weeks’ results here.

The committee:

Tim Bach (@Tbach84)
Kristen Botica (@OGKristenB)
Damien Bowman (@damienbowman)
Mitch Gatzke (@GreatGatzke)
Cooper Goetz (@uf_goetz)
John Horlander (@John_Horlander)
Seth Merenbloom (@SethMerenbloom)
Evan Skilliter (@Skilliter)
Ben Belden (@bbelden330), Writer- Slap the Sign
Cole Hankins (@Cole_Hankins), Writer- SB Nation
Thomas Gardner
J.R. Goetz

The rules:

Each week, committee members will submit their top 10 teams and each team will receive points based on their position. The team’s will be ranked 1-10 based on which has the most points. Ties will be broken by which team has the highest votes in a specific position.

Points are assigned as follow: first place – 10, second place – 9, third place – 8, fourth place – 7, fifth place – 6, sixth place – 5, seventh place – 4, eighth place – 3, ninth place – 2, tenth place – 1.

Week 11 Results:

Place Team Points First Place Votes
1 Alabama (1) 120 12
2 Ohio State (2) 100
3 Michigan (4) 100
4 Clemson (5) 86
5 Washington (7) 67
6 Wisconsin (6) 63
7 Oklahoma (8) 47
8 Penn State (9) 30
9 Colorado 23
10 Louisville (3) 9
Additional Votes: USC 7
Western Michigan 5
Oklahoma State 3

(#)=last week’s position.

Playoff:

Bowl Teams
Peach No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 4 Clemson
Fiesta No. 2 Ohio State vs. No. 3 Michigan

New Year’s Six:

Bowl Teams Tie In
Orange No. 10 Louisville vs. No. 8 Penn State ACC vs. Big Ten, Big 12 or SEC
Cotton At Large vs. At Large
Rose No. 6 Wisconsin vs. No. 5 Washington Big Ten vs. Pac-12
Sugar No. 7 Oklahoma vs. Florida Big 12 vs. SEC

Notes and Observations:

  • Alabama made it four straight weeks of racking up all the 1st place votes.
  • The first tie in points this season came this week, as Ohio State and Michigan both earned 100 total. Ohio State got the No. 2 spot because it received more 2nd place votes than Michigan.
  • Oklahoma received both a 4th place vote, as well as a 9th place vote, which is an extremely large range.
  • And somehow, Louisville is still ranked this week, coming in at No. 10.

 This Week’s Marquee Matches:

No. 3 Michigan @ No. 2 Ohio State (12 PM)

It’s Rivalry Week, boys! Every game matters!

Our Work:

For transparency, here is how each member of the committee voted this week:

week-4

E-mail Cooper at [email protected]or follow him on twitter @uf_goetz
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Comment on this and every article by becoming a Campus Pressbox Insider.