Saturday Football: CFP selection drama, Ohio State asterisk and uniform talk
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Good morning and happy Monday! The College Football Playoff field is set and conference champions have been crowned! Now, as other bowl games begin *checks notes* … oh, wow, they begin today! The Myrtle Beach Bowl between Appalachian State and North Texas will kick off at 2:30 p.m. Eastern time on ESPN. Then, there are two more bowl games on Tuesday and two more on Wednesday.
But, before we dive fully into bowl season, we need to discuss a few hot-button issues. So, for today’s newsletter, we’ll dive into some reaction to the College Football Playoff field, ask some questions about Ohio State’s resume and then take a look at some of the great uniforms from Championship Weekend. Let’s get started, shall we?
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The College Football Playoff field is set. Did the CFP committee get it right?
The College Football Playoff field was revealed on Sunday, and it wasn’t too full of surprises. Alabama was the No. 1 overall seed after winning the SEC Championship Game over Florida in thrilling fashion on Saturday night. Clemson was the No. 2 seed after a beatdown of No. 4 seed Notre Dame in the ACC title game tilt and Big Ten champion Ohio State made the field as the No. 3 seed.
So, did the CFP selection committee get it right? Picking only four teams always leads to some drama, so let’s take a look at some of the reactions to Sunday’s revelation of the Playoff field:
- It’s always tough to be the No. 5 team when only four teams make the Playoff. The Texas A&M Aggies get the painful distinction of being the first team out of the field this year, but not for a lack of trying. After a 34-13 win at Tennessee on Saturday afternoon, A&M coach Jimbo Fisher made a passionate case for the Aggies to be included. Aggie players took to Twitter to lobby for themselves, too. Ultimately, the CFP committee wasn’t swayed, keeping the Aggies out of the field. Naturally, A&M fans and players were upset with the decision. CFP chair Gary Barta explained why the Irish got the nod over the Aggies during the selection show. Interestingly, the old BCS system would have given A&M the edge over the Irish. That’s not going to console the Aggies, though, as they head off to the Orange Bowl against North Carolina instead of the Playoff.
- The Alabama Crimson Tide are rolling into the Playoff with a perfect record. Their semifinal opponent? Notre Dame. Obviously, that will bring back memories of the 2013 BCS National Championship Game, when the Crimson Tide dominated the Irish 42-14. Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly explained how that game changed his program, starting with an increased focus on physicality along the offensive and defensive lines. Saturday Down South’s David Wasson doesn’t expect Notre Dame to give this year’s Alabama team much of a challenge, though. The two teams will play in the Rose Bowl, which will be played in Dallas instead of California due to COVID-19 restrictions. CFP chair Gary Barta explained that Alabama will be going to Texas instead of the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans because Texas will allow more fans in the stadium.
- The Cincinnati Bearcats are also on the outside of the Playoff field. The Bearcats finished as the No. 8 team in the final CFP rankings, despite having one of the best resumes a non-Power 5 team has ever had. They’ll face Georgia in the Peach Bowl instead of playing for a national championship. Barta explained why the Bearcats weren’t a top-4 team. “It was just believed by the committee that those resumes (for the top-6 teams) are stronger, overall, than Cincinnati’s resume,” he said. Naturally, that did little to soothe the anger of fans who took to Twitter to react to the Bearcats being snubbed.
So, who will win this year’s Playoff? That’s anyone’s guess at this point, but the semifinal matchups are set and should be entertaining. Can anyone stop Alabama’s offense? Will Trevor Lawrence put the finishing touches on a wonderful college career? We’ll find out soon enough!
We’ve officially made it to the end of the regular season, and it finished with a bang during Championship Weekend. We saw some incredible individual performances and some big-time numbers lighting up scoreboards around the country.
So, which players have been the best of the best when it comes to accruing important stats? Here are the players who lead the nation in nine key statistical categories (via CFBStats.com):
- Passing yards: Kyle Trask, Florida — 4,125
- Passing TDs: Kyle Trask, Florida — 43
- Rushing yards: Breece Hall, Iowa State — 1,436
- Rushing TDs: Najee Harris, Alabama — 24
- Receiving yards: DeVonta Smith, Alabama — 1,511
- Receiving TDs: Jaelon Darden, North Texas — 19
- Sacks: Two players tied — 10.0
- Tackles: Carlton Martial, Troy — 113
- Interceptions: Brandon Joseph, Northwestern — 6
How many of those guys will play during bowl season? Will we see some more high-profile opt-outs from guys not playing in the Playoff? We’ll find out over the next few days!
- The SEC regular season has now come to an end. Alabama is the league champion and is off to the Playoff. Texas A&M, Florida and Georgia are all heading to New Year’s 6 bowls. But, how do they stack up against the rest of the SEC squads? Saturday Down South’s Joe Cox put together his final SEC power rankings of the season.
- The 2020 season has been the strangest CFB campaign ever. Through a pandemic and constant schedule changes, postponements and cancellations, though, Alabama and Clemson remain atop the sport. Saturday Down South’s Phil Ervin writes about how impressive it is that the Tide and the Tigers are once again on a collision course for the title.
- Illinois made the decision to hire Bret Bielema on Saturday. Bielema will be tasked with turning around a program that took a step back under Lovie Smith in 2020. Saturday Tradition’s Ryan O’Gara writes that Bielema actually gives the Illini a chance to be relevant in the Big Ten again.
- Many think the Playoff will soon expand to eight teams. That’s due in large part to the anger many fans have when the field of four teams is announced every year. Bleacher Report’s Adam Kramer wrote that change is needed soon, because the current system stinks.
Ohio State received the No. 3 spot in the College Football Playoff rankings. Did the Buckeyes earn the bid?
The drama was essentially over on Saturday afternoon. After Ohio State defeated Northwestern 22-10 in the B1G Championship Game, thanks in large part to Trey Sermon’s record-breaking day on the ground, the Buckeyes seemed to have locked up a spot in the College Football Playoff less than 24 hours before the selection show aired on ESPN.
Beliefs turned into reality on Sunday, when the Buckeyes came in at No. 3 in the final College Football Playoff rankings. Their position sets up rematch against No. 2 Clemson from last year’s Fiesta Bowl, a game the Tigers won in impressive comeback fashion.
Ohio State has been scrutinized pretty heavily because it only had to play 6 games during the 2020 season. Other teams in other conferences played nearly double that total. So, the question must be asked: Did the Buckeyes deserve a spot in the College Football Playoff?
- All the metrics and rankings favored Ohio State. If you’re a fan of using technology and formulas to judge a team’s worth for a Playoff spot, then it seriously helps the Buckeyes’ case. Ohio State was listed as one of the Top 4 teams in ESPN’s Playoff Predictor, as well as the Football Power Index after the B1G Championship Game win. Ohio State has been ahead of Clemson using the old BCS model for weeks and Associated Press voters have also been impressed by Ryan Day’s team during the 2020 season. A 6-game schedule didn’t seem to change any of that. As Saturday Tradition’s Ryan O’Gara writes, the Buckeyes essentially erased all doubt with the two-touchdown win over Northwestern.
- Media personalities and other coaches aren’t too pleased. Texas A&M head coach Jimbo Fisher made headlines on Saturday following the Aggies’ win over Tennessee, when he essentially called out Ohio State’s limited resume. And he wasn’t the only one. Clemson’s Dabo Swinney has made similar comments for weeks, as has Florida head coach Dan Mullen regarding OSU’s limited sample size. It’s been made clear that, outside the B1G, coaches aren’t happy with a team playing half as many games and still earning a spot in the field. Late Saturday night and early Sunday, plenty of folks in the media also thought the Buckeyes should be left out.
- For the selection committee, number of games wasn’t an issue. Shortly after the four Playoff teams were announced, committee chair Gary Barta spoke with ESPN’s Rece Davis about the decision to slide Ohio State into the No. 3 spot. Barta essentially said that, while there was a little discussion about the lack of competition for the Buckeyes, there was no dissension in the committee room that would keep Ohio State out of the field. Regardless of what technology, AP voters or other head coaches think, the only opinions that mattered were the ones behind those doors.
In addition to learning that it would be returning to the College Football Playoff for a second-straight season, Ohio State received more good news when the B1G decided to change its COVID-19 protocols from a 21-day absence to 17 for players who test positive. Ryan Day said during his interview on ESPN that “a good amount” of the 22 players who missed the B1G Championship Game would be able to return for the Sugar Bowl based on the new timeline. Will it make a difference against a tough Clemson team? We’ll find out on New Year’s Day!
JUST FOR FUN
Let’s keep the Playoff theme going for today’s quiz. In the history of the College Football Playoff, there have been three teams that have scored more than 50 points in either a semifinal game or the title game. Can you name them? Also, there have been two teams that have been shut out in the semifinals. Can you name them, too?
Scroll down for the answers to today’s quiz.
Championship Weekend brought out some great uniform combinations. Who wore it best?
It was Championship Weekend around college football, but those weren’t the only games on the schedule, as other teams wrapped up their regular-season slates, as well. With one more chance for a lot of squads to show off some uniforms, there were indeed some great looks featured this week.
So, which teams wore it best over the past few days? Let’s take a look at some our favorite uniform combos from the week:
- Let’s start with the Mizzou-Mississippi State game above. The Tigers and Bulldogs went in opposite directions for their regular-season finales. The Tigers donned these all-white uniforms, while the Bulldogs went with this all-black look for the first time in school history. It was a very cool game to watch in terms of uniform aesthetics.
- Speaking of all-black uniforms, let’s discuss Iowa State. The Cyclones came up short in the Big 12 title game against Oklahoma, but these all-black uniforms were spectacular. Let’s hope they keep that look in the rotation more often.
- The Ole Miss Rebels had a bit of a uniform journey this week. After originally announcing that they were going to wear red jerseys at LSU, they instead switched to powder blue jerseys at the last second. Those jerseys are some of the best in the SEC, though, so we enjoyed the change.
- Finally, let’s discuss Air Force’s incredible uniforms. The Falcons lost a nail-biter to Army, 10-7, but they probably won the uniform battle. They honored the Tuskegee Airmen with these amazing Red Tails uniforms. You can read more about the uniform combination here.
With only bowl games left on the schedule, that’s a wrap for the uniform talk section of the newsletter! We hope you’ve enjoyed our recaps of some of the best uniform combinations of the year. We’ll be back next year, and we’re sure there will be plenty of great jerseys and helmets featured in 2021, too!
The three teams that have scored more than 50 points in a College Football Playoff game are:
- LSU: 63 points (vs. Oklahoma in 2020 Peach Bowl)
- Oregon: 59 points (vs. Florida State in 2015 Rose Bowl)
- Georgia: 52 points (vs. Oklahoma in 2018 Rose Bowl)
And, the two teams that have been shut out in CFP semifinals are:
- Michigan State: 2016 Cotton Bowl vs. Alabama
- Ohio State: 2017 Fiesta Bowl vs. Clemson
Will we see any shutouts or 50-point performances this year?
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“That was bad clock management on my part. We should have had it ready to go for two. Our thought, though, is we’re going for two right there, we’re going to try the onside kick. We’re here to win. Would have given us two two-point conversions. If we didn’t get the first one, we’d have to get the second one to tie. If we got the first one, all we needed there was an extra point to win the game at the end. That was the thought process to go for two.
“That was a bad job by me, we had to use that timeout there. Would have loved to have that timeout and given us an extra 40 seconds of the ball to try to get the and-one touchdown.”
– Florida coach Dan Mullen took the blame for some bad clock management late in the SEC title game. The Gators scored with 2:07 left in the fourth quarter to cut Alabama’s lead to 52-44. Instead of kicking the extra point, the Gators called a timeout and went for a two-point conversion. That timeout proved to be costly, though, as the Gators only had 26 seconds left to try to mount a last-ditch scoring effort to win the game.
TWEET OF THE DAY
It’s safe to say Texas A&M DC Mike Elko was not pleased watching ESPN analysts poke holes in the Aggies’ Playoff resume before the final rankings were announced.