The College Football Playoff Committee certainly surprised everybody with their week 15 rankings. We all knew Mississippi State would drop out of contention. The surprise is that the committee moved TCU into the #3 slot and dropped FSU to #4. Alabama and Oregon remain on top. Baylor moves up to #5 and Ohio State is #6. All six teams have one more game.
There was no high school Friday football for me this week. The PAC 12 title game was held between #2 Oregon and #7 Arizona. This was no contest as the Ducks dominated the Wildcats 51-13. It was even worse than the score indicates as Arizona scored their final TD as the clock ran out. Oregon had 627 total yards to only 224 for Arizona. Since the Ducks went into this game rated #2 it seems like a lock that they will make the playoffs.
Saturday started out with unranked 2-9, 0-9 Iowa State at #3 TCU. The Frogs had nothing to gain and everything to lose from this game. Thankfully TCU took care of business and won 55-3. They racked up 722 yards against only 236 for the Cyclones. Frogs QB Trevone Boykin threw for 460 yards and four TDs, rushed for 44 yards and caught a 55 yard pass for another TD. That's a mere 559 all-purpose yards and five TDs. Not a bad afternoon. TCU actually got off to a slow start and only led 17-3 at halftime. They stepped it up a little after intermission. The Horned Frogs did their part, they finish the regular season with an 11-1, 8-1 record. Now they must wait to for the selection committee to see what their postseason schedule will be.
The SEC championship game matched #16 Missouri against #1 Alabama. Mizzou kind of hung in there. They trailed 21-3 at the half but they scored ten third quarter points while holding 'Bama scoreless to get within eight at 21-13. Then the Tide got down to business and reeled off 21 straight points. Alabama went back to basics and rushed for 242 yards. Once again the SEC West proved far superior to the East. The Crimson Tide wins the SEC and should remain #1 in the playoff seedings.
In a game that was not officially a conference title match #6 Baylor hosted #9 Kansas State. Both teams went into the game with identical 7-1 Big 12 (only 10 teams) records. Baylor got out to a quick 14-0 lead but K-State fought back. The Bears held on for a 38-27 win and I think won the Big 12. I don't think they did enough to pass #5 Ohio State and knock one of the top four teams out of the playoffs.
The next big game was the Big Ten (14 teams) championship game between #5 Ohio State and #13 Wisconsin. The Badgers were actually a slight favorite, probably because OSU's QB was injured in their last game. That trepidation in the Buckeyes ability to find a QB replacement proved misplaced. They completely routed Wisconsin 59-0. Ohio State is better than people thought or the Badgers were way overrated. The Buckeyes finish the season 12-1, 8-0 and Big Ten champions. Will this convincing victory over a ranked opponent propel them into the top four? It will be interesting to see what the committee does.
Finally we have the heart attack #4 FSU Seminoles vs the #11 Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets for the ACC title. You know the Noles always make it exciting and this game was no exception. FSU fell behind in the first quarter but actually managed to be leading 28-21 at halftime. That hasn't been the norm lately. The Rambling Wreck got to within two points with 1:47 remaining in the game, but failed to recover the onside kick attempt. FSU won 37-35 and the ACC title. They finish the season with a perfect 13-0, 8-0 record. There is no way the selection committee can keep the Noles out of the playoffs. They are the only undefeated FBS team and are the defending national champs. Where will they be seeded?
About the same time that the pro games got started on Sunday the College Playoffs bracket was announced. Unfortunately for TCU and the Big 12 Conference the selection committee went with Ohio State. It's hard to argue with the selections. There was one undefeated team and five one defeat teams vying for four spots. Seems like a perfect reason to expand the playoffs to eight teams. FSU got a little more respect for their undefeated season and moved up to #3. The final regular season AP Poll had Baylor at #4 in place of Ohio State. We'll know in about a month how it all turns out. I'll go into the 1,493 other bowl games in a separate post.
In the NFL the Jaguars hosted division rival Houston. There was a ray of hope when Jax led 13-10 at the half but that soon disappeared as the Texas outscored Jacksonville 17-0 after intermission. Bortles was 20/39 for 205 yards with 1 int and 1 TD. As usual the ground game was anemic. They have scored the fewest points in the league. The Jaguars fall to 2-11 and are still very much in the race for top draft choice. Next game is in Baltimore.
Tampa Bay had to go to beautiful downtown Detroit for their game. They could have stayed home and gotten the same outcome. The Bucs only trailed by a TD at the half but never got any closer. Final score was 34-17. They managed a whopping 26 yards on the ground in only 14 attempts. There were also three Buccaneer turnovers. They too are now at 2-11 and in the hunt for the draft race along with Jacksonville and a couple of others. Next up TB is at Carolina.
Atlanta had to wait until Monday night to lose. This is a southern team that plays in an indoor stadium going to Green Bay in December. It was 33° and snowing at kickoff. It took the Packers less than four minutes to score and then amazingly the Falcons came right back to tie it up. That looked like it was the high point for the Birds. The Packers then reeled off 24 points in the 2nd quarter. Game over. Not so fast cheeseheads. Atlanta got it back to within 10 a couple of times and with about two minutes left cut the Packers lead to six. Failure to recover the onside kick sealed the game for Green Bay 43-37. It was a good game. The Falcons are now 5-8 but still tied for the NFC South division lead (the whole division sucks). Next game is at home against the Steelers.