My Winners for Today’s Semifinal Games and More.

Winston
Winston
A win in the Rose Bowl would make Jameis Winston's career record at Florida State 28-0.

Normally a piece like this would be featured in the research area of the website but I’m “blogging” it today because I just have to break down these New Year’s Day games.

Florida State (+8) vs Oregon (O/U 71) – Despite being the only unbeaten team left in college football, the Seminoles are the three-seed in the first-ever college football playoff. Frankly, there’s a couple of reasons for that and those are the relatively weak schedule and the constant need to come from behind against much of that competition.

The Ducks are out to prove a couple of things; first, that they aren’t a finesse team and second, that their Heisman winning QB is better than Florida State’s. While may will make this a game between Marcus Mariota and Jameis Winston, I believe the defenses will play a significant role in who advances to the title game.

FSU has struggled defensively compared to last year and that’s giving lots of people reason to lay their money on the Ducks but there is one major concern I have here. Oregon struggles to score touchdowns in the red zone because they tend to go east and west more than north and south and they run out of room near the end zone. Offensive coordinator Scott Frost will need to make proper adjustments there.

Trends: The Ducks are 5-0 straight up in their last five games… Florida State is 1-4 against the spread in their last five games…The total has gone UNDER in four of FSU’s last five games.

The Pick: As badly as I want to take FSU here because of their penchant for comebacks this season, I have a feeling the Ducks are going to run them out of the building with an offensive pace they haven’t seen all year. Take the Ducks to cover and take the OVER.

Jones
The Buckeyes' fortunes will rise or fall behind QB Cardale Jones tonight.

Ohio State (+9) vs Alabama (O/U 58) – Ohio State comes to New Orleans with a team led by a quarterback who has started just one game in his career. Granted, Cardale Jones tore up Wisconsin in the Big Ten Title game 59-0, but he’ll face a much greater challenge in terms of both defensive talent and defensive coaching from Alabama.

The Tide under Nick Saban have always been a run-first team but behind new offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin, the offense has exploded. The key will be whether the Alabama offensive line can handle a very good defensive line from Ohio State. If the Crimson Tide control the line of scrimmage then it could be a long day for the OSU defense.

Trends: Alabama is 4-10-1 against the spread in their last 15 games… Ohio State is 5-0 straight up in their last five games… The total has gone OVER in 11 of OSU’s last 12 games… The Crimson Tide is 5-0 in its’ last five contests.

The Pick: With six national titles between the two of the them, Saban and Urban Meyer will have their teams ready to play. I think Bama wins but I like the Buckeyes getting the points and I like the OVER as well.

Other Bowls

Wisconsin (+7) vs Auburn – Take the Tigers to cover as the Badgers are in a bit of disarray right now.

Michigan State (+3) vs Baylor – I can’t get Sparty’s second half collapse against Oregon’s high-octane offense out of my head. Take the Bears to cover.

Minnesota (+5) vs Missouri – Are you sensing a trend? Every Big Ten team playing today is an underdog. With good reason too, take the Tigers to cover.

Michigan Gets Their Man; More College Football Thoughts

Harbaugh
Harbaugh
Jim Harbaugh is the next head coach at Michigan but how long will he stay?

University of Michigan Interim Athletic Director Jim Hackett made it very clear in the days following the firing of Brady Hoke; having a “Michigan man” was no longer a top priority.

There was always an exception to that rule and his name was Jim Harbaugh. Yesterday, Harbaugh became the 20th head football coach of the Wolverines. There is no one more “Michigan man” than Harbaugh who started at quarterback from 1984-1986 for the Bo Schembechler -led teams who were so successful.

I must admit I’m surprised Harbaugh spurned the National Football League and especially for less money than what he could have gotten from just about any of those teams. I think that two things played a major factor in his decision however.

Number one is that of the available NFL jobs, none had a quarterback that Harbaugh really wanted to work with and that’s vitally important for the old QB because as we know he can flat-out coach quarterbacks (see Andrew Luck). The Raiders and Jets both have young signal-callers but neither was enticing enough for Harbaugh.

The argument could be made that both Atlanta and Chicago have good, veteran quarterbacks in Matt Ryan and Jay Cutler but each have their issues.

The second reason Harbaugh chose to leave the NFL is because I really feel he was tired of seeing what was happening to his alma mater an the call to come home and fix it was too great.

Michigan fans will once again pack the seats at Michigan Stadium to see the prodigal son return and he will make the program prominent once again but I caution them this; the desire to win a Super Bowl never leaves you as a player or coach if you’ve had a taste of it and Harbaugh has. I believe his stint in Ann Arbor will be five years or less because that desire will be too strong to avoid.

Stoops
The OU faithful are starting to wonder what's going on with Bob Stoops.

Bowl Game Bullets

-What on Earth has happened to Bob Stoops and Oklahoma? They were a preseason top five team who ended up finishing with five losses following a humiliating 40-6 loss to Clemson in the Russell Athletic Bowl. That score wasn’t indicative of how poorly Oklahoma played either. It was 40-0 after three quarters and Clemson pretty much emptied the bench in the final stanza. I have a feeling Stoops falls into that category of having been in the same place too long.

-I could be way off base here, but I think the Pac-12’s success in these early bowl games is a sign that Florida State better strap it up tomorrow when they face Oregon in the Rose Bowl. After Stanford’s 45-21 drubbing of Maryland last night in the Foster Farms Bowl, the Pac-12 moved to 4-0 in bowl season making them the only unbeaten conference remaining. Let’s face it – the level of competition between the ACC and Pac-12 wasn’t really a discussion topic anyway was it?

-As if I needed any more proof for my personal war against instant replay reviews in football I give you the LSU-Notre Dame game. Mad Hatter Les Miles went for a fake field goal and replays clearly showed the ball breaking the plane of the goal line but officials concluded it was disputable because of where the knee was. Here’s the thing, if the knee was down the play is over based on where the ball is when the knee touches right? The ball was over the goal line. If you can’t get replay right that you shouldn’t use it.

-Have a great New Year’s Eve and be safe people.

Playoff Committee Shows System is Still Flawed

CFP
CFP
The Committee has selected the four teams but the decision does not come without issues.

The College Football Playoff Committee was supposed to clean up most of the problems that haunted the Bowl Championship Series for 17 years. By having a playoff, even just a four-team playoff, was supposed to give us the best teams in the country squaring off for the title on the field.

The committee has failed miserably and frankly it has little to do with whether Ohio State belongs in or not because we could place (Fill in the blank) in this spot and little would change. Let me lay out for you where the committee screwed this up.

1. With the addition of the Buckeyes, the College Football Playoff Committee (CFPC) essentially said that their decision could be determined by just one game. What other reason would they have chosen OSU over TCU or Baylor than based upon the Buckeyes’ 59-0 win over Wisconsin?

Big 12
Being left out in the cold has the Big 12 looking for answers.

2. The committee took the easy way out with Ohio State thus avoiding the conflict over TCU getting ahead of Baylor. With every point the Buckeyes scored on Saturday night, a loud exhale was heard from the CFPC conference room.This was because they knew that they could choose OSU and despite wins on the final day, leave TCU and Baylor out in the cold.

3. Name recognition played a huge part. CFPC Chairman Jeff Long can tell us all day and all night that the name and power of the Ohio State brand had nothing to do with them being selected but I won’t believe him and I’m pretty sure the kids in Fort Worth and Waco feel the same.

They knew full-well that the first playoff needed as much star power as possible. With unbeaten and defending national champ Florida State in, Nick Saban’s dynasty-laden Tide in and Heisman winning Marcus Mariota and Oregon in it only made sense to have one more of college football’s upper echelon teams in the final four.

The Buckeyes travel as well as any team in college football. Baylor and TCU couldn’t have sold even a nugget of the tickets that Ohio State fans will purchase. Truth time; if TCU and Baylor were Oklahoma and Texas don’t you think one of them would have been chosen? The answer there is yes.

4. By selecting a team outside of the top four heading into the final rankings, the CFPC rendered their earlier rankings totally moot. There is absolutely no excuse for the CFPC not to have selected Baylor or TCU based upon this. They did exactly what they needed to do on Saturday and were punished because of OSU’s performance and ultimately strength of schedule.

No one can dispute the fact that Baylor had the least-difficult non-conference schedule in the country but my question then is this; why wasn’t that factored in previously?

This committee was political from the start and then proceeded to grandstand on the final day. The kids at Baylor and TCU were guilty of one thing this past weekend; they didn’t play for bigger name schools.

Looking Ahead

Florida State (+9) vs Oregon – The Rose Bowl will be filled with green as the Ducks’ faithful roll in. Often overlooked is the Oregon defense which will look forward ot the challenge of stopping Jameis Winston.

Ohio State (+10) vs Alabama – It’s a good thing the Buckeyes travel well because the Tide are playing in their backyard in the Superdome. This game will come down to who can control the trenches.

How the College Football Playoff Selection Unraveled for Me.

Mariota
Mariota
Marcus Mariota helped his Ducks into the playoff and himself into a Heisman Trophy.

By the time you read this, one of two things will be happening; either the College Football Playoff Committee will have chosen its’ four teams for the first-ever playoff or they will be about to do so.

Saturday 12/6/14 10am Eastern

Here’s what we know on the eve of the committee’s final selections. Oregon is in and then some. The Ducks avenged their only loss of the season by whipping Arizona 51-13 to win the Pac-12 Conference Title. Quarterback Marcus Mariota has made his final bid for the Heisman Trophy and along with Wisconsin’s Melvin Gordon and Alabama’s Amari Cooper, is headed to New York City for the announcement of the award.

12/6/14 4pm Eastern

As I write this portion just past 1pm Pacific Time, the TCU Horned Frogs are also in the playoff. They made quick work of a pathetic Iowa State team and won going away 55-3. Keep in mind, Baylor plays this evening and knowing what the Frogs have done, the pressure will be on the Bears to not just win, but win convincingly.

Briles
Art Briles' Baylor Bears have staked their claim to a payoff spot. Will the committee finally agree?

What if Baylor does just that though? It’s too late in my opinion. The committee has held TCU in higher regard than Baylor since the initial rankings were announced. It would make absolutely no sense for the committee to flip-flop them now.

12/6/14 815pm Eastern

Alabama has captured the SEC Title with a 42-13 win over Missouri and has punched their ticket into the four-team playoff. The Tigers struggled from the get-go while Alabama took advantage of a struggling Missouri offense.

By my record, three teams that have been in the top four most of the season have now set themselves up well to be in the playoff. As I look up at the television, I see Florida State, Ohio State and Baylor are all underway and looking to make their respective cases.

12/6/14 11pm Eastern

Baylor has taken care of business by defeating K-State 38-27. Let the comparisons begin between the two Big-12 champs… TCU defeated the Wildcats 41-20 and definitely has the better resume in terms of non-conference schedule. The problem is that Baylor won the head-to-head with TCU and that should be the deciding factor.

I think TCU is better overall, but Baylor won when it mattered.

12/7/14 826am Eastern

Well, well, well…. Things are going to be interesting today for the committee as they now have to consider Ohio State and Florida State wins in their respective conference championship games.

The Seminoles survived the the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets 37-35 and again the question of whether winning ugly matters as long as you’re winning. My opinion here is that FSU is 13-0 and when you start your season your goal is to win every game. Regardless of how, Florida State has won all of their games and they have done that.

We can’t totally dismiss Ohio State who has finished at 12-1 and a with Big Ten title after destroying Wisconsin 59-0. They accomplished this behind a third-string quarterback and held former Heisman Trophy hopeful Melvin Gordon to 76 yards on 26 carries. I say “former” because that performance all but gives the trophy to Mariota.

While the Buckeyes did everything they could to get into the playoff, they will be hurt by that horrible loss to Virginia Tech and a weak Big Ten.

My Four-Team Playoff is 1. Alabama 2. Oregon 3. Florida State 4. TCU

My prediction for the committee will be 1. Alabama 2. Oregon 3. Florida State 4. Baylor

Let the screaming commence. Oh and it’s 852am Eastern…

 

It All Comes Down to One Final Week of College Football

Boykin
Boykin
Trevone Boykin and the Horned Frogs should have no trouble with Iowa State but you never know.

It’s a big week in college football with all sorts of bowl spots on the line. Chief among them are those four coveted playoff spots.

Iowa State (+34.5) at TCU (O/U 69) – The Cyclones enter at 2-9 and this very well could be Paul Rhoades final game coaching the Cyclones. Only one time all season did ISU get beat by more than 34 points and that was a 59-14 loss to Oklahoma.

With everything that TCU is playing for, I still can’t see the Cyclones getting beaten by that much unless they just flat-out give up.

The Pick: Take ISU and the UNDER.

Kansas State (+8) at Baylor (O/U 67) – The Wildcats have already faced TCU and lost 41-20. The pressure is now on the Bears to win by that margin at least. Why? Because the playoff committee clearly doesn’t care about the Bears’ head-to-head win over the Horned Frogs, Baylor needs a monster win over K-State because what is prized by the committee is schedule strength.

Kansas State plays well defensively but it will be their offense that keeps them in this game. Baylor’s fortunes will depend on the health of Bryce Petty who missed time last week with a concussion.

The Pick: Baylor will know it’s fate because TCU’s game will have ended about three hours before they kick off. That will be a factor… Take the Wildcats getting the points and the UNDER.

 

Mauk
Mauk needs to have a turnover-free game if the Tigers are to upset the Crimson Tide.

Missouri (+14.5) vs. Alabama (O/U 49) – Not too bad for the Tigers; two years in the SEC and two SEC East titles. Last year, Mizzou gave Auburn a valiant effort in the SEC Title game before losing and now they have to contend with the Crimson Tide.

Missouri’s defense will give Alabama some problems. They’ve only given up one 100-yard receiving performance this season while the Tide’s Amari Cooper has seven himself. Mizzou also gets to the QB which could be a problem if Blake Sims starts making poor decisions.

The problem for the Tigers is that I’m not convinced their offense can put up the kind of points they are going to need to win. Gary Pinkel is a solid coach and he’ll need every trick in the book to win this win.

The Pick: A late score gives Bama the cover and I like the OVER.

Florida State (-4) vs. Georgia Tech (O/U 61) – The Yellow Jackets are without top receiver Deandre Smelter who has a knee injury. That could be a factor should Georgia Tech get behind and be forced to throw the ball.

That’s not the game plan though and Florida State knows it. The Yellow Jackets will run the ball and will run it and run it and run it some more. Tech is not great defensively per se but they won’t be a rollover either.

Jameis Winston cannot afford another four turnover game because of the time GT takes off the clock on each possession.

The Pick: Take the Noles to cover on another late TD and take the UNDER.

Wisconsin (-4) vs Ohio State (O/U 53) – Cardale Jones takes over under center for the Buckeyes after J.T. Barrett went down for the season last weekend at against Michigan. A lot of national pundits are jumping on the Wisconsin bandwagon with Barrett out but don’t count out Ohio State just yet. Urban Meyer and offensive coordinator Tom Herman will develop a gameplan that fits Jones who is much bigger than Barrett of Braxton Miller.

Wisconsin has a very good defense that will be tested by athletes for the first time really since the opener against LSU. The Badgers will no doubt ride the running game with Melvin Gordon against a Buckeyes’ defense that has struggled against the run.

The Pick: I like OSU getting the points and the UNDER.

 

Florida State Must Win Big In ACC Championship Game

During the summer, odds makers across the U.S. and online, had the Florida State Seminoles favored to win the national championship and favored by double-digits in all of their regular season games.

Fast forward to the present, the Seminoles are 12-0 on the season, but are no longer at the top of the futures board for the national championship and will play in the ACC Championship this weekend favored by just 4 points.

The FSU season has been characterized by its close calls, no losses and drama off the field.

The Seminoles have won 28 straight games but will have a tough task at hand when they face Georgia Tech Saturday night.

FSU is 12-0 SU, but 3-9 ATS. However, with a win on Saturday, the Seminoles will likely be one of the four teams selected for the inaugural College Football Playoff.

According to Bovada and sportsbook.com, Florida State is 28-0 straight up and 15-13 against the spread in its past 28 games played.

The Seminoles are 3-10 ATS over their past 13 games played. FSU is 0-5 against the number in its past 5 games against Georgia Tech.

According to betonline and topbet, Georgia Tech is 5-0 SU as well as ATS in its past 5 games overall.

The UNDER has cashed in each of the past 4 games FSU has played.

The UNDER has cashed in 6 of the past 9 games Georgia Tech has played.

The UNDER has cashed in 4 of the past 6 games between the two teams.

It is strange and almost unbelievable that the sole college football team still unbeaten in the FBS is in danger of not qualifying for the College Football Playoff. Florida State is the defending national champion and no one to date has defeated them but because of lackluster performances, the team could be overlooked by the selection committee.

If Baylor can rout Kansas State or if Ohio State can pound Wisconsin and FSU does not have a convincing win over Georgia Tech, the fourth spot might not be Florida State’s, when it comes time to pick.

Georgia Tech has played very strong of late. Last week they defeated Georgia 30-24 in overtime, as a 10.5-point dog.

However, in the process of defeating Georgia they lost DaAndre Smelter their top wide receiver. He is doubtful for Saturday’s game due to an injured knee.

Jameis Winston, who won the Heisman Trophy last season as a freshman at FSU, was in a two-day student conduct hearing this week that could have some bearing on how he plays this weekend.

Pick: Florida State is against the wall, which is strange for an undefeated team. However, the Seminoles are much stronger than the Yellow Jackets. I like FSU big.

Predicting the Committee’s Penultimate Playoff Rankings in College Football

Yeldon
Yeldon
T.J. Yeldon and the Tide survived Auburn. Can they now get past Missouri in the SEC Title game?

It’s really hard to put into perspective just what the College Football Playoff Committee is facing this week and in the week to come. On Sunday, December 7th, the committee will announce the four teams that will play in major college football’s first-ever playoff.

Let’s address this week and what we can expect from the committee first.

Alabama will remain the top-seed with their win over Auburn. It was the highest-scoring Iron Bowl in history and despite giving up a boatload of points and passing yards, the Tide will remain in the top spot heading into the SEC Championship Game.

While it would not surprise me to see Oregon jump into the top spot following their blowout win over rival Oregon State, I think they’ll stay put at number two. The Beavers were not nearly the level of competition that Auburn was so look for the Ducks to stay at number two.

Jameis
Despite four picks by Winston, the Seminoles hung on to beat Florida.

At number three, I expect the committee to stick with Florida State. To be really, really honest here I can actually see them dropping to number four because they continue to win ugly against lesser competition. Jameis Winston has not played well but the team keeps surviving and the name of the game is to win so look for the ‘Noles to stay at three.

The fourth and final spot is again filled with intrigue. I feel that TCU will stay because the committee has favored strength of schedule over head-to-head competition. The Horned Frogs destroyed a Texas team that was thought to be improving while Baylor survived Texas Tech. The Red Raiders are arguably the worst team in the Big 12.

TCU finishes at home against a pretty bad Iowa State team while the Baylor Bears finish with a very good Kansas State in Waco.

I expect to see Ohio State at five and Baylor at six, but the injury to Buckeyes’ QB J.T. Barrett could be a factor at least this week in the opinion of the committee.

So how will things shakeout?

Next Saturday could reveal a lot of status quo or we could see massive changes to the playoff participant list. Alabama plays a very good Missouri team in the SEC Title game. Oregon plays the only team to beat them this season, Arizona, in the Pac-12 Title game and Florida State will play in the ACC Championship game against a very hot Georgia Tech team who just beat Georgia in Athens.

Let’s imagine for a second that Bama, Oregon and Florida State all lose. With Ohio State playing in the Big 10 Title game against Wisconsin, a win by them immediately vaults them into the playoff but who else would join them?

Arizona would have to get a spot right? They would have been a top four team twice in the same season. With just one loss would Florida State be given a reprieve? I doubt it because the committee hasn’t been impressed with FSU all season. The most interesting question to me is what happens if TCU and Baylor both finish with just one loss.

Would the committee seed them ahead of a two-loss Alabama team?

Obviously there’s a lot that can still happen. Should total chaos ensue, can we rule out teams like Mississippi State, Wisconsin, Georgia Tech or Missouri? I don’t think so simply based on who they would have beat this coming Saturday.

For tomorrow, plan on Alabama, Oregon, Florida State and TCU. For next week, plan on just about anything.

Lots of Leftovers for Your Wagering Plate

Hoke
Hoke
Saturday is likely the end for Brady Hoke's tenure at Michigan.

Today would normally be a day to sit down and give you the breakdown on a handful of college games that are going on today and tomorrow. Instead, I’m going to give you much more. Kind of like how you went back for more turkey, stuffing, potatoes, etc.

Loosen your belt and enjoy. (My picks are in BOLD)

Northern Illinois (+7) at Western Michigan – Both teams are tied atop the MAC West with Toledo at 6-1. WMU has won six-straight but needs help while a NIU win gives them the title.

Virginia (-1) at Virginia Tech – Both teams enter at 5-6. The winner goes bowling while the loser goes home and perhaps starts searching for a new head coach.

Nebraska (EVEN) at Iowa – There are some suggesting this game could determine Bo Pelini’s fate in Lincoln while Kirk Ferentz appears to be in Iowa City for life.

Arkansas (-3) at Missouri – The Razorbacks are playing as well right now as any team in the country. They’ve posted back-to-back shutouts over LSU and Ole Miss. A Mizzou win gives them the SEC East title.

Rich
Rich Rodriguez and his Wildcats host rival Arizona State in a game with major implications.

Arizona State (+2.5) at Arizona – This one is simple. The winner stays alive in the Pac-12 South race while the loser is out. This is one of the great rivalries in college football that doesn’t get the attention it deserves.

Stanford (+6) at UCLA – The disappointing season of Stanford finishes in the Rose Bowl where it all unraveled last season in a loss to Michigan State. The Bruins appear to be peaking and remain a long-shot for the college football playoff should chaos ensue at the top.

Saturday’s Action

Michigan (+21) at Ohio State – Brady Hoke needs a win just to make UM officials even consider keeping him. The Buckeyes have been heavy favorites before against the Wolverines but have struggled to win. Not today… This one will get ugly.

Minnesota (+14) at Wisconsin – Minnesota has to be ticked at being a two-touchdown dog at Wisconsin. The Gophers have played well in wins and losses this season and this one is for the Big 10 West title. Look for lots of running in this one.

Washington (-3) at Washington State – The Battle for the Apple Cup features the bowl-bound Huskies against a Cougars’ team that has struggled all season. Mike Leach’s job security in Pullman can only be described as “not very good” at the moment.

Baylor (-25) at Texas Tech – TCU is in the clubhouse at 11-1 after drubbing Texas. Baylor now must hold serve in order to keep their playoff chances alive. The Red Raiders can score points but their defense is…. Going to be abused today. Normally anything over 21 points scares me but not today.

Georgia Tech (+13) at Georgia – The Yellow Jackets are already in the ACC Title game against Florida State. The Bulldogs will already know if they are in the SEC Title game by the time they wake up today. Either way, I expect home-field to be important.

Oregon (-20) at Oregon State – What a disappointing season this has been for the Beavers. I expected so much more from Sean Mannion and company… The Ducks know the drill; win today and win the Pac-12 title and they’re in the playoff. OSU won’t go easily though and keeps it close.

Auburn (+9) at Alabama – Nothing can top last year’s game so let’s forget that right now. Bama has been a machine at home this season while Auburn has really fallen apart in recent weeks.

Florida (+7.5) at Florida State – The Seminoles have done nothing easy all season and that will continue today. In Will Muschamp’s final game coaching the Gators, I expect them to keep it close.

Alphabet Soup Today as I Hit on the NFL, MLB and the NCAA.

Beckham
Beckham
Was Odell Beckham's catch Sunday night the greatest ever? I'll leave that to you.

I can’t remember a time when one individual play, in a losing effort, garnered so much attention. But that was the case Sunday night when the Dallas Cowboys defeated the New York Giants in Sunday Night Football.

The Cowboys winning should have been the story but instead it was the one-headed, falling backwards into the end zone grab by Giants’ rookie wide receiver Odell Beckham, Jr.

I’m going to spare all of you as to whether or not I believe it was the greatest football catch of all time but I will tell you it has to rank right up there among the top five. I leave the debating to you.

The one question I have for you is this; does Beckham make that catch without the use of gloves?

Panda
Pablo Sandoval looks to be headed to the Boston Red Sox.

MLB

Clearly the Boston Red Sox were not thrilled with their last place finish in the American League East this past baseball season. The BoSox appear to have infielder Hanley Ramirez ready to sign for five years and $90 million and now it seems they will lock up third baseman Pablo Sandoval.

Sandoval is fresh off of another World Series Title with the San Francisco Giants and reportedly turned down offers from the Giants and San Diego that were very similar to what Ramirez is getting from Boston.

The Red Sox are also reportedly interested in bringing back lefty Jon Lester who went to the Oakland A’s in a mid-season trade this past season.

Should all three, or at least the first two happen, Boston is making it clear they are all-in for 2015.

NCAA Football

Because of his connections with the University of Florida going back decades, former Denver Broncos and Washington Redskins’ Head Coach Mike Shanahan has been rumored to be a favorite of Athletic Director Jeremy Foley. My gut feeling tells me there is nothing here more than conjecture.

At 62 years old, I can’t see a major program like Florida starting over with Shanahan. If the program is much more damaged than we have been led to believe then I can see the hiring of Shanahan as a “stabilizing force” type of hire who cleans things up and then moves on. Still, I find his hiring difficult to believe.

The college football playoff committee will announce their latest rankings this evening and at this current point, the teams ranking five through eight might be more important. The top four should be Alabama, Oregon, Florida State and Mississippi State. The Seminoles and Ducks have already established spots in their respective conference title games and the Crimson Tide can punch their ticket with a win on Saturday over Auburn.

The teams that will be watching closely are Ohio State, TCU and Baylor among the one-loss teams. Of these teams, only Ohio State will have to play a conference title game. The real controversy of course is between Baylor and TCU. The Bears own the head-to-head win but the committee is more impressed by TCU’s level of competition and of late has had them ranked higher.

The Buckeyes continue to be the most intriguing one-loss team looking up in the rankings. Their level of competition is pretty weak compared to other teams and their lone loss (to 5-6 Virginia Tech) looks worse and worse every week. Ultimately it could keep them out of the four-team playoff.

Of the tw0-loss teams still holding out hope, Michigan State, Wisconsin, Georgia, Arizona, Arizona State and UCLA would seem to be the front-runners. Each of those teams is going to require a lot of help however.

Traditional Powers are Reeling in College Football Plus My Latest Playoff Prediction

Kelly
Kelly
Brian Kelly's Irish have dropped four of five and Irish fans aren't happy.

It wasn’t that long ago that both Notre Dame and Nebraska were sitting in good shape for a potential playoff spot if things broke right for them. Both teams had started their respective seasons undefeated and even when both finally lost their first games, they were still in contention for some really good postseason news.

Nebraska’s loss was at Michigan State. The Cornhuskers fell behind but rallied late and nearly pulled off the comeback in East Lansing before losing by five points. It was a loss, but it was widely regarded as a “good loss” because at that point, Michigan State had lost only to Oregon in Eugene so losing to the Spartans was nothing to be ashamed of.

In South Bend, the feeling was that the Irish had been robbed in Tallahassee when their late, game-winning touchdown was called back because of a controversial pass interference call. So much like Nebraska, the Irish were still very much in play for a playoff berth should they run the table.

Things change quickly in collegiate athletics and college football is the prime example.

Pelini
I imagine the Huskers will see lots of this face this week at practice.

Just weeks later, both of these traditional powers find themselves searching for answers. Nebraska has now dropped two straight games to Wisconsin and to Minnesota. Ironically, those two teams will be playing for the Big Ten West Division title next week in Madison while the Huskers will be playing for pride and bowl position against Iowa.

For the Irish, it’s been even worse. They struggled to put away Navy following the FSU loss since the win over the Midshipmen, Notre Dame has lost three in a row. The first of those was a sloppy loss at Arizona State and the last two have been at home to Northwestern and Louisville yesterday. The Fighting Irish are now 7-4 and still have USC to deal with.

Questions were already swirling about Bo Pelini’s fate in Lincoln and that will intensify this week. Brian Kelly can only ride the trip to the National Title Game so long before he starts to feel more pressure as well. His last two losses will not sit well with the Irish faithful.

Another traditional power on the outs is of course Michigan who dropped to 5-6 following a fourth quarter collapse and eventual loss to Maryland in what is sure to be Brady Hoke’s final game in Michigan Stadium.

The Wolverines now face the prospect of having to go to Columbus and defeat the Buckeyes in order to go to a bowl game and that ain’t happening. Michigan has suffered from horrible quarterback play and untimely defensive failures all year.

Interim Athletic Director Jim Hackett announced yesterday that the decision on Hoke’s future would be his to decide. Firing Hoke isn’t easy because he’s a likable guy and a ‘Michigan Man’ through and through but the evidence is overwhelming in favor of terminating him. The only thing that can save Hoke is a win over the hated Buckeyes but I can’t see it happening.

I expect Hoke to join Will Muschamp on the unemployment line very soon.

My Playoff Predictions for this week

1. Alabama – Revenge week begins as Auburn comes to Tuscaloosa.

2. Florida State – Yes, they struggled again but the name of the game is winning and they are doing that.

3. Oregon – Another ho-hum blowout this time over Colorado.

4. Mississippi State – The Bulldogs bounced back from their loss to Alabama by crushing Vanderbilt 51-0.

Still in the running… TCU, Baylor, Ohio State