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College Football 2016: Championship Weekend

Conference Championship Weekend Schedule

Friday Dec 2

MAC: Western Michigan vs. Ohio, 7 ET, ESPN2
Pac 12: Colorado vs. Washington, 9 ET, FOX

Saturday Dec 3

AAC: Temple @ Navy, noon ET, ABC
Conf USA: LA Tech @ W Kentucky, noon, ESPN
Big 12 (de facto): Oklahoma State @ Oklahoma, 12:30 ET, FOX
SEC: Alabama vs. Florida, 4 ET, CBS
MWC: San Diego St @ Wyoming, 7:45 ET, ESPN
ACC: Clemson vs. Virginia Tech, 8 ET, ABC
Big Ten: Wisconsin vs. Penn State, 8 ET, FOX

(You can discuss this on the BSL Board here.)

CFP Rankings (Top 10)

1) Alabama – Even if they lose to Florida, hard to see them dropping from the Top Four, unless it’s really ugly.
2) Ohio State – The first “at large” participant of the CFP Era? Looks pretty solid to me.
3) Clemson – Should win Saturday and hold their position, but might be a good idea to win comfortably, just in case.
4) Washington – (see: Clemson)
5) Michigan – They have already beaten each of the three teams ranked immediately below them. Should they get leapfrogged if any of them win Saturday while the Wolverines are idle? See below for my thoughts.
6) Wisconsin – Their two losses were by 1 TD in each game, to the teams currently ranked #2 and #5. If they beat Penn State, they probably have the strongest argument for a 2-loss team to play for the title since LSU won it in 2007. I’d bump them above Michigan if they win, as well as Clemson or Washington if they lose.
7) Penn State – They did beat OSU, by 3 points on a blocked FG returned for a TD. But look at the rest of their resume. Good, but not great, IMO. Even if they beat Wisconsin, unless they really look good doing so I have a hard time making a case for them to vault past Michigan, who beat them by 39 points, BTW.
8) Colorado – Even if they pull the upset over Washington, I don’t see any chance they make the Top Four. But frankly, settling for a Rose Bowl appearance would in no way dampen what has been a remarkable return to national relevance. Congratulations on a terrific season Buffs!
9) Oklahoma – A poor non-conference showing set the tone for both the Sooners and the Big 12 to be left out of the Playoff. That said, they played good teams (Houston and Ohio St). I hope their getting left out doesn’t mean we see fewer games like that in September. If I were the committee I’d personally tell Oklahoma they scheduled right, they just needed to win one of those two and they’d be set. On the other hand, if they had scheduled two cupcakes instead and were unbeaten. Ugh.
10) Oklahoma State – Like I said last week, hard not to wonder where they’d stand now if not for the officials’ debacle against C Michigan. I still think they’d be out of the Top Four, based on the Big 12’s poor OOC showing. But if Clemson and/or Washington were to lose Saturday while they beat Oklahoma….? That game’s gotta be haunting them.

Some Random Thoughts On the Season

  • It was supposed to be somewhat of a rebuilding year for Alabama. If this was a rebuilding year, then maybe forget about seeing a new champ until Saban moves on.
  • As impressive a season as it was for Alabama, it was much less so for the SEC overall. LSU, who many (me included) thought would knock the Tide off, fired their coach after 4 games. Tennessee….WTF? No matter what Alabama does from here on, the best overall conference this season was the Big Ten.
  • What might have been, USC, if you had started Sam Darnold from Day 1? You don’t beat Alabama, for sure, and probably not Stanford the next week either. But if he wasn’t making his very first college start in that game at Utah, that you very nearly won anyway, maybe you are firmly in the Top 10, playing for the Pac-12 title Friday, and perhaps something even bigger if things go right?
  • Outstanding season, Western Michigan. Enjoy the trip to Dallas for New Years. But I think it is very likely you’ll be making that trip without PJ Fleck.
  • Speaking of Western Michigan, if they happen to fall against Ohio, or if Navy somehow leapfrogs them in beating Temple for the AAC Title (they are currently separated by just two spots in the rankings), there could be a lot of hand-wringing around the CFB world on Dec 10 when the Middies face their arch rivals, a 6-5 Army team that will have had 3 weeks to prepare to finally beat Navy for the first time in 13 years. Hard to say what might happen if Navy is the higher ranked team after this weekend. Does the committee hold up the entire bowl process for a week? Or do they just complete the process now, and then cross their fingers that they didn’t end up giving a 3-loss G5 team the Big Bowl prize? While it was probably foreseen this scenario might occur, I’m sure most thought it was enough of a long-shot that they weren’t concerned. Well, guess what?
  • My take: Just don’t let this be a reason to force Army/Navy to move their game to earlier in the season. I really like it that they have the college football spotlight to themselves after Championship Week, rather than some random September weekend when few would pay attention.
  • Coaching Carousel: Texas and LSU already filled their spots. Texas was the big winner in getting Tom Herman. LSU, eh. As much of a comfortable fit as Ed Orgeron may be for them, I’ll be surprised if he delivers anything better than Les Miles, post-2011 title game. Oregon and Baylor are the other noteworthy openings right now. I’d expect both to make a call to Fleck. USF’s Willie Taggart has also been mentioned for the Oregon job. Houston may have the money to spend, but with no Big 12 invite coming it might be tough to land their top choice. That said, there are two big names sitting there that have indicated they would like to coach again ASAP: Art Briles and Miles. I think Briles is still a little too toxic after the Baylor scandal and may have to wait another year for the dust to settle before getting back in the game. We’ve heard very little from Miles since departing LSU. He made it clear at the time he wanted to coach more, but I’ve yet to hear his name in any rumors. (EDIT: The day after I published this, ESPN reported Miles is a candidate for the Houston job.)

My Predictions For Who Makes the Playoff

Chalk

  1. Alabama
  2. Ohio State
  3. Clemson
  4. Washington
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Mike Lowe

Mike is a Baltimore native living in Portland, OR since 2007. He currently runs his own business specializing in video production and online marketing. Prior to that he was a legal technology consultant, worked for 9 years at Johns Hopkins University and served 6 years in the Air Force. He also enjoys travel, food, beer, and is a volunteer at the Oregon Humane Society.

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