Playoff Picture Faces Dramatic Shakeup, as Does Heisman Race

Oh, college football, don’t ever change.

Pro football might have better personnel, better coaching and better schemes, but it doesn’t have scheming personalities as coaches, among other things. Not to mention wild laterals and incomprehensible officiating just to make sure there are no dull weekends.

Take Bret Bielema, probably one of the most bizarre individuals to ever patrol a football sideline. He’s at times alienated multiple fan bases – as did his wife with her infamous “karma” tweet – and mused that a victory over Texas as “borderline erotic.”

This week, Bert (as he’s “affectionately” known) took it to another level. After an amazing fourth-and-25 play that led to an OT score, he elected to go for two to end the game right there and then. And in the victorious postgame press conference he let it slip that he’s looking forward to “hopping on the wife.”

You can’t make this stuff up. And you won’t find this coming out of the mouths of Bill Belichick or any of his 31 NFL coaching brethren.

But that’s just a day in the office for college football. Dabo Swinney of Clemson – No. 1 Clemson – last week promised a pizza party and this week compared his team’s win over Florida State to the Kentucky Derby. To motivate his players, he put up a picture of the White House so they can make plans to “go see the prez.”

And then there’s Jim Harbaugh, a former pro coach who’s as ornery and a red-ass as anyone. “Offended” by officiating that penalized his Michigan team’s formation as “with intent to deceive” right before the half, he decided it’s appropriate to take out his rage on hapless Rutgers, going for two with the Wolverine up by 25.

Why? Because presumably he couldn’t go for three.

Home of champions (just not 49ers)

The San Francisco 49ers won’t win much this season – or in the foreseeable future – as the franchise continues its dumpster-fire implosion. But the crowds at their $1.3 billion playpen will continue to see champions crowned in the upcoming years – it’s just that they won’t be the 49ers.

Levi’s Stadium last week landed another championship event besides hosting Super Bowl 50 next February, and three consecutive Pac-12 championship games through 2016. Now, college football’s national champion also will be crowned in Santa Clara following the 2018 season.

Last week it was announce that Levi’s Stadium will join New Orleans (2017) and Atlanta (2019) as future hosts of the CFP title games. This season’s championship game will be held in Glendale, Ariz., then in Tampa, Fla., next year.

The placement of these title games is strategic, as the playoff selection committee would like to geographically spread out the title game with regard to where the semifinal games are held that year. In the season Levi’s Stadium will host the championship game, the semifinals will be played at the Cotton Bowl (Arlington, Texas) and Orange Bowl (Miami).

Heisman chaos

It took only one game to re-open the Heisman race when many pundits thought it was a foregone conclusion.

Leonard Fournette was held to just 31 yards on 19 carries as his Tigers were dismantled, 30-16, by Alabama. LSU’s sophomore running back got no help from his team’s inept passing game as the Tide frequently put eight defenders in the box and dared LSU to beat them by throwing the ball. Fournette, who had averaged 193 rushing yards per game entering the contest, had just 13 yards on 15 carries in the first three quarters, when the game was put out of reach.

Fournette’s closest challenger entering the weekend also hurt his own cause. TCU quarterback Trevone Boykin passed for 445 yards but threw four costly interceptions in the Frogs’ 49-29 loss to Oklahoma State that took them out of the running for the playoff. Boykin was outplayed by his counterpart Mason Rudolph, who threw for 352 yards with 5 TDs and no picks.

So Heisman voters, you might need to start from scratch.

Game of the Week

Nebraska 39, Michigan State 38: After losing five games in the last minute in agonizing fashion, the Cornhuskers finally got a reprieve from the football gods with an unthinkable rally to knock off the previously unbeaten Spartans. Trailing 38-26 with less than three minutes to go, Nebraska scored two touchdowns without the benefit of recovering an onside kick. A controversial pass reception by Brandon Reilly resulted in the winning score with 17 seconds left as coach Mike Riley’s embattled group at last got something to go its way.

Player of the Week

Derrick Henry, Alabama: While his counterpart Fournette struggled to get loose, the Tide’s junior running back ran roughshod over LSU’s fifth-ranked defense. Henry rushed for 210 yards on 38 carries and scored three touchdowns in the Tide’s must-win game to keep their playoff hopes alive.

Our rankings

With LSU, TCU, Michigan State and Memphis falling from the ranks of unbeatens, there are just six undefeated teams remaining in FBS and none from either the SEC or Pac-12. The committee’s task also got thornier as Notre Dame continues winning, with its only loss to No. 1 Clemson.

Here’s how we see the committee’s top 10 for this week: 1. Clemson, 2. Alabama, 3. Notre Dame, 4. Ohio State, 5. Baylor, 6. Oklahoma State, 7. LSU, 8. Florida, 9. Iowa, 10. Stanford.

— Samuel Chi is the managing editor of RealClearSports.com and proprietor of College Football Exchange. Follow him on Twitter at @ThePlayoffGuru.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s