“The Game” lived up to its considerable hype, and then some. Not only was Saturday’s epic Michigan-Ohio State showdown turned out to be a double-overtime thriller, it was also by far the most-watched college football this season – garnering a gaudy 10.4 TV rating – and the second most-watched since 2001, topped only by the 2006 edition of the Michigan-Ohio State game.
It also set the selection committee up for a huge headache. How many Big Ten teams can it take for the four-team playoff? One, two, or even maybe three?
Had Michigan won in spite of officiating malfeasance (every close call or non-call went Ohio State’s way, and the Buckeyes were flagged just twice for 6 yards the entire game), most likely the Big Ten would’ve ended up with just one team in the playoff. But now …
Ohio State is a lock for a playoff spot, though it won’t even play in the Big Ten championship game. The Wisconsin-Penn State winner in the B1G title game most likely will get a spot, too. And don’t completely write off Michigan, either, as it still has a chance to back into the playoff if both Clemson and Washington lose their respective conference title games.
If both Clemson and Washington go on to win the ACC and Pac-12, respectively, the committee then must wrestle with whether to exclude either one-loss team in favor of a two-loss Big Ten champion. And then there’s the Big 12 champion – the winner of Bedlam – but its hopes are faint at best.
Regardless what happens in the five Power 5 title games next week, the committee will not have very clear-cut choices. It’ll be its most difficult decision in the three years of the playoff era.
Bowl Update: As of now, 76 teams clinched bowl bids, including 6-7 Hawaii and 6-5 Army, which defeated two FCS teams. South Alabama and Louisiana-Lafayette may still earn bowl bids by winning their respective regular-season finales next Saturday.
But that means at least two and as many as four teams will qualify for bowl games with 5-7 records by virtue of their score on the Academic Progress Report. The next teams on the APR list, with North Texas and Mississippi State already guaranteed bowl bids:
- North Texas (APR 984)
- Mississippi State (971)*
- Texas (971)*
- Northern Illinois (970)
- Louisiana-Monroe (967)
- Cal (960)*
- Arizona State (960)*
*MSU has tiebreaker edge over Texas on one-year APR (970-968), Cal has edge over ASU (997-990)
<u”>Game of the Week
Ohio State 30, Michigan 27 (2OT): The 113rd edition of college football’s best rivalry was as gripping as it was controversial, with Ohio State pulling out the victory in double overtime after two sensational plays by wide receiver Curtis Samuel. Michigan was victimized by quarterback Wilton Speight’s three turnovers as well as a number of questionable calls. It was the Buckeyes’ 12th win in the last 13 meetings as Urban Meyer improved to 5-0 against his team’s arch rival.
Player of the Week
Adoree Jackson, USC: In perhaps his final collegiate home game, the Trojans’ do-everything defensive back showed why he should be the most serious threat to Louisville’s Lamar Jackson as a Heisman candidate. USC’s Jackson returned a punt 55 yards, a kickoff 97 yards and caught a pass 52 yards, all for touchdowns – in addition to playing his usual shutdown corner. The Trojans routed Notre Dame, 45-27, for their eighth straight victory.
In that same game, Notre Dame defensive lineman Jerry Tillery pulled off two despicable acts and somehow was not ejected. First, he used his foot to nudge USC running back Aca’Cedric Ware, who was down on the ground with an apparent head injury – but that went unnoticed by the officials. Later in the game, Tillery stomped on the ankle of USC offensive lineman Zach Banner, and was caught in the act and flagged for a penalty.
The Irish were blown out by the Trojans to cap off a disastrous 4-8 season after being ranked in the preseason top 10. And now there’s a possibility that Brian Kelly won’t return to coach in 2017. Notre Dame’s nightmare of a year can’t end soon enough.
The Weak II
Pitt put up 76 points and Navy 75 and neither was the highest scoring team this week. Middle Tennessee hung 77 on Florida Atlantic while amassing 757 yards of offense. The Syracuse football team scored more points (61) in losing to Pitt than its basketball team did (50) in a loss to South Carolina.
Does anyone play defense anymore?
Projected committee rankings
1. Alabama, 2. Ohio State, 3. Clemson, 4. Washington, 5. Michigan, 6. Wisconsin, 7. Penn State, 8. Oklahoma, 9. Colorado, 10. Oklahoma State, 11. USC, 12. Louisville, 13. Florida State, 14. West Virginia, 15. Florida.
Top Group of 5 teams: Western Michigan, Navy, Temple.
Projected New Year’s Six bowl matchups
Peach Bowl (CFP semifinal) : Alabama vs. Washington
Fiesta Bowl (CFP semifinal): Clemson vs. Ohio State
Rose Bowl – Wisconsin vs. USC
Orange Bowl – Michigan vs. Louisville
Sugar Bowl – Florida vs. Oklahoma
Cotton Bowl – Penn State vs. Western Michigan