Angels sign Shohei Ohtani

Finally, the first domino of the MLB offseason has fallen. After the Marlins traded Dee Gordon to the Mariners for a bunch of prospects, it seemed like only a matter of time before the floodgates opened. Well, they have, as the Anaheim Angels have signed Japanese superstar Shohei Ohtani just a day after Gordon was traded. Ohtani is probably the most intriguing player to come out of Japan since Ichiro mainly because of the prospect of his being a 2-way player. Not only can he hit 100 mph with his fastball on the mound, but he is also very capable of hitting a baseball a very long way.

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Ohtani has been a professional baseball player for the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters in the Japan Pacific League since he was 18 years old. When he wasn’t pitching, he was playing the outfield there. His best all-around season was easily his 2016 season, as he hit .322 with 22 home runs and 67 RBI, while on the mound he went 10-4 with a 1.86 ERA and struck out 174 batters over 140 innings. So naturally, when it was made public that he had intentions to play overseas in the United States, Major League Baseball got interested.

It was a very interesting signing process, as Ohtani would tell several high profile teams that he didn’t want to play for them, most notably the Red Sox, Yankees, and Twins, all of whom made the postseason in 2017. He even put the Phillies in a bodybag with this comment.

There was some backlash from fans and some members of the media, many of whom criticized Ohtani for being arrogant and seeming to not care so much about winning. Eventually, he narrowed his list down to 7 teams: the Angels, Mariners, Padres, Dodgers, Cubs, Rangers, and Giants. Last I had heard, it appeared that the Mariners were the frontrunners to acquire the talented star, which didn’t surprise me as the Mariners had always been a preferred destination for Japanese players, as it is the closest team to their home country (Ichiro and Kenji Johjima come to mind as well as a few others whose names I’m spacing on). This was as recently as Friday morning, just hours before it was reported he was signing with Anaheim.

Earlier Friday afternoon, Ohtani had made his decision and will be signing with the Anaheim Angels (I refuse to call them the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim after all these years because that’s stupid. They’re in Anaheim. They’ve been called the Anaheim Angels. What’s the point of putting Los Angeles in front?). Reportedly one of the deal makers for Ohtani was a Facetime call with Angels superstar outfielder Mike Trout, who couldn’t meet in person because his wedding is today. It’s unknown what Trout said, but it must have been really convincing because the Angels were never really considered to be favorites to land Ohtani. The most in international bonus money they can offer is around $2.3 million, which is significantly less than what the Mariners and Rangers could have offered. Ohtani’s booking fee is less than the likes of Daisuke Matsuzaka and Yu Darvish, luckily for the Angels, as it’s only around $20 million, whereas the former two had booking fees of around $50 million each. As of right now, we don’t know what his actual contract is going to be, but I doubt it’s going to be anywhere near what other Japanese superstars have gotten based on the most recent CBA.

So where does Ohtani fit in with the Angels? It’s hard to say, really. They’d be fools not to give him a chance to be a two-way player so it will certainly be intriguing to see how manager Mike Scioscia decides to use him. He’s battled injuries throughout his career in Japan so he’s a guy they may want to keep a close eye on health-wise. I have a feeling that being a two-way player may have something to do with his injury history and it could impact him greatly in the Major Leagues. I think after enough DL stints, Scioscia will decide enough is enough and have him stick to one or the other. But for the beginning of the year, at least, he will more than likely do both. It’s likely that he will be in the starting rotation for much of the year and in games he doesn’t pitch in, we could see him DH for the Halos, allowing him to go through a normal regimen for a starting pitcher while also getting a few hacks in. I doubt he’ll see much time in the field, as the Angels already have one of the better outfields in baseball, with Mike Trout in centerfield, Justin Upton in left, and Kole Calhoun in right. Albert Pujols is currently the DH but the only reason he’s still on the roster right now is because of that monstrous contract. If Scioscia really wants to keep him in the lineup, that will likely bump the incumbent CJ Cron from his duties at first base. It seems that Cron is the odd man out in this situation and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him traded sometime in the near future. Cron is only 27 years old and is making the Major League minimum right now, so you can bet there will be teams calling GM Billy Eppler about him. Here’s what the Angels lineup would look like with Otani:

1. Andrelton Simmons-SS

2. Mike Trout-CF

3. Shohei Ohtani-DH/P

4. Albert Pujols-1B

5. Justin Upton-LF

6. Kole Calhoun-RF

7. Luis Valbuena-3B

8. Martin Maldonado-C

9. Jefry Marte-2B

That has the potential to be a very formidable lineup. It’s also worth mentioning that on days that Ohtani is pitching, the Angels could decline their option to use a DH and have him bat for himself. People often forget the DH in the AL isn’t mandatory, it’s an option that’s given to each team, but naturally they use it because most pitchers aren’t exactly Shohei Ohtani with a bat in hand. As for the starting rotation, it would look something like this:

1. Garrett Richards

2. Shohei Ohtani

3. Matt Shoemaker

4. Tyler Skaggs

5. Andrew Heaney

Not as formidable-looking, but it has the potential to be very good if these guys can stay healthy (which has been a MAJOR issue for this bunch the last couple years). Personally, I think Ohtani is better as a pitcher, as his fastball can hit as high as 102 mph with a splitter/sinker that just falls off the table at the end. He was also most consistently good as a pitcher in Japan, as his highest batting average outside of his 2016 season is .274, while his ERA has consistently been under 3 since his rookie year. The main issue for this kid has been health, as he missed a large chunk of his 2017 season due to injury. But when healthy, this is what he can do (just a heads up, it’s long as shit, about 22 minutes).

So that ends one of the more interesting free agent sagas of recent memory. Once the details of his contract are finalized, we can get back into focusing on what other high profile players will do, which I’m chomping at the bit for because the highest-profile free agent to sign with a new team so far is Doug Fister with the Rangers. Not exactly what I’d call earth-shaking.

Also, what is the deal with the spelling of his last name? Every site I go to that talks about this guy, they either spell his last name “Otani” without the ‘h’ or “Ohtani” with the ‘h.’ For this blog, I went with the ‘h’ because that was how it was spelled on the back of his jersey in the video I embedded. But seriously, try googling both spellings. Google doesn’t correct you for the wrong one. If anybody knows why that is, PLEASE tell me, because it is so confusing to me.

So this is what a Saturday is like without college football picks. I know, I did promise I would do a whole Army-Navy segment before, but when I got to writing it, I came to the realization that I don’t know nearly enough about them to do the kind of blog I wanted to do. Then Ohtani signed and I felt that would take precedent. Fear not, I will still pick that game.

Projected Score: Navy 20 Army 17

Sorry West Point, but the Midshipmen regain bragging rights after losing last year for the first time since 2001. But it’s going to be a quick game as neither team commits many penalties and there is a LOT of running the football and very few reasons to stop the clock.

That’s my semi-double-blog for this week. What do you think of the Ohtani signing? How about your thoughts on the Army-Navy game? Let me know in the comments section below and on Facebook or Twitter @jimwyman10 and contribute to my Patreon.

Final Heisman Trophy Rankings

So with the Heisman trophy winner being announced on Saturday, I thought I’d revisit the rankings I did at midseason and see where things stand now. If you’ve been keeping up with the college football season and my blog, you will know that things changed DRAMATICALLY. For reference, here were my rankings at midseason:

5. Lamar Jackson

4. Jonathan Taylor

3. Baker Mayfield

2. Bryce Love

1. Saquon Barkley

As you may have seen, Barkley fell off HARD after inconsistent performances in the Big Ten schedule. Teams were able to limit his rushing ability and he would consistently be held under 100 yards while other guys would only elevate their play. In fact, despite all the Heisman hype Barkley has gotten this year, he is not amongst the finalists headed to New York for the trophy presentation. That would be Lamar Jackson, Bryce Love, and Baker Mayfield. So with that, let’s get into my final Heisman rankings.

5. Jonathan Taylor-RB-Wisconsin

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Previous Ranking: 4th

Stat Line: 273 carries, 1847 yards, 13 TDs

Jonathan Taylor has probably had one of the greatest freshman seasons in the history of college football. In fact, he is 78 yards away from Adrian Peterson’s freshman record of 1925 yards, a feat he can achieve in the Orange Bowl against Miami (FL). He is also 153 yards away from reaching 2000 yards, a mark never achieved by a freshman. The 153 yards is very feasible for him to obtain, as he has reached that total in 5 of his 13 games this season. Where Taylor’s Heisman candidacy hurts is that he’s a pretty one-dimensional player. He only had 7 receptions all season and 3 of them came in the Big Ten championship game. He also was really held in check in that game on the ground, as he only ran for 41 yards on 15 carries against the vaunted Ohio State defense. But if he continues to build on his success this season and improve his all-around game, I would expect him to rank at the top of this list within the next two years.

4. Rashaad Penny-RB-San Diego State

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Previous Ranking: Just Missed

Stat Line: 275 carries, 2027 yards, 19 TDs, 18 catches, 142 yards, 2 TDs

Where does San Diego State keep finding these guys? They had Marshall Faulk back in the day and they just lost college football’s all-time leading rusher in Donnell Pumphrey to graduation and they replace him with this guy. Rashaad Penny was a bit under the radar this season, playing in the lowly Mountain West Conference, which is the main hit against his candidacy. But he shouldn’t have been, as even in a backup role last season, he still ran for 1000 yards. Naturally, he flourished in a starting role, as his 2027 rushing yards led the nation. Had he put up these numbers at a Power 5 school, though, we could very easily be talking about him as the Heisman favorite. And for a guy as big as he is (5’11 220 pounds), he is pretty active catching the ball. Guys that weight 220 typically aren’t very involved in the passing game but Penny bucks the trend a bit. He also ended the season on an absolute TEAR. Following back-to-back games where he was held under 70 yards, Penny rushed for over 200 in each of the final four games of the season, including a 253-yard performance against Hawaii. It’ll be interesting to see what NFL scouts think of this guy because I think he could be an impactful player at the next level.

3. Lamar Jackson-QB-Louisville

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Previous Ranking: 5th

Stat Line: 241-399 (60.4%), 3489 yards, 25 TDs, 6 INTs, 208 carries, 1443 yards, 17 TDs

It’s hard to believe, but Lamar Jackson may have actually improved on his Heisman-winning campaign from last season. He got significantly better as a passer, forcing scouts to seriously entertain the idea of him being a successful NFL quarterback, he was able to cut down on the turnovers, and even got better as a runner, if that’s even possible. While yes, his 1443 yards are down from his 1571 last year, but that’s because he did it on 52 fewer carries, resulting in his yards per carry being almost an entire yard higher than last season (6.9 vs 6.0). What hurts Jackson’s bid to become the second ever 2-time Heisman winner is that Louisville wasn’t competing for a playoff berth this year like they were last year and while I do think that’s unfair, it does play a role in the eyes of the voters when you’re the quarterback and the player most linked to a team’s success.

2. Bryce Love-RB-Stanford

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Previous Ranking: 2nd

Stat Line: 237 carries, 1973 yards, 17 TDs

Bryce Love is the only guy in my Heisman rankings who stays put from my midseason edition. At the time of my midseason rankings, I toyed with the idea of having Love in the top spot over Saquon Barkley because that’s just how good he’d been. He’s fallen off a bit but that’s in large part due to an ankle injury he suffered right before the Oregon State game, which he ended up missing (he’s the only player in my top 5 Heisman rankings who missed a game). However because it was against Oregon State, arguably the worst Power 5 team in college football, it doesn’t hurt Love nearly as much as it would if he were to miss a game against, say, USC. The only game that Love did play where he didn’t rush for 100 yards was his return from injury, where he ran for 69, so that should earn a Heisman nod right there. But, like Taylor, Love was very one-dimensional this season, as he only had 6 catches all year and only had a single game with multiple catches. But he should easily eclipse the 2000-yard mark during Stanford’s Alamo Bowl appearance against TCU, so that alone automatically puts you near the top of the Heisman discussion, especially when you play for a Power 5 team like Stanford.

1. Baker Mayfield-QB-Oklahoma

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Previous Ranking: 3rd

Stat Line: 262-369 (71%), 4340 yards, 41 TDs, 5 INTs, 85 carries, 310 yards, 5 TDs

I think we can all agree on the top spot here, right? Baker Mayfield has really pulled away from the rest of the pack and this race is pretty much over. I’d be SHOCKED if it weren’t him hoisting the trophy on Saturday night and will have an angry blog to post in the morning if that happens. Mayfield completed 71% of his passes, best in the nation among qualifying quarterbacks, threw for the second most yards in the nation behind in-state rival Mason Rudolph at Oklahoma State, threw for 41 touchdowns, which was second to Missouri’s Drew Lock’s 43, and even added a running element to his game, as he was his team’s fourth-leading rusher. Oh and did I mention Oklahoma went 12-1, won their conference, and are the 2-seed in the college football playoff with a legitimate shot at their first national championship since 2000? Because that’s also important. Without question, Baker Mayfield ought to win the Heisman trophy, becoming the first Sooner to do it since Sam Bradford in 2008.

Just Missed: Saquon Barkley-RB-Penn State, Josh Rosen-QB-UCLA, Mason Rudolph-QB-Oklahoma State, Khalil Tate-QB-Arizona

Those are my final Heisman rankings for the 2017 college football season. After the Heisman is announced, I will give my favorites to win the award next year, because I have an interesting favorite in mind. Agree with my rankings? Is there somebody I missed? Let me know in the comments section below or on Facebook or Twitter @jimwyman10 and contribute to my Patreon.

Wyman’s Sports College Football All Americans

My apologies for there not being a blog yesterday. I did have some material but I was absolutely exhausted. I had to fight to keep myself from passing out in the middle of my Inside Nazi Germany class. Just had a terrible night of sleep the night before. But I’m very well-rested now and college football awards are starting to roll in, such as the Heisman finalists having been released (that blog is coming tomorrow) and I thought it would be a good idea to get into who I thought the cream of the crop in college football was this season. I will be breaking this up into 3 teams and will encompass all of FBS college football.

First Team:

Quarterback: Baker Mayfield-Oklahoma

Runningback: Bryce Love-Stanford

Runningback: Rashaad Penny-San Diego State

Wide Receiver: James Washington-Oklahoma State

Wide Receiver: Anthony Miller-Memphis

Tight End: Mark Andrews-Oklahoma

Tackle: Dalton Risner-Kansas State

Tackle: Mike McGlinchey-Notre Dame

Guard: Quenton Nelson-Notre Dame

Guard: Will Hernandez-UTEP

Center: Frank Ragnow-Arkansas

Defensive End: Sutton Smith-Northern Illinois

Defensive End: Nick Bosa-Ohio State

Defensive Tackle: Maurice Hurst-Michigan

Defensive Tackle: Jalen Jelks-Oregon

Linebacker: Micah Kiser-Virginia

Linebacker: Roquan Smith-Georgia

Linebacker: TJ Edwards-Wisconsin

Cornerback: Joshua Jackson-Iowa

Cornerback: Denzel Ward-Ohio State

Safety: DeShon Elliott-Texas

Safety: Minkah Fitzpatrick-Alabama

Kicker: Matt Gay-Utah

Punter: JK Scott-Alabama

All Purpose: Saquon Barkley-Penn State

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So for this team we have a few obvious names (Mayfield, Love, etc). One name that you might not recognize on here is Norther Illinois defensive end Sutton Smith. Well get to know that name, because he led the nation in sacks this season with 14 and added 28.5 tackles for loss. He was an absolute game wrecker for the Huskies. DeShon Elliott for Texas was a guy I picked up on when I was watching highlight tapes for his teammate Malik Jefferson. The guy was all over the field, always making plays and it showed, as he was amongst the nation’s leaders in interceptions with 6.

Second Team:

Quarterback: Lamar Jackson-Louisville

Runningback: Jonathan Taylor-Wisconsin

Runningback: Josh Adams-Notre Dame

Wide Receiver: Anthony Johnson-Buffalo

Wide Receiver: Michael Gallup-Colorado State

Tight End: Adam Breneman-UMass

Tackle: Orlando Brown-Oklahoma

Tackle: Will Richardson-North Carolina State

Guard: Kyle Bosch-West Virginia

Guard: Cody O’Connell-Washington State

Center: Billy Price-Ohio State

Defensive End: Bradley Chubb-North Carolina State

Defensive End: Anthony Winbush-Ball State

Defensive Tackle: Ed Oliver-Houston

Defensive Tackle: Dexter Lawrence-Clemson

Linebacker: Joe Giles-Harris-Duke

Linebacker: Garrett Dooley-Wisconsin

Linebacker: Uchenna Nwosu-USC

Cornerback: Darious Williams-UAB

Cornerback: Jalen Davis-Utah State

Safety: Derwin James-Florida State

Safety: Lukas Denis-Boston College

Kicker: Eddie Pineiro-Florida

Punter: Michael Dickson-Texas

All Purpose: Ronald Jones II-USC

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You might find it weird to see a UMass player on this list. Well Adam Breneman is about as good a tight end as they come. He had the most targets in the nation at any position without registering a single drop. Get to know him as well, as he is on a lot of NFL radars. The defensive tackles on this team are two of the best football players in the country, Ed Oliver and Dexter Lawrence. If both were eligible, they’d likely be in the discussion for top 10 draft picks. But alas, we will have to wait for 2019, when the defensive line class will be STACKED (Oliver, Lawrence, Bosa, and Michigan’s Rashan Gary will all be in the running for top 10 picks).

Third Team:

Quarterback: Mason Rudolph-Oklahoma State

Runningback: Kerryon Johnson-Auburn

Runningback: David Montgomery-Iowa State

Wide Receiver: Steve Ishmael-Syracuse

Wide Receiver: Trey Quinn-SMU

Tight End: Troy Fumagalli-Wisconsin

Tackle: KC McDermott-Miami (FL)

Tackle: Isaiah Wynn-Georgia

Guard: Hjalte Froholdt-Arkansas

Guard: Jacob Alsadek-Arizona

Center: Brian Allen-Michigan State

Defensive End: Mat Boesen-TCU

Defensive End: Hercules Mata’afa-Washington State

Defensive Tackle: Will Geary-Kansas State

Defensive Tackle: Taven Bryan-Florida

Linebacker: Ja’Whaun Bentley-Purdue

Linebacker: Josey Jewell-Iowa

Linebacker: Malik Jefferson-Texas

Cornerback: Brian Peavy-Iowa State

Cornerback: DJ Reed-Kansas State

Safety: Tarvarious Moore-Southern Miss

Safety: Armani Watts-Texas A&M

Kicker: Griffin Oakes-Indiana

Punter: Johnny Townsend-Florida

All Purpose: Marcell Ateman-Oklahoma State

<> on November 7, 2015 in Pullman, Washington.

We have one of the most intimidating names on this list, Hercules Mata’afa, and one of the least intimidating names, Josey Jewell. A name like “Hercules Mata’afa” just screams “power” and that was exactly what you got out of him, as he registered 10 sacks this season while facing a lot of double teams. Don’t be fooled by his girly name, Josey Jewell is one of the best linebackers in the country, in fact he won Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year in a conference with the likes of Nick Bosa, TJ Edwards, and Maurice Hurst to compete with. That should tell you something right there.

So those are my All Americans for the 2017 college football season. It was an entertaining season and there is a lot of talented kids out there, so it is more probable than not that some deserving players got left off. Agree with my teams? Disagree? Let me know in the comments section below or on Facebook or Twitter @jimwyman10 and contribute to my Patreon.

Why I Stuck to the Outfield

So since nothing happened with the Giancarlo Stanton trade, I’m going to deliver on my promise and tell a story from my sophomore year of high school in JV Baseball. So at my high school, we had a random long weekend and our catcher was going home to Colorado for break. The problem was we still had a game that weekend but his flight plans were pretty final. I was getting bored playing left field every day and wanted to switch things up, so I volunteered to take his place behind the dish. That was a bad decision on my part.

So before we get into this story, I need to mention the kind of physical state I was/am in. I have AWFUL knees. I inherited them from my mom. My dad, of course, has incredible knees. In fact, he once went for a 6-mile run before learning he had a torn ACL from an accident when he was practicing Brazilian Jujitsu. But I get blessed with my mom’s awful knees. My brother also has the same issues, as it is insanely uncomfortable for us to crouch or stand up from a crouched position. He went to a doctor to get them checked out once, and the doctor told him he had the knees of a 60 year-old (my dad got a similar check-up and was told he had the knees of an 18 year-old. He was in his mid-40’s at the time). So I’m assuming my knee situation is similar to my brother’s.

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Now as I’m sure you can guess, playing catcher can take a HEAVY toll on your knees. That’s why so many catchers often move to first base or DH later in their careers (i.e. Joe Mauer, Victor Martinez, Mike Napoli). Knee savers do help immensely, it almost feels like you’re sitting on a chair, but I didn’t have my own catchers gear, I had to use the bare minimum that the school had to offer. They did not have knee savers. I sucked it up, though, I hadn’t played catcher since fifth grade, when I was the primary catcher on my little league team and I was excited for an opportunity to return behind the dish. This was a bad move. Now, during warmups for practice, things were going pretty smoothly. I had a much stronger throwing arm than our normal catcher, but that was due in large part to the fact he had a bum throwing shoulder, but he was the best we had behind the dish. I sent a ball sailing over our short second baseman’s head on one throw and the coach said it was fine, the second baseman was late getting his glove up there because he wasn’t used to the ball getting there so soon. Now that I’m done tooting my own horn, it’s time to get to the good stuff: the problems I had.

So finally we did a simulated game. I’m behind the dish and throw down the one finger for our pitcher. He gives the heat and the kid at bat hit a foul ball that caught me in the arm, which of course is unpadded. I got a huge bruise and I felt my throwing arm go numb for a moment. But I was able to walk it off and got back down in the crouch. I threw down the number 1 again. The pitcher nodded and the ball was delivered low and down the middle. The batter foul tipped it, right into my athletic cup. The pointed part of my cup split between my nads and I was down for the count. I tried getting up to walk it off as my teammates laughed their asses off at what happened. I had to go down on one knee and eventually, once the pain started to subside, I had a little chuckle about it, too (you thought the painful part was going to have something to do with my knees, didn’t you? Lesson number 1, expect the unexpected).

The game itself was fine. I only let up one passed ball and didn’t have any issues with foul tips going where they shouldn’t. Thanks to my bad knees, though, I had a hard time throwing out potential base stealers despite having a solid arm. Trying to pop up from the crouch was a disaster and I could almost feel my knees cave in beneath me. It was a weird sight for me because I was the team’s leadoff hitter despite my season batting average of .121 (I had an OBP of .380, I drew a shit ton of walks, at one point walking 7 times in 8 plate appearances). You never see catchers bat leadoff so that kind of screwed with my OCD some. I think I ended up drawing another walk that game and had one of the few times I hit the ball the other way, I was pretty shitty about being a pull hitter. It wasn’t on purpose, just how it worked out for me. It was a flyout right to the right fielder, prompting my coach to say “well that’s going to screw up the spray chart.”

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That wasn’t the last time that I tried a new position and it backfired. Towards the very end of that same season, I was having a rough day. I remember it was May 10, 2012, which was my youngest brother’s birthday (that’s how I remember the exact date so easily). My roommate and best friend had gotten kicked out for poor grades and my own grades were not where I wanted them to be with finals approaching. I wanted to try out a new position to try and take my mind off things. I hopped in to play third base during practice. It wasn’t totally unchartered waters for me, I had been a third baseman for much of my little league career and knew all the responsibilities I would need to take on. I fielded a few ground balls and was feeling pretty good about my abilities at the hot corner. We then started an intra-squad scrimmage that was always the highlight of any practice. One of our players hit an easy ground ball in my direction. That is, it was an easy grounder until it hit the lip of the infield grass. The ball hit the lip, bounced up, and clocked me right in the mouth, ricocheting off my face into the third base coach’s box. That was one of the rare times I heard the head coach swear, as he shouted “oh shit!” as he rushed to my aid. I was bleeding out my mouth and my upper lip had doubled in size. That was the kind of day I was having. After that, I never again complained about being stuck in left field all the time. It was for the best.

Well that ends a painful chapter of my athletic career. Let me know what you thought in the comments section below or on Facebook or Twitter @jimwyman10 and contribute to my Patreon.

What Would an 8-Team CFP Look Like?

So for a while now, this year more than usual, people are calling for the heads of the CFP committee for their decision on who gets into the playoff. Last year people were upset that Ohio State got in despite not playing for their conference championship and this year the same thing happened with Alabama. Both teams have the same thing in common: they lost to the wrong team. Had both 2016 Ohio State or 2017 Alabama lost to somebody other than Penn State or Auburn, then they would have certainly been playing in their conference title games. I first heard a proposal by an SEC coach (I think it was Arkansas’ Bret Bielema, who is now their former coach, but I’m basing that on very little, don’t quote me on that citation) about an idea for an 8-team playoff. All Power 5 champs get in and 3 at-large teams. I’m actually a huge fan of that idea. While I am also a fan of the current format, I think an 8-team playoff would ease peoples’ bitching and take the whole “they didn’t win their conference” argument out of the picture, which I think is the biggest crutch facing the committee right now.

So for this blog, I’m going to take a look at what the Playoff picture would look like if we did have an 8-team playoff. As you may have seen, here is how the CFP voted in the current 4-team format:

1.Clemson

2.Oklahoma

3.Georgia

4.Alabama

5.Ohio State

6.Wisconsin

Of course, people are irate about the #4-#5 rankings. A lot of people are saying that you can’t leave the Big Ten champs out. Before I go into any more depth I got to get this off my chest: Ohio State is the fifth best team in the country. I’ve gotten a chance to watch them live twice this season: their first game of the year against Indiana and their last game against Wisconsin in the Big Ten championship. Now both were Buckeyes victories, but one thing I noticed is that they got away with sloppy play in both games. Against Indiana, their secondary was swiss cheese against Richard Lagow, who was benched midway through the season for a redshirt freshman who can barely throw a ball 30 yards. Lagow threw for over 370 yards on them. I noticed SIGNIFICANT improvement between that game and the Big Ten Title game, particularly with cornerback Denzel Ward. Ward had a lot of hype going into the season and I was NOT impressed by his play against Indiana. However, I felt the exact opposite about him against Wisconsin, where he didn’t allow a single catch and won a jump ball against tight end Troy Fumagalli for an interception. But Ohio State won the game 27-21 and they should have won by a LOT more. Their defense had been shutting down Wisconsin’s offense all day, making Alex Hornibrook look like a D3 quarterback. Yet the Badgers were in this game to the very end because of self-inflicted wounds. JT Barrett threw a pick-6 when he stared down his receiver in his own endzone. Mike Weber fumbled inside their own 20 (however it’s debatable if his knee was down or not, the view the stadium jumbotrons gave us did not give conclusive evidence), and Barrett threw another pick on a ball that was dropped by his receiver into the arms of the Wisconsin linebacker. You don’t see these mistakes out of Alabama. When they’re better than you, they step on your throats. I know the CFP says they don’t consider margin of victory, but their leader in an interview with ESPN immediately after the rankings were released straight up said that they couldn’t in good conscience include Ohio State with a 31-point loss to an unranked team on their resume. If all losses are equal, then why the Hell would he say that? Alabama’s only loss came against an outstanding Auburn team at the worst possible moment. So I do believe the committee got it right with their selection of Alabama over Ohio State. Rant over.

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So here are the Power 5 conference champs that would automatically earn playoff berths in an 8-team system:

ACC: Clemson Tigers

Big 10: Ohio State Buckeyes

Big 12: Oklahoma Sooners

PAC 12: USC Trojans

SEC: Georgia Bulldogs

Those 5 teams are in and are likely the higher-ranked teams. I’m assuming that seeding would be determined based on each team’s position in the rankings. So based on that, it would be:

Clemson vs #3 At Large Team

Oklahoma vs #2 At Large Team

Georgia vs #1 At Large Team

Ohio State vs USC

The two lowest ranked conference champs, which in this case are Ohio State and USC, would square off while the top 3 are rewarded for their excellence by receiving the at-large teams. So who would their opponents be?

Georgia’s opponent would be the Alabama Crimson Tide, an SEC-on-SEC matchup, however these two teams did not meet in the regular season, so it’s basically like the other matchups on these lists. This very nearly was the SEC title game and if we had an 8-team playoff, we would get the matchup anyway.

Oklahoma’s opponent would be the Wisconsin Badgers, based on the committee’s rankings, though I wonder if they were voting on it, how much weight their loss in the Big Ten championship would carry. Would they still be in the playoff if their loss was so recent? My gut tells me yes, though that loss would likely change who they would face.

Clemson’s opponent would be the Auburn Tigers, a rematch from earlier in the season when Clemson won 13-6. Auburn is ranked 7th by the committee, yet they have 3 losses, so that would spark even further debate. The debate goes from “should a 2-loss get in” to “should a 3-loss get in,” which I think would be a lot more damning considering how many good 2-loss teams there are. Because here are a list of some notable 2-loss teams: Ohio State, USC, Penn State, Miami (FL), Washington, Memphis. You mean to tell me you’d prefer a 3-loss Auburn team to get in over these guys? The debate would be a lot fiercer and I think it would really affect the rankings because at this point, once you’re out of the Top 4, your ranking really doesn’t mean anything anymore.

So here is the seeding in a theoretical 8-team playoff based on the committee’s final rankings:

1.Clemson Tigers (vs #8 Auburn)

2.Oklahoma Sooners (vs #7 Wisconsin)

3.Georgia Bulldogs (vs #6 Alabama)

4.Ohio State Buckeyes (vs #5 USC)

5.USC Trojans (vs #4 Ohio State)

6.Alabama Crimson Tide (vs #3 Georgia)

7.Wisconsin Badgers (vs #2 Oklahoma)

8.Auburn Tigers (vs #1 Clemson)

And here it is in Bracket Form:

1 Clemson vs 8 Auburn

4 Ohio State vs 5 USC

3 Georgia vs 6 Alabama

2 Oklahoma vs 7 Wisconsin

Draw the brackets yourself, I don’t have an illustrator function on this WordPress thing. I seriously doubt that if we did have this format that Auburn would get in with 3 losses. The honor of the 8-seed would likely end up going to either Penn State, Miami, or Washington, or Hell, even the undefeated UCF. And if the Knights were legitimately in the playoff discussion, does head coach Scott Frost leave for Nebraska? We may never know. Personally, I’d love to see this format in action. I disagree with the argument that it would “devalue” the regular season. That’s bullshit, you need to perform in the regular season to get to these seeds. If anything, it amps up the importance.

You want to devalue the regular season? Do a 128-team playoff. Everybody gets in (though I think the NCAA is at 130 FBS football programs right now, could be wrong). Then the committee REALLY has to work and rank every single team and the lone two teams that don’t make the playoff have a fight to the death to see which program gets demoted to the FCS in favor of the FCS champion coming up to take their place. A Sacko Bowl, if you will. 128 teams play in the playoff and the 2 that don’t make it have to play in a bowl game for the right to stay in the FBS. I need to tone down my hypothetical excitement. And just so we’re clear, no, I’m not projecting that in a blog. I’ve only had a single dollar donated to my Patreon so unless I’m making that scrilla (I promise I will never use that word again), I’m not putting in all that effort.

Now yes, I know it is Monday, which I’m trying to make into my weekly story day. But this is too topical at the moment for me not to blog about it on Monday. Don’t worry, that blog is still coming this week, I do have a story in mind from my JV baseball days. Probably won’t be until Wednesday because based on what I’m reading, Tuesday’s blog may end up being another Giancarlo Stanton blog, because reportedly the Marlins have deals in place with the Giants and Cardinals and they just need to ask Stanton which one he wants to go to. So he could be traded at any moment now. If he’s not traded today, then Tuesday’s blog will be the story. I promise. So what do you think of the 8-team playoff? Let me know in the comments section below or on Facebook or Twitter @jimwyman10 and contribute to my Patreon.

NFL Picks: Week 13

Last Week: 12-4                 Season Record: 91-54

So this is going to be a bit different than my usual NFL picks blogs. I’m going to try and keep it a little shorter because I’m writing this at 2 in the morning coming back from the Big Ten Championship Game, won by the Ohio State Buckeyes 27-21. I couldn’t write it earlier in the day because I also cover the Indiana Wrestling team for a school TV station (IUSTV Sports) and Indiana had 3 consecutive duals that I had to be in attendance for and by the time I got out, it was time for me to get to a shuttle. What I’m trying to say is I’m running on fumes right now. And I’m a little pouty because I just had to drop over $200 for an Uber from Indianapolis to Bloomington because they jack up the rates when there’s a big event happening, which I guess is understandable. The driver was pleasant enough. I’m also going to kind of combine my Playoff picks in this because those are being released on Sunday Night rather than the usual Tuesday Night, them being the final ones of the year. I also wanted to mention, I freaking NAILED my conference championship picks. I went 8-0. I kind of feel dirty saying I finally got a perfect week since I did 4 fewer games than usual, so I’m just going to put an asterisk next to that. Sound good? Well, I don’t care, it’s my blog. Also, I picked the Redskins to beat the Cowboys on Thursday. That went VERY poorly, though not as bad as that time I picked the Dolphins to beat the Ravens on a Thursday Nighter and the Ravens ended up winning 40-0. That was fun. So with that, let’s get into the blog.

College Playoff Rankings:

1.Oklahoma Sooners

2.Clemson Tigers

3.Georgia Bulldogs

4.Alabama Crimson Tide

Just Missed:

Ohio State Buckeyes

Wisconsin Badgers

It hurt not including a Big Ten team in this but you just can’t at this point. Had Wisconsin won the Big Ten Title they would absolutely be in, but alas, that schedule. I’m predicting the committee swaps Clemson and Oklahoma on me and we may get a third straight year of Clemson-Alabama in the Playoff, though it could happen a week sooner than usual. And yes, I have Alabama getting in even though they didn’t win their conference. Let’s face it, I would take a 1-loss Alabama (that one loss being a Top-10 Auburn team) over Big Ten champ and 2-loss (including one by 31 points) Ohio State every time. It’s just the way things are. On to the NFL picks.

Minnesota Vikings (9-2) vs Atlanta Falcons (7-4)

Like I mentioned in the intro, I’m not going to go that long on these just simply because of the hour I’m writing them, my brain just isn’t functioning the way it needs to. But if you read my picks blogs enough I’m sure you can get a sense of how I feel about each team considering I feel like I can get a bit repetitive at times. I’m taking the Vikings in this one. I know Julio Jones is coming off that monster 250-yard game against the Buccaneers, but that’s the Buccaneers. Xavier Rhodes is far better than anyone the Bucs have to offer to cover Julio. Rhodes won’t shut him down, but he definitely won’t let up 250 yards. I expect that to be enough for an efficient Vikings team to get the job done.

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Projected Score: Vikings 28 Falcons 20

Detroit Lions (6-5) vs Baltimore Ravens (6-5)

I’m going to pick the Lions here. Joe Flacco is just too inconsistent for me to trust and this Lions defense can be pretty potent at times. I do think it will be a low-scoring game because Baltimore’s defense is firing on all cylinders right now, but I trust Stafford more than I do Flacco.

Projected Score: Lions 21 Ravens 13

New England Patriots (9-2) vs Buffalo Bills (6-5)

It’s 2 am. I’m not going into any depth on what’s essentially been a lock every year since Brady took over for Bledsoe.

Projected Score: Patriots 35 Bills 14

San Francisco 49ers (1-10) vs Chicago Bears (3-8)

This is just a cavalcade of shit right here. Though it will be interesting for the sheer fact it’s two young and inexperienced quarterbacks with bright futures going head-to-head. Jimmy Garoppolo is making his starting debut for the 49ers against Mitchell Trubisky, who appears to be the future of the Chicago Bears. Having seen what Jimmy G can do, I’m going to go with the 49ers in this one.

Projected Score: 49ers 27 Bears 17

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-7) vs Green Bay Packers (5-6)

I really don’t know what to expect with either team, they’ve just been so maddeningly inconsistent. Jameis is back, though I don’t know if that can save this season. Plus he’s in some pretty hot water for allegedly groping a female Uber driver. We’ll have to wait and see what comes of that. For the Packers, Aaron Rodgers is practicing again just 5 weeks after breaking his collarbone. It’s still going to be Brett Hundley in this game, who admittedly played pretty well on Sunday night against the Steelers. This is a tough game to call so I think I’m going to give the edge to the Buccaneers just simply because they’re getting their starting quarterback back.

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Projected Score: Buccaneers 24 Packers 21

Indianapolis Colts (3-8) vs Jacksonville Jaguars (7-4)

I just don’t get it with the Jaguars sometimes. One minute they look like world eaters and the next they lose to the Cardinals. I don’t know, man. I just don’t. But if you lose to the Colts, you have some serious effing problems. The only teams the Colts have beaten are the winless Browns, the 1-10 49ers, and Tom Savage’s first start back with the Texans. Jags fans, you’re going to be fine.

Projected Score: Jaguars 38 Colts 13

Denver Broncos (3-8) vs Miami Dolphins (4-7)

Welp, Paxton Lynch is out with a bum ankle. Back to Trevor Siemian! My God this Broncos quarterback situation is a train wreck. They just can’t seem to catch a break. The rest of this roster is far more talented than 3-8 so if I’m the Broncos, I play for next year and try and tank to land either Sam Darnold or Josh Rosen. Those dudes are the real deal. The Dolphins do just enough to prove to people they still have a pulse. Cutler is back this week and I think he’ll lead the Dolphins to an underwhelming victory.

Projected Score: Dolphins 21 Broncos 17

Kansas City Chiefs (6-5) vs New York Jets (4-7)

Remember when the Chiefs were cream of the crop in the NFL? Pepperidge Farms remembers (wait…I think…yep, we did it, folks, that’s the billionth time somebody referenced that Family Guy meme! Congratulations!). But in all serious, here’s a pretty interesting video that showcases some of the flaws the Chiefs have that were exposed by the Dallas Cowboys. It basically gameplans what the Jets are going to do to win this game.

Projected Score: Jets 28 Chiefs 20

Houston Texans (4-7) vs Tennessee Titans (7-4)

Is there a less impressive 7-4 team than the Titans right now? I don’t mean just this season, I mean ever. I really don’t know how they’ve gotten this far. And they’re probably going to make it to 8 wins because they’re facing perhaps the most injury-riddled team in the NFL in the Houston Texans. Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good.

Projected Score: Titans 19 Texans 10

Cleveland Browns (0-11) vs Los Angeles Chargers (5-6)

This was the one game the Browns won last season but I don’t see history repeating itself here. The Chargers, despite their record, are one of the hottest teams in football right now. Last year when these two squared off, the Chargers were basically in “meh” mode. Right now they have a legitimate shot at the playoffs the way the Chiefs are spiraling out of control right now. Imagine a home playoff game in that empty soccer stadium. It’s so awful it just has to happen.

Projected Score: Chargers 27 Browns 14

Carolina Panthers (8-3) vs New Orleans Saints (8-3)

The winner of this game is in the drivers’ seat in the NFC South. It’s easily the most important game going on this week. The Saints smacked the Panthers around the last time these two teams met but a Carolina win here would put them at an advantage in case of tie breakers. But I think the Saints will win this. Yeah, they lost last week to a good Rams team, but the Saints are still one of the hottest teams in football and I think they bounce back here.

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Projected Score: Saints 35 Panthers 31

Los Angeles Rams (8-3) vs Arizona Cardinals (5-6)

Sean McVay proved he belonged last week after beating Sean Payton’s Saints. It was their first win over a really legitimate team and it was done so in impressive fashion. As for the Cardinals, I really have no idea what to make of this team but they feel a lot worse than 5-6. Which is a shame, too, because there is still a lot of talent on this roster even with the injuries to David Johnson and Carson Palmer. They beat the Jaguars last week, but the Rams are far more consistent than the Jags and I expect them to be fine here.

Projected Score: Rams 34 Cardinals 17

New York Giants (2-9) vs Oakland Raiders (5-6)

The Giants are awful and they’re benching Eli Manning for Geno Smith in this game. I don’t need to explain myself further, do I? The Raiders have new motivation now that the Chiefs suddenly suck and they have a legitimate shot at the division again. Motivation is a pretty big factor in winning football games.

Projected Score: Raiders 31 Giants 14

Philadelphia Eagles (10-1) vs Seattle Seahawks (7-4)

This game’s going to be awesome, I just know it. Seattle always seems to put on a show one way or another in prime time, no matter the injury situation (and it is steep). For the Eagles, Alshon Jeffery just got a $52M contract extension, so I’m expecting an extra spring in his step. I’m going to give the edge to the Eagles to run their winning streak up to 10 games. While Seattle has proven they are capable of overcoming injuries to Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor, I just think Philly is a different beast this year.

Projected Score: Eagles 28 Seahawks 24

Pittsburgh Steelers (9-2) vs Cincinnati Bengals (5-6)

The Steelers are starting to run away with this division. Hell it’s feasible they could be 11-0 right now. Their first loss was a fluke against the Bears and their other was an anomaly where Big Ben threw 5 picks against the Jaguars. Antonio Brown has been unbelievable and Le’Veon Bell has been a workhorse while the defense has quietly been one of the better units in the NFL. Cincinnati just isn’t consistent enough to where that’s going to make a difference.

Projected Score: Steelers 35 Bengals 20

So those are my picks for this week. Sorry they aren’t as in depth as usual, but hey, maybe you guys like this more. Let me know what you think in the comments section below or on Facebook or Twitter @jimwyman10 and contribute to my Patreon.

College Football Picks: Conference Title Week

Last Week: 7-5                    Final Regular Season Record: 86-34

So before I go into the picks, I need to express my absolute SHOCK that Jimbo Fisher is leaving Florida State for the Texas A&M opening. I’ll probably post another blog when more information comes out about this, but damn, I never thought the day would come. Fisher is one of the best coaches in the country coaching at one of the premiere college football programs. There must be something going on behind the scenes that we don’t know about, otherwise I can’t envision one down season being enough to make you want to leave that high profile job. Texas A&M got an absolute STEAL of a coach. Fisher’s 2013 Florida State squad won a national championship in the final year of the BCS so anytime you can land someone of that caliber, your outlook is going to be fantastic. So lord only knows how Florida State is going to replace him, but I’m sure they’re going to have candidates lining up for the opportunity. So now that I got my shock out of the way, let’s get to the picks for the conference championship games. I want to say that I picked USC to win the Pac 12, since that game is happening on Friday night and this blog will be finished and scheduled before that game starts.

American Athletic Conference Title Game: #20 Memphis vs #14 UCF (-7)

So despite this not being a Power-5 conference title game, I actually think this game could get really fun, and not just because both teams are ranked. There is some real firepower on both offenses. Memphis has quarterback Riley Ferguson, tailback Darrell Henderson (who ran for over 1000 yards on just 115 carries) and sleeper NFL Draft receiver Anthony Miller. UCF has McKenzie Milton at quarterback who has thrown 30 touchdowns with some solid weapons on offense, such as running back Adrian Killins Jr and receiver Tre’Quan Smith. These two teams did play earlier in the year and UCF kicked Memphis’ ass 40-13. Ferguson had arguably his worst game this season, tossing 3 interceptions against only 1 touchdown, though that could be attributed to Memphis falling behind UCF early. Eventually things just kind of got out of control for Memphis and it was 23-7 UCF at the half. Killins also had a fantastic game, as he ran for 115 yards on just 9 carries. UCF is the highest scoring offense in the country (47.6 points per game) and are a top third defense (33rd in points against at 22.5 per game). So I’m going to go with UCF to cap off a 12-0 season and earn themselves an at-large major bowl game. They’ve beaten Memphis before and if you watched that game against USF, they’ve only appeared to have gotten better.

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Projected Score: UCF 42 Memphis 28

MAC Title Game: Akron vs Toledo (-21)

I don’t expect this game to be great. I’m fully anticipating Toledo running away with it. They’ve got so many weapons on offense that Akron will struggle mightily to try and keep up with. Logan Woodside is one of the more underrated quarterbacks in the nation and they have Terry Swanson at running back rushing for 1139 yards and Diontae Johnson at receiver with 1139 yards receiving (that’s not a typo, they both led their team in their respective categories with the same exact number of yards). Akron’s defense isn’t too bad, but their offense is so poor that there is absolutely no conceivable way they keep up with Toledo. I wish I could go more in depth with this, but the only teams that really have any shot at beating them in their conference are Central Michigan and Northern Illinois and they’re in Toledo’s division. Yes Toledo lost to Ohio 38-10, but Terry Swanson was hardly used at all in that game, being held to 9 yards on just 6 carries. Akron can’t do that. Toledo wins big.

Projected Score: Toledo 45 Akron 14

Conference USA Title Game: North Texas vs Florida Atlantic (-11.5)

This matchup is between two teams with COMPLETELY different philosophies on how to score points. North Texas is a gunslinging team with quarterback Mason Fine along with 3 receivers with over 500 yards and a fourth with 470. North Texas likes to spread the wealth around. Florida Atlantic under Lane Kiffin has been about as run-first a team as you can find. In fact, FAU’s leading rusher, Devin Singletary, has almost as many rushing yards (1632) as quarterback Jason Driskel has passing yards (1708). It has also led to FAU being the tenth-highest scoring team in the country. North Texas’ defense is ATROCIOUS so I have a feeling that the Owls are going to run all over them, no matter how many yards Mean Green throws for. I got Florida Atlantic winning this and Lane Kiffin sending off another Tweet that he would never send if Nick Saban had a Twitter.

Projected Score: FAU 38 North Texas 30

Mountain West Title Game: #25 Fresno State vs Boise State (-9.5)

I’m pretty surprised/impressed to find Fresno State in this situation. The Bulldogs had the worst record in the country last season at 1-11 and now they find themselves ranked and playing for a conference title game just a year later. Kind of a similar situation to UCF. UCF was winless two years ago and now they’re on the brink of being undefeated. Gotta love the parity amongst the mid-major schools. But the Bulldogs’ turnaround has been in large part due to a stellar defense. They’re 12th best in the country, allowing just 17.3 points per game and that includes allowing 41 and 48 to Alabama and Washington, respectively. Aside from those two games, they never allowed more than 26 points in a single game. I’m not so sure they’re quite good enough to deserve their #25 ranking, but their turnaround at least has been impressive. They face a Boise State team that they just beat last week 28-17. Boise State at the time was ranked 23rd. It’s Boise State’s one conference loss this season and they get an immediate shot at revenge. The Broncos’ other two losses are Washington State (only by 3 points) and Virginia, two pretty good Power 5 teams. I’m actually going to take Boise State in this one. This is more a gut feeling than anything because on paper this seems like a pretty even matchup.

Projected Score: Boise State 31 Fresno State 28

Big 12 Title Game: #11 TCU vs #3 Oklahoma (-7)

Now we get to the Power 5 matchups. This is a rematch from a few weeks ago when Oklahoma beat TCU 38-20. I mentioned in my Playoff rankings that holding TCU to 20 points is more impressive for Oklahoma’s defense than holding Kansas’ offense to 3 and I don’t think they’ll need to be quite that good this time around, simply because that’s how good Baker Mayfield has been of late. If TCU is going to beat Oklahoma, they’re going to have to be able to keep up with Oklahoma’s offense and they’re one of the few teams in the country that could actually pull this off. But they’re going to need to make a LOT of plays on the defensive side of the ball if they’re going to try and hold the Sooners to under 30 points, which is what I think they’ll have to do if they’re going to win. That’s a pretty tall task, as Oklahoma only scored under 30 points once all season, and they scored 29 in their Red River Rivalry win over Texas. I’ve got Oklahoma winning this one and punching their ticket to the Playoff.

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Projected Score: Oklahoma 35 TCU 31

SEC Title Game: #6 Georgia vs #2 Auburn (-1.5)

This is a rematch of the time Auburn absolutely slaughtered Georgia 40-17 for the Bulldogs’ lone loss on the season. Alabama is also going to be watching this game intently because an Auburn win coupled with a loss from either Wisconsin or Oklahoma (preferably both) would get them into the playoff. The winner of this game is getting in regardless, I think that’s a pretty safe statement to make. If Georgia wins, they essentially erase their one loss on the season. If Auburn wins, not only will they be the first 2-loss team to ever make the Playoff, but they will have done so by beating a top 10 team 3 times in one season, including the #1 team twice. Tigers runningback Kerryon Johnson was huge in their Iron Bowl victory over Alabama but he injured his shoulder in the victory and has been a limited participant all week in practice. Auburn is also without Kamryn Pettway, the other member of their superstar stable of runningbacks, so this could be an opportune time for a very tough Georgia defense to pounce. Jarrett Stidham will likely need to step up big time. I think Georgia is going to exact some revenge here. I think they will reestablish the ground game with Nick Chubb and Sony Michel and will edge Auburn for the program’s first playoff appearance.

Projected Score: Georgia 27 Auburn 21

ACC Title Game: #7 Miami (FL) vs #1 Clemson (-9.5)

Like the SEC title game, the winner of this game will more than likely get into the playoff. Both are 1-loss teams and their losses came to what should have been far inferior opponents (Miami lost to Pitt and Clemson lost to Syracuse). A 1-loss ACC champ will get in pretty much every time. Miami looked terrible in their loss to Pitt and they’re going to need to change a few things if they’re going to have any chance of knocking off the defending champion Clemson Tigers. For one, Malik Rosier NEEDS to be better than his line of 15-34 for 187 yards. A poor passing performance like that will get you eaten alive by this Clemson defense, which is arguably the best in the nation. Secondly, Rosier cannot be your leading rusher, which he was against Pitt at only 31 yards. That’s not a knock against his rushing ability, but Travis Homer needs to be better. Yes, the Hurricanes have been without star back Mark Walton, who declared for the Draft already, but Homer has been good in his absence with the exception of the Pitt game, where he only ran for 12 yards on 7 carries. But even if they’re able to improve offensively like they need to, I doubt it will be enough to unseat Clemson as the kings of the ACC. The Tigers are just too well-rounded a team. I have Clemson winning this one.

Projected Score: Clemson 31 Miami (FL) 21

Big Ten Title Game: #8 Ohio State (-6) vs #4 Wisconsin

I’m actually going to be in attendance for this game at Lucas Oil Stadium. It’s my first ever championship game of any kind so I’m pretty excited. I’m getting a Hell of a matchup, too. Ohio State, despite having a couple of ugly losses, is still alive for the playoff, but they need to not only whip Wisconsin like they did a few years ago, but they will need a lot of help. JT Barrett will play in this game, which was a concern after an injury suffered in the Michigan game when an unknown cameraman ran into him, prompting Urban Meyer’s attempts to hunt him down. Barrett underwent surgery on his knee and is still playing in this game, which you have to respect the Hell out of, but it will lead to a lot of concerns over his mobility. Barrett’s at his best when the defense fears his ability to run the football, because he’s only mediocre at best as a thrower. Wisconsin’s elite defense will likely have one less element of Barrett’s game to worry about and this could be a long day for the Buckeyes’ signal caller. On the other side, I think Wisconsin is going to struggle to move the ball as well. The Badgers’ offense is predicated on a successful run game and Ohio State has about as good a defensive line as there is in the country with the likes of Sam Hubbard, Tyquan Lewis, Nick Bosa, and Dre’Mont Jones. Jonathan Taylor is going to struggle to find running lanes. This is going to be a low-scoring game and I actually think Ohio State is going to escape with this one and win the Big Ten, though it may not matter for their playoff hopes depending on which other teams win.

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Projected Score: Ohio State 17 Wisconsin 13

Those are my picks for the conference title games. I did only 8 games versus the usual 12 so I tried to make them a little longer and more in-depth. Agree with my picks? Disagree? Let me know in the comments section below or on Facebook or Twitter @jimwyman 10 and contribute to my Patreon.