College Football Bowl Picks

Regular Season Record: 86-34       Conference Title Record: 8-0        Army-Navy: 0-1

This is going to get interesting. Bowl season is totally unpredictable but I’m going to do my damndest to try. I nailed the conference championship games but the task is a little more daunting this time around, as I’ve got about 40 games to do. For that reason, I’m going to keep this intro short. Let’s get to it.

R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl: Troy (-6) vs North Texas

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Troy is best remembered this season for beating LSU at their Homecoming but they really were a lot better than just that. These guys won the Sun Belt Conference this year and while that’s probably the least impressive conference in all of college football, it still says a lot about the success you’ve had this season. They face a tough offense in North Texas, led by quarterback Mason Fine, who could eclipse 4000 yards passing on the season in this game, which would be the first time in school history that has happened. He’s already CRUSHED the previous school record set back in 1994. I’m going with Troy in this one. They’ve shown they’re capable of winning the big game, North Texas hasn’t (their only win that can be deemed as quality is Army).

Projected Score: Troy 31 North Texas 27

Autonation Cure Bowl: Western Kentucky (-4.5) vs Georgia State

Despite losing former head coach Jeff Brohm to Purdue before the start of the season, Western Kentucky hasn’t lost much of a step in terms of the passing game. Hilltoppers quarterback Mike White should eclipse 4000 yards on the season barring an unbelievable performance from the Georgia State defense, which has been pretty inconsistent this season. They shut out Charlotte for their first win of the season but that came a week after losing to Penn State 56-0. Now yes, it’s Penn State, but that’s still not a good look to have a score like that on your resume. They also only barely beat god-awful Georgia Southern 21-17 towards the end of the season. I’ve got Western Kentucky big in this.

Projected Score: Western Kentucky 41 Georgia State 17

Las Vegas Bowl: #25 Boise State vs Oregon (-6.5)

I find the Las Vegas Bowl often has some pretty good matchups and this year is no exception. Boise State is the first ranked team to play their bowl game this year and they’re playing an Oregon team that’s just a couple years removed from appearing in the National Championship game. Now granted, a LOT has changed for the Ducks in that time, but there are still some players from that team on the current roster. However, not on the roster is head coach Willie Taggart, who was hired away by Florida State. His interim will be Mario Cristobal, who does have some head coaching experience, as he was the head man at FIU from 2007-2012. I don’t think it will help a whole lot, though, I think Boise State is going to come away with this one.

Projected Score: Boise State 28 Oregon 24

Gildan New Mexico Bowl: Marshall vs Colorado State (-5.5)

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If you do manage to catch this game, look out for Colorado State receiver Michael Gallup. He’s among the best there is in the country and doesn’t get a lot of exposure due to the fact he plays for Colorado State. 94 catches for 1345 yards and 7 TDs on the year for the senior from Monroe, GA. I don’t care what your level of competition was, that’s impressive. They face a Marshall team that is ice cold right now, losing 4 of their last 5 games, though 3 of those 4 games were decided by 5 or fewer points and the one that wasn’t was decided by 11. I’m giving the edge to Colorado State, I just think they have too many weapons on offense for Marshall to keep up with.

Projected Score: Colorado State 35 Marshall 28

Raycom Media Camellia Bowl: Middle Tennessee State vs Arkansas State (-4)

What’s Camellia? I’ve never heard that word in my life, but my autocorrect seems to think it’s fine. Seems like an odd thing to name your bowl game, but I’m sure Middle Tennessee State and Arkansas State aren’t complaining, as MTSU had to win their final game of the season to become bowl eligible while Arkansas State had their game against Miami (FL) cancelled due to Hurricane Irma and were put at a slight disadvantage in having to reach the required 6 wins in 11 games. Well they got 7 and will try and carry that season-long success into back-to-back bowl wins. I think they’ll do it, too. They’ve had a lot of success throwing the ball this season and I think MTSU will have some problems defending the plethora of receivers they have.

Projected Score: Arkansas State 38 Middle Tennessee State 27

Cheribundi Tart Cherry Boca Raton Bowl: Akron vs Florida Atlantic (-18.5)

I’m not going to get too deep into this one. Akron is a team that kind of lucked into a bowl appearance while Florida Atlantic has one of the best rushing attacks in the nation. I think they’re going to stampeded the Zips. This is one of the few bowl lines that is in double digits and there’s a reason for that, Lane Kiffin’s ground attack is too dominant.

Projected Score: Florida Atlantic 45 Akron 14

DXL Frisco Bowl: Louisiana Tech vs SMU (-5.5)

Louisiana Tech is a pretty average team and that’s going to be a problem when you face an offense as potent as SMU’s. Not only can quarterback Ben Hicks sling it, but he’s got two of the best receivers in the nation in Trey Quinn and potential first round draft pick Courtland Sutton. The Mustangs are going to score a ton of points as they also have an effective ground game, as Xavier Jones is over 1000 yards rushing on the season. I’ve actually got SMU in a blowout.

Projected Score: SMU 52 Louisiana Tech 24

Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl: Temple (-7) vs Florida International

Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl. What a name for a bowl game. I’d argue it’s an even better name than the now-defunct Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl. This game will also be played at my least favorite baseball stadium in Tropicana Field, so that’s about as perfect a combination of complete crap as you could ask for. Classic random-ass bowl games. Oh and there’s a football game that’s going to be played between Temple and Florida International. Temple has very little going for them offensively and defensively they’re not much better. Looking at their overall stats, I’m amazed they made it to 6-6. I think Florida International is going to come away with this one relatively handily.

Projected Score: Florida International 34 Temple 21

Bahamas Bowl: UAB vs Ohio (-8)

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What a journey it’s been for UAB. A few years back they got their football program cut despite going 6-6, which resulted in an exodus from many top players, including Jordan Howard to my Indiana Hoosiers, who as you may know is currently tearing it up in the NFL with the Chicago Bears. There was enough backlash from the UAB faithful that the school brought the program back. Now, in their first year back after a 2-year hiatus, the Blazers are bowl eligible for only the second time in school history. This is probably going to wind up being my favorite storyline of the college football season when the Blazers lift that Bahamas Bowl trophy in their victory over Ohio. Also UAB’s logo is a fire-breathing dragon and that’s awesome. Can’t not subconsciously root for them.

Projected Score: UAB 27 Ohio 21

Famous Idaho Potato Bowl: Central Michigan vs Wyoming (pick ’em)

This is going to be a battle between two talented quarterbacks. Central Michigan quarterback Shane Morris showed all the talent in the world at Michigan but just couldn’t put it together before transferring to the Chippewas while Wyoming features potential top-10 draft pick Josh Allen. Despite being as talented as he is, Allen didn’t really have that great of a season. That can be due in part to a lack of real talent around him and in part due to the fact that Wyoming didn’t throw it a whole lot. But it is also most likely due to the fact that Allen has been playing on a bum shoulder for much of the season, which of course is a pretty big deal for a quarterback. I’m still looking for that one big performance that tells me that Allen is going to be a successful NFL QB but I just don’t know if that’s going to be in the cards. That shoulder injury is going to hurt Wyoming’s chances.

Projected Score: Central Michigan 31 Wyoming 24

Birmingham Bowl: Texas Tech vs South Florida (-2)

This could be the highest-scoring game of the bowl season. We all know how much Texas Tech likes to throw the ball, it’s been pretty well-documented, but USF’s Quinten Flowers is one of the most dynamic players in the country and has the ability to score on anybody at any time. Add in the fact that the Red Raiders can’t defend for shit and you’ve got the makings of a 5-hour game that ends with both teams over 50 points. I think that’s what we’re going to get and I’ve got South Florida taking home the trophy.

Projected Score: South Florida 55 Texas Tech 52

Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl: San Diego State vs Army (no line)

If Army’s going to have any shot at this game, they need to keep Rashaad Penny off the field. Penny is a monster with the ball in his hands and Army will need to dominate the time of possession if they’re going to stop him. If any team can do it, though, it’s the men at West Point. Their offense is built around the ground game and controlling the tempo. I think they’ll have some success early, but I think they will struggle to contain Penny and the Aztecs will pull away late.

Projected Score: San Diego State 31 Army 20

Dollar General Bowl: Appalachian State vs Toledo (-8)

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Toledo is among the best mid-major teams in all of college football. Quarterback Logan Woodside is one of the more underrated passers in the game today and while the Appalachian State Mountaineers have a pretty good defense, they’re going to struggle to contain all of Toledo’s weapons. Appalachian State won a share of the Sun Belt title with Troy and it was on the strength of an effective ground game. They’re going to struggle to keep up with Toledo, though.

Projected Score: Toledo 35 Appalachian State 30

Hawaii Bowl: Fresno State vs Houston (-2)

I don’t know why this game is a Christmas Eve tradition, but it is. Usually it’s kind of a shitty matchup but this year it pits two of the best mid-major teams in the country. Fresno State nearly won the Mountain West a year after going 1-11 and Houston has continued to play well despite losing Tom Herman to (arguably) greener pastures in Texas. It’s going to be a defensive battle as Fresno State has one of the toughest defenses in the nation while Houston features perhaps the nation’s best overall defensive player in defensive tackle Ed Oliver. I’m going to give the edge to Houston in this one, as it’s more of a gut feeling than anything at this point.

Projected Score: Houston 17 Fresno State 10

Zaxby’s Heart of Dallas Bowl: Utah (-5) vs West Virginia

Utah started out the season so nicely but then face-planted so hard. They started the year 4-0 but finished the season losing 6 of their last 8 and had to win the season finale over Colorado in order to even be bowl eligible. Normally, I would say they’re screwed for their game, but West Virginia isn’t sure if they will have quarterback Will Grier, who is nursing a broken finger on his throwing hand. Had it been his left hand, you could probably wrap it up with another finger and have him go out there, but not when it’s on your right hand where it will directly affect how you throw. But to be honest, his replacement, Chris Chugunov (what a name) didn’t play that badly against Oklahoma in his start. Was he particularly good? No, but he kept West Virginia reasonably in the game. They still ended up losing by 28, but that’s because Oklahoma scored 59 points. Leading your team to 31 points against the second best team in the country isn’t half bad. That’s why I’m going with the Mountaineers in this game, with or without Grier.

Projected Score: West Virginia 38 Utah 24

Quick Lane Bowl: Duke (-3.5) vs Northern Illinois

Duke’s offensive line is going to have their hands full with Northern Illinois. The Huskies have arguably the best pass rusher in the nation in Sutton Smith, who led all of college football with 14 sacks to go along with 28 tackles for loss. Duke started the year 4-0 before losing 6 straight and had to win their last two in order to become bowl eligible, but they were able to pull it off, beating two pretty good teams in Georgia Tech and Wake Forest. But I think Duke is going to struggle to protect quarterback Daniel Jones in this one. They were 80th in the nation in sacks allowed and they go up against the team that led the nation in sacks. I’ve got Northern Illinois taking this one.

Projected Score: Northern Illinois 20 Duke 17

Cactus Bowl: Kansas State (-3) vs UCLA

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Kansas State is going to struggle to throw the football in this one. They used three different quarterbacks this year and none of them were particularly successful. Despite this, they have one of the better defenses in the Big 12, which is saying nothing.  This team is going to get eaten alive by Josh Rosen, though. They simply can’t keep up with him on offense and I think this is going to be the game that solidifies him as the number 1 pick in the Draft.

Projected Score: UCLA 42 Kansas State 24

Walk On’s Independence Bowl: Southern Miss vs Florida State (-15)

Normally, I would wonder how in the Hell this matchup is even legal. But losing Deondre Francois in Week 1 derailed Florida State’s season so hard, Jimbo Fisher skipped town for Texas A&M. They’ve still managed to become bowl eligible, though and will look to try and pick up the win against Southern Miss. Southern Miss has one of the best rushing attacks in the country, led by Ito Smith and his 1300 yards on the ground. The defense has also been solid this year, as they’ve pitched two shutouts. But I’m going with Florida State here, but I don’t think it will be nearly as big a blowout as the line might suggest.

Projected Score: Florida State 27 Southern Miss 24

New Era Pinstripe Bowl: Iowa (-3) vs Boston College

This is the one bowl I’ve ever attended, when Indiana played Duke and Indiana lost in OT after a Griffin Oakes field goal was incorrectly called no good. It traditionally has some pretty good games in their Big Ten-ACC matchup. Iowa has perhaps one of the most damaging victories all season in that their 31-point win over Ohio State most certainly knocked the Big Ten out of the playoff picture. Boston College, meanwhile, has been one of the more up-and-down teams I’ve seen in a while. One week they’ll absolutely DESTROY Florida State and then the next they’ll lose to NC State (not a knock against the Wolfpack, but BC’s offense in particular can’t seem to find a consistent rhythm). I’m going with Boston College for this one, as aside from that one performance against the Buckeyes, Iowa hasn’t been that impressive this year.

Projected Score: Boston College 24 Iowa 20

Foster Farms Bowl: Arizona (-3.5) vs Purdue

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So as you may have read, Arizona quarterback Khalil Tate is my favorite to win the Heisman next season because of the dominant stretches he displayed. However he does need to improve as a passer if he’s going to reach those heights. Purdue is a pretty solid run defense, especially with Ja’Whaun Bentley at linebacker. Tate might need to whip out that passing ability if Arizona is going to keep pace, but I think they will. Tate is such a talented runner that I think overall he’s going to overpower Purdue and Arizona will get the win.

Projected Score: Arizona 28 Purdue 21

Academy Sports+Outdoors Texas Bowl: Texas vs Missouri (-1)

Both teams were quietly pretty solid this season mainly because it was below their traditional standards, but definitely better than the last couple years. Texas showed some promise under Tom Herman but it may be a couple of years before they return to the Longhorns of old. Missouri’s Drew Lock had a fantastic season throwing the football, as he led the nation in passing touchdowns this season. I’m going to give the edge to Texas in this one. It’s a toss up but the game is being played in Houston, where the Longhorns will essentially have a home field advantage, which is big in college sports.

Projected Score: Texas 30 Missouri 27

Military Bowl: Virginia vs Navy (no line)

Virginia actually had a pretty good season this year. After going 2-10 in Bronco Mendenhall’s first season at the helm, the Cavaliers turned it around nicely and find themselves in a bowl game. Also, quarterback Kurt Benkert is getting some looks from the NFL as a result of his successful season. They face a Navy team that lost a heart breaker to Army in the snow and I just don’t know if they have what it takes to take down this surprisingly talented Virginia squad. I’ve got the other Cavs in this one.

Projected Score: Virginia 24 Navy 14

Camping World Bowl: #22 Virginia Tech vs #19 Oklahoma State (-6.5)

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This is too good a matchup to be relegated to the likes of the Camping World Bowl, but at least in most cases by the time the game actually kicks off, you kind of forget which bowl you’re playing in. The number 3 scoring offense in Oklahoma State vs the number 5 scoring defense in Virginia Tech. Something’s gotta give. I think I’m going to give the edge to Oklahoma State here. Yes, I know, a matchup of this type usually ends up favoring the defense, but the Cowboys have far too many weapons that the Hokies have to compete with.

Projected Score: Oklahoma State 35 Virginia Tech 30

Valero Alamo Bowl: #13 Stanford vs #15 TCU (-2.5)

This is going to be a really close game as both teams have the ability to be really explosive on offense while also featuring some of the best defenses in their respective conferences. Heisman runner-up Bryce Love leads the Cardinal to face TCU and their duo of talented defensive ends in Ben Banogu and Mat Boesen. While I do think Love is going to have a big game for the Cardinal, I don’t think it will be enough to compete with the TCU offense. Kenny Hill’s been having a tremendous season for the Horned Frogs and I think he leads them to an Alamo Bowl victory over Stanford.

Projected Score: TCU 28 Stanford 23

San Diego County Credit Union Holiday Bowl: #18 Washington State (-2.5) vs #16 Michigan State

Like the Oklahoma State-Virginia Tech matchup, this game features one of the top offenses in the country in Washington State vs one of the top defenses in Michigan State. The Cougars are the second best passing offense in the nation, trailing only the aforementioned Oklahoma State while the Spartans allowed under 200 passing yards per game this season. It’s going to be a tough matchup but I think Washington State is going to come out on top. Michigan State has been too careless with the football offensively, as they’ve fumbled it more than any team in the country that doesn’t run a run-only offense, which I think the Cougars will find ways to capitalize on.

Projected Score: Washington State 31 Michigan State 24

Belk Bowl: Wake Forest (-3) vs Texas A&M

Wake Forest was quietly a pretty good team this season, as they went 7-5 this season, including wins over a Lamar Jackson-led Louisville team and a late-season win over then-#19 NC State. They take on a Texas A&M team that is getting a major face lift, as they fired Kevin Sumlin only to turn around and hire Jimbo Fisher away from the Florida State Seminoles. Fisher, however, will not be leading the Aggies in this game, as that task will fall on Jeff Banks. I’m actually going to go with the Demon Deacons in this game. There’s too much turmoil going on with the Aggies in this game and I think it could become a distraction, which is the last thing you want when you face a pesky team like this.

Projected Score: Wake Forest 24 Texas A&M 21

Hyundai Sun Bowl: #24 NC State (-6.5) vs Arizona State

Like Texas A&M, Arizona State also hired a new head coach in Herm Edwards, who has previously coached in the NFL with the Jets and Chiefs. It’s an odd situation because despite firing the incumbent Todd Graham, Graham will still be coaching this game for the Sun Devils. This could go one of two ways: Graham could be salty and sabotage this game for his former employer, or he could try and go out with a bang and give his best performance. I don’t think it’ll matter a whole lot what he ends up doing because I think NC State’s Bradley Chubb is going to give a similar performance to what we saw Solomon Thomas give for Stanford in their bowl game last year: a performance that will solidify him in the Top-5 pick discussion. I’ve got the Wolfpack in this game.

Projected Score: NC State 27 Arizona State 20

Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl: Kentucky vs #21 Northwestern (-8.5)

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Kentucky is quietly a pretty good team this year as they went 7-5, including wins over South Carolina, Missouri, and Tennessee. Mark Stoops has done a Hell of a job with his team this year, but I think they’re going to run into some problems against Northwestern. The Wildcats had one of the best seasons in school history, as they went 9-3, including winning each of their last 7 games, including an OT win over Michigan State. Northwestern plays some really sound and fundamental football and I think they’re going to frustrate this Kentucky offense that is predicated on being able to run the football. I’ve got Northwestern in this game.

Projected Score: Northwestern 23 Kentucky 13

Nova Home Loans Arizona Bowl: New Mexico State vs Utah State (-3)

The battle of the Aggies, this game might slip under the radar a bit because it’s not a matchup of household names. Which is a shame, because when they’re on, they can be two of the most exciting offenses in college football. New Mexico State’s Tyler Rogers ranked among the best passers in the game with his 3825 passing yards this season while Utah State preferred a more balanced attack that spreads the ball around to various different options. I’m going to go with New Mexico State for this game. Utah State’s defense has had its struggles this season and I think Rogers is going to have a field day.

Projected Score: New Mexico State 38 Utah State 27

Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic: #8 USC vs #5 Ohio State (-7)

So in an 8-team playoff format, this would be the 4 vs 5 matchup and dammit if I’m not pumped for it. Getting a chance to watch Ohio State live twice this season, I was able to see firsthand just how much better this team got over the course of the season. Their defense, which struggled to contain Indiana’s Richard Lagow and Simmie Cobbs, were lights out in the Big Ten championship, absolutely shutting down Heisman hopeful Jonathan Taylor. Their defense will put potential top pick Sam Darnold to the test, as this will be by far the toughest defense he faces all year. How he performs in this game will go a long way in determining whether he really is the top quarterback everybody projected him to be. I think he will have his struggles, though I don’t think it will necessarily be because of him. I think USC’s offensive line will struggle to protect him against the monster of a front that Ohio State has and they will wreak havoc on the Trojans.

Projected Score: Ohio State 30 USC 20

TaxSlayer Bowl: Louisville (-6) vs #23 Mississippi State

Lamar Jackson may have finished third in the Heisman voting this year, but I would argue that he actually played better in 2017 than he did in his banner 2016 season. Louisville wasn’t quite as good as they were last year and that’s really what hurt Jackson’s Heisman chances. They face a Mississippi State team that can be very dangerous, as they came the closest to beating Alabama before Auburn was able to pull it off in the Iron Bowl. But I think they will struggle to contain Lamar Jackson. Limiting Jalen Hurts is one thing, but Jackson is so much better a passer that it’s going to be too much for the Bulldogs to keep track of.

Projected Score: Louisville 38 Mississippi State 30

Autozona Liberty Bowl: Iowa State vs #20 Memphis (-3)

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Memphis’ Riley Ferguson can sling it with the best of them, as he showed in Memphis’ early-season win over Josh Rosen’s UCLA Bruins, where Ferguson was able to outduel the potential top draft pick. He’s also got a lot of weapons on offense that will cause Iowa State a lot of problems, however if anybody is up to the task, it’s the Cyclones. Iowa State is the only team to beat Oklahoma this season and they also were able to hand TCU their first loss of the season. Both teams ended up playing in the Big 12 title game, so Iowa State does a great job of playing up to their competition. However I think the combination of Ferguson and receiver Anthony Miller is going to be too much for Iowa State to handle and I think Memphis will come away with this one.

Projected Score: Memphis 42 Iowa State 38

Playstation Fiesta Bowl: #11 Washington vs #9 Penn State (-3)

This is a matchup made in heaven. Two teams that boast not only talented offenses, but talented defenses as well. They each had a couple of rough goes, Penn State likely would have played for the Big Ten Title game had JT Barrett not pulled off a miraculous comeback to knock off the then-second-ranked Nittany Lions. Then they lost to Michigan State after a 3-and-a-half-hour storm delay midway through the contest that likely threw off their groove. Washington also had a couple of ugly defeats, as they were upset by Arizona State midway through the season, then a loss to Stanford that effectively eliminated them from Pac 12 title contention. Both teams will be looking for a bit of redemption for their once promising seasons and I think this will go down to the wire. I’m going to go with Penn State to get the win, though. I think their offense is too explosive for Washington to keep up with for four quarters.

Projected Score: Penn State 31 Washington 28

Capital One Orange Bowl: #6 Wisconsin (-6.5) vs #10 Miami (FL)

The Turnover Chain is dead. Clemson buried it.

The Hurricanes are suddenly ice cold as they’ve delivered back-to-back duds to close out their schedule. They lost in embarrassing fashion to Pittsburgh, then got obliterated by Clemson in the ACC Championship game with a playoff berth on the line. Then Dabo Swinney’s bunch destroyed what had been the emblem of the Hurricanes’ season in the Turnover Chain and Miami fans can’t be feeling much lower right now. They take on a Wisconsin team that may have been exposed a little bit in their loss to Ohio State. While the Badgers did manage to keep the game close, it was mainly because Ohio State shot themselves in the foot on multiple occasions. That being said, I think this defense is going to cause a lot of problems for Malik Rosier and company and Wisconsin will come away with the victory.

Projected Score: Wisconsin 24 Miami (FL) 10

Outback Bowl: Michigan (-8.5) vs South Carolina

These two teams have met in the Outback Bowl before.

However South Carolina doesn’t have anybody who evenly remotely resembles JaDeveon Clowney this year. Michigan has had their struggles at the quarterback position this year but if they can get the ground game working, then I think they will be okay. Defensively they’re so good they can practically take over games. I’ve got the Wolverines winning this one.

Projected Score: Michigan 21 South Carolina 17

Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl: #12 UCF vs #7 Auburn (-10)

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Why Auburn is ranked 7th despite being a 3-loss team is beyond me, but it doesn’t really matter anymore as long as they aren’t in the playoff. They looked good to start the SEC Championship game, marching down the field and scoring a touchdown on their first possession. Then Georgia unraveled them and scored 28 unanswered. They face the lone unbeaten team in college football in UCF. Despite being hired by Nebraska, UCF head coach Scott Frost will coach the Knights in this game to close out the season, which I wish more coaches would do. It is for that reason that I think UCF will compete with Auburn, even give them a scare for most of the game, but I think the Tigers will outlast them. Eventually, talent often wins out, though if any team were to be on upset alert for this bowl season, I’d say it’s Auburn.

Projected Score: Auburn 20 UCF 17

Citrus Bowl presented by Overton’s: #14 Notre Dame vs #17 LSU (-2.5)

These are two teams that like to run the ball and play physical defense and on paper are pretty evenly matched. LSU has recovered really well after their homecoming debacle against Troy, as they’ve won 6 of 7 games since that loss, their one defeat being Alabama. The Fighting Irish, on the other hand, ended the season rather meekly, losing 2 of their last 3 after having been in the playoff hunt for much of the season. Granted, those two losses were Miami and Stanford, but both teams ended up getting beaten in their conference title games, Miami pretty soundly while Stanford kept it close. Notre Dame is capable of beating up on good teams, though, and I think the difference is going to be quarterback play. I trust Notre Dame’s Brandon Wimbush more than I do LSU’s Danny Etling and for that reason, I’m picking the Irish.

Projected Score: Notre Dame 31 LSU 27

Rose Bowl: #3 Georgia vs #2 Oklahoma (-1)

The first of the two playoff games, this will be Baker Mayfield’s first game after winning the Heisman Trophy. It will also be an opportunity for him to increase his draft stock even further, as he goes up against a really tough Georgia defense. If he can have a big game, then I think NFL teams will be far more intrigued by the possibility of drafting him high. As for Georgia, they look to break the 3-seed curse, as the team in that slot has yet to win a playoff game (Florida State, Michigan State, and Ohio State have all failed to get the job done). It’s going to be an uphill battle for them, as they will have to ask Jake Fromm to outduel the Heisman-winning Mayfield. It won’t be impossible, as Oklahoma will likely be without stud runningback Rodney Anderson as he faces domestic assault charges, but I don’t see that happening, and I’m picking the Sooners reaching the National Championship for the first time since the 2008 season, when Sam Bradford was outplayed by Tim Tebow.

Projected Score: Oklahoma 31 Georgia 26

All State Sugar Bowl: #4 Alabama (-2) vs #1 Clemson

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Part 3 of this CFP rivalry, though it’s the first matchup in this series that won’t be taking place with the National Championship on the line. Alabama will be very thankful it’s not Deshaun Watson under center for Clemson, as he absolutely lit them up in each of the previous matchups. Kelly Bryant will be tasked with taking on the Crimson Tide defense. He’s not Watson, but he has proven capable of winning big games, as he led Clemson to wins over the likes of Auburn, Virginia Tech, and a blowout of Miami for the ACC title. Offensively, Alabama will have to compete with the most efficient defense in the country in Clemson, as their defensive front that includes the likes of Christian Wilkins, Dexter Lawrence, and Clellin Ferrell will make it tough to move the ball. Having seen eachother each of the last few years, I think both Nick Saban and Dabo Swinney will have made the adjustments they will need to come away with the victory. In the end, I think Clemson will come away as the winner of this best-of-3 series and will take on Oklahoma for the National Championship.

Projected Score: Clemson 34 Alabama 31

*Exhales.* Finally, I’ve made all the picks and it only took me 5530 words, more than doubling my previous high word count (which I think was an NFL picks segment). I’m going to wait to do the National Championship game until the night before, as I don’t want to predict a matchup that hasn’t been set up yet. But based on what I’ve predicted, I think that Clemson will beat Oklahoma to win back-to-back championships. I just think they’re more well-rounded than Oklahoma is and I think the Sooners’ deficiencies on defense will come back to haunt them in this one. Agree with my picks? Disagree? Let me know in the comments section below or on Facebook or Twitter @jimwyman10 and contribute to my Patreon.

My Heisman Favorites for 2018

Baker Mayfield won the Heisman Trophy on Saturday night, which I’m sure you’re all aware of. I’ve had a lot on my plate these last few days, including finals (which I’m just coming back from two-a-days). So these are coming out a little later than I had intended, but they’re out. So let’s get a look at who I think are the favorites to win the Heisman Trophy. Now, there may be some guys you think I’m missing even though they’ll have eligibility next year. For example, Lamar Jackson will not be on this list mainly because I think he is going to declare for the NFL Draft. Same with Saquon Barkley. Same with Bryce Love. Because I don’t think any of those guys’ draft stock will be any higher than they are right now. So with that in mind, let’s get into my rankings.

5. Ed Oliver-DT-Houston

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I’m opening up with a bit of a long shot here. Don’t get me wrong, Ed Oliver is a PHENOMENAL player. In fact, he’s the best collegiate defensive tackle I’ve seen since Nebraska’s Ndamukong Suh, and Suh, in my opinion, is the best defensive tackle college football has ever seen. In his senior season, he had 12 sacks from the defensive tackle position, a position where he was always facing double teams with opponents knowing what kind of threat he was going in. Ed Oliver isn’t quite Suh, but he’s probably the closest we’ve seen since Suh was a Heisman finalist in 2009. Oliver is always living in opposing backfields and has been getting All-American recognition the moment he set foot on campus last year. He was the first ESPN 5-star recruit to ever sign with a non-Power 5 team and although the coach who signed him, Tom Herman, is at Texas now, Oliver continued to dominate. There are two big knocks against him: the fact he plays defense and he plays outside the power 5 conferences. While Houston is a good mid-major program, they still don’t face the same competition and that matters in the eyes of the voters. He also plays defense, which has only ever had 1 Heisman winner, Michigan’s Charles Woodson in 1997, and even then Woodson played on offense and special teams as well. I think that’s a crime, but it is an obstacle regardless. Try and watch the Hawaii Bowl on Christmas Eve, where Houston plays Fresno State. Watch and see what #10 does, I think you’ll see why I have him in the Heisman discussion for next season.

4. Jalen Hurts-QB-Alabama

at Jordan Hare Stadium on November 25, 2017 in Auburn, Alabama.

Hurts is kind of a dark horse. He’s basically a runningback playing quarterback, but the quarterback of college football’s best team is always going to be in the running for the Heisman in some form. Team success is a factor that Heisman voters take into consideration. We’ve also seen some Heisman-caliber moments out of Hurts in the past, such as his 31-yard run for a score in the national championship that would have won the Tide a title had it not been for Deshaun Watson. Which he did as a true freshman. If Hurts takes a step forward as a passer, I don’t think it’s farfetched to think that Hurts could be in the running for the Heisman Trophy. We’ve seen running quarterbacks take the next step in throwing the ball before, Lamar Jackson and Robert Griffin III being prime examples of that. With a coach like Nick Saban, I wouldn’t put it past Hurts to take that step.

3. JK Dobbins-RB-Ohio State

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JK Dobbins really exploded on the scene and I had a front row seat for two of the biggest games of his career. I was there when he set an Ohio State freshman debut record with 181 rushing yards against Indiana on opening night, then when he won Big Ten Championship MVP with his 174 yards on 17 carries against Wisconsin, which has arguably the toughest defense in the nation. Watching this guy hit the hole, it’s amazing anyone can ever catch this guy, he has that good a burst of speed. He’s shifty, too. He had one of the best freshman seasons ever by a runningback and I am more than confident in his ability to build on that early success and turn it into a Heisman-caliber campaign.

2. Jonathan Taylor-RB-Wisconsin

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Taylor was basically Dobbins, but on a bigger scale. Taylor was a legitimate Heisman contender this season and was the focal point of the Wisconsin offense despite being a true freshman. With a strong performance in the Orange Bowl, Taylor could not only break the freshman rushing record, but he could become the first freshman to ever rush for 2000 yards. Now imagine the fact that he could get better. Wisconsin will need to get a little better in the passing game to try and take some of the pressure off of Taylor, or else teams will be able to wisen up and start loading the box on them. Taylor himself also needs to improve in the receiving game, though he never got too many opportunities. I think if Wisconsin found a way to open up their offense a little bit, then it could really jumpstart Taylor’s potential Heisman candidacy, which is already really high, as he finished sixth in the final voting and 4th in my rankings.

1. Khalil Tate-QB-Arizona

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So this is a guy you may not be as aware of, as he was a bit under the radar on the national scene, but he really started gaining notoriety as the season went along. He didn’t become the starter until Arizona’s fifth game of the season against Colorado. In that starting debut he only rushed for 327 yards, no big deal. He rushed for over 200 yards on three separate occasions this season and finished with 1353 yards on 133 carries. Oh and did I mention he’s the quarterback? Granted, Tate’s passing game is practically non-existent, as he rushed for more yards than he threw for (1353 vs 1289). He only threw for over 200 yards once and attempted more than 20 passes only twice. If he can develop more as a passer this offseason, we could see a runaway Heisman performance with how skilled he is as a runner. 1353 yards in only 10 games and 7 starts? That’s pretty damn incredible. He has shown that he is capable of being a good passer, in his starting debut he had a perfect QBR, completing 12 of 13 passes for 154 yards to along with his 327 rushing yards. He just needs to be more consistent.

So those are my premature Heisman rankings for next season. I wouldn’t hold my breath on there being a blog tomorrow, but there’s a reason for that. I’m doing a picks segment for ALL of the bowl games and it may take me a while to do them all. It will likely end up being a two-day process. Doing my usual 12-game blogs usually takes me a little while. This one is about 40. So that’ll be fun. That word count is going to get interesting. So what did you think of my way-too-early Heisman rankings? Let me know in the comments section below or on Facebook or Twitter @jimwyman 10 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.

College Football Picks: Rivalry Week

Last Week: 10-2                  Season Record: 79-29

My misses last week were Texas against West Virginia and Kansas State against Oklahoma State, though my upset pick of Wake Forest over NC State came through (even though Wake was favored by 1.5, I still consider it an upset because the Wolfpack were ranked). Miami (FL) losing to Pitt is HUGE and I’m going to have an interesting playoff blog for Tuesday. So for the last time in the regular season, let’s get picking.

Indiana vs Purdue (-2.5)

As an Indiana student, I’m a little nervous for this one. Purdue isn’t the pushover of years’ past and even when they did suck, they still played the Hoosiers tough. For that reason, I’m not surprised the Boilermakers are favored at home. Both teams are 5-6 so the winner of this game goes bowling and the loser’s season is over. Naturally I’m going to be pretty anxious. I am going to go with Indiana, the Hoosiers have won 4 in a row in this matchup and Purdue will be without gunslinging quarterback David Blough. If Blough were playing, I’d likely give the edge to Purdue, but I think the Boilermakers will struggle to score on this tough Indiana defense.

Projected Score: Indiana 24 Purdue 20

#7 Georgia (-10.5) vs Georgia Tech

Georgia still controls their own destiny if they want to make it to the playoff for the first time in school history. They have to beat Georgia Tech and the winner of the Iron Bowl. I think for that reason, head coach Kirby Smart is going to have his guys ready and it wouldn’t shock me if the Bulldogs come out guns blazing for this game against the Yellow Jackets. Georgia Tech is always a tricky team to play against, given their wishbone offense and their highly-ranked defense this season, but they’ve lost 3 of their last 4 games and need this win if they are to become bowl eligible. To me, that type of cold play does not bode well if you’re trying to beat a potentially playoff-bound team. I’ve got the Bulldogs winning this pretty handily.

Projected Score: Georgia 38 Georgia Tech 17

Louisville (-10.5) vs Kentucky

Things haven’t gone the way Louisville would’ve liked, while Kentucky has exceeded all expectations this season. Last year, the Cardinals were 26.5-point favorites, yet still lost to the Wildcats despite Lamar Jackson being in the midst of his Heisman trophy-winning campaign. I think this game will be close, Mark Stoops’ bunch have been tough beats this season and both teams enter the game at 7-4. The one thing about Kentucky is that they seem to let bad teams stay close, as they’ve had tight contests with the likes of Southern Miss and Eastern Kentucky. But I don’t know. I’ve got a feeling about this one. I think the Kentucky Wildcats will make it two in a row for no reason. Because that’s rivalry week.

NCAA Football: New Mexico State at Kentucky

Can Stephen Johnson lead Kentucky to back-to-back upset wins over Louisville? (photo credit: Gridiron Now)

Projected Score: Kentucky 38 Louisville 35

#9 Ohio State (-12) vs Michigan

Ohio State has already won the Big Ten East and the only time they’ve lost to Michigan since 2003 was in 2011 after Jim Tressel was fired over that whole tattoos thing and Luke Fickell was interim head coach. And even then the Wolverines only won by 6. So being a Michigan fan hasn’t been fun for a while. The game is in Ann Arbor this year but I don’t expect that to matter a whole lot. Last time this game was at Michigan, Ohio State won 42-13. To the chagrin of Michigan fans, I don’t expect a whole lot to change. Michigan lacks consistency on offense and JT Barrett is playing too well right now for Michigan’s all-world defense to hold him down for too long.

Projected Score: Ohio State 29 Michigan 16

#1 Alabama (-4.5) vs #6 Auburn

This is probably the matchup of the day right here. Amazingly enough, Alabama misses the SEC championship game and possibly the playoff if they lose this game to Auburn. Interesting tidbit, the winner of this game in every year since 2008 was ranked in the top 4 at the time of their victory. This is probably the biggest rivalry in college football right now as both teams are fantastic and this year in particular, the stakes are very high. Auburn could get into the college football playoff if they win this game and the SEC title. I laid out their path earlier this week, which you can read here. I really am torn about who I have winning this. My brain is telling me Alabama, but my heart is telling me Auburn. Both are wrong just as often as the other, so I’m going to trust the number 1 ranking and go the route that would cause the least amount of chaos and pick Alabama here. But Auburn winning would be pandemonium for the CFP.

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The Crimson Tide will have their hands full with Auburn in the Iron Bowl (photo credit: Roll ‘Bama Roll)

Projected Score: Alabama 31 Auburn 30

#5 Wisconsin (-17.5) vs Minnesota

Every game is about as must-win as they come if Wisconsin wants to stay alive in the playoff hunt. One slip-up and its over, given how easy their schedule is. Minnesota has been pretty inconsistent this season. There are some weeks where they look like they can compete with the Badgers in the Big Ten West, then there are others where they look like the worst team in the conference. Wisconsin’s defense has a tendency to make good teams look painfully average and the Golden Gophers don’t have the weapons to overcome that dominance. I’ve got the Badgers entering their Big Ten title date with Ohio State at 12-0.

Projected Score: Wisconsin 35 Minnesota 17

West Virginia vs #4 Oklahoma (-22.5)

Baker Mayfield is on fire right now, but because the camera caught him yelling obscenities while grabbing his nuts at the Kansas bench last week, he will be suspended for an unknown amount of time in this game, but he will play. I wonder if he gets suspended had the camera not caught him. Quite frankly, I love the intensity, but since you can’t exactly fine the kid because he has no money, you kind of have to keep him out for a few plays. Even without Mayfield for a small portion of this game, Oklahoma is still heavily favored, and that’s pretty well justified. Will Grier being injured is going to be fatal for the Mountaineers’ chances of pulling off the upset. Were he healthy, I’d give them a much better shot at winning. But without him, this line seems a little low.

Projected Score: Oklahoma 49 West Virginia 21

Arizona (-2.5) vs Arizona State

This game could get really exciting. Arizona’s Khalil Tate might be leading the Heisman race had it not taken him until October to earn the starting job. He’s been a MONSTER this season, especially on the ground. He was on the bench for the first month and he still has 1325 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns. Did I mention he’s the quarterback? Arizona State isn’t going to stop him, so they’re going to just have to try and outscore him, something they’re very capable of. The Sun Devils have scored at least 30 points in each of their last 3 games this season and they’re going to need more of the same if they want to keep pace with Tate and the Wildcats. I’m going with Arizona to win this game. Tate is too explosive for the Sun Devils to keep up with.

Projected Score: Arizona 45 Arizona State 38

#3 Clemson (-13.5) vs #24 South Carolina

Miami losing really doesn’t affect the ACC picture, only now it’s pretty much a guarantee we won’t get two ACC teams in the playoff, just so long as Clemson wins this game. The Gamecocks are no slouches. They’re 8-3 this season, including a win over NC State and they’ve played good teams like Georgia and Texas A&M close. I think the Tigers will be okay for this one, though. They’re just too talented for South Carolina to keep up with for 60 minutes, but I wouldn’t put it past South Carolina to make this game interesting. They’re a very balanced team that could create some issues.

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Deon Cain is one of the most explosive receivers in the nation (photo credit: Athlon Sports)

Projected Score: Clemson 34 South Carolina 24

Texas A&M vs #18 LSU (-9.5)

I wouldn’t necessarily call this a big rivalry game, but it’s a matchup that will be worth watching as these are two quality teams that can hang with the best of them. Hell, these are probably the two teams that gave Alabama their best fights of the season (along with Mississippi State). Kevin Sumlin might be coaching for his job at this point as the expectations at A&M have been pretty high the last few seasons and a loss here would drop the Aggies to a 7-5 finish and a mediocre bowl game. Amazing how different 7-5 and 8-4 really look. I’m going to give the edge to LSU. Texas A&M is too inconsistent at quarterback and LSU’s defense feeds on those types of teams.

Projected Score: LSU 24 Texas A&M 14

#8 Notre Dame (-2.5) vs #21 Stanford

Notre Dame has some slim odds if they want to make the playoff, which I detailed in the link in my Iron Bowl pick. But they still have a chance and they have to beat Stanford to stay alive. This is pretty much guaranteed to be a close game, as this matchup has been decided by 1 score every year starting in 2012. Stanford has won 3 of those 5 games. The key to this game for Notre Dame is going to be stopping Bryce Love. Yes that’s pretty damn obvious, but Stanford is so unsettled at quarterback that the passing game can never seem to get in a consistent rhythm. Honestly, if they hold Love to 120 yards of total offense, they should be fine. I’m taking Notre Dame to win this game. Defensively I trust them to find ways to limit Love.

Projected Score: Notre Dame 28 Stanford 21

#13 Washington State vs #17 Washington (-10.5)

The winner of this game likely faces USC for the Pac-12 title, adding a little more incentive to an already intense rivalry. Both teams have had their ups and downs this season and have spent time in the Top 10. Both offenses have the ability to light up the scoreboard, but that could be limited because it is expected to rain in this game. For that reason, I’m going to give the edge to the Washington Huskies. A weapon like Myles Gaskin in the run game will be huge against the elements and I think he’s going to be in for a heck of a game.

Projected Score: Washington 30 Washington State 27

Those are the final picks of the regular season, I want to thank everyone for reading these every week. Fret not, I’m not done doing these, but my regular season is over upon the conclusion of these games. I will still be doing conference championship games, Army-Navy, and bowl games so I’ve still got plenty of material on the way. Are there any other rivalry games you want my thoughts on? Let me know in the comments section below or on Facebook or Twitter @jimwyman10.

 

College Football Playoff: The Case for the 2-Loss Teams

I’m going to change things up a little bit this week. Normally I do how I would rank the College Football Playoff rankings, however based on this past week of games, I wouldn’t change a thing and I don’t think the committee will change anything either. It would basically be a copy/paste of last week’s blog, which I will link to here. Basically the same thing, except I would add that I don’t think the committee can totally ignore Wisconsin’s schedule anymore after a relatively convincing win over Michigan. It’s still not as good as the other teams in contention, but that zero in the loss column is huge. Instead, given the fact that teams are starting to lose more frequently, I thought it would be interesting to talk about the cases for each 2-loss team that has a realistic chance at the playoff. I’ve said in the past that 2-loss teams are basically eliminated, which was true at the time, but given the fact that we have so few 1-loss teams left I think a 2-loss team could feasibly make the playoff this year. So let’s get a look at five 2-loss teams I think have a realistic shot at the playoff.

Auburn Tigers

Record: 9-2 (6-1)

Losses: #3 Clemson 14-6 in Game 2, LSU 27-23 in Game 7

Notable Wins: #24 Mississippi State, #1 Georgia (both were blowouts)

Route to the Playoff: Win Out, preferably have Clemson beat Miami in ACC championship with Miami also losing to Pittsburgh

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Jarrett Stidham seems to have finally gotten into a grove in the Auburn offense (photo credit: Auburn Athletics)

Auburn’s got the easiest path to the playoff out of all the 2-loss teams because they essentially control their own destiny. If they defeat Alabama in the Iron Bowl then beat Georgia in the SEC Title Game, you can’t not have them in the playoff considering the resume they will have. When Auburn wins their games, they win HUGE. The closest any team has come to beating Auburn without actually beating them was actually Mercer in Game 3 (go figure) and Auburn beat them 24-10. Their losses were both by 1 score to good football teams; Clemson’s a playoff team and LSU, despite some of their problems, is still a good team at 8-3. If Auburn were to play either of those teams again, especially considering how hot they’ve been, I would feel pretty comfortable with their chances to win. Auburn is traditionally known as more of a defensive team but since losing to LSU, they have put up four straight games scoring at least 40 points. Their route to the playoff definitely starts with Alabama, who is without question the best team in football. But Auburn has done this before, just like with Chris Davis’ return on the short field goal. If they get to the SEC title game against Georgia, they’ll probably be good. They showed last week that they aren’t afraid of the Bulldogs, as they won 40-17 over then #1 Georgia. So I actually kind of like Auburn’s chances of being the first ever 2-loss team to make the playoff.

Chances Auburn Gets In: Pretty Good

Notre Dame Fighting Irish

Record: 9-2

Losses: #15 Georgia 20-19 in Game 2, #7 Miami (FL) 41-8 last week

Notable Wins: #11 USC, #14 NC State, Michigan State

Route To Playoff: Miami needs to win out, including blowing out Clemson to win ACC, Clemson needs to lose to South Carolina, Wisconsin needs to lose to Minnesota but beat Ohio State in Big Ten Championship, Oklahoma needs to lose to West Virginia and probably TCU in Big 12 Championship, Georgia needs to lose to Georgia Tech and Auburn/Alabama in SEC Championship, Notre Dame needs to beat Stanford

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Mike McGlinchey and the Notre Dame squad have a tough road ahead if they want to make the playoff (photo credit: Notre Dame Insider)

Yeah that’s a lot that needs to happen for Notre Dame to get in. It’s possible, but highly unlikely. The thing that they have going for them is their losses, surprising enough. Both Georgia and Miami are Top-10 teams and the Irish have some impressive victories over the likes of USC, NC State, and Michigan State. Navy is also a challenging win. You could maybe cut out one or two of these and Notre Dame may have a chance, for example I think Miami could lose to Pittsburgh and Notre Dame still could still make the playoff, but I think things would be smoothest for the Irish if the U won out, making that loss look more impressive. But Georgia kind of needs to lose out in order to clear a path for Notre Dame.

Chances Notre Dame Gets In: Possible, But Need a Lot of Help

Ohio State Buckeyes

Record: 9-2 (6-1)

Losses: #5 Oklahoma 31-16 in Game 2, Iowa Hawkeyes 55-24 last Saturday

Notable Wins: #2 Penn State, #12 Michigan State

Route to Playoff: Alabama needs to win out, Georgia needs to lose to Georgia Tech, Wisconsin can lose to Minnesota (not sure if they NEED to as long as Ohio State beats them for the Big Ten, but it would certainly help), Clemson needs to lose out, Oklahoma could lose out (but it might be better for their resume if the Sooners won out), Ohio State needs to win out

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Will JK Dobbins’ fantastic freshman season be enough to help propel the Buckeyes to the playoff? (photo credit: 247 Sports)

Ohio State doesn’t have the worst route because the guys they need to lose don’t have the easiest schedules in the world. Georgia Tech is quietly pretty good and I can totally envision them sneaking up on Georgia. I don’t see Wisconsin losing to Minnesota, the Golden Gophers just don’t have the weapons that can put up points against that Badgers defense, but like I mentioned above, as long as Ohio State beats Wisconsin to win the Big Ten I think they will be okay. Clemson losing to South Carolina AND Miami would be huge, as I’m not so sure Ohio State leapfrogs them, unless that loss is South Carolina. If Clemson beats South Carolina but loses to Miami, then maybe Ohio State jumps them, but I’m not as confident in that. The Oklahoma loss is tricky because if the Sooners lose out, that would certainly put Ohio State ahead of them, but it might diminish the value of their loss to them at the beginning of the year. The Iowa loss is going to hurt. As much as voters say they don’t care about margin of victory, it’s really hard for the committee to justify a team being one of the four best in the country despite losing to an unranked team by 31 points.

Chances Ohio State Gets In: Decent

TCU Horned Frogs

Record: 9-2 (6-2)

Losses: #25 Iowa State 14-7 in Game 8, #5 Oklahoma 38-20 Last Week

Notable Wins: #6 Oklahoma State, #23 West Virginia, also worth mentioning the box score of the Kansas game

Route to Playoff: Alabama needs to win out, Oklahoma needs to lose to West Virginia, Clemson needs to lose out, Miami may need to lose to Pittsburgh, Wisconsin needs to lose to Minnesota, Ohio State needs to lose to Michigan then beat Wisconsin for Big Ten, Georgia needs to lose to Georgia Tech, TCU needs to win out.

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Ben Banogu’s explosion onto the scene has helped put TCU in a position to make the playoff (photo credit: Frogs O’ War)

TCU has a decent resume, as both of their losses are to ranked teams. They’re pretty much guaranteed to get their rematch with Oklahoma in the Big 12 championship. If they win out and get some help, I can totally envision them making the playoff. In fact, I think it’s totally okay if Notre Dame beats Stanford and TCU still gets in over them. No conference championship game will hurt the Irish whereas the Big 12 no longer has that issue and TCU could use it as a springboard into the school’s first ever playoff. That’s a lot of help, they need, though. I’m not sure if Miami necessarily NEEDS to lose to Pitt, but that would do a lot of favors for TCU. But everything else I mentioned above absolutely has to happen if TCU has a chance.

Chances TCU Gets In: Not Great

USC Trojans

Record: 10-2 (8-1)

Losses: #16 Washington State 30-27 in Game 5, #13 Notre Dame 49-14 in Game 8

Notable Wins: #14 Stanford, #22 Arizona

Route to Playoff: Notre Dame needs to lose to Stanford, Georgia needs to lose out, Alabama needs to win out, Oklahoma needs to lose out, TCU needs to lose to Baylor, Clemson needs to lose out, Miami needs to lose to Pittsburgh, Wisconsin needs to lose to Minnesota, Ohio State needs to either lose to Michigan or Wisconsin (preferably Michigan, especially if Wisconsin beats Minnesota), USC needs to win the Pac-12 championship game against either Stanford, Washington, or Washington State

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Ronald Jones II is playing the best football of his career at the perfect time for USC

Yikes, that’s a rough path. I probably missed a game or two as well because USC needs a LOT of help. One thing that hurts them is that their regular season is over. They don’t have that one more game that the 10 teams ranked ahead of them do. Their quality of losses are pretty good, so that will be helpful, especially if it’s Wazzu that the Trojans end up beating in the Pac 12 title game. That could potentially erase their loss earlier in the season in the minds of voters, though I’m sure they won’t mind beating Washington or Stanford for the title. The fact that the Trojans were ranked 11th in the latest CFP does them no favors, though, showing that the voters value the quality of Auburn, Ohio State, Notre Dame, TCU, and even Penn State over them.

Chances USC Gets In: Good Freaking Luck

I left Penn State out of this one because they will not be playing for a conference championship, as Ohio State has already won that honor in the Big Ten East. Their fate has pretty much been sealed and their remaining game is Maryland, which isn’t exactly the greatest resume builder in the world. But out of all these teams, I think Auburn has the easiest path. If they win out, I think they would be hard to keep out of the playoff. Let me know what you thought of my 2-loss evaluations in the comments section below or on Facebook or Twitter @jimwyman10.