It’s a frigid 59 degrees here in St. Petersburg, and I’m sitting in bed with a fever realizing that it’s going to be the first of many Saturdays without college football – Connor Cook inevitably imploding in a playoff game is close. Upon this realization, I wanted to look back at the year in #CFB and go through some of the things that “we knew” about this year’s season.
1) “Texas is back, folks”
I still remember this game clearly, and what an incredible one it was. Deshone Kizer was phenomenal, Texas introduced the world to their sensational freshman Shane Buechele, and the Longhorns had a meaningful extra point blocked for what wouldn’t be the first time. Funny thing happened though, both teams ended up being terrible and missing the bowl season. Brian Kelly, like the cockroach he is survived his fourth 5-loss season at Notre Dame on top of an academic scandal that had them vacate the one time they got to be christened by Alabama.
2) Lane Kiffin is Destined for a Big-Time Job
Lane Kiffin was fired from Oakland with a press conference featuring Al Davis telling the world that Jamarcus Russell was a great quarterback, bounced from Tennessee after a moral victory where they didn’t even try to beat Florida, was left at the airport at USC, and now is done with Alabama a week before the national title game so he can go lead Florida’s like seventh most relevant program. South Florida tinder should be great though.
3) Tennessee was a Team of Destiny
They overcame double digit leads to beat AppSt, VaTech, Florida. Then that happened against Georgia. Finally, with like a 1:30 left against A&M, down 7 already, the Aggies tailback broke through and looked like he was about the put the most delicious icing on the cake that was Butch Jones finally losing. Because god isn’t fair, a UT defensive back chased him down and stripped him at the one forcing a touchback. Tennessee drove, scored, and TAMU missed a field goal forcing overtime.
In the first OT, Tennessee and Texas A&M matched field goals before Trevor Knight bulldozed into the endzone in the second. Josh “I can’t throw” Dobbs, was picked off and the Tennessee collapse began. In some fantastic irony, Will Muschamp remained undefeated against the worst fight song in the world beating the Vols late in the year sending Florida to the SEC Championship Scrimmage in December.
4) Lamar Jackson could beat Alabama
Oh man was Lamar Jackson fun this year. Too bad his offensive line had more holes than Hilary’s campaign platform. There was once upon a time when many thought that Jackson getting to the playoff was so important so that the world could see him take on Bama’s defense. In fairness, Louisville had just detonated Florida State and was a receiver having any kind of mental fortitude away from beating Clemson. Losses to a coach on his way out, Bob Stoops’ infinitely less talented brother, and Coach “O (wins against SEC teams without the interim tag)” put a damper on the season.
5) Michigan was the best hope against College Football’s Alabama Death Star
Yeah, the season didn’t end so great for Jim Harbaugh’s group after losing 3 of their last 4. There were a couple minor injuries and Wilton Speight never really seemed to recover from the broken collarbone, but more than anything, the same aggression that characterized this team earlier in the year just wasn’t there at the end. The defense, which chewed up and spit out Penn State like they’d be treated in prison, played more reactionary late in the year. The offensive line struggled to deal with some shuffling while Amara Darboh and Jehu Chesson hit a late-season slump.
None of this should take away from the year Michigan had, but man did this season end on a sour note. At one point, they were the team to beat Bama. Losing to Iowa and being dominated by Florida state for 50 minutes make that hard to remember.
Bold Prediction: Jabrill Peppers returns.
6) Most People Had Elementary Math Skills
I post this video again because it’s Exhibit A in the argument against Penn State’s playoff resume. After Ohio State was slaughtered by Clemson prior to the USC/Penn State Rose Bowl of a lifetime, the “told you so’s” came out of the woodwork talking about how USC or Penn State should’ve been there.
Well, in my correct opinion, if you lose games by 39 (hello Nittany Lions) or 49 (hello Trojans), no matter how hot you end the year, your resume is permanently tarnished. I know that Penn State has a tumultuous relationship with early development, but those losses couldn’t be and weren’t ignored.
In addition, and here’s the more important thing, both USC and Penn state had more losses than Ohio State. 1 vs 2 vs 3. Unlike the NFL, out-of-conference (division) games don’t count towards conference (division) titles. So yes, Penn State won the Big 10 because of their similar in-conference record to OSU while holding the head-to-head advantage. However, Penn State lost to Pittsburgh out of conference and Ohio State ended Oklahoma’s reeling playoff hopes.
It’s easy to say with revisionist history that OSU shouldn’t have been in that game, but any argument prior to Bowl Season would’ve been wrong. This isn’t an opinion, it’s a fact that Penn State had no argument in the playoff and those touting USC were just trolling even if they didn’t recognize it.
The Rose Bowl and Orange Bowl were two of the best football games I’ve ever seen, or at least endings. Clemson annihilated Ohio State, but frankly, I’m not sure anyone was going to compete with them Saturday night. That was a team clearly on a mission to get another shot at Alabama, and Ohio State was nothing but peanuts in their way. Monday night should be nothing short of spectacular.