Curator Sam Burnham
It’s time to have a serious discussion about the CFB Playoff. Through all the uproar and the protestations, and complaints about if the correct four teams were chosen or if the playoff needs expanding there’s one overarching absolutely true fact that everyone needs to come to grips with. That truth is this simple: the awful, rotten, flawed process we have right now is as good as it will ever be.
Sure we’ve had Chris Fowler, among others, wondering aloud, on air, what would have gone differently had Oregon been in instead of Oklahoma. The truth is that nothing would have been different. If you can’t beat Arizona State, you have no business playing LSU in the Playoff.
I kicked over a hornet’s nest full of butthurt Bama homers who were whining about “Bama fatigue” keeping them out of the Playoff. The truth is, Alabama had 0 quality wins this year and had no business is the playoff. The were eliminated. Period.
Had Georgia beaten South Carolina they could possibly have made the playoff but the truth is they didn’t beat South Carolina. While they’re probably the 4th best team in the nation they’re not a playoff team. Period.
We have the playoff in place because the old bowl system could always manage to narrow the competitive field to three teams, but rarely just two. LSU having to share a national championship with an inferior Southern Cal team was a low point. An undefeated 2003 Auburn team who didn’t even get a shot at Oklahoma or Southern Cal would have beaten either easily. Southern Cal wound up vacating that championship for cheating. What was needed was a “plus 1” game that would help weed out two of those final three. The regular season and conference championship games have already eliminated the rest of the teams at that point.
The biggest truth opposing expansion is that no one should have to sit through a blowout just because more teams might theoretically have a chance to win. Oklahoma didn’t belong there this year (or any of the other years they’ve made the playoff) but the rules say four teams have to go. So we got a miserable bloodbath game that no one honestly enjoyed. It’s silly and unnecessary. Adding more teams to the playoff will water it down, create more blowouts and meaningless games. Expansion might create more pomp, more spectacle, more fireworks, but it will add no substance, no practicality, no real competition.
Football is not basketball and it is foolish to think we can recreate March Madness in December. It’s an apples and automobiles comparison. We don’t even need to try. Let’s make the most of the system that is in place, realize that the regular season eliminates teams every week, and be realistic about our fandoms. Yes, you love your team but if they aren’t LSU or Clemson, they’ve been duly eliminated. Period. Better luck next year.
For Bowl Week we pick one great bowl game to watch and also break down the semifinals.
This will be the last poll taken until bowl season is complete and we crown our national champion. This week we have a lot of teams receiving votes but no Lagniappe Group due to low vote totals in that group.
We have our four playoff teams selected. We expect this to be the same four selected by the CFB Playoff Committee. We are less certain that they will have this same, which is to say correct, seeding.
We also have some some bold statements on behalf of the American Athletic and Sunbelt Conferences. The Mountain West and Conference USA get mentioned as well. Memphis, Appalachian State, Boise State, and even Florida Atlantic have been impressive this season. It’s easy to snark at their schedules but are they really much weaker than some of the others in the poll? Give these guys a chance on a larger stage this bowl season.
Here’s to a fun and exciting bowl season!
The ABG Poll
1) LSU 48 (3)
2) Clemson 45 (1)
3) Oklahoma 36
4 Ohio State 35 (1)
5) Oregon 25
6) Memphis 18
7) Georgia 17
8) Baylor 16
9) Appalachian State 13
10) Auburn 7
also receiving votes: Boise State 6, Utah 4, Florida 2, Florida Atlantic 2, Wisconsin 2, Miami-Ohio 1
Sam Burnham, Curator
Conference Championship Weekend has quite the history of upsets and crazy happenings. We go into this weekend every season with expectations of what will happen and who the four playoff teams will be. But it seems like every year that something happens.
What happens is due to one of my favorite factors of the sport. This is the thing that makes college football the greatest sport on Earth.
Go back to October 20th of last season. The undefeated Ohio State Buckeyes roll into West Lafayette, Indiana for what should have been a routine drubbing of the Purdue Boilermakers. What happened instead was an entire campus, inspired by a terminally ill student and Purdue super fan, Tyler Trent, encircled the Buckeyes and best then in every aspect of the game. On paper, Purdue wouldn’t have beaten the Buckeyes one time out of ten. On that night though, there was nothing the Buckeyes could have done differently. No matter what, they were going to lose that game.
Intangibles are the building blocks of upsets. You never know when a favorite is going to show up flat, when an underdog is going to play like a champion, when a particular defensive scheme is going to foil a particular offense. This game has a depth that goes beyond talent, size, strength, and speed. It’s a magical thing when we look back at Flutie’s “Hail Mary” or Joe Pa’s Nittany Lions shutting down Miami to win the national championship. There’s that Statue of Liberty that Boise State used to stun the Sooners and Cal’s unlikely kick return with some help from the Stanford marching band.
Do not dismiss the underdogs this week. Expect the unexpected. Something crazy will happen. It will impact the playoff. When it happens homers will cheer or cry and the rest of us will smile, Shake our heads, and thank the Lord above for giving us this greatest of all games. These are the moments we long for. This is why we love this game.
Headed into Conference Championship Weekend LSU still holds the top spot. They’ll face third-ranked Georgia in Atlanta on Saturday. Fourth-ranked Ohio State will be facing #7 Wisconsin in Indianapolis. And #6 Baylor will meet #8 Oklahoma in Dallas. The ACC Championship will feature #2 Clemson vs unranked Virginia. On Friday night #5 Utah will play #13 Oregon
That means a lot of crazy things can and probably will happen this weekend. This particular weekend always dishes out more than it’s share of drama as teams pull out all the stops to snag one of those four playoff spots. Upsets, funny bounces, close calls, we’ll see it all. We’ll be discussing that later this week in Curator & Coach. Stay tuned for that.
The ABG Poll
1) LSU 49 (4)
2) Clemson 42
3) Georgia 37
4) Ohio State 35 (1)
5) Utah 26
6) Baylor 18
7) Wisconsin 16
8) Oklahoma 15
9) Memphis 14
10) Florida 7
11) Auburn 6
12) Alabama 4
13) Oregon 3
14) Penn State 2
Boise State 1
Due to the large number of teams receiving votes this week, we are including our Lagniappe Group again.
1) LSU 49 (1)
2) Clemson 41
3) Georgia 37
4) Ohio State 35 (1)
5) Utah 28
6) Alabama 21
7) Minnesota 16
8) Oklahoma 13
9) Florida 7
Oklahoma State 6
13) Cincinnati 4
14) Michigan 3
Appalachian State 1
Coach Drew Burnham is on assignment this week. Game picks will return next week.
Curator Sam Burnham
Game of the Week:
Penn State @ Ohio State
Thus one should be an easy choice. It should be a no-brainer. But the truth is that I shopped around before deciding this one. This is just not a great week for games. And even with Ohio State being overrated and prancing through a schedule of daisies and petunias, two facts stand out about this game. 1) The Buckeyes are a good football team. & 2) Penn State is not an elite program.
Ohio State’s offense is going to fly all over the field with no serious interference. Penn State will score, but not nearly enough and TV commentators will discuss what went wrong.
This is the best matchup of the week but don’t expect too much from it.
Illinois @ Iowa
i feel odd picking both of these games from the Big Ten. But the SEC & ACC matchups this week should be sponsored by Hostess Cupcakes. Just pitiful.
Iowa is coming off a big big win over Minnesota and should have momentum. With an unranked Illinois team coming to town, this will be an easy week to underperform. Illinois has won four in a row including wins over Sparty and Wisconsin. The Illini have real momentum and will take advantage of it and stun the Hawkeyes before dismantling Northwestern to finish 8-4 and land in a respectable bowl game.
Coach Drew Burnham
GAME OF THE WEEK
PITT @ VIRGINIA TECH
This little matchup has flown under the radar with Penn St and Ohio St getting all the hype for the week. These 2 are currently tied for 2nd in the Coastal Division and Tech will play Virginia next week who sits in 1st place. In my opinion, this is the Coastal division Championship game (because Tech just doesn’t really lose to UVA.) There’s plenty of “football reasons” why this game matters, but if you know this coach you know he’s a sucker for a good storyline. Saturday’s matchup will be Coach Bud Foster’s final home game in Lane Stadium. Coach Foster is an anomaly in our business. He graduated from Murray State (Go Racers!) in 1980 after playing there for Coach Frank Beamer and mover into a graduate assistant role. He was promoted to a full time role there and followed coach Beamer to Virginia Tech in 1987. That’s it. That’s the job experience. No bouncing around. No clout hunting. No ball chasing. The man has been in Blacksburg, VA for 32 years. Coaches are hard pressed to stay in one place for 32 months. It’s absolutely unheard of in our business. He is a personification of loyalty, one of the supposed make-or-break qualities in this profession. His stint wasn’t caused by lack of opportunity to leave. Countless head coaching opportunities have come to him and all have been returned to the sender. He’s at home in Blacksburg. On top of all of that, he is a LEGEND. 11 times he has lead a top 10 national total defense, twice #1. 13 times he has lead a top 10 scoring defense, also twice #1. In 2006 he was awarded the Broyles award as the top assistant coach in the country and in all the other years the committee was kidding themselves. One last run out of that tunnel to Enter Sandman will certainly be an emotional one for many. Ill be cheering hard for the Hokies Saturday and you should too.
OREGON @ ARIZONA ST
This is a big one! Arizona St has defeated 2 of the 3 ranked teams they’ve played this season. Old Herm just seems to find a way to pull the best out of the boys when the deck is stacked highest against them. The Sun Devils have struggled on defense recently and while you would be correct to say that’s not really the area you want to be weak in against an explosive Oregon offense, State also returns a couple key offensive players from injury this week. That will allow them to use Jayden Daniels at QB, Eno Benjamin at RB, and Brandon Aiyuk at wideout to really balance out their attack. True balance is difficult to defend and leads to dominating the time of possession. If Arizona can limit the possessions for Oregon and just manage to get a few stops along the way, they could win this one in a pseudo-shootout. It’s a night game at the #1 party school in America. The atmosphere will be elite. Can Herm and the boys pull out their biggest one of the year?
This week’s poll sees a bit of movement after losses by Baylor and Minnesota. Georgia takes a step forward after beating yet another ranked opponent. Ohio State takes the third spot by virtue of receiving a first place vote. Utah and Oregon both climb as the PAC 12 looks to finish strong.
Alabama drops a spot leaving us to think the voters are unsure how the Crimson Tide will finish without Tua Tagovailoa or their typical defense. Bama hosts yet another cupcake, Western Carolina, this Saturday before their Iron Bowl matchup with Auburn.
We have a three-way tie for 10th this week. The voters have pitched in to include someone other than the usual suspects. We’ll see if these teams can hang in there.
1) LSU 49 (4)
2) Clemson 41
3) Ohio State 35 (1)*
4) Georgia 35
5) Oregon 33
6) Alabama 22
7) Utah 18
8) Oklahoma 16
9) Penn State 15
Oklahoma State 3
*Ohio State gets a tie breaker with Georgia for receiving a 1st place vote.
also receiving votes: Appalachian State 1, Minnesota 1
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