College Football Playoff Pairings
December 10, 2015
The second year of the four-school college football playoffs is here and it should be interesting. Especially locally, as top-seeded Clemson will play No. 4 Oklahoma at the Orange Bowl and No. 2 Alabama gets No. 3 Michigan State at the Cotton Bowl in the New Year’s Eve semifinals of the College Football Playoff.
There was little controversy this year in picking the four selections. The top three seeds won their conference championship games as favorites and Oklahoma emerged as champions of the competitive Big 12. The only real debate was the order.
Clemson (13-0) has been No. 1 since the committee began its rankings the first week of November, and committee chairman Jeff Long said that the Tigers were clearly No. 1 in the final rankings. The Tigers are the top seed so they get to play as close to home as possible. The Tigers and Sooners (11-1) met in Russell Athletic Bowl last season where Clemson won handily.
Alabama (12-1) began its season at AT&T Stadium in North Texas against a Big Ten team. They beat Wisconsin and get to face another Big Ten team in Michigan State (12-1).
Oklahoma was No. 3 last week after it finished its regular season as the Big 12 champion, but Michigan State’s Big Ten championship game victory over previously unbeaten Iowa pushed the Spartans past the Sooners in the end.
Panthers Continue On
There were plenty of mistakes but Cam Newton came through in the end as the Carolina Panthers rallied for a 41-38 road victory over the New Orleans Saints.
Carolina’s offense committed three turnovers, its special teams had an extra-point blocked and returned for 2 points the other way, and its defensive secondary allowed Saints quarterback Drew Brees to complete big plays over their heads.
Good teams can overcome mistakes to win and that is exactly what the Panthers did on Sunday. They’re also still undefeated, posting just the ninth 12-0 start of the NFL’s Super Bowl era, and they’re the NFC South Division champions for the third consecutive season.
Newton continued his MVP quest as he threw for 331 yards and five touchdowns including his 15-yard scoring connection to Jerricho Cotchery with 1:05 left to put the Panthers up for good. He also hit scoring passes of 12 yards to Mike Tolbert, 13 yards to Devin Funchess and 13 and 45 yards to Ted Ginn Jr. New Orleans took the lead twice in the fourth quarter, but Newton answered with TD passes each time.
A Day In The Life Of Michael Vick
You will never guess what Michael Vick of the Pittsburgh Steelers did on his day off on Tuesday. He went to the Pennsylvania statehouse on Tuesday in an effort to help pets. Vick was at the statehouse trying to convince lawmakers to pass PA House Bill 1516, which has been nicknamed “The Pets Bill.”
For those who are interested in what the bill consists of “it would give police officers more authority to save a dog or cat in distress if necessary,” according to the bill’s website.
For instance, police wouldn’t be held liable for any damages that might occur while they’re trying to remove a cat or dog from a hot car.
Vick spoke of knowing he is an unlikely advocate. He added that he hopes his perspective can help reach people.
It was eight years ago, back in 2007, when Vick was sentenced to 23 months in a federal prison for running a dogfighting ring in Virginia. The No. 1 overall pick in the 2001 NFL Draft served 21 months of the sentence in a Kansas prison before spending the final two months under home confinement.
Vick has paid his debt to society. He did not have to do what he did on Tuesday. Always refreshing to hear positive stories now and then.
SEC Reign Is Over
The dominance of the SEC football could be over. And that is newsworthy because we have witnessed the SEC be recognized as the best conference in the nation. Not this year.
The SEC slipped in 2015 and is behind the Big Ten. In fact they are also behind the Big 12. The Big Ten, though, became the best conference in the country this season. It was deep and it was consistent. Four Big Ten teams showed up in the top 15 of the final Power Rankings, five overall. For the second straight year, a Big Ten team is in the College Football Playoff.
This is news because, for the last decade, we’ve lived under SEC rule. Not anymore. This year the Big 12 placed four in the Power Rankings. The SEC had as many teams as the ACC and American (three each).
I think it is just a blip in the radar. The SEC will be back. Look for the rebound to take place during the upcoming Bowl season.