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Week 11 Playoff and Heisman Watch

1. Alabama Crimson Tide (10-0)

Last Week: W – Mississippi State – 51-3

alabama-crimson-tide

In we week where the top 25 was massacred with upset losses, the Alabama Crimson Tide continued to prove that they are simply the most dominant team in the country. Crimson Tide quarterback Jalen Hurts has over 400 total yards and five touchdowns against Mississippi State. The Bulldogs were held to just 274 total yards and one-tenth of their season scoring average.

2. Ohio State Buckeyes (9-1)

Last Week: W – @ Maryland – 62-3

ohio-state-buckeyes

Clearly, Maryland isn’t too much competition, so a win was never in doubt. However, any time a team can beat a conference opponent on the road by 59 points, it’s impressive. The Buckeyes held Maryland to only 176 total yards. Ohio State ran for 253 yards. The Buckeyes have outscored their last two opponents (including a ranked Nebraska team) 124-6. In the end, the Buckeyes are Michigan are still deadlocked as the top powers in the Big Ten and it will come down to the final week when those teams play in Columbus.

3. Clemson Tigers (9-1)

Last Week: L – Pittsburgh – 43-42

clemson-tigers

Remember, the entire season counts and this season Clemson beat Louisville head to head. On top of that, they have the much higher strength of schedule, a key victory at Auburn and their one loss to Pittsburgh really isn’t all that terrible when you consider what Pittsburgh has done this year. Their defense absolutely lets them down, but their offense put up 42 points. Deshaun Watson had 580 yards passing and three touchdowns. Still, clearly, they are the top team in the ACC.

4. Michigan Wolverines (9-1)

Last Week: L – @ Iowa – 14-13

michigan-wolverines

Once again, this is where we’re going to have to look at teams entire bodies of work. Michigan, even still Washington, and Louisville are the three 9-1 teams that have to be looked at for this position and Michigan is better. They beat a dominant Wisconsin team and their one loss was a close game on the road against a tough Iowa squad. None of the three squads have a particularly amazing strength of schedule, but Michigan’s 65th ranking is far better than Louisville’s 105th ranking and Washington’s 141st ranking. Really, though, their spot in the fourth position will really depend on not just the result, but how both the Wolverines and Buckeyes look in two weeks.

Rose Bowl: Wisconsin Badgers (8-2) vs. Washington Huskies (9-1)

Wisconsin’s big wins – against LSU, at Iowa, and Nebraska – are all looking better as the season goes on and their two losses – at Michigan and against Ohio State – don’t seem all that bad. Clearly, Wisconsin is a great team, but are just stuck in a powerful conference with some other great teams. Luckily for them, with two of those teams potentially getting into the playoffs, the Rose Bowl’s Big Ten spot might be open for them to take.

Washington suffered a really devastating loss to USC in their home stadium and their win isn’t looking as strong anymore as the Pac 12 continues to be just mediocre. Washington’s strength of schedule is down to just 141st in the country, which is well below the two other 9-1 teams in contention for the fourth spot in the playoffs. The even more troubling part for them is that they are no longer in the driver’s seat to win not just the Pac 12, but the Northern Division. At least they have the ability to get back in control when they play Wazzu in two weeks.

Sugar Bowl: Auburn Tigers (7-3) vs. Oklahoma Sooners (8-2)

This happens every year, the SEC (minus Alabama) beats up on each other and it’s tough to figure out which team is the second best. The Sugar Bowl requires an SEC participant and it comes down to Texas A&M and Auburn, despite both coming off disappointing losses. Florida could sneak into the picture by the end of the year simply as their division’s winner, but Auburn’s wins over Arkansas, LSU and at Ole Miss, a team that just beat Texas A&M, puts them in the Sugar Bowl.

Oklahoma continues to remain at the top of the Big 12 and made a bit more distance with a win over Baylor. Their toughest tests still remain these last two weeks, though. West Virginia and Oklahoma State are both on the Sooners heels, each with just one loss,

Orange Bowl: Louisville Cardinals (9-1) vs. Penn State Nittany Lions (8-2)

Louisville’s shot to pick up a huge win at the end of the season took a big hit with Houston falling off a bit after their incredible start to the season, but they could still get a pretty solid victory. Whether that’s enough to get their strength of schedule up to push then above Clemson might be doubtful, but the Cardinals are clearly in strong standing to be at least the ACC’s representative in the Orange Bowl.

When Penn State dropped to 2-2 on the season things didn’t look too good for them but right now, it’s impossible not to give them a huge amount of credit for their success and some forgiveness for their two losses. Pittsburgh just beat Clemson and Michigan is clearly still an elite team. On top of that, their wins over Ohio State and Iowa, which just beat Michigan, show clear progress from the beginning of the year to now and make it pretty clear the Nittany Lions are deserving of one of these huge bowl games.

Cotton Bowl Bowl: Western Michigan Broncos (10-0) vs. Texas A&M Aggies (7-3)

There is no team that looks like they will threaten Western Michigan, but this past week showed no team is safe against anybody. Still, they are absolutely in the driver’s seat to be the ‘Group of Five’ Champion with no other team really being close.

The Aggies’ spot in this game was the toughest pick of all of these selections. It’s a pure at-large spot and while the Aggies have three losses and many of the other contenders have fewer, they can’t be penalized for playing in such a deep and talented conference that beats up on each other. Even coming off back-to-back losses, their wins over Arkansas and Tennesse and 24th ranked strength of schedule gives them the leg up over the rest of the contenders. Surely, though, this final spot will probably change week to week, as it has almost all season long.

Dropping Out

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Utah Utes (8-2): The Utes won, and dropped out. How did this happen? Well, Washington dropped out too and took the mandatory Pac 12 spot in the Rose Bowl. Utah has a big win over USC, which looked even better now that the Trojans just upset the Huskies, but the overall body of work isn’t there for the Utes.

On the Cusp

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West Virginia Mountaineers (8-1):The Mountaineers have some big games coming up that could put them in the Sugar Bowl, including a head-to-head game against Oklahoma. That’s the only real hope they have to get in one of the big bowl games because if they lose two games, other two loss teams and three loss teams have way better resumes.

Oklahoma State Cowboys (8-2): Ditto for Oklahoma State. The Cowboys loss to Central Michigan and Baylor really hurt them, but they have chances to move up. On Dec. 3 they can beat the Sooners. That is the only chance they have to get in a big bowl game, as the Big 12 champion.

Washington State Cougars (8-2): Once again, when Wazzu lost to Eastern Washington it wasn’t imaginable that there would be a way for them to rebound to get into this position this late in the season, but the Huskies are the only team undefeated in Pac 12 play. That means they would still win the Pac 12 and get in the Rose Bowl.

Key Week 12 Games

Houston Cougars (8-2) vs. Louisville Cardinals (9-1): This isn’t the chance to pick up a big win that could propel them into the playoffs as previously presumed, but it’s still a very key again between two very good teams. Houston could end Louisville’s hopes or the Cardinals could get a, not great, but still pretty good non-conference win.

Colorado Buffaloes (8-2) vs. Washington State (8-2): Just as much as Wazzu’s regular season finale against the Washington Huskies, this is a tremendously important game. Colorado can kill the Cougar’s hopes of a final spot in the playoffs or put themselves in somewhat of a contention for a spot in the Cotton Bowl with a win.

West Virginia Mountaineers (8-1) vs. Oklahoma Sooners (8-2): The winner will be slotted in the Sugar Bowl next week. Oklahoma perhaps should be the favorite, but West Virginia will be at home, making it a pretty interesting and unpredictable matchup.

Heisman Watch

lamar-jacksonLamar Jackson – QB, Louisville

184/314 (58.6%), 2,898 Pass Yards, 27 Pass TDs, 6 INTs, 1,334 Rush Yards (7.3 YPC), 19 Rush TDs

Deshaun Watson – QB, Clemson

256/387 (66.2%), 3,077 Pass Yards, 27 Pass TDs, 13 INTs, 378 Rush Yards (3.8 YPC), 2 Rush TDs

Jake Browning – QB, Washington

166/256 (64.8%), 2,532 Pass Yards, 35 Pass TDs, 5 INTs, 4 Rush TDs

Jabrill Peppers – LB, Michigan

59 Tackles, 14 TFL, 4 sacks, 8 QBH, 1 FF, 170 Rush Yards (7.7 YPC), 3 Rush TDs, 276 PR (17.2 YPR), 1 PR TD, 198 (24.8 YPR)

Bayer Mayfield – QB, Oklahoma

213/296 (72%), 3,212 Pass Yards, 33 Pass TDs, 7 INTs, 4 Rush TDs

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Corey Johns

Editor in Chief
You could say Corey was born to become a sports journalist. His father won a national championship coaching college soccer. His mother is a baseball fanatic who hasn't missed seeing an Orioles game since 1983 (literally, sometimes it's annoying). His great uncle was a big-time boxing promoter and his maternal grandfather was once a department head at the Baltimore Sun. Basically, sports and journalism run through his blood. He played just about every little league sports there was when he was a kid and was a multi-sport athlete in high school; even playing in the first-ever high school sanction Rugby game in the country. Eventually he retired from sports as an undefeated Maryland state Rugby champion as a high school senior. Perhaps lack of athletic talent has more to do with the retirement, but he will tell you that it more had to do with a great desire to jump right into media. Upon his graduation from University of Maryland, Baltimore County as a triple communications major, Corey started the So Much Sports network and has continued to grow his websites and continues to work to make them premier sports media outlets.

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