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Week 12 Playoff and Heisman Watch

1. Alabama Crimson Tide (11-0)

Last Week: W – Chattanooga – 31-3

alabama-crimson-tide

This was Alabama’s annual November cupcake, but that’s no reason to drop them down in the rankings at all. The Crimson Tide have proven all year long they are by far the best team in the country with seemingly no equal. They like to take a break from their brutal SEC schedule this time of the year to rest up and re-charge. That’s actually kind of scary that they could having something like this give them even more of an advantage this late in the season.

2. Clemson Tigers (10-1)

Last Week: W – @ Wake Forest – 35-13

clemson-tigers

Clemson moved up back up the standings and we’ll explain why they went up to No. 2 in a bit, but Louisville’s loss ensured that the Tigers will be the only ACC school capable of making the playoffs. It actually might hurt Clemson’s strength of schedule a bit, but they already clinched their division crown and spot in the ACC title game. Projected as a 12-1 ACC Champion, the Tigers are safely in the playoffs.

3. Wisconsin Badgers (9-2)

Last Week: W – @ Purdue – 49-20

wisconsin-badgers

What’s Wisconsin doing here?, you might be asking. Well, this is where projections really come into play. The Badgers are a sure bet to win the Western Division in the Big Ten. If Ohio State wins at home against Michigan, oddly enough, it makes things so much better for the Badgers because that means Penn State will win the East on their head-to-head victory over the Buckeyes. If Michigan wins, they’ll win the division and would be projected to win the Big Ten, but a projected Buckeyes victory would mean the Badgers should project as their conference’s champion for the first time since 2012.

4. Ohio State Buckeyes (10-1)

Last Week: W – @ Michigan State – 17-16

ohio-state-buckeyes

It’s not like the Buckeyes don’t have anything to play for against the Wolverines on Saturday. They may not win the division unless Penn State suffers a stunning upset loss against the Michigan State Spartans, but a win over a Top 5 team would likely clinch their spot as an at-large selection for the playoffs.

Rose Bowl: Michigan Wolverines (10-1) vs. Washington Huskies (10-1)

The Wolverines could beat Ohio State on Saturday, clinch the Big Ten East and go on to win the conference and make the playoffs, but simply, the Buckeyes are ranked higher, at home and the Wolverine are probably going to be either be playing with and hurt starter or healthy backup. Still, the Wolverines are guaranteed a huge Bowl game.

As for the Huskies, they are being projected as a 12-1 Pac-12 Champion but the Big Ten has been do dominant this year it just wouldn’t be right to have a team like Ohio State in this scenario miss out on the playoffs when they beat Wisconsin already and the Huskies strength of schedule is just 143th in the country.

Sugar Bowl: Texas A&M Aggies (8-3) vs. Oklahoma Sooners (9-2)

Of the three qualified SEC teams capable of making the Sugar Bowl instead of Alabama, Auburn has the best resume in terms of strength of schedule, RPI, FPI, key wins, bad losses, etc.. Should they shock Alabama in the Iron Bowl, it wouldn’t even be a question that they should be in the Sugar Bowl, but, they aren’t being projected to win that game. They’re being projected to finish 8-4 and 5-3 in the SEC. It’s the same number of conference wins as Texas A&M and one few overall win than the Aggies. The difference is the head-to-head victory Texas A&M has over Auburn and that has to count even this many weeks later.

The Big 12 Championship will be up for grabs in two weeks when Oklahoma plays Oklahoma State. We’ll project the Sooners to win, but even as their conference champion it doesn’t seem like there is much of a way for them to get into the playoffs. The only way possible road to the playoffs would be is somehow if Nebraska ends up winning the Big Ten (which is still possible), Clemson gets upset in the ACC title game AND a team other than Washington wins the Pac-12. It doesn’t seem likely, but a spot in the Sugar Bowl would be deserved for the Sooners.

Orange Bowl: Louisville Cougars (9-2) vs. Penn State Nittany Lions (9-2)

Louisville’s slim hopes of the playoffs completely ended with a loss to Houston. There is still little doubt that the Cougars deserve a spot in a big Bowl game and as long as the Tigers win the ACC they are the sure pick to play in the Orange Bowl.

Penn State really has a great shot to win the Big Ten and make the playoffs and the way they are playing it wouldn’t be at all a shock if they do, but things still need to play out certain ways for that to happen. At the very least, though, barring a loss to Michigan State, the Nittany Lions will be an at-large selection for the Orange Bowl or Cotton Bowl.

Cotton Bowl Bowl: Western Michigan Broncos (11-0) vs. Auburn Tigers (8-3))

It will be very interesting to see how the final games play out for both Western Michigan and Boise State. Right now Boise State is ranked higher and that would mean they would be the ‘Group of Five’ champion, but, they may not even win their division if Wyoming beats New Mexico. That would make Boise State ineligible to play in the Cotton Bowl as the ‘Group of Five’ Champ. Even if they do end up winning the Mountain West, it might be too hard of a decision for the selection committee to leave the undefeated conference champion out. Western Michigan has the clear advantage to make this game.

The easy decision would be to have Western Michigan’s opponent in the Cotton Bowl be Boise State regardless, but they won’t make that happen. Instead, we got Auburn in here. Remember when we mentioned that they had the best resume for the Sugar Bowl but their loss to Texas A&M took them out? This makes up for that. Auburn’s strength of schedule is 11th, by far better than any team in contention for this Bowl game. Plus, they’re a team that will be able to draw against a Western Michigan Broncos squad and that will play a factor in the selection, regardless of whether they committee denies that being a factor. A lot might depend on the final score and their performance against Alabama.

Dropping Out

None: No team has been taken off the rankings this week, just shuffled around. The final at-large spot in the cotton bowl is very much up for grabs, though.

On the Cusp

usc-trojans

Washington State Cougars (8-3): The Cougars control their own destiny because if they beat the Huskies then they’ll be in the Pac-12 championship game where a win would put them in the Rose Bowl.

Florida Gators (8-2): Okay, the Gators really have slim, slim hopes of playing a bowl game, but actually they even have a shot at the playoffs so they have to remain ‘On the Cusp’ even as unlikely as it is right now.

USC Trojans (8-3): Likely the winners of eight-straight games by the end of the regular season, including a win at the likely Pac-12 Champion Washington Huskies, the Trojans could get the Rose Bowl if the Huskies make it to the playoffs or could get in the Cotton Bowl as an at-large.

Colorado Buffaloes (8-4): Like the Gators, the Buffaloes could win their conference, though there is no way the Buffaloes could make it to the playoffs. But better than the Gators, the Buffaloes, likely winners of 10 games, have a shot to make the Cotton Bowl as an at-large.

Key Week 13 Games

Ohio State Buckeyes (10-1) vs. Michigan Wolverines (10-1): Here is the game between two of the top-ranked teams in the country. Michigan can win the Big Ten East with a victory in Columbus, which would solidified their spot in the playoffs. Should they lose, however, then Penn State could win the division, making it possible that the Nittany Lions and either Wisconsin Badgers or Nebraska Cornhuskers will be playing in the Big Ten title game. Basically, the two highest-ranked teams in the conference could be out of the title game. Nobody both Michigan and Ohio State have clinched big bowl games no matter what, but this game will determine so much.

Washington State Cougars (8-3) vs. Washington Huskies (10-1): The winner here wins the Northern division and likely takes the loser out of the selected bowl game picture. Washington could still make the Cotton Bowl as an at-large team, but definitely would have zero argument for the playoffs and would miss out on the Rose Bowl for sure. The Cougars only hope for a big game is winning this game and going on to win the Pac-12.

Alabama Cr5000imson Tide (11-0) vs. Auburn Tigers (8-3)>: The Iron Bowl is always great. One team could be undefeated and the other without a win and it still would be a close, intense game between two rivals. Alabama is pretty much guaranteed a spot in the playoffs no matter what the outcome of this game is, but Auburn could make a great case for themselves to get a spot in one of the other bowl games even in a loss if they play well against the No. 1 team in the country.

Texas A&M Aggies (8-3) vs. LSU Tigers (6-4): If Texas A&M beats LSU there is nothing that can keep them out of one of the big bowl games. A loss, though, would sunk them in a deep mix for a spot in either the Orange Bowl or Cotton Bowl and they may not have a good enough overall record to really earn it.

New Mexico Lobos (7-4) vs. Wyoming Cowboys (8-3): Neither of these teams have any chance t making a big bowl game but if Wyoming wins they’ll win their division in the Mountain West, which means the Boise State Broncos can’t become a ‘Group of Five’ champion. If New Mexico wins, then the Broncos still have a chance at winning the Mountain West and making the Cotton Bowl.

Heisman Watch

lamar-jacksonLamar Jackson – QB, Louisville

204/357 (57.1%), 3,109 Pass Yards, 28 Pass Tds, 6 INTs, 1,367 Rush Yards (6.5 YPC), 19 Rush TDs

Deshaun Watson – QB, Clemson

279/420 (66.4%), 3,279 Pass Yards, 28 Pass Tds, 13 INTs, 425 Rush Yards (4.0 YPC), 4 Rush TDs

Baker Mayfield – QB, Oklahoma

222/311 (71.5%, 3,381 Pass Yards (35 Pass Tds, 8 INTs, 6 Rush TDs

Jabrill Peppers – LB, Michigan

65 Tackles, 16 TFL, 4 Sacks, 8 QBH, 1 FF, 172 Rush Yards (7.1 YPC), 3 Rush Tds, 20 PR, 305 PR Yards (15.2 YPR), 1 PR TD, 9 KR, 216 KR Yards (24.0 YPR)

Jake Browning – QB, Washington

222/311 (71.5%, 3,381 Pass Yards (35 Pass Tds, 8 INTs, 6 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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