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Week 15 Playoff and Heisman Watch

1. Alabama Crimson Tide (13-0)

Last Week: W – Florida – 54-16 (SEC Championship)

alabama-crimson-tide

There is zero doubt about what team deserves the No. 1 spot right now. The Crimson Tide are undefeated, the SEC Champions and dominated the Florida Gators in the championship game. It’s just scary how this looks like the best team Nick Saban has ever had at Alabama. Jalen Hurts is a difference maker and add a new dimension to the Crimson Tide that they just haven’t had before. All the debate after this pick might really just prove to be meaningless because no team looks close to Alabama right now.

2. Clemson Tigers (12-1)

Last Week: W – Virginia Tech – 42-35 (ACC Championship)

clemson-tigers

The selection committee had Clemson at No. 3 heading into the ACC Championship game and it was pretty clear that a win there over Virginia Tech would solidify their spot in the playoffs. They did that, and now with a 12-1 record and conference championship, that should bump them up to No. 2 over Ohio State. The Tigers may also have the most likely chance to beat Alabama since Deshaun Watson just might be the very best quarterback in the country. He’s a true playmaker and while maybe things got a little interesting at the end of he game against the Hokies, he had five touchdowns and over 350 yards to make a push for the Heisman Trophy as well.

3. Ohio State Buckeyes (11-1)

Last Week: No Game

ohio-state-buckeyes

There are obvious knocks against Ohio State. They lost to Penn State, they beat Michigan State on a questionable call and they didn’t even play in a conference championship game, which was won by a team that beat them. But you have to look at the overall body of work. What saved Ohio State is the best road win of the entire college football season, a 45-24 shellacking of Big 12 Champion Oklahoma in Norman. The Buckeyes were willing to play that game and should be rewarded for that huge victory. They have wins over three teams that will likely be top 10 teams on the final ranking (Michigan, Wisconsin and Oklahoma) and have a 12-1 record. The selection committee said the Buckeyes were solidly the No. 2 team last week. They didn’t get any worse after a week without a game. Maybe that’s a knock against them too that they didn’t have a chance to suffer an extra loss, but no matter what teams end up in this thing after Alabama and Clemson, there is going to be controversy.

4. Washington Huskies (12-1)

Last Week: W – Colorado – 41-10 (PAC-12 Championship)

washington-huskies

This one is obviously the spot that is up for grabs, but after putting the Huskies into the No. 4 spot last week it wouldn’t really make sense to have then drop down after demolishing the No. 8 team in the country. The Huskies were clearly better than the Buffaloes in the Pac-12 Championship game. But this is a pick based on a projection of what the committee will decide on. Really, it should be Penn State because they won the absolutely best conference in the country and quite frankly have the best win of the entire season, beating Ohio State. The problem for them is a 39 point loss to Michigan, in which thy were clearly the worst team. It’s hard to claim they are in the top four when a team best them by nearly 40 points. But the dangerous precedent potentially being set here is that it’s okay to schedule bad non-conference games. Washington scheduled one of the absolute worst non-conference slates in the country and because they won those games they are being rewarded. Meanwhile, look at a team like Oklahoma. They ran the table in their conference but are being penalized for losses to Houston and Ohio State. Had the Sooners just scheduled a Division I FCS team and a mid-major team that they are clearly better than, then they may be undefeated. That’s the message the committee would be sending, and that is why Washington shouldn’t be considered for the playoffs. But more than likely, they’re going to put the Pac-12 champions in.

Rose Bowl: Penn State Nittany Lions (11-2) vs. USC Trojans (9-3)

penn-state-vs-usc

Let’s be a little honest here; Penn State making the Rose Bowl as the Big Ten Champions is an absolutely amazing accomplishment. Nobody though this team would be back among the elite in the country this fast after the horrible scandal nearly destroyed the storied program, and when the team was just 2-2 after being blown out by Michigan their was talk about James Franklin being fired, bu they’ve won nine-straight games, beat Ohio State and won the Big Ten title with a win over Wisconsin. That’s something to be very proud of.

If the selection committee was purely picking the four best teams in the country right now, it would be hard to argue that the USC Trojans aren’t one of those teams, but early losses in the season destroyed those hopes. But USC, despite not playing in the Pac-12 title game, would be deserving of essentially a home game after rattling off eight-straight wins to end their regular season, including wins at Pac-12 Champion Washington and over Pac-12 South champion Colorado.

Sugar Bowl: Auburn Tigers (8-4) vs. Oklahoma Sooners (10-2)

auburn-vs-oklahoma

Oklahoma deserves credit for scheduling games against Houston and Ohio State. They could have been like the rest of the Big 12 and scheduled only non-conference cupcakes, perhaps if they did they would be undefeated after rolling through the Big 12, and could be set for the college football playoffs, but they provided us with some great games and clearly proved to be the best Big 12 team. They’ll have a well-deserved game in the Sugar Bowl.

They’ll face what’s left of a muddled SEC after Alabama. The Auburn Tigers were ranked one spot higher than the Florida Gators going into championship week and after the Gators got dominated that shouldn’t change. Maybe they give the spot to Florida as a reward for winning the SEC East for a second-straight year, but there really doesn’t seem to be any reason why they should jump the Tigers.

Orange Bowl: Michigan Wolverines (10-2) vs. Louisville Cardinals (9-3)

michigan-vs-louisville

Louisville might be a little disappointed for the way they finished the regular season but despite the losses at the end and despite being jumped by the Florida State Seminoles in last week’s poll, the Cardinals still own a 63-20 victory over their only competition for the Orange Bowl and that in turn makes the Seminoles not competition. And while the Hokies fought valiantly in the ACC title game, they can’t jump up 12 spots to go over Louisville after a loss.

Michigan might feel they are still one of the four best teams in the country but nothing played out the way the Wolverines needed it to for them to get in the playoffs. The Wolverines will instead have to ‘settle’ for a trip to the Orange Bowl, which is still a great game. Their two losses to Iowa and Ohio State were both on the road and on the last plays of the game, but they also have to be penalized for losing those game, regardless of whether their was controversy on one of them and regardless of whether they destroy the Big Ten champions.

Cotton Bowl Bowl: Western Michigan Broncos (13-0) vs. Wisconsin Badgers (10-3)

western-michigan-vs-wisconsin

Temple saved the selection committee from a massive headache with a victory over Navy, which solidified the Western Michigan Broncos as the ‘Group of Five’ champion and as a participant in the Cotton Bowl. The Broncos are undefeated and ready for the biggest game in program history.

Wisconsin may have squandered a pretty big lead in the Big Ten title game, but Penn State is a great team and deserves credit for winning that game. A close loss to one of the best teams in the country won’t knock Wisconsin out of this spot. The best conference in the country get a lot of love in these bowl games, but simply, they’ve the most deserving.

Heisman Watch

lamar-jacksonLamar Jackson – QB, Louisville

220/382 (57.6%), 3,390 Pass Yards, 30 Pass TDs, 9 INTs, 1,538 Rush Yards (6.6 YPC), 21 Rush TDs

Deshaun Watson – QB, Clemson

329/487 (67.6%), 3,914 Pass Yards, 37 Pass TDs, 15 INTs, 529 Rush Yards (4.1 YPC), 6 Rush TDs

Jabrill Peppers – LB, Michigan

72 Tackles, 16 TFL, 40 Sacks, 1 INT, 8 QBH, 1 FF, 167 Rush Yards (6.2 YPC), 3 Rush TDs, 310 PR Yards (14.8 YPR), 1 PR TD, 260 PR Yards (26.0 YPR)

Baker Mayfield – QB, Oklahoma

235/330 (71.2%), 3,660 Pass Yards, 38 Pass TDs, 8 INTs, 6 Rush TDs

Zach Terrell – QB, Western Michigan

247/349 (70.8%), 3,376 Pass Yards, 32 Pass TDs, 3 INTs, 6 Rush TDs

Deshaun Watson really made a nice push for the Heisman Trophy in the ACC Championship game with five touchdowns and over 350 yards, but it still might not be enough to surpass Lamar Jackson. Watson was great, but had some bad moments in the title game (including the interception) and the game wasn’t this dominant blowout like it probably should have been. That probably had more to do with the defense, but Watson barely had hope as it was. He didn’t take it away from Jackson in that game. Jackson has been incredible all year long. After those two it’s still more quarterbacks. Jake Browning gets bumped out despite some great stats. It’s impossible to ignore Jalen Hurts and how amazing he has been. Zach Terrell is the other undefeated quarterback and is a tremendous dual-threat player. Both of those guys deserve some mentions.

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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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