2017 CFP National Championship

Clemson Tigers vs Alabama Crimson Tide Preview

Top-seeded Alabama looks to claim its fifth national title in 10 seasons under Nick Saban when it battles second-seeded Clemson in Monday’s CFP National Championship (Enter contest) at Tampa, Florida. It is a rematch of last season’s title game in which the Crimson Tide prevailed 45-40 despite a huge game by Tigers quarterback Deshaun Watson (405 yards passing, 73 rushing). Alabama is attempting to record its 27th consecutive victory while Clemson is pursuing its second national title and first since 1981.

Watson passed for 259 yards and one touchdown while adding two rushing scores in Clemson’s 31-0 rout of Ohio State in the semifinals, and he has a major advantage in experience over counterpart Jalen Hurts. Watson, who finished second in this season’s Heisman Trophy balloting and third in 2015, has passed for 4,173 yards and 38 touchdowns this campaign but also is prone to miscues, as evidenced by his 17 interceptions. Hurts has accounted for 34 scores (22 passing, 12 rushing) and is aiming to join Oklahoma’s Jamelle Holieway (1985) as the only true freshman quarterbacks to lead a team to a national title, but he passed for only 57 yards in the Crimson Tide’s 24-7 semifinal victory over Washington.

Alabama made the odd move of separating itself from offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin after the win over Washington, as the new Florida Atlantic coach became a distraction while attempting to juggle two jobs. Saban was highly disappointed with the offensive showing against the Huskies and promoted offensive analyst Steve Sarkisian to offensive coordinator, insisting it will be a smooth transition.

ABOUT CLEMSON (13-1)

Watson threw three or more touchdown passes on seven occasions and topped 300 yards six times while fueling a powerful offense that averaged 39.5 points and scored over 40 seven times. Juniors Mike Williams (90 receptions, 1,267 yards, 10 touchdowns) and Artavis Scott (73 catches) form a potent one-two receiving combo. Junior running back Wayne Gallman rushed for 1,087 yards and 16 scores. The Tigers’ defense allows averages of 17.1 points and 306.9 yards per game but features weak-side linebacker Ben Boulware (team-best 121 tackles), defensive tackle Carlos Watkins (team-high 10.5 sacks) and strong safety Jadar Johnson (team-leading five interceptions). They are all seniors.

ABOUT ALABAMA (14-0)

Bo Scarbrough is the squad’s third-leading rusher (719 yards) behind fellow sophomore Damien Harris (1,013) and Hurts (891), but he’ll play a major role after rushing for two touchdowns and a Crimson Tide bowl-record 180 yards against Washington. Clemson’s defense certainly will be paying close attention to senior tight end O.J. Howard (41 catches, 489 yards, two touchdowns) after he made five catches for a career-best 208 yards and two TDs while winning Offensive MVP honors in last year’s national title game. Senior defensive end Jonathan Allen (9.5 sacks, two fumble-return scores) won the Nagurski Trophy as the nation’s top defensive player and, along with sophomore strong safety Minkah Fitzpatrick (team-best six interceptions), is among the standouts for a unit that scored 11 defensive touchdowns (six interceptions, five fumbles) and leads the nation in both scoring defense (11.4 points per game) and total defense (244 yards).

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College Football Playoffs Rankings

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The College Football Playoff selection committee released its first set of rankings on Tuesday night. As expected, Alabama took the top spot, with Clemson at No. 2 and Michigan at No. 3 The big surprise came at No. 4, as the committee went with Texas A&M over Washington. The Huskies checked in at No. 5, while Ohio State, Louisville, Wisconsin, Auburn and Nebraska rounded out the top 10. Western Michigan was the top Group of 5 team at No. 23, and Oklahoma was the first Big 12 team at No. 14.

college-football-playoffs-11-01-2016

If the college football playoffs started today, No. 1 Alabama would play No. 4 Texas A&M  at the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl and No. 2 Clemson would square off against No. 3 Michigan at the Fiesta Bowl. The winner of those semi-final match-ups face each other at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida, on January 9th 2017 for the National Championship.

The Aggies’ lone loss this season was at Alabama on Oct. 22, when A&M fell 33-14. Although Washington remains undefeated, the Huskies have only one road win against a ranked opponent in the Utah Utes. They are in the outside looking in for now, as the college football playoffs final rankings will now be updated every Tuesday moving on.

Major Bowls Projections

The Rose Bowl Game presented by Northwestern Mutual still gets the Pac-12 champ, which would be No. 5 Washington, and because No. 3 Michigan is in the semifinal, the Rose Bowl would host the next-best Big Ten team: No. 6 Ohio State.

The Allstate Sugar Bowl is guaranteed the Big 12 champ, which would be No. 14 Oklahoma, but because the SEC champ and Texas A&M are both in the semifinals, the Sugar Bowl would take the next-highest SEC team, No. 9 Auburn.

The Capital One Orange Bowl is guaranteed the ACC champion, but because Clemson is in a semifinal, the Orange Bowl would take the next-highest ACC team, No. 7 Louisville. The Orange Bowl then chooses the next-highest team from the SEC, Big Ten or Notre Dame. In this case, it would be No. 8 Wisconsin.

The highest-ranked Group of 5 champion is guaranteed a spot in a New Year’s Six Bowl. As such, No. 23 Western Michigan would go to the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic, which can then choose an at-large team from any FBS conference, and No. 10 Nebraska is the highest-ranked team available.

Posted in CFB

NCAA Preview 2016

CFB BIG TEN EAST

The NCAA football season is near.  Get ready to play CFB at FanPicks (click to play). With the impending kickoff in Sydney on August 26th, FanPicks will cover every NCAA conferences and their teams for the 2016 season. If you’ve missed the Big 12 CFB preview, click here.

The BIG TEN conference defending champions Michigan State are aiming for a third championship in four years. The Spartans were pummeled by the eventual CFP champions Alabama Crimson Tide in last year’s playoffs semi-final Cotton Bowl match. They’ve failed to register a single point in that game, losing 38-0 and putting a end to their season. It won’t be easy with East division rivals Ohio State in the mix. The Buckeyes won the CFP title in 2014. Two Big clubs, one spot in the finals. But will either of them make it?

Indiana Hoosiers Indiana logo

Indiana made it to the Pinstripe Bowl last year, earning its first postseason appearance since 2007 and just its second since 1993. Starting quarterback Nate Sudfeld is gone from last year’s team, along with leading rusher Jordan Howard. Strong-armed juco transfer Richard Lagow will be taking the reins of the team. He should pair up nicely with wide receiver Simmie Cobbs. Indiana led the Big Ten in scoring, total offense and passing yards last season and should continue to have one of the most potent attacks around.

Maryland Terrapins Maryland logo

The Terrapins finished 3-9 last season, including 1-7 in the Big Ten. It marked the first time in three seasons that they did not reach a bowl game. Maryland fired its head coach at midseason, and things didn’t improve much from there. Last year’s Michigan defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin steps in to coach this squad.

Michigan Wolverines Michigan logo

Michigan has yet to decide on a starting quarterback. Despite having as many as 16 returning starters, the most important position on the field is still a question mark. Coach Jim Harbaugh will eventually have to choose between leading candidates Wilton Speight and University of Houston transfer John O’Korn for the starting nod. With that being said, the Wolverines boast one of the best defensive line in the nation. This is enough to put them in contention for the national title.

Michigan State Spartans Michigan St logo

Several key position players are gone off last year’s Big Ten title winning team, but the Spartans have shown their consistency in winning at least 11 games in five of the last six seasons. It’s the coach Dantonio effect. Mark Dantonio has reached a bowl game in all nine of his seasons at Michigan State and finished in the Associated Press top 10 in each of the last three seasons.

Ohio State Buckeyes Ohio st logo

Expectations in Columbus are nothing short of a College Football Playoff appearance year after year, regardless of talent lost. Only a handful of teams in the country have recruited as well as Urban Meyer, who will have a cadre of blue-chippers at his disposal. Meyer also has the best returning quarterback in the Big Ten, J.T. Barrett. The junior QB chipped in 11 touchdowns in the air and another 11 on the ground last year despite splitting reps with the since-departed Cardale Jones for much of the season.

Penn State Nittany Lions Penn st logo

The Nittany Lions are coming off their third consecutive seven-win season. With running back Saquon Barkley, Penn State has a sensational athlete on an otherwise abysmal offense. He ran for 1,076 yards and seven touchdowns last season. His 15 runs of 20 plus yards tied for sixth most in the Power 5.

Rutgers Scarlet Knight  Rutgers logo

The Scarlet Knights won four games last year despite off-the-field controversies involving player arrests, their then head coach earning an in-season suspension for meddling in academic affairs, the loss of star defensive tackle Darius Hamilton to a knee injury and the continued error-prone leadership of former athletic director Julie Hermann. The school wisely cleaned house in the offseason, bringing in coach Chris Ash and reinforcing their defense.

NCAA CFB Previews

AAC Preview

ACC Atlantic Preview

ACC Coastal Preview

Big 12 Preview

 

Posted in CFB