Well, I noted it in last Tuesday’s article that Saturday had a bevy of key showdowns that could directly affect the selection of the final four teams who will still have a chance to play for the national championship.
Man, were we spoiled.
With a few blowouts, numerous shootouts and even a fair share of struggles from some of the premier teams in the country, the committee is certainly going to have thier hands full. Out of all of it, there is one team that proved they are certainly not “fraudulent.”
It’s all about the “U”
That really is the only word to describe the performance from the No.7 Miami Hurricanes Saturday. And it couldn’t come in a bigger game than against No.3 Notre Dame. The Hurricanes defense flat out dominated the game from start to finish. Even more interesting – at least for fans of cool quirks – is that for a nationally-televised game, the turnover chain received plenty of quality air time.
Miami’s secondary harassed Fighting Irish quarterbacks Brandon Wimbush and Ian Book for three interceptions. Freshman corner Trajan Bandy took one of those interceptions 65 yards to give the Hurricanes a commanding 27-0 lead in the second quarter.
The hottest jewelry in South Florida is having a moment. pic.twitter.com/BqVaa0nqQf
— ESPN CollegeFootball (@ESPNCFB) November 12, 2017
The defense also forced a fumble. As for the offense, Junior quarterback Malik Rosier said it best in his postgame interview when he noted that if the defense is firing on all cylinders, they will win the game. It was a game that analysts who were weary of hopping on the bandwagon needed; a primetime Top 10 matchup that turned into a lopsided contest.
It marked just the second time this season the Hurricanes faced a ranked opponent, as Miami topped then No.13 Virginia Tech 28-10 on Nov.4. However, after the thumping handed to the Irish and with help from Auburn, the Hurricanes now have the ascended to the top spot in strength of record, according to ESPN’s Seth Walder.
After Miami beat Notre Dame and Georgia lost to Auburn, the Hurricanes have ascended to the top spot in Strength of Record. pic.twitter.com/4fadAZDQc5
— Seth Walder (@SethWalder) November 12, 2017
We’ll have to wait a day, but there is absolutely no reason Miami can be held out from a slot in the playoff. In my ranking, the Hurricanes land at No.2.
Down goes No1. while top teams survive
I laid the scenario in my last piece about the College Football Playoff ranking, but I’ll be honest, I didn’t expect to see the No.1 Georgia Bulldogs get mauled by No.10 Auburn.
However, that’s exactly what happened.
The Bulldogs had no answer for Jarrett Stidham and the Auburn offense, falling 40-17. Stidham was dealing Saturday, tossing three scores while going 16-for-23. The running game was also feeling it as junior back Kerryon Johnson chewed up the Tigers’ defense for 167 yards.
As for the Bulldogs, it was a struggle in the running game, something that has been a rarity this season. Between two stellar backs in Nick Chubb and Sony Michel, the Bulldogs recorded just 48 yards on the ground on 18 carries. Freshman Phenom Jake Fromm had what could be describe as an efficient day, throwing for 184 yards and one score.
No.2 Alabama was in a dogfight of thier own (no pun intended) against No.16 Mississippi State. Trailing 24-17 late in the fourth quarter, the Crimson Tide struck a late rally, scoring 14 unanswered points to escape with a 31-24 win. It was similar with No.4 Clemson.
Holding a slim 17-14 lead in the fourth quarter against a struggling Florida State squad, the Tigers’ running game was able to record the game’s final 14 points to pull away for a 31-14 win.
Who could be in?
The case is starting to mount that a Big Ten team won’t survive for the final rankings. Wisconsin is the conference’s last true hope to be that representative. However, they certainly don’t have a cake walk the final two weeks. Saturday, the Badgers will play Michigan and will follow up with a season finale against Minnesota. Being a lock for the Big Ten title game, the Badgers are waiting as to who they could play. While it was laid out in my latest piece about the Big Ten’s title hopes, which you could read in its entirety here, Buckeyes could be the team to spoil their hopes.
But enough trying to play psychic, who has a real chance to be in after Saturday’s performance?
Despite struggling, the title hopes for Alabama and Clemson are still in play for now. Miami is certainly the hottest team in the country right now as is Oklahoma. Wisconsin and Auburn are still very much in the conversation as the respective conference title games continue to inch closer.
Here is just how Saturday’s contests shook up my Top 4:
Wisconsin and Auburn are the first two teams out as of Saturday’s performance, landing at No.5 and No.6 respectively. Although, it is safe to say that Saturday’s games could add just another interesting wrinkle into the discussion.
- Josh Zimmer is the Lead NFL Draft analyst for NGSC Sports as well as serving as a contributor for NHL coverage.
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