We entered the weekend needing one of two things to happen to unleash chaos in the College Football Playoff rankings — Clemson losing to North Carolina or Alabama losing to Florida. They could play the latter game 1,000 times and Alabama would win by two touchdowns (at least) every time. The former was the interesting one, but in the end, despite a late run by the Tar Heels that was derailed by a bad call on an onside kick, Clemson controlled that ACC Title Game for most of the afternoon and we were left with a very cookie cutter final four teams. The playoff committee could have probably handled the selection process via text, if they wanted.
But they didn't. They convened, and now we're ready to go with a second annual four team playoff that should be tremendous, and a bowl lineup that doesn't have a bad New Year's Six Bowl among them. Heading into bowl season, here are the winners and losers from this weekend….
4. Leonard Fournette
It's been a strange year for the LSU sophomore, who went from prohibitive Heisman favorite halfway through the season to nearly seeing his head coach get fired by the end of the year. Fournette actually pulls a decent consolation prize in bowl season, leading the Tigers to Houston for the Advocare V-100 Texas Bowl against a Texas Tech defense that gave up 276 rushing yards to Chris Warren III Thanksgiving night. Fournette might run for 400 yards.
3. Travis Johnson's Twitter followers
The University of Houston, as expected, was the highest ranked team from the Group of Five so they pull a Peach Bowl bid against the Florida State Seminoles. Former Houston Texan defensive tackle Travis Johnson is a former Seminole with a Twitter account, and here's the good news — he's not afraid to use it….
2. Fiesta Bowl
As much as U of H fans wanted Notre Dame or Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl, I'm guessing the Fiesta Bowl itself feels a bit like they dodged a bullet with Houston going to Atlanta, and now Phoenix gets the best of the non-playoff bowls — Ohio State versus Notre Dame. How do we get the hype machine started? Let's see…. did I mention that Urban Meyer has hired away three Brian Kelly assistants? That's a good start.
1. Conference title games
Last season, in the final playoff ranking, the committee dropped TCU from 3rd to 6th, despite a 55-3 win over Iowa State. Jeff Long, the committee chairperson, said that the lack of the "13th data point: (code for conference title game) hurt the Horned Frogs. It was a little more subtle than last season, but the committee did it again on Sunday, dropping an idle Oklahoma from third to fourth. OU didn't fall out of the playoff, but if Stanford had only one loss, it would've been fascinating to see what would've happened after the Cardinal thrashed USC in the Pac-12 title game. Either way, I still think the Big XII is playing with a little bit of fire not having a conference title game.
4. Michigan State
The Spartans capped off a regular season full of games where they did just enough to win, including four wins over Top 25 teams (Ohio State, Michigan, Oregon, and Iowa). Their reward? Being moved up to three in the rankings and getting Alabama (bad matchup for Sparty) in a semifinal. Of course, last season in a semifinal against a Big Ten team everyone thought Alabama was going to overwhelm them, too, but Ohio State did just fine.
3. Bowling Green bettors
All season long, Bowling Green was a covering machine for their backers, you just may not have noticed because they played a ton of games on Tuesday and Wednesday nights. It was pretty glorious. In a college football ocean where the sharks were lurking every weekend, there was the Bowling Green life raft to save us, Their head coach was Dino Babers, who was just hired at Syracuse this weekend. Here's hoping the Orange become similar reliable bets in ACC play each week! We need more Dino Baberses!!
2. Las Vegas
Among the more intriguing bowl matchups, BYU and Utah resume their Holy War rivalry in the Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl. I'm guessing if the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce were to assemble a big board of bowl teams it would want for this bowl game, the two with the fan bases who drink the least and whose alums are openly quite religious might be somewhere near the bottom. Sorry, when I think "Vegas" I don't think "Yeah, BYU and Utah!"
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1. This security guard at UH
I don't know, call me crazy, this seems a little excessive…..
The bad news is that U of H didn't sell out this conference title game, leaving 4,300 tickets on the table. (Kind of embarrassing for a school who has a vocal minority that feel very disrespected when they don't get a proportional amount of attention compared to other Texas schools.) The good news is that's 4,300 people who were spared the possibility of getting their ass kicked by this yellow jacketed bully.
Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 2 to 7 p.m. weekdays. Also, follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanTPendergast and like him on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/SeanTPendergast.