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College football: 5 takeaways after Alabama gets last playoff spot

First off, let’s be clear: I don’t really think Ohio State got a raw deal being left out of this year’s College Football Playoff. 

>> Read more trending news

Neither the Buckeyes nor Alabama had much to complain about, given what they did and did not do on the field in 2017. 

Both teams were absolutely at the mercy of the committee going into Sunday, and the committee showed favor to the Crimson Tide despite a lack of compelling evidence to do so. 

>> Four teams chosen by playoff committee

The Buckeyes had more positive marks on their resume, but there were also more negatives. 

Here are five takeaways from Sunday: 

1. The announcement sounds like an early death knell for the four-team playoff. 

I don’t know how long it’s going to take for an expansion to eight teams, but I’m pretty certain it’s going to happen for the same reason Alabama making the BCS championship in 2011 killed the two-team system.

This proves again every game doesn’t matter, which was the mantra the BCS reps leaned on and the one used by defenders of the four-team playoff against expansion. 

If we’re still just guessing who are the best four teams, we might as well just go back to voting on the winner on Jan. 2. 

2. The four-team playoff’s biggest issue: Five power conferences.

The conferences are very hard to compare in any given year, and we start necessarily having to leave out one based on some assumptions that may or may not be correct. 

That’s not ideal, and it’s often going to be unsatisfying. 

But leaving out two leagues even when none were dominant (or blatantly down) is even worse. 

Ironically, if this were 2011 it would have made a lot more sense, because LSU and Alabama reasonably were considered to be a lot better than everyone else.

Now that the conference of Jim Delany, one of college football’s ultimate power brokers, has been spurned, I would expect change to happen sooner or later. 

3. The committee simply believed Alabama was better than Ohio State. 

Therefore, they used whatever justification they wanted to explain the decision to pick the Crimson Tide. That was the Buckeyes’ blowout loss at Iowa. 

I want the the four best teams to make it, but only when it’s unequivocal who those are. 

That was not this year. 

Neither team really passed the eye test, so claiming one did rang really hollow. 

That is why I still would have gone back to the resumes, and I have always felt comparing wins was better than comparing losses because if nothing else it is a larger sample size. 

I’m also more interested in what a team is like on its best days than its worst, but if the committee disagrees that’s how it’s going to be I guess. 

And yet CFP chairman Kirby Hocutt’s statement, “Alabama was clearly the No. 4 ranked team in the country as a non-champion,” just doesn’t hold water to me. 

4. Four-team idea came too late for Ohio State.

In 2015, Ohio State was probably one of the top two let alone four, but the Buckeyes were not afforded the same treatment as Alabama this year. 

That year, too, the Buckeyes could have made the argument moot by taking care of business against Michigan State, but that’s beside the point. At least they finished the season by crushing Michigan in Ann Arbor, leaving a positive last impression rather than a loss like the 2017 Crimson Tide. 

It was generally agreed upon that was a special Ohio State team even with its flaws. 

Can we say that about this Alabama squad? 

5. What would prevent expanding the playoff? 

The conferences -- which made up the BCS and comprise the group that oversees the playoff -- might still draw the line in the sand at four teams in the playoff so they can protect their garbage championship game cash cows that often don’t mean anything in the playoff discussion. 

Lots of people say every year the first weekend of December works as the round of eight, but that’s obviously not true, since 50 percent of the time a playoff participant has not even taken part. 

A move to eight teams could guarantee the importance of a conference championship by granting the Power 5 winners a spot and leave room for someone who might have had a fluke loss. Also, someone like this season’s undefeated Central Florida could get a shot to be a college football Cinderella. 

That could be fun, right? 

They left room in the calendar to do this already, and expanding just this once wouldn’t upend the bowl system as a 16-team playoff would, which is why the latter will never happen. 

It’s all fantasy for now, but I have a feeling we’re closer to it becoming reality than we have ever been. 

Georgia beats Auburn to win SEC Championship

Shaking off a blowout loss to Auburn just three weeks ago, Jake Fromm threw two touchdown passes and No. 6 Georgia made its bid for a spot in the College Football Playoff with a 28-7 victory over the No. 4 Tigers in the Southeastern Conference championship game Saturday.

>> Watch the trophy presentation here

>> On WSBTV.com: PHOTOS: Bulldogs celebrate after winning the SEC Championship

Auburn (10-3) was the hottest team in the country, rolling into Atlanta after wins over Georgia and then-No. 1 Alabama in its last three games. But the Tigers were stymied by two crucial turnovers, a blocked field goal and a Georgia team eager to make up for its embarrassing 40-17 defeat on the Plains.

>> On WSBTV.com: PHOTOS: Georgia and Auburn battle in the SEC Championship

Nick Chubb, Sony Michel and freshman D'Andre Swift provided a much more effective running game for Georgia than the first meeting, which opened up things for the freshman quarterback. Fromm completed 16 of 22 passes for 183 yards, including a 2-yard touchdown to Isaac Nauta in the second quarter and a 6-yarder to Terry Godwin with just over 13 minutes remaining that essentially sealed Georgia's victory.

>> On WSBTV.com: PHOTOS: Fans, teams arrive for SEC Championship game

The Bulldogs claimed their first SEC title since 2005 and capped an impressive rise in Kirby Smart's second season as coach. Georgia went 8-5 a year ago, but Nick Saban's former defensive coordinator insisted he was establishing a culture that would return the team to national prominence.

>> Read more trending news

What's next for the Bulldogs? UGA will likely head to either the Rose Bowl or Sugar Bowl to play in a semifinal game, looking to take another step toward the team's first national title since 1980.

>> Visit WSBTV.com for a minute-by-minute look at the game

Field breaks during Big Ten Championship Game

No, seriously. The field broke.

After Wisconsin scored a touchdown to pull within one score of Ohio State in the fourth quarter Saturday night, the Big Ten Championship Game was delayed for several minutes after some of the turf in the end zone got pulled up during the scoring play.

>> Click here to watch

>> Read more trending news

FOX reported that Lucas Oil Stadium had new turf put into the end zone prior to the game, and the parts that came up got slightly pulled apart as Ohio State defenders tried to dig their feet down to prevent Wisconsin from scoring.

>> Ohio State outlasts Wisconsin to win Big Ten Championship

Because the turf was uneven and extremely unsafe to play on, it took several minutes for the field crew to fix the issue.

>> See the photos here

Play eventually resumed after a nearly 12-minute delay. Wisconsin attempted a two-point conversion immediately after the fix, which was successful to make the game 24-21 in favor of Ohio State at the time. Ohio State went on to win 27-21.

Ohio State outlasts Wisconsin to win Big Ten Championship

The Ohio State Buckeyes held off Wisconsin and claimed their first Big Ten Championship since 2014, winning 27-21 on Saturday at Lucas Oil Stadium.

>> Watch a post-game interview with Robert Landers

The Buckeyes, ranked No. 8 in last week’s College Football Playoff rankings, will await their playoff fate on Sunday. The fourth and final playoff spot likely will come down to Ohio State (11-2) or Alabama (11-1). The Crimson Tide were No. 5 last week but didn’t play in a conference championship game. With wins on Saturday, Clemson, Oklahoma and Georgia are the likely top three teams in the final rankings.

>> Read more trending news

Ohio State led 21-10 at halftime. Each team traded field goals in the third quarter. Wisconsin but Ohio State’s deficit to 21-13. Then Ohio State’s Sean Nuernberger pushed the lead back to 11 points with a 27-yard field goal.

The Buckeyes had several opportunities to add to its lead in the third quarter but went 3-and-out on one possession. Then J.T. Barrett threw his second interception.

After the Barrett interception, Wisconsin cut the deficit to 24-20 on a 1-yard touchdown run by Chris James with 12:39 left in the fourth quarter. Prior to that touchdown, Wisconsin had gone 3-and-out on its previous two drives.

J.K. Dobbins led the Buckeyes with 174 yards on 17 carries and was named the game’s MVP. Barrett completed 12 of 26 passes for 211 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions.

FIRST-HALF RECAP

The Buckeyes built a 21-10 halftime lead on the strength of three big plays.

Terry McLaurin caught an 84-yard touchdown pass from Barrett to open the scoring. Parris Campbell turned a short catch into a 57-yard touchdown. A 77-yard run by J.K. Dobbins set up a 1-yard touchdown run by a Barrett.

>> On DaytonDailyNews.com: PHOTOS: Ohio State vs Wisconsin

>> On DaytonDailyNews.com: Meyer praises toughness of Barrett

Here’s a quick recap of the rest of the first half:

Key player: Barrett earned the start despite having a knee procedure Sunday and didn’t look slowed in the first half. He completed 8 of 16 passes for 182 yards and rushed eight times for 31 yards.

>> On MyDaytonDailyNews.com: Seven things to know about Big Ten title gameGame previewBarrett will playLaser focus for BuckeyesFive storylinesBig Ten historyRivalry historyPlayoff possibility | Championship breakdown

Key plays: Wisconsin is in the game because of two turnovers by Ohio State. Barrett threw an interception that was returned nine yards for a touchdown by Andrew Van Ginkel. Mike Weber lost a fumble at the Ohio State 11-yard line that Wisconsin turned into a field goal.

Key stat: Ohio State held Wisconsin standout freshman running back Jonathan Taylor to 25 yards on 10 carries.

Missed opportunity: Ohio State almost stretched its lead to 28-10 just before the half. Barrett overthrew a wide-open Johnnie Dixon in the end zone. Wisconsin blocked a 43-yard field goal attempt by Sean Nuernberger to end the half.

Ric Flair says he's available for Tennessee football coaching job

Wrestling icon Ric Flair tossed his hat in the ring for the Tennessee head football coach or athletic director openings on Friday.

>> Read more trending news

Flair posted a picture on Twitter of himself cropped into a photo with a Tennessee polo shirt with the caption, “If the shirt fits hire him! Available for either position! WOOOOO!”

Tennessee has yet to find a new football coach after the firing of Butch Jones on Nov. 12 despite several interviews and reportedly coming close to several deals.

Tennessee athletic director John Currie was fired Friday after failing to find a new coach and student protests on campus that called for his job over the past week.

Tennessee did name an athletic director later Friday, hiring Hall of Fame football coach Phillip Fulmer.

Fulmer coached the Volunteers from 1992 to 2008, going 152-52 overall and leading Tennessee to the 1998 national title.

Caught on video: 'Dads' duke it out at the Georgia-Georgia Tech game

Two guys in the running for sportsman of the year were caught in a video clip taken at the Georgia-Georgia Tech game.

>> Read more trending news

The sorry episode was billed as “Dad fight,” although it’s unclear whether these guys are actually dads.

Georgia claimed a lopsided victory on Saturday. See Atlanta Journal-Constitution sports writer Ken Sugiura’s post-game report card here.

It’s unclear when the mid-game boxing match broke out, but we’re gonna go out on a limb here and suppose that neither the Bulldog nor Jackets fan base is really proud of the antics on display.

>> On MyAJC.com: How Georgia celebrated after beating Tech

>> On MyAJC.com: 3 takeaways from the Georgia-Georgia Tech game

>> On MyAJC.com: Does Georgia Tech have any hope of a bowl game now

>> Watch the video here

Tennessee backs out of agreement with Greg Schiano after fan backlash

Greg Schiano was “finalizing” details to become Tennessee’s next head coach as late as Sunday afternoon but now won’t end up in Knoxville, according to multiple reports. This comes after an unprecedented backlash after reports that the two parties had advanced discussions about the job.

>> Read more trending news

Schiano, who is still employed as Ohio State’s defensive coordinator, was the head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for two years. Before that, he was the head coach at Rutgers from 2001 to 2011. Schiano’s tenure in Tampa Bay cratered, with one former Schiano player telling NFL.com “It’s like being in Cuba.” His stint at Ohio State had achieved the desired results so far, with Urban Meyer saying the defensive coordinator had received two college head coaching jobs in the offseason.

The backlash by Tennessee fans has been volatile — mostly for off-field reasons

A large issue for fans has been Schiano’s involvement in the Jerry Sandusky scandal at Penn State. Schiano is alleged to have known about Sandusky’s child sex abuse, which he denies.

The backlash online was swift. From Tennessee politicians:

To area establishments:

To many other people:

As was the backlash in real life. Fans even protested on campus:

This was something unparalleled in modern coaching searches. After all this attention, Schiano now goes back to his position as Ohio State’s defensive coordinator.

Ohio State QB aggravated injury when bumped by sideline photographer

Just when you think you’ve seen it all, the Ohio State-Michigan football game comes up with something new.

>> Read more trending news

Quarterback J.T. Barrett aggravated a knee injury Saturday when he was bumped by “a guy with a camera,” while warming up on the sideline, Ohio State coach Urban Meyer said.

Barrett started the game but he Buckeyes finished their 31-20 win over the Wolverines without him. The senior quarterback limped off the field after a scramble in the third quarter and went to the locker room.

He was replaced by Dwayne Haskins, a redshirt freshman who led the Buckeyes to the go-ahead touchdown and finished the game.

After the game, Barrett and Meyer said Barrett was hurt when he was bumped by a photographer before he even went into the game. 

“I’m just so upset with myself,” Meyer said. “It was a non-football injury. Too many damn people on the sideline. A guy with a camera hit him in the knee. I’m gonna find out who. Think about that. So I’m so angry right now. I’ve got to move on. (Angry) that I let that happen.”

Until Meyer brought it up in the postgame interview room, no one in the media had been aware of the origin of Barrett’s injury.

“I looked over and he was on the ground,” Meyer said. “We were worried he wasn’t going to be able to (play). He’s one of the toughest guys I’ve ever been around. It locked up on him before the game. They got it to unlock. And then it locked up on him again. That’s what happened.”

While the coach was visibly angry, Barrett, the first Ohio State quarterback to start four wins over Michigan, didn’t seem upset.

“I was warming up, trying to throw, and somebody tried to squeeze (between Barrett and the Buckeyes’ bench) I guess and he hit me,” Barrett said. “My knee just kind of shifted in, twisted up on me, and we was able to lock it out and put it back in, but that’s how it was.”

He played the first 2½ quarters, though he wasn’t sharp. He completed three of eight passes for 30 yards and a touchdown while also running for 67 yards on 15 attempts.

The Texas native also revealed he has had a recurring situation with the knee, one he has learned to deal with.

“It’s not anything too crazy,” Barrett said. “I’ve played with it this whole year. It’s just twisted and I just unlocked it. This time it just didn’t unlock for me.”

He wasn’t sure who made contact with him but didn’t think it was intentional or malicious.

“Nah, I don’t think it was that type of rivalry where people would try to do that,” Barrett said.

“I don’t know who it was. Michigan has a lot of people on our sideline, whether it be fans or camera people. I don’t know. He bumped me and my knee kind of shifted in. It’s happened before where my knee has just twisted on me. I have to hyperextend it and get it to be untwisted.

“When it happened in a game I just locked my leg out and popped it back in and continued to play. I didn’t need to tell the trainers or tell anybody. I was good. I felt fine running around cutting before it happened the second time. So it wasn’t affecting me. It’s just in that few moments when it happens. Today I wasn’t able to pop it back in. So it’s not injured.”

Barrett said he will be ready when the Buckeyes play Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship Football Game on Saturday in Indianapolis.

As for the person who ran into him on the sideline? Meyer said he wants to find out who it was.

Barrett just recalled seeing someone wearing gray — which happens to be the color of vests worn by all photographers with credentials to shoot the game.

“He just continued to walk,” Barrett said. “I was pretty sure he got pretty nervous.”

Here are the latest scenarios for the college football playoffs

Losses by top-ranked Alabama and No. 2 Miami have scrambled the postseason college football playoff picture. Tuesday, the College Football Playoff selection will release the fifth of its six rankings, and the top four teams certainly will be different.

>> Read more trending news 

Clemson and Oklahoma will make strong cases to be ranked at No. 1, and Wisconsin and Auburn should receive some strong consideration for a top-four seeding.

Much of the playoff picture will be settled when the conference championship games are played next weekend. Who will be left standing when Selection Day rolls around on Dec. 3?

Auburn now has knocked off two teams ranked No. 1 in the CFP rankings, defeating Georgia 40-17 on Nov. 11 and then topping Alabama 26-14 on Saturday. If Auburn should win the Southeastern Conference title game against Georgia on Dec. 2, that would give the Tigers a strong case to make the CFP semifinals even though they have two losses. Auburn’s only defeats have come against ranked teams -- Clemson and LSU.

Since the current playoff system has been established, no team with two losses has made the semifinals.

Oklahoma, meanwhile, has three victories against ranked opponents, defeating Ohio State, Oklahoma State and TCU, and five road wins against Power 5 opponents. The Sooners’ lone loss came against Iowa State (7-5). To remain in the top four, Oklahoma must win the Big 12 conference championship game by defeating TCU for a second time this season. 

Clemson has defeated Auburn and has seven wins overall against Power 5 opponents. The Tigers’ lone loss came against Syracuse (4-8), but the committee most likely will overlook that loss as a momentary stutter in their schedule.

Don’t count out Alabama and Ohio State just yet. Despite the loss to Auburn, and even though the Crimson Tide will not play in a conference title game, there are scenarios where Alabama could back into the semifinal round. Ohio State proved last season that the lack of a conference championship game victory is not necessarily a hindrance to reaching the playoffs.

Alabama’s best chance would come if Auburn defeats Georgia in the SEC championship game, coupled with losses by Oklahoma and Wisconsin in their respective conference title games. The Atlantic Coast Conference title game pits Clemson against Miami, and both teams have one loss. The winner of that game -- particularly Clemson -- has a good shot at making the postseason playoff.

Ohio State, with a victory against Wisconsin, could receive consideration even with two losses, which included an embarrassing 55-24 defeat to Iowa. A victory against the only Power 5 team with an undefeated record could push the Buckeyes past Alabama if a fourth berth should open up. Plus, Ohio State’s wins against ranked opponents such as Penn State and Michigan State might give the playoff committee some pause.

In The Associated Press poll released Sunday, Clemson is new No. 1, followed by Oklahoma, Wisconsin and Auburn. 

Next weekend’s games will go a long way toward clearing up the playoff picture. But it could remain murky until Selection Day.

Auburn fined $250K after fans storm field following win over Alabama

The SEC announced that it has fined Auburn $250,000 for fans storming the field after Saturday's win over No. 1 Alabama. This is a part of the SEC’s policy that has escalating fines for each offense, and this is Auburn’s third offense under that policy.

>> Read more trending news 

SEC commissioner Greg Sankey released this statement about the fine:

“Fans are expected to remain in the stands and avoid the safety concerns associated with rushing onto the playing field. We want exciting experiences around SEC games, but also seek to maintain a safe environment for student-athletes, coaches, spectators and officials.”

The No. 6 Tigers defeated Alabama by a 26-14 score at Jordan-Hare Stadium on Saturday. With the win, Auburn improves to 10-2 and will advance to the SEC Championship Game against Georgia. Auburn already beat Georgia earlier this season, winning 40-17 over the the No. 1 ranked Bulldogs.

[H/T SDS]

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