For the final Spread Offensive of the season, we take some reader questions. And by reader questions, I mean questions I just made up.
Who will be the Final Four Teams in the College Football Playoff?
Alabama is easy, with or without a win in the SEC Championship. But letís be honest; the Gators wonít put up much of a fight in that contest. Ohio State also must be in, as they have one loss and impressive wins over Wisconsin, Oklahoma and Michigan State. Who cares if they didnít win their conference? Theyíre one of the best four teams in the country, and arguably the most impressive resume in the country.
So there are essentially three teams playing for two spots. If Clemson wins the ACC Championship, the Tigers will be included. If Washington wins the Pac-12 Championship, the Huskies should be included. Sorry, Big 12. No soup for you.
Where does that leave the Big Ten Champion? The winner of the Big Ten Championship, either Wisconsin or Penn State, will have two losses but a conference title. No other team mentioned above has two losses. However, the Big Ten has been better than the Pac-12 this season, and probably the ACC as well.
Wisconsin lost two narrow games to Ohio State and Michigan. Penn State lost two early games, including a 49-10 drubbing by Michigan, but has since reeled off eight straight wins, including hanging an L on Ohio State. Imagine if Penn State wins the Big Ten Title, but Ohio State gets into the CFP instead, even though the Nittany Lions beat them head-to-head? That would be a tough pill to swallow. A loss by either Washington or Clemson would open the door for the Big Ten to have two teams in the playoff, though.
Letís not forget about Michigan either. What will the committee do with the Wolverines? On the downside, they have two losses and will not be playing for a conference championship. On the positive side, their two losses were heartbreaking and against solid opponents. They lost a Double OT game to bitter rival Ohio State, on the road, and lost by a single point to Iowa, also on the road. Add in wins over Penn State, Wisconsin and Colorado, the Pac-12 South representative, and the Wolverines have three stellar victories of their own. In the playoff could be a Big Ten team that lost to a Big Ten team not in the playoff. Oh no, Iíve gone cross-eyed.
What does all this mean? Thereís still a lot left to be determined! The only certainty is that someone is going to be unhappy.
Who will win the Heisman Trophy?
Lamar Jackson should still win the award. Yes, he had four turnovers against Kentucky in a crushing loss in the season finale. Fine, his team is 9-3 and will not be competing in the College Football Playoff. Sure, I suppose if Jalen Hurts, Deshaun Watson or Jake Browning have mammoth games for their respective squads and their team wins their conference title, they could have a gripe. But Jacksonís numbers are still otherworldly, and he has been the most outstanding player in college football throughout this season.
Jackson broke the single-season ACC record with a staggering 51 touchdowns. He set school records for 100-yard rushing games (8) and rushing yards (1,538) in a season. Only seven RUNNING BACKS have more rushing yards than Jackson in all of college football this year. The aforementioned Jalen Hurts had 840 rushing yards by comparison. And Jackson still managed to pass for over 3,300 yards as well, more than the aforementioned Jake Browning. Add in that he plays in a Power 5 Conference that actually plays defense, and Jacksonís resume is simply outrageous.
Jackson had highlight reel runs, he was dominant both on the ground and through the air, and his team was in the playoff hunt right up until the end of the season. No one else has really stepped up to snatch the trophy from Jackson, either. Again, that could change if any of the above players, or perhaps Saquon Barkley of Penn State, has a mind-blowing championship performance. Shy of something like that, though, the award is likely going to Jackson.
Should the College Football Playoff be expanded?
The short answer is no. The politically correct answer is that football is too brutal of a sport to subject college kids to added games. The competitive answer is that if you are not one of the top four teams in the county, you do not have anything to gripe about. The response to the fifth-best team in the country is simple; you didnít play well enough. You didnít win all your games. Believe me, someone will always be unhappy. If you expand to eight teams, then the No. 9 team feels unfairly left out. College hoops has 68 spots now, and still teams feel they are ďcheatedĒ by the system. Would an extra game make for great theater? Sure. But it is unnecessary. Again, if you end up at No. 5, the message is simple: WIN MORE GAMES. College Football can be brutal; one loss can make or break a season. Thatís the nature of the beast, though. Thatís what makes it unlike any other sport, and making a playoff where even a third of the top 25 would make the playoff would take away some of that luster.
Which non-playoff team are you most curious to see during bowl season?
How about Western Michigan? Coach P.J. Fleck has the Broncos at 12-0 in the MAC and likely headed to a New Yearís 6 Bowl. The Broncos won every conference game by at least 14 points. Fleckís name has already been mentioned for the Purdue job, though in all likelihood he could have even more attractive job offers than that. Will Fleck leave for greener pastures? Will he stay and make Western Michigan into the next Boise State? Will the Broncos play in the Cotton Bowl and upset a squad like Penn State or Wisconsin? The Broncos are disciplined, undefeated and poised to make some noise on the national stage.