Alabama Tames Tigers in Classic Championship Game
The Crimson Tide won the College Football National Championship Monday night with a hard fought 45-40 win over a tough Clemson team. The undefeated Tigers refused to give in to the favored Alabama squad, even after the Tide stole momentum after a gutsy onside kick play and jumped to an 11 point lead in the middle of the 4th quarter. Clemson fought back and had a chance to win the game, but time, and big plays by Alabama on offense and defense finally sealed Clemson’s fate. Alabama has now won 4 National Championships in the last 7 years, a feat unmatched in the history of Modern College Football.
Clemson and Alabama set to play for College Football National Championship
Both the Tigers and the Crimson Tide took care of business in stunning fashion New Years Eve in their respective Semifinal games to capture a spot in the College Football Playoff National Title Game. Clemson cooled down a hot Oklahoma offense and stunned the favored Sooners 37-17 in the Orange Bowl. A few hours later Alabama completely dominated a tough Michigan State team 38-0 in the Cotton Bowl. The two teams will square off Monday night January 11th in the Championship Game. The Billingsley Report featuring the Bowl Game results was released at 11AM CT this morning (January 3rd). The Margin of Victory Report, and Billingsley’s Personal Report, will follow this afternoon. Follow the links on the rankings tab.
Bowl Season Begins Saturday December 19th
40 Bowl Games begin to unwind this Saturday with 5 games on the slate for opening day. The season culminates with the Championship game on January 11th. This year the two CFP semi-final games will be played on New Year’s Eve with the Orange Bowl, featuring #1 Clemson and #4 Oklahoma followed by #2 Alabama and #3 Michigan State in the Cotton Bowl. For all the Bowl Game Projections, follow the links below. Billingsley Billingsley+ (MOV)
Navy Squeezes Past Improved Army 21-17
In one of America’s premier rivalries, played Saturday in Philadelphia, the Naval Academy completed a 10 win regular season with a hard fought 4 point victory over Army. It was the Midshipmen’s 14th consecutive victory over the Cadets. Army was a 23 point underdog but fought valiantly, taking the game into the late stages of the 4th quarter. The Cadets finished 2-10 on the season but have shown noticeable improvement in 2015. 7 losses this season have come by 7 points or less. The future of Army football looks bright under head coach Jeff Monken. Army’s stingy run defense kept Navy in check most of the day and gave the Cadets an opportunity to win the game, but in the end, turnovers and an inability to sustain any offense proved too much for Army to overcome. This week represents the Final Regular Season Billingsley Report. The next ranking will be published on January 3 after the conclusion of the Bowl Season on January 2. A Final Report will be issued on January 12 after the National Championship Game on January 11.
Billingsley Releases Final Regular Season Rankings
Although there was little drama surrounding Saturday’s games, college football fans anxiously await the release of the CFP Final Four scheduled to be shown on ESPN at 11 AM CT Sunday morning. Billingsley released his rankings Sunday morning at 8:19 AM. There will be an updated version to include next Saturday’s Army/Navy game. The seeding of the Top 4 teams remains the only mystery left to unfold. If Clemson holds the #1 position as expected, they will play the #4 ranked team, either Michigan State or Oklahoma. The ACC Champion plays in the Orange Bowl, so either the Spartans or the Sooners will head to Miami. #2 Alabama will be the host team in the Cotton Bowl and play the #3 seeded opponent. Both games will be played December 31, with times yet to be released. Billingsley’s Margin of Victory and Personal Rankings will be released later this morning.
Stanford win over Irish Makes Job Easy for CFP
Stanford’s dramatic last second 38-36 win over Notre Dame removed any drama from the College Football Playoff Selection Committee release this coming Tuesday night. The Cardinal moved the length of the field in 30 seconds and kicked a 45 yard pressure packed field goal to end any playoff hopes for Notre Dame. An Irish win could have created some controversy over the Top 4 teams with Notre Dame and Oklahoma both finishing the season at 11-1 and no conference championship to play. Instead, the Sooners, who most likely would have won the selection anyway, appear in line to take one of the spots in next week’s FINAL selection, along with Clemson, Alabama and the winner of the Big 10 Championship Game between Michigan State and Iowa. Only a major upset by North Carolina or Florida could reshape the standings at this point. In that case, Ohio State, Stanford or even North Carolina could fill the remaining slot. With Florida’s loss to Florida State, even a win over Alabama would most likely not be enough to sway the committee in the Gators direction. College fans will certainly celebrate the 4 team playoff this year. Can you imagine the outcry we would have experienced if only TWO slots were available at the end of this season? All 3 Billingsley Rankings are now online.
College Football Rivalry Weekend is best in Sports
Talk about tradition…….for over 100 years on Thanksgiving weekend college football’s greatest rivalries have played themselves out. Oh, they may not have ALWAYS been played on this weekend EVERY year, but if you check out the biggest rivals through Billingsley’s Encyclopedia (Section 2) , you’ll see historical data from some of the greatest games ever played. The list could go on forever, but these are certainly special, Alabama/Auburn, Florida/Florida State, Ohio State/Michigan, Oklahoma/Oklahoma State, Oregon/Oregon State, Washington/Washington State, Clemson/South Carolina, Mississippi/Mississippi State, and USC/UCLA. The CFP picture may clear a bit after this weekend as the Big 12 and Big 10 both have top rated contests in Oklahoma/Oklahoma State, Ohio State/Michigan and Michigan State/Penn State, plus Notre Dame Stanford figures into the mix pretty strongly. Happy Thanksgiving to all…..it’s wall to wall football, just the way I like it! Billingsley Projections Billingsley+ Projections Pre-Season Game By Game Projections
College Football Enters High Gear
November is the month that games are remembered in College Football, especially in regards to rankings. This weekend features contests destined to clear the picture in the CFP, at least somewhat. Ohio State and Michigan State square off in Columbus for an inside track to the Big 10 Championship game. Like wise, in the Big 12, things are really heating up as Oklahoma entertains TCU and Oklahoma State hosts Baylor. A win by both would set up the biggest game in the Bedlam series history the next weekend. The winner of that game would win the Big 12 and most likely enter the CFP coveted Top 4 (although Oklahoma may still need help beyond an OSU win). Follow the links below for all this week’s projections. Billingsley Billingsley+ Pre-Season Game by Game
Cowboys Ambush Horned Frogs
Oklahoma State played a near flawless game in the first half and held on for a stunning 49-29 win over previously unbeaten TCU to take the lead in the Big 12 Conference race. Baylor, which also remains unbeaten, hosts Oklahoma next Saturday in a pivotal conference game. Across the nation, Clemson downed Florida State to take the lead in the ACC race and Alabama used a powerful defensive performance to shut down LSU in the SEC. All 3 Billingsley Rankings are now online. Follow the links to the right of your screen or from the Rankings Tab above.
It’s Cocktail Time in College Football!
Although both school’s had rather NOT have this game called “the world’s largest outdoor cocktail party” anymore, it’s hard not to remember it that way. These two bitter rivals meet in Jacksonville in one of only two neutral site rivalry games left in America. The other belongs to Oklahoma/Texas in Dallas. This will be the 93rd installment of the series which began way back in 1915. Georgia holds a slight 49-41-2 advantage over Florida. Check out the links below for all of Billingsley’s projections. Billingsley Projections Billingsley+ (Margin of Victory) Projections Billingsley’s Pre-Season Projections
Longhorns Stun Sooners 24-17; TCU Climbs to # 1after escaping Kansas State 52-45.
The Texas Longhorns, fresh off of one of the worst losses in program history, a 50-7 drubbing at the hands of TCU, put together a brilliant game plan exploiting Oklahoma’s weak offensive and defensive lines, and upset the highly favored Sooners 24-17. Oklahoma QB Baker Mayfield played a great game going 20 of 28 passing for 211 yards, but was sacked 6 times and found himself scrambling most of the game with no time to perform the magic that lead to earlier Sooner victories over Tennessee and West Virginia. Oklahoma’s defense was gashed for 313 yards rushing by the Longhorn offense. Texas, which has played the nation’s #1 most difficult schedule to date, is two special team plays away from being 4-2 on the season. As predicted here several weeks ago, the Longhorns were destined to pull an upset over one of the Big 12’s top contending teams. They came through in glorious fashion in Saturday’s Red River Rivalry Game, one of the nation’s premier college football rivalries. Also as expected, TCU needed another brilliant comeback to fend off an upset loss to Kansas State in Manhattan. The Horned Frogs, down 35-17 at the half, fought back furiously in the third quarter to narrow the gap to 35-31, then outscored Kansas State 21-10 in the fourth quarter for a 52-45 win. TCU moved to #1 in this weeks Billingsley Report on the strength of their schedule (#43), higher than Ohio State’s #74 and Michigan State’s # 68. Once again, #11 Baylor is heavily penalized for playing a weak schedule, ranked # 119. However, once margin of victory is factored in, the Bears are considered the #1 team in the Nation this week in the Billingsley+ Report and Michigan State and Ohio State suffer because of poor performances against weaker opposition. Baylor is also #1 in Billingsley’s Personal Top 30, with TCU, Ohio State, and Alabama following respectively. Utah, Florida and Michigan continue their meteoric rise as the nation’s most surprising teams. Florida is up to #4, Utah to #5 and Michigan to #17. The Wolverines have moved all the way into the Top 25 from an initial preseason ranking of #40. Michigan’s only loss is to undefeated Utah in Salt Lake City. In Billingsley’s Margin of Victory Report, the Wolverines are #6 this week and would be considered virtually a toss up with Ohio State on a neutral field. Michigan hosts undefeated rival Michigan State this coming Saturday. Early projections indicate Michigan could be a slight favorite, a shocking development that no one could have seen before the season started. Jim Harbaugh is certainly a leading candidate for coach of the year honors.
Michigan hosts Northwestern in Big 10 Showdown
# 15 Northwestern at # 27 Michigan – At the beginning of the season who could ever imagined a Wolverine Wildcat match up would mean so much, not only to the Big 10 conference race, but nationally as well? But after Northwestern’s opening weekend shocker of Stanford (who has gone on to win 4 straight) and Michigan’s drubbing of Brigham Young, this game is taking on a whole new dimension. The Wildcats are playing some of the best defense in the nation and the Wolverines are clicking both offensively and defensively. What a great game this will be to watch. Picking a winner? Well, your guess is as good as mine, but I always favor the home team in a close one. Michigan 20 Northwestern 17. # 38 Navy at #11 Notre Dame – The Fighting Irish return to South Bend to host the undefeated Midshipmen after a heartbreaking loss to Clemson on a failed two point conversion. Where will the mindset of the Irish players be? This is no time for a laps in preparation, Navy is a good team. Notre Dame may be sluggish to start, but in the end the “echoes” will wake up in time for a win. Notre Dame 27 Navy 17. # 25 California at # 9 Utah – The last two undefeated Pac 12 teams meet in Salt Lake City Saturday with the winner taking a big step towards a shot at the conference title game. The Utes’ win over Michigan is looking better and better each week. Sonny Dykes has done an outstanding job rebuilding the Bear’s program and regardless of the outcome of this game, Cal looks like they are headed towards the best season they’ve had since at least 2009 (8-5). Utah 31 California 27. # 8 Florida at # 33 Missouri – The Gators are one of the biggest surprises of 2015. First, the great comeback win over Tennessee, then the shocking upset of Ole Miss. Now Florida goes on the road to face Mizzou, who’s only loss was at Kentucky, the team Florida barely escaped 14-9. No room for error here by either team, both of whom have visions of an SEC East crown. Florida 29 Missouri 28. # 3 TCU at # 41 Kansas State – As expected, Kansas State almost pulled an upset in Stillwater last week, while the Froggies were humbling Texas 50-7. This is a huge test for TCU. Winning in Lubbock a few weeks ago took a little luck and the Horned Frogs may need to reach in their bag of tricks for another miracle. The Wildcats are solid and hard to beat in Manhattan under Bill Synder, not to mention hungry for a win after the disappointing loss to the Cowboys. I’m tempted to pick an upset, but if I did I’d spoil the believe that TCU will win a National Championship. TCU 35 Kansas State 28. # 13 Oklahoma vs #65 Texas – Why am I even mentioning this game? If you have to ask, you don’t know me very well. For someone born in Oklahoma but raised in Texas, this is always the biggest game of the year, regardless of rankings and won loss records. And it’s true, you can throw them out the window when these two teams take the field at Cotton Bowl Stadium. Think about this, and let it soak in, Texas HAS NEVER in the history of this series entered the game with 4 losses. And this series dates to 1900. This is the second worse ranking for the Longhorns since a # 76 (0-2-0) Texas team took the field against Oklahoma in 1938. This series has a history of huge upsets. Any time one team is favored by more than two touchdowns, look out, the other team plays their best game of the year. Just two years ago Oklahoma took a 16 point favored undefeated team to Dallas and promptly lost 36-20. In 1996 winless Oklahoma (0-4 ) upset Texas as a 17 point underdog 30-27. Texas is a very dangerous team. Don’t be fooled by the blowout loss to TCU. The Horned Frogs were taking out 100 years of frustration on the Horns in front of a delighted home crowd. Two special teams breakdowns separate Texas from being 3-2. Do the Longhorns have a miracle win left in their hearts or does Oklahoma perform another 65-13 Boomer Sooner Beat Down? Pay attention to the first quarter. If Texas comes out inspired this could be quite a game. If Oklahoma jumps out on top early, well, I’m not sure the Longhorns have it in them to crawl out of a big whole. Oklahoma 38 Texas 16. For all this weeks projections follow these links: Billingsley Projections Billingsley+ Margin of Victory Projections Billingsley Pre-Season Game by Game Projections
Bulldog Bama Showdown Highlights Huge College Football Weekend
Every weekend is big in college football, but there is no doubt, some are bigger than others. This weekend is full of games that will reshape the college football playoff landscape. #11 Alabama at #10 Georgia – Alabama visits Athens, Georgia Saturday in one of the most anticipated games in this long storied rivalry. According to Billingsley’s Encyclopedia this will be the 67th meeting between the Crimson Tide and the Bulldogs with Alabama holding a 37-25-4 advantage. Since these two are cross divisional rivals in the SEC they do not play every year, in fact, this will only be the 4th regular season meeting in the last 20 years. The two also met in the 2012 SEC Championship game. Both teams being ranked in the Top 15 on game day is a rare occurrence. The Tide and Bulldogs have only been ranked in the AP Top 15 5 times in the series history which dates all the way back to 1895 (2012, 2008, 1976, 1946, 1942). The AP rankings began in 1936. Some believe this is a preview to the upcoming SEC Championship Game as both teams are in contention for their respective division crowns and could meet again in December. Georgia is undefeated at 4-0, Alabama comes in at 3-1 still smarting from that upset loss to Ole Miss two weeks ago. Both of these teams are hungry for the win. Alabama wants to prove they are still the SEC’s best, Georgia fans believe this could be one of the best teams in Bulldog history. Sanford Stadium will be rockin’ in overdrive for the 2:30 (CT) afternoon kickoff. The game will be a national broadcast on CBS. This will be a hard nosed physical contest with both teams giving 100%. As in all big games, it will come down to mistakes, but I can’t help but believe the home town Bulldogs pull out a win. Georgia 31 Alabama 28. #6 Notre Dame at #14 Clemson – It amazes me at times just how accurate my July preseason predictions can be. For this week I predicted Notre Dame to be 4-0 and ranked #6 and Clemson 3-0 #17. I also predicted a Clemson win, but that part of the prediction is making me very nervous. Injuries have hurt the Irish but backups have played much better than could have ever been expected…..and against some very stiff competition. The Irish’s strength of schedule is # 23, Clemson on the other hand, well, a paltry #104. A win here and Notre Dame places themselves front and center for the playoff committee. But Death Valley is one of the toughest venues in the nation. Saturday night, prime time national TV audience, Howard’s Rock, electric crowd, this is already giving me chills. Lordy Lordy I wish both teams could win, but since that’s not possible I’ll stick with my original feeling, by the slimmest of margins. Clemson 31 Notre Dame 30. #56 Texas at #4 TCU – As I wrote earlier this week, Texas is a very dangerous team who could be 3-1 very easily. The Longhorns are moving the ball and scoring enough points to win games and the defense has looked good at times, but is inconsistent. Special teams, well, I won’t go there. I believe Texas could win this game….but they won’t. TCU has played step child to the Longhorns since 1897, but the tables have turned as of late and the Froggies have long, long, long memories. It won’t be easy and it may not be pretty, but if there is any way in, well, you know where, TCU is gonna win this game. TCU 45 Texas 27. #12 Baylor vs #37 Texas Tech – The Red Raiders should have beaten TCU last Saturday but fate smiled on the Frogs. Now Texas Tech jumps from the frying pan into the fire going to Arlington to tackle the red hot Baylor Bears. How much juice does Texas Tech have after that incredible letdown? Games like this are impossible to predict because you never know the mindset of the players till after they get on the field. My suspicion is that the Red Raiders will play with a lot of heart and emotion, but come up short to a superior Baylor offense. Baylor 52 Texas Tech 42. #31 West Virginia at #16 Oklahoma – Bob Stoops is upset about the 11AM kickoff. Sooner fans are gearing up for their annual trek to Dallas next weekend, already thinking about feasting on those poor 1-3 (perhaps 1-4 by then) Longhorns. Is anyone even thinking about West Virginia? Oh my, I have news for Sooner fans, the Mountaineer passing attack will light up the OU secondary like a Christmas tree on December 24th. Tulsa made the OU pass defense look bad, really bad, and this West Virginia passing game is better. Oklahoma had a week off to prepare. I hope they spent their time wisely. This game has upset written all over it. The saving grace may be it’s in Norman and even that may not be enough. Oklahoma 38 West Virginia 35. #42 Kansas State at #26 Oklahoma State – The Cowboys should be 3-1, but Texas was in a giving mood so they are still undefeated. Aw shucks, I don’t want to take anything away from Oklahoma State. Beating Texas in Austin, regardless of the circumstances is impressive. Impressive enough that most likely the Stillwater campus is still celebrating the big win. Now they return home to face an undefeated, well rested Wildcat team coached by a man who just relishes the underdog role. Yep, Bill Snyder is quietly going about his business diagramming a winning defensive strategy for those pesky Cowboys. I can’t wait to see what he comes up with. The only reason I’m picking Oklahoma State is because I live in Oklahoma. Oklahoma State 28 Kansas State 27. #8 Ole Miss at #22 Florida – Speaking of teams being in a giving mood…..Florida could easily be 3-1 as well had Tennessee not had ANOTHER 4th quarter meltdown. But hey, the Gators were good enough to take advantage of the momentum and score those points, and let’s not forget, Florida did beat Kentucky on the road….and they are playing in the Swamp. Forget about it. If the Rebels can beat Alabama in Tuscaloosa, they can beat Florida in Gainesville. It may not be easy, but I expect Ole Miss to come through the Gator’s snare with an unbeaten record still in tow. Mississippi 31 Florida 17. #20 Mississippi State at #9 Texas A&M – After the loss to LSU a lot of people, OK, yes, I was one of them, wrote off Mississippi State as being an “average team”. Now the Bulldogs are 3-1 after going on the road and beating Auburn. Question is, was that really an accomplishment? I don’t know what to think about Auburn. But I do know this, if Mississippi State can beat Texas A&M in College Station….now THAT would make a believer out me. Problem is, I don’t think they can. Something tells me this Aggie team is special, and getting better by the week. Lady Luck smiled on A&M versus Arkansas. I believe they will triumph in front of 100,000+ at home. Texas A&M 37 Mississippi State 24. For all this weeks projections, follow these links: Billingsley Projections Billingsley+ (MOV) Projections Billingsley’s Game by Game Preseason Predictions