Be prepared for a lot of controversy. It’s PAC 12 vs Big 12, Utah or Oklahoma, what’s your pleasure? Of course Oregon and Baylor might have something to say about this argument as well, but if the Utes and Sooners both win their respective conference championship games all eyes will be on the final decision made by the playoff committee next Sunday. You want real chaos? Let Georgia beat LSU and both the PAC 12 and Big 12 will be left out.
All this mess was set up by Auburn’s stunning 48-45 win over Alabama. It was a dramatic back and forth contest with more twists and turns than an Alfred Hitchcock murder mystery. But in the end, the simple mistake of a 5 yard penalty for Alabama, on 4th down and 4 for Auburn, gave the Tigers a first down and the ability to run out the clock. Sometimes we forget how important discipline in basic fundamentals can be.
Around the Nation: LSU, Ohio State and Clemson rolled in season finales, setting up a solid 1,2,3 heading into conference championship games. All three appear to be locks for the playoff, even if they lose, given their season long resumes. Although, a Clemson loss to Virginia may make the Tigers vulnerable to falling out of the Top 4. Memphis secured a spot in the American Conference Championship, and at least temporarily takes the lead as the top contender for the Group of Five participant in the New Year’s Six games. The Tigers defeated Cincinnati 34-24 and will face them again next Saturday. If Memphis wins again, most likely they are in as the top Group of Five team, although Boise State and Appalachian State are not far behind and if Cincinnati wins, the Bearcats might sneak in. It’s a tight race, too close to call. Rivalry games always bring surprises, and usually close exciting finishes. Such was the case as Virginia finally beat Virginia Tech, topping the Hokies 39-30, and Indiana winning the Old Oaken Bucket over Purdue 44-41 in double overtime. Minnesota’s dream season dropped a notch as Wisconsin took home the Axe with a 38-17 thumping of the Gophers. Oklahoma finally won a game by more than 3 points as the Sooners took home the Bedlam Trophy with a 34-16 victory over Oklahoma State. As I suspected, Oregon State battled hard, but finally succumbed to Oregon 24-10 while Washington won the Apple Cup 31-13. Nebraska played well against a better team in Iowa, but couldn’t quite pull off the upset, losing 27-24. Such was the story in 2019. Nebraska could easily have been a 9-3 team with close losses to Colorado, Indiana, Purdue and Iowa by a combined 17 points. Maybe 2020 will be the year of the Cornhusker. And what can I say, Tennessee, you have made the Volunteer Nation proud, moving to 7-5 on the season with a win over Vanderbilt. Tennessee finished the season with 5 straight wins after a dismal 2-5 start.