The college football regular season is over. Well, almost over. There is still the Army-Navy game which is a special final game for obvious reasons. That game gets in own Saturday and rightly so, these are the young men that will soon be defending our freedoms.
The four playoff teams are Clemson, Alabama, Michigan State and Oklahoma. I believe the committee got it right but it was really pretty easy this year. There is little, if any, grounds to argue against these four. The first two games are New Year’s Eve. My picks are Oklahoma over Clemson and Alabama over Michigan State.
Oklahoma versus Clemson should be a wild shootout. Both teams have prolific offenses with playmakers at quarterback. Both teams will try to turn the game into a track meet. Where I think Oklahoma has the advantage is on defense. I have seen little to convince me that Clemson can stop a good offense. Oklahoma has proven they can. In my opinion that will be the difference. Expect the Sooners to end up winning something along the lines of a 41-31 game.
Alabama will shut down Michigan State’s running game completely as it is been mostly ineffective against much lesser defenses. However, the one area that the Spartans might be able to victimize the Tide is in the passing game. Florida had receivers open quite often against Alabama but lacked a quarterback who could take advantage of it. Conner Cook is a quarterback who can and probably will for at least a couple of big plays. I just don’t think that Michigan State will stop the Alabama ground game and that will be their undoing. Cook can’t make a lot of plays if he isn’t on the field and I expect the Tide to have a big advantage in time of possession. Tide 28-Spartans 17.
The coaching carousel is still spinning but some have landed. The remainder will be in place soon. Then each of the new coaches will be filling out their staffs which will in turn create holes in other staffs. A lot of shuffling going on while high school kids are trying to pick where they will play football for the next three to five years.
I think Mark Richt at Miami makes perfect sense. It’s his Alma Mater. The “U” could use a man like Mark Richt. He will do things the right way in Coral Gables and should win enough games to keep the fans happy for the most part. Miami has a great recruiting base and playing in the ACC is much easier than facing an SEC schedule every year. Unfortunately there will only be a couple of thousand fans at home games to see it. That stadium arrangement down there is a disaster.
Kirby Smart to Georgia also make perfect sense. Again, this is his Alma Mater. I have thought for some time that Smart was simply waiting for the UGA job to become available. It did and he pounced. There is always a risk associated with promoting a coordinator to his first head coaching job. It is never possible to know whether he is up to that transition. Historically, that has been especially true of defensive coordinators but some have become great head coaches. One of those is Nick Saban and he is who mentored Kirby. This is about as safe a hiring of a coordinator can get. I expect Smart to do good things in Athens.
On the other hand, you have to wonder just what South Carolina is thinking hiring Will Muschamp. Muschamp is the perfect example of a defensive coordinator that failed miserably at making the jump to head coach. It is highly unlikely that he will be able to recruit the kind of talent to Columbia SC that he had in Gainesville FL and he will still be playing in the same conference and division that he couldn’t win in with Florida’s talent. It’s hard to imagine how this is going to go well. There is always the chance that Will learned and grew from his experience at Florida but his behavior on the sidelines for Auburn in the Iron Bowl does not suggest that is the case. Will Muschamp looks, at times, to be unstable. I think the Gamecocks will be looking for a new coach in three or four years after struggling to become bowl eligible each season.
The Heisman voters settled on three finalist for the once highly regarded trophy. Some of the luster has come off of the award over the years. The ceremony is no longer must-watch TV unless your team has a finalist. All of the three are worthy of the trophy this year but I am extremely disappointed in the voters. I believe all of you should have found a place on your ballot for Keenan Reynolds. Again, this is a young man that will soon be defending our nation. It is rare that one of the service academies has a viable Heisman candidate. Not finding a way for this young man to be in New York for the ceremony is an opportunity missed and a classy move that quite frankly the award could use now.