Somehow, Ohio State’s win over rival Michigan on Saturday might have hurt — if not destroyed — the Buckeyes’ chances of qualifying for the inaugural College Football Playoff. Quarterback J.T. Barrettwas carted off the field with an air cast on his leg in the second half of OSU’s 42-28 win over the Wolverines. Ohio State announced shortly after the game that Barrett is done for the season. The College Football Playoff’s official website lists five criteria that will help the selection committee “distinguish among otherwise comparable teams.” The last of those five reads as follows:
Other relevant factors such as key injuries that may have affected a team’s performance during the season or likely will affect its postseason performance.
Among the legitimate contenders for the four-team playoff, few if any players are more valuable to their team than Barrett, who has been spectacular since replacing injured star quarterback Braxton Miller before the beginning of the season. Even with a healthy Barrett, the Buckeyes, currently ranked sixth in the CFP rankings, might have needed some help to get into the playoff anyway. Now, with the most important position on the field a complete unknown for the Buckeyes — just as Barrett was in early September — the injury factor could be a death blow to Ohio State’s playoff hopes, even if it wins the Big Ten and finishes the season 12-1.
Fair? Unfair? As long as an injury factor is written into selection committee’s guidelines, fairness is a question for whether the official criteria should be revised, not whether the Buckeyes should be given a break.
A crazy college football season just got crazier. And an unfortunate injury in Columbus, Ohio, might have launched another team, perhaps Texas Christian, into the playoff.
Here are 17 other things you need to know from the day in college football:
2. The highest-scoring Iron Bowl ever gave us 1,171 yards of total offense. And Amari Cooper had 224 of the most important ones. The Tide’s star junior led a second-half comeback as Alabama topped Auburn 55-44in a game that proved to be just as thrilling, and nearly as dangerous for Alabama, as last year’s game. As far as Alabama offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin is concerned, though, nothing’s more dangerous — or automatic — than Cooper against man coverage. Alabama faces Missouri in the SEC title game next week.
3. They call the Oregon-Oregon State game the Civil War. But there was nothing civil about the way Ducks quarterback Marcus Mariota treated the Beavers. TheHeisman Trophy frontrunner accounted for six touchdowns — four passing and two rushing — in a 47-19 rout. Just how helpless was Oregon State to stop him? Well, Mariota had as many touchdowns as incompletions. Not exactly the recipe for an upset of the CFP’s No. 2-ranked team.
4. Barrett’s injury wasn’t the only one to a big-name quarterback. Baylor’s Bryce Petty suffered a concussion against Texas Tech during the Bears‘ 48-46 win. That’s of significant concern for Baylor fans as his status for next week’s key game against Kansas State is uncertain. Fortunately for theBears, backup Seth Russell picked up significant experience early in the season while Petty was recovering from a back injury.
5. Is the Jim Thorpe Award now on ice? The honor for the nation’s top defensive back might have been sealed Saturday when Louisville safety Gerod Holliman picked off his 14th pass of the season against Kentucky, tying a 46-year-old record held by Washington’s Al Worley. Holliman still has a bowl game to reach 15.
6. The year of the running back in college football added a new face to the 2,000-yard club. Indiana’sTevin Coleman picked up 130 yards against Purdue to run his season total to 2,036. As Indiana won’t qualify for a bowl, Coleman’s season is done. One NFL scout has been especially impressed by Colemanbecause of what he considers a suspect IU offensive line.
7. Jameis Winston’s season went a little further into the tank Saturday. Yet FSU’s season marched on victorious. The defending Heisman Trophy winnertossed four interceptions to rival Florida, but the Seminoles still managed to pull out a 24-19 home win to run its win streak to 28 games. FSU will face Georgia Tech next weekend in the ACC title game. And if Winston’s season continues trending downward, it will be up to the Seminoles’ defense to put FSU in the College Football Playoff field.
8. USC junior QB Cody Kessler has said he’ll be back next year for the Trojans. And on Saturday, he showed Southern Cal fans why they should be thrilled about it. Kessler completed 32 of 40 passes for 372 yards and a cool six touchdowns without an interception in a 49-14 embarrassment of Notre Dame. Junior receiver Nelson Agholor pulled in 12 receptions for 120 yards and a score in what might have been the final regular-season game of his college career.
9. It’s been a tale of two halves in Mississippi. Halves of the season, that is. Ole Miss and Mississippi State were ranked at the top of the polls halfway through the year, but the wheels came off for the Rebels weeks ago, and to return the favor, Ole Miss took the wheels off MSU’s season with a 31-17 Egg Bowl win. Your hero: Evan Engram. A year that saw both programs rise to the highest level ended with both on the outside of the conference and national championship picture.
10. Bobby Petrino knows how to endear himself, doesn’t he? The Louisville coach embraced his standing as one of college football’s favorite villians Saturday when he diffused exacerbated an on-field skirmish by going nose to nose with Kentucky assistant Dan Berezowitz. Positively bombastic, Bobby.
11. Here’s your new definition for the phrase “giving a game away.” Georgia and Georgia Tech combined for two blocked field goals (one each) and an incredible three fumbles at each other’s 1-yard line Saturday. But it was a couple of late special-teams blunders by the Bulldogs that closed out Georgia’s regular season in as disappointing a fashion as possible.
12. Clemson coach Dabo Swinney got a pesky monkey off his back. The Tigers coach had lost five games in a row to rival South Carolina — the Gamecocks’ longest winning streak in series history — but snapped the streak Saturday with a 35-17 win. The Gamecocks began the season in embarrassing fashion against Texas A&M and didn’t end it any better. Senior South Carolina quarterback Dylan Thompson was outplayed by a freshman counterpart playing on a bad knee, Clemson’s Deshaun Watson (14-of-19 for 269 yards). And if this was Gamecocks junior running back Mike Davis‘ last college game, as he hinted at Friday, he went out with a whimper (12 carries, 39 yards).
13. The long-downtrodden program at Memphis is downtrodden no more. The Tigers drilled UConn 41-10 to win a share of the AAC title for third-year coach Justin Fuente. It marks Memphis’ second nine-win season since — gulp — 1963.
14. It’s one thing to play both ways. But unlike UCLA’s Myles Jack or Washington’s Shaq Thompson, Michigan State’s Tony Lippett actually started both ways Saturday against Penn State. As MSU coach Mark Dantonio promised during the practice week, Lippett got the start at cornerback and finished with a modest stat line — one tackle and one pass breakup — on defense. On offense, theBig Ten’s top receiver was a little more impactful, making four catches for 53 yards and a touchdown.
15. The historic nature of Melvin Gordon’s season is bordering on legendary. The Wisconsin running back picked up another 151 yards against Minnesota to run his season total to 2,260. That’s just 368 yards shy of the most prolific rushing season in FBS history: Barry Sanders set the bar at 2,628. With two games remaining — the Big Ten title game next week against Ohio State, and a bowl appearance, Gordon needs to average 184 yards over those two contests to match Sanders.
16. Nothing like 76 points to punctuate a season. Louisiana Tech, led by son-of-Lou coach Skip Holtz, hammered Rice 76-31 to win the West division of Conference USA Saturday. The prize: a date with 11-1 Marshall for the league title next weekend.
17. Danny Shelton and the Washington defense dominated the Apple Cup. The Huskies defensive line caused plenty of havoc against rival Washington State in frigid conditions, with each starting defensive lineman recording at least a half-sack and tackle for loss on the night. Shelton even did a barrel roll before bringing down Cougars QB Luke Falk.
18. Boise State rolled to the MWC title game with its blowout of Utah State. The Broncos got the scoring started early and kept it going throughout in a blowout win over a nine-win Aggies squad that was looking to reach the conference title game. Running back Jay Ajayi must have been upset about not being a Doak Walker finalist, rushing for 229 yards and five touchdowns against a previously stout defense.