Submitted by Jim Hurley on Monday, December 8, 2014 at 12:00 AM
THE COLLEGE FOOTBALL PLAYOFFS ARE SET
BUT DID THE COMMITTEE FOLKS SIMPLY
“TAKE THE EASY WAY OUT”? …
THE NFL WEEK 14 RUNDOWN —
THE BIGGEST LOSERS …
MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL PREVIEW:
FALCONS-PACKERS DUEL AT FROSTY LAMBEAU
Well, we know the great state of Texas won’t be sporting a college football national champion team this year!
Both Baylor and TCU — the so-called co-champs of the 10-team, Big 12 Conference — were on the outside looking in when the College Football Playoffs committee announced the “final four” for this year’s first-ever playoff on Sunday afternoon and while TCU head coach Gary Patterson displayed major class (at least publicly) when his 11-1 squad was left out of the party, Baylor boss-man Art Briles was spitting-mad that his 11-1 team didn’t get an invite.
Heck, Briles was making the rounds on TV all late Saturday night/Sunday morning/Sunday night and he bristled time and again regarding the process that left his Bears forced to settle for a Cotton Bowl date with Michigan State.
It’s also been pointed out that Briles went through the pain-staking efforts of finding out where all the committee members lived and he’s convinced that there was not enough representation in that Grapevine (TX) room for the teams from the south and southwest.
Hmm. Then why is Alabama #1 and not Oregon?
Okay, that one’s been pretty much beaten into the turf so we’ll let it be!
Still, this is what we have to say about the verdict that had the following semifinal games -- #1 Alabama vs. #4 Ohio State and #2 Oregon vs. #3 Florida State:
The CFP committee did — indeed — take the easy way out by pushing forward an Ohio State squad that blasted Wisconsin 59-0 (think there’s any conspiracy theorists that believe the Badgers laid down like dogs so that a Big 10 team could get a spot in the playoffs?) because the panel didn’t otherwise have a clue as whom to take at #4 …
Should Baylor have gotten the nod as Big 12 co-champs because the Bears beat TCU 61-58 back on Oct. 11th or should the Horned Frogs have nabbed the fourth playoff spot after beating six bowl-bound teams with a cherry-on-top final regular-season game blowout win against Iowa State?
Hey, we’d probably have done the same after all the results rushed in on championship Saturday but let’s just say the committee had to be breathing easier that Ohio State won by fifty-plus points because trying to pick/choose from the resumes of Ohio State/Baylor/TCU was not an easy task at all.
No doubt the Big 12 hurt itself not having a conference championship game (yes, we know they could have asked for a waiver but should have done that last spring, not now!) and so for Briles to bellyache, maybe somebody ought to tell him that if he had to, say, play TCU again in a conference championship game on a neutral field, his Bears might not have won anyway.
The sad fact of the matter is you just knew this wasn’t gonna work out perfectly and for all the folks that are screaming for an eight-team playoff (we hear you, Lou Holtz!) don’t you know that the #9 and/or #10 teams will be moaning-and-groaning then?
The whole process was subjective, of course, but if you pinned us down we’d tell you that Alabama, Oregon and Florida State were quite deserving and we would have flipped a coin between TCU and Ohio State for the fourth slot … and still left Briles’ Baylor bunch out in the cold!
Call us old-fashioned but we think the college football world should turn back the clocks — play the New Year’s Day/Night bowl games with conference affiliations and see where the chips fall at the end of the day.
It might have been 31 years ago but nobody could top the excitement then when a #5 Miami team beat #1 Nebraska in the Orange Bowl to win the national title after #2 Texas (in the Cotton Bowl) and #4 Illinois (in the Rose Bowl) both lost earlier in the day.
True, that sort of magical jump in the rankings to be a national champ ain’t gonna happen every year but we seem to remember less controversy back then as compared to the now-deceased BCS and newfangled CFP … remember?
Well, we have no great argument with the committee’s top four teams but let’s just say the system is far from perfect … and TCU and Baylor just discovered that in an all-too-painful way.
Hey, make sure you’re with us right here at Jim Sez for our next column when we spice things up with early bowl game comments …
Our MNF preview shortly here in just a second but first this important reminder …
My handicappers and bloggers have everything all mapped out for tonight’s NFL Week 14 tilt between the Atlanta Falcons at the Green Bay Packers … get the Side & Totals winners game-day afternoon when you check with us here at Jim Hurley’s Network at the toll-free # of 1-800-323-4453 or right here online at www.jimhurley.com.
Plus get all the upcoming College Football Bowl games plus the Basketball action too … don’t get left out in the cold, folks!
THE NFL WEEK 14 WRAP-UP:
THE BIGGEST LOSERS
Look around the NFL Week 14 landscape and you see that road teams won 10 of the 15 games played Thursday/Sunday and maybe it’s a “dog-bites-man” headline that lets you know the likes of QBs Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Andrew Luck and Russell Wilson all led their respective teams to wins … but if you want some negative vibes from Sunday’s action then let us introduce to you some of the “biggest losers”:
BRIAN HOYER, CLEVELAND — Okay, so the Browns “cashed” as 3-point home underdogs in that wild 25-24 SU (straight-up) loss to Luck’s Indianapolis Colts but here was a journeyman given a reprieve by his head coach and he blew it.
Hoyer aired a pair of interceptions and threw for only 140 yards on 14-of-31 completions and — worse yet — led the Browns to just three first downs in the second half and so when the announcement comes down the pike this week that Johnny Manziel is the team’s new starting QB, we don’t want to hear any crying from Hoyer.
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS — A home win against 9 ½-point underdog Carolina and, presumably, a MNF loss by Atlanta in Green Bay and the Saints would have been sitting alone in the awful NFC South but Sean Payton’s team couldn’t even get “mission accomplished” and among their sorry moments in the 41-10 loss were two turnovers on the team’s first three offensive plays and yet another no-show game from TE Jimmy Graham (see 3 catches for 25 yards after getting completely “ziggied” last week in a win at Pittsburgh) and this pitiful defense that’s now allowed 30-plus points on six different occasions this year.
KANSAS CITY CHIEFS and SAN DIEGO CHARGERS — The former burped up a 14-6 halftime lead to loss at Arizona as QB Alex Smith continued to prove he’s no championship-caliber slinger while the SD Chargers registered a mere one offensive touchdown in their 23-14 Sunday Night Football loss to 4-point fav New England … right, it’s no great crime to lose to either one of these teams but the Chiefs (7-6) would like to forget any/all western trips this year save for a 23-20 win in San Diego back on Oct. 19th (see road losses in Denver, Oakland and Arizona) while the Bolts couldn’t get its dysfunctional ground game going (see 53 rushing yards) and couldn’t take advantage of a slew of New England first-half mistakes including a dreadful Brady INT inside San Diego’s five-yard line. The Chargers (8-5) remain in the jumbled AFC playoff hunt but they sure didn’t resemble a post-season team on this night.
In other quick-hitter NFL Week 14 News/Notes …
Are the Washington Redskins now the worst team in the NFL?
The 24-0 loss to St. Louis had D.C. fans putting paper bags on their heads and chanting for Robert Griffin III but the biggest slap in the face came when the Rams paraded out all the players they got in the RG3 deal as pre-game captains.
Gotta say that he’s no better than 50-50 that Jay Gruden returns for a second season with the ‘Skins …
The San Francisco 49ers officially have become the most dysfunctional “good team” in the NFL and Sunday’s 24-13 loss at 8 ½-point dog Oakland and Niners’ QB Colin Kaepernick (sacked five times, two INTs) looks totally lost these days and it’s been a major fall from grace from being a Super Bowl slinger just two years ago.
Did you really think San Fran would be 7-and-6 at this stage of the year? Us neither!
MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL PREVIEW
ATLANTA (5-7) at GREEN BAY (9-3) — 8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
The month of November was pretty kind to the Green Bay Packers (see four wins, no losses) but head coach Mike McCarthy believes his club is gonna really peak in December/January.
After all, QB Aaron Rodgers has thrown 32 TDs and only 3 INTs this season and he never — ever — throws a pick at home and so here the Falcons must scheme some different looks and see if they can get Rodgers to crack here.
No doubt at the top of the Atlanta priority list is to control clock and note this patched-up O-line did pave the way to Atlanta gaining 142 rushing yards in last week’s sound 29-18 home win against Arizona.
Expect Falcons’ QB Matt Ryan (361 passing yards last week) to try some deep balls here in hopes that WR Julio Jones can outleap Green Bay’s smaller D-backs — while the double-digit favored Packers (winners of eight of their last nine games) won’t be shy about blitzing Ryan and that means watch for now-MLB Clay Matthews to come full force.
Spread Notes — Green Bay is 5-0-1 ATS (against the spread) at home this year and that makes the Packers a scintillating 21-10-2 spreadwise at Lambeau Field dating back to the start of 2011. Atlanta is a solid 9-5 versus the vig in conference action since late last season.