Oklahoma State v Iowa State

Title game rematch coming closer to fruition after OK State loss

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(Next morning writer’s note: I somehow managed to write an entire post-game blog without mentioning the tragic losses of Oklahoma State women’s basketball coach Kurt Budke and assistant Miranda Serna, who died Thursday in a plane crash near Little Rock while on a recruiting trip. That’s completely unacceptable. Our most heartfelt thoughts and prayers go to the family and friends of Budke and Serna, as well as the entire Oklahoma State community, who certainly wishes their biggest problem right now was a football game.)

Well, at least we know who won’t be playing for the national title in a couple months.

Oklahoma State’s stunning 37-31 double overtime loss to Iowa State with just weeks left in the regular season has opened the door even more for a potential rematch between LSU and either Alabama or Oregon. Sitting pretty at No. 2, all the Cowboys had to do was win tonight and two weeks from now against Oklahoma in the Bedlam game; how they win wouldn’t mean a thing.

Exhibit A: even if OSU had pulled out a victory tonight, it wouldn’t have been aesthetically pleasing. Heisman candidate Brandon Weeden threw for nearly 500 yards, but had three interceptions (one of which — his third — wasn’t entirely his fault) and was erratic all night. OSU had five turnovers in all. The Cowboys couldn’t stop the run and were flagged 10 times for 87 yards.

Kicker Quinn Sharp was anything but, missing a crucial field goal over the top of the right goal post with just over one minute left in regulation.

None of that would have mattered had Oklahoma State won.

Tim Tebow can relate. This late in the season? Just win, man.

All of that being said, a ton of credit needs to be given to Paul Rhoads, who continues to crank out upset wins year after year in Ames. There just aren’t many coaches who get more out of their players than Rhoads.

And no teams got more out of tonight’s game than No. 3 Bama and No. 4 Oregon. It’s not quite “BCS chaos OMG!”, but a national title rematch is becoming a much more serious option. First, you have to assume — and that might be dangerous given tonight’s shenanigans — that No. 1 LSU will win the rest of their games. Do that and the Tigers are in without a second thought.

Next, Oklahoma State’s loss could be Oklahoma’s as well. The No. 5 Sooners still hold the honor of this season’s “WTF” award — a 41-38 defeat at the hands of Texas Tech at home — a loss of truly perplexing proportions. Even beating Oklahoma State in two weeks might not be enough to launch OU back into the title picture without some help from either Bama, Oregon or Arkansas.

But here’s what the Sooners do have going for them:

1. The BCS computers heart Oklahoma State. Win Bedlam and maybe… maybe… OU has a shot. Again, this may not be enough by itself.

2. The human element. Will voters give OU a boost if the thought of a rematch becomes too nauseating?

3. Cheerleading, upstaging and maybe a little black JuJu. OU has to become Arkansas’ biggest fans. If the Hogs can beat LSU in two weeks, then we can officially uncork the “BCS chaos” bubbly. With no undefeated teams left in the national title picture, OU has one thing Oregon — dangerously assuming again that the Ducks go undefeated from here on out — does not: a Saturday game during the first weekend in December. The Pac-12 championship game is Friday, Dec. 2; Bedlam is Dec. 3. There’s a chance, no matter how small, that the Sooners could be a little fresher in the minds of voters if they have a strong showing.

But perhaps we’re getting ahead of ourselves. If nothing else goes banana nuts in the next few weeks, the rematch scenario remains viable. In that case, which criteria do you use? A conference champion (Oregon), or margin of defeat (Alabama)?

Good thing every week matters, right?

Oklahoma QB Baker Mayfield takes home second straight Burlsworth Award

NORMAN, OK - SEPTEMBER 5: Quarterback Baker Mayfield #6 of the Oklahoma Sooners looks to throw against the Akron Zips September 5, 2015 at Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium in Norman, Oklahoma. Oklahoma defeated Akron 41-3.(Photo by Brett Deering/Getty Images)
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For the second straight season, Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield has been named the recipient of the Burlsworth Award. Mayfield is now the first player to win the award two times.

The award is given to college football’s top player who began his career as a walk-on player. Mayfield was originally a walk-on player at Texas Tech before eventually transferring to Oklahoma, where he has emerged as a Heisman Trophy candidate and led the Sooners to two consecutive Big 12 championships and one appearance in the College Football Playoff.

Mayfield beat out Washington State quarterback Luke Falk and Northwestern wide receiver Austin Carr for the award. Mayfield will also have a chance to add one more Burlsworth Award to his name next season, as the Sooners passer has already said he will return to Oklahoma for the 2017 season.

The old BCS computers would have served you the same College Football Playoff lineup

NEW ORLEANS, LA - JANUARY 03:  The official Bowl Championship Series logo is seen painted on the turf in the end zone as the Virginia Tech Hokies play against the Michigan Wolverines during the Allstate Sugar Bowl at Mercedes-Benz Superdome on January 3, 2012 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
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If there is one common criticism of the College Football Playoff model it is that it is left up to humans to determine who should play for the national championship. Bias and allegiances can interfere with the decision-making, unless you believe there really is no bias within the board room when the committee gets together in Dallas every week. Some would prefer the playoff model use some sort of computer system, perhaps one similar to the makeup of the old BCS computer. Well, the BCS computers would have come to the same conclusion for the College Football Playoff if it was used.

The seeding may have been slightly different, with Ohio State staying ahead of Clemson, but the matchups would have been the same as this year’s playoff. Alabama would be the top seed and face Pac-12 champion Washington and Ohio State would have faced Clemson. The Buckeyes would have been the “home” team, although the 2-3 matchup really means nothing other than who gets to decide what uniform color to wear and which team calls heads or tails at the coin flip. Of course, under the old BCS model, there would be just two teams selected to play for the national championship, and that would paired the last two national champions against each other; Alabama and Ohio State. Clemson was the second-ranked team in the final College Football Playoff ranking, with Ohio state finishing third.

It is also worth recognizing the BCS computers would also have awarded Western Michigan the highest-ranking among Group of Five schools, thus sending them to the Cotton Bowl. Western Michigan also would have qualified for a spot in the BCS lineup with the No. 12 ranking in the computer model. Finishing in the top 12 qualified the champion from either Conference USA, the MAC, Mountain West Conference or the Sun Belt for an automatic BCS berth.

Forever a Tiger, LSU RB Leonard Fournette declares for NFL Draft

FAYETTEVILLE, AR - NOVEMBER 12:  Leonard Fournette #7 of the LSU Tigers runs the ball during a game against the Arkansas Razorbacks at Razorback Stadium on November 12, 2016 in Fayetteville, Arkansas.  The Tigers defeated the Razorbacks 38-10.  (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
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In one of the least surprising announcements from the world of college football, LSU running back Leonard Fournette has announced he will be heading to the NFL in 2017. Fournette announced with a statement on Twitter he will play in LSU’s bowl game matchup against Louisville and then begin preparing for the NFL.

In his statement, Fournette said he chose to make this decision now as a way to avoid potential distractions leading up to LSU’s Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl appearance.

Fournette has rushed for 843 yards and eight touchdowns this season in just seven games. Injuries got in the way of Fournette’s big hopes for the 2016 season after rushing for 1,953 yards and 22 touchdowns a year ago. Fournette was among the preseason Heisman Trophy favorites. Fournette was a First-Team All-SEC pick in 2015 and a consensus All-American. could the New Orleans native be drafted by the New Orleans Saints? That would be something.

He will now be largely considered one of the top potential draft picks in the 2017 NFL Draft, even though he will head to the NFL coming off some injury concerns and the stock for running backs at the next level has trended downward.

That said, there are going to be some fantastic running backs out there to draft next spring. Fournette joins a running back class that includes Dalvin Cook, Christian McCaffrey, and D'Onta Foreman.

The 10 best and 10 worst bowl matchups, as ranked by F/+

EL PASO, TX - DECEMBER 30:  The Miami Hurricanes kick off to the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at Sun Bowl on December 30, 2010 in El Paso, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
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2016’s most even bowl matchup will happen in El Paso, Texas, while the most lopsided game will take place in Boise, Idaho.

Those on-paper analyses are based on the end-of-the-season F/+ rankings, which are explained here on Football Outsiders. Personally, they’re a go-to for getting a rough idea of how good a certain team is, so why not use them to preview the best and worst bowl matchups?

Here are the 10 best games based on how close the two participants’ F/+ rankings are:

Sun Bowl (+1): No. 25 Stanford vs. No. 26 UNC
Fiesta Bowl (+2): No. 2 Ohio State vs. No. 4 Clemson
Rose Bowl (+2): No. 7 USC vs. No. 9 Penn State
Sugar Bowl (+2): No. 8 Auburn vs. No. 10 Oklahoma
Armed Forces Bowl (+2): No. 51 Louisiana Tech vs. No. 53 Navy

Peach Bowl (+4): No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 5 Washington
Quick Lane Bowl (+4): No. 93 Boston College vs. No. 97 Maryland
New Mexico Bowl (+5): No. 81 New Mexico vs. No. 86 UT-San Antonio
Citrus Bowl (+6): No. 5 LSU vs. No. 11 Louisville
Cotton Bowl (+10): No. 12 Wisconsin vs. No. 22 Western Michigan

Obviously, the two College Football Playoff games (Ohio State-Clemson, Alabama-Washington) are among the closest, but it’s good to see three of the four other New Year’s Six bowls in here as well. The Orange Bowl (No. 2 Michigan vs. No. 13 Florida State) just barely missed the cut.

As for the 10 biggest mismatches:

Famous Idaho Potato Bowl (+71): No. 29 Colorado State vs. No. 100 Idaho
Birmingham Bowl (+61): No. 33 South Florida vs. No. 94 South Carolina
Military Bowl (+54): No. 18 Temple vs. No. 72 Wake Forest
Cactus Bowl (+52): No. 14 Boise State vs. No. 66 Baylor
Miami Beach Bowl (+45): No. 44 Tulsa vs. No. 89 Central Michigan

Arizona Bowl (+38): No. 49 Air Force vs. No. 87 South Alabama
Las Vegas Bowl (+30): No. 20 Houston vs. No. 50 San Diego State
Poinsettia Bowl (+27): No. 30 BYU vs. No. 57 Wyoming
Heart of Dallas Bowl (+26): No. 85 Army vs. No. 111 North Texas
Russell Athletic Bowl (+25): No. 15 Miami vs. No. 40 West Virginia

It’s not surprising three of these games involve top-level Group of Five teams (South Florida, Temple, Boise State) playing 6-6 Power Five teams (South Carolina, Wake Forest, Baylor), given that’s where a lot of bowl mismatches can take place. It was a little surprising to see the gulf between Houston and San Diego State be so significant, though.

But while these matchups may either be close or lopsided, always remember the ironclad rule of bowl season: Weird stuff is gonna happen. One team may not care while the other does, one team may not deal with the elements (especially in the northern bowls) as well as the other, or one team may come in with something to prove while the other team doesn’t. The best-case scenario for us college football fans is that every game is interesting and worth watching, no matter what the on-paper numbers may say.