As John explained yesterday, the selection process for a four-team playoff, not the threat of conference expansion, will likely determine Notre Dame’s future status as either an independent or conference member.
Speaking on the third day of Big East spring meetings, Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick confirmed as much.
“I remain confident about every team that makes the top four by whatever method of selection having access to that playoff format,” Swarbrick said. “I feel good about that.”
Swarbrick, like Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany, thinks a final decision regarding a playoff will be made on June 20. As it pertains to the selection process, just about all of the “Big 6” leagues have come out in favor of a conference champion-only model, with SEC commissioner Mike Slive being the biggest proponent of a field consisting of the top four teams from the regular season regardless of whether they won their conference championship or not.
It’s not surprising that other conferences would want to level the playing field by limiting the spaces available for the SEC, especially after this past BCS championship game. But even selecting four conference champs could come with an amendment. Earlier this month, Delany proposed an idea using a mix of conference champions and season-ending rankings — a league champ would have to finish in the top six — to determine the four-team field.
It was actually a sharp idea and it wouldn’t be surprising in the least if some variation of that method is used going forward. But, to reiterate Swarbrick’s words, whatever is decided will in all likelihood consist of some way to keep Notre Dame at the playoff table.
If not — I don’t see that happening, but I’m obligated to leave that option out there — that will be the trigger to officially and legitimately begin the “Notre Dame-to-conference X” talk.
Like they have the last couple of weeks, Western Kentucky will have to get used to Marcus Ward not patrolling its defensive secondary on game days.
Ward (pictured, left) injured his knee in Week 2 and has not returned to the playing field. Unfortunately for the player and the football program, that absence will continue as the safety underwent surgery on the knee, which is expected to sideline him for the remainder of the 2016 season.
This may not be the last of the fourth-year senior in a Hilltopper uniform, though, as Ward has yet to use his redshirt season and would have a medical waiver at his disposal even if he had. It’s unclear, however, if Ward will return for another season or rather make himself available for the 2017 NFL draft.
Ward has started a total of 31 games since his true freshman season in 2013, including 26 the previous two seasons. He was named preseason second-team All-Conference USA prior to the start of the 2016 season.
Perhaps more importantly, he was named a semifinalist earlier this month as a semifinalist for the Campbell Trophy, also known as the Academic Heisman.
All summer long, people wondered why Washington was getting so much preseason love.
After Friday night’s 44-6 thrashing of Stanford in front of a national audience, nobody is wondering anymore about the Huskies.
The sophomore backfield combo of quarterback Jake Browning (210 yards, three touchdowns) and Myles Gaskin (an even 100 yards rushing, two scores) once again powered Washington to a big win, with the offense scoring on all but two full drives on a night where everything went right for the purple and gold.
Defensively is where the Huskies really impressed though. The team swarmed to the ball on every snap, forced two fumbles, racked up eight sacks and kept Stanford under three yards a play for most of the night. The normally reliable Christian McCaffrey was kept in check in remarkable fashion, rushing for just 49 yards on 12 carries.
Just six days after a remarkable comeback win at UCLA, there wasn’t much left in the tank for a Stanford team that was missing two starting cornerbacks and just couldn’t get anything going offensively on the road in a hostile environment. Quarterback Ryan Burns did throw for 151 yards and a touchdown but was under siege most of the night thanks to some shaky play up front from the normally reliable Cardinal offensive line.
The win by Washington certainly establishes Chris Petersen’s team as the Pac-12 favorite — at the very minimum — with a chance to all but punch their ticket to the conference title game next week at Pacific Northwest rival Oregon. If the Huskies continue to look like they did on Friday in Seattle though, a berth in the College Football Playoff is certainly going to be in the cards as well.
On the first offensive play of the night for Stanford, the Cardinal picked up a first down thanks to a face mask penalty.
It was all downhill from there for the Cardinal.
No. 10 Washington lived up to their high preseason billing on Friday night by manhandling the defending Pac-12 champions in just about every way possible to jump out to a 23-0 halftime lead.
Quarterback Jake Browning threw just three incompletions on his way to 167 yards and two touchdowns and the Huskies looked every bit the part of a top five team in a wild, vintage atmosphere on Montlake. While the offense was impressive, the Washington defense was swarming as well, racking up six sacks in the game so far.
Stanford couldn’t get anything going offensively, averaging just 2.8 yards per play in the first half. Superstar Christian McCaffrey was held mostly in check, with just eight yards receiving and 31 on the ground.
To add injury to the insult of that first half, the Cardinal’s best defender — defensive lineman Solomon Thomas — was injured in the second quarter with a lower leg injury. The team is already without both its starting cornerbacks for the game so it could be a long second half for the visitors.
The game isn’t over yet and there’s plenty of #Pac12AfterDark potential but that was quite a statement made by Chris Petersen’s Huskies in the first half in establishing their credentials for the College Football Playoff.
Texas Tech may be without its starting quarterback just as Big 12 play is picking up.
Patrick Mahomes II injured his shoulder on a scramble in the third quarter of the team’s romp over Kansas on Thursday night and did not return to the game. While he was shown on television attempting to throw on the sidelines after returning to the sidelines, he watched the rest of the second half with a headset on instead of a helmet.
The Lubbock Avalanche-Journal reports there’s a reason Mahomes didn’t return: he’s dealing with an AC joint sprain in the shoulder of his throwing arm. Mahomes’ father posted on social media that the quarterback would not need surgery to correct the injury but it’s still something that could sideline the Red Raiders’ signal-caller for a few games.
Texas Tech does get a little extra rest before traveling to Kansas State next week on Saturday and then host West Virginia at home the following week.
Mahomes entered the week second in the country in passing, third in passing efficiency, and first in total offense. If there is any positive for Tech it’s that there might not be such a huge drop off to backup Nic Shimonek considering the junior came in and threw four touchdown passes in relief of Mahomes in a little over a quarter’s work against the Jayhawks.
Still, Mahomes is one of the most dynamic players in the country at the quarterback position and they’ll certainly need him back behind center if they stand any chance at beating some of the upper tier Big 12 teams to close out the month of October.