ACC Championship - Virginia Tech v Clemson

CFT Predicts: the ACC


As the 2013 season draws near, we peek into our crystal ball and guess project how each of the five major conferences will play out. Today, we examine the ACC.  

While we’re at it, be sure to check out our other conference predictions: SECBig Ten, Pac-12

Atlantic Division

1. Clemson (Last year: 11-2; beat LSU in Chick-fil-A Bowl) 
What happened last season?
The Tigers shook their ‘Clemsoning’ curse and previous Orange Bowl loss to West Virginia by going 11-2 and beating LSU in the Chick-fil-A Bowl.

So why are they ranked here?
Offense, offense, offense. And some offense sprinkled in. Quarterback Tajh Boyd is a legitimate Heisman candidate and he’ll have Sammy Watkins to throw to for a third straight year. Watkins had a bit of a sophomore slump in 2012 — at least by his standards — because of a variety of issues, from a suspension to injuries, but he still finished second on the team in receiving yards. His touchdown production should rise again after getting in the end zone just four times.

Anything else?
The defense improved under first-year coordinator Brent Venables. With as good as the Tigers offense projects to be, there’s more wiggle room on that side of the ball. Also, can Clemson finally beat South Carolina after dropping four straight games?

2. Florida State (Last year: 12-2; beat NIU in Orange Bowl) 
What happened last season?
The ‘Noles won the ACC and beat NIU in the Orange Bowl. They also pulled their annual head-scratcher by losing to North Carolina State. The circle never ends, it seems.

So why are they ranked here?
Talent isn’t a question Tallahassee, but there are a lot of new faces. Redshirt freshman Jameis Winston has a ton of upside at the quarterback spot, it just remains to be seen at this point how he handles his first year as starter. Wide receiver depth is becoming an issue too. The defensive line loses two pass rushers in Tank Carradine and Bjoern Werner, but that’s an area stacked — almost unfairly — with capable players.

Anything else?
Florida State had a whopping 11 NFL draft picks in April, but Jimbo Fisher also had to replace roughly half his coaching staff. That’s a lot of turnover and it’ll be interesting to see how players and coaches jell this year.

3. Maryland (Last year: 4-8)
What happened last season?
Randy Edsall doubled his win total in year two with the Terps, but a linebacker was starting at quarterback by the end of the year because of injuries. Apparently, being a quarterback at Maryland can be equated to playing drums for Spinal Tap.

So why are they ranked here?
The quarterbacks are finally back with working knees and there is some talent on that side of the ball, namely wide receiver Sefon Diggs. Another running back will have to step up with Wes Brown being suspended for the year, though the running game in general needs to improve. The Terps also have to replace a sizable portion of their starting defensive front seven. Several of Maryland’s toughest games (Florida State, Virginia Tech) are on the road too.

Anything else?
It feels like wide receiver Deon Long has led the life of a traveled NFL veteran more than a college player, but he finally at Maryland. He was suspended this spring, but he should be a good addition to the passing game. He has the physical tools to make an impact, so he could be a player to watch.

4. Wake Forest (Last year: 5-7) 
What happened last season?
It was a tough season in hindsight for the Deacs when you consider they lost two games by an average of six points (against Maryland, Duke) that could have propelled them back into the postseason.

So why are they ranked here?
There’s some potential for this team, which returns a good portion of its starting 22 from a year ago. Tanner Price is a veteran quarterback and leading running back Josh Harris will be eligible to play in 2013. The problem is Wake Forest couldn’t find the end zone last year and were shut out twice. The defense wasn’t much better, but it does return eight guys from 2012.

Anything else?
There are plenty of manageable games on Wake’s schedule this year, including in the non-conference department. Getting back to a bowl is a realistic goal.

5. North Carolina State (Last year: 7-6; lost to Vanderbilt in Music City Bowl) 
What happened last season?
Though NC State hadn’t had a losing season since 2009, and despite upsetting Florida State, Tom O’Brien couldn’t keep his job. He’s replaced by former NIU coach Dave Doeren.

So why are they ranked here?
Turnover is rarely easy, and there’s a lot of it for the Wolfpack in 2013. In addition to a new coaching staff, this team loses quarterback Mike Glennon and, even though he had some disappointing moments in 2012, cornerback David Amerson. There’s plenty to be excited about with Doeren, but his first year could be rough.

Anything else?
If there’s one area of improvement to look for right away, it would be the ground game. NC State was among the worst rushing teams a year ago while NIU ranked 12th in the nation in that category. The offense does return its top two leading rushers from a year ago in Shadrach Thornton and Tony Creecy.

6. Syracuse (Last year: 8-5; beat West Virginia in Pinstripe Bowl) 
What happened last season?
The Orange got off to a bit of a bumpy start, but won six of their final seven games in 2012. Two of those wins came in convincing fashion against Louisville and West Virginia.

So why are they ranked here?
The ‘Cuse lose coach Doug Marrone to the NFL and in comes Scott Shafer. The Orange are also entering a new conference with some key departures, including quarterback Ryan Nassib, wide receiver Alec Lemon and defensive back Shamarko Thomas — all leaders in their respective positions.

Anything else?
If there is one person to watch, it’s Oklahoma transfer Drew Allen. Though Shafer doesn’t plan on announcing a QB until the last possible moment, Allen is believed to be in a position to win the starting job. He played sparingly for the Sooners, but could be a key member of the offense for the Orange.

7. Boston College (Last year: 2-10)
What happened last season?
The Eagles won two games and Frank Spaziani got the long-awaited boot.

So why are they ranked here?
Former Temple coach Steve Addazio takes over and has, by all accounts, injected some energy into a program that desperately needs some. Whether that energy will turn into wins remains to be seen. This was an offense that couldn’t run the ball or score a year ago, but the passing duo of quarterback Chase Rettig and wide receiver Alex Amidon do give experience and play making ability to the passing game.

Anything else?
The front part of BC’s schedule is brutal, but there’s some room for the Eagles to make some noise toward the end of the year and build some momentum heading into 2014. The final two games against Maryland and Syracuse are on the road, but those aren’t impossible games to win.

Coastal Division

1. Miami (Last year: 7-5)
What happened last season?
The Hurricanes actually won a share of the Coastal Division, but they also self-imposed a postseason ban for the second straight year because of the ongoing NCAA investigation of the program.

So why are they ranked here?
Miami figures to have one of the more potent offenses in the entire conference thanks to the return of quarterback Stephen Morris and running back Duke Johnson, with the latter considered to be among the most exciting players to watch in the game. It’s the defense that has all the question marks for the ‘Canes. This was a team that was simply pushed around up front and gave up at least 40 points four times last year.

Anything else?
Give Al Golden credit. He’s identified the weakness on defense (not that it was too difficult) and recruited some immediate help. David Gilbert and Justin Renfrow join the team from Wisconsin and Virginia, respectively, and add an immediate boost along the defensive line.

2. North Carolina (Last year: 8-4)
What happened last season?
Like Miami, North Carolina had to watch the postseason from home thanks to a postseason ban. Unlike the Hurricanes, this was NCAA-mandated. Still the Tar Heels won eight games under first-year coach Larry Fedora.

So why are they ranked here?
There are two major departures from last year’s team: running back Giovani Bernard and offensive lineman Jonathan Cooper. Bernard received a bulk of the carries in the run game and had over 1,200 yards. So whether it’s one player — perhaps A.J. Blue — or a committee, that production will have to be replaced. But there are plenty of other playmakers on offense, including veteran QB Bryn Renner. Defense returns its entire secondary and should be an overall improved unit that fared well enough in Year 1 under Fedora.

Anything else?
UNC’s key stretch comes in the middle of the season. It starts with a road game at divisional opponent Georgia Tech and ends with another road game at North Carolina State. Get through that and a bulk of the Coastal Divsion contenders should be behind them by that point.

3. Virginia Tech (Last year: 7-6; beat Rutgers in Russell Athletic Bowl) 
What happened last season?
2012 was a disappointment by Virginia Tech’s standards. The Hokies needed overtime three times to pull out wins and there were some tough losses to Pitt and Cincinnati mixed in.

So why are they ranked here?
Primarily because health and depth are already concerns for Virginia Tech before a single regular season snap has been taken. Star cornerback Antone Exum will miss the season opener against Alabama and perhaps longer. The knee injury he sustained early this year was serious and there are few guarantees when it comes to a timeline for return. There’s been some attrition on both sides of the ball with various injuries and departures. If this team can get healthy as the season goes on, maybe it can make a run for the divisional title late in the season.

Anything else?
Scot Loeffler takes over as offensive coordinator. Quarterback Logan Thomas was, to say the least, inconsistent last year with just over a 50 percent completion rate and 18 touchdowns to 16 interceptions. He’s shown at times he can make tremendous throws, but he needs to be able to do it without a handful of bad throws and decisions in between. With Loeffler calling the plays, Thomas doesn’t need to throw for 4,000 yards — he just needs to play smarter.

4. Georgia Tech (Last year: 7-7; beat USC in the Sun Bowl) 
What happened last season?
The Yellow Jackets backed their way into the ACC championship game, but embarrassed USC in the Sun Bowl. So, yeah. Georgia Tech came out ahead on that one.

So why are they ranked here?
Some key pieces of GT’s triple option are leaving, including Tevin Washington and Orwin Smith. But, Vad Lee moves in to take control of the offense, and he already saw plenty of game action last year. The defense ended up playing much better down the stretch last year after Al Groh was fired, so there’s definitely room to continue growing on that side of the ball.

Anything else?
Despite being a run-heavy offense, Georgia Tech has been known to have one big, physical receiver under Paul Johnson. Jeff Greene looked to be that guy until he left for Ohio State. Who will step up for the Yellow Jackets in that spot in 2013?

5. Pitt (Last year: 6-7; lost to Ole Miss in BBVA Compass Bowl) 
What happened last season?
Pitt got off to a tough start in Year 1 under Paul Chryst by losing to Youngstown State to start the season, but rebounded quickly by beating Virginia Tech in Week 3. The Panthers actually won and lost games in alternating pairs the entire way through the year before falling to Ole Miss in the BBVA Compass Bowl.

So why are they ranked here?
After 14 years, 10 head coaches and 500 sacks, the Tino Sunseri era is finally over. Tom Savage, the former Rutgers quarterback who is also a veteran of the college game, enters 2013 as the starter. But there are a lot of concerns on offense, namely the running game. Ray Graham is gone and Rushel Shell, the running back figured to take bulk of the carries going forward, has moved on to West Virginia. Defense should be the strength of the team with defensive tackle Aaron Donald coming back along with a solid secondary that has safety Jason Hendricks, who led the team in tackles a year ago.

Anything else?
Pitt has the opportunity to make a huge first impression in the ACC if it can beat Florida State at home in Week 1. There are some tough games for the Panthers this season, including a road trip to Virginia Tech, and the Panthers are an unknown heading into ACC play.

6. Duke (Last year: 6-7; lost to Cincinnati in Belk Bowl)
What happened last season?
Duke became bowl eligible for the first time since 1994 under coach David Cutcliffe. The Blue Devils ultimately lost a close game to Cincinnati in the Belk Bowl, but there was a lot to be happy with in 2012.

So why are they ranked here?
There’s little concern on offense. Even though quarterback Sean Renfree is gone, there’s a lot of buzz on Anthony Boone. Boone is a mobile guy who gives Cutcliffe another dimension to add to the offensive attack. If the ground game can improve, this is a team that could be tough to stop. Defense is a concern as it ranked among the worst in the country a year ago. The Blue Devils will probably find themselves in more than a couple shootouts this fall.

Anything else?
No matter where Duke finishes in the ACC this season, there’s something to be said for what Cutcliffe is building there. He’s had other opportunities to leave, and he’s chosen to stay. He’s one of the most well-regarded X’s and O’s coaches in the game and the Blue Devils should be in a position at the end of the year to possibly make it to a second straight bowl game.

7. Virginia (Last year: 4-8)
What happened last season?
Virginia got an early season win against Penn State when the Nittany Lions were struggling, and a late-season win over Miami. In between was when things were rough.

So why are they ranked here?
Mike London went with a coaching overhaul that brings in former North Carolina State coach Tom O’Brien and Jon Tenuta as defensive coordinator. Defense should be the greater strength for UVA this year with a seasoned secondary. It’s the offense that needs work. Two quarterbacks from 2012 — Phillip Sims and Michael Rocco — are gone, so this is a team that will probably have to rely on its run game.

Anything else?
It’ll be interesting to see if Virginia can make strides with a restructured coaching staff, but wins could still be hard to come by with a tough schedule. BYU, Oregon and even Ball State make up a difficult non-conference slate, and the last four games against Clemson, North Carolina, Miami and Virginia Tech is a rough way to end the year.


John Taylor’s Prediction:

1. Clemson
2. Florida State
3. North Carolina State
4. Wake Forest
5. Maryland
6. Syracuse
7. Boston College

1. Miami
2. North Carolina
3. Georgia Tech
4. Virginia Tech
5. Pittsburgh
6. Virginia
7. Duke

Ben’s ACC champ: Clemson
John’s ACC champ: Clemson

The Fifth Quarter: Week 13 Rewind

STILLWATER, OK - NOVEMBER 28: Head coach Bob Stoops of the Oklahoma Sooners is soaked with a water cooler by Nila Kasitati #54 of the Oklahoma Sooners after the Sooners beat the Oklahoma State Cowboys 58-23 at Boone Pickens Stadium on November 28, 2015 in Stillwater, Oklahoma.  (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
Getty Images

As is the case each and every season, each and every week, any omission below is not on purpose, it’s merely intentional.

Maybe next week when it comes to the ever-looming unbridled playoff chaos?

For those looking for the type of maelstrom that created significant upheaval, you were likely disappointed in the, relatively speaking, utter serenity of Week 13.  Five teams were “officially” eliminated from playoff contention with losses this week — No. 6 Notre Dame, No. 7 Baylor, No. 10 Michigan, No. 11 Oklahoma State, No. 12 Florida, with UM and UF barely on the periphery of the discussion to begin with.

Conversely, two teams have punched their tickets for a seat at the four-chair playoff table — No. 1 Clemson, No. 2 Alabama — provided they win as double-digit favorites on championship weekend.  A third team — No. 3 Oklahoma — should’ve wrapped up a spot with a dominating win, even without a Big 12 championship game in which to further impress.

Add it all up, and it appears there could — stress “could” here and assuming chalk in the ACC/SEC title games — be just a single playoff spot open seven days ahead of the committee’s final Top 25.  The clearest path would belong to the Big Ten, with the winner of the Iowa-Michigan State game seemingly in great shape to claim that fourth and final spot.  A win by unbeaten Iowa would lock the conference in for that fourth bid and lock every other “contender” out; an MSU win would almost secure it, although in theory it would leave the door open a crack for the likes of No. 8 Ohio State, No. 9 Stanford and No. 14 North Carolina, all of whom would need the aforementioned chaos to even get to the same library let alone the same page of the same postseason book.

Below are the scenarios for each remaining playoff contender and what they need, presumably, to claim one of the four spots in the College Football Playoff:

No. 1 Clemson — beat North Carolina in the ACC championship game; they need no outside help.
No. 2 Alabama — beat Florida in the SEC championship game; they need no outside help.
No. 3 Oklahoma — idle this coming weekend, sitting on couch hoping they don’t get TCU’d; I’d like to think they don’t need any outside help, so that’s what I’ll go with.
No. 4 Iowa — beat Michigan State in the Big Ten championship game; I’m going to assume that an undefeated Power Five conference champion would need no outside help.
No. 5 Michigan State — beat Iowa in the Big Ten championship game; I’d think that Michigan State would make it regardless, but having Alabama suffer its second loss wouldn’t be an unwelcome development in East Lansing (or Columbus).
No. 8 Ohio State — idle this weekend; would need Alabama to lose for certain, and Clemson possibly.  It remains to be seen whether it’d be better for OSU if MSU or Iowa lost, although it’s very likely the unbeaten latter.
No. 9 Stanford — soundly beat unranked USC in the Pac-12 championship; would need Clemson, Alabama and Iowa to lose, then hope their two losses can somehow be mitigated in the minds of the committee because of their standing as conference champions.
No. 14 North Carolina — beat Clemson in the ACC championship; would need Alabama and Iowa to lose, then hope the committee does what most observers think they won’t and moves them up what will likely be five or more spots into the top four.

One final thought: the SEC has to be absolutely terrified of the upcoming conference championship game.  Even as it’s unlikely that Florida could muster enough offense to keep it close let alone win, were ‘Bama to lose, that conference would very likely be on the outside of the playoffs looking in.  Adding to that misery?  It would be the Big Ten likely swooping in and grabbing a pair of spots.

In light of the CFP’s predecessor the BCS, chew on that potentially ironic development for a couple of minutes.

Through 12 weeks of the 2015 season, five Power Five divisions had already been decided — ACC Atlantic (Clemson), ACC Coastal (North Carolina), Big Ten West (Iowa), Pac-12 North (Stanford), SEC East (Florida) — leaving the Big Ten East, Big 12, Pac-12 South and SEC West as the only divisions/conferences entering Week 13 still sans a champion.  With one week left in the regular season, the three remaining divisions were decided: Michigan State the B1G East, USC the Pac-12 South and Alabama the SEC West.

Additionally, the championship game-less Big 12 was decided in resounding fashion with Oklahoma’s thumping of Bedlam rival Oklahoma State.

So, heading into next weekend, here are how the four Power Five conference championship games will play out:

No. 1 Clemson vs. No. 14 North Carolina, Dec. 5 at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, NC
Clemson will be playing in its first ACC title game since 2011, and its third overall.  This will be UNC’s first appearance in the 11-year history of the event.

No. 4 Iowa vs. No. 5 Michigan State, Dec. 5 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Ind.
Iowa will be making its first B1G title game appearance.  Michigan State previously represented the Legends Division in 2011, the first year of the event, and 2013.

No. 9 Stanford vs. USC, Dec. 5 at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif.
This will be the third time Stanford has played in the Pac-12 title game since its inception in 2011.  USC is making its inaugural appearance, and is the fourth West teams in the five years of the game to represent the division.

No. 2 Alabama vs. No. 12 Florida, Dec. 5 at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, Ga.
Alabama will have appeared in 10 of the 24 SEC title games as the West representative.  This will be Florida’s first appearance since 2009 and 11th overall.

Unfortunately, the worst postseason fears of many have been realized.

With the addition of a handful of bowls for the 2015-16 cycle, there was a very plausible school of thought that, with 80 spots available, there wouldn’t be enough six-win teams to fill all 40 of this year’s postseason games.  That officially came to fruition in a Week 13 that began with 71 bowl-eligible squads.

This weekend, just four teams — Indiana, Tulsa, Virginia Tech and Washington — reached the magic six-win mark.  Thus, with a lone weekend left before bowl bids are handed out, there are 75 teams that have reached the requisite six wins.  More to the point, just three teams remain — Georgia State, Kansas State, South Alabama, all at 5-6 — that could reach bowl eligibility with a win next weekend.  That means at least two and as many as five 5-7 teams will receive a bowl bid as a reward for a sub-.500 season.

It remains to be seen how the NCAA’s Football Oversight Committee will go about selecting the process for 5-7 teams to fill the remaining bowl slots.  There’s a possibility that a team’s Academic Progress Report (APR) standing could be used, which could be good news for teams like Nebraska, Missouri and, potentially, K-State.  The question of which order the bowls that will have to use a 5-7 team to fill its slots will select is unknown, as is whether how large of a role, if any, geography will play in the decisions as well.

All in all, it’s an absolute mess.  But, hey, more football is good football, right?

[/wanking motion]

Frank Beamer announced earlier this year that this would be his final season in Blacksburg.  Sitting one game away from bowl eligibility heading into Week 13, his Hokie team desperately wanted to send their beloved head coach out with a bowl appearance.

Thanks to a 17-point fourth quarter, Tech did just that as the 23-20 win over in-state rival Virginia pushed the Hokies to 6-6 on the season and into the postseason for the 23rd consecutive season.

Suffice to say, there were smiles — and liquid — all around afterwards.

Beamer, the winningest active FBS head coach, now has 279 career wins, 15th-most at any level of college football and sixth-best amongst FBS/Div. 1-A coaches.  While I’m not supposed to cheer for one team or another, I’ll be rooting for the classy coach to notch No. 280 regardless of who he faces in the postseason — especially if this is part of the postgame locker-room scene:

CUSA Football Championship - Louisiana Tech v MarshallHISTORY IN THE MAKING
Very quietly, Navy quarterback Keenan Reynolds and Louisiana Tech running back Kenneth Dixon set themselves up to break a rather significant record in the coming weeks.

Reynolds, who earlier this season broke Wisconsin’s Montee Ball‘s FBS record for career rushing touchdowns, tied Ball’s record Friday for total touchdowns (non-throwing) with 83.  All of Reynolds’ touchdowns as far as this record are concerned have come on the ground.

One day after Reynolds tied Ball’s record, Dixon did the same as his two receiving touchdowns in a loss to Southern Miss gave him 83 for his career as well.  Unlike Reynolds, 13 of Dixon’s touchdowns have been on receptions; the remaining 70 have been rushing touchdowns.

Reynolds will have two opportunities (Army game, bowl) to break Ball’s mark, while Dixon will have a bowl game.

Below is a list of links for all of the Week 13 gamers/pertinent pieces posted by the CFT crew, placed in one handy and convenient space for you, our beloved and dear readers.

A snapshot look at how my ballot would look Sunday if I, ya know, had a real vote.

1. Clemson — The wobbly legs late in a rivalry game means nothing as the Tigers continue to be the best unbeaten team in college football.  Don’t sleep on the opponent in this weekend’s conference championship game, though.  Should be a better game than most are willing to give it credit for at the moment. (Last week: No. 1)
Next up: ACC title game vs. No. 14 North Carolina, Dec. 5 in Charlotte

2. Alabama — I imagine there’ll be a push to move the Tide up a spot — Paul Finebaum, if you can believe it, is already leading that charge — but ‘Bama is right where they belong, and I suspect the committee will feel the same way. (Last week: No. 2)
Next up: SEC title game vs. No. 12 Florida, Dec. 5 in Atlanta

3. Oklahoma — It was ever so tempting to move the Sooners past the Tide, or even the Tigers, but it’s the status quo for the time being.  I’ll say this, though: there’s not a team in college football that wants to see OU on the other side of the field right now.  And OU-‘Bama would be one helluva game, I think. (Last week: No. 3)
Next up: idle

4. Iowa — All the Hawkeyes do is just keep wining and winning and winning., whether you’re impressed or not.  If they can get past Sparty, they may get the respect they likely deserve.  Maybe.  Possibly. (Last week: No. 5)
Next up: Big Ten title game vs. No. 5 Michigan State, Dec. 5 in Indianapolis

5. Michigan State — Outside of the Sooners, the Spartans may be playing the best football in all of the FBS.  A win over a second unbeaten in three weeks would make them a hard, if not impossible team to keep out of the playoffs. (Last week: NR)
Next up: Big Ten title game vs. No. 4 Iowa, Dec. 5 in Indianapolis

(Dropped out: Notre Dame)
(Others considered: none)

2014 Heisman Trophy PresentationHEISMAN RACE, BY THE NUMBERS
A statistical look at how the top contenders for this year’s stiff-armed trophy fared this past week.

Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State (10-2, No. 13)
Saturday: 26 carries for 186 yards (7.0 ypc), two touchdowns; three receptions for 11 yards
Season: 211 carries for 1,661 yards (7.9 ypc), 18 touchdowns; 22 receptions for 218 yards, one touchdown

Derrick Henry, RB, Alabama (11-1, No. 2)
Saturday: 46 carries for 271 yards (5.9 ypc), one touchdown
Season: 295 carries for 1,797 yards (6.1 ypc), 22 touchdowns; 10 receptions for 97 yards

Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma (11-1, No. 7)
Saturday: 17-25 (68%), 180 yards, two touchdowns; 11 carries for 77 yards (11.0 ypc), one touchdown
Season: 243-354 (68.6%), 3,389 yards, 35 touchdowns, five interceptions; 131 carries for 420 yards (3.2 ypc), seven touchdowns

Christian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford (10-2, No. 9)
Saturday: 27 carries for 94 yards (3.5 ypc); three receptions for 19 yards; five kick returns for 109 yards; one punt return for six yards
Season: 287 carries for 1,640 yards (5.7 ypc), seven touchdowns; 37 receptions for 435 yards, three touchdowns; 31 kick returns for 922 yards, one touchdown; 12 punt returns for 38 yards; 1-2 passing (50%), 28 yards, one touchdown

Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson (12-0, No. 1)
Saturday: 20-27 (74.1%), 279 yards, one touchdown; 21 carries for 114 yards (5.4 ypc), three touchdowns
Season: 261-371 (70.4%), 3,223 yards, 27 touchdowns, 10 interceptions; 139 carries for 756 yards (5.4 ypc), nine touchdowns

(Dropped out: none)
(Added: none)

JT’s Personal Top Fivesman
1. Henry — Auburn knew what was coming, and the human tractor came at them more than 40 times, and they just simply couldn’t stop Henry.  The junior may not have sewn up the Heisman last night, but the needle & thread is most definitely out and the fat lady is sitting down in front of the Singer as we speak. (Last week: No. 1)
2. Cook — Certainly Cook was aided by an injury-ravaged Florida defensive line, but he nearly hung 200 on the SEC East champions.  I still say he’s not getting the respect he deserves, and it wouldn’t surprise me at all if he didn’t get an invitation to the Big Apple.  (Last week: No. 2)
3. Watson — The true sophomore just quietly goes about his business, putting up solid/borderline spectacular stats on a weekly basis while helping his team to the top spot in the playoff rankings.  It’ll be hard if not impossible for anyone to catch Henry, but I think Watson and Cook deserve to have their tickets punched to New York City in mid-December. (Last week: No. 3)
4. McCaffrey — On a huge stage against Notre Dame, the multi-purpose McCaffrey was, well, OK.  He had over 200 all-purpose yards, but didn’t find the end zone and was decidedly overshadowed by his quarterback. (Last week: 4)
5. Mayfield — After being the driver of as dominating a performance any team has put on this season, I suppose I should move Mayfield up a bit.  I won’t, though, because of the season-long brilliance of those ahead of him.  And that’s no slight to Mayfield, either, just the recognition of what the others have done. (Last week: 5)

Urban Meyer took a lot of heat for the play-calling in Ohio State’s loss to Michigan State last week, particularly as it pertained to the use, or lack thereof, of star running back Ezekiel Elliott.  ESPN sideline reporter Holly Rowe, from completely out of left field, used a pregame interview with Meyer prior to The Game to remind the coach of Elliott’s career-high in carries.  Welcome to one of the most awesomely awkward and uncomfortable moments of Week 13.

For the record, Elliott, one week after a 12-carry, 33-yard day led to the junior publicly dressing down the play-calling, carried 30 times for 214 yards.   Well played, Ms. Rowe.  Well played.

Speaking of well played, Mr. Elliott had a response to seeing that his counterpart at Alabama, Derrick Henry, carried the ball 46 times in a win over Auburn.

That, young people in the audience, is the Miles Davis of shade throwing.

About the only thing better than a fat guy touchdown is a fat guy touchdown in which said fat guy breaks out the stiff-arm.  In that vein, meet Michigan State center Jake Allen, who added insult to scoreboard injury in the beatdown of Penn State with this hefty gem.

Regardless of how many times it happens, Lee Corso in Pistol Pete headgear and firing assorted weaponry wildly into the air will never, ever get old.

I’m thinking one former Bedlam participant got a little bit too caught up in the atmosphere of this year’s Oklahoma-Oklahoma State game.  Not that there’s anything wrong with that, of course.

“Damn!” — Odell Beckham Jr., after seeing this highlight featuring Southern Miss’ Mike Thomas.

For the most part, every stop the ESPN College GameDay caravan makes further confirms that fans all across the country have run out of original sign ideas.  Of course, there are exceptions.  This, from the stop in Stillwater for Bedlam, is one of them.

“I don’t want to go where you’re headed, what if we didn’t do that, because it would be dire straits right now. You can win a million games in a row and you lose two in a row and you’re back to square one.” — Ohio State’s Urban Meyer, on what losing to rival Michigan would’ve meant coming on the heels of a loss to Michigan State.

“Amazing. It was indescribable. I can’t explain it. It’s something I’ve always looked forward to, dreamed of and to be able to do it. It’s awesome.” — Alabama quarterback Jake Coker, on playing in his first Iron Bowl.

“I now know what it’s like to ride an elephant.” — LSU head coach Les Miles, after being carried off the field by his football team following the win over Texas A&M.

“We’re not very pleased with the way we finished again. I know the fans are not happy. And I’m not happy. It’s disappointing. It’s tough.” — Kentucky head coach Mark Stoops, after watching his team blow a 21-point lead to Louisville and win five games for the second straight season.

“I don’t really know what to say. I’ve never been around a team that is 12-0. I’m a little bit speechless on that. It is just an unbelievable accomplishment.” — Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz.

Meads Cup Final - North Otago v WanganuiSTREAKING
Clemson’s 15-game winning streak is the longest in the country, while Iowa (12) and North Carolina (11) are the only others in double digits.  Alabama is on the verge of joining that select club with nine wins in a row, while San Diego State and Arkansas State have won eight and seven straight, respectively.  Oregon and Southern Miss have now won six consecutive games as well.

On the other side of the won-loss ledger, the “proud” owner of the nation’s longest losing streak is Kansas at 15 straight, followed by UCF (13), Charlotte (10), Eastern Michigan (10), Louisiana-Monroe (10), Oregon State (eight) and Boston College (eight).

For the first time in its history, the ACC has two teams with double-digit winning streaks at the same time. Clemson has won 15 games in a row, the longest current winning streak in the FBS, while North Carolina has now won 11 straight games, which is the third-longest current winning streak.

Temple LB Tyler Matakevich became the seventh FBS player to register 100 tackles in four seasons He joins Rick Razzano, Virginia Tech (1974-77); Carl McGee, Duke (1975-78); Dan Bass, Michigan State (1976-79); Stephen Boyd, Boston College (1991-94); Dana Howard, Illinois (1991-94); and Marcus McGraw, Houston (2008-11).  Matakevich is also the only player in the nation to lead his team in tackles in every game this season.

With last Saturday’s victory over Charleston Southern, Alabama reached the 10-win plateau for the eighth straight season. The eight consecutive years with 10 wins extends the school record that was set by the Tide last season. It is the third-longest streak in FBS since 1937, with only Florida State (14 10-win seasons from 1987-2000) and Texas (nine 10-win seasons from 2001-09) owning longer stretches.

Florida State has not allowed a kickoff return for a touchdown in 154 consecutive games, the best active streak among FBS schools (10/2/04 – 11/21/15).

Ohio State has won a school-record 18 consecutive true road games (games on an opponents home field), the longest such streak in the nation. The Buckeyes are undefeated, a perfect 18-0, in road games under head coach Urban Meyer, or since the start of the 2012 season.

Courtesy of the Clemson sports information department

Consecutive 10-Win Seasons

Courtesy of the UT-San Antonio sports information department

First-Time Players

Courtesy of the Louisville sports information department

Eight-Win Seasons

Courtesy of the Michigan sports information department

Oldest College Football Programs

Since the 2008 season, Alabama has played in only three regular season games without national championship implications. Following the Crimson Tide’s 24-21 loss to LSU in 2010, UA was essentially eliminated from the national championship discussion. The final three games of that season mark the only three regular season contests without national championship implications for the Tide in the past eight years (96 of 99 games).

At 109 straight, the Minnesota-Wisconsin rivalry has the longest active streak for consecutive years played at the FBS level.  Clemson-South Carolina is second-longest at 107 straight. The five most-played rivalry games are Minnesota vs. Wisconsin (125); Missouri vs. Kansas (120); Cincinnati vs. Miami of Ohio (120); North Carolina vs. Virginia (120); Oregon vs. Oregon State; Auburn vs. Georgia (119).

Kansas and UCF lead the FBS with 33 first-time starters each this season.  The two teams are also a combined 0-28 in 2015, and have the two longest losing streaks at this level of football.

Memphis v TempleDID YOU KNOW THAT

Paxton Lynch‘s seven first-half touchdown passes in Memphis’ rout of SMU tied an FBS record?  This is the fifth time this has been accomplished, with Lynch joining San Diego State’s Dennis Shaw (1969), Florida’s Terry Dean (1994), Florida’s Doug Johnson (1997) and Hawaii’s Bryant Munoz (2011).  Lynch didn’t throw another touchdown pass in the game, falling short of Houston’s David Klingler‘s single-game FBS record of 11 set in 1990.

… the first 300-yard passing game of Navy quarterback Keenan Reynolds‘ career came in the senior’s 48th game?  The 312 yards in a Friday loss to Houston easily surpassed his previous career-high, a 233-yard performance in a September win over Delaware the second week of the 2013 season.  Reynolds has only surpassed 100 yards in a game 13 times, and has gone over 200 yards a mere three times.

… the 542 passing yards by Jared Goff in the 48-46 win over Arizona State set a Cal single-game record?  The previous record was the 527 put up by Goff in October of last year.

… Texas Tech had its first season in school history with a 1,000-yard rusher (DeAndre Washington), a 1,000-yard receiver (Jakeem Grant) and 4,000-yard passer (Patrick Mahomes)?

… with 159 yards rushing, Leonard Fournette broke Charles’ Alexander‘s single-season LSU record of 1,686 set back in 1977?  The sophomore now has 1,741.

499071674… with 63 yards rushing, Ronald Jones III bested Charles White‘s USC single-season freshman rushing record of 857 yards?  Jones now has 890 yards on the season with two games remaining.

… Iowa has won 10 or more games in a season seven times, and four of those have come during Kirk Ferentz‘s 17-year tenure in Iowa City?  The other three belong to the man Ferentz replaced in 1999, Hayden Fry.

… Clemson tied a school record with its 15th straight win?  The first 15-gamer happened from 1947-49; this 15-gamer began the week after a Nov. 15 loss to Georgia Tech last season.

… Iowa set a school record with its 12th win of the season Saturday?  The Hawkeyes had previously won 11 games in a season in 2002 and 2009.

… Saturday’s Mississippi State-Ole Miss game marked the first time in the in-state rivalry’s history that both teams have been nationally ranked in back-to-back Egg Bowls?  It also served as the sixth time in the 112-year history of the game that both teams have been ranked at the time of their meeting, with the others coming in 1999, 1992, 1957 and 1940.

Alabama v Auburn… Alabama and Baylor are the only FBS teams that have beaten Associated Press Top 10 teams each of the last five seasons?

… Texas Tech more than quadrupled the number of rushing touchdowns from 2014 to this season?  The Red Raiders had eight last season, and have 34 in 12 games in 2015.

… Boise State has 17 consecutive seasons with at least eight wins, the most in the country?  LSU is next with 16 straight.

… Western Michigan’s win over No. 24 Toledo Friday was the program’s first-ever over a ranked opponent?

LSU AD: ‘Les Miles is our coach and will continue to be our coach’

BATON ROUGE, LA - NOVEMBER 28:  Head coach Les Miles of the LSU Tigers celebrates after defeating the Texas A&M Aggies 19-7 at Tiger Stadium on November 28, 2015 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Getty Images

Never mind people.  Move on.  There’s nothing to see here.

After a couple of weeks worth of speculation it appeared as if today’s game against Texas A&M would be Les Miles‘ last as LSU’s head coach.  There were at least two reports, though, that indicated a win would go a long way in helping to save Miles’ job.

With a 19-7 victory over the Aggies in the books, all eyes turned toward Tigers athletic director Joe Alleva.  And, in one fell swoop, the A.D. did something that could’ve been done a week or more ago instead of leaving his long-time head coach out to dry — he came out and publicly announced that Miles will remain on as the program’s head football coach.

“I ant to make it clear that Les Miles is our football coach and will continue to be our football coach,” Alleva stated. “My policy is to wait until the end of the season, and obviously it’s the end of the regular season right now.”

Certainly there’s more back-channel intrigue simmering just below and will likely surface in the coming days and weeks, but Miles will remain at LSU for the foreseeable future.  And with a seemingly weakened boss for good measure while his own personal profile among the fan base and his players — and some boosters, who haven’t appreciated how he’s been treated — has done nothing but grow stronger.

Simply put, it’d be hard to find a way to screw up a non-firing firing more than LSU just did.  And the worst thing about it for the university, it’s done nothing but embolden Miles and his supporters, making it potentially even harder to get rid of him if/when they actually do want to pull the trigger.

The speculation has already begun that Alleva’s job is on the line.  Here’s to guessing that his head likely won’t be the only one to roll because of how mismanaged the situation became.

Oklahoma makes playoff statement on behalf of Big 12

Dimitri Flowers, Trace Clark

If Oklahoma had anything to say about it Saturday night in Stillwater, the Big 12 is not in danger of missing out on the College Football Playoff this year. The No. 3 Sooners (11-1, 8-1 Big 12) locked up the outright Big 12 championship with a 58-23 victory over No. 11 Oklahoma State (10-2, 7-2 Big 12) to close out regular season play. The ball is now in the playoff selection committee’s court. There is no way Oklahoma should not be in the top four when the final playoff rankings are updated after next weekend’s conference championship games.

Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield completed 17 of 25 passes for 180 yards and two touchdowns, but the Sooners offense was a two-man show between running backs Samaje Perine and Joe Mixon. The two each rushed for over 130 yards (136 yards for Mixon, 131 for Perine) and each scored two rushing touchdowns. Mayfield also got involved running the football, taking off for 77 yards and a touchdown of his own. Oklahoma State’s J.W. Walsh got the start at quarterback with Mason Rudolph banged up. Walsh passed for 325 yards and two touchdowns, but that was mostly while the Cowboys were attempting to catch up in the second half.

Oklahoma finished its season with the three best consecutive wins any College Football Playoff contender or participant likely will have played with wins over ranked opponents Baylor, TCU and Oklahoma State. Two of those wins were on the road too. The Big 12’s back loaded scheduled needed one team to rise up and prove worthy of playoff hype, and Oklahoma turned out to be that team. Throw in a nice road win earlier in the season at Tennessee, and Oklahoma’s overall body of work is solid, perhaps even more so than that of Alabama’s. Michigan State could prove to be a different argument, as the Spartans could have road wins at Michigan and Ohio State to go with a win against Oregon and an undefeated Iowa if Michigan State wins the Big Ten Championship Game next week.

Oklahoma’s fate as the Big 12’s playoff hope was further cemented with Notre Dame falling out of the running with a close loss at Stanford. It is not likely Oklahoma would be at risk of dropping behind Stanford as a two-loss Pac-12 champion. Oklahoma would have the edge, even if Stanford blasted USC 59-0 next week in the Pac-12 Championship Game. The Sooners will be a solid lock for one of the top four spots in the playoff, and may have a chance to wiggle up the rankings while not playing a game. Whatever the case, the Big 12 will be sending its one true champion to the playoff fun, once again showing the conference is not in need of expansion or a conference championship game. Some years it will work out, some years it will not. Such will be life in the Big 12.

Oklahoma will be fine with that.

Dalvin Cook, defense lead No. 13 Florida State to pounding of No. 12 Gators

Dalvin Cook, Justin Simmons, John Johnson

Keeping Florida State running back Dalvin Cook contained is no easy task, but Florida managed to do that for much of the night. But as many previous opponents can confirm, Cook is bound to make a spectacular play. He did just that with a run right up the middle of the defense and powered his way into the end zone in the fourth quarter of No. 13 Florida State’s (10-2) 27-2 victory over No. 12 Florida (10-2).

Cook scored two fourth-quarter touchdowns in the win, including one in the final minutes that served as the cherry on top of the sundae for the Seminoles. With 183 rushing yards, Cook ended his season with one last solid performance to merit discussion about a trip to New York City for the Heisman Trophy, although this one got off to a slow start by comparison as Florida’s defense was as good as it could be for a while. Florida State’s defense was also clicking on all cylinders in this one, holding the Gators to just 262 yards of offense. As Florida prepares to play for the SEC championship next week against Alabama, after this performance against the Seminoles and last week’s effort against FAU, there should be some serious concerns about Florida’s ability to do anything on offense that will challenge Alabama.

To be fair, Florida’s defense really was pretty good, although the final score may not suggest so. Cook’s two fourth quarter touchdowns turned a defensive battle into a bit more of a blowout than it really was for the majority of the night. Florida held Florida State to just two third-down conversions out of 13 and 304 yards of offense.

The win for the Seminoles clinched a fourth straight season with double-digit victories. Florida State may not be playing for an ACC title (Clemson will be facing North Carolina next week in Charlotte), but Florida State has not had four straight 10-win seasons since the height of the Bobby Bowden era from 1987 through 2000. Under Jimbo Fisher, Florida State has won at least 10 games in all but one season (2011). With that kind of track record it is easy to see why LSU, hypothetically, would be interested in Fisher as a possible successor to Les Miles, but Fisher says he is not leaving Tallahassee.

Florida State looked to be on track to pitch its first shutout of the Gators in the history of the series, but all of that changed in spectacular fashion. Sean Maguire had a ball knocked out of his hand as he was attempting to pass by Cece Jefferson. The ball wiggled loose and was not easy for anyone to pounce on. After a mad scramble for the ball 25 yards back from the line of scrimmage, it was Maguire who finally landed on it in the endzone for a safety, giving Florida two points. Florida looked to have a great return by Valdez Showers on the free kick return, but an illegal block in the back took the ball all the way back to Florida’s 14-yard line.

Florida State has now won three in a row against the Gators for the first time since stringing together three straight wins from 1998 through 2000. The win also marks Florida State’s third straight win in The Swamp, the first time Florida State has done that in the history of the rivalry.