Headlined by FSU-Auburn, final BCS table all but set

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The final BCS rankings and matchups for the BCS games won’t be officially announced until Sunday night.

Thanks to Ohio State’s loss and barring some successful, last-minute backroom politicking, however, the marquee postseason games are all but set in stone.

First and foremost, top-ranked Florida State and third-ranked (for now) Auburn will square off in the BCS title game, scheduled for Jan. 6 in Pasadena’s iconic Rose Bowl.  The Seminoles are the lone remaining undefeated team in the country, having bulldozed its way through its 2013 schedule to the combined tune of 689-139.  The SEC champion Tigers are just one year removed from a winless season in conference play that ended with Gene Chizik getting booted into the unemployment coaching line just two years removed from AU’s last BCS title.

The Rose Bowl, armed with agreements with the Big Ten and Pac-12, is set as well, with 12-1 Michigan State and 11-2 Stanford, each winners of their respective league’s championship games Saturday, set for the New Year’s Day game.

That leaves the Fiesta, Orange and Sugar bowls with spots up for grabs, although those are all but officially filled as well.

For the final year of the BCS, the picking pecking order will go Orange, Sugar and Fiesta.  The first two will lose their conference champ tie-ins to the BCS title game, with the Orange getting the first pick of a replacement ahead of the Sugar in addition to the first at-large selection.

The Orange Bowl, according to various bowl officials and media outlets, appear poised to select 12-1 Ohio State and 10-2 Clemson for the Jan. 3 game.  The Buckeyes, despite the loss in the Big Ten title game, are still an attractive selection given their national brand and how their fans travel, while the Tigers will benefit from the ACC/Orange Bowl relationship cultivated over many years.

Alabama, by virtue of a top-4 finish in the final BCS rankings — the 11-1 Tide was No. 4 entering Week 15 — is guaranteed a spot in a BCS bowl, which by most every projection will be the Sugar Bowl.  The opponent, though, is the biggest BCS uncertainty remaining.  10-2 Oklahoma is the name most mentioned, thanks in large part to the Big 12/SEC/Sugar/Champions Bowl agreement moving forward in the new College Football Playoff.  The Sooners also must finish inside the top-14 in the final BCS rankings, though.  Another possibility?  10-2 Oregon, although there is concern as to how the Ducks’ fan base would travel to New Orleans.

The Fiesta Bowl is contractually obligated to take the Big 12 champion, meaning 11-1 Baylor is guaranteed to fill one of that postseason game’s spots.  Because the AAC is guaranteed a BCS berth, and because the Fiesta Bowl gets the last selection behind the Orange and Sugar, the American champion UCF (11-1) will head to the desert for a date with the Bears.

(Writer’s note: under BCS guidelines, no conference can have more than two of its teams play in a BCS bowl in any one year.)

Below are CFT’s projections for the five BCS games, although the Sugar Bowl is most decidedly to be determined:

VIZIO BCS CHAMPIONSHIP GAME
Jan. 6, 8:30 p.m. ET
Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif.

No. 1 Florida State vs. No. 3 Auburn

ROSE BOWL GAME PRESENTED BY VIZIO
Jan. 1, 5 p.m. ET
Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif.

No. 7 Stanford vs. No. 10 Michigan State

TOSTITOS FIESTA BOWL
Jan. 1, 8:30 p.m. ET
University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz.

No. 9 Baylor vs. No. 16 UCF

ALLSTATE SUGAR BOWL
Jan. 2, 8:30 p.m. ET
Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans, LA

No. 4 Alabama vs. No. 18 Oklahoma

DISCOVER ORANGE BOWL
Jan. 3, TBD
Sun Life Stadium, Miami, Fla.

No. 2 Ohio State vs. No. 13 Clemson

Nebraska AD Bill Moos wants to keep Huskers-Hawkeyes on Black Friday

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It was the 21-17 loss to Northern Illinois that pushed Shawn Eichorst out the door, but I wonder if it wasn’t a news item on the Tuesday before that game that convinced Nebraska stakeholders to replace their athletics director. The Big Ten released its 2020-21 football schedules on Sept. 12, four days ahead of Nebraska-NIU, and they featured Nebraska concluding each season against Minnesota — on a Saturday.

For a program that shed all of its traditions in leaving the Big 12 for the Big Ten, losing the Black Friday finale was the final cut of the string that connected the current program to any vestige of its past. Eichorst didn’t get Nebraska, and allowing the Black Friday game to be lost proved it. Or so it seemed.

Bill Moos is Nebraska’s AD now, and he’d like to see things remain as they are: with the Black Friday finale, and against Iowa.

“I’m going to really push to establish Iowa as being our rival,” Moos said the Husker Sports Nightly radio show, via the Lincoln Journal-Star. “We came into the Big Ten and we need a rivalry game, and I’ve already been to the Big Ten and talked to them about that so hopefully we can keep that Black Friday game and have that be Iowa each year.”

Nebraska still has two more games against Iowa scheduled after this season, and the Huskers and Hawkeyes have met in each of Nebraska’s six previous Big Ten seasons. The series is deadlocked at 3-3 over that span. (Nebraska led 26-12-3 before joining the Big Ten.)

Though the Nebraska-Minnesota games are on the schedule as of now, there’s really no reason the Big Ten can’t change its schedules for 2020 and ’21 to preserve this tradition. And it should.

Big 12 issues public reprimands to Baker Mayfield, Kansas captains

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The Crotch Grab Seen ‘Round the World has found a way to remain in the news cycle, now 72 hours after it happened.

Oklahoma announced Monday that Baker Mayfield will not serve as a team captain and will now start for the No. 4 Sooners against West Virginia on Saturday, and earlier Tuesday Kansas announced that the players who refused to shake Mayfield’s hand will not serve as captains for its own finale against No. 13 Oklahoma State.

But if those mostly-empty gestures weren’t enough to get the players’ attention, surely this will do it: a public reprimand from the conference office.

The Big 12 issued this reprimand to Mayfield for violating the conference’s Sportsmanship and Ethical Conduct rules. Said commissioner Bob Bowlsby:

“Mr. Mayfield’s actions are unacceptable and should not be tolerated. I am grateful for the efficient management of this matter by the coaches and administration of the University of Oklahoma.  Baker Mayfield is a truly outstanding competitor and I generally appreciate his style of play and the manner in which he competes. However, the behavior he exhibited on the sideline during the Oklahoma-Kansas game was inappropriate and contrary to our sportsmanship policies.”

And here’s Bowlsby’s slap on the wrist to Kansas captains Joe Dineen, Dorance Armstrong Jr., Jeremiah Booker, and Daniel Wise:

“The refusal of these student-athletes to shake an opponent’s hand during the pre-game ceremony is contrary to tradition and inconsistent with common courtesy. The pre-game handshake among team captains is symbolic of good sportsmanship.  This breach of protocol is not in keeping with the standards of the Big 12 Conference.  I am grateful for the work of the Kansas administration and coaches to resolve this matter.”

The Big 12 noted that this was actually the fifth sportsmanship reprimand it has issued in its history. So there’s that.

Perhaps we can all move on now.

Auburn RB Kamryn Pettway officially ruled out of Iron Bowl

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The 2017 season has officially turned into, essentially, a lost one for Kamryn Pettway.

Tuesday, head coach Gus Malzahn, by way of al.com, confirmed that Pettway will not play in the Iron Bowl against Alabama this Saturday because of a shoulder injury.  Late last month, Malzahn said he expected the running back to miss an extended period of time.

Suspended for the opener, Pettway returned but missed games in Week 4 and 6 because of an unrelated injury.  In the October 21 win over Arkansas, Pettway suffered what was ultimately diagnosed as a fractured scapula, the injury that has sidelined him ever since.

It’s unclear at this point in time if Pettway will be available for the SEC championship game, if the Tigers beat the top-ranked Crimson Tide, or a bowl game.

In limited action, Pettway has rushed for 305 yards and six touchdowns.  The latter total is still second on the Tigers, the former third.  Last season, Pettway led the Tigers with 1,224 yards.  The number was good for fourth amongst SEC running backs in 2016.

The Tigers; running game has remained in good hands despite Pettway’s absence as Kerryon Johnson‘s 1,172 yards leads all SEC backs.  Johnson’s 16 rushing touchdowns are also tied for seventh nationally.

Kansas players who refused to shake Baker Mayfield’s hand won’t be captains this week

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I’m thinking, with this development, we can put crotch-gate to bed.

Three Kansas players serving as captains for the Week 12 Oklahoma game, Joe Dineen, Daniel Wise and Dorance Armstrong, for whatever reason refused to shake the hand of Baker Mayfield during their pregame meeting at midfield.  That set the tone for a chippy game that the OU quarterback took to another level by throwing a crotch grab at the KU bench that was caught on camera and led to the Heisman Trophy front-runner being suspended for the start of this weekend’s game.

Mayfield was also stripped of his captaincy, a move that left him near tears as this will be his final game in Norman.  While it may not mean as much to them, the Jayhawks trio responsible for the snubbing can certainly sympathize.

“That’s not how this game should be played,” a contrite Dineen told ESPN.com‘s Jake Trotter. “It won’t happen from me or from this program again.”

“First of all, that was absolutely unacceptable. I’ve had a conversation with [OU head coach] Lincoln Riley, and I’ve apologized on behalf of myself and our team,” KU head coach David Beaty said during Monday’s Big 12 coaches’ teleconference. “I want to also apologize to really our stakeholders, our Jayhawk fans, Jayhawks currently and all of the ones before us, because it means more to be a Jayhawk. That was a situation where we needed to make a better decision there. …

“It’s unfortunate, and I apologize to the Big 12 and really to college football, because it’s something that was absolutely unacceptable.”