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No. 7 Stanford storms back to beat No. 20 Oregon in OT and make huge Pac-12 statement at Autzen

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The faces may change through the years but whenever Oregon and Stanford get together in the Pac-12 era, a classic tends to break out. Such was certainly the case once again on Saturday night in Eugene.

The No. 7 Cardinal had an incredible turnaround starting in the third quarter and stormed back to beat No. 20 Oregon 38-31 in overtime and send a statement to the Pac-12 and the rest of the country that they’re still among the elite in the sport.

Despite Oregon controlling the game convincingly early, Stanford found late life in the third quarter thanks to their defense. After a replay took a touchdown off the board, the Ducks were at their one yard line when they were set to punch the ball in… but fumbled the snap. Linebacker Joey Alfieri scooped-and-scored from 80 yards out to quiet the rambunctious crowd in Eugene and a three-and-out followed. The Cardinal continued to make things interesting after that incredible swing of momentum as Bryce Love then punched it in from 22 yards out to complete the 21-point swing.

While it looked like the Ducks had regained control of things with a 70-yard touchdown drive, the visitors from the Farm would not give up. They answered with a score in less than 90 seconds and then incredibly forced a fumble on the ensuing possession. After some big time passes down the field, Jet Toner knocked home a 32-yard field goal as time expired to send the game into overtime and the team secured an interception to seal the deal in the extra frame.

Love (89 yards) was generally held in check outside of that one scoring run as the Stanford offense mostly had to move the ball through the air. Signal-caller K.J. Costello made several big throws down the field and finished with 327 yards passing. He also threw for three touchdowns, two of which went not surprisingly to jump ball machine JJ Arcega-Whiteside. Tight end Kaden Smith chipped in with six catches for 95 yards and Coby Parkinson found the end zone from 23 yards out in OT for the game-winner.

The stunning comeback ruined what should have been a momentous day for Mario Cristobal at Oregon. Quarterback Justin Herbert managed to insert himself into the Heisman conversation by playing nearly perfect, throwing for 346 yards with just seven incompletions, a touchdown and a pick. He also ran for 35 yards for good measure and his scrambles to keep plays alive were key to sustaining drives throughout the game.

CJ Verdell led the way for the Ducks on the ground with 115 yards rushing and a touchdown but his fumble trying to ice the game was the critical mistake that seemed to doom the team. It also spoiled big play machine Dillon Mitchell‘s huge performance as the junior wideout finished the night with a whopping 14 catches for 239 yards — the most at the school since 2003.

The loss not only sets Oregon back in the Pac-12 North race (with rivals Washington coming to town in three weeks), but also hampers their good start to the year against weaker competition. While there’s plenty of season left to go, defeats like that are never easy to get over and Cristobal in particular still has plenty to prove to the fan base that he was the right choice to replace Willie Taggart last December.

As for Stanford, they will likely tick up some in the polls and can now legitimately enter the College Football Playoff conversation. That clash against Notre Dame in South Bend next week on NBC is one of the biggest games of the young season so far and both teams are no stranger from hard-fought battles over the years themselves. While that will have more national implications going forward, the Cardinal already made an impressive statement in Pac-12 play on Saturday night as they look more and more like the class of the league after quieting the crowd and stunning Oregon at Autzen.

The College Football Playoff is set: No. 1 LSU, No. 2 Ohio State, No. 3 Clemson and No. 4 Oklahoma

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The 2019-2020 College Football Playoff field is set.

Thanks largely to a drama-free and fairly straightforward conference championship weekend, the CFP Selection Committee made the easy choice of the four teams who will play for this season’s national championship: SEC champion LSU at No. 1 in the Peach Bowl semifinal against No. 4 Oklahoma and recently crowned Big Ten champ Ohio State at No. 2 in the Fiesta Bowl semifinal against reigning champions and No. 3 Clemson.

Kickoff times for both games will be announced later but will be either 4 p.m. ET or 8 p.m. ET on Saturday, December 28.

Perhaps most notable regarding this year’s final four is who’s not involved as this will be the very first College Football Playoff since its inception in 2014 without Alabama and Nick Saban. Two-loss Pac-12 champion Oregon was also not involved in the discussions for postseason tournament either as the conference has missed out on the CFP for the third straight year.

This will be the Sooners’ fourth appearance and first trip to the Peach Bowl in the current setup, having posted an 0-3 mark in their previous semifinals. The Buckeyes are on their third selection, having won the first Playoff altogether while also getting shutout by Clemson in the 2016 Fiesta Bowl.

The newbie of the group? That would be Ed Orgeron’s Tigers, who are the first SEC team other than Georgia and the Crimson Tide to make it in. The site of this season’s National Championship Game is at the Superdome in New Orleans — notable since LSU’s past two titles were won there.

The Selection Committee’s full top 25 and the rest of the New Year’s Six matchups will be announced later on Sunday but for now, let the discussion over this year’s Playoff begin.

LSU No. 1 in final regular season AP Poll too, Pac-12 champ Oregon behind pair of two-loss SEC teams

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LSU is tops in both polls after being named the No. 1 team in the final regular season AP Poll on Sunday afternoon.

The Tigers edged No. 2 Ohio State, No. 3 Clemson and No. 4 Oklahoma in what is expected to be the same order of teams in this year’s final four to play for the national title.

While that was no surprise, Pac-12 fans may take an exception to voters putting No. 7 Oregon behind a pair of SEC teams with similar records in No. 5 Georgia and No. 6 Florida. Despite a title game loss, Baylor remained at No. 8 while Utah fell from No. 5 to No. 12 after falling to the Ducks. Wisconsin slipped just one place after getting beat by the Buckeyes in Indianapolis.

The full AP top 25 for the final weekend of the regular season:

  1. LSU
  2. Ohio State
  3. Clemson
  4. Oklahoma
  5. Georgia
  6. Florida
  7. Oregon
  8. Baylor
  9. Alabama
  10. Auburn
  11. Wisconsin
  12. Utah
  13. Penn State
  14. Notre Dame
  15. Memphis
  16. Minnesota
  17. Michigan
  18. Boise State
  19. Iowa
  20. Appalachian State
  21. Navy
  22. USC
  23. Cincinnati
  24. Air Force
  25. Oklahoma State

LSU edges Ohio State for No. 1 in final Coaches Poll of the regular season

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The College Football Playoff rankings matter just a bit more to both teams but in the first early indication of which way the Selection Committee might be leaning, LSU edged out Ohio State for the No. 1 spot in the final Coaches’ Poll of the regular season on Sunday.

As expected, Clemson was set at No. 3 and Big 12 champion Oklahoma occupied the No. 4 spot. SEC title game loser Georgia stayed in the top five ahead of No. 6 Oregon. While the Bulldogs fell only one spot, Utah was dropped quite a bit after losing to the Ducks on Friday and wound up down five spots to No. 10.

AAC champion Memphis were up to No. 15 as the highest ranked Group of Five team, softening the blow somewhat of losing head coach Mike Norvell on the same day. Also notable is Virginia was not penalized for getting blown out by Clemson in the ACC championship game and saying in the top 25.

The full Coaches Poll following conference championship weekend:

  1. LSU (46 first place votes)
  2. Ohio State (14)
  3. Clemson (5)
  4. Oklahoma
  5. Georgia
  6. Oregon
  7. Florida
  8. Baylor
  9. Alabama
  10. Utah
  11. Wisconsin
  12. Penn State
  13. Auburn
  14. Notre Dame
  15. Memphis
  16. Minnesota
  17. Michigan
  18. Boise State
  19. Iowa
  20. Appalachian State
  21. Navy
  22. Cincinnati
  23. USC
  24. Air Force
  25. Virginia

Get ready for the best College Football Playoff yet

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Entering its sixth season of existence, this year’s College Football Playoff may have its deepest field of playoff participants yet. Oh yes, this one is going to be good.

A system that has yielded what appeared to be a definitive two-team race the last handful of seasons with continued dominance by Alabama and Clemson, this year’s field feels as wide open as it has been under this new format. With one undefeated national champion riding a 28-game winning streak (Clemson), an undefeated SEC champion with the likely Heisman Trophy winner (LSU, with Joe Burrow), and an undefeated Big Ten champion with a trio of players that have been mentioned as worthy Heisman candidates (Ohio State), the main ingredients for a dynamic College Football Playoff are locked in. Throw in a one-loss Big 12 champion with one of the hot young names in coaching and a terrific story in the making (Oklahoma with Lincoln Riley and Jalen Hurts), what could there possibly be not to like about this year’s playoff field?

The College Football Playoff will once again have a fairly straightforward decision to make with the top four teams in this year’s playoff. There hasn’t really been much debate about which four teams have been worthy of inclusion in the playoff since its inception outside of the first season depending whom you ask (TCU and Baylor). When it has come time for the committee to make the decision they are put together to do, it’s been pretty easy. That seems to have worked out again this season with undefeated conference champions from the ACC (Clemson), Big Ten (Ohio State) and the SEC (LSU) and just one other 1-loss conference champion in the running (Oklahoma) after Utah stumbled before crossing the finish line Friday night in the Pac-12 championship game. Utah’s loss was the Big 12’s and Oklahoma’s gain once Georgia was handled by LSU in the SEC Championship Game.

Clemson is making its fifth straight appearance in the College Football. The Tigers now own the longest active streak of playoff appearances after Alabama fell short of the playoff this season. Clemson’s five appearances now ties Alabama for the most playoff appearances in the brief history o the College Football Playoff, and the pursuit of a 3rd national title in the era would give Clemson the lead in all-time College Football Playoff national titles. With offensive stars in Trevor Lawrence, Tee Higgins, and Travis Etienne, it’s difficult not to like Clemson’s chances to put some points on the board this year. That’s good because this could be the most explosive College Football Playoff yet. Ohio State (49.9 ppg), LSU (48.7 ppg), Clemson (44.3 ppg), and Oklahoma (44.3 ppg) were ranked in the top five in the nation in scoring at the close of the regular season. Defense wins championships? Not this year, it would seem.

Transfer quarterbacks are also all the rage this year, showing how valuable the transfer market can be for a team hoping to reach the College Football Playoff. Ohio State’s Justin Fields was the Big Ten’s Offensive Player of the Year in his first season after transferring from Georgia a year ago. Ironically, it is former Ohio State quarterback Joe Burrow who has been the catalyst for a playoff run at LSU. Jalen Hurts of Oklahoma is in his fourth College Football Playoff after transferring from Alabama. There is a storybook ending being scripted for any of those three right now, although Lawrence and Clemson are working on their own sequel as well.

We have yet to see a real good showing from the College Football Playoff in terms of the national semifinals. Aside from Ohio State’s upset of Alabama in 2014 and Georgia’s overtime thriller in the Rose Bowl against Oklahoma two seasons ago, the semifinals have largely been a relative bust in terms of entertainment. With this year’s field, however, that should not be the case.

So let the games begin! We should have a dandy of a College Football Playoff on our hands.