Five things we learned on the last weekend of the regular season:
1) The selection committee did some things wrong but ultimately got it right: The journey looked a little strange and disjointed at times but in the end the semifinal matchups of No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 4 Ohio State (Sugar) and No. 2 Oregon and No. 3 Florida State (Rose) were the right ones to make. In retrospect the committee made a mistake of moving TCU to No. 3 ahead of No. 4 Florida State last week. It put them in the uncomfortable position of moving TCU back to No. 6 after a rout of Iowa State 55-3. Still, these are two great semifinal games to kick off this era because. …
2) There will be dueling Heisman winners in Pasadena: Florida State’s Jameis Winston won the 2013 Heisman Trophy. Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota is going to pick up the hardware on Saturday night in New York. They will be on the same field on Jan. 1, 2015 in one national semifinal in the Rose Bowl. The last time there were two Heisman Trophy winners on the field was in the 2005 BCS Championship game when USC’s Reggie Bush and Matt Leinart played against Texas (also in Pasadena). The year before it was USC’s Leinart and Oklahoma’s Jason White facing off in the BCS championship game.
And speaking of great matchups. This will be the fourth meeting between Alabama’s Nick Saban and Ohio State’s Urban Meyer since 2008. The 2008 and 2009 SEC Championship games had a trip to the BCS Championship on the line. The other was a regular-season victory by Alabama (31-6) in Meyer’s last year at Florida (2010). The winner of this game also advances to the national championship.
3) The Big 12 shot itself in the foot: Sunday was not a good day for the Big 12 as its co-champions, Baylor (11-1) and TCU (11-1), were both left out of the playoffs. The first mistake the Big 12 made was this silly co-champions designation, which commissioner Bob Bowlsby said is done by rule. Well, it’s a dumb rule. Baylor beat TCU 61-58 back in October and should have been declared the champion when the Bears knocked off Kansas State on Saturday. The lack of a declared champion just made it easier for the committee to slip Ohio State, a 59-0 winner against Wisconsin, into the fourth slot.
Baylor also didn’t help itself by hiring a PR firm to lobby public support on the selection committee. Not a savvy move.
4) This may be Nick Saban’s best coaching job: After losing to Ole Miss (23-17) on Oct. 4 and having a close call against Arkansas (14-13) on Oct. 11, Saban wondered if his 2014 team had too many flaws to overcome. That is why, after Saturday night’s 42-13 victory against Missouri in the SEC Championship game, the celebration was long and intense. This was a championship that the Crimson Tide faithful really didn’t expect. And now Alabama is the No. 1 seed in the first College Football Playoff. “This has been one of my favorite groups to coach,” Saban said. “Nobody is selfish. Nobody has an agenda. In this day and time that is unusual.”
5) Mississippi State must have had a great week at practice: The Bulldogs (10-2), who had been ranked in the top four of the CFP rankings for six weeks, closed out its season with a 31-17 loss to Ole Miss on Nov. 29. But in the final CFP rankings, without playing a game, Mississippi State jumped from No. 10 to No. 7. As a result the Bulldogs got the bid to play Georgia Tech (10-3) in the Orange Bowl instead of Michigan State (10-2), which was ranked No. 8 last week.