- What teams will make the College Football Playoff (CFP), and who’s getting left out? (looking at you, Notre Dame…)
- Will they really fire ______? The NCAA football coaching carousel is already spinning with no signs of slowing.
- Who do you like in the Heisman trophy race? It’s the closest contest in years with four contestants who still have a real shot
- The Carolina Panthers and New England Patriots are both 10-0. Which undefeated team has a better chance of running the table 16-0?
- Are the Panthers really not favored on Thursday? Previewing the NFL on Thanksgiving.
- What happens first in the NBA: The 16-0 Golden State Warriors lose or the 0-15 Philadelphia 76ers win?
Which teams will make the College Football Playoff (CFP)?
Need a reminder on the College Football Playoff? Here’s a Primer guide.
There’s an argument to be made that the CFP should expand from 4 to 8 teams, but there’s no debating that the current format leads to high drama. There are 13 teams that could still conceivably make the 4-team Playoff with two weeks to go in the season (sorry, Florida State has no shot). Take a look at the contenders:
With so much to be decided and room for speculation, we look conference-by-conference at what will probably happen, what could happen, and what would make for a chaotic outcome.
Our ‘most likely’ scenario for the National Semifinal games has Clemson matched up with Michigan St. in the Orange Bowl opposite of Alabama vs. Oklahoma in the Cotton Bowl. But oh, could that be wrong!
Probable outcome: #1 Clemson beats #14 North Carolina in the ACC title game and punches a ticket to the CFP.
Don’t be shocked if: UNC pulls the upset and wins the ACC. The Tar Heels have one loss and the weakest strength of schedule of any CFP contender; would this statement win be enough to get them in?
#chaos: UNC loses on Saturday at rival N.C. State and then upsets Clemson. In this case, the ACC is likely shut out.
Probable outcome: #5 Michigan St. takes care of #4 Iowa in the Big 10 title game to clinch a CFP spot.
Don’t be shocked if: Iowa rides ‘nobody believed in us’ momentum to a win over Michigan State and a shocking CFP appearance.
#chaos: Michigan St. loses to Penn State and Iowa loses to Nebraska this weekend while Michigan beats Ohio State. The Big 10 title game would be 1-loss Iowa vs. 2-loss Michigan. Would the winner get in?
Probable outcome: The Big 12 gets at least 1 team to the CFP. #3 Oklahoma is the favorite if they win at rival #11 Oklahoma State on Saturday.
Don’t be shocked if: #7 Baylor finishes 11-1 and makes the CFP. Or doesn’t.
#chaos: Oklahoma St. and Baylor both win ugly this week to finish 11-1. #6 Notre Dame dominates #9 Stanford to also finish 11-1, and the committee opts for Clemson-Bama-Michigan St-Notre Dame, thereby shutting the Big 12 out for the second consecutive year.
Probable outcome: #2 Alabama beats #12 Florida in the SEC title game to become the only team appearing in both inaugural College Football Playoffs.
Don’t be shocked if: Florida upsets Alabama. A 12-1 Florida team definitely makes the Playoff.
#chaos: Florida loses to rival Florida State on Saturday but then beats Alabama. Does a 2-loss SEC champion make the playoff?
Notre Dame is technically independent, but plays Stanford this weekend.
Probable outcome: #9 Stanford beats #6 Notre Dame on Saturday, and with two losses, both teams are left out of the CFP.
Don’t be shocked if: Notre Dame upsets Stanford and finishes 11-1, the only loss for the Irish coming against #1 Clemson in a tight game. Would ND get the nod over the Big 12?
#chaos: Stanford wrecks Notre Dame and shines in the Pac 12 Championship to finish the year 11-2. They might be able to sneak in if UNC upsets Clemson.
The NCAA football coaching carousel is spinning
There are already *9* coaching vacancies with two weeks remaining in the year, and more likely on the way:
Is the grass really greener?
LSU and Georgia are considering canning tenured coaches with great records, Les Miles (110-32) for LSU and Mark Richt (144-51) for UGA. Miles is more likely to get the axe, which would include boosters footing the bill for a $15 million contract buyout (!). But could either school get anyone better? LSU wants Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher, which seems unlikely. Miles and Richt have each won SEC titles, and Miles won it all in 2007. Both schools need better quarterbacks for sure, but they may already have the best coaches that money can buy.
Back to the future at Miami?
The hot rumor is that embattled Texas coach Charlie Strong leaves for Miami, where he had great success recruiting while coaching Florida’s defense and Louisville. Strong will not leave Texas unless the fire him. More likely is that Miami returns to its swag roots and gets Butch Davis, who coached the Hurricanes to prominence from 1995-2000. Butch has been waiting patiently as a TV analyst after getting fired from North Carolina for having players who were a bit too NFL ready (taking money from agents). He’s perfect for ‘The U’.
Houston and Memphis coaches have pick of the litter
The Houston Cougars football program has produced well-known coaches, including Art Briles (Baylor) and Kevin Sumlin (Texas A&M). Current coach Tom Herman appears next on the list to head to a major school, along with Memphis coach Justin Fuente. You saw the graphic — the agents for Herman and Fuentes should be licking their chops.
Heisman Trophy race the most compelling in years
No longer the Fournette show
LSU sophomore running back Leonard Fournette was a serious favorite to win the Heisman earlier this year, but struggled during 3-consecutive losses for the Tigers and the race opened back up. Take a look at the main candidates:
Are the Panthers or Patriots more likely to go 16-0?
The Carolina Panthers and New England Patriots are the last two remaining undefeated NFL teams, the third time in NFL history there are two 10-0 teams. The two teams entered the season with different outlooks. The Patriots are defending Super Bowl Champions and began the year as the odds-on favorite to repeat. Meanwhile, the Carolina Panthers had a losing record last year and began the year a 75/1 long shot to win the Super Bowl after an injury to their best wide receiver, Kelvin Benjamin.
Previewing NFL Thanksgiving action
Thursday marks the 395th anniversary of Thanksgiving, and America has been playing football for 140 of those holidays. The NFL is king on Thanksgiving and features three games, though the schedule makers probably didn’t anticipate only two of this year’s six teams having winning records:
Game 1: Eagles at Lions
The same script is true for both of these teams. They’ve underachieved, will likely miss the playoffs, and will probably have different coaches and quarterbacks next season. The Eagles are the bigger surprise of the two, as coach Chip Kelly’s fast-paced offense was supposed to lead to high-scoring victories. Kelly may be back in the college ranks next season.Game 2: Panthers at Cowboys
Know what you’re thinking: was that a typo or does Vegas really have the 3-7 Cowboys favored to beat the 10-0 Panthers? The Panthers are undefeated and rolling, but Dallas is 3-0 with QB Tony Romo in the lineup (he missed 7 games after fracturing his collarbone in six places).It’s surprising, but Dallas and Philadelphia are both very much in the playoff hunt given the relative weakness of the NFC East.
One of the NFL’s iconic rivalries has been one-sided lately, with Green Bay holding a 10-2 record since 2010. There’s little reason to expect a different result on Thursday night. QB Aaron Rodgers looked back in sync during a tough road win at Minnesota last week, and the Packers are still the class of the NFC North.
The NBA’s massive streaks