Alabama opens as a favorite against Georgia

Yes, we’re stuck with two SEC teams in the National Championship game again . . . oh well. Both teams look great and are deserving, but given the bowl records of the rest of the SEC, plus the record of the Big Ten and UCF’s victory over Auburn and you have a tough time justifying only having a 4-team playoff.

Alabama opens as a 4.5 point favorite over Georgia in the title game. It should be strength against strength in that game, with two physical defenses and power running games.

Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom.

Who will contend for College Football Playoff?

The BCS is dead. Finally!

We’ve been complaining about it for years, and now we finally have a playoff system, so all of the debate around who is the best team in college football can at least be expanded to the four best teams who should play in the playoff. All of the debate on ESPN and other outlets will still be annoying, but at least the end result is somewhat more rational. Hopefully this will be a precursor to at least an eight-team playoff, but we can live with this for now.

With that in mind, now that the NFL Draft is over, people are starting to talk college football again, and you can have some fun looking over the college football futures as you contemplate who you like going into the 2014 season. There are plenty of teams that will give Florida State a run for the title, with Alabama, Ohio State, Auburn, Oregon leading the way. Then you have upstarts like Baylor who became a media and fan darling last season until they got smacked silly 52-42 by UCF in a huge Fiesta Bowl upset.

College football can be very unpredictable, and lately with all the new spread and hurry-up offenses things change very quickly. But we still see many of the regular names at the top.

One name that will get plenty of attention as usual is Ohio State, the team that many around the country love to hate. Urban Meyer has brought the program back after the brief hiccup during the Luke Fickell season, but the team has a ways to go before actually winning a national championship. You should keep your eyes on two critical factors: Braxton Miller and the defense.

You’ll see Miller in the futures as well, as he is again a legitimate threat to contend for the Heisman Trophy. Yet he is still an enigma, as he’s very injury prone and also very inconsistent. He’s an incredible runner out of the pocket. Frankly, at the next level, he should probably be a tailback. The reason has to do with his passing, which is still very mediocre. This year he’ll have some great receiving weapons, and he’ll also have some young backs who should do a nice job replacing Carlos Hyde. But the offensive line is very young, so this team likely will not be able to maul defenses with their running game like last year. Miller needs to step up and mature as a quarterback for the Buckeyes to have a chance at the playoff.

Then there’s the defense, which has been an embarrassment since Jim Tressel left Ohio State. Sure, they’ve had injuries, but the pass defense was a joke last season. Urban Meyer has pledged to fix it, and this year he promises to showcase press coverage from his young secondary. The key will be a dominating defensive line led by super-sophomore Joey Bosa. If the line lives up to the billing, then maybe the Buckeyes can finally get back to playing real defense again.

But the Buckeyes show how hard it can be to predict college football, so do your homework!

Justice Department to NCAA: Why is there no playoff system in football?

Auburn Tigers players celebrate as they run off the bench after defeating the Oregon Ducks in the NCAA BCS National Championship college football game in Glendale, Arizona, January 10, 2011. REUTERS/Danny Moloshok (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)

USA Today’s Jack Carey wrote an interesting piece on Thursday about how the Department of Justice has sent a letter to NCAA President Mark Emmert asking why the association does not have a major-college football playoff.

Christine A. Varney, assistant attorney general in the Justice Departmen’s Antitrust Division, pointed out in the letter sent Tuesday that “serious questions” continue to arise as to whether the BCS system is consistent with federal antitrust laws.

Utah attorney general Mark Shurtleff recently said he plans an antitrust lawsuit against the BCS, and Varney wrote that 21 professors have requested the Justice Department conduct an investigation of the system.

“Your views would be relevant in helping us to deternine the best course of action with regard to the BCS,” Varney wrote.

NCAA spokesman Bob Williams, in a statement Wednesday, said that the association will respond when it receives the letter.

“It should be noted that President Emmert consistently has said … that the NCAA is willing to help create a playoff format for Football Bowl Subdivision football if the FBS membership makes that decision,” he said.

To date, the FBS schools have opted to stick with the bowl system.

When I was reading the article, I was waiting for someone to mention how the Department of Justice should have bigger things to worry about than whether or not the NCAA has a playoff system. And then it came…

Bill Hancock, the BCS executive director, has long expressed confidence that the BCS complies with the law. “With all that’s going on in the world right now and with national and state budgets being what they are, it seems like a waste of taxpayers’ money to have the government looking into how college football games are played,” he said.

Matthew Sanderson, a founder of fired back with a good response:

“I’m surprised the BCS still trots out that tired argument. This issue may not be of international importance, but this is a billion-dollar enterprise involving tax-exempt entities and institutions of higher learning.”

Whether the Justice Department has bigger fish to fry is irrelevant now: The issue is on the their radar whether the NCAA disagrees or not. And if the NCAA is violating anti-trust laws, then maybe we’ll finally see a college football playoff some day.

Or nothing will come of this and the crooked BCS will continue to rip everyone off.

How was this bowl season better than a playoff?

Auburn Tigers quarterback Cam Newton (R) is tackled by Oregon Ducks Spencer Paysinger during the second quarter in the NCAA BCS National Championship college football game in Glendale, Arizona, January 10, 2011. REUTERS/Mike Blake (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL IMAGES OF THE DAY)

Bill Hancock seems like a nice enough guy but he’s delusional if he thinks that this past bowl season was a rousing success and that it proved that there’s no need for a playoff.

First and foremost, that title game was terrible. It may have had an exciting finish but a great game it was not.

Two of the most explosive offenses in the nation were on display Monday night and yet, you couldn’t have asked for worse field conditions. This should have been the most entertaining game of the season but from the opening kickoff, players resembled hockey players sliding on a sheet of ice. Neither team could catch their footing, which is probably why the combined score totaled only 41 points (or 31 fewer points than what Vegas installed for the over/under). How does this happen in an indoor stadium when the grass can easily be maintained?

Granted, it’s not the BCS’ fault that the game was rather lousy on a whole. Even if there were a playoff, there would be no guarantee that all the games would be exciting. But at the very least, the teams would be playing for something every week.

The matchup between Auburn and Oregon was dead on, but the BCS largely struck out with its other games. They made Stanford fly cross-country just to crush an overmatched Virginia Tech team and there’s no reason to relive the Oklahoma-UConn debacle.

The Rose Bowl and the Sugar Bowl were both highly entertaining – I’ll give the BCS that. But why must there be a long delay between the BCS bowl games and the championship? And for the love of college football, why were the Go Bowl, the Cotton Bowl, the BBVA Compass Bowl and the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl shown as a lead up to the national title game? I felt bad for the kids who played in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl because nobody cared by that point. They made those poor kids play on Sunday night following four NFL playoff games – only action junkies tuned into that one.

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Rick Reilly’s lame jokes undercut his argument

Rick Reilly wrote a piece about how TCU’s win over Wisconsin proves, yet again, that college football needs a playoff. I agree with just about everything he says, but then he writes this:

What a lie this BCS era is. They say a playoff would take too much time away from school, yet Oregon’s players will have had 37 days off when they play again.

They say with this system, “every game counts.” Except of course, TCU’s epic win over Wisconsin to stay undefeated Saturday. Counts exactly as much as a rainbow to Stevie Wonder.

Here’s what was going through my mind as I read that section…

What a lie this BCS era is. Yep. They say a playoff would take too much time away from school, yet Oregon’s players will have had 37 days off when they play again. Yep. They say with this system, “every game counts.” Except of course, TCU’s epic win over Wisconsin to stay undefeated Saturday. Not epic, but yep. Counts exactly as much as a rainbow to Stevie Wonder. Wait, whaa? Leave Stevie out of it!

Seriously, dude is blind. He’s had enough to deal with in his life without a sportswriter (who has won National Sportswriter of the Year 11 times — sigh) invoking his handicap to make a lame joke so that his column will seem like it’s funny.

This is why I don’t generally read Rick Reilly. I read this piece because I’m in favor of a college football playoff and I wanted to see if he had anything new and/or interesting to add.


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