THE LOWE DOWN

Week 14 Lowe Down: Playoff or bust, time is now

Matt Lowe

December 02, 2016 at 5:35 pm.

Oct 29, 2016; Madison, WI, USA;  Wisconsin Badgers running back Dare Ogunbowale (23) and wide receiver Robert Wheelwright (15) celebrate after scoring a touchdown during overtime against the Nebraska Cornhuskers at Camp Randall Stadium.  Wisconsin won 23-17.  Photo Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Oct 29, 2016; Madison, WI, USA; Wisconsin Badgers running back Dare Ogunbowale (23) and wide receiver Robert Wheelwright (15) celebrate after scoring a touchdown during overtime against the Nebraska Cornhuskers at Camp Randall Stadium. Wisconsin won 23-17. Photo Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to Week 14 of The Lowe Down.

Well, if this happens… Or if this happens… Or what about if this team loses and this team loses, do you think they’ll get in?

Don’t know about you, but the College Football Playoff talk can get a little taxing. Goodness gracious doesn’t it seem like that’s all we talk about now from about Week Two on?

Look, I like this four-team deal better than the BCS. But due to the lack of set criteria, deserving teams are going to get left out in the cold every season.

Think about it.

How can this one-loss team be better than that one? How can this two loss team be better than that one?

And when it comes down to head to head, what if the teams played nine weeks ago and are trending in opposite directions. What if team A, just lost its best player? What if team B has won 10 straight after losing its first two?

I think we need to think about the MLB playoffs for a minute. How many teams get hot late, sneak into the playoffs and win the whole thing? It’s happened a lot recently.

Now I’m not saying college football’s playoff system remotely resembles Major League Baseball’s, but I like idea of having automatic bids and then wild cards. That way there is no grey area, which will automatically eliminate the idea of playing favorites to powerhouse programs due to their prestige. But it would also give a non-Power 5 team, like Western Michigan, a chance to do get in the mix if it wins all of its games.

Last week’s record was 10-4, bringing the yearly record to 179-70. To the games we go…

Friday, December 2

No. 17 Western Michigan (12-0) vs Ohio (8-4) 6:00 p.m. CT (AAC Championship, Detroit)

Like a couple of this week’s championship games, this one could get ugly quick. Western Michigan has weapons galore on offense, most notably quarterback Zach Terrell (3,086 passing yards, 30 TDs, one interception), tailback Jarvion Franklin (1,266 yards rushing and 12 scores) and wideout Corey Davis (83 receptions for 1,283 yards and 17 TDs), and its defense has been turning teams over and pressuring opposing quarterbacks. Ohio has won four out of its last five games, and freshman quarterback Quinton Maxwell has played well since he stepped in for senior Greg Windham, but the Broncos will be too much for the Bobcats.

The Lowe Down: Western Michigan 38, Ohio 17

No. 8 Colorado (10-2) at No. 4 Washington (11-1) 8:00 p.m. CT (Pac-12 Championship, Santa Clara)

All year long Colorado has been a sleeper team. But Friday night is when the Buffaloes can finally prove they are for real. Sure, Washington has a Heisman candidate in quarterback Jake Browning (40 passing TDs), a slew of offensive skill players and a talented defense, but Colorado has its share of playmakers as well — on both sides of the ball. Dual-threat Sefo Liufau is a talented quarterback who seems to always make the right decision, and tailback Phillip Lindsay is a hard-nosed runner who always seems to be moving forward. Colorado, like Washington,   also owns a top-flight defense. The Buffaloes possess a terrific group of linebackers (Kenneth Olugbode, Rick Gamboa and Jimmie Gilbert (nine sacks)) and an outstanding secondary, led by safety Tedric Thompson and nickel back Chidobe Awuzie. And those aforementioned players will give Browning and the high-powered Huskie offense fits here.

The Lowe Down: Colorado 28, Washington 20

Saturday, December 3

Temple (9-3) at No. 19 Navy (9-2) 11:00 a.m. CT (AAC Championship, Annapolis)

Temple’s defense, which is led by pass-rushing terror Haason Reddick (21.5 tackles for loss), has really been playing well as of late and it will need to do so again squaring off against Navy’s triple-option offense. Quarterback Will Worth spearheads a Midshipmen rushing attack that sits at No. 2 in the country behind New Mexico, averaging 342 yards a game, but big plays in the passing game are always there if the run game gets rolling. And that will be the key to the game. Temple, led by quarterback Phillip Walker and talented tailbacks Jahad Thomas and Ryquell Armstead, will get its share of points. But it has to slow the Navy run game in order to win considering the Midshipmen are playing in their own stadium.

The Lowe Down: Temple 30, Navy 37

No. 10 Oklahoma State (9-2) at No. 9 Oklahoma (9-2) 11:30 a.m. CT

The winner of this year’s Bedlam rivalry has an outside shot at tip-toeing into the College Football Playoff, but a lot has to go down for that to happen. With that being said, I think the Cowboys are the more complete team. Sure, Oklahoma has its share of special players on offense (quarterback Baker Mayfield, receiver Dede Westbrook (15 TD receptions in the last eight games) and tailbacks Joe Mixon and Samaje Perine are a potent one-two punch), but the Sooners’ defense has been vulnerable to talented offensive teams, which is what Oklahoma State is. Look for quarterback Mason Rudolph and tailbacks Chris Carson and Justin Hill to have big afternoons in leading the upset.

The Lowe Down: Oklahoma State 36, Oklahoma 33

No. 1 Alabama (12-0) vs. No. 15 Florida (8-3) 3:00 p.m. CT (SEC Championship, Atlanta)

Although Alabama knocked off rival Auburn last week, it didn’t play its best game. The Crimson Tide put the ball on the turf four times, its special teams almost gave up a punt return for a touchdown and Jalen Hurts threw two interceptions. I can only imagine what practice was like this week after that many uncharacteristic mistakes under the watchful eye of Nick Saban. With that said, look for Alabama to play well Saturday, especially on offense. Bama’s D is fine. But if this year’s Crimson Tide team wants to win back-to-back national titles, the offense needs to shift into a higher gear. And that starts with Hurts limiting mistakes. Florida’s defense will be without seven starters once this one kicks off in Atlanta, but it’s still a talented unit and it will be a good test for the freshman QB before entering the College Football Playoff.

The Lowe Down: Florida 3, Alabama 34

No. 3 Clemson (11-1) vs. No. 23 Virginia Tech (9-3) 7:00 p.m. CT (ACC Championship, Orlando)

Fresh off a six-touchdown passing performance against rival South Carolina, Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson seems to be peaking at the right time. Over his last three games, Watson has completed 74 percent of his passes for 1,129 yards and 10 touchdowns. That doesn’t bode well for a Virginia Tech defense that’s been up and down all season long. Conversely, the Hokies should be able to move the ball on the Tigers’ defense due to the playmaking ability of dual-threat quarterback Jerod Evans. Evans has thrown for 3,039 yards and 26 touchdowns and rushed for 713 yards and eight scores, so he’ll be an X-factor if the Hokies want to pull the upset. Look for scoring here, but Clemson is the better team.

The Lowe Down: Clemson 42, Virginia Tech 28

No. 6 Wisconsin (10-2) at No. 7 Penn State (10-2) 7:00 p.m. (Big Ten Championship, Indianapolis)

Just a few weeks back, Penn State wasn’t even ranked. Then it upset Ohio State. And now James Franklin’s team can backdoor its way into the College Football Playoff with a win over Wisconsin. But that won’t be easy. The Badgers rushing attack, led by Corey Clement, has been on a roll, and its defense is one of the nation’s finest. Throw in the fact that Penn State tailback Saquon Barkley, the team’s most talented player, may be limited, and I’ll give the slight edge to the Badgers.

The Lowe Down: Wisconsin 27, Penn State 22

In other Saturday games:

Troy 17 at Georgia Southern 24

Baylor 18 at No. 16 West Virginia 37

San Diego State 33 vs. Wyoming 37 (Upset Special)

 

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