The dust has settled from the committee selection of the college football playoff teams and it isn’t without debate.
The end result was expected, at least for me, with Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State and Notre Dame selected as the top four teams to participate in this year’s playoff. Once again, it was another year where the Group of Five conferences got shut out of the playoff mix.
In years past it’s been Central Florida among other teams that had a shot to make the playoff and were aced out by the committee. This year, Coastal Carolina and Cincinnati — a pair of undefeated G5 teams were kept out of the four-team playoff.
There are some factors that make it understandable why that is. Coastal Carolina and Cincinnati do not have the same strength of schedule as the four teams in the playoff ,but what are they supposed to do when it is often too difficult to schedule marquee opponents for the smaller schools, especially during a season being played in the middle of a once-in-a-lifetime global pandemic?
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The argument I would make for those two teams being screwed and not being allowed to slip into the playoff even as a No. 4 seed would be the fact that Notre Dame, which wound up with the 4-seed, has had opportunities to step up in class against Alabama in the past and failed miserably. It’s more than likely that could happen to Cincinnati and Coastal Carolina against Alabama too, but at least it’s something different and they would be given a chance to take the field regardless of whether or not it ends well.
However, the selection committee once again decided to favor the Power Five conference teams following the same pattern of decision-making that has clearly been in place since the College Football Playoff format started. Don’t be surprised to see Cincinnati and Coastal Carolina in particular look to make a loud statement in their bowl games coming up to show everyone they were worthy of being playoff teams. I would be reluctant to put my money down against either the Bearcats or Chanticleers in their respective bowl games.
Hawaii +12 vs. Houston, Total 60: Note that the New Mexico Bowl is actually being played in Frisco, Texas. Houston has had a season littered with starts and stops. They finally got back on the field for a game after a one-month layoff on Dec. 12 and lost outright as favorites against Memphis.
I don’t trust the Cougars as double-digit chalk here and it’s worth noting Dana Holgorsen has a porous bowl ATS track record. Hawaii covered against Boise State in their lone previous game as a double-digit underdog this season.
The offenses are the superior units on the field for both of these teams and I think we’ll see that play out in a higher scoring game. HAWAII and OVER
Marshall +4.5 vs. Buffalo: Marshall had some key personnel opt out of playing in the Camellia Bowl, but I still side with them catching more than a FG here. The Thundering Herd are 13-3 ATS in their last 16 bowl games most of those under current head coach Doc Holliday, who has had a terrific bowl record.
Buffalo had its undefeated season snapped in bitter fashion losing to Ball State in the MAC title game and I worry about the Bulls’ mentality here. Marshall is also very good defensively against the run and when you shut down the Bulls’ ground attack, you can beat them. MARSHALL
Liberty vs. Coastal Carolina -6.5: I mentioned the potential added motivation factor for Coastal Carolina earlier in this column. I believe they will be excited to play in the Cure Bowl just to try and prove a very clear point to everybody and specifically the committee that they were good enough to be a playoff team.
Coastal Carolina has been excellent on both sides of the football as they can run the ball with RB CJ Marable and freshman QB Grayson McCall has been solid leading the offense. The defense has been outstanding all season and has shut down some potent offenses, in particular BYU.
There is a big difference in defensive prowess between Coastal and their opponent Liberty and that will show up here. COASTAL CAROLINA
Oklahoma State vs. Miami Fla., Total 59: I expect to see plenty of points in the Cheez-It Bowl. Oklahoma State’s offense improved down the stretch once Spencer Sanders returned from injury at QB. The balanced attack from the Cowboys should puncture this below-average Miami defense that has struggled against the better teams and offenses on their schedule.
On the flip side, the Miami up-tempo attack with dual threat QB D’Eriq King at the controls should move the football as well against an Oklahoma State defense that started to wear down late in the season after a strong start as the Cowboys allowed 29+ points in four of their last six games. OVER
Last week: 2-2