The CFP Semi-Final Games

This is what I had planned to write about yesterday before the “Antonio Brown Saga” took center stage on the US sports scene:

  • Unfortunately, the semi-final games of the College Football Playoff (CFP) were “Meh!” and nothing more.

The first game – – Alabama/Cincy – – had a chance to be an important game regarding the hierarchy of college football.  Cincy was 13-0; they had a win over Notre Dame in South Bend in early October; beyond that, their schedule was not particularly challenging to be very polite.    But Cincy had dominated most of their opponents beating five of them by more than 30 points.  They were – by record – the most accomplished team in the so-called “Group of 5” football conferences in recent years and the CFP Selection Committee put them in the CFP semi-finals to take on the #1 seed, Alabama.

If the Bearcats had even played Alabama to a close game, it would have been foundationally shaking for college football; could it be that the “little guys” really were close in capability to the “big guys” and merely lacked recognition and exposure?  That question did not come into focus last Saturday because at the end of the first two possessions by Alabama, there was no doubt as to the outcome of this football game.  The final score of 27-6 does not indicate the level of dominance that Alabama showed in those moments after the ball was snapped – – no matter which team did the snapping.

Soon after the opening kickoff, ESPN showed a Cincy fan in the stands proudly/defiantly holding a large sign that said:

               Power 5  =  Opinion

                13-0  =  Fact !

While his sign may be correct in the broad sense, his Bearcat team was not up to the task of making a game where he might have been tempted to display the sign more than once.  For the record, here are a few more FACTS from that game:

  • Total Offense Alabama = 482 yards; Total Offense Cincy = 218 yards
  • First Downs Alabama = 26;  First Downs Cincy = 13
  • Average gain per rush Alabama = 6.4 yards  Average gain per rush Cincy = 2.8 yards
  • 3rd down conversions Alabama = 5 of 13;  3rd down conversions Cincy = 2 of 12.

The game was an organized ass-kicking without the score being run-up on the loser.  What this showed is that the AAC Champ did not belong in a game with the SEC Champ with any sort of prize on the line; Cincy looked like one of the lower-tier SEC teams against Alabama.

Last year in the COVID-shortened college football season, Cincy went to the Peach Bowl and played Georgia to a tight game losing 24-21 after leading 21-10 at the start of the 4th quarter.  Some folks pointed to that game and said it proved that Cincy was an elite team notwithstanding the fact that the Bearcats lost the stat sheet and a two-score lead in the 4th quarter.  This year’s CFP loss has not brought out a significant degree of cynicism about Cincy’s place on the national stage.  I think the fanboys and the media need Cincy to be a narrative for hope among the lower ranks of college football; here in Curmudgeon Central, the recognition is that popular narratives are rarely driven by truth.

The other game – – Michigan/Georgia – – looked to be the more interesting of the contests because it pitted Michigan’s strong running game against Georgia’s Front Seven on Defense.  That never really materialized as a dominant feature of the game because the Bulldogs ran out to a 27-3 lead at halftime and rendered the Wolverines’ run game moot.  Georgia also dominated the game when it mattered; the Bulldogs converted 8 of 15 tries on third down and then converted another 4th down try to maintain possession.

This loss – lopsided as it was – does not indicate that the Big-10 and/or Michigan does not belong in the CFP landscape.  This loss merely indicates that Michigan played a better team last Saturday and could not keep up.  Michigan beat some solid teams this year including Ohio State, Penn State, Iowa and Wisconsin; that is a very different “strength of schedule” than the one Cincy brought to the field last weekend.

My anticipation was for Michigan/Georgia to be a close game; I took Michigan +8 points in last week’s Six-Pack; I never expected this to be a laugher for almost three quarters of the game.  Georgia simply was dominant here.

Back in mid-October – – after Alabama had lost to Texas A&M – – I remember saying that I thought the best two teams in the country were Georgia and Alabama and that I hoped to see them face each other twice this year.  My wish will come true next week; Alabama beat Georgia in the SEC Championship Game on December 4th and the two teams will meet again next week on January 10th for the National Championship.  This is what the CFP was supposed to do – – pit the two best teams in the country against each other in a final game to determine the national champ on the field.  They got it right this year!

Finally, as we head into 2022, Dwight Perry had this message for football fans in New York:

“For New Yorkers who missed seeing the ball drop in Times Square on Friday night, the Giants and Jets play on Sunday.”

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………