Is there a nice way to say this is the worst postseason in college football history?
Probably not. This being a brand-new year, though, I hate to complain about a pair of College Football Playoff semifinals that were decided by a combined score of 75-17. I don’t want to go too negative despite a group of New Year’s Six bowl games that basically comprised one sick, twisted blowout after another.
Do we even have to get into the pallid, embarrassing performances by the Big Ten in the playoff (Alabama 38, Michigan State 0) and the Rose Bowl (Stanford 45, Iowa 16)?
Geez, even good ol’ overachiever Northwestern managed to lose 45-6 to Tennessee in Friday’s Outback Bowl. Seriously, 45-6? Who delivered the pregame pep talk, Rick Venturi?
The big games were hard to watch, and the biggest games — the playoff semis on New Year’s Eve — went largely unwatched. And the main reason for that seems not to be about lopsided scores, but about the very idea of holding playoff games on the biggest party night of the year.
The numbers were staggeringly poor compared with last season’s first-ever playoff games, which were held on Jan. 1, a tradition-rich date on the college football calendar. Thursday’s afternoon semifinal between Clemson and Oklahoma was down 45 percent in viewership vs. last season; the evening game between Alabama and Michigan State was down 34.4 percent.
I ask you: Is this surprising in the least?
It doesn’t surprise me, and I’m one of the bozos who watched every play of both games. Yet the playoff honchos seem intent on keeping this Dec. 31 thing going in hopes of creating a new, lasting tradition. It’s quite the roll of the dice.
WHO’S NO. 1?
Clemson is 14-0, the only unbeaten team in the country. The Tigers were spectacular in a 37-17 victory over Oklahoma, which was a popular pick to win the championship. What more do coach Dabo Swinney, start quarterback Deshaun Watson and the hottest program in America have to do to prove themselves?
Simple answer: Pull off a huge upset of Alabama in next Sunday’s title game in Glendale, Ariz.
Wait, upset? No doubt about it. The Crimson Tide are favored by a touchdown. After the manner in which they toyed with the Spartans, they probably should be.
I know this: I’ll be picking Alabama to win the game. Um, maybe. Then again, my predictions for the New Year’s Six games were — speaking of pallid, embarrassing performances — utterly awful.
By the way, all it’ll take to turn around a terrible postseason is an all-time-classic title game. Get to work on that, Tigers and Tide.
NO SHAME FOR NOTRE DAME
One of the most impressive things I saw on Friday was Notre Dame’s resilience in a 44-28 Fiesta Bowl defeat against a more talented Ohio State squad. The Irish, almost impossibly hard-hit by injuries, trailed 28-7 in the second quarter and easily could’ve waved the white flag. But they cut the deficit to 28-21 midway through the third quarter and continued to fight hard from there.
Needless to say, Irish fans would like to see Brian Kelly’s program stand nose-to-nose with Urban Meyer’s, but the truth is Notre Dame isn’t quite there yet. Close, though. Next season could be one to remember.
Follow me on Twitter @slgreenberg.