Ohio State needs some help on Saturday to find a way into the college playoffs, but is it that far fetched to think the Buckeyes can receive the help they need? You only have to look back at 2007 to see that anything is possible.
I can still rememer watching in shock as Dave Wannstedt found a way to lead his Pittsburgh squad over Rich Rodriguez and that Mountaineer powerhouse. Pitt won 13-9 as a 4-7 team, in an upset that still is hard to believe today. West Virginia was a HUGE favorite, and it was thought that they would win the game around 56-7, but a miracle occurred and the Mountaineers lost their spot in the BCS title game.
While not as surprising, but just as memorable, number-9 ranked Oklahoma blasted number-one MIssouri 38-17. All of the sudden that projected BCS title game between West Virginia and Missouri became a distant memory. And LSU and Ohio State ended up playing for the title.
What has to happen Saturday for Ohio State to make it to the playoffs? Nothing is cut and dried, but I'm guessing that the Buckeyes are the true number-5 team right now, with Michigan State and Iowa tied at number-4. I think Ohio State needs one upset today to get in, but two upsets, like in 2007, would guarantee them a spot. A Stanford loss should not be necessary, but it wouldn't hurt the cause.
4:00 P.M. Alabama vs. Florida: The Crimson Tide is favored by 17.
Statistically speaking, this would be the biggest upset of the day by far. Florida has been awful lately, but do the Gators actually have a chance? Yes, they do. Gator head coach Jim McIlwain is a former Bama assistant, and he knows that program inside and out. They are going to need Alabama's help, but if Florida can hold up against the run they have a chance. They will sell out to stop Derrick Henry, and they have the front-seven to cause Alabama problems. They have to force Jacob Coker to throw. They have the defensive backs to cover in man without help, as they will need to commit 8 to the run. I think they are alright defensively. What about that offense? Yuck. They are not going to score much in this game, if at all on offense. They need a scoop-and score, or a pick-six, or a punt return TD, or a kickoff return for a TD. Any combination of the above would be great. They need to hang around, and pull off a miracle late. I believe they can hang around. At the start of the fourth quarter, the score needs to be something like 13-9, or 17-12, and then hope for some Gator luck. If at any point Alabama gets up 21-3, then it's time to call in the dogs and pee on the fire, because this hunt will be over. PREDICTION: Alabama 17 Florida 12.
8:00 P.M. North Carolina vs. Clemson: The Tigers are favored by 5.
This game has all the makings of a shootout, and I think the loser of this game might still score 35 points. There is no pressure on Carolina, while Clemson is carrying the weight of the world on their shoulders. Pressure causes cracks in foundations, and Clemson has lost these types of games in the past. They have not played well recently, and their main worry has to be falling behind early to North Carolina, and then having to climb that mountain for two hours. The Tar Heels have a powerful offense and if they get out of the blocks fast, they might never look back. Larry Fedora is a great coach, and this just might be the moment that sends him into the national conversation for top jobs. I don't think this Clemson team is good enough defensively to stop Carolina, nor do I think they can continue turning the ball over the way they have lately. Without question, Clemson is facing the most pressure of all the Saturday teams, and they don't have a history of managing these types of games well. I'm seeing another Tiger flameout at the worst possible time. PREDICTION: North Carolina 42 Clemson 38.
7:45 P.M. USC vs. Stanford: The Cardinal is favored by 4.
While I don't think Ohio State NEEDS USC to win this game to get into the playoffs, I guarantee you Urban Meyer will be humming "Fight On" throughout this game to his television. The Trojan players got the head coach they wanted badly in Clay Helton, so they are going to play this game loose and free. Stanford has had a great year, but injuries are mounting defensively. USC lost to Stanford back in September 41-31, but that game won't mean much this time around. It's has to be hard to beat a good team twice in the same season, and this is not the same team at USC at all. They have won six of the last seven games, and appear to be peaking at the right time. Stanford? What an emotional win they had over Notre Dame last week. Are they ready to be at that emotional peak again with only seven days of recovery? I don't think so. Once again, when the talent is even, I'm going with the team carrying less of a burden and in better health. Stanford will not win this game with an average effort, and they better not give up 31 points again either. USC has more speed and better athletes, and I think they will put up a huge performance for Coach Helton. PREDICTION: USC 35 Stanford 31.
Get your popcorn ready for Sunday's selection show!!!!!!!!!!