Sunday, February 25, 2018

And the freshmen take over...

Sorry about not being able to post this sooner. (Well, you know those pesky-yet-vital life events...)

The 2017 NCAA Division 1-A "Shoulda-Woulda-Coulda" football playoffs are finished, and here's what happened (seeding in parentheses):

FIRST ROUND: Penn State (9) 28, Washington State (24) 0; Boise State (16) 16, Auburn (17)14; South Florida (20) 21, San Diego State (13) 14; Notre Dame (21) 29, Miami (FL) (12) 28; Troy (14) 42, Florida Atlantic (19) 32; Washington (11) 28, Michigan State (22) 7; TCU (18) 37, Memphis (15) 21; Oklahoma State (23) 53, USC (10) 28

SECOND ROUND: Penn State 42, Central Florida (1) 34; Toledo (8) 20, Boise State 15; Wisconsin (5) 21, South Florida 7; Clemson (4) 28, Notre Dame 21; Alabama (6) 59, Troy 13; Washington 28, Oklahoma (3) 25; Ohio State (7) 35, TCU 14; Georgia (2) 35, Oklahoma State 7

QUARTERFINAL ROUND: Penn State 44, Toledo 21; Wisconsin 14, Clemson 7; Alabama 35, Washington 0; Georgia 15, Ohio State 14

SEMIFINAL ROUND: Wisconsin 28, Penn State 14; Georgia 35, Alabama 14

CHAMPIONSHIP GAME: Georgia 28, Wisconsin 17

Well, how about some highlights?

FIRST ROUND: Darius Anderson's three touchdowns helped Horned Frogs spoil Tigers' playoff debut...Brandon Silvers fired four TD passes to key Trojans' win over Owls...109,990 filled up Beaver Stadium as Saquon Barkley scored three times in Nittany Lions' rout of Cougars...Fighting Irish won because Brandon Wimbush (who also tossed three air scores) tallied the game-winning two-point conversion after Kevin Stepherson scooted in from 79 yards out with 2:27 to go in the fourth quarter...Broncos pulled it out with just 18 seconds to play in regulation when LB Desmond Williams sacked Tiger QB Jarrett Stidham in the end zone...Bulls won it on Quinton Flowers' 25-yard scoring strike to Tyre McCants with 5:42 left in the third period...Huskies wiped out a 7-0 Spartan lead; Myles Gaskin led the way with two TDs...Cowboys shocked Trojans because Mason Rudolph went 24-42-399 yards-2 TDs-2 INTs while Justice Hill ran for four TDs on a 15-rush, 121-yard night and James Washington caught seven balls for 124 yards and a score.

SECOND ROUND: Buckeyes rained 28 unanswered points on Frogs to erase a 14-7 TCU lead; J.K. Dobbins (20-83-2 TDs) led the way...Jonathan Taylor got 128 yards and two TDs (he ran 28 times) to help Badgers stop Bulls, who had 12 penalties for 77 yards...Logan Woodside flipped a one-yard TD pass to Jon'Vea Johnson with 2:07 remaining in regulation to enable Rockets to sideline Broncos...Tavien Feaster brought it in from the Irish one-yard line with 57 ticks to go in the fourth to let Tigers give Notre Dame a taste of its own medicine...Lavon Coleman's two scores (and another by Gaskin) allowed Huskies to overcome Sooners' 505-yard offensive display...Crimson Tide outrushed Trojans, 297-38, with Jalen Hurts going 15-108-1 TD (while passing for 270 yards and another score)...Sony Michel (15-105-2 TDs) and Nick Chubb (19-78-1 TD) keyed Bulldogs' lassoing of Cowboys, while Jake Fromm threw for two more scores...Golden Knights wasted McKenzie Milton's 28-35-309 yards-5 TDs-0 picks passing effort (and became the second top seed in as many seasons to go one-and-done) when Barkley scooted for 99 yards (on 20 carries) and three touchdowns.

QUARTERFINAL ROUND: Taylor's one-yard score with 5:21 left in the fourth lifted Badgers over Tigers...Trace McSorley ran for three TDs and tossed an air score as Nittany Lions capitalized on 11 Rocket penalties that totaled 56 yards...Tide rolled, all right, nearly doubling up Huskies in yardage (521-267) while Damien Harris picked up three TDs (two on the ground, the other on a catch) and Hurts ran 10 times for 115 yards and connected on 11 of 21 throws for 205 yards and that TD pass...Fromm found Terry Godwin in the end zone from nine yards out with 1:25 to go in the fourth, and the Bulldogs won it on D'Andre Swift's two-point conversion run.

SEMIFINAL ROUND: Badgers held Nittany Lions to 128 total yards (38 on the ground) and sacked McSorley seven times (twice each by Alec James and D'Cota Dixon) while Taylor ran it 26 times for 137 yards and three tallies...Chubb scored twice on an 18-tote, 57-yard effort to put the Tide away. 

CHAMPIONSHIP GAME: At Atlanta's brand-new Mercedes-Benz Stadium, the Badgers coughed up a 14-7 halftime lead because Fromm went right to work, firing three scoring strikes, with the second TD toss- a ten-yarder to Riley Ridley- proving to be the winning score. 

Result: Kirby Smart became just the third head coach to take an SEC team to the top of these D-1-A playoffs and, in the process, the 'Dogs ended the Big Ten's control of the championship trophy.

And, on top of that, not one, but two- two- TWO freshmen got the playoff MVP award: Taylor (for running 96 times for 399 yards and six touchdowns) and Fromm (because he completed 45 passes in 73 tosses for 814 yards and seven TDs against three picks...good for a rating of 177.1).

This season- well, at least on this computer- came down to the first Division 1-A championship game involving a pair of first-time participants since 2013 (when Baylor topped Louisville, 35-28).

What about next season?

Well, we'll just have to wait and see.