Don't Get It Twisted; Alabama Will Win Natty

Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

The 2016 CFB Playoff National Championship is not far away at all. Monday night will host the event from Glendale, Arizona, at 8:30 on ESPN. All eyes will be watching the undefeated, top ranked Clemson Tigers led by Deshaun Watson as they take on the powerhouse Alabama Crimson Tide. Clemson is very good, but Alabama will hoist the CFB Playoff Trophy on Monday night. 

Alabama has won the most national championships among all active FBS teams. They've won an astonishing fifteen titles. Nick Saban and crew will be obviously seeking their sixteenth championship and fourth by Saban at Alabama. Alabama will win another this time around against Clemson for several reasons.

 One, you have to start with the aforementioned Nick Saban. He is the greatest college coach in the game today. He is not only an amazing recruiter but is second to none in development of his players and preparation. He preaches "The Process," which basically means doing every single thing with excellence. He's a control freak and micromanager, and he's dang good at his job. He will have his team ready for the game against Clemson. 

Second, Alabama will beat Clemson because the Crimson Tide are more talented. It's as simple as that. I'm sorry Clemson; deal with it. No disrespect to the Tigers either, they have talent of their own and have the best quarterback in the country, but overall, Alabama just has better material. The defense for Alabama is absolutely ridiculous. The unit is historically good. 

It's unfair how good the unit is; it's the top stop unit in America after all. As I've said, the Tide have the best front seven in college football. Their defensive line and linebacking corps is amazing, and it's been almost impossible to run on the Tide particularly inside (#1 rush D in CFB). They also have the best pass rush in all of college football. 

Alabama not only has stars on this defense such as All-American DT A'Shawn Robinson, DE Jarran Reed, DE Jonathan Allen, and All-American LB Reggie Ragland, DB Eddie Jackson, etc. Their secondary has taken a major step forward under Mel Tucker this year and went from a weakness in the past to a strength. However, the biggest difference from this defense at Alabama from other years is depth. With all the blue-chip guys Alabama has, they have a rotation that is second to none. They just got so many playmakers that no one gets tired. It's demoralizing for the opposing offense. 

Alabama's Defense Is Nasty and Loaded With Talent

Alabama's offense is very good too, and the unit as a whole doesn't seem to get the credit it deserves. That might be because everyone focuses on running back Derrick Henry and for good reason. He won the Heisman after all and is an absolute animal, workhorse, and stat-stuffer. The powerful, big-framed man is the best pure running back in the game today. 

The Tide have slews of other talented playmakers on offense such as fellow back Kenyan Drake, wide receiver Calvin Ridley, ArDarius Stewart, Richard Mullaney, TE O.J. Howard, and others. I believed Jake Coker was one of the most underrated QBs this year. He showed how good he truly is as he lit up the stingy Michigan State defense through the air (286 yards and 2 touchdowns) in the playoff semifinal last week. He had the best performance of his career at Alabama and showed that his team can depend on him. 

Third, Alabama will win it all because of the team's mentality and leadership. They've been on this stage before and want revenge from going out in the playoffs last year. Alabama always has to fight against complacency as they have had such great success. That is not a problem this year. This team is different. The leadership is strong by these players, and they are focused and working their hardest. A team of this magnitude with a focus this powerful is a scary combination. 

I've seen nearly all of Alabama's games this year and even watched them in person. They have been nothing but impressive. They are so talented, and this might be the best team Nick Saban has ever had. I don't think anyone can beat this team if Alabama plays like they are capable of. The Clemson defense has been very underrated and is very good, but they simply won't be able to handle Alabama. The Tide are so balanced on offense and can hurt you in so many ways. Deshaun Watson is a heck of a quarterback, but he hasn't faced a defense near as good as Alabama. Clemson's offense will not do enough to beat the Crimson Tide. 

The 2016 CFB Playoff National Championship game has a lot of storylines and features the best two teams without a doubt in college football. Dabo Swinney has done an outstanding job at Clemson this year and has built the Tigers into a college football power. He has the best quarterback in the land (and Heisman finalist) in Deshaun Watson as well as other talented playmakers and a stingy defense. Nick Saban is the greatest coach in the country, and this team might be the best he's had ever in Tuscaloosa. This team has been a thrill to watch this year. This game should be fun to watch and very competitive, but don't get it twisted; Alabama will win its 16th national championship on Monday night. 

*Images via Getty Images

Follow me on Twitter: @legitjaydawg

Ultimate CFB Playoff Preview

It's here. The 2nd edition of the College Football Playoff is upon us. Two semifinal games between four deserving and talented teams will take place on New Year's Eve and will determine who will go on to the National Championship and be crowned the best in this great sport. First at 4 PM ET, #4 Oklahoma will take on #1 Clemson in the Capital One Orange Bowl. Then at 8 PM, #3 Michigan State will face #2 Alabama in the Goodyear Cotton Bowl. Here at, I have laid out a comprehensive preview of each team, profiled the top player from each team, and looked at the two semifinal games. Hope everyone has a good holiday season and enjoys what should be a very entertaining New Year's Eve. 


#4 Oklahoma Sooners 

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Record: 11-1 (Big 12 Champions)

Head Coach: Bob Stoops

Many people forget that Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops was on a very hot seat in Normon, Oklahoma, this season. I, for one, thought he was a lame duck coach. Anyway, his Sooners have had a remarkable season. The main credit for the 2015 success goes to two men - Baker Mayfield and Lincoln Riley. 

Lincoln Riley was brought in to be Oklahoma's new offensive coordinator last offseason to install his new up-tempo spread offense in Norman. Riley at 32 is one of the youngest and brightest offensive coaches in the college game. He is definitely a candidate to get a head coaching job of his own especially with what he has done with the Sooner offense this season. 

The other big reason and maybe the biggest reason for Oklahoma reaching the CFB Playoff is the emergence of Baker Mayfield. Mayfield transferred to Oklahoma from Texas Tech in the offseason, won the starting quarterback job, and has been simply sensational. He's a strong armed, dual-threat quarterback that is one of the best signal-callers period. He is a dynamic player, and the Sooners wouldn't be where they are now without him. In my mind, he should have been a Heisman finalist (more on Mayfield later).

It's not all Mayfield though. This Oklahoma team is ultra-talented particularly on the offensive side of the ball. You don't have to look far to see the playmakers. They're in the same backfield. The one-two punch of backs Samaje Perine and Joe Mixon have proven to be a formidable pair. They have combined for 2,469 yards and 27 touchdowns either rushing or catching passes out of the backfield. Probably the biggest weapon besides Mayfield on this offense is his favorite target in the passing game, leading receiver Sterling Shepard. He's caught 79 passes in 2015 for 1,201 yards and 11 scores. Pass-catchers Dede Westbrook and Durron Neal have made significant contributions in the passing game as well.

This offensive unit as a whole is one of the best in all of college football. They rank in the top 20 in the major offensive categories, but what really stands out is that this unit is 3rd in the country in points per game. The defense is not quite as stellar, but a major portion of that can be attributed to playing in the high-powered offensive landscape that is the Big 12. 

How did they get here? Well, they navigated through a Big 12 schedule with only one regular season loss. That loss was the fifth game of the season - a fluky disappointing result to big rival Texas. From that point on, Oklahoma ran the table beating four teams in the top 25 highlighted by wins over #6 Baylor, #18 TCU, and #11 Oklahoma State. They ended up winning the Big 12 outright and were considered one of the top four teams in the country and worthy of a spot in the CFB Playoff. 

#3 Michigan State Spartans

Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

Record: 12-2 (Big Ten Champions)

Head Coach: Mark Dantonio 

Probably the most disrespected team in the playoff, the Michigan State Spartans are seen by many as a long shot to win it all. Make no mistake; this team is pretty darn good. They are very deserving as well.   They got here by winning the Big Ten Championship a few weeks ago against over then #4 and undefeated Iowa, 16-13. The Spartans were down 13-9 late in the 4th, and Connor Cook and the MSU offense marched down the field on a 22 yard drive to score the go-ahead touchdown to win the football game. 

It was a gusty drive, and it is the reason the Spartans are here. Oh yeah, they also went 11-1 in the Big Ten with wins over #7 Oregon, # 12 Michigan and an upset win with a backup QB over defending National Champions and previously undefeated Ohio State in Columbus. That was the biggest moment of the season without a doubt.

Connor Cook is one of the top pro-style QBs in the country and is the leader of the Spartans. Combine that with a tenacious defense that the Spartans have been known for under Dantonio, and you've got a good chance to be pretty good. Michigan State under Dantonio has their own certain style. They like to play physical defense and run the football. 

The main guy they use to tote the rock is L.J. Scott with 691 yards rushing. Gerald Holmes is second on the team with 534 yards on the ground. Connor Cook's main target is star receiver Aaron Burbridge. Burbridge has 80 receptions for 1,219 yards and seven touchdowns. 

The defense is not bad either. It has only given up an average of 20.5 points per game, which ranks in the top 20 in the country. Riley Bullough leads the team in tackles with 95 total tackles. Probably the best pro prospect on this defensive unit is DE Shilique Calhoun, who leads the Spartans in getting to the QB with 9 sacks and numerous tackles for loss. 

#2 Alabama Crimson Tide

Record: 12-1

Head Coach: Nick Saban

Alabama is Alabama again. It looked like the Tide wouldn't be in this position right now if we had asked many after Week 3 of 2015. The Crimson Tide had just lost 43-37 at home against Ole Miss and looked bad doing it. They turned the ball over five times but still almost came back and won thanks to a late rally by Jake Coker. This game turned out to be a fluke as Alabama proved how dominant they were afterwards. This served as Jake Coker's first big statement that he was worthy of the starting job at Alabama. 

The Tide ran the table the rest of the year behind a Heisman winning running back and a dominant defense. The highlights were a blowout win over then #8 UGA, an 18 point victory over #9 Texas A&M, a blowout of then Heisman frontrunner Leonard Fournette and #2 LSU, and an SEC championship victory over #18 Florida. 

Nick Saban is the best coach in college football. Yeah, he's better than Urban Meyer. He's hoping to get his fourth national title ring at Alabama, and he's got a great chance to do this. Like aforementioned, the defense is amazing. It's one of the best that Saban and DC Kirby Smart (UGA head coach next year) has had in Tuscaloosa. It ranks as the #2 overall defense in the country. They also only allow an average 14.4 points scored on them a game, which is one of the best in the sport. 

The front seven is the best unit in the nation and is filled with NFL talent. The defensive line is beyond stout, and it's virtually impossible to run up the middle on them. I guess that's is why they rank first in rushing defense. The line is led in the middle by 6-4, 312 pound defensive tackle A'Shawn Robinson who is bookended by two other monsters in Jarran Reed and Jonathan Allen (team sack leader with 10). The linebacking corps is led by inside linebacker and leading tackler Reggie Ragland. Ragland is so fun to watch, shows relentless pursuit, and is a tough tackler. 

The defense has really been helped by the secondary's performance this year under new defensive backs coach Mel Tucker. He has taken this unit from one of weakness to a strength. Eddie Jackson leads the team with five interceptions and Marlon Humphrey is second with three. This defensive unit is truly special and should be remembered as one of the best Alabama has ever had. 

The offense can hold their own too. Nick Saban has always loved to run the football and has a Heisman winning running back at his disposal. Derrick Henry is a massive man to say the least. He leads the country in rushing yards this season and is the focal point of their offense. The rest of the offense is good too.  

The QB position was a question at Alabama in the offseason and even up until the game against Ole Miss. Jake Coker stepped to the plate and has certainly done an underrated job in Tuscaloosa. He has thrown for almost 2,500 yards with a 65.7 completion percentage and seventeen touchdowns. 

The receiving talent around him certainly helps. Dynamic newcomer Calvin Ridley leads Alabama in receiving with 75 catches for 893 yards and 5 touchdowns. ArDarius Stewart, Oregon State transfer Richard Mullaney, and TE O.J. Howard have also been very important to the success of the passing game. This dimension of Alabama is in my opinion underrated due to Derrick Henry's presence and the Tide usually sticking to running the ball. 

However, they can kill you both ways. Watch out for backup running back Kenyan Drake. When healthy, he is one of the most explosive and versatile players on this team. Alabama is truly hard to beat and is my pick to win it all this year.

#1 Clemson Tigers

Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Record: 13-0

Head Coach: Dabo Swinney 

What a season it has been for Clemson. Head coach Dabo Swinney deserved monstrous credit for the play of his Tigers and has been voted as AP Coach of the Year in college football. This Clemson team is different from others under Swinney. It is supremely confident and hasn't lost a game they shouldn't or fallen apart in the clutch like seasons gone by. Swinney has been in the process of turning his team into a college football power, and he has certainly done just that. 

It doesn't hurt though to have a guy leading the team at quarterback Deshaun Watson that was a Heisman finalist. Swinney has nothing but praise for Watson, and Clemson wouldn't be where they are today without the Gainsville, GA, native. The dual-threat quarterback leads the team in passing and is currently second in rushing. He plays with a remarkable calmness in high-stress situations and stellar in the clutch. 

Running back Wayne Gallman leads Clemson on the ground with 1,332 yards and ten touchdowns. Artavis Scott leads the Tigers in receiving yards with 805 yards on 85 catches with five scores.   Wideouts Deon Cain, Charone Peake, and TE Jordan Leggett have also made significant contributions in the passing game. They've combined for over 1,500 yards this season. 

Clemson's defense has been excellent this year under defensive coordinator Brent Venables. Look for that name to be mentioned as a hot commodity in the coaching world in the coming years by the way. Anyway, his unit ranks seventh in the nation in thwarting opposing offenses. Clemson's defensive line is strong as well as their linebacking corp. Linebacker B.J. Goodson leads his team in tackles with 91 and fellow linebackers Ben Boulware and Shaq Lawson have also been instrumental in this stop unit. The secondary is solid as the Tigers boast the #5 pass defense in the country.

This Clemson Tiger team might be the most overshadowed undefeated team in Power-5 history. This team is really good. There's not a weakness that I can see on this entire team. There is a reason they are the top seed in this playoff. 


QB Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma

Mayfield has brought new life to the Oklahoma football program. He is one of the most prolific playmakers in all of college football. Mayfield has passed for 3,389 yards with a 68.6 completion percentage and 35 touchdowns. Besides his strong and accurate arm, Mayfield can makes plays with his legs as well. He has added 420 yards and 7 scores on the ground. He is the biggest reason the Sooners are in the playoff this year. 

QB Connor Cook, Michigan State

Cook has NFL prospect written all over him. His health could be an issue though. Anyway when healthy, he's one of the best pocket passers period. He can make all the throws and has give Michigan State more of a downfield threat. This year he has thrown for 2,921 yards and 24 scores despite missing the entire game against Ohio State. 

RB Derrick Henry, Alabama

The 2015 Heisman Winner was truly worthy of the award. He was the best running back in college football this year. He seems to be an even better person as well. Henry is a big back with a 6-3, 242 pound frame. Henry is extremely powerful, who hardly ever goes down with the initial tackler. Henry has very underrated speed, and when he gets started, he is a nightmare to bring down. He broke Hershel Walker's single-season rushing record in the SEC this year with 1,986 yards and 23 touchdowns. Henry has had four games rushing over 200 yards. The freak of nature has certainly been fun to watch this year.

QB Deshaun Watson, Clemson

Watson is probably the perfect player to build a team around. I remember saying he would be a Heisman candidate one day after watching his first college game. He's surprised even me as he was a Heisman finalist this year and has more chances to win this award. Watson has accumulated 3,512 yards through the air this year as well as being the second leading rusher at Clemson with 887 yards. 


Capital One Orange Bowl:#4 Oklahoma vs. #1 Clemson-Dec. 31 at 4PM on ESPN

When it was announced by the CFB Playoff committee that Oklahoma would play Clemson in a CFB Playoff semi in the Orange Bowl, I was ecstatic. This should be one entertaining affair. Both offenses know how to light up the scoreboard. The QB matchup will be fun to watch as well. Deshaun Watson and Baker Mayfield are probably the two best quarterbacks in the college game. (Yes, I hear your expletives, TCU and Boykin fans.) Both players will have something to prove in this game. 

For Mayfield, he shouldn't be too happy about his Heisman snub, and Watson should be motivated by the fact that a current OU player said TCU QB Trevone Boykin is better. Not only do these two QBs want to prove themselves as the best, but Bob Stoops and Dabo Swinney will seek to lead their team to another victory and once again destroy the stigma that they can't win the big ones. 

Oklahoma has to have a balance offensive attack and rely on Perine and Mixon's running abilities as well as Mayfield's arm. This Clemson defense is very stout after all, and defending the pass is one of their specialties. For Watson and Clemson, they just have to do what they do and try to manage the game and keep the formidable Sooner offense off the field as much as possible.

The Sooners have the better offense stat wise in this game, but it's close. I think both teams will come in with a chip on their shoulders and with something to prove. This one should be a dandy, and I feel like this one should see a solid amount of points on the scoreboard. This game is probably the toughest of the two games to pick. I definitely could see either team winning this football game. 

Cotton Bowl-#3 Michigan State vs. #2 Alabama-Dec. 31 at 8PM on ESPN

To finish the night off, the Michigan State Spartans will take on the Alabama Crimson Tide in the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic to cap off New Year's Eve. Alabama is the powerhouse, name-brand program, and most are picking the Tide to win this game. Be wary though, Mark Dantonio has made this Michigan State team into a perennial player on the big stage. He's done an outstanding job in East Lansing and should be commended. Nick Saban's teams are always tough to beat, and Dantonio knows it. It's weird how similar these two teams are in style. They both love to be physical and play good defense and run the ball. To me, Alabama just does it a bit better. 

As you've read previously, this Alabama team is supremely talented. Their game plan in this ball game will to hopefully continue to play solid defense and run the ball with Derrick Henry behind one of the best offensive lines in the nation. The difference in this Spartan team than Dantonio has had in the past is that he has a superstar quarterback in Connor Cook. 

Cook has struggled with injuries this year, but if he's healthy, he's one of the best. The way to beat Alabama is with an on-fire QB. The Tide must not let Cook beat them through the air and dictate the game to them like what happened in last year's Sugar Bowl against Cardale Jones and Ohio State. This Alabama defense will also be have to be careful to have a guy blanketing top receiver Aaron Burbridge the entire game. 

For Michigan State, the keys to winning this game are simple. Spread the ball out in the passing game, be balanced on offense, and force Alabama quarterback Jake Coker to beat you. They have to try to stop or at least slow down Derrick Henry in this game. Good luck. Even if they do for a while, most teams Alabama has faced have been worn down eventually because the Tide will throw Henry at you play after play. 

Even if they do manage to neutralize Henry, I think Jake Coker has been underrated, and with the receiving corps that the Tide has, they can still move the ball. This still has to be the game plan for MSU. I think Alabama will ultimately prevail in this game, but it will be a tight defensive struggle. If you are like me, this is the kind of football I love. 

Overall, I am really looking forward to these two playoff games. These games will feature four exciting, talented, and worthy teams. It should be very entertaining. So on New Year's Eve, sit back on the couch, enjoy the holidays, and have fun watching what promises to be some very good football . 

*All Images Via Getty Images,, or orange unless otherwise noted

**All times eastern

Follow me on Twitter: @legitjaydawg

A Birds-Eye View of Every SEC Bowl Game

John Reed-USA TODAY Sports

The holiday season is upon us, and that means it's also bowl season.  Unlike many others that cover college football, I honestly really enjoy all the bowl games (except the ones with 5-7 teams). While the playoff is all that ultimately matters, the bowls provide a stage for teams to finish the season off on a good note. For some teams, a mid-major bowl means a successful season; for others, it's a sign of disappointment of not going farther. Either way, the games are always fun to watch. 

The SEC got a bad rap last bowl season as the conference struggled in the postseason particularly in the SEC West. The ten teams from the SEC will seek to change that this time around. Let's take a closer look at all the bowl games (outside of Alabama's playoff matchup) in the Southeastern Conference. 

Texas Bowl: #20 LSU (8-3) vs. Texas Tech (7-5)-Dec. 29th at 9PM

Crystal LoGiudice-USA TODAY Sports

Players to Watch: RB Leonard Fournette, LSU; QB Patrick Mahomes, TTU

Preview: Well, apparently Les Miles will still be the coach at LSU. I don't think AD Joe Aleva and the people at LSU could've handled the situation worse. That's another story for another day. Anyway, the Tigers will take on the Texas Tech Red Raiders in Houston and look to get another win in 2015. The Red Raiders will hope to keep LSU from achieving that dream. Texas Tech is 7-5 but has wins over Arkansas, Texas, and a narrow loss to then #3 TCU. The Red Raiders have a high-powered offense led by QB Patrick Mahomes, but their defense is absolutely horrible. Fournette and LSU should exploit that.

Prediction: LSU 35-Texas Tech 32

Birmingham Bowl: Auburn (6-6) vs. Memphis (9-3)-Dec. 30 at 12PM

Shanna Lockwood-USA TODAY Sports

Players to Watch: DE Carl Lawson, AU; QB Paxton Lynch, Memphis

Preview: The 2015 season has been a forgettable one for the Auburn Tigers. Auburn better not let this game get away from them for Gus Malzahn's sake.  Their opponent, Memphis, has had a very successful season led by QB Paxton Lynch. They can put an exclamation on their season with another win over an SEC team (beat Ole Miss earlier) in Auburn. I think Lynch and his Tigers can exploit an Auburn defense that has struggled much of the year. It should be close either way.

Prediction: Memphis 31-Auburn 28

Belk Bowl: NC State (7-5) vs. Mississippi State (8-4)-Dec. 30th at 3:30PM

Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

Players to Watch: QB Jacoby Brissett, NC State; QB Dak Prescott, MSU

Preview: Let's just say it how it is. Dak Prescott is a dang good quarterback. He's done wonders for MSU and will be remembered as one of the greatest to ever play in Starkville, Mississippi. The quarterback on the other side of the field is not shabby either. Jacoby Brissett has done fairly well at the reigns of NC State. 

This should be a good game as both teams will look to avenge their last game losses to in-state rivals. Both defenses are weak, and both teams know how to score, so I think this should be really entertaining. I think ultimately Dak Prescott and the receiving duo of Fred Ross and De'Runnya Wilson of State will be too much to handle for the Wolfpack. 

Prediction: Mississippi State 41-NC State 37

Music City Bowl: Texas A&M (8-4) vs. Louisville (7-5)-Dec. 30 at 7PM 

Erich Schlegel-USA TODAY Sports

Players to Watch: QB Kyler Murray, Texas A&M; QB Lamar Jackson, Louisville

Preview: Texas A&M's 2015 campaign has been a disappointing one. The offense has struggled to find consistency this year despite that side of the ball supposedly being the Aggies strong suit. Also having two 5-star QBs in Kyle Allen and Kyler Murray leaving Kevin Sumlin's program is not a good look. It looks like Jake Hubenak will be the new starter for the Aggies. There are a lot of distractions for the Aggies on the future of their coaching staff. 

Louisville has had a disappointing season of their own, but also have another young starting quarterback in Lamar Jackson, who is not only his team's leading passer but also the Cardinals' leading rusher. Combine Jackson's presence with the Cardinals boasting the 13th ranked defense in the country and that should indicate Louisville should win this game.

Prediction: Louisville 28-Texas A&M 14

Outback Bowl: #13 Northwestern (10-2) vs. #23 Tennessee (8-4)-Jan. 1 at 12PM

Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

Players to Watch: RB Justin Jackson, Northwestern; QB Josh Dobbs, UT

Preview: Tennessee was probably the best team in the SEC East this year. However, their overall record didn't show they were championship worthy. They gave up several big leads early in the season. However disappointing the losses were, the Vols were in every game they lost, lost by five points to #2 Alabama, and were up 17-0 on #4 Oklahoma before squandering that lead and losing in Week 2. There is talent galore in Knoxville and the future looks very bright. They should be a favorite to win their division next year. 

Anyway, Northwestern didn't have a bad season either led by a stingy defense that currently ranks 11th in the country. Getting ten wins at Northwestern is something to be proud of, and the Wildcats would love to cap off their successful season with a bowl win. I think dual-threat quarterback Josh Dobbs and a talented but sometimes inconsistent offense should ultimately be the difference. 

Prediction: Tennessee 27-Northwestern 24

Citrus Bowl:#14 Michigan (9-3) vs. #10 Florida (10-3)-Jan. 1 at 1PM

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Players to Watch: QB Jake Rudock, Michigan; DE Jonathan Bullard, Florida

Preview: Orlando, Florida, will play host to a bowl matchup between the two top coaches of the year in college football. Jim Harbaugh of Michigan and Jim McElwaine of Florida have both done outstanding jobs at the helm of their respective programs and have transformed them into championship contenders. The Florida defense is simply stellar on every level with stars in every position. They probably have the best secondary in the nation. 

The problem is that the Gators' under QB Treon Harris have a significant problem scoring points. Both teams like running the football, but the main tipping point in this matchup is that the Wolverines have a solid quarterback in Jake Rudock. I like the Wolverines to win this one, but Florida's staunch defense makes it interesting.

Prediction: Michigan 24-Florida 20

Sugar Bowl: #16 Oklahoma State (10-2) vs. #12 Ole Miss (9-3)-Jan. 1 at 8:30PM

Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports

Players to Watch: QB Mason Rudolph, OSU; QB Chad Kelly, UM

Preview: Ole Miss stud DT Robert Nkemdiche was suspended from the bowl game due to his recent escapades and has declared for the NFL Draft. Ole Miss has had an up and down season, but Hugh Freeze's team, although inconsistent, finished as the second best team in the SEC and have the distinction of being the one team to beat Alabama. Oklahoma State started out 10-0 but lost their final two games of the year to Baylor and Oklahoma. 

This is a big game for the heralded and star-studded 2013 recruiting class to actually win something. They got embarrassed by TCU in their last postseason matchup, and they should be motivated to finish this season the right way. They have talent all over the field with playmaking QB Chad Kelly, WR Laquon Treadwell, and TE Evan Ingram as well as a really good defense. Dual-threat QB Chad Kelly and that defense should be the difference in this game, and the Rebels should be motivated. OSU knows how to score points though.

Prediction: Ole Miss 42-Oklahoma State 38

Taxslayer Bowl: Penn State (7-5) vs. Georgia (9-3)-Jan. 2 at 12PM

Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Players to Watch: DE Carl Nassib, PSU; RB Sony Michel, UGA

Preview: It's been a disappointing season for both teams. Georgia is dealing with coaches dropping like flies and uncertainty. Motivation will be a question for both teams, but I think each squad will be ready to play. This is an intriguing matchup as the teams are so similar. PSU and UGA have thousand yard plus running backs in Penn State's Saquon Barkley and UGA's Sony Michel. The Nittany Lions have the edge at quarterback with Christian Hackenberg under center. Both teams have struggled generating explosive plays. The Nittany Lions and the Bulldogs have top defenses (PSU with #14 and Georgia with #8). 

Watch out for Penn State DE Carl Nassib, who leads the nation in sacks with 15.5. He needs to put pressure on UGA QB Greyson Lambert, who has not been dynamic to say the least and has struggled moving the Bulldogs down the field. I think Georgia gets this one as they have the talent to beat the Nittany Lions. They should be focused on this game as the seniors want to go out with a victory, and it will be a platform to try and impress new head coach Kirby Smart from afar. The Nittany Lions' defense is good, but they've not been great against the run. This could prove to be a big factor as this plays right into UGA's hands.

Prediction: Georgia 24-Penn State 17

Liberty Bowl: Kansas State (6-6) vs. Arkansas (7-5)-Jan. 2 at 3:20PM

Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

Players to Watch: QB Joe Hubener, KSU; QB Brandon Allen, Arkansas

Preview: Arkansas finished as one of the most dangerous teams in the Southeastern Conference. If only they learned to not start badly, they could really contend in the SEC. Anyway, the Razorbacks have this game won. For one thing, Brandon Allen is one of the best quarterbacks in the SEC and has a slew of weapons to throw the ball to in TE Hunter Henry, WR Drew Morgan, WR Dominique Reed, etc. Combine that with Arkansas having a strong running attack led by Alex Collins, and you got a really good offensive unit. Kansas State has one of the worst defenses in the country and won't be able to handle the Razorbacks. 

Prediction: Arkansas 45-Kansas State 31

*all times are ET

Follow me on Twitter: @legitjaydawg

Don't Kid Yourself, It's Henry vs. McCaffrey for Heisman

The most prestigious award in college athletics, the Heisman Trophy, will be presented Saturday night in New York City. The three finalists that will be there are running back Derrick Henry of Alabama, running back Christian McCaffrey of Stanford, and quarterback Deshaun Watson of Clemson. Each candidate has led their respective teams to great seasons. While each of these guys are deserving, I believe the decision is ultimately between Henry and McCaffrey. 

I remember before the season that everyone speculated if a running back could win the Heisman anymore. We can laugh about it now. Derrick Henry and Christian McCaffrey are two outstanding backs each with a case to win the coveted Heisman Trophy. Derrick Henry has followed in a line of great backs at Alabama and might be the best ever. He is simply sensational. He has tremendous power and speed, and when he gets started, tackling him is like stopping a freight train. 

I have personally watched many of his games on TV this year and one in person and have simply been astounded watching Henry gash each SEC defense he comes up against week after week. He is simply a freak of nature. Henry has broken countless records in 2015 including the SEC record for most rushing yards in a season and the SEC record for most rushing touchdowns in a season. He will be remembered as one of the greatest talents to ever come through the Southeastern Conference and college football in general. 

Henry is one massive and intimidating human being. The 6-3, 242 pound junior from Yulee, Florida, has rushed for 1,986 yards this season with 23 touchdowns. He leads the FBS in rushing yards this year, and that is in a conference that knows a little about defense. Like I've said, Henry is so powerful. He seems to enjoy contact and would just as soon run over you than burn you in a foot race. The man is an absolute animal. 

For all the hits, the carries (46 and 44 the last two weeks), and the mental load of carrying the Alabama Crimson Tide's offense on his shoulders, Henry has done an admirable job. One of his most underrated qualities is his patience, his work ethic, and his calm demeanor. He is one of the biggest reasons why the Tide are in the CFB Playoff. 

Henry would have my vote for the Heisman, but you can make quite the case for Christian McCaffrey as well. McCaffrey, a sophomore from Castle Rock, Colorado, has certainly had a breakout season in his 2nd year at Stanford University. McCaffrey broke Barry Sanders' NCAA record for all-purpose yards in a single season in 2015 with 3,496 thus far. He is Mr. Everything for Stanford. He has 1,847 yards rushing, 540 yards receiving, 1,109 yards on special teams, and even 39 yards passing. He's scored 15 touchdowns this year, which includes throwing two as well. He's arguably the most versatile player in all of college football. He is very quick and shifty. 

Last weekend, McCaffrey really made a case for himself as worthy of the Heisman in the Pac-12 Title Game against USC. McCaffrey rushed for 207 yards in a 461 all-purpose yards outing against the Trojans on a national stage. I think that monster performance, along with breaking Sanders' record, really cemented McCaffrey as a Heisman finalist. It's just a shame his team is not in the playoff, but Stanford is really good, and McCaffrey is their best player. 

Bottom line is that the Heisman is between Alabama's Derrick Henry and Stanford's Christian McCaffrey. The Heisman voting should reflect that as well on Saturday night. There are many talented players in the country with obviously Deshaun Watson of Clemson. Heck, I would've included Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield among the Heisman finalists, but that's just my opinion. I'm not going to be upset if Watson does indeed win. He is certainly a worthy candidate. Let's be honest though, Henry and McCaffrey are just a step above everyone else.

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McGarity Was Right; Richt Had to Go

It was announced Sunday that Mark Richt would no longer be the head football coach at the University of Georgia. My first emotion was that of shock. After all, Mark Richt had been the only coach at Georgia since I started watching SEC football. He was a very good coach and had taken the UGA program a long way. His overall record was admirable. However, Richt will be remembered for being an even better person than coach. In spite of this, UGA AD Greg McGarity decided a change needed to be made in Athens, and as sad as I am for CMR, I believe it had to be done.

Mark Richt's hiring will be remembered as one of the best things to ever happen to the University of Georgia. Richt was hired as head coach at Georgia prior to the 2001 season. He was formerly the offensive coordinator at Florida State University, where he served under the legendary Bobby Bowdon. He replaced Jim Donnan in Athens and compiled a 145-51 overall record and two SEC Championships in his 15 years at Georgia. He ranks second on the Bulldogs' all-time win list. 

Like I said previously, for the great coach that Mark Richt was, he will be remembered even more for his actions off the field. He was known for being a philanthropist and a very religious man. I personally respect him more than any other figure in college athletics. The coach did it the right way.  He was not only concerned with winning but making his players into admirable young men and good citizens. 

He was known for his support of charities and his radio commercials and support as well of Children's Healthcare of Atlanta in Georgia. He was known for his amazing handling of the Devon Gales' situation. He was known for being the epitome of class and was loved by his players. I wish him the best of success in whatever he does in the future.

Make no mistake though; change was needed in my opinion. I have not always agreed with UGA Athletic Director Greg McGarity in the past, but I think he made the right decision this time. There were reports that McGarity wanted Mark Richt fired last year but was overruled by current UGA President Jere Morehead. He wasn't overruled this time. 

Although he wasn't a bad coach, Mark Richt had a history of underachieving at Georgia. The Bulldogs have had amazing talent and a slew of NFL prospects during his tenure. They have had eleven first round draft picks under his watch. With all the talent Richt has had, Georgia should have won more. Richt won two SEC Championships in 2002 and 2005. However, they haven't won a title since. In case your math skills are as bad as mine, that's been ten years. 

Greg McGarity's New Hire Will Define Him
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Most schools would've been content with Mark Richt. Heck, you could be certain he would win 9-10 games every year. Georgia didn't pull the trigger sooner I believe for two reasons. For one, Mark Richt was such a good guy, and the program seemed to be content as they were making boatloads of money every year. I think 2015 helped finalize McGarity's decision in his mind. 

The 2015 Georgia Bulldogs finished the regular season with a 9-3 record. That doesn't look bad on paper. It's who they lost to and how they lost. The Bulldogs were yet again the favorite to win the currently down SEC Eastern Division, and they again disappointed. The Bulldogs didn't beat a single team with a winning record in the 2015 regular season.  The wins they did get were not the prettiest a lot of the time. The Georgia offense struggled mightily due in large part to the bad offseason hiring of Brian Schottenhiemer as offensive coordinator by Richt. 

Georgia's first loss came to a historically good Alabama team in Athens. While I can't fault the Bulldogs for that one, they at least should have been competitive. The Tide exposed the Dawgs again. UGA was seeking revenge from the 2012 SEC Championship game and the blackout loss in 2008. To add insult to injury, Georgia lost the next week to a reeling Tennessee team in a game that they were up, 21-3, at one point and should have won. The Volunteers rallied and came back to win, 38-31.

The third loss for Georgia was an all-time low. Georgia could still win the division with a win over the Gators. It didn't matter. UGA had dealt with inconsistent QB play all season, and Mark Richt decided to roll the dice and start third-string quarterback Faton Bauta. Bauta threw four interceptions as the Bulldogs were embarrassed, 27-3, by a Florida team under a first year head coach in Jim McElwaine. The Georgia fan base was understandably upset after their team got absolutely manhandled by their biggest and most hated rival in Florida. 

Wait a second, you say. The Bulldogs finished the season with four straight wins. That's good right? Not so fast, the Bulldogs beat a bad Kentucky team, barely beat a 5-7 Auburn squad, squeaked by Georgia Southern in OT (team played on the FCS level in 2013), and defeated a now 3-9 Georgia Tech team, 13-7, in which the Bulldogs clinched with a fourth quarter interception. They are still somehow on track to win ten games with a bowl victory this year and remain "status quo."

The 27-3 Loss to Florida on Halloween Was an All-Time Low for Richt

McGarity was fed up after the Tech game and knew a change had to be made. He came out with a statement on Sunday. 

"Coach Richt and I met Sunday to discuss the status of our football program, and we mutually agreed that he would step down as head coach and would have the opportunity to accept other duties and responsibilities following the bowl game."

There was nothing mutual about this. Let's be honest here. McGarity fired him. Georgia handled this situation the best way they could, but there would still be those who would not be happy. The Richt supporters in the divided Georgia fan base argued to keep Mark Richt by pointing out what a great guy he is, and he does things the right way. They point out his winning records and his history against bitter, in-state rival Georgia Tech. That's all well and good, but the Georgia football program's measuring stick is not mediocre Tech teams; it's their record against Florida.  Richt has gone 5-10 against the Gators and obviously couldn't figure out how to beat them more often than not.

I'm not even going to bring up the bad coaching decisions, head-scratching losses to less talented teams, and choking in the clutch that Georgia has endured multiple times under Richt. Ultimately, Georgia fired Mark Richt because he could never deliver a national title to UGA, and for all the good he did at the coaching helm, he seemed to have hit his ceiling in Athens. I felt it was time, but I was kind of hoping for Richt's sake that he would see the light, make the decision himself, and leave on his own terms.

After all, Georgia deserves better. It's one of the best jobs in college football. Besides a rabid fan base, the Bulldogs are obviously located in one of the riches recruiting states in college football. They can get all the talent they want year in and year out. The job is made easier as the Bulldogs don't have a strong in-state rival they have to compete with in recruiting. It has to be frustrating for the folks in Athens to see the many teams around them with titles, but they don't have one despite having top talent with guys like Matthew Stafford, Knowshon Moreno, A.J. Green, Justin Houston, Todd Gurley, etc. 

To sum things up, I agree with McGarity's decision to fire Mark Richt. As much as I liked and respected the guy, it was a needed change. With the firing of Richt, McGarity made the biggest decision he has ever made as athletic director at the University of Georgia. He better get the right man to replace him (reports say that UGA is getting Kirby Smart), or the AD will get some major heat. I don't envy the position he is in at all. You got to respect McGarity for having the guts to make the move. He and Georgia made a statement that ten win seasons aren't enough; only championships will do at a place like the University of Georgia. As NFL Hall of Fame Head Coach Vince Lombardi once said, "Winning isn't everything; it's the only thing."

Follow me on Twitter: @legitjaydawg