The regular season has concluded. The good news is the conference championship games are next week and we have some fun games ahead of us.The playoff is virtually set and the only drama will be for the final spot.
Notre Dame is in after an unbeaten regular season. I also believe Alabama is in even if they lose the SEC Championship because the Tide will still be one of the four best teams with its only loss being to playoff-bound Georgia. Clemson is also in unless they somehow lose to a mediocre Pitt team, which I think there is virtually no chance of. So that leaves one spot with three teams in contention. If Georgia beats Alabama they are in. That would make the playoff Notre Dame, Bama, Clemson, and Georgia. If Georgia loses, the final spot would be between Oklahoma and Ohio State. If Ohio State loses to Northwestern and Oklahoma beats Texas the committee's decision will be easy, same goes if Texas beats Oklahoma and Ohio State beats Northwestern. What if they both lose? Then we've got a real mess. Actually, that would be a lot of fun for us fans, but a real nightmare for the playoff committee.Ohio State is in Michigan's head.
Don't underestimate the psychological component of sports.
When I played baseball and I would get into a slump every time I walked up to the plate I didn't think I was going to get a hit. When I was on a hitting streak the ball looked big and I had all the confidence in the world. Golfers can get the yips. Some baseball players can struggle to throw the ball from second to first, see Steve Sax and Chuck Knoblauch. It isn't because athletes are physically incapable. They are mentally incapable.
The minute the Wolverines got off their bus in Columbus, Ohio they were already defeated. Not because they weren't better than the Buckeyes, they probably are. It's because losing 13 out of the last 14 games had taken its toll. Even though the Wolverines had won 10 straight games this year and were impressive in doing so the Buckeyes were in their heads. They played like that was the case and were routed 62-39.Wisconsin was in Minnesota's head.
As a Minnesota fan, I know this firsthand. I attended the last victory over the Badgers in 2003. The game was played in a facility that no longer exists (The Metrodome), and I hadn't even met my ex-wife.
Minnesota had opportunities to win games in that 14 game losing streak. They held several leads in the second half of those games only to see the Badgers carry the axe around at the very end.
Now the Gophers have a coach with the confidence and bravado in P.J. Fleck that can get the team and fans believing in themselves. P.J. is the epitome of positive leadership and only sees the glass half full, no matter what fatalistic and passive aggressive Minnesotans may tell him. P.J. had his team believing and it's a young team at that. The last time the Gophers had beaten the Badgers most of these kids were barely out of diapers.
Now P.J. needs to get the fanbase believing. Minnesota sports fans are overly pessimistic when it comes to Gopher football, and frankly, they have a right to be that way given the program's history the last 50 years. Fleck believes he can win championships in Minneapolis, not just get the team to a mid-tier bowl game. He is much more aspirational than any coach that has been on campus. Fleck is the first coach since Lou Holtz to believe he can win at a high level in Dinkytown.
Oh and I almost forgot to tell you that the Gophers dominated the Badgers yesterday in Madison 37-15. Nothing fluky about the outcome, just a flat-out domination in all phases of the game. The Gophers believed in themselves and never let the Badgers in the game.What is Florida State going to do with Willie Taggart?
The Seminoles have embarrassed themselves this year. The reason for this is bad leadership from Willie Taggart. Willie is more of an x and o's guy than a leader and that is harmful to a program long term. A program with poor leadership will always crumble eventually and in the Seminoles case, it's happening in year one. Florida State won't be going to a bowl for the first time in 36 years!
I'm going to steal a line from former Florida Athletic Director Jeremy Foley "What must be done eventually, must be done immediately." I think the Noles should buy out Taggart's remaining contract and go get Dino Babers from Syracuse.