2017-12-06 / Sports

Chip Shots

by Jim Buzzerd

Around the horn

There are a couple things to touch on this week beginning with the destination of the West Virginia University football team for its bowl game. Most of you must know by now the Mountaineers will meet Utah in Zaxby’s Heart of Dallas Bowl on December 26. Game time is 1:30 p.m. What you may, or may not know, is the Heart of Dallas Bowl is the last bowl that selects a team from the pool of bowl eligible teams from the Big 12. That means six other schools from the Big 12 landed spots in bowls prior to the Mountaineers. That included Kansas State to the Cactus Bowl and Iowa State to the Liberty Bowl, both teams WVU defeated in the regular season.

When West Virginia beat Kansas State on November 11 to improve to 7-3, their bowl stock was solid. Then quarterback Will Grier suffered a season ending fractured finger in the first quarter against Texas in the following game and WVU’s bowl stock tanked. The loss to Texas and the non-competitive effort in the season finale at Oklahoma sent the Mountaineers to the bottom of the bowl list.

Yahoo Sports ranks the Heart of Dallas Bowl 32nd out of 39 bowls. Even at 7-5 it would be reasonable to assume that a healthy Grier would have helped the Mountaineers land a bowl a spot or two higher on the list.

With that said there are two things that have appeared here in recent weeks that need to be revisited. Both involve Grier and his status moving forward. I previously said he was out for the season, including the bowl game. I think that is still true, but he has yet to be ruled out officially, at least as far as I can tell. Earlier I made a fairly bold call that Grier would likely be one and done at WVU and declare for the 2018 NFL draft. I’ve now been convinced that assertion, while accurate at the time, is trending the other way.

Next up is the College Football Playoff selection. I agree with the committee’s selections this year of Clemson as the top seed, followed by Oklahoma, Georgia and Alabama. The top three were pretty much assured following last weekend’s conference championship games, but the talking heads did the best they could over a 13 hour period to create as much drama as they could regarding the fourth spot.

Would it be a two loss Ohio State team that just beat previously undefeated Wisconsin for the Big 10 championship, or one loss Alabama that sat out the SEC championship due to a season ending loss at arch rival Auburn? Normally I would be on board with the edge going to the conference champion, but in the case of OSU there was that 55-24 loss to Iowa just a month ago sticking out on their resume. Plus the Buckeyes lost 31-16 to Oklahoma at home in September. To me, a 31- point loss is more than enough to keep a team off of the four line.

Anyway, since I remain a staunch advocate of an eight team format it is now time to reveal how a quarterfinal round would look based on the CFP committee rankings.

1. Clemson (12-1) vs. 8. USC (11-2)

2. Oklahoma (12-1) vs. 7. Auburn (10-3)

3. Georgia (12-1) vs. 6. Wisconsin (12-1)

4. Alabama (11-1) vs. 5. Ohio State (11-2)

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