Week 14 Finale - Championship Saturday Breakdown
Incredible – just incredible. What a goofy, fun and amazing season that culminated in a surprising Championship Weekend. From the Tide rolling to Cincinnati getting into the Playoff as the first G5 participant ever, it was everything a college football lover could ask. With that said, here’s the Best Game of the Week>>>>
Game of the Week:
UTSA 49 – Western Kentucky 41 (C-USA Championship Game):
The Roadrunners capped off a dream season at 12-1 and Conference USA Championship with a thrilling high scoring hold on against a very game Western Kentucky program who had a turnaround of their own, importing the Houston Baptist offense from FBS and lighting scoreboards up. In this case, Western fell way behind but nearly came back. In the end, UTSA held on and looks to be heading into a bright future.
Storylines from Week 14:
Top 3 Coaching Performances of Championship Weekend:
1. Nick Saban – Alabama: Just when you think Alabama may be showing cracks, Saban and Co pull out a dominant performance against previously #1 and heavily favored Georgia. Credit where credit is due, much maligned OC Bill O’Brien and OL Coach Doug Marrone put together a great plan for blocking Georgia’s front and getting the ball down the field against Georgia while running pretty sparingly. The defense made huge plays for Alabama including two INTs and a pick 6. It’s a virtuoso performance when everyone was doubting them.
2. Pat Narduzzi - Pitt: Panther fans are a battered group, used to occasional big wins and then disappointing losses. However, they paid off this opportunity to win a down-ACC by shutting down perhaps the best offense in the ACC this year in Wake Forest with a suffocating second half. Narduzzi has gone from maybe being on a warm-to-hot seat to the first conference championship for Pitt in 17 years. He’s also allowed for a more open offense that should pay dividends moving forward.
3. Blake Anderson – Utah State: Coming from Arkansas State just this year, the transformation that Blake Anderson put the Aggies through is really something else. After a slow start to the season they came on strong to make it to the Mountain West title game and flat out smoked a top 20 team in San Diego State. Alabama-Georgia got more attention but this game may have been the most surprising result of Championship Weekend.
Worst 3 Coaching Performances of Championship Weekend:
1. Brady Hoke – San Diego State: Heavily favored with an outside shot at a NY6 Bowl if everything fell right, the Aztecs laid a big egg in the Mountain West Championship game at home. Hoke and SDSU had a great season but this one stings as they were dominated from start to finish by a pretty lightly regarded Utah State team. We’ll see if this portends anything or was just the case of a hungry underdog getting hot – it probably was. Still, not a great look for Hoke.
2. Mario Cristobal - Oregon: Getting smoked on the road by a hot, tough team like Utah is understandable but to have it happen two weeks later at a neutral site with the Rose Bowl on the line makes people wonder how distracted Cristobal was by all the Miami talk – which is now coming true. Oregon’s issue is that they never solved the QB position and couldn’t bounce back from losing their best running back early in the year.
3. Kirby Smart - Georgia: This seems a bit like déjà vu all over again as a dominant, defensive-led Georgia team had its lunch money taken by a higher-flying but also focused Alabama squad when it looked like everything was in place for a Bulldog coronation. In five successive years, Georgia has had a hot offensive team beat them either in the SEC title, national championship or key regular season matchups that determined the playoff. In this case, Georgia looked out of sorts once falling behind and got away from their offensive game plan. On defense they struggled to get consistent pass rush and had back end busts. It’s correctible probably – and a rematch may go very differently – but it was a rough night for Kirby Smart.
That’s it for now – I look forward to breaking down the bowl games, playoffs and new coach hires in the future.
During the pre-bowl and early bowl season, the conclusion of the coaching carousel (we think) and all the way through the Playoff, be sure to follow me on Twitter @ReadyCFB for witty repartee and the hottest takes on college football!