By: Chris Olszewski
The college football world had one last chance to make an initial impression on the College Football Playoff Selection Committee, although with many top 10 teams sitting out this week, some teams had a marked advantage.
The biggest beneficiary of that advantage is Clemson, the CFP’s first #1. The Tigers slugged it out with the North Carolina State Wolfpack, coming out on top 56-41. Clemson dropped 623 yards on the third-best defense in the nation. Clemson QB Deshaun Watson threw for 383 yards and contributed a rushing touchdown in addition to 54 rushing yards. The Tigers weren’t perfect; NC State led 20-19 before K Kyle Bambard missed a 44-yard field goal attempt with 55 seconds left in the half. In return, Watson took Clemson on two-play, 15-second drive to close the half.
The other top 10 team to benefit was the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. The Irish were given a tough fight from Temple. The Owls led 20-17 late in the fourth quarter, until Notre Dame QB DeShone Kizer threw a 17-yard touchdown pass Will Fuller with 2:09 remaining in the fourth quarter. The Owls’ last chance was ended by KeiVarae Russell, who picked off a P.J. Walker pass and sealed the victory for the Irish.
The Memphis Tigers and Houston Cougars also made their cases for a good showing from the committee. The Tigers started slowly, falling behind 13-0 to the Tulane Green Wave after 16 minutes. Then Memphis QB Paxton Lynch kicked it up a notch. After those opening minutes, the Tigers opened up for 41 unanswered points. As for the Cougars, Houston smacked the Vanderbilt Commodores 34-0. Houston QB Greg Ward Jr. threw for 223 yards and one touchdown en route to a victory, more yards than Vanderbilt’s passing and rushing yards combined.
The Iowa Hawkeyes sank the Maryland Terrapins, 31-15. It wasn’t an easy victory; Maryland got within 14 points, but Iowa stopped Maryland with less than two minutes left. Then Iowa blocked a punt, setting up a Derrick Mitchell two yard run to seal the victory.
Here is the first College Football Playoff ranking:
- Ohio State
- Notre Dame
- Michigan State
- Oklahoma State
- Florida State
- Texas A&M
- Mississippi State