With just one game left in the college football season, we just wanted to reflect back on a few things we saw during the bowls and college football semifinals. Obviously, with one game left, we don't have the full picture to peek back on yet, but we do have most of it.
Here is what we saw.
— We did not get any definitive answers about Group of 5 teams and their claim for a shot to be included in the playoff, but that skirts the point a little bit. We should have known from last year what the answer was to that, when Central Florida beat an Auburn team that handed Alabama its only loss. Why, suddenly, did the Golden Knights have to prove that point all over again? Tuesday's game against LSU saw both teams severely undermanned, as UCF was missing its starting quarterback, and the Tigers were without basically their entire starting defense. What we know for sure is that even if UCF schedules up and beats a good, Power 5 team in the regular season, there's no guarantee of the Golden Knights making the playoff as currently constituted. You either expand the number of teams to allow a Group of 5 team in, or you keep it as is and be honest about everyone's chances. Let's just not pretend that if you're picking four teams at the end of the year that everyone is getting a fair shot. So, for those looking for solutions to this issue, we are at the same point we were a year ago, which is not what people were hoping heading into the Fiesta Bowl.
— We did not expect at all to see Texas come out and take down Georgia like that. You can maybe make the argument that Georgia did not want to be there as much as the Longhorns, but in our estimation, it was just a case of Texas outplaying the Bulldogs straight up. This is more of what people expected to see in Tom Herman's second year. The Longhorns seem to have a toughness that has been missing in the program since Mack Brown had his best teams in Austin. Quarterback Sam Ehlinger is a big part of that. He will be back next season, and it is hard to not already start looking forward to the Longhorns' game with LSU at Darrell K Royal in September.
— Notre Dame did not look like it belonged on the same field as Clemson in the first semifinal, but that does not change the fact that the Fighting Irish probably still deserved to be there, anyway. They ran the table against a schedule that was tougher than it got credit for, and the program never lines up Football Championship Subdivision patsies. Could some other teams have played the Tigers tougher? Of course. Ohio State, Georgia, and from the looks of it, Florida, Texas or LSU, qualify under those circumstances. But Ohio State was blown out by Purdue, and Georgia and all those other teams mentioned had two or more losses. We can't just play the hindsight game with something like this. Notre Dame belonged, it just didn't play like it.
— Want to pick up a favorite team outside of the area to root for? How about Northwestern? Two of the top defensive players for the Wildcats hail from Massachusetts in defensive end Joe Gaziano and linebacker Blake Gallagher. Gaziano finished with team-highs in sacks with 7.5 and tackles-for-loss with 12.5. Gallagher led the Wildcats in tackles for the season with 127. A Scituate native who played his high school ball at Xaverian, Gaziano could always test the NFL waters, but is probably going to return to Evanston for one more year. Gallagher, who hails from Raynham and prepped at St. Sebastian's, will be joined by his brother, Bryce, next season. The latter, also a linebacker, helped lead St. Sebastian's to a share of the ISL title this fall, and has already signed his letter of intent for the Wildcats.