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SportsPulse: USA TODAY Sports’ Paul Myerberg provides his notion on which teams possess stood out to be the most dominant at some level of the 21st century.
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If handiest things had long gone to the script, the noise promised to be deafening this coming week. A earn in the Iron Bowl, and we’d possess heard an dreadful lot, at very excessive quantity, about how by no formula thoughts something going on in totally different areas, an 11-1 Alabama fully deserved a berth in the Football Four. Veritably, as a consequence of ‘Bama.

But by no formula thoughts — Auburn ended the Crimson Tide’s hopes, and now the chatter shifts to a debate between two conferences. Attain you like one-loss Utah, which has been dominant in opposition to less-than-stellar Pac-12 opponents (its closing three opponents possess shedding data)? Or the Wide 12’s Oklahoma-Baylor winner, every with one loss — and each with flaws, however with several wins recently in opposition to ranked opponents?

As Utah decimated a depraved Colorado crew and Baylor blew out a depraved Kansas crew, Oklahoma dominated its Bedlam rival Oklahoma Instruct on the motorway. All three contenders passed the leer take a look at, which formula we are in a position to deem about ahead to all styles of angles on why this crew would perhaps maybe maybe restful be in or that crew would perhaps maybe maybe restful no longer, or whatever.

Someplace else, Ohio Instruct proved another level and LSU made an emphatic commentary. Oh, and Clemson obtained tremendous (what’s modern) in opposition to South Carolina, after which Dabo Swinney ranted regarding the total individuals that supposedly don’t need the Tigers in the bracket. Weird. But hey, if manufacturing disrespect fires ’em up, mosey for it.

Reduction to the right debate: Clearly, unheard of rides on the Pac-12 championship (Utah vs. Oregon) on Friday and a high-10 matchup between Oklahoma vs. Baylor on Saturday. There can even be and practically indubitably restful will possible be alternate.

However the closing Football Four — which is, gasp, handiest one week away! — will no longer include Alabama. As constantly, bear in mind we opt the bracket as if the season used to be over presently time.*

Football Four

1. Ohio Instruct The Buckeyes grasp their ideally suited contention. In Ann Arbor, they flat outclassed a exquisite Michigan crew. They’ve been the most impressive crew all season, and now the resume has caught up with the leer take a look at: offense, protection — what’s no longer to love? — and the Buckeyes’ ideally suited misfortune is whether or no longer or no longer it’s Justin Fields, J.K. Dobbins or Lumber Younger who would perhaps maybe maybe restful be in NYC as a Heisman finalist (per chance all of ‘em, however that appears to be like no longer going), or whether or no longer they’ll assassinate one another out.

2. LSU The Tigers wished to expose us all something in opposition to Texas A&M, and they did. Not that A&M is all that — Jimbo Fisher’s bunch performed 7-5 — however it used to be very impressive, however. For a alternate, LSU’s protection showed up, too. Take the SEC championship in opposition to Georgia, and who is aware of? The Tigers would perhaps maybe maybe vault motivate to No. 1.

3. Clemson One more Saturday, another easy earn — this time in opposition to in-enlighten rival South Carolina. After which, Dabo Swinney pulled the ‘no appreciate’ card. However the Football Four has big appreciate for the Tigers. The ACC schedule, no longer so unheard of. However the Tigers? Yep. Noteworthy appreciate. They’re terrific.

4. Utah  The Utes possess been automatically dominant. They’re clearly very exquisite. But their schedule is clearly sub-par: Their closing three wins possess come in opposition to teams with shedding data. Essentially the most helpful ranked opponent they’ve encountered used to be USC, a loss. So it’s leer take a look at outweighing resume, yes. However the leer take a look at is truly impressive. Restful, Utah would perhaps maybe maybe must always no longer handiest beat Oregon — which isn’t a obvious side, clearly – however construct it convincingly. For now, although, they’re in the Football Four.

WEEK 14 OBSERVATIONS: Utah is mostly a earn far from berth in College Football Playoff

WINNERS AND LOSERS: Week 14 faculty soccer recap led by Ohio Instruct, Michigan, Auburn

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Four More**

5. Georgia A beatdown of rival (and struggling) Georgia Tech used to be ok, however the Bulldogs don’t need model aspects. They must always beat LSU, any formula they might be able to. If they construct, they’re in — and chaos ensues. If no longer, they’ll construct outside the bracket.

6. Oklahoma The Sooners notched a convincing motorway victory in opposition to their Bedlam opponents. It used to be without complications their most total game in the season’s 2nd half, however acquire this: In the closing 10 quarters, Oklahoma’s protection has allowed three touchdowns. With the offense inserting onto the soccer for a alternate, the Sooners obtained conveniently. But now comes a rematch with … 

7. Baylor The Bears were very, very impressive in finishing off an 11-1 licensed season. Yeah, obvious, Kansas is the Wide 12’s doormat, however the Jayhawks had showed fight this season. And Baylor had lived on the threshold in opposition to several lesser opponents. Now comes a 2nd likelihood in opposition to Oklahoma, with a imaginable Football Four berth on the road.

8. Alabama Right here’s a measure of how exquisite ‘Bama has been: The loss to Auburn marked the first time since 2010 they’ve misplaced twice in the favored season. Yeah, shedding Tua Tagovailoa used to be devastating (even supposing Mac Jones performed exquisite unheard of). The Tide used to be sloppy — 13 penalties is the most in a game in Reduce Saban’s 13 seasons — and the ending used to be apropos. Alabama obtained caught, at a loss for phrases, with 12 avid gamers on the sector, giving Auburn the first down it wished in account for to urge out the clock on the Tide’s Football Four hopes.

A Few More After That***

Wisconsin  Divulge has been restored in the Wide Ten West, with the Badgers’ dispatching of these pesky (and fun) Gophers. A 38-17 earn in opposition to Minnesota propels Wisconsin into the Wide Ten championship game, the put a rematch with Ohio Instruct awaits. Not obvious that’s a exquisite side, however it’s price a shot.

Oregon  The Geese obtained’t be in the Football Four bracket, however the Rose Bowl is on the road in the Pac-12 championship. They weren’t in particular impressive in beating Oregon Instruct, however beating a rival is consistently sweet. How will they match up with Utah? 

Auburn  Three losses in opposition to one in every of the nation’s toughest schedules. Oh, however an Iron Bowl earn salves hundreds of emotions, yes? Gus Malzahn and his wife Kristi obtained to blueprint that late-evening Waffle Condominium urge. 

Penn Instruct  The Nittany Lions pulled away for a happy earn in opposition to Rutgers, as a consequence of Rutgers. They’re possible headed for a Unique One year’s Six bowl. But will James Franklin be with them? Hmmmm.

Notre Dame  The Stopping Irish haven’t been in the playoff image since that loss in Athens, Ga., motivate in September — or at the latest, after that loss to Michigan. But they’re quietly 10-2. Essentially exquisite. All as soon as more.

Florida  Ten wins. A Unique One year’s Six bowl. The Gators weren’t as exquisite as LSU or Georgia, however there’s no disgrace in that. Dan Mullen has the program headed upward.

Futile Four****

Mississippi  We’ll spare you the puns and low-rate jokes about Elijah Moore’s penalty with four seconds left for pretending to urinate like a dog, costing the Rebels a huge gamble to tie and potentially to earn the Egg Bowl. It used to be the Egg Bowlest of Egg Bowl inanity, an act straight away etched in the lore of a bitter contention. Ugh.

Michigan — By most measures, Jim Harbaugh’s tenure in Ann Arbor has been worthwhile. By the ideally suited measure, it has been a total failure. Ohio Instruct’s 56-27 victory, Harbaugh’s Wolverines are 0-5 in opposition to the Buckeyes. The misfortune began prolonged earlier than he arrived, however it’s now his misfortune. Even worse than shedding is the width of the outlet between the opponents

Texas A&M  Nobody expected the Aggies to upset LSU in Baton Rouge. Most potentially expected a blowout. However the context right here is the rent two years previously of Jimbo Fisher, and the Aggies’ unmerited expectations heading into this, his 2nd season. Merely put, they don’t appear unheard of nearer to contending in the SEC West — unheard of less for a nationwide championship — than earlier than Fisher’s arrival. But per chance subsequent One year.

Nebraska — Yeah, these Huskers possess been right here earlier than. But after a 27-24 loss to Iowa, they’re motivate in the Futile Four. It’s no longer simply that the loss sealed a 3rd consecutive shedding season. It’s all that offseason hype about how Nebraska used to be on the fast display screen to the tip of the Wide Ten West. Well, nah. Now, a modern offseason begins. And the tone appears to be like possible to be plenty totally different. 

* The season is no longer any longer over till subsequent week.

** Don’t be terrified that your crew sits simply outside the lower. Right here’s a weekly snapshot. And what’s going to we know, anyway?

*** Look the previous cowl, however it’s OK to be a miniature eager or very indignant. But what’s going to we know, anyway?

**** No cowl main.

Apply USA TODAY Sports’ George Schroeder on Twitter @GeorgeSchroeder.

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