On the heels of the end of the regular season, here is this week’s Five for Friday…
1. Go ahead and book your trips to Miami for New Year’s. There are a ton of scenarios still left to decide who goes where for the bowl season. Most of them include Clemson heading to Miami for the Orange Bowl on January 3.
The only factor that will unequivocally exclude Clemson from a BCS bowl game would be a Duke win over Florida State, which isn’t going to happen under any circumstances. Besides that, it would take two teams jumping Clemson in the BCS standings and no other teams falling below the Tigers to keep them out of the Orange Bowl.
Face it, folks: It’s going to happen.
2. Even with the realization no charge will be filed against Jameis Winston, his inevitability in the Heisman Trophy race wreaks of laziness. Seriously, has this player been that much more impressive than the rest of the football players in the FBS? Do people actually believe it, or is this a classic case of “well, ESPN says it, so it must be true” disease?
Most of his numbers are great, but not elite. He is on pace to have the most efficient season ever for a quarterback, but that’s hardly an indicator of success in the Heisman race. Of the current top five, only one—Robert Griffin III—won the award.
Tajh Boyd has as much of an argument as Winston for the Heisman this year if statistics set the standard. Other than the efficiency number, Boyd and Winston have similar stat lines all across the board. But Winston is seen as a runaway candidate for some reason.
Meanwhile, Andre Williams has rushed for more yardage than all but eight players in college football history. He is an elite workhorse tailback, which we thought was virtually extinct in college football. That would be my vote in a year where the choices are pretty weak in general.
3. Saturday’s basketball game between Clemson and Arkansas will be a test of wills. It’s the nation’s best scoring defense for the Tigers (52.4) against the nation’s 13th-best offense for the Razorbacks (88.6). But the numbers go beyond simply points scored and points allowed.
The Tigers are allowing only 84.6 points per 100 possessions, good enough for seventh in the country. The Razorbacks are scoring 118.5 points per 100 possessions, which is 28th in the country. That’s a pretty stark difference in efficiency.
Another thing to watch: Both teams shoot over 75 percent from the free throw line, but Arkansas gets to the charity stripe about 15 percent more than Clemson does in the game. If the Razorbacks are effective in drawing fouls, which the Tigers have done a good job of avoiding so far this season, then the score could rise with the clock stopped. Clemson has to keep the clock moving so Arkansas doesn’t score from the foul line.
Also, Clemson would like to see the game stay around 60 or 65 possessions. Arkansas averages just below 75 per game, which is indicative of the uptempo style of game Mike Anderson prefers. Pace of play will be important in this game as well.
4. Speaking of basketball, anyone that can figure out the ACC this season gets a cookie. Duke isn’t guarding anyone and needs to cheat with the clock operator to win home games now. Seriously, that happened in the Vermont game. It’s not a coincidence when the clock only malfunctions in close games.
North Carolina beats all good teams and loses as a double-digit favorite. Maryland lost to Oregon State, presumably to suck up to President Obama, who was in attendance to watch brother-in-law Craig Robinson coach the Beavers. Virginia still hasn’t scored against Wisconsin, and they started playing two days ago.
N.C. State, Miami, Virginia Tech, and Wake Forest all seem anywhere from terrible to surprisingly competitive in losses. Syracuse does seem legit, and Pittsburgh hasn’t played anyone yet. Georgia Tech is very meh. Florida State has been surprising on both ends of the spectrum. Boston College was supposed to be good but can’t beat anybody.
People, this is madness. Somebody help me figure this out.
5. Seattle’s gain is Clemson’s loss. Brad Miller had a nice MLB debut last season for the Mariners. He bounced around the middle infield, playing both second base and shortstop at different times alongside Dustin Ackley and Nick Franklin. The Mariners have a nice young core of position players including catcher Mike Zunino, first baseman Justin Smoak, third baseman Kyle Seager, and the aforementioned threesome.
So, what do you do to strengthen a young core? Apparently, in Seattle, you bloat the core with a ridiculous contract that will probably break it up eventually.
Robinson Cano’s 10-year, $240 million contract puts a large presence in front of either Miller or Franklin in the Seattle lineup. The duo is highly respected defensively but did struggle at the plate for stretches last season.
Still, of all the problems Seattle has, middle infield wasn’t the place to throw $24 million for the next decade. These young players will improve, but the Mariners won’t be able to sign them with this contract bloating the books for several more years.
Essentially, the franchise just sabotaged itself, and a Clemson alumnus could pay the price. It seems to be either Miller or Franklin, and we’ll know the answer in a few months.