PORTIONS PREVIOUSLY APPEARING ON WTOP.COM–

It’s always an awkward transition from sport’s best regular season to its most frustrating.  Fourteen weeks of thrills and chills spills into five more weeks of letting our football belt out a loop or two…while somewhere in there a champion will be crowned.  Thank goodness ESPN has the programming windows to enable 41 post-season games to take place.  While I’m all about seeing the kids who work hard in practice every year enjoy the reward of a postseason game, I’m not all about seeing 6-6 schools that were sub-500 in their conference (and needed a win over an FCS team to get to six victories) squaring off in some clumsily corporate-named game.  I still dream of a world with an eight team playoff that includes the five major conference winners plus three wildcards.  I still imagine that quadrupleheader December 17th on campus sites that starts at noon in Tuscaloosa and ends in Seattle during the midnight hour.  I still want to hammer out a quarterfinal round of Alabama-Wisconsin, Washington-Penn State, Ohio State-Oklahoma and Clemson-Michigan.  I want USC fans to be up in arms about how they belong rather than the Badgers.  I want high-leverage games in November and December leading to a December Dance that would rival March Madness.  Here’s to when this actually happens in 2035.

Sweet Sixteen?- hey, if I can fantasize about an eight team field…why not?  Let’s deal automatic bids to each of the conference winners while allowing for six wildcards (I know, heady stuff).  With that in mind…your 2016 Regionals:

#1 Alabama plays Sun Belt Conference champ Appalachian State.  Hey, they almost beat Tennessee on opening night.  The winner faces the #8 Wisconsin-#9 USC winner.

#4 Washington meets Mountain West winner San Diego State…while #5 Penn State plays MAC titlist Western Michigan.  You tell the unbeaten Broncos they don’t belong.

#3 Ohio State takes on AAC winner Temple (sorry, Navy) while #6 Michigan meets Florida State.  Seminoles get the last at-large bid…while everybody hopes for a Big Ten rematch in the next round.

#2 Clemson plays Conference USA champion Western Kentucky…with #7 Oklahoma playing #10 Colorado in the other first-round game.  The Sooners finished the season strong–here’s there chance to continue.

Unfortunately we’ll be fed a diet of Cactus Bowl, Idaho Potato Bowl and who knows what else over the next few weeks.  Enjoy.

#19 Navy (9-3) suffered multiple losses Saturday in its 34-10 defeat to Temple in the AAC Championship.  Not only did they see their Cotton Bowl hopes go up in flames, the Mids lost senior quarterback Will Worth as well as runningbacks Toneo Gulley and Darryl Bonner to season-ending injuries.  How that will affect the upcoming bowl game is not nearly as important as how that will change things for Saturday’s game with Army.

Midshipman Medals:  backup QB Zach Abey led the team with 70 yards rushing and the team’s lone touchdown while also throwing for 113 yards.  Amos Mason tallied 7 tackles, including 3 for losses and a sack.  Punter Alex Barta justified his previous weeks off by averaging 47.3 yards per kick.

Midshipman Miscues:  Two interceptions and a fumble led to 17 Owl points.  The defense allowed touchdowns on the first three Temple drives…coughing up 204 yards on those three possessions (they’d allow just 104 total yards in the second half) while not recording a takeaway.

Next:  Saturday at 3 p.m. against 6-5 Army.

#23 Virginia Tech (9-4) had #3 Clemson on the ropes in the ACC title game before a fourth quarter interception sealed the 42-35 Tigers win.  So close to a January 1st bowl bid…and yet so far.  But order has been restored in the Coastal Division.  Meet the new boss…same as the old boss.

Hokie Highlights: Jerod Evans threw for 264 yards and a touchdown while running for 46 yards and two more scores.  Cam Phillips tallied 12 catches for 92 yards and a score.  The defense was led by brothers Terrell (12 tackles) and Tremaine Edmunds (8 stops).

Hokie Humblings: the defense allowed touchdowns on the Tigers’ first three possessions and TD’s on all five Clemson trips to the red zone.  Evans was sacked four times and tossed a pair of interceptions.

Next:  December 29th at 5:30 p.m. in the Belk Bowl against 7-5 Arkansas.

Maryland (6-6) did not play, but the Terps learned that they will face 6-6 Boston College in the Quick Lane Bowl December 26th at 2:30 p.m., thus interfering with my Christmas gift return rhythm.  The Eagles also needed to win the Saturday after Thanksgiving to secure a .500 record.  I’m just happy it’s not a return trip to the Military Bowl (although they would have become the first school to reach the bowl under three different coaches).

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