College football concludes another exhilarating season

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Jake Purdy

BY JAKE PURDY (’18)

The 2016-2017 College football season ended in a very similar fashion to the 2015-2016 season. For the first time ever there was a rematch in the National Championship game, but against popular opinion Clemson defeated Alabama to win their first national title in 35 years.

The season was exciting since the beginning the first game of the College Football season was played in the outback with California defeating Hawaii in ANZ stadium in Australia. As normal the first week of College football is normally when power houses play the small schools and run the score up on them such as Ohio State scoring 77 on Bowling Green or Michigan scoring 63 on Hawaii. Week one also saw Alabama show their dominance beating a very good USC team 52-6. USC went on to win the “Granddaddy of them all”, the Rose Bowl.

For the first time in several years college football saw a legitimate two way player. Jabrill Peppers lined up at nearly every position excluding linemen and kicker this season. On the other side of the country Adore Jackson did the same but did not receive as much attention as Jabrill because USC was not such a dominant team.

Many young quarterbacks across the country showed they could be elite at the highest level, Lamar Jackson became the youngest player to ever win the Heisman Trophy. He lit up scoreboards in the first half of the season, then coasted his way to college football’s most prestigious award. Eighteen year old Jaylen Hurts from Alabama proved everyone wrong when he won the SEC player of the year and lead his team to the National Championship, he fell just short of being the first true freshman quarterback to win a title since Jamelle Holieway did it in 1985. Another solid freshman quarterback was Deondre Francois from Florida State. He made great strides throughout the season as a passer and a runner. FSU’s one point victory over Michigan in the Orange Bowl is a great sign for the future of Florida State football.

The Big Ten made a big comeback this season having its best finish since 1960 and taking the crown from the SEC who has held it for 10 years. That did not stop a school from the state of Alabama from reaching the National Championship for the 8th time in the last 9 years, either Alabama or Auburn have been in the title game except for the 2014 matchup of Ohio State vs. Oregon in 2014. Although Big Ten teams only won 2 out of the 10 bowl games they played in, they still made and impressive run with more than half of the teams in the Big Ten making a bowl game.

Christian McCaffrey and Leonard Fournette both chose to sit out there bowl games in order to get ready for the draft. This was a very controversial decision for the players. The opinion on whether it is ok to do that was split by the college football community but when it comes down to it millions of dollars are on the line for these kids so they are doing what is best for them.

Western Michigan, a non-power 5 team, went 13-0 and received a Cotton Bowl bid to play Wisconsin. Some were upset that with an undefeated season they were still unable to receive a playoff bid. However, with them playing a lower strength of schedule they were not able to get into the top 4.

The most impressive thing that happened this season was Pittsburgh running back James Conner, who was diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma in the winter of 2015, coming back to play the 2016 season. He made first team All-ACC and scored twenty total touchdowns which was ranked sixth nationally. Conner became the ACC career leader in both rushing touchdowns (52) and total touchdowns (56). Conner will be remembered more for his incredible off the field resilience than his football exploits. He won the Disney Sports Inspiration Award, which is given to the most inspirational college football player, which was well deserved.

All in all it was a great college season filled with big moments such as Penn State knocking off Ohio State, Pittsburgh beating second ranked Clemson and the Game winning overtime touchdown by Curtis Samuel that literally shook Ohio Stadium to a 5.79 on the Richter scale when Ohio State beat their rival from up north.