Howard falls to Pitt

howard_pitt.png

Howard falls to Pitt

PITTSBURGH (AP) -- Lamar Patterson and Tray Woodall scored 15 points each and Pittsburgh pulled away from Howard in the second half for a 70-46 victory on Tuesday night.

Talib Zanna added 12 points and eight rebounds and freshman point guard James Robinson had 11 points and eight assists for the Panthers (6-1), who had little trouble against the overmatched Bison (1-6) after a lethargic first half.

Simuel Frazier led Howard with 12 points and Mike Phillips and Alphonse Leary scored 10 points each for the Bison but could do little over the final 20 minutes after Pitt got serious.

The Panthers, playing in their first game since a respectable third-place finish in the NIT Season Tip-Off last week, were sluggish to start but rode the hot shooting of Patterson -- who hit his first four 3-point attempts -- beginning a soft spot in their schedule with a convincing win.

The game marked the beginning of a five-week stretch in which the Panthers don't leave the Pittsburgh city limits, giving coach Jamie Dixon ample time to bring his young team along before its starts the program's final season in the Big East.

From the looks of the first half, Dixon will need most of that time to get ready.

Despite having just seven scholarship players on the roster, facing a size disadvantage at just about every position and a travel schedule that sent the Washington, D.C., school to Iowa, Kansas and Mexico during the season's first two weeks, the Bison hung around in the first half.

Looking like the fresher, more engaged team for long stretches, Howard beat Pitt to loose balls, actually outrebounded the Panthers by one (16-15) and stayed patient offensively.

The Panthers, meanwhile, struggled to get anything going outside of Patterson's hot shooting. Dante Taylor and freshman center Steven Adams were ineffective and rhythm of any variety was difficult to come by.

Pitt still managed a 36-28 lead at the break and finally gained control with an 11-3 run to start the second half fueled by 3-pointers from Woodall and Patterson. Howard coach Kevin Nickelberry called timeout, but by then the Panthers had found their footing on both ends of the floor.

The Bison shot just 31 percent (8 of 26) in the second half as Pitt simply wore Howard down with its depth.

College Football Playoff projections: Let's not overthink this

usatsi_9281757.jpg

College Football Playoff projections: Let's not overthink this

Did Penn State play their way into the playoff? Michigan has to be in, right? Did Ohio State fall out of top four? Will Washington hang on?

Following all the action on Saturday, there was plenty of debate over who the top four teams should be. Most of the questions surround what to do with the three Big Ten teams contenders.

Ohio State and Michigan are clearly two of the best teams in the country, but neither of them won their division. That honor went to Penn State who also won the conference championship on Saturday, the same Penn State team who beat Ohio State but who also lost twice this season.

For the first time since the College Football Playoff started, there is a real, genuine debate over who the top four will be.

But not really.

SEE THE FINAL COLLEGE FOOTBALL PLAYOFF PROJECTION HERE

If you're just asking who the committee will put into the playoff, the committee actually tipped its hand last week with its rankings:

  1. Alabama
  2. Ohio State
  3. Clemson
  4. Washington
  5. Michigan
  6. Wisconsin
  7. Penn State

For everyone saying Michigan should be in the top four, well, they weren't in the top four last week, they didn't play this week, none of the four teams ahead of them did anything to hurt their respective resumes, so what makes anyone out there think the Wolverines are suddenly going to vault into the top four? It's not going to happen.

If Penn State were to make the playoff, it wouldn't be over Washington or Clemson who were already ranked ahead of the Nittany Lions and also won their respective conferences on Saturday. Neither team did anything to hurt themselves, so Penn State won't vault over them. Could they jump Ohio State who they beat head-to-head? That seems doubtful considering the committee declared the Buckeyes the second-best team in the country on Tuesday. That tells me the committee sees them as "unequivocally" one the top teams.

So debate away. When it comes to college football, that's what makes it so fun. But really, there's not that much to debate about. The committee showed last week who they thought the four best teams were and there's no reason to think that will change based on what we saw Saturday.

Find out who will make this year's playoff here with the final College Football Playoff projections.

Hokies can't contain Deshaun Watson in ACC Championship game loss

usatsi_9721943.jpg
USA Today Sports

Hokies can't contain Deshaun Watson in ACC Championship game loss

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Deshaun Watson bolstered his Heisman Trophy candidacy by passing for three touchdowns and running for two more to lead third-ranked Clemson to a 42-35 victory over No. 19 Virginia Tech in the Atlantic Coast Conference championship game Saturday night.

Winning consecutive league titles for the first time in 28 years likely will send the Tigers (12-1, No. 3 CFP) back to the four-team College Football Playoff for the second straight year, providing Watson with an opportunity to resolve unfinished business from last January, when his team lost to Alabama in the national championship game.

The Clemson star completed 23 of 34 passes for 288 yards, including TDs of 21 and 10 yards to Jordan Leggett and 15 yards to Hunter Renfrow for a 42-28 lead midway through the fourth quarter. He also rushed for 85 yards on 17 attempts for the Tigers. They've won back-to-back ACC titles for the first time since winning three straight from 1986-88.

Watson's Virginia Tech counterpart, Jerod Evans, was just as impressive. The 6-foot-3, 238-pound ran for two touchdowns and rallied the Hokies from a 21-point deficit to make it close at the end.

The Hokies (9-4, No. 23 CFP) scored on three straight possessions, trimming what was once a 35-14 deficit to seven points on Evans' 5-yard run early in the fourth quarter and Cam Phillips' 26-yard TD reception with just under 6 minutes remaining.

Virginia Tech got the ball back with a chance to force overtime. Evans drove his team to the Clemson 23, where the drive stalled when Tigers cornerback Cordrea Tankersley intercepted a pass on fourth-and-6.