W&M winning formula faces test at No. 5 JMU

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W&M winning formula faces test at No. 5 JMU

The Tribe take their two-game winning streak and new found offense on the road against the fifth-ranked Dukes tomorrow at 3:30 on CSN!

Piling up points and yards in recent weeks has turned William - Mary form a winless football squad to one victorious in two straight games. Expect James Madison's stingy defense to put the Tribe's new found formula to the test.

William - Mary (2-4, 1-2 CAA) looks to extend its winning streak to three games on the road Saturday (3:30 p.m., Comcast SportsNet) against the fifth-ranked Dukes (4-1, 2-0), also winners of two straight overall and undefeated in four FCS contests.

Over the last two games against Georgia State and at Penn, the Tribe averaged 34.5 points and 396.5 yards. Each victory came with a different quarterback leading the attack.

Brent Caprio, injured last month against Maryland, returned to the starting role against the Quakers with aplomb, completing 18-of-28 passes for 220 yards with two touchdowns in the 34-28 win. Sophomore Raphael Ortiz rushed for two touchdowns against Georgia State, but returned to the bench last week.

Regardless of which passer takes snaps at JMU's Bridgeforth Stadium, the Dukes CAA-leading scoring defense will be waiting. James Madison is allowing only 13.8 points, a total made even more impressive considering the Dukes surrendered 42 to West Virginia in their only non-FCS game. JMU is particularly forceful against the run, allowing only 102.2 rushing yards per game, also tops in the conference.

Linebacker Stephon Robertson earned national accolades after posting a career-high 15 tackles in last week's win over Towson. Redshirt-freshman defensive lineman Alex Mosley earned CAA Rookie of the Week honors after posting a career-high seven tackles and a generating a force fumble against the Tigers. His second career start came in JMU coach Mickey Matthews' 100th career victory.

Picking up nine turnovers courtesy of the defense and special teams during the two-game streak certainly helped W-M's cause. Senior outside linebacker Jabrel Mines tallied nine tackles including 1.5 for loss while forcing and recovering a fumble against Penn.

Stopping the Dukes passing attack, directed by junior quarterback Justin Thorpe, is the primary focus for Mines and company this week. Thorpe, who sports a 15-4 record against FCS opponents, has completed passes to 13 different receivers this season with senior tight end Brian Barlow (15 receptions, 225 yards) serving as his primary target.

James Madison leads the overall series 19-15, a record which includes three straight home wins two consecutive overall, both by six points.

 

College Football Playoff projections: Let's not overthink this

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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

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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.