The 2017 college football season started off with a five-pack of mostly meaningless games way back on August 26. Then, the 2017 college football season finished with a flurry. Alabama slugged its way into the College Football Playoff and then reigned supreme with a 26-23 overtime victory over SEC foe Georgia to obtain the Crimson Tide’s fifth national title in the last nine years. It was an exciting finish to a thrilling season.
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Jon Price who runs the Sports News and handicapping website Sports Information Traders had an amazing 74 percent run during the regular season. He made his clients over $10,000,000 this college football season thanks to his betting picks and is excited to start reviewing the new recruits and college football teams to gain that extra edge for the 2018-2019 FBS season.
Year of the Quarterback
There were plenty of outstanding quarterbacks in college football this season. In Week 1, the nation got to see one of the best. UCLA’s Josh Rosen, a likely Top 5 in this year’s NFL Draft, got behind his center with 4:08 left in the third quarter of the Bruins’ game with Texas A&M. Rosen and his teammates were facing a 44-10 deficit. In just over 19 minutes of game time, Rosen led five touchdown drives and UCLA won 45-44. It was the second-biggest comeback in college football history.
Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield led his Sooners to another Big 12 title and a berth in the CFP. Mayfield’s stats were just amazing: a 70.5 completion percentage, 4,627 yards, 43 touchdowns, and another 311 yards rushing and five more scores. His exploits, and the Sooners’ success, earned Mayfield this year’s Heisman Trophy.
A number of other quarterbacks had outstanding seasons including the FBS passing leader Mason Rudolph of Oklahoma State. Rudolph threw for 4,904 yards. USC’s Sam Darnold (4,143) and Memphis QB Riley Ferguson (4,257) finished in the Top 5. Wyoming’s Josh Allen didn’t have as good a year as he did in 2016, but will still likely be a high NFL draft pick.
There were a number of upsets throughout the season. Iowa State pulled two major upsets beating Oklahoma and TCU. Liberty, an FCS program, traveled to Baylor and upset the Bears and Howard, also an FCS program, played at UNLV and won. The Liberty and Howard victories are the two biggest upsets in college football history according to Vegas. Still, neither of those compare to what happened at LSU on Homecoming Weekend.
Troy, a fairly successful Sun Belt Conference member, was the Tigers opponent that fateful Saturday. The Trojans built a 24-7 lead deep into the fourth quarter. After giving up a couple late LSU touchdowns, Troy left Death Valley with a 24-21 victory, easily the biggest upset of the 2017 season.
Unbeaten & Unrecognized
There was only one FBS team to get through the entire season and postseason unscathed – Central Florida. Scott Frost led the Knights to a thrilling 49-42 win over South Florida to get into the American Athletic Conference title game. That game was another one for the ages. UCF would win 62-55 in double overtime giving Frost and company a final regular season record of 12-0.
It wasn’t enough to get UCF into the CFP, but the Knights would go on to play Auburn in the Peach Bowl. UCF beat the Tigers who just happened to beat both Georgia and Alabama, the two teams that played for the national championship. The school declared itself national champions anyway and handed out bonuses to its coaching staff. Frost left to become the new head coach at Nebraska, his alma mater.
Resurgence of Miami & Georgia
Miami head coach Mark Richt, who was fired by Georgia, has turned the Hurricanes back into a national power. They proved they were the Cardiac ‘Canes with consecutive last-minute wins late in the season. A late touchdown pass against Florida State secured a win and a field goal ended up giving Miami a 25-24 win over Georgia Tech. Miami would lose the ACC title game to Clemson but did finish 10-3.
Georgia lost is starting quarterback, Jacob Eason, and inserted a freshman, Jake Fromm, into the lineup to face Notre Dame. The Irish, who would finish with 10 wins, were no cupcake, but Fromm and the Bulldogs won 20-19 in South Bend. It was the win that propelled Georgia into the national spotlight and lead to an eventual trip to the national championship game.
Go Army! Beat Navy!
In 2016, Army beat Navy for the first time in 15 years. Last year on a very snowy Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, the Cadets did it again. They beat their archrival 14-13 in a game that featured a total of three pass attempts and 515 rushing yards. Neither team turned the ball over, but in the end it would be a 13-play, 65-yard drive capped by an Ahmad Bradshaw one-yard run with 7:40 to play in the game that would be the difference.
It was the first time Army recorded consecutive defeats over Navy since the Black Knights won five straight between 1992 and 1996.
Coach of the Year
There were plenty of candidates. Richt at Miami.Or Kirby Smart who came within three points of a national title in just his second year at Georgia.How about Bill Clark at UAB? The university dropped football and then reinstituted it. This year was the Blazers first year back on the field and Clark led UAB to an 8-5 finish.
Frost was the winner of most Coach of the Year Awards and rightfully so. Frost inherited an 0-12 team from George O’Leary and went 6-7, including a Cure Bowl loss to Arkansas State, in Year 1. A year later, Frost leads the Knights to an 8-0 mark in the AAC, a win in the AAC championship game, and a Peach Bowl victory over the SEC’s Auburn Tigers. A 13-0 unbeaten season just two years removed from a winless 0-12 definitely is worthy of any Coach of the Year award.
One coach who also enjoyed immediate success is former Alabama offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin. The first-year Florida Atlantic coach took over a program that had gone 3-9 in three consecutive years. After losing three of the first four games, FAU ripped off ten straight victories. After beating North Texas 69-31 in the regular season, Kiffin and company beat the Mean Green 41-17 in the Conference USA championship game. A 50-3 destruction of Akron in the Boca Raton Bowl gave FAU a final record of 11-3.
College Football Playoff
When Auburn beat Alabama in the Iron Bowl, it left one door open in the now annual CFP. The CFP committee decided that the 11-1 Crimson Tide were still one of the best four teams in the nation and put them in the semifinals against top-seeded Clemson. No. 3 Georgia faced No. 2 Oklahoma in the other semifinal. It was the third consecutive year that Alabama and Clemson have faced each other in the CFP. The Tide held the Tigers to just 188 yards of total offense in a 24-6 win.
Georgia fought back from a 14-point halftime deficit to tie the game at 45-all on a two-yard run by Nick Chubb with 55 seconds to play. Chubb’s running mate, Sony Michel would break free on a 27-yard run in the second overtime to give the Bulldogs a 54-48 semifinal win.
The national title game was epic. Georgia appeared to be in control for most of the game, but they gave up a field goal and a Tua Tagovailoa-to-Calvin Ridley touchdown pass in the final nine minutes of the game to end regulation tied at 20-20. After the freshman Tagovailoa was sacked on first down for a loss of 16 yards, he found DeVonta Smith streaking up the left sideline for the game-winner.