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Big Things Coming in College Football this Offseason?

Is 12 the magic number? Leading minds in the college football space can’t seem to decide. But big things are happening in collegiate sports right now.

Coming off the NCAA Convention in January, the move to decentralize the management of Divisions, schools and athletes might get the wheels turning on an expanded playoff. Keep reading to see a breakdown of where things are headed and how we might just see the future of college football come to fruition this off season.

Don’t forget to give us your opinion on where college football is heading by joining the conversation on our latest TaxAct Texas Bowl Twitter post.

The expanded playoff is a topic that isn’t new in the college football world. And most can agree that an expanded playoff has the potential to positively affect football schools around the country—so why aren’t we there yet?

Power Struggle

When it comes to the extended playoff discussion, there are two major factors: how do we get more teams involved, and how do we make more money. By far the loudest voices are coming from Power Five conferences, who for the most part stand to reap most of the benefits from an expanded format.

The ACC signed their fledgling commissioner in February 2021 and are concerned with the timing of a playoff that extends a full 12 games. Their proposal says let’s expand to eight, it makes things easier. One could also make the argument that they don’t have the consistent talent to extend more than one team to a field of 12 so eight looks like a better fit for Clemson to climb to the top.

Still fresh in the college football landscape, the Big Ten commissioner is hung up on requiring the top teams from all Power Five conferences receiving an automatic bid regardless of ranking. The automatic qualifier precludes a one or two-loss Big Ten Champion being left out  the Big Ten from having a Big Ten champ that isn’t ranked in the top five like the 2017 and 2018 Ohio State and Wisconsin teams. Ope.

The Pac-12 and their shiny new commissioner signed this past July, seems to just be happy with whatever you want, so long as there is expansion. They just don’t want to be left out again. Kind of like going to dinner with someone who is indecisive but really doesn’t feel like a burger, or Chinese food, or tacos, or…

The Big 12 and the SEC are by far the most supportive of the 12-team format and pushing the decision to be made before the current format comes to an end in 2026. A 12-team playoff is most conducive to getting two to three teams in annually coming off the heels of their conference expansions. Both conferences also tout well-tenured commissioners who have both seen and led change. Don’t anticipate either backing down from advocating for what they see as the best path forward.

Fighting the Power

Beyond the disruptions in football the past few years, there is a lot happening in collegiate athletics right now. The NCAA Convention held this past January welcomed in a new, simplified NCAA Constitution. The goal of the new legislation is to decentralize the management of conferences, teams and ultimately players. As proven by NIL legislation and adjustments to Transfer Portal requirements, collegiate athletics is moving to give the power to the student athletes that it looks to serve.

This adjustment in power does a few things for our expanded playoff hopes. 

First, it may slow things down a bit while the world of collegiate athletics attempts to find this new, decentralized identity. Commissioners and Athletic Directors have major hurdles to conquer this offseason including NIL guidelines, transfer portal aftermath and more. 

With this shift in power, we may also see student athlete voices rising with opinions on how the expansion should work—not unlike the nation-wide leadership we saw during the beginning of COVID. Now that students stand to profit from their national exposure in an expanded playoff, we would expect those voices to be pushing for the extension. 

The Power of Football 

Regardless of where the playoff map goes this offseason, the power of college football still stands. Through COVID, transfer portal chaos, a crazy coaching carousel, NIL uncertainties and countless more drama, the magic of college football remains stronger than ever. We will still be on the edge of our seats until the first kickoff this September, we will still be screaming at the top of our lungs when things go right (or wrong) with our favorite team, and we will still keep making epic memories watching our favorite sport unfold each fall.

 

CFB Insider

ROAD TO THE TAXACT TEXAS BOWL

The 2021 TaxAct Texas Bowl matchup is set between the K-State Wildcats and the LSU Tigers. Both teams had a season full of up and downs with thrilling victories and disappointing loses. From the highs and the lows let’s take a look at what led the Wildcats and Tigers to Houston.

LSU’s road to Houston.

Beginning of the season: 
LSU started out 3-1 and looked like they could easily reach bowl eligibility with just a few more wins. A disappointing loss and then three straight wins had the Tigers looking like they would enter the hard part of their schedule in good standing. A string of tough SEC matchups set the course for the rest of LSU’s season and their fight to get to a bowl game. 

Middle of the season:
Six straight ranked opponents is a daunting task for any team specially for one in the SEC. A bad start to their conference schedule with 2 straight losses against Auburn and Kentucky left the Tigers sitting at 3-3 with four more ranked opponents on their schedule. Then an upset win over #20 Florida put the Tigers back over .500 as they got through the middle of their conference schedule showing that they could still put up a fight. After the high of the Florida win came the lows of some crushing defeats. 

End of the season:
To end the season LSU lost three straight, including two one score loses to #2 Alabama and #25 Arkansas, before setting themselves up for a bowl game with two straight wins. Going into the final week 5-6 against #15 Texas A&M with bowl eligibility on the line was not ideal but in a big upset the Tigers managed to take a 27-24 win and reach bowl eligibility. It wasn’t pretty but the Tigers managed to get a big win to end the season against a tough opponent. 

K-State’s road to Houston.

Beginning of the season: 
Three straight wins to start the season had the Wildcats thinking of a bowl game at the end of the season. After cruising to three straight wins K-State struggled against an Oklahoma State team that was surging up the rankings. This loss started a streak that would leave K-State sitting at 3-3 at the midpoint of the season. 

Middle of the season: 
Three straight losses and a 3-3 record later K-State faced a Texas Tech team that was also fighting for their bowl eligibility. At the half the Wildcats trailed 24-10 and their chances of winning weren’t ideal, then the offense put up 15 straight and the ‘Cats came out with the win. 

End of the season: 
The one point win at Texas Tech started a four game winning streak for the Wildcats that locked up their bowl eligibility for the season. Their win streak ended with a 20-10 loss vs #11 Baylor and then they closed out their season with a 22-17 loss at Texas. With a 7-5 record the ‘Cats returned to a bowl game after a year of not being eligible. 

 

 

Football

KANSAS STATE AND LSU ACCEPT BIDS TO PLAY IN TAXACT TEXAS BOWL

HOUSTON – Kansas State and LSU have accepted bids to play in the 2021 TaxAct Texas Bowl, the bowl organizing committee announced today. The 2021 TaxAct Texas Bowl will be played at 8 p.m. CT on Tuesday, January 4, 2022, at NRG Stadium in Houston. The game will be televised nationally on ESPN with a local radio broadcast available on SportsRadio 610 (KILT-AM). Tickets and suites are now available for purchase www.taxacttexasbowl.com.

“We are excited to announce the 2021 TaxAct Texas Bowl between the Kansas State Wildcats and LSU Tigers, two excellent institutions from the Big 12 and SEC,” remarked David Fletcher, executive director, TaxAct Texas Bowl. “The Bowl is one of the largest annual events in our community and we’re excited to welcome Kansas State and LSU to Houston. We look forward to hosting these teams and their fan bases for a festive bowl week of Texas-themed events that will culminate in a primetime showdown at NRG Stadium on January 4.”

Kansas State will represent the Big 12 Conference, while LSU will represent the SEC. The two programs have met just once before, when LSU earned a 21-0 victory over Kansas State on September 13, 1980. The 2021 TaxAct Texas Bowl will mark Kansas State’s third appearance and first since 2016, when the Wildcats earned a 33-28 win over Texas A&M. LSU will make its second appearance in the TaxAct Texas Bowl and first since 2015, when the Tigers beat Texas Tech, 56-27. 

The 2021 edition of the TaxAct Texas Bowl will mark the event’s eighth year of affiliation with the Big 12 and the SEC. The game was most recently played in 2019, when the Texas A&M Aggies emerged with a narrow 24-21 victory over the Oklahoma State Cowboys, with quarterback Kellen Mond receiving MVP honors.

Entering its 16th year, the TaxAct Texas Bowl is owned and operated by ESPN Events, a division of ESPN, and managed locally by Lone Star Sports & Entertainment, an event management company founded in 2003 that is closely affiliated with the NFL’s Houston Texans. Since 2016, the TaxAct Texas Bowl has the fifth-highest attendance among all college football bowls, trailing only the Rose, Peach, Fiesta and Orange bowls. The TaxAct Texas Bowl and its sister event, the Texas Kickoff, have combined to create an economic impact of close to $80 million annually for the city of Houston while raising over $2 million in financial support and millions more in promotional support for DePelchin Children’s Center, Houston’s oldest children’s charity and the bowl’s official charitable beneficiary.

For more information about the game and affiliated Bowl Week activities, fans can visit www.taxacttexasbowl.com or follow along on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.

About TaxAct
TaxAct is a savvy, tax-filing solution that provides filers with affordable DIY tax software to successfully navigate the U.S. tax code. As a pioneer in the industry, TaxAct’s products enable all users – regardless of profession, tax bracket or complexity of their return – to quickly and accurately file their taxes all while discovering new ways to leverage their tax situation and improve their financial well-being. At TaxAct, taxes are our expertise, but we don’t see them as the end goal. Rather, we believe taxes are a stepping-stone to possibility. Possibilities that are unique as every filer. Possibilities that help each hardworking American not only claim the money they deserve but also enable them to make smart money decisions. We deliver the power of possibility through straightforward technology to help filers secure their best tax outcome and elevate their financial lives.

To learn more about TaxAct, a business of Blucora, Inc. (NASDAQ: BCOR), visit www.taxact.com or connect with us on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. For more information on Blucora, visit www.blucora.com.

About ESPN Events 
ESPN Events, a division of ESPN, owns and operates a portfolio of 35 collegiate sporting events nationwide. The roster includes five early-season college football games, 17 college bowl games, 12 college basketball events and a college softball event, which accounts for approximately 400 hours of live programming, reaches nearly 64 million viewers and attracts over 800,000 attendees each year. With satellite offices in more than 10 markets across the country, ESPN Events builds relationships with conferences, schools and local communities, as well as providing unique experiences for teams and fans.

Lone Star Sports & Entertainment
Lone Star Sports & Entertainment is an event management company founded in 2003 that is closely affiliated with the NFL’s Houston Texans. Since its founding, LSSE has established itself as the leading sports event promoter in Houston. In addition to the TaxAct Texas Bowl and the Texas Kickoff, LSSE has emerged as a premier promoter for international soccer matches, including Copa America Centenario, the 2010 MLS All-Star Game featuring Manchester United, the 2006 FC Barcelona U.S. tour, 2003 and 2008 matches between the United States and Mexico, and the 2005, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2019 and 2021 CONCACAF Gold Cups. LSSE has also reinvigorated the “Battle of the Piney Woods” rivalry between Stephen F. Austin and Sam Houston State and has promoted major concerts featuring country superstars including George Strait, Taylor Swift and Kenny Chesney.

 

CFB Insider

CFB Insider: Top Five Wins (and Losses) to be Thankful for this Season

Add Some Healthy CFB Debate to Your Thanksgiving Table

Nothing goes together quite like pumpkin pie and football. As we look forward to watching rivalry week stuffed with Thanksgiving leftovers, we look back at the top five, season-defining wins so far this year.

Read on for our take on which key wins (and losses) teams should be most thankful for heading into the final week of regular season. Don’t forget to check out our latest @TexasBowl Twitter post to tell us which win (or loss) you are most thankful for this season!

Week 1 | Georgia 10, Clemson 3

We knew from the get-go this was going to be a big-time game. Clemson set out to prove themselves with a QB not named Lawrence and Georgia looked at this season as the one to prove they belong in the playoffs. For all the fans of gritty defensive battles, this faceoff was a fun one to watch. Defense held strong on both sides as neither offense reached the end zone and the Dawgs pick-six won them the game. 

Georgia is very thankful for a top five win in week one, setting their season on a course for success. Now leading the College Football Playoff Rankings at No. 1, we are looking ahead to their potential semi-final match-up this Bowl Season. 

Week 3 | Alabama 31, Florida 29

While Alabama is surely thankful for a narrow win against a solid Florida team, Texas A&M is equally as thankful for the Gators revealing the chinks in the Alabama armor. It was this game where all of college football (unless you’re a Bama fan) sat licking their chops, seeing that Alabama was not the invincible squad they were last season.  

Week 4 | Arkansas 20, Texas A&M 10

Arkansas single-handedly swept the state of Texas in September. With this season-defining win, Arkansas snapped the Aggies nine-game winning streak over the Razorbacks dating back to 2011. With an impressive display of force, Arkansas proved their run game can beat the best of them. They can be thankful for this win for elevating their season expectations to more than their typical average SEC West finish.

Week 6 | Texas A&M 41, Alabama 38

Did someone say upset? Every playoff hopeful is thankful for this game. Both teams had been inconsistent to this point, and one final blow from Aggies kicker Seth Small took down the mighty Crimson Tide. With six of the current top ten teams sitting at 10-1, this game took the playoff selections from pretty predictable to very debatable. We hope you enjoy the debate with your friends and family this holiday!

Week 9 | Houston 44, SMU 37

Straight off their Big 12 announcement, Houston proved they could play with the big boys—knocking off the previously undefeated SMU Mustangs. Marcus Jones’ 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown with 17 seconds left made a major statement for the Cougars. Things are looking good for the soon-to-be Big 12 Coogs to make a run at the AAC title against Cincinnati in a few weeks. Should Houston fall to Cincinnati, the Bearcats would use this top-25 win as another feather in their hat for their playoff campaign.

HONORABLE MENTIONS:

Week 2 | Arkansas 40, Texas 21 – The one where the Arkansas said, ‘we’re baaaack’

Week 6 | Oklahoma 55, Texas 48 – The one where OU finally decided on a starting QB

Week 11 | Baylor 27, Oklahoma 14 - The one where Baylor beat OU for the first time since 2014 and took away their chance at being undefeated

 

CFB Insider

CFB Insider: The Wild SEC West

How A Six-Way Tie is Possible

College football in November has always had one certainty: an inevitable helping of chaos as the game wraps up its final regular season month. Should the unprecedented happen, rivalries could cut even deeper at the Thanksgiving dinner table this year. Looming around is the possibility, though unlikely, of a six-way SEC West tie as teams trudge on to week eleven.

Read on to realize the possibilities of the wild SEC west heading into the end of conference and make sure to check out our latest @TexasBowl Twitter post to give us YOUR opinion.

Every team besides LSU could stake a claim at the top of college football’s most competitive division with a 5-3 conference record. Here’s the complete breakdown to what creates college football pandemonium and resolving who would set a date with Georgia on December 4 in the SEC Championship:

Arkansas and Mississippi State win out

The Bulldogs and Razorbacks had perhaps the most exciting match-up in the SEC this past weekend. A back-and-forth affair saw a last-minute go-ahead touchdown and a heartbreaking miss on a game-winning field goal attempt as time expired, letting the Hogs emerge victorious.

Arkansas (6-3, 2-3), and in the CFP rankings for the first time at No. 25, needs to beat LSU, Alabama, and Missouri to close their schedule. Meanwhile, Mississippi State (5-4, 3-3), must take care of business against Auburn and Ole Miss.

First up: The Golden Boot. LSU is mathematically eliminated from contention after falling short of a blindside win against Alabama in a scrapy effort from the Tigers this past weekend. They’ve proven tough all year long and could be a challenge for Sam Pittman’s Hogs. As LSU and Texas A&M revealed, Alabama is beatable. A trip to Tuscaloosa isn’t the lost cause that it has seemed in years past. Finally, Arkansas wraps up the season in the Battle Line Rivalry against SEC East bottom-dweller Missouri. 

Mike Leach’s air raid attack has been ether high-flying or grounded and canceled with little in-between this season. They face an Auburn squad who didn’t manage to step foot in the endzone last week against Texas A&M but is hungry and always dangerous with Bo Nix behind center. The Bulldogs wrap up the season on Thanksgiving night in one of college football’s most under-rated rivalries, the Egg Bowl. The Egg Bowl always manages to surprise, but even more so now with two of the most creative minds in charge with Leach and Lane Kiffin. 

Auburn and Ole Miss win two and lose one

Considering the scenarios above, No. 17 Auburn (6-3, 3-2), needs to beat South Carolina and Alabama after losing to Mississippi State. South Carolina shocked the Gators last weekend and will be more of a test than anyone assumed earlier this season. Then, the Iron Bowl. There are few things Alabama fans dislike more than facing the Tigers in Jordan-Hare Stadium. Auburn has won three-of-the-last-four on the Plains and will have an opportunity to take another victory against an Alabama team that has largely underperformed as of late.

Ole Miss (7-2, 3-2), must beat Texas A&M and Vanderbilt. ESPN’s College Gameday returns to Oxford this weekend as No. 11 Texas A&M takes on No. 15 Ole Miss. The trip marks the crew’s first time back in the Magnolia State since October 2014, when the college football landscape was rattled by a pair of upsets featuring Ole Miss and Mississippi State in back-to-back weeks. Katy Perry will need to come ready to compete to beat a Texas A&M team who seems to have figured it out in recent weeks. After this week, don’t expect the Rebels to have much trouble with Vandy.

Texas A&M needs one more win

Texas A&M (7-2, 4-2) concludes their season in Baton Rouge, in what will be Coach Orgeron’s last game in Death Valley at the helm for the team he led to a national championship just two years ago. The Aggies will need to make a statement in that game to make the 5-3 conference mark.

Alabama loses their final two

The Crimson Tide (8-1, 5-1), have come out with sluggish starts in back-to-back weeks against Tennessee and LSU. If the Tide can’t get back to their usual course of routing opponents, losing to Arkansas and Auburn, though a longshot, isn’t out of the realm of possibility. 

So, who wins?

If the SEC West has six teams with a 5-3 record conference record, they would enter the Conference’s tie-breaking procedure.

Step One: Combined head-to-head record among tied teams. This step would look at how each team faired against the other 5-3 contenders. In this scenario, Arkansas, Auburn, and Mississippi State would remain candidates with 3-2 records against the other five tied-up opponents. On the flip side, Alabama, Ole Miss, and Texas A&M would be eliminated with their 2-3 records. 

Step Two: Record of the tied teams in within the division. This step looks at how each team performed in the SEC West. Both Arkansas and Auburn would sit at 4-2, while Mississippi State would be eliminated via their 3-3 division mark. 

Step Three: With two teams remaining, the two-team conference tie-breaker is used. Simply, the head-to-head result. With six teams tied atop the SEC West, the division’s fate is decided by an October 16 trip to Fayetteville, where the 38-23 Auburn victory sends them to Atlanta.

Absurd? Yes. Possible? Not Likely. Everything we want from college football in November? Absolutely. Regardless of if we get to bear witness to circumstances unseen in the SEC before, the remaining three weeks will have enormous implications on the postseason landscape. It is far more plausible to see Alabama or A&M take on Georgia in the SEC Championship, but here’s hoping the spectacle in the west is bigger than any other feast by the time Thanksgiving rolls around.