Tua goes down and so do Alabama’s playoff chances

While Clemson is coasting to another ACC championship and a spot in the College Football Playoffs  (CFP), the news for Alabama couldn’t be worse.

Leading 35-7 at Mississippi State, Crimson Tide star QB Tua Tagovailoa was playing his final series of the game. The decision to keep playing him in a game already won may be one Coach Nick Saban regrets for years. Tua was hit hard by two MSU defenders and dislocated his hip. His season, and likely his college career, are over. His orthopaedic surgeon says Tua will make a full recovery, but his next snap may be against the pros.

Prior to this play, Alabama was in good position for the fourth CFP slot, and while they still may get it, it is now a long shot. The Tide will have to win at Auburn in two weeks to have any shot of a CFP bid.

The ACC has turned into a fairytale remake of Snow White, only the 2019 version is called “Snow Orange and the 13 Dwarfs.” That means No. 3 Clemson and the rest of the league — none of whom have distinguished themselves on the gridiron this season. Two weeks ago the buzz was Wake Forest may get an Orange Bowl bid. And now its Virginia Tech as this week’s hope for a New Year’s Six bowl bid. Say whut?

Most of the rivalry games are next weekend, but let’s see whozza gonna win this week’s contests. Fearless picked Iowa to upset No. 7 Minnesota last week, which they did 23-19.

SYRACUSE at LOUISVILLE: Two teams that arose from the ashes to win last weekend. Syracuse was given up for dead, and Louisville was only a little better off. Neither is very good so this should be a good, close game. When it’s even Fearless goes with the home team. Louisville 38, Syracuse 34.

N.C. STATE at GEORGIA TECH:  “Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered weak and weary.” Who knew Poe was talking about this game? Two teams desperate for a win, trying to salvage anything from this season. State lost most of their starters and is drowning. Tech was on the road to improvement before getting shellacked by Virginia Tech 45-0. And that game was on the flats.  Fearless thinks this Thursday night game could go either way, but sides with the Ramblin’ Wreck. Georgia Tech 31, N.C. State 28.

EAST CAROLINA at CONNECTICUT: Road wins are rare for the Pirates, but ECU could get one here. Connecticut is awful, and ECU is building under Mike Houston. Close, Fearless gives it to.....ECU 27, Connecticut 23.

LIBERTY at VIRGINIA: Liberty has been upgrading its program, playing nationally as an independent. But this is the Flames’ toughest assignment of the year. The Cavaliers are still alive for an ACC divisional crown and cannot be looking ahead to next week’s probable title game against Virginia Tech. Are they? Virginia 34, Liberty 17.

PITT at VIRGINIA TECH: The winner is still alive for the division win and possibly the impending death march against Clemson in the ACC championship game. Pitt escaped with a win over UNC while Tech was playing its best game of the season at Georgia Tech. The key for the Hokies was changing QBs. Due to play a great home game. Virginia Tech 35, Pitt 20.

DUKE at WAKE FOREST: A few weeks ago both were doing so well. So what happened? Notre Dame, Syracuse (for Duke), Virginia Tech and Clemson (for Wake Forest), that’s what. Duke is two losses from ending a disappointing season. If Wake Forest can win here and beat Syracuse, they may get a decent bowl bid. They have more to play for. Wake Forest 32, Duke 24.

MERCER at NORTH CAROLINA: Mack Brown has brought a new vitality to Chapel Hill, but now the losses are starting to pile up. They aren’t giving out trophies for coming close. Luckily for the Tar Heels Mercer is next up on the slate. Lucky because this is the weakest team they play this year. Mercer is 4-7 and has lost to Wofford and East Tennessee State the last two Saturdays. With a depleted State team on the schedule after this one, the Heels should finish 6-6 and spend the holidays somewhere.  Where?  (Likely some place you have never been —and don’t plan to go to). UNC 45, Mercer 10.

OTHER MAJOR GAMES THIS WEEKEND: Georgia over Texas A&M  (close),  Ohio State over Penn State (finally, a test for the Buckeyes), Alabama over Western Carolina, Auburn over Samford, Iowa over Illinois,  Minnesota over Northwestern, Appalachian over Texas State, Notre Dame over Boston College, USC over UCLA, Navy over SMU (even), Marshall over Charlotte, Michigan over Indiana, Baylor over Texas, Wisconsin over Purdue, Oregon over Arizona State, Miami over FIU, LSU over Arkansas  (by 60?), Oklahoma over TCU, Utah over Arizona, and Tennessee over Missouri.

TOFF/CFP TOP TEN: 1. LSU 2. Ohio State 3. Clemson 4. Georgia 5. Alabama 6. Oregon 7. Utah 8. Oklahoma 9. Penn State 10. Florida

Southeast Sports Syndicate, 2019