With the arrival of the new year, it means that football must end soon. This week marks round 5 of the playoffs, or better known as the State Semifinals. With only 4 teams left in competition, who will get their shot at another week of football?
In the 6A D1 Division of the UIL Playoffs, Southlake Carroll and Duncanville are the first matchup. Duncanville is on a revenge tour, having lost in the State Title game last year to North Shore. On the flip side, Southlake Carroll was knocked out in round 4 last year by Duncanville. This is going to give them each extra motivation to get to Jerry World, as if a team really needs that much of a boost. With that being said, this may be a game where both teams meet their match. Southlake Carroll and Duncanville play offensively explosive first quarters, and fizzle out towards the end of the game. A combination like this is potentially dangerous and could mean we see a game head into overtime at Globe Life Park.
The other side of the bracket has North Shore and Westlake set to face off. Westlake comes in with a 12-0 record, and North Shore at 14-0. This game is bound to be emotional as one team will see their first loss of the season. Westlake will come in as the underdog, since North Shore is the reigning State Champion. Don’t let that stat alone determine who you place your bet on, because this will not be an easy win for either team. Westlake has a terrifying balance between offensive and defensive powerhouse. At this point in the post-season games should be kept close, but Westlake embarrassed Stevens in round 3 with a 71-14 victory. This was their highest scoring game of the season, but the Chaparrals have yet to play a game where they don’t score at least 45 points. Defensively, the team has produced 6 shut outs, in their 12 games. If that’s the underdog, North Shore should cause the hairs to stick up on your arm. While they don’t have any out of the ordinary game statistics, the Mustangs are a team who consistently win games. Not only did they take state last season, but also the year before. The school has a total of 4 state championships, with 3 of those being in the 6A division. This game is going to be a defining moment for both teams at Katy ISD’s Legacy Stadium.
I suppose Dabo Swinney was never taught how reverse motivation works, but he definitely felt the effects on Friday night. The teams started out the first quarter in an evenly matched fashion, spectators at this point were ready to watch what looked to be a good game with the teams tied at 14. But by halftime the Buckeyes had scored 21 unanswered points, and it became evident that Ohio State belonged in that game.
Dabo Swinney: I’m ranking Ohio State 11th— Sports Law Lust (@SportsLawLust) January 2, 2021
Ohio State: pic.twitter.com/nU43bMzHHr
In case you’re a little lost, earlier in the week Swinney’s coaches poll was announced with Ohio State sitting a No. 11. His explanation was that the Buckeye’s had not played enough games to earn a spot in the top 10. Now I’m not saying I disagree, I think this is a very valid point, but the timing was poor and Swinney was fixated on telling the world why the committee messed up. In a press conference following the game, he said that he did not regret his decision.
"No, I don't regret any of that."— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) January 2, 2021
—Dabo Swinney on if he thought his coaches poll ballot had anything to do with Ohio State's motivation pic.twitter.com/K6viA6BLha
However, I strongly believe that the doubt from not only the country, but from the opposing teams head coach, was a main contributor to Ohio States 49-28 beating over the Tigers.
There comes a certain point in the season where fanbases stop cheering for a victorious season, and start hoping for losses in order to “win” the first pick in the draft. The New York Jets and the Jacksonville Jaguars have been going head-to-head for the past couple of weeks, but it seems as though the Jaguars have finally won something.
At the start of the season the football world was in unison that Trevor Lawrence would be the first pick. Could this be affected by Clemson’s performance in the Sugar Bowl? In my opinion, I think the summation of Lawrence’s career at Clemson is more telling of his potential than one game, but I understand where the question is coming from.
Let’s also note, Trevor Lawrence did not have a ‘bad’ game. While it was not his best performance, the Junior still managed a 68.8% completion rate with 400 yards and 2 touchdowns. Did Justin Fields out preform him? A thousand times yes. Fields had a 78.6% completion rate for 385 yards and 6 touchdowns.
So now the question is, order aside, could we see the two quarterbacks be taken as the first and second pick? I would actually have to say no, but this wouldn’t be because of either quarterback’s skill level. The Jets took Sam Darnold in the first round 2 years ago and they’re working to establish him as their franchise quarterback. The problem in New York is assets, which is what I would personally predict that the Jets will be more focused on. This could mean we see Alabama’s Najee Harris, or Clemson’s Travis Etienne as New York’s pick.