Did you stay awake?
College Football Playoff's second edition turned out to be a snoozefest. Not only were the two playoff semifinal games uncompetitive blowouts, the other New Year's Six games were no better. Of the eight games played on New Year's Eve and New Year's Day, none were decided by fewer than two touchdowns.
But we still learn plenty from all these one-sided affairs. While there is risk in divining too much meaning from postseason bowl games, we can confidently provide you with five major takeaways:
1. Did the committee get it right?
In a word, no. The New Year's Six bowl games were all terrible mismatches, and the playoff pairings also turned out to be questionable. The one conference champion excluded from the playoff -- Stanford of the Pac-12 -- absolutely deserved a place in the semifinals.
Michigan State turned out to be the one team that had no business of being in the four-team playoff. Let's face it, the Spartans were no better than the third-best team in the Big Ten and got two lucky breaks to defeat Ohio State and Michigan, the true heavyweights of that conference. Iowa is another pretender that got exposed. The two Big Ten championship game participants were outscored 83-16 in their two blowout losses.
2. Did the Heisman voters get it right?
In two words, hell no. Stanford's Christian McCaffrey torched Iowa with a Rose Bowl record of 368 all-purpose yards, adding to the NCAA record season total he already owns. He was a far more deserving winner of the Heisman Trophy, but lost out to Alabama's Derrick Henry because of the relentless hype for the SEC.
Henry turned in a pedestrian performance (20 carries, 75 yards) in Alabama's win over Michigan State, which was no surprise. His season, while remarkable, was not extraordinary in any way. Running backs turn in Henry-type of performances every season, but transcendent talent like McCaffrey comes along only every generation or so.
3. How did college football's 'New Tradition' work out?
Not well at all. College Football Playoff's management committee insisted on playing the two semifinals on New Year's Eve. and ESPN paid dearly for that arrogant decision. TV ratings for the two games were down by 36 percent from last year's inaugural playoff, when they were held on New Year's Day.
Not that everybody didn't see this coming. Even ESPN lobbied hard for a one-time move to have the semifinals on Jan. 2, a Saturday with no competition from the NFL, but its request was rejected out of hand. Don't expect the ratings to improve much next year, either, when the semifinals will again be held on New Year's Eve at the Fiesta Bowl and Peach Bowl.
4. How did New Year's Six matchups work out?
Also not well. The two playoff games were not competitive in the second halves, helping to lower the TV ratings even more. As a whole the New Year's Six bowls were decided by an average of 24.2 points per game, with Houston's 14-point win over Florida State in the Peach Bowl the closest contest.
In fact, if you want to toss in the other two games held on New Year's Day -- the Citrus and Outback bowls -- the eight games contested over the New Years were decided by an average of 27.25 points per game, with little drama in the fourth quarter in any of them.
5. Do we have the right teams in the championship game?
It's tempting to say yes, but both Ohio State and Stanford will have legitimate beefs. The Buckeyes didn't get a chance to defend their title because they didn't get the break in another game that Alabama got. The Tide backed into the SEC title game only after Arkansas pulled off a miracle fourth-and-25 play to deny Ole Miss the SEC West crown. Had Michigan State not beaten Michigan on its own miracle punt block, Ohio State would've won the Big Ten East.
The lesson for Stanford, on the other hand, is to schedule cupcakes for its non-conference games like SEC and ACC teams do. Had the Cardinal opened their season against an FCS foe instead of a road game at Northwestern, they'd been in the playoff, too.
But for all those clamoring for an expansion of the playoff, don't hold your breath. The current contract runs through the 2025 season and not much is going to change anytime soon.