Bears as good as the 'best' and not good enough

938713.png

Bears as good as the 'best' and not good enough

Two things came out of the Bears 13-6 loss to the Houston Texans on Sunday night.

One is that they are generally as good as the NFLs best team, which the Texans officially are with their 8-1 record. That was some of the frustration that players felt in the aftermath. They felt they were as good as the Texans going in, they out-gained Houston 249-215, and they intercepted quarterback Matt Schaub twice and sacked him once, something that had happened only 10 times in Houstons first eight games.

The other thing, however, is that they are simply not good enough to win a Super Bowl.

More than one Texan said the game indeed could have been a Super Bowl preview. I think it would be a heck of a rematch, especially on a better field, said Houston defensive end Antonio Smith. Could they be seeing the Bears in New Orleans? Oh yeah. Heck yeah.

Right now the Texans might in fact be hoping that comes to pass, at least members of the defense.

The offense and quarterback Jay Cutler were exposed. They could not run when they wanted to, with Matt Forte managing just 39 yards on his 16 carries. Cutler still makes throws that a seven-year veteran should not make.

Mike Tice offenses in Minnesota were led in receiving two of the three years he was Vikings head coach. A surprise after this week will be Kellen Davis remaining in the starting lineup after a devastating fumble on the Bears first play and pass drop on what would have been a key third-down conversion late in the fourth quarter.

More to the point, the Bears began nine of their 14 drives with no worse field position than their own 35. The result was exactly two field goals, one after an interception gave them the ball at the Houston 35. A good team would have scored 28 points.

On only one of 14 possessions did the Bears pick up more than one first down and they even had to punt after that one.

Its a loss, said coach Lovie Smith. You have to go from there. We were beaten by a good football team. Were 7-2. Were going to get back. Theres a lot of football left to go.

Buckeyes going back to College Football Playoff, will face Clemson in Fiesta Bowl

Buckeyes going back to College Football Playoff, will face Clemson in Fiesta Bowl

The College Football Playoff field is set, and for the second time in three years, the Ohio State Buckeyes will compete for a national championship.

The selection committee revealed the four-team field for this season's Playoff, with Ohio State coming at No. 3. The Buckeyes will battle No. 2 Clemson in the Fiesta Bowl. The other Playoff semifinal pits No. 1 Alabama against No. 4 Washington in the Peach Bowl.

While Ohio State has been considered one of the best teams in the country throughout the season, the Buckeyes' inclusion in the Playoff field is not without controversy, as they are the first team to play in the Playoff without winning their conference championship. But Ohio State had a sterling resume with three wins over top-10 teams: Michigan, Wisconsin and Oklahoma. The Buckeyes' lone loss came against a top-10 Penn State team.

The 2014 national champion, Ohio State returns to the Playoff after missing out last season. Big Ten champion Michigan State represented the conference last year, getting crushed by Alabama in the Cotton Bowl. Two years ago, the Buckeyes beat the Crimson Tide in the Sugar Bowl and then beat the Oregon Ducks in the national championship game.

Big Ten champion Penn State, which won the conference title game Saturday night with an instant-classic comeback victory over Wisconsin, ended up fifth and was left off the bracket. So too was sixth-ranked Michigan, which didn't compete for a conference championship but was ranked fifth in the final set of rankings prior to Sunday's bracket reveal. The Nittany Lions and Wolverines combined for five wins over top-10 teams this season.

There was plenty of conversation that red-hot Penn State could surge into the Playoff, just like Ohio State did two years ago. The Lions are riding a nine-game winning streak, defeated Ohio State earlier in the season and claimed the championship in what has been the hands-down best conference in college football this season. And boy did they impress Saturday night in their most recent showing, erasing a three-touchdown deficit to come back and beat Wisconsin.

Michigan, too, had a mighty compelling case to make. The Wolverines, owners of one of the best defenses in the country all season long, beat three top-10 teams during the regular season and took the No. 2 team in the country to double overtime just last weekend.

But in the end, we did not get the first Playoff field to feature two teams from the same conference. Penn State and Michigan will learn their bowl fates — likely going to New Year's Six bowl games — later Sunday.

Big Ten poll update: Penn State jumps Michigan in last pre-Playoff AP poll

Big Ten poll update: Penn State jumps Michigan in last pre-Playoff AP poll

The College Football Playoff selection committee will reveal the four-team Playoff field shortly, but in the AP poll, Big Ten champion Penn State did vault ahead of Michigan.

The Nittany Lions, fresh off their instant-classic comeback win in Saturday night's Big Ten title game, jumped up three spots, from No. 8 to No. 5, passing the Wolverines, who dropped from No. 5 to No. 6 with no game to play this weekend.

Who knows if that will be the thinking of the committee or if Penn State's performance Saturday was impressive enough to get it above Washington or Clemson and into the final four.

In the AP poll Sunday, Ohio State checked in at No. 2 behind No. 1 Alabama. The Buckeyes didn't play Saturday either, but those top two spots figure to be how the top two spots of the Playoff field will look. Clemson and Washington stayed the Nos. 3 and 4 teams in the poll, which seems to be a likely possibility in the Playoff, as well.

Wisconsin, defeated by Penn State on Saturday night, dropped just two spots from No. 6 to No. 8, jumped by Penn State and Oklahoma, which was victorious in its regular-season finale against Oklahoma State, claiming the Big 12 championship in the process.

Iowa moved up one spot from No. 22 to No. 21, while Nebraska dropped a spot from No. 23 to No. 24. Neither team played this weekend.