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This bowl season, the biggest game is also the most entertaining

The CFP semifinal matchups feature the best game (Ohio State vs. Clemson) and the best coaching matchup (Nick Saban vs. Chris Petersen). Here's what else you should watch for this bowl season.

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Jackson, Peppers among Heisman finalists (2:53)
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An eight-team playoff would have worked this year (0:50)
Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports
9hHeather Dinich

Get used to it, people: There's no surefire CFP path

Expecting year-to-year consistency from the playoff committee is a fool's errand. As it picks the four best teams, it won't always reward conference titles or challenging schedules.

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Fournette taking his punishing run game to the next level (0:31)
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Will Watson's Heisman dreams come to fruition? (0:36)
Mark LoMoglio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
8hRichard Lapchick

Another racial divide among bowl teams

How do we fix the persistent gap in graduation rates between African-American and white student-athletes?

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Washington's road to the College Football Playoff (2:52)
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Can Washington dethrone Alabama? (1:08)
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Key moments for semifinalists Clemson, OSU (1:24)
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Booger says Bama's worst nightmare is Clemson (1:23)
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Top five plays of the college football season (2:07)
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Watson knew Clemson had to put in extra work this season (1:21)

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ESPN Stats and Information  

This is the first time since 2005 that no player from the SEC will finish in the top 5 of the Heisman Trophy voting, ending a streak of 10 straight years. The longest active streak now belongs to the Big 12, with 2016 marking their 3rd straight year.

David M. Hale ESPN Staff Writer 

Statement from Lamar Jackson on his Heisman invite: "I'm extremely humbled and honored to be a Heisman Trophy finalist. This is a great honor for me, but it's an honor that goes to my teammates too. Without them, I wouldn't have been able to be successful and I share this accomplishment with them."

David M. Hale ESPN Staff Writer 

Statement from Clemson coach Dabo Swinney on Deshaun Watson's second trip to NYC for the Heisman presentation: "This is a great honor for Deshaun and our program. He is our first (two-time finalist), and he's very deserving. I've said it before; I believe he is the best player in the nation and has been a great representative of our university."

David Lombardi ESPN Staff Writer 

It will be interesting to see how many Heisman votes Christian McCaffrey gets. He fell out of the conversation after his October injury, but rallied to again lead the nation in all-purpose yardage. McCaffrey's rushing averages were actually better than last year, when he finished runner-up.

Jake Trotter ESPN Staff Writer 

Teammates who were both Heisman finalists in the same year: 2016: Baker Mayfield and Dede Westbrook, Oklahoma 2005: Matt Leinart and Reggie Bush*, USC 2004: Adrian Peterson and Jason White, Oklahoma 2004: Matt Leinart and Reggie Bush, USC 2002: Willis McGahee and Ken Dorsey, Miami 1994: Ki'Jana Carter and Kerry Collins, Penn State Note: The Heisman began inviting finalists to New York in 1982. Before that, only the winners were invited.

Max Olson ESPN Staff Writer 

Texas RB D'Onta Foreman had an incredible season with an FBS-leading 2,028 rushing yards in only 11 games. But Texas didn't play in a single game that mattered from a national perspective, and I think that (and the 5-7 record) explains the Heisman snub.

Kyle Bonagura ESPN Staff Writer 

Neither Washington QB Jake Browning, nor USC CB Adoree' Jackson were invited to the Heisman Trophy ceremony, which means the Pac-12 will not be represented in New York for the first time in three years. Dating back to 2009, the conference has had a player finish second-or-higher every year but two (2012 and 2013).

David M. Hale ESPN Staff Writer 

Oklahoma is the first team with two players finishing in the top 5 of Heisman voting in the same year since Texas Tech in 2008 and just the fifth in the last 20 years. The Sooners also had two finalists in 2004 (Adrian Peterson and Jason White).

Jake Trotter ESPN Staff Writer 

Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield and wide receiver Dede Westbrook are both headed to New York as Heisman finalists. This marks just the fifth time ever that teammates are finalists for the Heisman in the same year, not including Reggie Bush and Matt Leinart in 2005 (Bush's Heisman was later revoked).

David M. Hale ESPN Staff Writer 

Michigan's Jabrill Peppers is the first defensive player to be a Heisman finalist since Notre Dame's Manti Te'o in 2012 and just the fourth in the last decade to finish in the top 5 in voting.

David M. Hale ESPN Staff Writer 

Dalvin Cook was always the lost man in the ACC's Heisman race. His 19 touchdowns, 2,046 total yards and rush yards after contact all ranked among the best in the nation, and he did while facing seven defenses ranked among the top 25 in ESPN's defensive efficiency.

Chris Fowler @cbfowler

Congrats to voter-chosen #Heisman finalists! (alphabetical) Lamar Jackson, Baker Mayfield, Jabrill Peppers, Deshaun Watson, Dede Westbrook

David M. Hale ESPN Staff Writer 

A year ago, Dalvin Cook rushed for 1,658 yards and 18 TDs and finished seventh in Heisman balloting. This year, he's just shy of that total with 1,620 yards on the ground, again with 18 TDs. He once again won't finish in the top five.

David M. Hale ESPN Staff Writer 

No Heisman finalist nods for Dalvin Cook, D'Onta Foreman, Donnel Pumphrey or Jeremy McNichols. It's just the fourth time since 1992 that no running back has finished in the top five.

ESPN Stats and Information  

Deshaun Watson and Baker Mayfield finished 3rd and 4th in Heisman voting a year ago. Should they both finish in the top 4 for the second consecutive season, they'd be just the 6th pair of finalists to do so.

David M. Hale ESPN Staff Writer 

Lamar Jackson's numbers were eye-popping all year. His Heisman-worthy totals: 51 touchdowns and 4,928 yards, while becoming just the fourth Power 5 QB to rush for 20 and pass for 20 touchdowns in the same year. And he did it all while being sacked 38 times, most in the Power 5.

David M. Hale ESPN Staff Writer 

Whether Deshaun Watson closed the gap enough to catch Lamar Jackson for the Heisman trophy remains to be seen, but his coach, Dabo Swinney, said Watson is hands-down the best QB in the nation and that if he had a vote, "it'd be the easiest vote ever."

David M. Hale ESPN Staff Writer 

If Deshaun Watson finishes first or second in this year's Heisman race, he'd be the first player since Andrew Luck to be a finalist one year and finish higher the next. A win would make him the first player to finish in the top five one year and win it the next since Reggie Bush in 2005.

David M. Hale ESPN Staff Writer 

Bobby Petrino took a relatively passive approach to politicking for his QB for Heisman, saying he thinks Lamar Jackson has earned the award and he "wishes him the best." Still, even Petrino notes that his team faltered down the stretch, and that can leave a lasting memory.

David M. Hale ESPN Staff Writer 

If the Heisman was based on November and December numbers alone, Deshaun Watson would be the runaway winner. He leads all FBS QBs since Nov. 1 in touchdowns (20) and yards (1,784) while completing 74% of his throws.

David M. Hale ESPN Staff Writer 

Lamar Jackson remains the Heisman favorite, and he'd be the first player with three or more losses on his record to win the trophy since Robert Griffin III. But in those three games Louisville lost, Jackson averaged 384 yards of offense, scored eight times and had 19 plays of 20+ yards.

David M. Hale ESPN Staff Writer 

Heisman finalists: Lamar Jackson, Baker Mayfield, Michigan's Jabrill Peppers, Deshaun Watson and Dede Westbrook. Two from the ACC and two from Oklahoma.