Dream League Championship: Clyde Edwards-Hillaire just keeps on running

They laughed at the strategy, but Nathaniel shook off the doubters. On the day of the draft, Nathaniel mourned his lack of preparation, so he proceeded to stick to his comfort zone. He loaded his offense with a stockpile of absurd SEC talent, drafted nine players out of the SEC East, subsequently dubbing his team the “SEC East all-stars”. Nathaniel was given the lowest odds of our three podcast personalities to win the title, but it didn’t matter.

After a 7-1 regular season, Nathaniel took a bye to the championship round, at which point he rolled over Cal, the preseason favorites, in a two-game sweep to claim the title. Here’s a recap of the championship round:

Nathaniel 55 Cal 33 (Box Score, and Play-by-Play)

Playing at home to start the series, Nathaniel actually struggled to start, falling behind by two possessions, 16-7, late in the second quarter. But in the final five minutes of the half, Nathaniel outscored Cal 24-0 to seize control. LSU running back Clyde Edwards-Hillaire broke off touchdown runs of 46 and 34 yards, sandwiched around a field goal, to take a 24-16 lead. Then, Nathaniel got some help from his Georgia defense, which intercepted Trevor Lawrence with three seconds left. Joe Burrow took a shot at the end zone and connected with DeVontae Smith for a touchdown.

Nathaniel iced the game in the third quarter as Edwards-Hillaire continued to torch Cal’s Ohio State defense, rushing for 28 and 66-yard TDs. Another Burrow-Smith connection made it a 21-point quarter and a 52-19 lead. Two late touchdowns for Cal did little to ease the brutal loss. Edwards-Hillaire rushed for four touchdowns and 213 yards, Burrow threw for 354 yards and three scores, while Lawrence threw for 348 yards in the loss.

Nathaniel 37 Cal 27

It was deja vu early for Cal, as he watched Clyde Edwards-Hillaire take a screen pass from Burrow 73 yards to the house en route to an early 13-0 deficit. However, playing in his home stadium – the “Big House” in Michigan – Cal didn’t go away. A Chuba Hubbard touchdown run kept him within 20-10 at halftime.

Lawrence scrambled and beat the defense to the edge early in the second half, running it in from 11 yards out, drawing within three points. After Nathaniel kicked a field goal, Hubbard snared a short pass and raced 55 yards for a 24-23 lead. However, it would be his only lead, as on Nathaniel’s next possession, second-string running back AJ Dillon, a second round pick in this year’s draft, burst up the middle for a 38-yard touchdown run. After a two-point conversion, it was 31-24, and Nathaniel held on for victory. Edwards-Hillaire racked up 161 all purpose yards to gain postseason MVP honors. Michael Pittman had 100 receiving yards in the loss.

Over the course of two dream league seasons, Nathaniel and Andrew each won a title, and the final records were as follows:

  1. Nathaniel (15-10)
  2. Andrew (10-11)
  3. Cal (9-14)

Dream League Days 2-3: Benching Joe Burrow for Lynn Bowden?

After Andrew defeated Cal in the opening contest with relative ease, it was time for Nathaniel to get into the action, and he took his squad, loaded with SEC East talent into action against Andrew on Day 2.

Featuring an air-raid attack led by Joe Burrow, Nathaniel’s offense was nearly unstoppable, particularly in the second half. Burrow went 26-39 for 393 yards, tossing four touchdowns. 1st-round draft pick Clyde Edwards-Hillaire caught a pair of 1-yard scores and rushed for another, as Nathaniel outscored Andrew 21-3 in the third quarter and hung on for a nail-biting 41-35 victory. J.K. Dobbins paced Andrew’s offense with a whopping 221 rushing yards, averaging nearly ten yards per pop.

Box Score: https://www.whatifsports.com/ncaafb/boxscore.asp?GameID=11871786&nomenu=1

Day 3 featured some highly interesting strategy between Nathaniel and Cal. After watching Burrow torch Andrew, Cal used his homefield advantage to set the weather, a feature available on our simulation, to 35 degrees with wind and pouring rain. Nathaniel’s response? He benched Burrow for Kentucky’s jack-of-all trades Lynn Bowden, also choosing the heavy run play style.

Cal was highly critical of the decision, commenting “I’m trying to think of a scenario that this is a close game, but I can’t”

Nathaniel was confident in his bold decision, saying “I’m going to make Cal have nightmares about Lynn Bowden tonight”.

Although the play style didn’t fit Nathaniel’s offense nearly as well, he had a strength in Georgia kicker Rodrigo Blankenship, who kicked three field goals – two in the fourth quarter – to edge out Cal, who managed just a single touchdown on the day. Bowden put together a solid performance, but it was Edwards-Hillaire that was the main feature of Nathaniel’s offense, churning out 132 yards in the gritty 9-7 victory.

Box Score: https://www.whatifsports.com/ncaafb/boxscore.asp?GameID=11874668&nomenu=1

STANDINGS
Nathaniel (2-0)
Andrew (1-1)
Cal (0-2)