The Obstructed NCAA Top 5-Week 9

Another week has come and gone and another big upset took place, this time in the Big 12 and now we may have a brawl for the Playoff as you have to think that all conferences are really believing they have a shot, including the PAC-12. So, who had the biggest weeks and who really shot themselves in the foot?

TOP 5 WINNERS

Dobbins established his Heisman candidacy with a great performance vs. the Badgers

(1) OHIO STATE: Even the physical Badgers had no answers for the Buckeyes especially in the second half as Ohio State wore them down physically and mentally. All roads look smooth until those back-to-back dates with Penn State and Michigan to end the season, but they should be favored to win both. Time will tell though.

(2) LSU: LSU’s offense looked “normal” against Auburn ONLY putting up 23 points (most years under Les Miles 23 was considered a shootout) but it was good enough to beat a pesky Auburn team. Now the big game for them is next with Alabama November 9 in Tuscaloosa. It will be interesting to see the chess moves made between both the Tigers and Tide, but right now you have to figure the winner of that game will be the SEC representative for the Playoff.

(3) PENN STATE: Yeah, beating Michigan State isn’t big like it would have been 5 years ago, but Penn State has as many issues with the Spartans for the last 5 years as they have had with the Buckeyes. So it was an ugly game but they still won decisively. Their true tests are in a few more games with road trips at Minnesota and Ohio State.

(4) MICHIGAN: It was a needed win for the Wolverines who just have issues under Harbaugh beating the upper end of teams. Notre Dame looked like they didn’t belong. This is one of those games that if Michigan goes on a run and upsets Ohio State, we will look back and go “yup, the Notre Dame game changed everything.”

(5) MINNESOTA: Yeah, they beat Maryland decisively, but Minnesota remains undefeated and better for them may end up winning the Big Ten West with relative ease assuming they can stun Penn State in two weeks in Minnesota. If that happens, the Golden Gophers will be going to Indianapolis for a date with Ohio State from all likelihoods.

HONORABLE MENTION: KANSAS STATE

TOP 5 LOSERS

Oct 26, 2019; Columbus, OH, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes defensive tackle Davon Hamilton (53) stops Wisconsin Badgers running back Jonathan Taylor (23) for no gain during the first quarter at Ohio Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

(1) WISCONSIN: The last two weeks has just been total Wisconsin in the eyes of the college football world. The Badgers lose to an unranked Illinois team and then gets thumped by an Ohio State squad. In other words, they always have that trip-up game and then the moniker is they cannot beat a powerhouse squad. Boom. No playoff dreams for Wisconsin.

(2) NOTRE DAME: People lauded the Irish after their near miss in Athens a month ago. And then they go to Michigan and get their clocks cleaned out by the Wolverines. A 2-loss independent isn’t going to do it for Notre Dame in the Playoff, so you can say bye-bye.

(3) AUBURN: If there is always one team who has a shot at still being in the Playoff with 2 losses it always seems to be Auburn. So am I going to count them out at this juncture? No. BUT….it’s slim and none, even if they beat an undefeated Alabama in the Iron Bowl they wouldn’t go the SEC Championship. So that will probably do it. About that LSU game….why’d they stop rushing Joe Burrow? That is what I think decided the game ultimately. That and Bo Nix looked like Bo Derek at times throwing the football.

(4) OKLAHOMA: All is not lost for the Sooners as one loss can not take them out, but the road to get to the Playoff for a third straight year may be bumpier than it was last year. The Sooners still have road trips to Oklahoma State, who is probably the most unpredictable team in college football and undefeated Baylor. Adding on, you have Oregon and Utah in the PAC-12 gaining a head of steam while you have to figure the LSU/Alabama winner will probably take the hold of the SEC and Clemson & Ohio State look unstoppable in their conferences. The Sooners can’t afford any more trip-ups because their Big 12 Title game doesn’t have the same meaning as the other conferences, despite what the conference heads say.

(5) ARIZONA STATE: The next thing Herm Edwards will have to do is build some consistency in Tempe with his team. At times, the Sun Devils look very formidable on both sides of the ball with a stout defense. And others is more of a “run for cover” bit. And the UCLA game was proof of that as they got socked pretty good.

TOP 5 QUESTIONS

The Ducks could be back in the Playoff in 2019

(1) WITH THE POSSIBLE CHAOS HAPPENING RIGHT NOW, WHICH FOUR TEAMS DO YOU SEE GETTING IN THE COLLEGE FOOTBALL PLAYOFF? Goodness, I don’t know. I’d say it will be Ohio State, Clemson, LSU (yes, I think they stun Bama sadly), and Oregon as the top 4. It’s too jumbled still and even with a few one-loss squads there it is tough to say. This may be the most difficult decision the Committee will have to make.

(2) DID JIM HARBAUGH SAVE HIS JOB WITH THE WIN AGAINST NOTRE DAME? If he wins out through the Ohio State then yes. It doesn’t seem like there is a road to the Big Ten Championship for Michigan again this year, but the hope is they can put the sting into the Buckeyes on November 30 and make things interesting in the Playoff race. But it has been done before a team will fire a head coach despite a 9-3 year. But who would the Wolverines get? So honestly I think he is saved

(3) IS THE SEC BACK TO BEING DOWN TO JUST LSU OR ALABAMA? Until Georgia ever figures out to adapt their offense into being a little more spread out and open things up, then yes. Florida has been strong to this point, but I don’t see them beating either Alabama or LSU even on a neutral field (SEC Championship is that possibility). So right now I think the winner of the LSU/Bama game will represent the SEC in the Playoff (or perhaps it may be another year of two SEC teams get in if the loser still wins out and that will really satisfy the masses).

(4) IS OKLAHOMA IN SERIOUS JEOPARDY OF MISSING OUT ON THE PLAYOFF? Honestly, yes. If you look at the one-loss schools vying for the playoff right now, the Sooners, while dominating their games save for Kansas State does not have the strongest of resumes among them. That I think would have to go to both Florida and Oregon. Oregon’s loss to Auburn was one that may not factor in and Florida’s loss to LSU on the road is well, understandable. So hypothetically IF it came down to the final playoff spot and both Oklahoma and Oregon win out, then I’d probably give the last spot to Oregon (especially if they face an 11-1 Utah team in the PAC-12 title). But crazy things can still happen in the final month of college football so…

(5) HOW FAR CAN APPALACHIAN STATE GO WITH THEIR RANKING? Not far unless just a complete blowup happens in front of them. UCF was ranked in the top 10 when their season started last year and still got passed up. And the American Conference is far better than the Sun Belt. So, App State may end up with a New Year’s Six bowl (which I think they might if SMU somehow falls back), but that’s about it. Had North Carolina stunned Clemson, it would have gotten people talking though.

MY TOP 4 PLAYOFF TEAMS (BASED ON WHAT I THINK THE COMMITTEE WOULD VOTE IF IT WAS TODAY)

(1) LSU

(2) OHIO STATE

(3) ALABAMA

(4) CLEMSON

NEXT TWO IN: (5) PENN STATE (6) FLORIDA

-Fan in the Obstructed Seat

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The Obstructed NCAA Top 5-Week 8

I guess you can say we have finally hit that halfway point of the season as most teams have played half of their games or the majority of it. We are starting to see gaps among the contenders while we are seeing teams that are trying to crash the party and other teams who just don’t have it. And this week, another big upset took place, maybe bigger than the one between South Carolina and Georgia last weekend.

On to the Top 5

TOP 5 WINNERS

The Nittany Lions had a big win against Michigan which is needed for their run down the stretch.

(1) PENN STATE: This was a big win for the Nittany Lions playing a rival school in primetime. They did enough to win the game and have to be figured as the best shot against Ohio State in the Big Ten. But one thing will have to be can they avoid another upset by Michigan State before traveling to Minnesota two weeks after.

(2) OREGON: The Ducks got a HUGE W in Seattle this weekend and have played themselves back in. The schedule is favorable to run the table for Oregon and if that is the case, the PAC-12 plays a factor in the Playoff once more.

(3) UTAH: The Utes may have the best defense in college football right now with their overall balance of attack on defense. If Utah can win out, it will be interesting to see if the Utes can crash the Playoff party. The only time Utah would see Oregon would be in the PAC-12 championship, which could mean the winner has a nice resume spike.

(4) BAYLOR: The Bears had an impressive W against an Oklahoma State squad who is always prime to knock a team out especially in Stillwater. The Bears handled the Cowboys with relative ease and have to be considered a threat to Oklahoma in the Big 12 right now.

(5) FLORIDA: After a tough loss in LSU and going to South Carolina facing a team that won a big one against Georgia, Florida could have fallen flat on their faces. But they grinded it out with a W in Columbia and really are the team in the driver’s seat in the SEC East.

TOP 5 LOSERS

Wisconsin once again finds victory and their national title hopes just out of reach

(1) WISCONSIN: The Badgers blew out Michigan State in an impressive manner and then they had a “warm up” with Illinois before Ohio State. And then…upset of the season. There is no way Wisconsin should have lost that game or even let Illinois hang around in that game. When you lose a game like that, it isn’t a player issue. It is a coaching issue. And how the Badgers blew that game was on Paul Chryst, who until yesterday was probably the coach of the year. Wisconsin now has to win out which I am not sure if they will do having to go to Ohio State and at Minnesota to end the year. This was probably the worst loss at the worst time for any contending team.

(2) MICHIGAN: It depends on how you carve up this L. Michigan fought and fought against Penn State until the end, but lost. But, it is also another loss against a top ranked team that Jim Harbaugh has under his belt which means the barking continues in Ann Arbor if he is really the guy. It will be interesting to see how Michigan reacts the rest of the way with their season.

(3) WASHINGTON: I’m really thinking the run for the Huskies of being a major threat in the PAC-12 has passed because something is not right out there in Seattle. Jacob Eason is not the problem out there, but the defense which has been solid for so long, imploded on itself and right now going to Husky Stadium is no longer a major obstacle for teams. Chris Petersen is a good coach, but he will need to figure things out because Washington should not be a team that is eyeing the Holiday Bowl.

(4) ARIZONA STATE: Had the Sun Devils gone into Utah and upset the Utes, you have to think they would be a sleeper as well for a Playoff. However, they came out flat as flat can be. And there are some offensive woes there that keep the Sun Devils from being a major threat. That said, whenever that offense improves, Arizona State is going to be a problem because Herm Edwards is doing a mighty fine job out there, save for yesterday.

(5) MISSOURI: With Georgia and Florida already chalking up losses, the Tigers (assuming they would win their appeal) had a strong shot to win the East. However, their second loss of the year (first conference loss) is another unexplainable loss to a team nowhere near as good as they are. So you wonder if Missouri has the issue of playing against lower teams on their levels. And that is a coaching issue, again.

TOP 5 QUESTIONS

Something isn’t right with Lawrence at Clemson

(1) HAS TREVOR LAWRENCE REGRESSED? Yes. I know he’s still very young, but the passes he’s throwing are not smart passes. Two interceptions yesterday and his receivers have been bailing him out on a few other passes. Is it an issue of he is not focused to read defenses? Or is he seeing something that is different than what it actually is? Is he thinking he can make any throw and trying to thread the needle? I gave Lawrence a pass for the first half of the season, but now you do have to wonder what is going on inside his head a bit. That said, the minute things get worked out, Clemson should be the favorites again because the rest of that team is beyond dangerous.

(2) IS THE SEC REALLY WIDE OPEN? Yes, though LSU fans think they may be the best team in the conference right now. It’s hard to decipher because all the contenders (Alabama, Auburn, LSU, Florida, Georgia) have major issues going on. The default option is Alabama, but the defense is not strong (has more of a bend-don’t-break defense) and if Tua is dinged up that will hurt. LSU’s defense is in question now. Auburn has consistency issues. Florida’s run game is in question and Georgia’s coaching is a major question mark at this point. So it’s anybody’s guess. The winner may be that team who plays the hottest football down the stretch.

(3) CAN BAYLOR BE THE TEAM TO SHOCK OKLAHOMA? Yes. This not the Art Briles Baylor Bears where they relied on the offense to win games at 52-49. The Bears can actually play some defense as they (until yesterday) held teams to at least 21 points. And the Bears offense continues to roll. Have they had near misses? Yes, but they *SHOULD* enter the Oklahoma game 9-0. Do I think they will beat Oklahoma? Well, the game is in Waco, but I don’t think they will honestly. But the game can possibly be decided on the last play regardless. So it is possible they can. Probable? A different story.

(4) WILL WISCONSIN EVER GET OVER THAT HUMP? If you look at teams for the past 20 years in college football, the constant programs are there (mostly-save for a few years here & there) such as Alabama, LSU, Florida, Auburn, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Florida State until recently, and even to a lesser extent USC. Those teams also have National Championships to their credit as well. But two teams who are mainstays yearly in the top 10 or top 15, have been Wisconsin and Georgia. Save for 2017 with Georgia, both the Bulldogs and Badgers have been maligned with those “shoot themselves in the foot games” over the years. Georgia we saw last week with South Carolina and Wisconsin now. The recipe has been pretty similar for both: great ground game, solid defenses over time, but it is either a preparation issue, or they are so reliant with the run game the passing games often get forgotten. But also, it seems like when the game is on the line, bad decisions really show up for the coaches at these places. And Wisconsin made a lot of questionable decisions in Illinois yesterday. So right now, my answer is no for Georgia North (Wisconsin).

(5) HAS THE PAC-12 PLAYED THEMSELVES BACK IN THE PLAYOFF PUSH? For Oregon, yes. For Utah, perhaps. The issue will persist for the Ducks is that Auburn loss despite the big W in Washington last night. What the Ducks need is either for Oklahoma, Clemson, or Ohio State to trip up somewhere along the way. We know a 1-loss SEC Championship team (or a 1-loss SEC team in general) will get in especially if they have a W against Auburn. It’s possible a team gets tripped up as we have seen the last few weeks.

-Fan in the Obstructed Seat

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The Obstructed NCAA Top 5-Week 7

The week that was…..

And we have some separation with a few teams this past week. We had a few upsets including one that is inexplicable. But wow, what a week. Let’s get started.

TOP 5 WINNERS

Hurts did his thing against Texas but the Sooners hurt Ehlinger all day

(1) OKLAHOMA: We know the Sooners will score points and in the past we knew they would give up points. While Oklahoma still gave up their share yesterday, it never felt they were going to lose that game against Texas at all because the defnese was solid all game long. And 9 sacks proved that. They remain the big boy in the Big 12.

(2) PENN STATE: The Nittany Lions win away from Happy Valley against a ranked team is something big for the program under James Franklin, who often struggles against some of the better squads. So while Iowa isn’t Ohio State, it is a big boost for them and they also can show they can be physical with the best of them as well. A run with the Michigan schools begins (home vs. Michigan and a road trip at Michigan State) and if the Lions roll in those games, Ohio State and Penn State could be a top 5 tilt when they see each other in November.

(3) LSU: Big win at home against rival Florida. The Tigers offense just look unstoppable at this point and many believe that the Tigers and Tide are destined to meet in Tuscaloosa in early November undefeated and possibly 1 & 2 on the committee.

(4) ALABAMA: Yeah, Alabama was expected to win, but given the backdrop of the Georgia/South Carolina game before that and Alabama’s history with Texas A&M you had to wonder if an upset would happen. But nope, the Tide rolled easy in College Station after a semi-slow start.

(5) WISCONSIN: The Badgers blew the doors off of Michigan State, worse than what Ohio State did. Maybe it is time to consider Wisconsin a major threat to the Buckeyes or no?

TOP 5 LOSERS

Ehlinger was chased all day by the Sooners

(1) TEXAS: Yes, nobody though the Longhorns were going to make a push to the National Championship nor thought they would even beat Oklahoma. But they were still a threat to the Big 12 title game. They still are technically but Oklahoma exposed the defense and their flaws. It’s going to be another year before the Longhorns make it back.

(2) GEORGIA: The ONLY reason why I have Georgia at #2 and not #1 is that Texas is eliminated from the National Championship picture. I should make Georgia #1A. Yes, Georgia is still “in it,” but the Bulldogs lost to a team they were favored to beat by 24 at home and they were outplayed and “outcoached” (well, Muschamp was rough himself, but his mistakes weren’t as many and beyond silly like Kirby Smart’s were). Stale, too conservative play-calling once again reared its ugly head in Athens and now you have to figure Georgia needs to win out. And that schedule now looks very challenging even with home tilts against Missouri and Texas A&M. Florida and Auburn look nearly impossible now.

(3) IOWA: The Hawkeyes had an offense that was respectable to start the year. Since they have played Michigan and Penn State, Iowa’s offense has gone AWOL. Surprising given the talent on that side this year. Pretty much this eliminates Iowa from Big Ten West contention (which is down to Wisconsin and-wait for it, Minnesota).

(4) WAKE FOREST: Let’s be clear here. No, I didn’t think the Deacons would play spoiler in the college football landscape but having a game at home to a Louisville team that isn’t Clemson, well, you should take care of business. And Wake didn’t. Back to the unranked category the Deacons go.

(5) FLORIDA: I even considered not even having the Gators here but they needed the W. Now the Jacksonville game with the Gators and Bulldogs will likely be for the SEC East title. That said, a few good things came out: they showed they can have an offense and they fought tooth and nail in a tough environment to a top 5 team. Sure beats losing to an unranked team at home who also has a losing record.

TOP 5 QUESTIONS

Smart’s not-so-smart decisions doomed Georgia in their loss to South Carolina

(1) HAS KIRBY SMART SHOWN HE ISN’T A NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP CALIBER COACH? Yep. I loved a Georgia fan on Twitter making a comment defending Smart and his coaching prowess saying how Smart took it to Saban to the limit two straight years. You also know who took Saban to the limit a lot with limited results? Les Miles (Forgive me, but I know that Les beat Saban a couple of times, but the last 5 games in Miles tenure vs. Alabama were all losses). Here’s why he isn’t: 1. He poorly prepared his players against South Carolina. 2. His stubbornness to open up the offense has really killed him in his time at Georgia already. 3. He’s a reactionary coach/coaches out of fear. ANY Championship caliber coach prepares his players well, is willing to adapt and is proactive. So again, Georgia with all the talent in the world continues to underachieve as a national threat.

(2) CAN WISCONSIN LEGITIMATELY CHALLENGE OHIO STATE IN THE BIG TEN? Still up in the air. Michigan State looked stronger against the Buckeyes in Columbus before mailing it in with Wisconsin a week after. Wisconsin’s offense is probably one of the most balanced offense the Badgers have seen in recent memory. That said, I don’t know if Wisconsin could play shootout against Ohio State in the air if that happens. So right now my answer is “they could, BUT!” Everything needs to go right.

(3) SHOULD WE CLASSIFY OKLAHOMA AS A TRUE THREAT FOR THE NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP? Yes. Their defense is not a top 10 defense, but definitely not a joke either. It is legit and strong. All that team needs is just a little defense and they could take down anybody in the nation.

(4) DOES LOUISVILLE STAND A CHANCE AGAINST CLEMSON? The Cardinals have gotten better as the season has continued. They can score and they can put up a fight. However, Clemson obliterated Florida State, a team that beat the Cardinals just a few weeks back. And it seems like Clemson is firing on all cylinders after their near disaster at North Carolina. So I expect it to be close for a half, maybe even 3 quarters, but Clemson pulls away.

(5) DID GEORGIA’S LOSS HELP OR HURT NOTRE DAME? Helps for the time being. The Irish need one more loss from Georgia to move ahead perhaps in any Playoff selection. And after how the Bulldogs played against South Carolina, you have to figure Florida and Auburn are likely losses at this point. However, they can’t have Georgia just completely implode the rest of the way. That was the Irish’s big game and they blew it. Virginia isn’t going to give them that jolt in the resume nor will USC. So yes, it helps, but if the Bulldogs go 8-4, that’s bad for Notre Dame.

MY TOP 4 PLAYOFF TEAMS AS OF NOW (BASED ON CURRENT RESUME):

(1) LSU

(2) OKLAHOMA

(3) OHIO STATE

(4) ALABAMA

Next Two In:

(5) PENN STATE

(6) CLEMSON

-Fan in the Obstructed Seat

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The Obstructed NCAA Top 5-Week 5

The first month of college football is in the books. What have we learned? We are always going to be knee-jerkish with our responses on a week-to-week basis. But we are also starting to see about 8 teams who legitimately have a great shot at being a national champion. However, a few of those teams get to see each other from here on out (5 SEC teams notably) so it will mean a lot of intense games. On the other hand, we see one conference finally eliminate themselves from the Playoff chatter. And we are zeroed in on conference play.

This week was a bit of a lull for games as a few top teams got byes while others had easy tilts despite a near-upset in Chapel Hill with UNC against Clemson. But aside from that, nothing. Which is good because Dish and Fox are in another dispute over fees so I missed those games on Fox and the Big Ten Network which stinks. So I had to look at highlights and reviews of those games. So I guess you can also call this the angry edition of the top 5 this week.

TOP 5 WINNERS

Fields is proving he is one of the best QB’s in college football

(1) OHIO STATE: Dominate on offense. Dominate on defense. Dominate everywhere. Ohio State has been obliterating their opponents left and right on both sides of the ball. It looks like there is no team that can stop the Buckeyes. Justin Fields is playing great and playing with a chip on his shoulder and that’s a problem. October will be interesting as they see Michigan State and their defense (top ten in defense) and at the end of the month Wisconsin and their top defense. If they can show they can run all over them, they have to be the favorites from here on out.

(2) AUBURN: The Tigers are dominating on both sides of the ball. That’s a major uh-oh to their 4 SEC rivals who are sitting in the top ten (that Auburn gets to play all of them). Next week is Florida and the end of the month is LSU (both on the road). The Tigers if they complete the upsets then they have to be without question the #1 team in the Playoff Committee selection as it opens up.

(3) PENN STATE: 59-0 win at Maryland is very impressive. The Nittany Lions want to show that they are also as dominant as Ohio State. But what they have to go through in October isn’t fun (at Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State) so if they can escape all three games, then that Ohio State game will be one with Playoff implications.

(4) NOTRE DAME: The Irish faced off against a ranked Virginia team after taking a tough loss to Georgia last week. However, the Irish stood tall in the second half getting key turnovers and making big plays for a nice win. That all said, they will need major help to get back in the Playoff chase.

(5) OKLAHOMA STATE: Big win against Kansas State and showing it more on defense. Of course their season always is defined in Bedlam, but having one loss and to Texas isn’t something to be stung on. They still could run the table until they see Oklahoma in November. And then, who knows?

TOP 5 LOSERS

Adios College Football Playoff PAC-12

(1) PAC-12: California losing sealed the deal that all 12 teams have a loss to their credit. With Washington and Oregon playing each other later on in the year while California and Utah both still have to play each other. It’s hard to even think a PAC-12 champion will even have one loss. But pretty much, the conference is out. And PLEASE could we eliminate this “Conference of Champions” moniker they have? They have the longest droughts among the power 5 in football and in basketball. It is getting to the point where it is hard to take the conference as a whole seriously.

(2) VIRGINIA: The good news for the Cavaliers is that the Notre Dame loss isn’t going to play into effect of the conference standings. They will likely be the favorite to win the ACC Coastal still. However, too many mistakes were made against the Irish in the second half and that doomed Virginia. I like Bryce Perkins but some of the decisions he made hurt. But he’s still a quality QB. Just wasn’t really yesterday.

(3) KANSAS STATE: It wasn’t like we were thinking the Wildcats would be in the mix of a playoff spot, but their offense being unable to do anything against Oklahoma State is a massive problem. They play solid defense, but mixing an offense with it is needed to be really considered a threat to Oklahoma.

(4) NEBRASKA: Scott Frost’s team is still a year or two away from being legitimately competitive and it showed last night. To beat a team like Ohio State, you gotta keep your composure. Nebraska lost that composure early and often. They were flat-out dominated.

(5) TEXAS TECH: You know how crazy is defined as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results? This is Texas Tech. I thought it was Kliff Kingsbury and his system that really kept the Red Raiders from being competitive with the quick strike air raid offense and the “option” defense. But it is still that and how the highlights showed yesterday the Red Raiders defense is a joke again. They can’t tackle, they get bullied up front, they just look like lost kids out there. The entire program in Lubbock needs an overhaul.

TOP 5 QUESTIONS

People should know the UNC game is similar to the last few years for Clemson football. Relax.

(1) IS CLEMSON REALLY THE TOP DOG IN THE NATION? If you look at their game yesterday against North Carolina, no.. But again, I’m giving them a free pass. Clemson does this EVERY. YEAR. They always scuffle in that first month before ramping it up the rest of the way. However, Trevor Lawrence has to get better. This isn’t the same Trevor Lawrence who carved up Alabama’s defense in the National Championship game last year. But my attitude remains: Clemson is still the top team in the nation until somebody beats them.

(2) WHO IS THE BEST TEAM IN THE SEC RIGHT NOW? It’s a team from Alabama. Just not the one we are thinking of. Auburn’s defense is strong and if they continue to get more consistency from Bo Nix (so far it’s been panning out), the Tigers are going to be the team that can just get after you. With a schedule they have, a 1-loss Auburn team is a lock for the Playoff. And remember, they get Georgia and Alabama at home. Alabama (problems against the run), Georgia (problems against the pass & coaching decisions), LSU (problems against the pass), and Florida (offensive consistencies) all have major things to work on right now. At this point, Auburn doesn’t.

(3) IS THERE ANY TEAM IN THE BIG TEN THAT CAN STOP OHIO STATE? People want to point at Wisconsin and Penn State. Wisconsin was rolling until yesterday against Northwestern where they had issues on offense, but the Badgers defense can do their thing. Iowa has given Ohio State fits too (we still remember the beatdown the Hawkeyes gave Ohio State in 2017 where it was the nail in the Buckeyes playoff chances) and their offense is pretty solid this year. Penn State rolled all over Maryland on Friday so there is hope the Nittany Lions can upend the Buckeyes but that game is in Columbus. But again, it isn’t the Buckeyes offense that has been the most impressive to me. It is their defense. And that is scary.

(4) DOES OKLAHOMA FINALLY HAVE A DEFENSE TO GO UP WITH THEIR STOUT OFFENSE? Yes. Is it great? Probably not but it is far better than the defenses the Sooners had taking with them to the playoff the last couple of years. But aside from their first week win against Houston, the Sooners have allowed less than 20 points in each game. And how often did we see the Sooners and Texas Tech win a game that was like 65-58? So for Oklahoma to take down Texas Tech by holding them to 16 points, this shouldn’t go unnoticed.

(5) WHAT DOES THE PAC-12 NEED TO DO TO GET THEMSELVES BACK IN THE PLAYOFF HUNT? If you’re talking about this year, nothing. I don’t see a one-loss PAC-12 champion get in. In hindsight, Oregon desperately needed that win against Auburn. That would have given them the inside edge and really a major argument for the Ducks being in the playoff. The hope is now for the PAC-12 is that the SEC teams all beat each other into oblivion where the top team still has two losses and you get upsets somewhere from Ohio State, Clemson (probably two losses), and Oklahoma. But again, two losses from every top team would have to be it. I don’t see it. But the issue is, there needs to be some team that dominates the PAC-12 like Oregon did in 2014. We have yet to see that happen.

-Fan in the Obstructed Seat

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The Obstructed College Football Rankings-Week 4

A big week took place in college football with numerous teams having big resume-filling wins. Now, does that mean things changed in the landscape of the college football world in the top ten? Let’s take a look. I was unable to make one last week, but this week we are back in the saddle.

(1) CLEMSON: The Tigers beat Charlotte 52-10 last night. Ho-hum. Right now Clemson has the smoothest sails among anybody in college football. They may see Virginia in the ACC Championship and then that could be their toughest game all season. But the rest, I’d be surprised if there were any issues for the Tigers.

(2) OHIO STATE: The Buckeyes obliterated Miami 76-5. People want to talk about Justin Fields and rightfully so, but it has been the defense who has rolled to this point. The next two weeks are going to be tough with a trip to Nebraska and then a home tilt with Michigan State, which is always a tough battle.

(3) ALABAMA: The Tide rolled all over Southern Miss 49-7. While the run game looked far sharper this weekend, they still have questions if it is consistent (my answer is it can be with Najee carrying the ball) and the defense.

(4) OKLAHOMA: The Sooners had a bye week after beating up UCLA 48-14. And after seeing the fact that the Bruins put up 67 points in Pullman this past weekend, you have to think Oklahoma’s defense feels pretty good right now moving forward. But Texas Tech is coming to town and we know those scores will be basketball-esque.

(5) LSU: While all the talk and love has been for Joe Burrow and the LSU offense, there should be a lot of concerns out in Baton Rouge on the defense. In the next 5 games the Tigers will face Florida, Auburn, and Alabama in that span. Many think it will be a shootout, but I wonder if LSU will have any answers stopping Alabama’s passing game, Auburn’s running game, and if they can put up big points on those defenses.

(6) AUBURN: Auburn had a quality win over Texas A&M in College Station Saturday 28-20. It marked the 4th straight time they won there. Whenever Auburn’s running game is on the spot, that is when they are very lethal. They did nearly everything right Saturday against the Aggies and were well prepared and well-coached.

(7) GEORGIA: Georgia unsurprisingly beat Notre Dame 23-17. From a TALENT STANDPOINT, Georgia should be #1 or #2. They should not be this far down especially after beating Notre Dame. But the guy that will decide whether or not Georgia solves their near 40-year drought is Kirby Smart. He has a quality QB in Jake Fromm but he won’t let Fromm air it out to put games away. He has great runners and an offensive line but can’t let his impact players do their things. He’s too conservative of a guy to honestly beat the teams in front of him right now. And he keeps letting teams get back in the games (see Alabama and Notre Dame last night). They got away with it last night, but with Florida and Auburn still looming, that is a problem. Adding on, Georgia didn’t look fully prepared or well-coached last night either.

(8) FLORIDA: The SEC run continues with the Gators who smacked Tennessee 34-3. Who knows what Kyle Trask can bring to the table for the Florida offense, but he is already a far better option than Feleipe Franks ever was. If the defense gets stronger and the offense keeps making those steps, Florida could legitimately have a shot against Georgia.

(9) WISCONSIN: Throttled Michigan 35-14. The Badgers dominated Michigan in all sides of the ball and continues to play stellar defense while having a quarterback that can make passes. Probably the lone team that can truly challenge Ohio State in the Big Ten is Wisconsin.

(10) NOTRE DAME: Lost to Georgia 23-17. The Irish did prove they can hang with the big boys last night and they came pretty well prepared. They still have some gaping holes to figure out but overall they still could go 11-1 the rest of the way.

NEXT 5: Texas, Virginia, Penn State, California, Michigan State

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The Obstructed NCAA Top 5-Week 4

Another week down and some big games took place. Did we start to identify the contenders to the pretenders? Are we overvaluing some of these early games (like we mostly do) or are some of these games a sign of things to come?

I think we are sensing a lot that 7 teams right now, maybe 8 have a legit shot to be the National Champion. Two teams right now really just look flawless. But as we turn the page to mostly in-conference games, time will tell if anything will be what they seem.

TOP 5 WINNERS

Wisconsin had no issues with Michigan Saturday

(1) WISCONSIN: The Badgers dominated a Michigan team that has major issue right now on really both sides of the ball. Is Michigan overrated? Yes. But to dominate Michigan like they did and now have a quarterback in the process, I applaud the Badgers for a job well done. Of course, time will tell if or when they play Ohio State.

(2) AUBURN: I very nice, decisive win on the road at Texas A&M. Whenever the Tigers have those magical seasons, it is when they run the ball effectively. They did that Saturday to a T and gave Kellen Mond fits. And it shows that when the pressure is on Gus Malzahn, he can deliver. And just some food for thought: assuming if Auburn can go to Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge and win (and in Gainesville), they would probably be #1 in the Playoff committee polls to begin with given their big wins already.

(3) CALIFORNIA: For the PAC-12’s sake Golden Bears: DO. NOT. LOSE. ANY. GAME! The losses for Utah, Arizona State, and Washington State means Cal is the last undefeated. And of course it means, the PAC-12 is likely going ot miss the Playoff for the third straight year and the fourth time in five years. Nice win against an SEC school against Ole Miss. But I don’t know if they could handle the top dogs in the Nation. But they can play some defense.

(4) FLORIDA: Yeah, beating Tennessee doesn’t say much, but given how the Gators played and dominated the Vols and actually have a quarterback in Trask who knows what he is doing back in the pocket, it really does add a dimension to the team they haven’t seen in a very long time. All of a sudden that Georgia game on November 2 looms large.

(5) THE SEC, ACC, BIG TEN, AND BIG 12: Largely because it means the PAC-12 is no longer in the running (sorry Cal) and Notre Dame took the L at Georgia last night means if the conference champions can hold serve, there will be one representative in there come December/January.

Honorable Mention: Georgia (I’ll explain why they didn’t fall into my top 5 later)

TOP 5 LOSERS:

Cougars showed they PAC-12’ed the game last night

(1) WASHINGTON STATE: How how how??????? You were up 32 in the second half to a team who hadn’t won a game all year-at home! Everything I said about Mike Leach over the years of being a coach who does the Air Raid but also could adapt to the times of running/playing defense went out the window last night. You don’t do things like that and expect to be an actual contender to…anything.

(2) MICHIGAN: You think the bye week would give the Wolverines some time to improve the anemic offense. And, nope. And now the defense has some things to figure out. And Jim Harbaugh is really under fire for the mess that took place in Madison. They were poorly prepared, poorly coached, and they played poorly. Not the hope that Michigan fans had in year 5 of the Harbaugh era.

(3) UCF: The 29-game regular season winning streak is over for the Knights. And they couldn’t have done it in a worse way. Blowing a lead against a team that isn’t as strong as you are and showing some holes on the defense that still plagued this team even when they were winning is a major problem. Props to Pitt but how UCF blew that game, well, I think we can go chill about the Knights crashing any Playoff.

(4) TEXAS A&M: The Aggies flatlined at home to Auburn and probably played worse than they did at Clemson. I got the schedule wasn’t going to be a fun one for the Aggies, but having a home game to Auburn was a needed W. And they failed. They also haven’t won a game to the Tigers at College Station since joining the SEC. Jimbo Fisher is only in year #2 but so far this year’s results haven’t been too impressive for Aggies fans.

(5) NOTRE DAME: Only reason why I’m putting them here is because they did take an actual L. So when December rolls around and the Irish are 11-1, do we do the same thing for them as we did for Georgia when they played Alabama in the SEC Championship and think they “won by losing?” They lost. Simple as that.

DISHONORABLE MENTIONS: Utah, Arizona State, BYU, North Carolina

TOP 5 QUESTIONS

Georgia won a tough game against Notre Dame, but a lot of mistakes were made by the head coach.

(1) YOU DIDN’T PUT GEORGIA AS ONE OF THE TOP 5 WINNERS. WHY? To be fair, I think Notre Dame showed they weren’t as weak as people (especially in Georgia) made them out to be. Of course we will hear what I’m calling the “Tyler Simmons Excuse” (“onsides vs. Bama” and now “muffed punt/dropped TD catch vs. Notre Dame”) but Simmons was NOT the reason why that game was closer than what many thought. Kirby Smart had a poorly prepared gameplan and it showed in the first half. Then he started to get aggressive in the second half and let Jake Fromm air it out a little bit only to dial it back time after time. It is the same problem that haunted the Bulldogs against Alabama the last two years and it nearly bit them with Notre Dame. He can’t do that with Auburn and Florida in November. He has to decide whether he wants to be more aggressive on offense or stay conservative. Right now if Georgia ends up failing to get to the National Championship OR the Playoff, it is on him. He still hasn’t adapted to the times.

(2) DOES THE ACC NOT HAVING ANY QUALITY TEAM (SAVE MAYBE FOR VIRGINIA) HURT CLEMSON’S CHANCES AT A REPEAT? I don’t think so. We know they will likely run the table until the Playoff which will put them at a 28-game winning streak. They should be all right and I think what helps them out is they take every game like it’s the big game of their schedule. Now the question will be how will they respond to a team in the Playoff if they throw the first punch on the Tigers? But honestly, they are good enough to beat any team.

(3) IS OHIO STATE AT LEAST THE SECOND BEST TEAM IN THE NATION? It looks that way, but again, who have they played? Cincinnati was an impressive win obviously and really it’s the defense. My biggest concern is they are trying to showcase Justin Fields way too much. I don’t get why but if something happens to Fields, it may not bode well. But what I’m more impressed with has been the Buckeyes defense. They have dominated since the Florida Atlantic game. But given how LSU and Alabama have gone to being offensive minded schools now, you have to say they may be better than those teams and Georgia.

(4) WILL JIM HARBAUGH BE FIRED AFTER THE SEASON AT MICHIGAN? Depends on the record. A 9-3 or an 8-4 season probably doesn’t. Anything less will. And all of a sudden those games with Michigan State, Maryland, Ohio State, and Penn State loom way larger now as does Notre Dame. But the question would be “who would take over?” As much grief and flak (and possibly rightfully so) as Harbaugh gets, who would be the guy to replace him? Do you try to find any way for Bob Stoops to listen? Do you bring in Charlie Strong, Josh Heupel, Butch Jones, Lane Kiffin, Bill Clark? Aside from Stoops, none of those sound all that exciting for a Michigan fan. So here’s the thing: Harbaugh may stay at Michigan largely because there is nothing out there and Michigan would want a home run hire

(5) ASSUMING CALIFORNIA LOSES, IS THERE ANY ONE-LOSS PAC-12 TEAM THAT COULD SNEAK IN THE PLAYOFF? Right now Oregon is probably the lone team that could take one loss as it was to Auburn. The rest at this point have played themselves out. Washington with a very far outside chance.

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The Obstructed NCAA Top 5-Week 3

This week in college football started out like nothing really going on. No games between two top 25 opponents. But we had some interesting games and games that at least the top 10 were doing everything they can to flex their muscle. So let’s begin.

TOP 5 WINNERS

Clemson had little problems against a team that’s given them big problems

(1) CLEMSON: I don’t want to hear anything about Trevor Lawrence’s issues. He will be fine come November/December. Plus, how often do we see Clemson “scuffle” in the first half of the season only to go on a massive tear the rest of the way? The defense looks as good as it did last year even with replacing the entire defensive line and the team still remains hungry. And Lawrence WILL get better. Adding on, thumping a team gives you nightmares the last few years is a big thing. Nice win, and a win that Clemson showed their defense is atop of their game.

(2) WASHINGTON STATE: A road trip to Houston and against a team that was really going after them is still impressive. The Cougars still remain a slim chance at a Playoff, but they still have a shot. Already sad to think we are talking about Playoff hopes for the PAC-12 in Week 3 though, but the Cougars still have to be considered a favorite in the North.

(3) OHIO STATE: If you’re a team going against Ohio State, what is worrisome isn’t the Buckeyes offense, but the defense. Ohio State’s defense has dominated for the first part of the season. Yes, not a lot of competition either, but doing it to a team that fought with the Buckeyes last year in Columbus is a major bonus. This will be a huge step moving forward for the Buckeyes.

(4) VIRGINIA: It’s not like they were overly impressive with their win against Florida State, but the Cavaliers are in the driver’s seat in the ACC Coastal already. North Carolina showed they have some growing pains to go through, Georgia Tech is bad, Duke has issues, Miami has yet to beat a quality opponent, Cavs hold a W over Pitt, and Virginia Tech is not impressive at all. All the Cavaliers need to do is hold serve and be in Charlotte in December.

(5) ARIZONA STATE: The Sun Devils are off to another good start under Herm Edwards. What’s odd is that Arizona State isn’t winning it by offense but by defense. They did a great job stopping Michigan State (though Michigan State continued to have self-inflicted wounds too). They remain as one of the two undefeated teams in the PAC-12 South. The offense does need to generate some points however. Odd to say that too, but at least Herm is giving hope for Sun Devil fans, something that went missing under Todd Graham in his final years there.

TOP 5 LOSERS

Maryland quarterback Josh Jackson (17) sits on the field after an incompletion on third down during the second half of an NCAA college football against Temple, Saturday, Sept. 14, 2019, in Philadelphia. Temple won 20-17. (AP Photo/Chris Szagola) ORG XMIT: PACS118

(1) MARYLAND: And with that…..the Terps bandwagon has emptied. After scoring 142 points in their first two games including to Syracuse, Maryland could only muster 15 points on offense (+2 by safety) and had some questionable play-calls. Mike Locksley probably failed to prevent Maryland from drinking their rat poison. That said, they are a young team AND they will have their own growing pains a la North Carolina. An upset of a team is still possible in the cards for the Terps.

(2) MICHIGAN STATE: New year, same mess. Michigan State’s offense went AWOL again despite an impressive performance by the defense, where many think it is the tops in the nation. It doesn’t matter however if there is no offense to go with it a la 2012 when Michigan State had the same issues. Adding on, Mark Dantonio is starting to get roasted by Spartans fans for his inability to make coaching moves on that side of the ball. They have a great shot at winning some games they shouldn’t with their defense, but it gets nullified by that display called an offense.

(3) USC: Not like it was an unexpected loss, but the Trojans still had more talent than BYU and just really got outplayed in Provo. USC is still a threat in the PAC-12 but a threat to get into the Playoff? No way.

(4) STANFORD: For some reason this blowout loss to UCF just feels like the days of Stanford being super competitive are gone. They just don’t have that feel like they will make you work for 4 quarters anymore. Time will tell as it is early, but not liking on what I’m seeing from the Cardinal.

(5) MISSISSIPPI STATE: I don’t think many had the Bulldogs to be a super competitive squad but strong enough to to get in the faces of teams in the SEC West and they have historically given Alabama fits in recent memory. But a loss to a Kansas State team in the land of the Cowbell is not good. Granted we don’t know what team Kansas State is going to be in 2019 as the schedule wasn’t too strong to start with, but the Bulldogs still have more talent compared to Kansas State, or so we think.

TOP 5 QUESTIONS:

GAINESVILLE, FL – OCTOBER 06: Tim Tebow is inducted into the Ring of Honor during the game between the Florida Gators and the LSU Tigersat Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on October 6, 2018 in Gainesville, Florida. (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)

(1) TIM TEBOW IS GETTING ROASTED FOR HIS COMMENTS ABOUT COLLEGE PLAYERS GETTING PAID. IS HE RIGHT OR RIGHTFULLY DESERVED TO GET ROASTED? Rightfully deserved. Tebow was a well-to-do guy in college where his parents had money. He also was treated like a god down in Gainesville when he was a Gator. He didn’t need to do anything. He didn’t have an issue. But he’s not a large portion of athletes either. My take is that maybe give these kids “bonds” or something of that sort and figure out how much to give them pending on what they are bringing in for the schools. I mean colleges are making money off these kids. It’s simple as that. But Tebow to say that is selfish in his own right. Just my take.

(2) IT FEELS LIKE THERE IS A VIBE OF 6, MAYBE 7 TEAMS THAT HAVE A REAL SHOT FOR THE PLAYOFF (LOOK AT THE TOP 7). WILL THERE BE A TEAM THAT COULD SHAKE IT ALL UP? Yep. Auburn if the quarterback play is consistent enough. Of course they are #8 but get Alabama, Georgia, and LSU this year (first two teams at home). But outside of Auburn, I don’t think so. Florida has too many issues as does Michigan for right now. And I’m always going to be in the “I’ll believe it when I see it” category with Wisconsin.

(3) COULD MARK DANTONIO BE ON THE HOT SEAT AT MICHIGAN STATE? I don’t think so just yet. He’s earned a lot of frequent flyer miles since he arrived at East Lansing in 2007 including a few Big Ten Championships (where it had been Ohio State and Wisconsin dominating that landscape forever), a Rose Bowl win, a Cotton Bowl win, and a Playoff. However, since the Playoff berth Michigan State has only been 22-19 and the last few years the Spartans have been the butt of jokes with their offense. He really hasn’t changed the offensive mentality in the last couple of years and how the Spartans loss really infuriated the Sparty crew. IF Michigan State doesn’t figure out to get that offense going he may end up in the hot seat by the end of the year just as much as Jim Harbaugh is if Harbaugh can’t beat Ohio State.

(4) WILL THERE BE ANY TEAM TO SERIOUSLY GIVE CLEMSON A RUN IN THE ACC? Nope. The only team who could try to stand up to the Tigers may be of all teams North Carolina. But even then, I would expect a 3-TD W at the least and that game is in Chapel Hill. So I don’t see anybody really scaring Clemson from their winning streak. If they see Virginia in the ACC Championship, it may be interesting, but until then, the Tigers are going 12-0 this year.

(5) WHAT WOULD BE THE WEAKNESSES OF THE TOP 8 (MAY AS WELL INCLUDE AUBURN) MOVING FORWARD? Clemson (?-currently people are pointing to Lawrence), Alabama (defensive line is getting pushed around right now), Georgia (coaching decisions), Ohio State (?-Fields has done great but when the competition spikes, how will he respond?), LSU (DBU ), Oklahoma (defense), Notre Dame (size), Auburn (streaky QB play)

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The Obstructed NCAA Power Rankings: Week 2

Honestly, it is way too early to do power rankings. As I said before, we can have awesome teams to start in September (Texas A&M 2014 anybody?) only to be useless by late October. And Clemson always seems to be sluggish to begin the year. It’s really where you are at in the end. Now my Rankings I am even taking with a grain of salt. It’s still too early but…..why not?

(1) CLEMSON: Clemson may have made out like a bandit this week, handling Texas A&M with relative ease and seeing Syracuse get obliterated by Maryland before their tilt. But the Tigers two near mistakes last year were to the Aggies and the Orange. They were zeroed in on Texas A&M and won. Now they will focus their attention to really go after Syracuse. Until the champs can be beat, they may remain atop of my standings for a while.

(2) ALABAMA: Alabama’s offense is well, sick. They just dominated every aspect of the game and the biggest concern is that they are more passing-oriented than they ever have been. But then again, this is the best WR crew the Tide have ever put out in Tuscaloosa. Defense wasn’t really challenged again. Next week is a trip to South Carolina where the last time Alabama played there, they lost. But that was nearly 10 years ago.

(3) LSU: LSU’s offense is ROLLING. You cannot be unimpressed with how the Tigers offense has clicked. Now, the secondary did get shredded up a bit with Texas but still, the defense went after Ehlinger time after time so you have to be impressed with that as well. So that Alabama game instead of being a 17-13 game or one of those smash-mouth may take more of a game you might familiarize with a Big 12 game.

(4) OHIO STATE: You have to be impressed with how Ohio State dominated Cincinnati, especially on the defensive side. Justin Fields did much better this week and is really solidifying his position of the guy running the show in Columbus.

(5) OKLAHOMA: Much ado remains about the Sooners defense and if they are up to snuff and so far the jury is still out on that one (let’s face it, Houston can put up points), but they have an offense that may be (gasp) BETTER than last year with Murray and even the year before with Mayfield. And Jalen Hurts looks NOTHING like he did at Alabama. He has a bit of a swag to him that wasn’t really seen with the Tide.

(6) GEORGIA: Don’t for those who are my Georgia Bulldog friends. The Bulldogs have the same amount of talent as the five teams ahead of them. But Georgia while still dominating has been playing very sloppy. It may be nothing when the Bulldogs are playing Vanderbilt and Murray State, but the minute they see the talent level on the other side spike, those issues cannot happen.

(7) MARYLAND: The Terps make a huge jump for how they rolled against Syracuse. Yes, probably too high and I’m overrating them, but they just look like a team that has been zeroed in and focused, like Mike Locksley has been. Road game at Temple shouldn’t be an issue but a late September Friday game against Penn State is going to be the first big test.

(8) NOTRE DAME: The Irish have a bye after their somewhat “not so impressive” win against Louisville. They get a “tune-up” against New Mexico before a huge tilt against Georgia in Athens in 2 weeks.

(9) AUBURN: They did a great comeback win against Oregon in Week 1. But they really did struggle against Tulane on offense. If Bo Nix is going to struggle like he did this, make it early in the season. Auburn does have a tendency to play to other teams levels as well. They’ll probably be fine once Georgia and Alabama come to the Plains in November

(10) WISCONSIN: Well, so far, they are showing they can do a lot on offense AND defense. But again, what is the trend for the Badgers when they are good? “Who have you beaten?????” But so far, they have never looked THIS sharp in a long time.

NEXT 5: Texas, USC, Utah, Penn State, Florida

-Fan in the Obstructed Seat

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The Obstructed NCAA Top 5-Week 2

The second week is in the books, and it was a very interesting and fascinating week in college football. We had two games that were top quality games. A few upsets took place, and perhaps one conference is already out of the Playoff race. Yes, PAC-12 that’s you. But let’s look at the week that was.

TOP 5 WINNERS

Maryland dominated against ACC’s #2 team

(1) MARYLAND: Wait, Maryland over LSU????? Are you bleeping kidding me? I flip-flopped on this one myself. But while LSU’s offense has just been a monster, Maryland’s offense has been much better AND they scored 63 points on a defense that may have been better than Texas. And they are just doing things at will. Now, can they do that against the likes of the Big Ten East powers? But Mike Locksley used his time under Nick Saban at Alabama and really has taken a page out of his book in preparation. Well done Terps.

(2) LSU: I should kind of put this as a 1A, but the edge I gave to Maryland was that Texas did shred DBU pretty nicely in the game last night. Which gave me the nod to the Terps. Yes, Texas is/was a Top 10 team, but they did have a lot of turnover on defense (and being in the Big 12). However, the wait is over for LSU fans who have been begging to have an offense similar to Alabama where it would just light the scoreboard up at will. Now, will they take down Alabama in Tuscaloosa? Way too early to tell, but the early results are in and the Tigers look very legit on offense.

(3) CLEMSON: It wasn’t awe inspiring, but Clemson in the early weeks of the season under Dabo have never been awe-inspiring with their games. But they also never felt like they would lose that game at any point. Offense is still solid, defense is way better than imagined, especially up front. Next stop is a road tilt with Syracuse, which will be interesting to say the least.

(4) USC: The Trojans (along with Utah) may be the last chances for the PAC-12 to have an argument for the playoff. A giant blowout win where they took over in the second half against Stanford should give notice to the rest of the conference.

(5) CALIFORNIA: The Bears got a big win in Washington. Adding on, Stanford lost to USC. Now if the Bears find a way to beat the Ducks next month, watch out for the Bears to try to crash the playoff party. They have a defense now and that is going to be scary.

HONORABLE MENTIONS: Ohio State, North Carolina, Colorado

TOP 5 LOSERS

Any loss for Washington especially a loss at home to an unranked team is devastating for the Huskies playoff chances

(1) WASHINGTON: No excuse. I get Cal has a good defense, but the mistakes made last night (mostly dropped passes) and the fact it was a two hour rain delay still doesn’t give you a reason why you played poorly. The Huskies under Chris Petersen are better than the mess they were before they got there, but these games they have, especially at home are just dumbfounding losses. They could easily have dominated the PAC-12 for the past 5 seasons and get in the Playoff for at least 3 of them, but poor play keeps them from doing that. If the window of making the playoff is on Washington in this span is there, it’s closing.

(2) SYRACUSE: Many such as myself projected the Orange to be a sleeper in the ACC especially with getting Clemson at the Carrier Dome next week. Whoops. They got shredded on defense badly. And Tommy DeVito has not been consistent at all. As much as I disliked Eric Dungey for his losing his cool on the field at times, he was at least a consistent quarterback and knew his offense.

(3) STANFORD: I think the days of the Cardinal defense being the face that runs the place of the PAC-12 are long gone. They had no answers really starting in the second quarter. And now it is back to the drawing board. If Cal gets it going, the Bears are just going to have some fun in 2019 and be the sleeper team.

(4) NEBRASKA: You pretty much take the entire fan base on the road in Colorado, beat them for about 3 quarters an then implode. The Huskers showed they are still far away from really being a major threat in the national picture and even in the Big Ten picture. It’s going to be a learning process but there was no way the Huskers should have lost that game. At all.

(5) TEXAS A&M: I don’t think the Aggies were expected to win at Clemson, but they looked very poor and Kellen Mond looked like 2017 Kellen Mond where he was in over his head. Yes, I get Clemson’s defense is a beast but the mistakes Mond made were more self-inflicted. And while the defense played solid, the Aggies just could not break Clemson’s momentum on either side of the ball. And worse, the Aggies are still going “oh boy, Alabama, Georgia, and LSU?” Have fun

Dishonorable mention: Texas, Tennessee, West Virginia, Cincinnati

TOP 5 QUESTIONS

LSU shredded Texas on defense and now looks to be that offensive juggernaut Tiger fans have been hoping for

(1) IS LSU GOING TO BE A MAJOR THREAT FOR THE PLAYOFF AND NOTABLY, ALABAMA? Yes to both parts. The two things I wonder are that has LSU’s offense been that good or the defenses they’ve played against that bad? Either way, even against bad defenses in the past LSU struggled with. They are very aggressive than I remember in the past as well. Now, the other part was LSU’s secondary. They refer themselves as DBU, but Texas shredded DBU pretty easy last night and in a year where Alabama looks to be a passing monster, it could sting them badly in that game in November. But they are one of the few teams that can match the talent with Alabama. So that really does help them out.

(2) IS MICHIGAN VASTLY OVERRATED? Hard to say. People want to jump off the Khaki Bandwagon because of their struggles against Army. You know who also struggled against Army last year and had to win in OT? Oklahoma. They turned out okay. I think we try to give teams national championships in September for how great they start out. Clemson has always been a slow starter in September. Auburn struggles early (such as against Tulane last night). People forget Ohio State looked awful against Virginia Tech in 2014 and then still ended up winning the National Championship. Alabama even had their woes against Ole Miss in 2014-15 and people thought Bama’s run was over. So really if there is a point to this, is that you can take a L or struggle early on in September and make your adjustments before you just up the ante. It’s better to do it in the first month than the last month when you are trying to make a case for the Playoff Committee. So honestly, I will abstain from answering that.

(3) IS THE PAC-12 IN BIG TROUBLE ALREADY FOR THE PLAYOFF? Yes. USC, Cal, and Utah are really the best and only chances (Arizona State has struggled early on and has a fun trip to East Lansing next week against Michigan State). Utah and USC play each other so that will eliminate one team and the Trojans have trips to Washington and Notre Dame in consecutive games (bye week in between) and then a trip to Cal late in the year. Utah has trips to USC and Washington. Cal’s major speedbump will be Oregon at this point (I honestly think the Bears will beat Stanford right now). As for Washington State, they always have that one game they trip themselves up on (and they play at Cal). So honestly, it may be three straight years now for the PAC-12 failing to get to a playoff.

(4) CAN MARYLAND CRASH THE BIG TEN EAST PARTY? The division since the Big Ten re-aligned it to East and West have been decided by 4 teams: Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, and Penn State (12 New Year’s Six games among them). The other three of Maryland, Indiana, and Rutgers have been just food for the four. Now Maryland has shown so far they can score at will and they will need to show some of that with the defenses all four teams can possess. Maryland does have home tilts with Penn State in 2 weeks and Michigan in early November before having to go out a week after Michigan to play at Ohio State. And then they have to see Michigan State to end the season. IF they can find a way to win TWO of those games, Maryland has an excellent chance to get to a New Year’s Six game and infuriate a fan base or two either in Ann Arbor, East Lansing, or Happy Valley

(5) IS TEXAS OVERRATED AFTER LAST NIGHT? Honestly, I will say no. They can compete with the top teams. It’s just they lost a lot on defense last year. They will get better as the season goes along and really is firmly the second best team in the Big 12. It’s just LSU is on a different level than the Longhorns are right now.

That’s it for this week.

-Fan in the Obstructed Seat

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Jon Gruden-Not Antonio Brown-is the Raiders Problem

Yes, another post or comment about Antonio Brown and the saga that has just become stranger, stranger, and stranger. Ever since the last week of the 2018 season when Brown was suspended from his former team the Steelers, it has been a whirlwind of silliness honestly. People blamed the Steelers and Ben Roethlisberger for Brown’s actions. He then gets traded to Oakland for a 3rd and 5th round pick. Things were semi-subdued to start as there wasn’t much drama. But when the football helmet issue came to play, that’s when everything began.

Needless to say, Antonio Brown is probably done as a Raider before Week 1 ever gets here.

Or is he?

The one guy that has been front & center of the whole thing aside from Antonio Brown has been Jon Gruden. When word passed on Thursday that Brown was going to be suspended by GM Mike Mayock after “conduct detrimental to the team” (let’s just say that to avoid any major details), Gruden did not come out and really support the idea that Brown was going to be suspended.

For me, at that minute, I figured Brown would not be suspended or at least get it overturned.

Friday arrives and the “breaking” came up on my phone: “Jon Gruden says Antonio Brown will play Week 1.”

Brown apologized to his team “with tears in his eyes” and then apologized in front of cameras. Okay, fine. The team captains said they “would back whatever Gruden wants to do with Brown.”

Then the video of Brown talking to Gruden on the phone on what felt was like his own Nike ad. Gruden found it amusing and loved it. Okay…..(personal note: if I was being secretly recorded on a phone about a matter like this, it’s probably not something I’d find amusing.)

Wake up this morning and now Brown wants his release and that is “no way he will play for the Raiders” after Oakland voided his guarantees. Now the rumor is already going around that Gruden still expects Brown to play and still planning it like Brown will play.

Now, I want to hit on a few things here, notably about the team captains. Nobody has really come out in public and defended the embattled wide receiver and if the message was “whatever you think is best, coach” towards Gruden, that to me is a tell-tale message that the players don’t want Brown to be back there. But Gruden is already insistent of keeping Brown in Oakland, no matter what the issues are with the Raiders.

And that’s the problem.

Brown apologists and Gruden apologists alike will say that Gruden is giving Brown a second chance. Fine. But he’s blown that already when he bucked up to the boss. He blew that when he did a holdout for his helmet. So now we are on the 4th or 5th chance at it. Another thing has been somebody erroneously said how Gruden won a Super Bowl with another diva prima donna receiver in Keyshawn Johnson and having Warren Sapp. To those arguments, Gruden and Johnson hated each other and by the second season Gruden was with the Bucs he suspended Johnson for the second half of the season. And Sapp was not an issue. PS-Gruden won a Super Bowl with Dungy guys on defense. Just saying. After that, he was just an “average” head coach with the Bucs as the Dungy guys started to leave or retire.

Secondly Gruden has already undermined his GM Mike Mayock for all of this. From the moment when Mayock told Brown you’re “all in or all out” to even now, Gruden has been what from the outside has been the opposite of Mayock. It looks bad from that perspective that the head coach (who has an insane deal to stay) and the new GM there are not on the same page. That is a key issue.

We have already seen Gruden have his issues with the Raiders since he came back, notably with his prior GM Reggie McKenzie. The trades of Khalil Mack (which is the most dumbfounding of all of the moves until Brown arrived) and Amari Cooper are just unexplainable. If anything they came to work and did their jobs. But if Gruden has total control of the team over the GM, then why does Oakland have a GM at all when he keeps undermining the decisions Mayock makes?

Again, we know Antonio Brown has baggage. We saw that in full force last year in Pittsburgh. But what Jon Gruden is doing is enabling his behavior time after time to the point that it may just plague the team in what looks to be the Raiders final season in Oakland. It doesn’t set a good precedent for the other players and it is very harming if you are a teammate that is watching this on the side going “how many chances will Brown get from this guy?” or “if it was me, I’m out of a job!” or “well, Khalil Mack was pretty much kicked out of here because he wanted a new contract though he’s a stand-up guy and wants to play here.” Just because somebody may be very talented and have a strong practice regiment does not necessarily mean it off-sets all the issues. Gruden fails to see it right now that it is killing his team.

Maybe the guy that needs to miss the first week of the regular season and the entire season is Jon Gruden. All he’s doing is taking the Raiders into a black hole of futility. And trying to fight to keep Antonio Brown on the team is just another example. And the question is, what is the next example for Gruden and the Raiders? Or better yet how many examples will it take before the Raiders figure out Gruden is not any answer at all? Maybe Gruden is the one that has the issues destroying the team, not Brown.

-Fan in the Obstructed Seat

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