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
(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
(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
(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