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
(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:
(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
(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.
-Fan in the Obstructed Seat