Really? We’re in Week 7? Wow. Time flies. This week we saw a lot of upsets in the making and teams that pretty much get eliminated from the Playoff. We saw a few teams avoid the big upset. So a lot to cover this week.
TOP 5 WINNERS
(1) MICHIGAN: While I never viewed Wisconsin as a legit threat this year because of their passing game and even their defense isn’t up to Wisconsin standards (and also having that knack of not beating the better squads), this was a win you go “dang, Michigan really destroyed the Badgers in every aspect of the game.” Right now, they may be playing the most complete game out of any Big Ten squad. Which right now outside of Ohio State, doesn’t say much, but still. It was a big win and really they still have a great shot at making the playoff.
(2) LSU: After the loss last week to Florida, one wondered what it would do to the Tigers when they saw Georgia. That question was answered as LSU played inspired. We can talk about Ed Orgeron not being a top of the line head coach but the couple of things he has over Les Miles is that Orgeron doesn’t do or say much silly stuff that draws attention to himself and when LSU loses, it’s not the end of the world. They came out pretty much bullying Georgia’s offense and outcoaching Georgia in every aspect of the game. Well done LSU.
(3) OREGON: Had the Ducks not imploded to Stanford almost a month ago, you are talking about Oregon being a possibly a team sitting in 6th or 7th in the polls (and maybe higher when the first playoff selection comes out). The Ducks, now with Colorado slipping and the PAC-12 being a gigantic mess this year, are the PAC-12’s last hope for a Playoff spot and unfortunately, they may need a lot of help.
(4) UCF: “Ashes ashes, they all fall down.” The Knights were ranked 10th and by all accounts should have lost, but they took down one of their toughest opponents on their schedule. I mean if the rest ahead of them continue to fall, why can’t they have a shot at a Playoff? Let’s see if they can hang with the big boys.
(5) TEXAS A&M: Beating South Carolina on the road isn’t too easy but not too problematic. But just think of this: the Aggies are 5-2 and the lone losses was a close one against Clemson and of course Alabama. Yes, they are really eliminated from the Playoff this year but they have a great shot to win out and take a New Year’s Six game. Jimbo has them rolling.
HONORABLE MENTIONS: USC, Michigan State, Texas
TOP 5 LOSERS
(1) WASHINGTON: Last year, the excuse for Jake Browning was that his receiving corps was down. Hence, why he didn’t build off the Heisman caliber year in 2016. This year the receivers are there but his numbers are down from last year. What is the mystery of Browning? The Huskies probably could be undefeated this year if Browning played like 2016 Browning. I’m not trying to pour it on one guy here, but you can’t go to Oregon hoping your line is 15/25, 243 yards with one TD and one INT. That will get you nowhere. And that also gets Washington eliminated from the Playoff.
(2) PENN STATE: The Nittany Lions are following the same blueprint as they had in 2017. Win games leading up to Ohio State, do it by running up the scores in a few of those games, get the fans believing this is the year, blow a double-digit lead to the Buckeyes and lose. Then the next game play Michigan State, have an early lead, sit on it, and then have Michigan State come back to beat you. Yikes. And let’s be honest here. This was the same Michigan State squad last week who lost to Northwestern at home as well as having a very injury riddled Spartans team to go at it. No excuse why Penn State couldn’t take down Michigan State at home. And for all the talk of Jim Harbaugh’s woes against the Buckeyes and Spartans, how about James Franklin? 2-8 against Ohio State and Michigan State in his tenure. Ouch. One more sign he’s not the guy to make the Penn State fans happy in Happy Valley.
(3) WISCONSIN: One of the greatest mysteries as the season started was why everybody invested in Wisconsin to be in the Playoff. Maybe because they built their rep of having that stout defense and a great running game (similar to Alabama and Georgia). And with that, maybe it was also having the hope of having a major step forward from Alex Hornibrook at quarterback. I picked Wisconsin at 7-5 (harsh I know) because I didn’t see Hornibrook being able to take that next step. And I didn’t think Wisconsin’s defense (with a lot of personnel turnover) was to be as strong as what we seen. Last, I didn’t like how the schedule panned out. All you need to do is make the Hornibrook pass for Wisconsin as well as bully them around on both sides of the ball. And the Badgers will fold like a cheap suit. And Michigan proved that last night. The good news is they still can run the table and go to the Big Ten Championship. But the one game that may decide the Big Ten West and I can’t believe I am saying it, may end up being the Purdue game in mid-November in West Lafayette.
(4) AUBURN: This was supposed to be the team, even facing Georgia and Alabama on the road that could have usurped the chances for the Bulldogs and Tide again this year. However, Auburn’s lackluster play this season has caught up to them. And let’s face it, Tennessee (who is getting better weekly) DOMINATED the Tigers and Jarrett Stidham is a far cry of what he was last year for Auburn. Struggles against Southern Miss, two home losses to LSU and Tennessee, and a game where they were never really in with Mississippi State pretty much doomed the Tigers season. Worse, instead of having Playoff aspirations, the Tigers still have a road game at Ole Miss, home game against Texas A&M and still the Georgia and Alabama games, both on the road. There is a chance that Auburn finishes 5-7 and fails to see any December/January bowl game. And $37 million says Gus Malzahn isn’t getting fired anytime soon.
(5) WEST VIRGINIA: Even with one loss, I don’t know if West Virginia can run the table and get into the playoff now. Not because Iowa State is a bad team (they’re pretty good actually) but because while they still have Texas and Oklahoma on the schedule still, they needed that one strong out-of-conference win and that win may have been washed up and blown away with Hurricane Florence when the Mountaineers were supposed to play NC State. It will be hard for them even if they win the Big 12 to get in. It stings if you’re a Mountaineers fan for sure. And given how they somewhat struggled to Kansas at home, I think you can pretty much say they are eliminated from the postseason.
DISHONORABLE MENTIONS: Georgia, Colorado, California
TOP 5 QUESTIONS:
(1) WHY NOT GEORGIA IN THE TOP 5 LOSERS CATEGORY? It isn’t because I didn’t want to rub it in to my friends for losing (though I do enjoy doing that to them, but not when the Georgia loss is to an SEC West school not named Alabama), but they are still in control of their destiny if they run the table. However, Georgia yesterday is still showing they cannot win those big games on the road and not even in some of them. People wanted to blame Jake Fromm for the offensive woes but I don’t see how you can blame him when the LSU defense blanketed him and kept him from making the big plays. It was the coaching that really messed up. Poor play-calling on the offense, a dumbfounding idea of calling a fake field goal early, and just looked like Kirby Smart was in over his head (remember, he has only been a head coach for 3 years now so it isn’t like he has vast experience, though he has been on the sidelines a lot at Tiger Stadium so he should know better). But this had the same vibe as the Auburn game last year in November so not all hope is lost. But Kirby Smart has to plan better than that which was a giant debacle. And yes, I blame him and Jim Chaney for that mess yesterday.
(2) WOULD PENN STATE ACTUALLY FIRE JAMES FRANKLIN AFTER THIS SEASON? I still say no, but that 2-8 mark on Ohio State and Michigan State is looming big, not to mention if you add Michigan he’s 3-11 against those three. If he ends up 3-12 after he plays Michigan, then there will be questions if he needs to coach further given his woes against the Big Four of the Big Ten East. And after the Ohio State game, I don’t think many Penn State fans are confident they can get atop the conference and be a Playoff team. But if the Nittany Lions lose to Michigan, Wisconsin, and either Maryland or Iowa, that seat will be pretty hot for him.
(3) IS THE PAC-12 ELIMINATED FROM THE PLAYOFF? Not yet. Oregon is the best shot but they badly need help, whether it is getting a loss from Clemson, Ohio State, Michigan (again and not to Ohio State), Alabama, Notre Dame, etc. But the rest of the conference is done for in terms of the Playoff hope now.
(4) SHOULD OHIO STATE FANS BE ALARMED ON THE PLAY OF THE BUCKEYES TO THE LESSER SQUADS OF THE BIG TEN? Yes and no. No because Minnesota hasn’t been THAT bad nor has Indiana (until the Iowa game). But here’s why I say yes: the defense even with Bosa there was getting gashed. The offense at times can get somewhat stagnant. And honestly, Minnesota beat Minnesota with turnovers and poor execution at times. Adding on, Purdue, despite being 3-3, has played tough all year and that game is in West Lafayette. You can say that can be a trap game before Ohio State gets Michigan State and then later, Michigan. So all of a sudden it doesn’t feel like Ohio State will have their season on cruise control like many view it.
(5) DOES TEXAS HAVE THE BEST SHOT IN THE BIG 12 AT MAKING A PLAYOFF? Yes. Of course, like Oregon, they will need help. Notre Dame has to lose, Clemson has to lose (how odd is it that had Texas A&M won over Clemson and if the Longhorns run the table the rest of the way, the Longhorns may had to thank the Aggies, but I am getting ahead of myself), and honestly Ohio State may have to lose and not to Michigan.
That’s it for this week. What a week!
-Fan in the Obstructed Seat