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
(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
(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
(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