We are rapidly going through the 2018 College Football Season. While this past week wasn’t upsets galore, we had a games were there were some big upsets. It may changed the landscape of some conferences and possible conference championship games. So let’s look at the wonderful week that was.
TOP 5 WINNERS
(1) MICHIGAN: Beat one of your two despised rivals and then later one seeing your other despised rival get toasted. It was one of the more better days the Wolverines had in a very long time. But it also now sets them up as the favorite in the Big Ten over Ohio State and Harbaugh is ridding that whole thing of “he can’t beat the big boys of the Big Ten.” Penn State is coming up soon so if (when) Michigan faces them, it will be the third of the four legs of the revenge tour as Michigan fans are calling it. But right now, they control their destiny for the Playoff.
(2) CLEMSON: Here’s something to think about in the last two weeks for the Tigers: They have outscored their opponents 104-10. The opponents were Wake Forest and NC State (the latter being a top 25 program right now). Alabama has gone 97-31 in their last two games. Of course, it doesn’t say a whole lot for Bama but Clemson is back in the mix as being a legit contender for the national championship. And maybe the lone team who can stop Alabama.
(3) WASHINGTON STATE: IF the Cougars can steal a road win in Stanford (which is the next big step for Mike Leach’s squad) then they are in the driver’s seat the rest of the way for a PAC-12 Championship. They dominated Oregon for the first half like nobody else has and did enough to hold on to beat the Ducks. And with the Cougars at home to face the Huskies at the end, it could be a special season in Pullman.
(4) VIRGINIA: The Cavaliers right now have the inside track I believe for the ACC Coastal title. Yes Hokie fans, I know Virginia Tech is undefeated in conference play but right now I think Virginia’s defense especially will shut down any team including Tech. Give credit to Bronco Mendenhall as he has really gotten this program back from the dead and maybe a year earlier than anybody thought. They played a strong game against Duke and can easily enter the Virginia Tech game 9-2 (UNC, Pitt, Liberty, and Georgia Tech are all in between-all winnable games)
(5) PURDUE: They may not even be ranked after their big win against Ohio State, but here is the scary thought: Purdue lost their first three games of the year by a total of 8 points. Since then, the Boilermakers have dominated. And despite only being 4-3, they are 3-1 in conference play and while the schedule from here on out isn’t easy, they have some homefield advantages and may get teams at the right time. They get Michigan State next week in East Lansing, which is now very winnable. And then they have Iowa and Wisconsin coming to West Lafayette. It is still VERY possible Purdue goes to the Big Ten Championship just down the road in Indianapolis. And a game like that changes a whole program, especially one like theirs.
HONORABLE MENTIONS: LSU
TOP 5 LOSERS:
(1) NC STATE: This was THE game needed to win. And they failed, miserably on it. But while they were undefeated heading into Clemson, I didn’t feel like this was the same Wolfpack team the last few years. The defense needs help. But even if they win out and Clemson stumbles at some point (twice in conference play) I can’t see NC State getting into any playoff scenario. So they are done in regards to that. But they still have a manageable schedule to go 10-1.
(2) OREGON: Two losses to PAC-12 foes Stanford and Washington State have all but ended their shots too. And the funny part is, Oregon’s inability to play two halves of football doomed them each time. Justin Herbert is definitely a top quarterback in college football, but it wasn’t enough to take down Washington State.
(3) OHIO STATE: “But, but they only lost one and they still have a great shot at the playoff!” Yes, and no. While Purdue is FAR BETTER than the record they had, comparing the Buckeyes body of work (sound familiar last year Ohio State fans?) to the likes of Georgia (losing at LSU), Michigan (losing close to Notre Dame), LSU (losing a nail-biter late at Florida), Florida (a now-ranked Kentucky team), and then struggling against Minnesota and Indiana (who have both crashed and burned since those games against the Buckeyes). Right now a win over Michigan would be the only thing to save their chances. The Buckeyes have holes, and honestly I feel like the team is somewhat fractured, maybe because of the Urban Meyer issue to start the year. And not to yell out “Doomsday!” to Ohio State, but this has a similar feel to Meyer’s last year at Florida. Just saying.
(4) CINCINNATI: Really this fits for both South Florida and UCF as well because both teams needed Cincinnati to be undefeated down the stretch with them to give any hope whatsoever on the American Conference sneaking a team (UCF) to the Playoff. They had a lead on Temple, but couldn’t finish it out. And any chances of them pulling off a stunning run is out the window too.
(5) MSU: Which one am I talking about? Michigan State or Mississippi State? Well, both. Both laid stinkers to their rivals. Both now have 3 losses and are pretty much eliminated from any chance of a conference championship game appearance. Neither team has an offense that is really any good and you can say both were ill-prepared for their games as well. But who knows, we still may see a MSU bowl in late December/Early January.
TOP 5 QUESTIONS:
(1) IS THERE ANY WAY THE PAC-12 GETS INTO THE PLAYOFF NOW? No. As much as I would love to see Washington State run the table and make an argument, it will be very hard for the Cougars to get in. The rest of the way is relatively easy but too easy that none of the teams left are ranked (Stanford may be close to it next week but still). Adding on that you see teams like Alabama, Clemson, and Notre Dame have a good shot at running the table with Michigan and Georgia right behind them, I can’t see it.
(2) DOES IT HAVE A FEEL THAT ALABAMA, CLEMSON, AND NOTRE DAME ALREADY HAVE 3 PLAYOFF SPOTS LOCKED? It’s too early to say that, but it does have that feel, yes. Alabama and Clemson still have two tough road games (LSU for Bama and FSU for Clemson) but many feel both of those games will go to the Tide and Tigers. Notre Dame while not seeing a ranked team still has some interesting games such a road trip to Northwestern (where their motto is win ugly but win), Syracuse in the Bronx, and at USC. Granted Notre Dame should win ALL of them, but the concerning part if you’re an Irish fan is will they play down to their opponents levels? We saw it with Ball State, we saw it with Vanderbilt, and we saw it with Pitt. And all three teams are probably not going to a bowl game. They need to take charge and roll with it. So that means which 4th team gets in? Michigan perhaps? An SEC Champ not named Alabama AND a 1-loss Alabama again?
(3) THE BIG 12 WAS QUIET THIS WEEK (6 TEAMS ON BYE), BUT DOES IT FEEL LIKE THEY ARE OVERLOOKED IN THE PLAYOFF CHASE? Yes. I guess part of it is because they have garnered the rep of being one dimensional from nearly top to bottom. Fair? No, but Texas has done well and should be considered. Oklahoma only lost to Texas. And you still have a couple of teams I feel are legit teams such as Texas Tech (who has upgraded their defense from putrid to godawful to bad to now just streaky), West Virginia, and Iowa State. They could take a spot if the Big Ten notably Michigan or Notre Dame isn’t careful.
(4) COULD OHIO STATE HAVE A HEAD COACHING VACANCY AFTER THIS SEASON? Yes. No, they won’t fire Urban Meyer unless another major scandal comes out and he is involved on it. But as I said before, this season has a slight feel to what Florida had in 2010. It feels like the legend of the team was larger than the actual team, which wasn’t very good. But it seemed like Meyer didn’t feel like he wanted to be there (citing “health issues”) and the team just looked very beatable and not really a major contender. Of course, it will be if Meyer steps down. But he could use that “well, it is time for me to step back and get my health in order” bit like he did with Florida. While I do not condone his actions at all with the Zach Smith stuff, you know all of this had to weigh on him heavily. So if Ohio State falters down the stretch (which is still somewhat possible with two more road games at Michigan State and Maryland before heading home to face Michigan), he may just say “enough” and walk away. He may do that even if the Buckeyes go 10-2.
(5) IS THIS UCF’S BEST SHOT AT GETTING INTO THE PLAYOFF? Yes. However, they need major help. Getting wins over USF and Cincinnati will help their case (though as I said before, USF needed Cincinnati to be ranked when they face off, which is probably not going to happen now). But you have to think that UCF is playing at a high level and should at least to face off against Alabama, Clemson, and Notre Dame to see where they really belong. But both Texas and Oklahoma need to lose while a second loss needs to occur for both Florida and Georgia (one of them will at least lose next week), and find a way to get Michigan and Ohio State to lose a second game as well. Honestly I think they could beat Florida and perhaps Texas on neutral territory. But I think if they keep winning and some teams continue to drop, they have an argument.
-Fan in the Obstructed Seat