It’s getting clearer and clearer for the Playoff picture. We are starting to see which teams are trying to position themselves for a chance for being one of the top 4 teams. Many feel possibly many teams are jockeying for one spot in the Playoff with possibly Alabama, Clemson, and even Notre Dame running the table. Of course, I think you still have to play the games, even if you are the regular Playoff teams of Alabama and Clemson. but we will see how things go down the stretch.
TOP 5 WINNERS:
(1) GEORGIA: The Bulldogs answered their loss with a huge win against their hated rival Florida. They dominated really and did everything the opposite of what they did at LSU. They control their own destiny without question for a Playoff. But the big issue is, can they beat Bama if they see each other in the SEC Championship? But first off, it’s Kentucky to decide who wins the SEC East.
(2) WASHINGTON STATE: They’ve beaten Oregon and Stanford while Washington is still on the map, which is now very winnable. And Gardner Minshew is just absolute fun to watch. He has to be considered a Heisman candidate (I get he’s in a passing system but he is excelling in it perfectly) and maybe the last hope the PAC-12 has of getting a team into the Playoff.
(3) NORTHWESTERN: Your leader of the Big Ten West. Yes, hold the applause. But they play defense and they win ugly. And they were in that game with Michigan in late September. So they could play huge spoiler in the Big Ten Championship, though forget Playoff for the Wildcats.
(4) OKLAHOMA: Texas’s loss helps the Sooners out as now it is a 3-team fight with Oklahoma, Texas, and West Virginia for the Big 12 title. Of course we see West Virginia/Texas next week and then the last week of the year it is Oklahoma at West Virginia (by then it may be the first of two games between the Sooners and Mountaineers), but it means Oklahoma is still in the thick of the Playoff, but they MUST win out..
(5) UTAH: The Utes are just looking around at their division going, “wow, we may win the division if we win at Arizona State this week.” The Utes lone losses were to the PAC-12 North teams (Washington and Washington State) so even a loss to Oregon in the week after won’t sting as much, but the Utes have found their drive so I think Utah will either be 10-2 or 9-3 and being in the PAC-12 championship game.
TOP 5 LOSERS
(1) FLORIDA: In order to beat Georgia under Kirby Smart, you need to have at the very worst a good, solid quarterback. Florida doesn’t have one right now. If Feliepe Franks is their best option, the Gators are in trouble. And they really got outplayed against Georgia. No two ways about that. But they love talking down there in the Swamp, so they will brush off this L and focus on Florida State to beat them because they are out of the SEC East picture now.
(2) TEXAS: The Longhorns are far better than what they’ve been in the last few years, but as last night against Oklahoma State showed, they are still not there. Fortunately for them, Texas is still in the driver’s seat, but they MUST win at home against West Virginia to keep up with the Big 12 race. It’s possible, but the Longhorns did not need to lose that game in Stillwater last night.
(3) IOWA: Once again, Iowa when you think they may be something, falls apart. Those road trips against the stronger teams really doom the Hawkeyes yearly. Hate to say this, but it is what you expect from Iowa on a yearly basis.
(4) TEXAS A&M: A lot of people (myself included) went, “well, the lone two losses to the Aggies were to Alabama and Clemson and probably should have beaten Clemson while they didn’t get destroyed by Alabama” so they are probably better than that record. And then last night happened in Starkville against the Bulldogs. Much like their hated rivals in Austin, the Aggies are not there in terms of being that playoff contending team and you now can fully forget an SEC West title this year. Many probably did when they lost to Alabama, but still. That isn’t to say the Aggies can’t beat LSU (in fact, I do think Texas A&M wins that game the last week of the season), but no trip to Atlanta in 2018..
(5) WASHINGTON: What on earth happened to Jake Browning? He was a Heisman candidate 2 years ago and now he may be the worst quarterback in the power 5 conferences. You can tell his confidence is gone and with it the team has sunk. At least Jacob Eason will be there next year.
TOP 5 QUESTIONS:
(1) WHAT WILL BE YOUR PLAYOFF COMMITTEE PREDICTION? This is not the same of my power rankings so don’t shoot me on this one. I’m just thinking it because of what we’ve seen by the Playoff Committee in the past doing their ranks. But here it goes.
(1) Notre Dame (2) Clemson (3) Alabama (4) LSU (5) Michigan (6) Georgia
Here’s why I view it (and no, I don’t think Notre Dame is 1 but I think the committee is looking at it like this: Notre Dame has the Michigan game as their big feather in the cap. Alabama and Clemson both have a problem with their big wins being against Texas A&M, but after that Clemson has at least a win against 6-2 Syracuse and a win against 7-1 Georgia Southern. Ole Miss has been Alabama’s best win and is 5-3. The committee really looks at that body of work. Now of course, nobody should really care because next week things will change with Alabama and LSU playing each other. Assuming Alabama wins, they will propel ahead of Notre Dame and Clemson (or solidify it if I’m wrong with the committee’s choices). But again, the committee loves looking at those resumes way too much and maybe not enough for eye tests.
(2) WILL WILLIE TAGGART BE “ONE-AND-DONE” AT FLORIDA STATE BY THE END OF THE SEASON? No. Taggart went to Florida State the same way Charlie Strong entered Texas: having to do a house-cleaning bit because the program there is a mess. Players who were there under Jimbo Fisher were under a different culture and one that was borderline toxic as well as having that feel of wins were expected to be handed to them. And when they weren’t getting the wins, the team quit. Well, it was painfully obvious if you were a Seminoles fan that the Seminoles players quit yesterday when Clemson pulverized them in Tallahassee. I think Willie Taggart is a better coach than what many give him for, though I don’t view him as a GREAT coach, but even if you put in a guy like Kirby Smart to run things down there one year after Fisher left, the Noles would still be an epic disaster. I think the smart FSU fans know that and I think the school knows that. I think if this happens in year two, yes. He will be out. But not right now.
(3) YOU SEEM TO HAVE A DEEP-ROOTED DISDAIN FOR WISCONSIN ALL YEAR. WHAT’S THE DEAL? Never really “hated” Wisconsin. Just never understood the fad of why people placed them in the Playoff race when their schedule was tougher than it has been in the past few years, still major issues at quarterback, a defense that had questions with a lot of turnover there, and in a division that is getting better & better. If you look at the teams that we’ve seen make the playoff, they are all balanced teams with at least quality, competent quarterbacks running the show. So for me, I’m not surprised at all that the Badgers are currently are where they are. They just don’t have the balance, the quarterback, and the depth to hang with the likes of the other power teams. A lot of people make fun of Iowa because they are too vanilla and win “because their schedule is weak.” Well, Wisconsin is pretty much in that same boat. I can’t ever look at them as a serious threat anymore.
(4) IS THE ACC THE WORST POWER 5 CONFERENCE IN COLLEGE FOOTBALL? Yes. From all looks of it, Clemson may be the lone ACC team in the top 25 (Virginia MAY get in after this week-yes, Virginia….or it may be Syracuse). And to think two years ago, they were considered the best conference. The problem is, the heavyweights of Florida State, Virginia Tech, and Miami are down (Florida State was to be somewhat expected but not this bad, and Miami has been a massive disappointment as has Virginia Tech). And then you have a cluster behind Clemson that have holes all over. So to an extent, I’m not surprised that the Tigers are destroying teams left and right in the ACC and won’t be if they continue to do so until December 29.
(5) WILL WE SEE TEAMS THAT WOULD CAN THEIR HEAD COACH FOR AN ABYSMAL SEASON KEEP THEM TO AVOID THE BUYOUT CONTRACTS? Yes and no pending on who you are. A lot of talk was going on last week that even Gus Malzahn and his monster contract buyout wouldn’t be enough to save him at Auburn. And I think that is the case as Auburn is a program that is built on being competitive even with a hated in-state rival dominating the landscape. Malzahn answered some of it with a win at Ole Miss. However, Texas A&M, Georgia, and Alabama still loom. But others like Bobby Petrino may be safe (in Petrino’s case, there’s too many non-football monetary issues happening at Louisville where they CAN’T fire him). Clay Helton is an iffy one because he has an extension through 2023, but nobody knows the buyout numbers there. But the Trojans right now are playing in half-full crowds at the Coliseum and are back to being a middle-of-the-road PAC-12 team. But I do think even with USC, that they are a program that is in the win now mode and will eat up a buyout. Time will tell. So in other words, if you’re a program that has the dough and is expected to be competing for a national title yearly, you can make that move. If you aren’t, then no.
-Fan in the Obstructed Seat