Friday, November 30, 2018

Conference Championship Weekend Picks: Who The Hell Is Going To Make The Playoff?

It’s conference championship weekend in college football! I can’t believe we’re already here. It seems like just yesterday that I was writing my “2018 College Football Meat Sandwich” and nailing all my preseason predictions like…. (checks notes)… Michigan State making the playoff. Oh wait, crap, I’m an idiot.
For the first time ever, all ten conferences on the FBS level are going to have a league championship game. I wasn’t aware of that, because spoiler, I don’t exactly spend a lot of my time watching MAC football. Hate to disappoint you guys, but it’s true. For some reason though, my Angry Old Man, who is so old and senile that I’m surprised he even knows how to work a TV anymore, implored me yesterday to pick all ten conference championships games with the threat that he’d write me out of the will if I “disappointed him again”. “If you don’t pick all ten conference championship games tomorrow, you’ll be the biggest disappointment in my life since, hell, your older brother!” he told me, before he started stuffing his face with Cheetos until he passed out in a puddle of his own spittle and cheese residue. My loving Pa. It’s fine. This is a normal father-son relationship right? Right?
MAC Championship: Northern Illinois vs Buffalo (in Detroit)
Buffalo is a 3.5 point favorite and has ten wins for the first time in school history. Northern Illinois is 7-5 and their claim to fame on the national college football stage is that time they played Florida State in the 2013 Orange Bowl and lost 31-10. Whoops, that’s all I know.
Prediction: Buffalo
Pac 12 Championship: #17 Utah vs #11 Washington (in Santa Clara)
The Huskies lost three times this year by a combined ten points. If they don’t blow the Auburn game with back-to-back red zone turnovers or miss a potential game-winning field goal on the last play of regulation against Oregon, this could very well be a playoff play-in game for Washington. Instead, they’ll be settling for a shot at a conference championship, their second in three years. I think they’ll get it done. Utah has had a nice year, but you could argue they're in this position by just being less bad then the rest of the teams in the Pac 12 South, which was arguably the worst division in the Power 5 this season. I’m struggling to find a good win on the Utah schedule; BYU last week, where they came back from 20 at halftime? 7-4 Stanford? They lost to Washington State and Arizona, and when they played this same Washington team earlier in the season, they, you guessed it, were defeated 21-7. I think we’ll have a similar result tonight.
Prediction: Washington
Sun Belt: Louisiana at Appalachian State
This is the first ever Sun Belt Championship Game, and also a rematch of a game earlier this season that App State won 27-17. I’d be tempted to take the “Ragin’ Cajuns” here, only because that’s an awesome team nickname, but it's at App State’s home stadium, and in a game between two teams that I’ve probably watched a combined 30 minutes of, that’s good enough reason to go with the Mountaineers.
Prediction: Appalachian State
Conference USA: UAB at MTSU
The craziest thing about this game is that UAB got rid of football for two years (2015 and 2016), revived the program just last year, and have already found a way to return to the championship game of their conference in just their second season back. Not that it’ll make a difference tomorrow, of course, but good for them right?
Prediction: MTSU
American Conference: Memphis at #8 UCF
Can UCF make the playoff? Should they even really be considered? I’d say no to both of those questions due to their lack of quality Power 5 wins coupled with the fact that they lost their star quarterback McKenzie Milton to a horrifying knee injury last weekend. Does anyone really want to see them travel to Arlington to play Alabama in a semifinal game and get their doors blown off? How is that great for the viewer? Sure, Alabama might destroy anyone they play in that game, but I think Kyler Murray and Oklahoma or Dwayne Haskins and Ohio State and would have a better chance of pulling off a shocking upset due to their similar athletes and overall team speed. Plus, both of those teams have significantly better resumes. Like even if Georgia, Oklahoma, and Ohio State all lost this weekend, I still can’t see an argument for putting UCF in if they win their league. Like great, their best win would be… five loss Pittsburgh? Come on. Everyone is always like, “Oh, we should give the little guy a shot!” But why? They haven’t earned it and they don’t come close to fulfilling the standard of “four best teams”. And when they'd get blown out by 35 points against Alabama, we’d all feel stupid for ever thinking to include them.
Of course, winning the conference tomorrow won’t be easy. When they played Memphis earlier this season, the Golden Knights surrendered almost 500 yards of offense and had to rally from down 16 late in the second quarter to pull off a 31-30 victory. Memphis isn’t going to roll over for them here either, though I ultimately think UCF will win and play in a New Years Six Bowl Game for the second consecutive year.
Prediction: UCF
Mountain West: #25 Fresno State at #22 Boise State
This isn’t your father’s Boise State team of a decade ago that used to play in BCS bowls, but they also haven’t lost since October 6 and already beat Fresno State a month ago.
Prediction: Boise State
Big 12: #14 Texas vs #5 Oklahoma (in Arlington)
Lot at stake here for both teams. Texas hasn’t won a conference title since 2009 with Colt McCoy and Mack Brown, and pulling it off in Tom Herman’s second year while beating Oklahoma for the second time in the same season would be an incredible building block for this program that has been wandering in the wilderness the last decade. For Oklahoma, it’d be their fourth straight Big 12 Title and sixth since 2010, and with a loss by Georgia, probably puts them in the playoff. It also should lock up the Heisman for Kyler Murray, though I think the voters will end up going with Tua.
The argument here for Murray winning the Heisman is simple; he’s the most valuable player in the country. He’s saddled with an absolutely atrocious defense, probably the worst of any team that’s ever been in playoff contention, which has forced him to be exceptional every single week; hell, he guided the offense to 59 points last week at West Virginia and they still only won by three. He hasn’t had a stinker the entire year despite the fact that he knows going into every game that he’ll need to score in the 40s.
Crazy stat here; in the month of November alone, the Sooners gave up 189 points. For some context, including their two playoff games from last season, Alabama has given up just 194 points in the 2018 calendar year. Good lord.
This game is going to be another shootout, just like it was back in October when Texas won 48-45 on a last second field goal after Oklahoma erased a 21 point fourth quarter deficit. I think the Sooners win the rematch because of the superior head coach-quarterback combo, though the score will probably be 51-50. And if they do, get ready for Oklahoma-Alabama, probably at Jerry World. That’s going to be a hell of a game even if the Tide will probably put up 70 on them.
Prediction: Oklahoma
Big Ten: #21 Northwestern vs #6 Ohio State (in Indianapolis)
Northwestern is making their first appearance in the Big Ten Title Game despite losing all three of their out of conference games. They somehow only beat one team that finished with less than five losses, and that was four loss Iowa. Why isn’t this game 51-17 tomorrow in favor of Ohio State? The Buckeyes are fresh off their best game of the season, and absolute demolition of rival Michigan, and need a good showing in this one if they want a shot at making the playoff.
Assuming things play out the way I think this weekend, the Buckeyes are going to come up a spot short in the playoff for the second year in a row. The committee is going to look at both them and Oklahoma, two teams with flawed resumes, and say, “Hell, I know OU’s defense sucks, but their only loss was by three points on a neutral field to a Texas team that finished second in the Big 12. And oh yeah, they just avenged that loss by winning this weekend. Ohio State’s loss was by 29 on the road against a 6-6 Purdue team. Plus, it’s not like Ohio State’s defense is phenomenal either. I mean, we all saw that Maryland game. And they did still give up 39 points to Michigan’s limited offense….”
Prediction: Ohio State
ACC: Pittsburgh vs #2 Clemson (in Charlotte)
This is the blowout of the weekend. You might’ve missed it with all the great college football from last weekend, but Pittsburgh managed just 3 points against a crappy Miami team last Saturday. Why won’t this one be 75-10? Here’s the scores of Clemson’s last five ACC games: 63-3, 41-7, 59-10, 77-16, and 27-7. That’s a combined 267-43!
Side note: not breaking any news here, but how incredible has Dabo Swinney been? He’s about to take Clemson to their fourth straight playoff and ACC Title, he’s won a national championship, had 8 straight ten win seasons, and is an incredible 61-6 in his last 67 games. 61-6! For comparison, in his last 67 games at Alabama, Nick Saban is only slightly better, at 63-4. No one could’ve ever envisioned Dabo getting it rolling to this level a decade ago when he got promoted from being the wide receivers coach. My Angry Old Man, with his coldest take ever, even said back when he got the job that “no one named Dabo Swinney can be a successful Division 1 head coach”. Right on there Pops. Oh crap, a shot like that might get me taken out of the will as well. Crap… hopefully he got irritated at the amount of typos I had this week, raged, tossed his phone across the room, and went back to stuffing his face with Thanksgiving leftovers.
Prediction: Clemson
SEC: #4 Georgia vs #1 Alabama (in Atlanta)
The game of the weekend, at least on paper, is the rematch of last year’s overtime thriller in the national championship game that made Tua a college football legend. The Tide have slept-walked through the first halves of their last couple of games, including a weird 10-10 tie with the Citadel and only a 17-14 lead on a bad Auburn team last week. Sure, they opened it up significantly in the second halves of both games, but I wouldn’t think they’d want to get off to a slow start against a Georgia team that seems to have fixed all their issues and might be playing better than any team in the country right now. The ‘Dawgs have won every game by at least 17 points since their lone loss to LSU back on October 13th.
Of course, I could argue the Tide have come out so slow the last couple of weeks because they’re bored with everything right now. No matter how sloppy they play, no opponent has been able to come within 22 points of them the entire season, and it’s got to be difficult for Saban to continue to push the right motivational buttons for a team that wins by three touchdowns every week, even with their C+ game. I’d think the SEC Championship Game against the fourth ranked team in the country would be enough to snap them out of their recent malaise, but we’ll see.
There’s a ton at stake here for the entirety of college football. If Georgia loses then they’re out and it’s the end of the discussion. But if they were to shock the world and beat Alabama, then what the hell does the committee do? I think Alabama would be in because they’d be favored over both Oklahoma and Ohio State by… ten points? I just think it’d be really hard for the committee to overlook that when they put together their final rankings on Sunday.
Of course, I don’t think it’s ultimately going to matter because I think the Tide win by double digits tomorrow.
Prediction: Alabama
Which means I think this is our Playoff Four:
#1 Alabama vs #4 Oklahoma
#2 Clemson vs #3 Notre Dame
Can’t wait for this weekend and the playoff!

Sunday, November 25, 2018

The Week In College Football: Who Is The Saddest Program After This Weekend's Losses?

This rivalry weekend was one of the most disappointing and sad weekends for as many multiple big time programs that I can remember in college football. It was so sad that Arizona blew a 19 point lead to Arizona State, Iowa State erased a 17 point deficit against Kansas State in the fourth quarter, BYU squandered a twenty point halftime lead against Utah, Wisconsin lost to Minnesota for the first time since 2003, Washington State lost out on a chance at the playoff AND the conference title in a snowstorm against Washington, and West Virginia spoiled Will Grier’s senior year (and the best quarterback Dana Holgorsen will ever have) with a three loss season by being terrible on defense, and yet, I didn't even consider any of those schools to be among the Top 6 saddest programs coming out of the weekend.
So without further ado, here are the six saddest college football programs from the weekend, ranked by their level of sadness.
6. LSU
Sadness level: Like making $5 dollars at your lemonade stand while your neighbor across the street makes $100.
The Tigers had the game against Texas A&M won on an interception until replay went back and discovered that Aggie QB Kellen Mond’s knee was down as he bent over to pick up the snap that he dropped immediately before the pick. They then gave up a conversion on fourth and 18 (that was at least a yard short), a touchdown on the final play of the game (after the Aggies somehow spiked the ball with a second left), and then eventually lost a seven-overtime marathon 74-72 in what was the highest scoring game in FBS history. The worst part was that they doused Ed Orgeron in Gatorade after the interception in regulation because they thought they had won, only to have it taken back by replay. Poor Ed then had to sit there covered in Gatorade for another hour AND THEY DIDN'T EVEN WIN. It was the cruelest of all karmas.

Sure, it sucks to lose a game like that, but the reason LSU fans are really sad is because the Swamp Monster is their coach, which sticks them in the “Our coach is good enough to win 9 games a year (which keeps him employed) but we’re never going to win the SEC or make the playoff with him either" place, which has got to be a horrifying place to be in. They can’t really justify moving on from Coach O right now because he's got chance to win 10 games this year even though everyone knows that's probably the best he’ll ever be able to do. They had a great season for what their schedule was, but they had a bye week (like they always do) before the Alabama game and still lost 29-0. As long as Saban is the coach at Alabama, Orgeron is never going to beat him, and if you can’t beat the Tide then you’re never going to win the SEC. Saban is the little boy across the street with the $100 lemonade stand. How do LSU fans feel about that reality? Can’t be good, right?
5. USC
Sadness level: Like they just lost to their four biggest rivals (UCLA, Stanford, Cal, Notre Dame) for the first time since 1991.
The only solace the Trojan fans have here is that Clay Helton might get fired, though there’s been no announcement as of yet. But if he doesn’t, then have fun with another year of 7 losses! 
I wrote this last week, and it’s still true; Clay Helton is a guy that would wear sweat pants to a Valentine’s Day date. That should tell you all you need to know about him. But if it doesn't than consider the fact that he’s a losing football coach regardless of the talent on his roster unless he has Sam Darnold propping him up. Just look at those four losses in rivalry games they had this season: they scored 3 points against Stanford, blew a 14-0 halftime lead against Cal by getting outscored 15-0 in the second half, lost to a two-win UCLA team, and raced out to a 10-0 lead against Notre Dame, only to not score again until very late in the 4th quarter when the game was basically in hand.
The problem that the Trojans have is that even if they were to fire Helton, it’s not like there’s a hot shot, sure thing coach out there that's going to come in and replace him and definitely win at a high level. Sure, someone like Matt Campbell at Iowa State is in my view a far superior coach, but is he definitely going to make the playoff there? It’s not like that’s Urban Meyer to Ohio State or Nick Saban to Alabama. The immediate future definitely isn’t bright at USC.
4. Tennessee
Sadness level: When your little brother beats you in basketball in the driveway for the fifth time in seven tries.
I wrote about Tennessee's debacle yesterday, but I thought it was worth mentioning again that in the 57 years from 1955 to 2011, Vanderbilt beat Tennessee just five times. In the seven years since then, they’ve also beaten the Vols five times. If that doesn’t tell you just how far this once proud program has fallen, then how about the fact that in the last 11 years, Tennessee has only two winning records against SEC opponents, Kentucky and Vanderbilt, arguably the two worst programs in the conference year to year. Or the fact that they’ve only had four winning seasons since 2008. Or that they’ve only been to five bowl games in that same span. Or the fact that they haven’t beaten Alabama since 2006. Or that they’ve lost 13 of the last 14 times to Florida. But yeah, other than that everything is great.
3. Florida State
Sadness level: Like your five-win coach has a $20 million buyout
Not only did FSU just have their first losing season since 1976 and miss a bowl game for the first time in 36 years, but they also lost to their three biggest rivals (Florida, Clemson, Miami) by a combined score of 128-51. They lost their national championship winning coach Jimbo Fisher to Texas A&M after last season, despite the fact that FSU has historically been a better program, because the Aggies could pay more and have far better facilities. Taggart is now 52-57 overall as a coach, and as his below .500 record would suggest, it seems extremely unlikely that he'll be able to significantly improve this FSU program that lost six games by three scores or more this season. But with his buyout being as ridiculously high as it is, there’s no way he gets fired after next season. Or hell, maybe even the season after that, because his buyout after the 2020 will still be $13 million. My god. We could potentially be talking about four or five years of Willie Taggart running FSU football so far into the ground that they reach the pits of hell.
2. Auburn
Sadness level: Like your seven-win coach has a $30 million buyout.
The only thing worse than a $20 million buyout? How about $30 million for a 7-5 coach who is now 2-4 against Alabama (with a 52-21 beatdown by them yesterday) and 21-19 in the SEC the last five years? I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again; I know Auburn gave Gush Malzahn a new contract because they were worried that Arkansas was going to offer him a big deal. So what? Why would you be afraid of that? Why not let him walk? Why commit that amount of money to a guy that’s won one SEC Championship and had one year with less than four losses? Why? You’re now stuck with Gus for… hell, three or four more years? At least? He’s shown you what he is! A four or five loss coach who had one magical season all the way back in 2013. I think his 21-19 SEC record is a more accurate snap shot of what he is as a football coach than anything that happened more than five years ago.
1. Michigan
Sadness level: Urban Meyer is our daddy
Just an absolutely brutal loss yesterday. I would be completely inconsolable if I were a Michigan fan today. 
Everything was lined up perfectly for the Wolverines to end their six game losing streak against Ohio State; Urban Meyer constantly looked like he just got shot in the back of the head by John Wilkes Booth, the OSU defense was in abominable shape, and Michigan had the top ranked defense in the country… but instead, they got pulverized. The Wolverine offense looked like one straight out of the 1960s, their defense was really awful and slow, Buckeye QB Dwayne Haskins played the game of his life, and all the goodwill that Jim Harbaugh had built up nationally completely vanished and replaced by every question that everyone ever had about him.
I don’t see any way that things get better there soon, unless Urban retires (and don’t rule that out) and the Buckeyes screw up their coaching hire. The reality is that Michigan is married to Harbaugh like it’s the 1800s. They can’t get out of the marriage to the guy they’re paying Nick Saban-money and given all the power in the world to. They’re stuck with his rigidness, his lack of innovation offensively, and the reality that he’s never even won a conference championship AND just became the first Michigan coach to ever lose his first four games to Ohio State.
So what do you do? How do you go to the guy you’ve given so much power to and demand he make changes, particularly on offense? I don’t think you can. There are no good choices or great answers here. What’s shocking to me is that he hasn’t been able to recruit even a slightly above average quarterback in four years. Shea Patterson was really really bad yesterday and looked limited as hell. If he could ever get that position right I don’t think we’d be talking about their offense being completely in the toilet all the time. But he’s got to go out there and do it.
The truth is that while Harbaugh’s made a bunch of noise and been paid a ton of money, he’s been a massive disappointment at Michigan so far. Four years in and he hasn’t even won his conference division yet. That’s not what anyone thought they were signing up for when he was hired before the 2015 season.
Teams Still Alive For The Playoff
Here’s our six: Alabama, Notre Dame, Clemson, Georgia, Oklahoma, and Ohio State.
I think Alabama and Notre Dame are already in. The Irish ran the slate and can’t help or hurt themselves next weekend because they don’t have a conference championship game to play in. But there’s no way a 12-0 Irish team gets left out here. 
I also think Alabama is definitely in even if they lose to Georgia next week because they’ve won every game they’ve played in this season by at least 22 points. Plus, I don’t think the committee will be able to ignore the fact that the Tide would be favored against every opponent by at least a touchdown (and they didn’t ignore this fact last year either).
Undefeated Clemson makes it in by winning the ACC Title Game against a crappy Pittsburgh team that only scored three points against Miami yesterday. If they lose then it gets dicey, because they would’ve played the worst schedule of any of the six contenders and I think all the other teams they’d be competing against would’ve run the table against their garbage schedule.
Georgia makes it in if they beat Alabama in the SEC Title Game. A loss gives them an 11-2 record and I think that would leave them out.
Oklahoma makes it in if they beat Texas in the Big 12 Title Game and Georgia loses to Alabama. If it came down to OU and Ohio State for the final playoff spot, I think the committee would take the Sooners because while they have similar resumes, the Sooners loss to a good Texas team on a neutral field by three points is infinitely better than the Buckeyes losing by 29 on the road to a 6-6 Purdue team. Plus the OU offense might be the best unit in the entirety of college football, even if their defense would be the worst that’s ever made the playoff. So for the Buckeyes to make it, I think they’d need to beat Northwestern in next week’s Big Ten Title Game, and then have Georgia lose to Alabama and Oklahoma lose to Texas. I suppose Clemson could lose to Pittsburgh, which would help the Buckeyes, but that's about as likely as me waking up tomorrow with spider legs. 

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Is This Finally Rock Bottom? Maybe? Probably Not?

Wow, well that sucked. I would say this is rock bottom, only that I’ve said that and felt it about a million different times only to see this program find that place again or even worse, sink lower. To show up and get blown off the field by Vanderbilt FOR THE THIRD YEAR IN A ROW would’ve been incomprehensible to any Vol fan ten years ago. General Neyland has to be rolling in his grave right now.
Yesterday I talked about how Jeremy Pruitt had done a good job despite the circumstances and how he had given Vol fans hope. After today though? I don't feel any of that. Today was an embarrassment. 
Here’s some fun stats: in the 57 years from 1955-2011, Tennessee lost to Vanderbilt five times. In the seven years since then, they've lost to them five times. Five times! Good god.
Here’s the Vols records against SEC opponents since 2007 (their last appearance in the SEC Title Game)
Alabama: 0-11
Florida: 1-10
Georgia: 3-8
Vanderbilt: 6-5
Missouri: 2-5
Kentucky: 9-2
South Carolina: 4-7
Auburn: 1-3
Ole Miss: 1-2
Mississippi State: 1-1
LSU: 0-3
Texas A&M: 0-1
Arkansas: 0-2
Incredible. They’ve got two winning records against all the other 13 SEC opponents in an 11 year span. They’ve only been to five bowl games, finished with a winning record four times, and are an abominable 28-60 in conference play since the start of 2008. Wow.
The offensive line is just as bad now as they were at the beginning of the season, Jarrett Guarantano looks like he’s reached the point of no return due to the amount of hits he’s taken, the defense is atrocious and can’t tackle, and the entire fan base has been trolled into oblivion so much the last decade that they think the Vols would have a better chance to win if Keller Chryst, who was damn train wreck last week against a horrible Missouri pass defense, took the field and started playing. Come on guys. This roster is atrocious. Guarantano doesn’t have a chance to be successful out there. And no, he’s not the second coming of Peyton Manning, but he’s won games in this conference. Acting like he’s the biggest problem and the reason they got beat today ignores the fact that he was under assault the entire game and most of the time had less than half a second to throw. I’m totally open for a new quarterback next season, but I don’t think they would’ve been any better today with any other QB on the roster. I don’t care about Chryst getting playing time either because his last game in this program was today and we’ll never hear from him again. So what’s the point of throwing him out there today? So maybe they’d lose by three touchdowns instead of 25 points? Come on guys.
Jeremy Pruitt has a ton of work to do. They might need 22 new starters. Great, they’ll have the whole offense back next season… why is that a good thing? This unit can’t block, there’s hardly any explosive plays, the quarterback gets clobbered nine million times a quarter…
Tennessee, and I hate to say this, but they might not ever get it figured out. I don’t want to hear about how great the facilities are or how much fan interest we have. You know who else has passionate fans? Nebraska, and they’ve been slogging around like the Vols have for almost two decades now. 
And if I see another damn hype video... you know what really sucks? Putting out hype video after hype video after hype video and then losing to freaking Vanderbilt by 25 points.
This has been the worst run major athletic department in the entire country this century, and the programs around them have only gotten better. Tennessee used to go into South Carolina and get a ton of players; now those guys all go to Clemson because the Tigers are a kick-ass program with an elite coach in Dabo Swinney who has put up a fence around the state. They used to go to Georgia and get players too; good luck with that now with Kirby Smart recruiting the hell out of it in Athens. Nick Saban has a dynasty going in Alabama for the foreseeable future, Texas A&M just paid a ton for a national championship-winning coach in Jimbo Fisher, and Florida has a more proven guy than what the Vols have in Dan Mullen. 
The schedule will be tough again next year with the Vols already behind man of the programs their fans want them to beat every season. They aren’t going to go into Alabama next season and win. We all know this. They’ve only won twice in Gainesville since 1971; I doubt they’ll be able to reverse that next year. Georgia comes to Knoxville, but they’ll have a loaded roster and a three year starter at quarterback. Sounds like another loss. South Carolina? Tennessee should’ve beaten them this year, but didn’t, and Will Muschamp is 7-0 against the Vols. And then who knows about Vanderbilt? Apparently that’s a hard game for Tennessee now.
My god. I don’t even know why I continue to watch this crap. Or root for it. They’ve been a disappointment most of my life. They always come up small and they’re an embarrassment. It’s torture.
Can’t wait to go 5-7 again next year!

Friday, November 23, 2018

Week 13 College Football Picks: Vols Make A Bowl Game? Will Michigan Exorcise All Their Ohio State Demons?

It's Thanksgiving Weekend, and I hope everyone out there ate so much yesterday that they never even want to look at food again. The good news is that we've got a ton of great college football this weekend, starting today!
Let's start with this though...
Tennessee at Vanderbilt
The Vols are underdogs in all eight SEC games for the first time in program history, and need to beat Vanderbilt tomorrow to make a bowl game AND avoid their first three game losing streak to the Commodores since 1926.
Obviously, this is a big game for Pruitt and the program going forward. It’s your instate rival and de facto little brother, and like I mentioned before, there’s a bowl appearance on the line, and with it, extra practice time, something this program could desperately use, particularly the offense, which will have every starter back next season, assuming no one gets kicked off the team in the off-season for throwing hands at “The Bar: Knoxville” or attempting to rob a Pilot.
I think Jarrett Guarantano and Marquez Callaway will end up playing tomorrow, which sounds like a good thing unless you’re a member of the ever-growing, “Jarrett Guarantano sucks” fan club. Hell, the guy has beaten two ranked teams this season despite taking more of pounding than John Cena in The Marine. I’m not sure what else we can really want from him. He’s being forced to quarterback a completely average football team left by Butch Jones, backed by a wildly inconsistent defense, and oh yeah, half the time he doesn’t have any time to throw because he’s got pass rushers on their way to take his head off after a second and a half. They win tomorrow if he starts. Keller Chryst? Come on. Chryst's atrocious performance against Mizzou’s horrible pass defense should tell you all you need to know about his abilities as a quarterback on this team.
I think we should also all acknowledge how good of job Jeremy Pruitt has done this season with what’s he inherited. He stepped in on the heels of the worst season in Tennessee history, with a hellacious schedule, an abominable offensive line, and a roster that would go on to be the underdog in 9 of their 12 games, and yet, they’re just one win away from making a bowl game and giving themselves a chance to finish with a winning record. Look, one potential 7-6 year doesn’t mean that Pruitt is going to win the SEC at Tennessee, or make the playoff, or become a roaring success, but I also think the job he’s done hasn’t gotten the love it probably deserves from the public at large. Remember how bad we were feeling about a year ago at this time, when John Currie was in the middle of botching the hell out of the coaching search, Greg Schiano almost got the job, the national media was taking pot shots at the program, the team went 4-8, we didn’t know who was going to take the job, and we had no idea if they were ever going to get things figured out down there again? Or where we were two years ago, when Butch Jones didn’t win the East AGAIN despite having the most talent in the division for the second year in a row? There was just no hope. Things were horrible, as bad as they’d ever been, and there didn’t seem like there was ever going to be a light at the end of the tunnel? I don’t know if Pruitt is going to be the second coming of Nick Saban; I hope he is, but we don’t know. But at least we have hope now. At least we have the idea of a future where the Vols get back to national prominence. Pruitt has brought us that so far. And he’s done a very good job this season.
Prediction: Tennessee
#14 Texas at Kansas
The Longhorns can clinch a spot in the Big 12 Championship Game with a victory over a 3 win Jayhawk team that just fired their head coach. I don’t envision them having any problem doing that. The good news for Kansas? THEY’RE ABOUT TO GET LES MILES-ED. GROW THAT GRASS LONG AND GOOD!!!

Prediction: Texas
Arkansas at Missouri
The Razorbacks are a loss away from a 2-10 record and the worst season in school history. They haven’t won an SEC game since October 28th of last year, and they've lost 15 of their last 16 in conference. Nothing has gone right in Fayetteville since Bobby Petrino’s infamous motorcycle wreck and this picture.

I can’t envision a scenario where they go into Missouri and win today against a Tiger team that laid 50 on Tennessee last Saturday with an NFL quarterback and offensive playmakers all over the field.
Prediction: Missouri (by a thousand)
#6 Oklahoma at #13 West Virginia
Assuming Texas wins (and they will), the winner of this game will play them in the Big 12 Title Game, while the loser’s season is over until whatever bowl game they end up in at the end of December. The forecast for tonight in Morgantown sounds lovely; it’ll be 37 degrees at kickoff. Will that effect anyone? I doubt Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray (who is from Texas) has played in too many games colder than this one, if at all, but I could say the same for WVU’s Will Grier (who is from North Carolina), though it’s not like there’s snow or high winds to contend with either. Dana Holgorsen’s…. hair?, or whatever we’re calling that stuff on his head isn’t going to get frozen to his head, so I don’t think it’ll make a huge difference. My bet would be that the quarterbacks are the best players on the field all night, and that neither of these teams will be able to stop the other, which will inevitably lead to the classic Big 12 game where its 45-44 or 51-50 and whoever gets the ball last will win. I’ll take the Sooners here only because of Murray and plays like this one against Kansas last week.

Disaster area for the Big 12 though if OU loses because they’re the last shot for the conference to make the playoff. Of course, I can’t see the Sooners beating both Texas and West Virginia in back to back weeks because of how bad their defense is. They almost lost to inferior teams in Texas Tech and Oklahoma State in back to back games the last month because they couldn’t stop them, and eventually it doesn’t matter how great your quarterback is because you’ll just get outscored by someone.
Prediction: Oklahoma
#16 Washington at #8 Washington State
The 111th Apple Cup is one of the biggest in the history of the rivalry, as it’s for not only the Pac 12 North Title, but also a must-have win for Washington State if they want to keep their playoff hopes alive. We’ll talk about hurdles for programs more when we get to the Michigan section of this, but let’s not ignore the big brother-little brother stuff in this game either; Washington has beaten the Cougars the last five times, all by double digits, and they lead the all-time series 72-32-6. For comparison, Tennessee leads the all-time series with Vanderbilt 75-32-5, and we all know how much better of a program the Vols have been historically, which tells you about the kind of dominance that Washington has had in this series.
Like sure, I think Washington State is better. They’ve won four of their last six conference games by double digits, put up 55 points in the first half last week against Arizona, and are a dumb loss to a really awful USC team away from being undefeated. Washington has had an uneven, disappointing three loss season and their senior quarterback Jake Browning has seen his completion percentage plummet by 4 points from last year while his turnovers have gone up significantly. The Cougars should win here, right?
Washington State feels like one of those teams that finishes with a playoff-worthy record but still gets left out, leaving us to always wonder for years to come what could’ve been. We’ll get some more Mike Leach “expand the playoff!” talk, everyone will grumble that we need this thing to go to 8 teams, and the best Washington State team maybe ever ends up in the Rose Bowl, finishes close to the Top 5, and leads to my kid 25 years from now (if he still wants anything to do with me at that point) looking up surprised from his phone and asking me about how in the world did crappy Washington State go to the Rose Bowl and finish ranked in the Top Ten. They’re going to be the 1994 Montreal Expos of college football teams.
Prediction: Washington State
Georgia Tech at #5 Georgia
The Yellow Jackets have quietly had a decent year (7-4) in what has been an incredibly lackluster ACC. Part of the reason it’s been quiet is because they run a 1950s offense and have a head coach that is the most plain man in America. Even his name “Paul Johnson” is boring. He might as well be “Bill Smith”. Regardless, Johnson has actually done a half decent job recently against the ‘Dawgs, winning two of the last four against them. Not that that’ll mean anything for tomorrow, of course, or that it means Johnson is a real long-term answer there as a head coach. That job, despite the rigorous academic standards, should be better than it is. It’s in a state with a ton of high school football talent, they have some tradition there already, and they’re in an awful ACC division. Johnson feels stale there; the offense isn’t exciting, and you definitely can’t win a conference championship in 2018 unless you throw the ball. Why can’t Georgia Tech be a program on the level of Virginia Tech? Isn’t that a better job on paper? I think so.
Georgia is going to win tomorrow by at least three touchdowns though. The ‘Dawgs haven’t been challenged since they got blown out by LSU back in October, and I can’t imagine that an offensively-limited Yellow Jacket team is going to figure something out against them that no one else has the last month and half. 
Prediction: Georgia
#11 Florida at Florida State
The Gators have won 8 games this season despite the fact that their quarterback Feleipe Franks can’t complete passes more than five yards downfield. Meanwhile, FSU made perhaps the worst hire of any blue chip program this past off-season in Willie Taggart and is on their way, with a loss tomorrow, to their first losing season since 1976. The Seminoles have lost every game they’ve played against a ranked team this year by at least three touchdowns. Good lord. I think Florida is over-ranked at 11th but I also know they’re significantly better than whatever the hell Taggart is going to trot out there tomorrow.
Prediction: Florida
Auburn at #1 Alabama
Alabama is a 24 point favorite in tomorrow’s Iron Bowl, which is the second largest spread in this game since 1980, only behind the 2012 game when the Tide were a 34 point favorite (yes, Alabama did cover that day).
The largest margin of victory in this rivalry? 1948, when the Tide won 55-0 at Legion Field in Birmingham. Alabama quarterback Ed Salem was the star that day, as he threw three touchdown passes, ran for a score, kicked seven extra points, and played safety on defense. What a legend.
The reason I mention all this is because I think we could be talking about an all-time ass kicking in Tuscaloosa tomorrow, one that would normally get Gus Malzahn automatically fired… if he didn’t have a $30 million-plus buyout. I don’t know if it’s going to be 55-0, but I don’t see any way Auburn scores against a Tide defense that’s only given up 10 points in the last 12 quarters, particularly with as bad as Tiger QB Jarrett Stidham has looked this season. You thought Jake Browning had regressed this year? Stidham’s completion percentage has dropped by five points, his yards per attempt have plummeted by more than a yard, and his yards per game have fallen by almost twenty.
Oh, and no, Tua won’t see the field in the fourth quarter again this week.
Prediction: Alabama
South Carolina at #2 Clemson
Will Muschamp and South Carolina have lost the South’s longest uninterrupted college football rivalry by 49 and 24 the last two years, and come into tomorrow’s game at Clemson as 26.5 point underdogs. I’m going into this one feeling the exact same about it as I do about the Iron Bowl; it’s going to be an all-time ass kicking. Muschamp is a middle school football coach who realistically wouldn’t be qualified to coach on that level. Unless Clay Helton gets fired at Southern Cal (and we’ll get to that in a minute) Muschamp is going to head into 2019 on the hottest seat in all of America. Here’s the first seven weeks of their season next year: UNC in Charlotte, home for Charleston Southern, home for Alabama (gulp), at Missouri, home for Kentucky, bye week, at Georgia. Doesn’t that feel like 3-3? Here’s their final seven weeks: home for Florida, at Tennessee, home for Vanderbilt, home for Appalachian State, at Texas A&M, bye week, home for Clemson. They could/will lose to Florida, Tennessee, A&M, and Clemson. How do they do better than six wins? I don’t see a road map for that, which makes me think he’ll get fired, maybe after the Tennessee game, god willing the Vols can actually beat Muschamp for the first time ever.
Here's the thing, you know those South Carolina people are looking up the road at Clemson and wondering why the hell the Tigers are going to make the playoff for the fourth straight year while they’re spending every season floating around .500. Sure, part of that is because Clemson plays in an atrocious conference, which makes their path to the playoff easier, but again, the Gamecocks haven’t been close to them on the field when they’ve played the last two years, and they aren’t going to be close tomorrow either.
Prediction: Clemson
#7 LSU at #22 Texas A&M
If the Aggies lose tomorrow (and spoilers, yes, I think they will), they’ll have five losses for the fifth year in a row. Who does that sound like? Oh, that’s Kevin Sumlin, the guy they just ran off after last season because he didn’t win enough. You know what the great thing about Sumlin was though compared to Jimbo Fisher? He didn’t cost $75 million over ten years fully guaranteed. Sure, Jimbo is the better coach, but you bring him in after he had a bad year at FSU and you’re going to end up with the exact same results if you lose tomorrow.  
I think the Tigers are the best team in the country that’s been eliminated from playoff consideration. They lost on the road to a good Florida team and then to Alabama, which looks like one of the great teams of all time. A&M hasn’t impressed me on the back half of their schedule.
Prediction: LSU
#3 Notre Dame at USC
Anyone concerned about Notre Dame’s ability to travel across the country and take care of business in a must-win game should be reminded that they were in Southern California a month ago at a game in San Diego against a Navy team that’s arguably better than the USC team they’re about to play. The result? Irish by 22. They’ll win by at least that tomorrow.
Is this going to be Clay Helton’s last game at USC? “Sources” say that if he gets blown out he could be finished. Will he be? I have no idea, but I know what I’d do if I were the Trojans, and no, it doesn’t involve running it back with him in 2019.
My favorite thing about this story involves, of course, James Franklin, the epitome of “I take myself way too seriously” guy who had his second awkward/weird press conference this season, this time in response to questions about him and the USC job. When asked on Tuesday about rumors of him going to USC, Franklin said, “It’s the crazy, mad time of year where these types of things happen”. Great non-answer there coach. He came back the next day and clarified his statements and said that he had “all the plans in the world to be here and to be here for a long time” which again, isn’t really an answer either. Franklin is a hell of a coach but he also epitomizes the worst aspects of college coaching, where these guys demand all out loyalty from the athletes in their program while they’re at the same time having their agents constantly put out feelers to see what other jobs are out there. I don’t care if guys take other jobs, I really don’t, but my god, the hypocrisy of these coaches is astounding. Obviously he, or at least his people, have talked to someone at USC, thus the non-answer, and rather than just say “Yeah, we’ve talked” or “No, I’m not leaving”, he like halfway committed but left himself a million outs. I don’t care if he wants the USC job or not, but cut the crap about “We’re not an elite program yet” from earlier this season if you’re already looking for greener pastures.
Anyway, the Irish are going to roll here and make the playoff for the first time.
Prediction: Notre Dame
#4 Michigan at #10 Ohio State
This is the game of the weekend, hell, maybe the game of the entire year in college football to this point. It’s certainly the biggest game for Jim Harbaugh since the Super Bowl 47, and bigger than the OSU game back in 2016 that the Wolverines lost in overtime because it’s his fourth year now and everyone on this roster is his guy.
Plus, there’s a ton of baggage in this rivalry for Michigan based on how the last couple of years have gone; the Buckeyes have won the last six times, 16 of the last 20, and every time in Columbus since 2000.
Harbaugh has to win this one; he’s got the best defense in the country, Ohio State is a mess, and Urban Meyer looks like he just went through 6 straight months of Chinese water torture every time he’s shown on the sidelines.
Everything Harbaugh’s been building at Michigan the last four years is on the line tomorrow. All the talk, every win, all that money… it’s going to be meaningless if they can’t win this game.
I’ve been on the record for the last month saying that I think the Wolverines are going to win this game by three touchdowns. And they should! This isn’t a good OSU team, one that’s been bailed out multiple weeks only because Dwayne Haskins is a phenomenal quarterback. Michigan is going to roll into Columbus as a favorite with a better team with a division title, an enormous, program altering victory, and a playoff spot all on the line. There won’t be a more pressurized game for any team perhaps in any sport all year. That’s got to wear you down right? Make you tight? If things start off poorly, how will Michigan respond? The demons, the pressure… again, the Wolverines should win here. They’re a lot better. But geez… they better get off to a good start.
Prediction: Michigan (gulp).
Enjoy football this weekend! You deserve it!

Monday, November 19, 2018

The Week In College Football: Tennessee Gets Blasted And The Playoff Plot Thickens

Another week, another flat Tennessee performance. Hell, let’s just start there….
Tennessee lost by 33 points at home to Missouri and only had 173 yards through the air against a Tiger pass defense that’s ranked 111th in the country
The only good thing about that result is that hopefully it shuts up the Keller Chryst crowd who had been going on about him like Pruitt was leaving the second coming of John Elway on the bench (I’m looking right at you Zach McCamey). He was an “immortal” 7-19 with two interceptions, including a back-breaking pick right before the end of the first half that completely murdered any chance the Vols had to get back into the game. Not that it matters really, because Chryst won’t be an important player going forward in this program; as a grad transfer, he’ll be gone after the season, though he may be forced into action again this week in a must-win for a bowl game against Vanderbilt if Guarantano can’t go due to injury.
Everyone seems to have turned on Guarantano though, and I think that’s a shame. He’s spent his entire tenure in Knoxville getting bludgeoned almost to death behind an abominable offensive line while at the same time spending his early career being coached by Butch Jones, which I can’t imagine led to anything more than a few leadership reps for him. Everyone on the internet seems to think JT Shrout is the next Peyton Manning, which makes no sense to me considering he was only a three star coming out of high school. Like sure, I hope he’s great, but it’s not like we’re definitely getting Andrew Luck or Aaron Rodgers here either. Until he steps on the field in a competitive game against guys who are trying to rip his head off, he's a complete unknown.
As far as the game, I think Missouri is a really good team with an NFL quarterback that could be 9-2 right now. If they can pick up a single first down in the second half  against Kentucky OR don’t have a bogus PI call in the end zone that gave the Wildcats an extra play on their final drive, they win that one. And if it doesn’t start raining harder than it did on the day of Noah’s flood, they beat South Carolina and we’re talking about a potential Top Ten team here that’s only losses would be to Alabama and Georgia. So I don’t think there’s necessarily any shame in losing, but what sucks is that it literally seems like it’s impossible for the Vols to put together good performances back to back weeks or even back to back possession to possessions. I thought their corners were really bad on Saturday, but it’s not like front seven was any better… I mean, 227 rushing yards? Ugh.
The reality is that this team is exactly what we expected them to be: a borderline bowl team with a bad O-Line and a defense that sometimes plays well and sometimes can’t stop a nose bleed. Sure, beating an offensively challenged Kentucky team was nice, and so was their road victory over Auburn, but the program still has a ton of work to do before we can start to think about them competing for SEC Titles.
But hell, with the loss to Mizzou, the Vols have been defeated by every Tennessee head coach after Fulmer (Kiffin, Butch, and now Dooley, who is Missouri’s offensive coordinator). Does that mean the curse is broken? Please?
Notre Dame blasted Syracuse and are only a victory over a crappy USC team from making the playoff
The Irish wore out Flintstone’s character Dino Babers and Syracuse 36-3 in Yankee Stadium and now have had only one game since September 22nd decided by less than ten points. If the playoff rankings are the same in two weeks as they are right now, then I expect to see Notre Dame in the National Championship Game because I think they’d beat Clemson by two touchdowns in the semifinals.
Speaking of USC….
The Trojans lost to a two win UCLA team as Clay Helton literally built his own coffin on the sidelines
I’ve been on the “Clay Helton is door-to-door used tube sock salesman” train all year, and his outright botching of the Cal game last weekend coupled with their disastrous clunker against an atrocious UCLA team should all but seal his fate as the Trojan head coach. USC has lost to all three California Pac 12 schools (Stanford, UCLA, Cal) in the same season for the first time since 1996, and when they get blown out by Notre Dame next week, it’ll be the first time they’ve lost to all four of their biggest rivals in the same year since 1991.
Their division, the Pac 12 South, is absolutely atrocious, with four of the six teams finishing with losing conference records. You’d think that with as much talent as they have that they’d be able to run through that thing almost unscathed, except for the fact that they’re coached by Helton, who looks like a guy that would wear sweatpants on a Valentine’s Day date in his forties.
Here’s the other thing they’ve got to think about; sure, UCLA is awful now, but does anyone think that Chip Kelly won’t get it turned around there? Of course he will, particularly once he gets the right quarterback. You just lost to them AND they’ve got a better head coach than you now AND an infinitely brighter future. You can’t let them become THE team in L.A., right?
The only thing that might save Helton is the fact that he signed a contract extension after last season, which assuredly upped his buyout (since USC is a private institution, they don’t have to publicize contract details. But the thinking is that it’s north of $10 million). But if they were tired of his ineptitude (and they should be), it comes back to the question of who they would hire to replace him. And like we’ve talked about before, there aren't any absolute home run candidates out there this off-season.
Here are some names:
Matt Campbell, Iowa State
Campbell is only 38, and yet, has been a head coach now for almost seven full seasons, and is on his way to back to back bowl appearances at Iowa State, which is arguably the worst Power 5 job in the country. He’s also beaten three Top 6 teams the last two years. He’s basically James Franklin at Vanderbilt without the taking-himself-too-seriously part. If I had an opening this off-season, he’d be the first person I’d call.
Dino Babers, Syracuse
Another guy who has worked miracles at a really bad Power 5 job. Babers is only 57 but looks 37, has been a head coach for the last seven years, and gave Clemson one of the only two losses they’ve suffered the last two seasons. Plus, he spent 17 years of his coaching life on the West Coast as an assistant. The biggest problem in hiring him would be the fact that his name makes him sound like he’s a Flintstone’s character or a dinosaur. But he could also win ten games this year! At Syracuse! They haven’t done that since 2001!
Hue Jackson
A total wildcard here, but Hue is from Los Angeles, and no one would ever be able to question his offensive acumen. Yes, yes, I know it didn’t work out with the Browns, but not even Bill Belichick made it work there and he’s arguably the greatest NFL coach of all time. Plus, the last time the Trojans hired a failed NFL coach (Pete Carroll), they won two national titles and were the preeminent program in college football for about three or four years. The concerns, of course, would be that he hasn’t shown himself capable of being a quality head coach, either in Oakland or Cleveland, and his best work has come as an offensive coordinator.
Of course, all of this is probably trivial, because if they call Matt Campbell (and they should), I can’t see any way he wouldn’t take the job.
Ohio State and Michigan slogged through conference games before their huge showdown next weekend in Columbus
I don’t really care if the Buckeyes beat Michigan on Saturday (and I don’t think they will), they’re pretty much a playoff cross off as far as I’m concerned because that’s an awful team that’s only saved by the fact that Dwayne Haskins is an incredible quarterback. If the Maryland QB makes an accurate throw on the run to a wide open receiver in the end zone on the two point try in OT, then Ohio State loses by giving up 53 points and 535 yards of offense, including 339 on the ground. Sheesh! Those are Big 12 defensive numbers!
Michigan’s crap fest performance against Indiana was weird, and the 385 yards they gave up snapped their seven week streak of giving up less than 300 yards a game, but they at least controlled the second half of that game and won by 11 points. It’s their first real clunker since the first quarter of the Notre Dame game back in Week 1.
Let’s put it this way; I never thought for a moment that Michigan was going to lose, whereas Ohio State felt imminently beatable, and frankly, feels beatable all the time. It really seemed like Maryland’s Anthony McFarland who had 298 rushing yards on only 21 carries could’ve busted one for 80 yards any time he wanted to.
And for the hundredth time in this space, how bad does Urban Meyer look on the sidelines? Good lord. Every time they showed him on the sidelines he was bent over in agony with his hands on either his knees or his head. He literally looks like he’s filming Crank 3 on the sidelines, only instead of him needing to keep his heart rate up, the villain has instead replaced his brain with a baked potato and he needs to figure out a way to keep that thing warm at all times. Are we sure he doesn’t just go into the locker room at halftime and stick his head in the microwave? Because that’s what it’s looked like.

Regardless, I think the Wolverines go into Columbus and thump the Buckeyes on Saturday by three touchdowns, which would be their first win at Ohio State since 2000. This is perhaps the biggest hurdle that Jim Harbaugh is going to have to get over if he wants to be considered a success at Michigan.
Teams still alive for the playoff
Like always, every two loss or more Power 5 team is eliminated, while every Group of 5 team is also out because none of them play a difficult enough schedule to be under consideration.
I count just 8 teams remaining (* by the undefeated teams)
SEC: *Alabama, Georgia
Big Ten: Michigan, Ohio State (barely)
Big 12: Oklahoma
ACC: *Clemson
Pac 12: Washington State
Independents: *Notre Dame
West Virginia was the only team that dropped out this week, thanks to their inability to hold a 17 point lead at Oklahoma State due to their crappy defense. What could be bad for the Big 12 is if Oklahoma goes to WVU this Friday night and loses in a game that will be in the mid 30s at kickoff. I think the cold weather favors OU, who definitely the more run-heavy team, but West Virginia could easily win solely because they could get the ball last, score, and go up 45-44 in a game where there will assuredly be no defense. And even if OU wins, they’ll get a rematch with Texas for the Big 12 Championship. Back in October the Longhorns scored 48 points against them and gained 501 yards. So that’ll be a tough one for them also.
Alabama struggled with The Citadel for a half for reasons that remain unclear, before opening it up for a 33 point victory thanks to a dominant second half performance. They shouldn’t have any trouble with Auburn in the Iron Bowl (it’s the second largest point spread for an Iron Bowl ever), and I suspect they’ll beat Georgia in what could be a very good SEC Title Game.
Clemson will blast South Carolina and Pittsburgh the next two weeks, go undefeated, and make the playoff for the fourth straight year. They have the easiest remaining schedule of any team not named Notre Dame.
Michigan-Ohio State is an elimination game and determines the winner of the Big Ten East. The winner gets a four loss Northwestern squad in the Big Ten Title Game. Not scary.
Here’s the most important question: what happens if Ohio State, Oklahoma, Washington State, Clemson, Alabama, and Notre Dame all win out? If you replace Ohio State with Michigan in this question, then we know our playoff is going to be Alabama-Clemson-Notre Dame-Michigan. But if Michigan drops out then that fourth spot is wide open. Would you take an OU or OSU team, both of whom have fantastic quarterbacks but couldn’t stop a team of deaf blind lepers? Or would you take what is clearly the most balanced of the three, Washington State, Mike Leach, his crazy pirate ass, and Gardner Minshew’s mustache? The Cougars put up more than 50 points before half on Arizona on Saturday night, and are only a win in the Apple Cup against Washington and a victory over Utah in the Pac 12 Championship Game away from finishing 12-1. The argument against them, of course, would be that they played in the worst league of the three contenders, and I also don’t think the committee will ignore the fact that it’s Washington State, which is far inferior as a brand compared to Ohio State and Oklahoma. So I don’t think they’ll get in unless Northwestern wins the Big Ten and the Big 12 champ has two or more losses. Seems improbable. Shame.

My Top 4
A bad first half against The Citadel doesn’t undo the fact that the Tide have won every game by at least 22 points so far this season.
Notre Dame
I bumped the Irish back up over Michigan due to the Wolverines lackluster performance against IU at home compared to Notre Dame’s demolition of Syracuse on a neutral field. I think it’s a coin flip between those two for the second best team in the country.
Michigan had their worst defensive performance of the year on Saturday against Indiana (385 yards given up), but they also gained over 500 and won by 11.
Washington State
Why the hell not? They aren’t going to make it probably, but if who would you rather see in the playoff than Mike Leach?