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College Football Random Thoughts From Around the Country: Rivalry Week

OSU quarterback J.T. Barrett is done for the season.
OSU quarterback J.T. Barrett is done for the season.
Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

The College Football Playoff Committee (CFPC) has released their sixth rankings with TCU leapfrogging Florida State:

1. ALABAMA
2. Oregon
3. TCU
4. Florida State

5. Ohio State
6. Baylor
7. Arizona
8. Michigan State
9. Kansas State
10. Mississippi State
11. Georgia Tech
12. Ole Miss
13. Wisconsin
14. Georgia
15. UCLA
16. Missouri
17. Arizona State
18. Clemson
19. Auburn
20. Oklahoma
21. Louisville
22. Boise State
23. Utah
24. LSU
25. Southern Cal

I am so glad this happened because it can help clear up a bit of revisionist history that has been coming out of Lee County is recent years. FSU's continued drop despite being unbeaten is reminiscent of Auburn's undefeated 2004 season. If you listen to certain Auburn fans, the Tigers shoulda-coulda-woulda been #1 if not for the haters. But much like the Seminoles, the conference was down (only 7 bowl teams) and their non-conference schedule (La-Monroe, Citadel, La Tech) was shamefully weak [coincidentally, FSU played Citadel this season as well]. Additionally like the 'Noles, Auburn's wins were not all that impressive - especially the 16–13 snoozer of a Sugar Bowl win over 10-3 Virginia Tech.

Thanks for letting me clear that up.

Now back to the rankings... the messed up thing here is that if/when FSU loses to Georgia Tech and Ohio State loses to Wisconsin, Baylor likely moves up to #4 - meaning two Big 12 teams who don't have to play each other in a conference championship are in the playoff. If Arizona somehow beats Oregon again, there will be chaos and Dan Mullen will be on suicide watch.

~~~~~

From last week's RTFAC:

UCLA has quietly been climbing the poll: 22-18-11-9-8. UGA has gone 11-20-15-10-9. Marshall made their first appearance of the season at 24.

I sure know how to jinx a team because all three of these teams lost this past week. Any requests?

~~~~~

It's time to get down to brass tacks. We are basically down to six teams:

Alabama Crimson Tide

Record: 11-1
Last Game: Alabama 55 Auburn 44 - Down 33-21 in the third quarter, the Tide roars back to score touchdowns on their next five possessions.
Next Game: SEC Championship Game vs. Missouri, Atlanta GA.
Resume: SEC West Champ. Nuff Sed.
Brass Tack: This team is hot. This late in the season is where you see the depth of teams and it is the Mariana Trench up in here. Only a loss would knock them out of the top four.

Oregon Ducks

Record: 11-1
Last Game: Oregon 47 Oregon State 19 - No craziness this time as the Ducks and Beavers followed the script.
Next Game: PAC-12 Championship Game vs. Arizona
Resume: Win over Michigan State. Likely Pac-12 Champ, Average score: 46.5-22.7
Brass Tack: Marcus Mariota is angling for the top pick of the 2015 draft. RB Royce Freeman has been on fire. Defense is much improved. Expect a W on Friday.

TCU Horned Frogs

Record: 10-1
Last Game: TCU 48 Texas 10 - This one will look good in the record books but to be real, Texas is pretty awful. This game was never in doubt.
Next Game: Home game vs. Iowa State (2-9), Fort Worth, TX (no Championship game). There is absolutely no reason to think the Frogs lose this game.
Resume: Only loss is a three-pointer at Baylor. Narrow escape at Kansas. Strength of schedule waning. Win over Minnesota (8-4) not looking as good as it did a week ago.
Brass Tack: With Mississippi State's loss to Ole Miss, it's next man up. I am not sure if they are worthy.

Florida State Seminoles

Record: 12-0
Last Game: Florida State 24 Florida 19 - Jameis Winston threw four interceptions but the Gators' inept offense could only convert them into two field goals.
Next Game: ACC Championship Game vs. Georgia Tech, Charlotte, NC.
Resume: The only undefeated team but only played two ranked teams (Clemson, Louisville).
Brass Tack: Another treacherous highwire act from the 'Noles against another mediocre team cost them a spot. It's only a matter of time before a quality team terminates that late comeback method.

Ohio State Buckeyes

Record: 11-1
Last Game: Ohio State 42 Michigan 28 - OSU led this game 28-21 when their quarterback J.T. Barrett was carted off the field on the first play of the fourth quarter with a broken leg. A scoop-and-score and a steady diet of ground game was enough for the Buckeyes to outlast the sad tired Wolverines.
Next Game: Big Ten Championship Game vs. Wisconsin, Indianapolis, IN.
Resume: Potential B1G champ. Home loss to Virginia Tech (6-6).
Brass Tack: The injury to Braxton Miller in fall camp turned into a mixed blessing as Barrett has been much better than Miller ever was. But I am not sure if they can survive this blow. Melvin Gordon's Wisconsin Badgers are on a roll and are favored to top the Buckeyes.

Baylor Bears

Record: 10-1
Last Game: Baylor 48 Texas Tech 46 - The Bears led this game 35-17 when star QB Bryce Petty was knocked out of the game by a big (and illegal) hit. Baylor continued the drive to a TD but then fell asleep allowing the Red Raiders (4-6) back in the game as they outscored BU 29-6.
Next Game: Home game vs. Kansas State. Waco, TX (no Championship game).
Resume: Win over TCU, loss to West Virginia. Weak non-conference: SMU (0-11), FCS Northwestern St (6-6), Buffalo (5-6).
Brass Tack: Baylor received a big slap of reality that they are nothing without Petty. They also lost #2 running back Devin Chafin in the first quarter to a dislocated elbow.

~~~~~

So there you have it America: the playoff you wanted so bad. It includes clearly the top two teams in the nation and a bunch of iffy followers. Tell me again why this was a good idea? Oh, right.

~~~~~


Tech wins the Derp Bowl (Photo by Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images)

SEC

The SEC took one on the chin with the dregs of the league losing to their ACC rivals (see ACC section below) while Ole Miss stomped on their in-state rivals dreams.

Alabama 55 Auburn 44 – Did you hear about this game? No need for a cute little nickname for this game. Just another Bama beatdown.
Ole Miss 31 Mississippi State 17 - Ole Miss amassed two-thirds of its yards from scrimmage on just 13 percent of its plays. Tight end Evan Engram had five receptions for 176 yards, including two explosive plays that set up a pair of Rebels touchdowns. MSU coach Dan Mullen did not take the loss well.
Tennessee 24 Vanderbilt 17 – Not a great night for UT QB Josh Dobbs (11/20, 92 yds, 0 TD, 2 INT) but the Vols are bowl eligible for the first time since 2010.
Clemson 35 South Carolina 17 - A poor effort by the Gamecocks who looked disinterested and listless. Only 63 yards on the ground for SC and 6 of 15 on third down efficiency.
Missouri
21 Arkansas 14 - Injured Razorbacks QB Brandon Allen was clearly not himself in the second half as he could not hit the broad side of a barn. Yet Bert left him in the game to throw terrible passes instead of giving the ball to Jonathan Williams and Alex Collins. The Hogs had only 3 running plays in the 4th quarter.
Georgia Tech 30 Georgia 24 (OT) - Sometimes they say a game will come down to who scores last. In this game, it was more like who was going to screw up last. UGA coach Mark Richt made some bonehead moves at the end of the game including my most hated despised play in football: the dreaded squib kick. How many times have we seen teams get excellent field position when the opponent squibs it? Unless there are fewer than 4 ticks on the clock and the opponent has a Percy Harvin clone returning kicks, there is never a good time to deploy this move. The Yellow Jackets returned it to the 43. After a run to the UGA 36 and with no timeouts, Tech lined for a 53-yard game-tying field goal. GT's kicker was still lining up his kick with four seconds on the play clock and it looked like they would not get the play off on time and incur a 5-yard penalty. Richt bailed them out by calling a timeout to ice Tech's kicker. It didn't work. The Jackets would go on to win it in OT.

~~~~~

ACC

First off, let me say congratulations to the ACC for your 4-0 clean sweep over the SEC this past weekend. Now before you get all crazy and start beating your chest, let's put this in perspective:

Florida State 24 Florida 19 - The number one ACC team (11-0) with a five point home win against the tenth best in the SEC (6-5) with a head coach who has already been fired.
Clemson 35 South Carolina 17 - A home win by the ACC's third best team (9-3) over the SEC's twelfth best, one of Steve Spurrier's worst college teams (6-6) since his first season in coaching at Duke in 1987 when he was 5-7.
Louisville 44 Kentucky 40 - Yet another home victory by the fourth best (9-3) vs. a miserable team (5-7) whose fans are more interested in basketball.
Georgia Tech 30 Georgia 24 (OT) - ACC's number two on the road against the SEC's number six. Okay, I'll give you that one. Just barely.

~~~~~

GRAB BAG

Air Force 27 Colorado State 24 - The Falcons (9-3) hit a 39-yard field goal as the clock expired to send CSU to 10-2. Still a remarkable season for senior running back Dee Hart (23 rushes, 115 yards vs. AF) and coach Jim McElwain.
Western Kentucky 67 Marshall 66 (OT) - One of the most ridiculous games of the weekend saw seven first quarter touchdowns and 13 in the first half. Each team had 37 first downs and over 700 yards of offense. It makes sense that the game ended on a successful two-point conversion by WKU in the first OT.
Arizona 42 Arizona State 35 – ASU had more yards (380-333), more first downs (27-13), more time possession (35:54-24:06), less penalties (3-9), and both teams had two turnovers. How did they lose this game??? The answer: field position. The Sun Devils punted 6 times for a 35.8 average while 'Zona kicked 7 for a whopping 46.7.
Wisconsin 34 Minnesota 24 – Minnie led early 17-3 with Wisky scoring 24 straight points.
Nebraska 37 Iowa 34 (OT) - Nebraska hit a 20 yard field goal in the waning seconds of regulation to send it into overtime. In the extra session, Iowa kicked a field goal but Nebraska scored a TD. Bo Pelini was SO HAPPY until...
Stanford 31 UCLA 10 – The Trees are so good at ruining the dreams of others. All the Bruins had to do was win this home game against a medicore Cardinal team (7-5).
Southern Cal 49 Notre Dame 14 – Can you believe the Irish were ranked #5 at one time? ND lost 5 of their last 6. Trojan QB Cody Kessler threw 6 Tds and 0 INTs. Dame's QB Everett Golson was awful (7/18, 75 yds, 0 TD, 1 INT) and was benched in the 2nd quarter.

~~~~~


Rough day at the office for Dak. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

ELIMINATED:

Mississippi State is a two-loss team but there are too many other teams ahead of them. Any outside shot that UGA had was squibbed down the field. UCLA's bubble on the bubble went kablooie.

~~~~~

#TOOMANYBOWLS

82 teams are now bowl eligible for an asinine 76 bowl openings. Oklahoma State and Temple need one more win each to get to 6 wins and bowl eligibility. The Cowpokes travel to Oklahoma for their season finale. Good luck with that.

~~~~~

Amari_medium

Heisman Hype

  • Marcus Mariota: 19/25, 367 yds, 4 TDs, 0 INT. Game over.
  • Wisconsin's Melvin Gordon 29 carries for 151 yards, one touchdown. 2 catches, 4 yds, 1 TD. Runner-up.
  • MSU's Dak Prescott 22/37, 282, TD, 0 INT; 24-48, 1 TD.
  • The guy who quarterbacks Florida State had a bad game: 12/24, 125, 2 TD, 4 INTs. He could be invited to NYC but no way does he win a second trophy.
  • Bama's Amari Cooper had 13 catches for 224 yards and 3 TDs. It would be a crying shame if he is not a finalist.

~~~~~

Extra Points

  • Alabama football continues to shatter ratings records as the Iron Bowl recorded the highest ratings and most-viewed regular season game of all time across all networks at a 7.4 rating with 13,529,000 viewers. Birmingham averaged 51.8, highest for a regular-season game in the market on ESPN on record. Florida-FSU had a 4.1 overnight rating on ESPN while Michigan-Ohio State had a 5.5 on network TV ABC. WatchESPN, the network's live-streaming app, drew 475,000 viewers and averaging 119,000 viewers per minute for the Iron Bowl, both records for the app.
  • Bama's games against Mississippi State (6.4 rating, 10.27M viewers), LSU (5.3, 9.11M), and Florida (5.1, 7.95M), were the three highest rated broadcasts for CBS this season. Fourth place went to Texas A&M-Auburn (4.4, 7.21M).

UAB Tombstone

  • Stick a fork in UAB because they are done. Athletic director Brian Mackin is reportedly out and the football program has been shut down. Players will be allowed to transfer without sitting out a season. It is a shame for the few fans but that was the problem: few fans. The Blazers low point this season was an attendance of 9,457 who witnessed the November 6 game against Louisiana Tech. Might Hawaii be next?
  • In somewhat related news, Pat Sullivan steps down after 8 years at Samford. The former TCU coach was 47–42 with the Bulldogs and 7-4 this season, missing the FCS playoffs.
  • Steve Spurrier said Monday that he will return for an eleventh season on the sidelines at South Carolina. The Gamecocks stumbled and bumbled their way to a 6-6 season.
  • Hugh Freeze, rumored to be a candidate to replace Will Muschamp in Florida, agreed to a multiyear contract extension to stay at Ole Miss. He earned a raise from $3 million per season to $4.5 million per season.
  • Former Alabama OC, current Colorado State coach Jim McElwain is the top candidate at Florida.
  • On the heels of an upset win over rival UGA, Georgia Tech has offered coach Paul Johnson a contract extension. I fully expect the Yellow Jackets to return to 7-8 wins next season.

HELP WANTED

  • After giving up an average of 39 points in the last six SEC games including 55 to Alabama, Auburn coach Gus Malzahn threw defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson under the Gus bus, firing the former Alabama DC (Gene Stallings' staff that won the 1992 national championship) after two seasons.
  • In a debatable move, Nebraska has evicted coach Bo Pelini and his cat after seven seasons in Lincoln. More information here.
  • By contrast, fellow Big Ten coach Brady Hoke's ouster at Michigan came as no surprise after a ghastly 5-7 season. In four seasons in Ann Arbor, Hoke went 31-20 and 18-14 in the conference.
  • Another expected move occurred in College Station as Texas A&M's Kevin Sumlin fired defensive coordinator Mark Snyder. The Aggies are allowing 27.7 points per game and 445.2 yards per game, ranking last in the SEC.
  • Clemson offensive coordinator Chad Morris must have a screw loose because he has agreed to take the thankless job of becoming SMU's new coach. The Mustangs are the only winless team in FBS this season with one game to play. Clairvoyant June Jones jumped ship on September 8 after losing the first two games by a combined score of 88-6. Morris was one of the nation's best-paid assistants in 2014 with a $1.3 million salary at Clemson.

~~~~~

Kristi_malzahn_says_shut_up_medium

Krazy Kristi's "SHUT UP!" of the Week goes to Marshall and anyone who thought they deserved to be ranked. And Auburn of course.*B-) cool

~~~~~

Sad_face_medium

  • Alabama fans had another scare when left tackle Cameron Robinson remained on the turf after a third quarter play in Saturday's Iron Bowl. The standout freshman was removed from the game and did not return. He sustained a sprained shoulder and is considered day-to-day. In his absence against Auburn, Austin Shepherd slid over to the left side and Grant Hill played the right tackle spot to great effect. CamRob has also been battling an ankle injury.
  • Sophomore linebacker Ryan Anderson also sustained a shoulder sprain, but did return in the second half. He will be limited at practice this week.
  • Kicker Adam Griffith is still battling back spasms. He handled the opening kickoff with punter JK Scott taking over after that. Gunnar Raborn kicked three PATs until having his fourth attempt blocked. Griffin returned and kicked the last two. No field goals were attempted (WOOHOO!).
  • Tight end Brian Vogler and wide receiver ArDarius Stewart did not play in the Iron Bowl though they were dressed out. There is no word as to their availability against Mizzou.
  • FSU running back Karlos Williams suffered a concussion on the second-half kickoff against Florida and did not return. His status is questionable.
  • Baylor's Bryce Petty says he is just fine but the school must follow concussion protocol after the quarterback took a hit (see above in the "Baylor" section) in the third quarter of Saturday's Texas Tech game. Diagnosed as  a "mild concussion", his status for this week's game against visiting Kansas State remains "uncertain."  Petty told reporters he suffered from headaches and double vision but says he is fine now. Stay tuned.
  • Georgia Tech's DeAndre Smelter, the Yellow Jackets' leading receiver, seems likely to miss this weekend's ACC championship game against Florida State because of a knee injury suffered in a win over Georgia. His 35 receptions, 715 yards, and seven TDs are by far the most of anyone on the team.
  • You may recall the excuse-makers blaming Oregon's October loss to Arizona on the injury of center Hroniss Grasu. He has missed the past two games (Colorado, Oregon State) and might not be able to play Friday in the Pac-12 Championship Game against Arizona as he deals with a foot injury.

~~~~~

Black_white_tv_salesman_medium

Conference Championship games and some regular season turkeys from the Big 12 & others:

THURSDAY, DECEMBER 4:

UCF at East Carolina 6:30pm CT / 7:30pm ET - ESPNESPN- bleh

FRIDAY, DECEMBER 5:

MACCG: Bowling Green vs. Northern Illinois 6:00pm CT / 7:00pm ET - ESPN2ESPN2 - BG beat Indiana who beat Mizzou who beat Arky who beat Ole Miss who beat Bama. I'm just sayin'.
P12CG: Arizona vs. Oregon 8:00pm CT / 9:00pm ET - FOX -  Ducks should get their revenge.

SATURDAY, DECEMBER 6:

Iowa State at TCU 11:00am CT / 12:00pm ET - ABCABC - Frogs move to 11-1. Is it enough?
CUSACG: Louisiana Tech at Marshall 11:00am CT / 12:00pm ET - ESPN2ESPN2
Houston at Cincinnati 11:00am CT / 12:00pm ET - ESPNESPN - Meaningless game.
SMU at UConn 11:00am CT / 12:00pm ET - CBS Sports Network - The battle for the crown as the worst team in the FBS.
Oklahoma State at Oklahoma 2:30pm CT / 3:30pm ET - FOX Sports 1 - Sooners QB Trevor Knight still not cleared to play.
Temple at Tulane 6:30pm CT / 7:30pm ET - ESPN2ESPN2- blurg
Kansas State at Baylor 6:45pm CT / 7:45pm ET - ESPNESPN- One final test for Da Bears.

Saturday Night Spotlight:
ACCCG: Florida State vs. Georgia Tech 7:00pm CT / 8:00pm ET - ABCABC - Chaos #1?
B1GCG: Wisconsin vs. Ohio State 7:17pm CT / 8:17pm ET - FOX - Chaos #2?

And this:
MWCCG:
Fresno State at Boise State 9:00pm CT / 10:00pm ET - CBS- meh

Nothing else really worth mentioning, except...

Georgia Dome

2014 SEC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME

Alabama vs. Missouri 3:00pm CT / 4:00pm ET - CBS- Uncle Verne, Gary D., Allie LaForce Be With You

Georgia Dome, Atlanta GA

#ALABAMA

ROLL TIDE!