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Who Needs a Blog Poll: Shakeup in the Top 10, but our playoff projections remain unchanged

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We were never on board with Ohio State.

Texas A&M v Alabama Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Ohio State has scads of raw talent, but, if you’ve watched the Buckeyes this season you’ll have noticed two disturbing trends that suggest that not only was last night not an aberration but that the Buckeyes likely have another loss or two in store. Ohio State, for whatever reason, cannot stretch the field against all-but the bottom feeders of the conference (and the MAC, but the MAC may be better than the bottom of the Big Ten.) To be fair, Barrett and that deep, versatile running back corps have rarely had to call upon the vertical passing game to get it done. Last night, when the run was effective but not stellar, the Buckeyes had to rely on 43 passes, most within 5-7 yards of the line of scrimmage. There just aren’t gamebreakers on the outside, and even if they were Barrett likely couldn’t hit them: He’s a great option quarterback but has a limited arm.

Worse, the Buckeyes have lost outside leverage on the run most of the season. They are exceptional at pressuring the QB/stuffing the run on one-gap assignments, and they have great speed on the outside rush, but they are not a very disciplined group on stretch and misdirection plays. It nearly bit them last week, and it directly contributed to a loss last night. Do not be surprised if Michigan exploits that in a month. This is still a Top 10 team, but it was not a playoff team, despite the shade thrown this way. (Leave your peace offerings in the comments below. This week I am accepting high-end spices (like real saffron,) kitschy coffee mugs and tacky trucker hats. Thanks in advance - Management.)

On to the show. Notes follow below:

1

Alabama Crimson Tide

1

2

Washington Huskies

3

3

Michigan Wolverines

4

4

Clemson Tigers

5

5

Louisville Cardinals

7

6

Texas A&M Aggies

2

7

Nebraska Cornhuskers

8

8

Ohio State Buckeyes

5

9

Boise State Broncos

9

10

Tennessee Volunteers

12

11

Wisconsin Badgers

10

12

Navy Midshipmen

13

13

Washington State Cougars

14

14

West Virginia Mountaineers

17

15

Auburn Tigers
23

16

Florida Gators

18

17

UNC Tar Heels

20

18

Florida State Seminoles

21

19

Western Michigan Broncos

15

20

Penn State Nittany Lions

--

21

LSU Tigers

--

22

Utah Utes

--

23

Toledo Rockets

21

24

Houston Cougars

10

25

Oklahoma Sooners

19

OUT: USF Bulls, Arkansas Razorbacks (gotta’ string together some wins in these big games at some point, Bert) Ole Miss (Ole Miss has had the toughest schedule in the country as of this week...it shows.)

Some blowouts looked like blowouts (Louisville, Washington, Auburn.) Others were bit more reserved, but were relatively one-sided nonetheless (LSU, Alabama).

Speaking of Auburn. It has two respectable home losses to two Top-10 teams. We need to pay attention to this squad. While they’ve had an easy stretch of late, the dismantling of Arkansas was impressive. The running game was humming, the passing was efficient, the defensive line has lived up to its preseason projections, and the back seven isn’t setting the world on fire, but it’s a damned sight better than under Coach Muschamp. That said, isn’t it a joy that two of Alabama’s rivals are surging at season’s end?!

Is Nebraska any good? I honestly don’t know. Worse, there just aren’t any teams in the West that will really threaten them either outside of Iowa. Is this a repeat of 2015 Iowa? I suspect it may be.

Midmajors are having excellent years. Aside from Boise State and Toledo (who we’ve been hot on all year,) Western sits undefeated and PJ Fleck is quickly moving into the Hot Coach Category. Navy is the quietest 5-1 team in the country, and sports some good wins over Houston and Memphis. Last season, Ken Niumatalolo couldn’t be induced to leave last season, but someone, somewhere will be the right spot to one day lure him out of Annapolis.

Buh-Bye, Tom Herman. Herman has coached 1 and 2/3rd seasons in Houston. In that time he has lost to UConn and SMU, the latter in a blowout. But, he has also beaten Oklahoma and Florida State. It’s baffling. So, someone tell me how this is a better move than retaining Les Miles? Speaking of, you really get the feeling Ed Orgeron is coaching for the LSU job, don’t you? I think the odds are very good he stays in Baton Rouge if he takes 3-of-4 of Alabama, Ole Miss, Florida, and Arkansas, and has no bad losses down the stretch.

Penn State has two quality wins a great win in Ohio State. Obviously Ohio State and a gutty comeback and then thumping of Pitt. (See comment below. I literally misremembered the outcome of a game that I watched every second of. I’m getting too damned old to type.) That may not sound like much, but I can’t find a quality win on the resume of either West Virginia or Oklahoma. As always, the Big 12 is awful to watch and even worse to try and sort out — especially when the conference standard bearer gives up 764 yards of passing...in a win.

Playoff Projections and seedings remain unchanged since last week (but, I’m feeling shakier about Clemson with the Cardinals on tap. The Tigers just have not lived up to their talent all season.):

  1. Alabama
  2. Michigan
  3. Clemson
  4. Washington