So....Clemson lost. The 27-24 score in the Carrier Dome wasn’t indicative of how lopsided a loss this was. Then, even as the Top 10 crumbled around them, the , when Kelly Bryant was injured. Then, an “elite” win, Auburn (who has beaten exactly one team with a winning record, Mississippi State) was pantsed on the road against LSU. Then, another of its “good” wins, Louisville, was completely undone by a woeful Cardinals defense that let a freshman run for nearly 300 yards and allowed up 45 points — to BC of all teams.
Did we mention that the Tigers face, in order: Georgia Tech, at NC State, FSU, and then close in Columbia against the Gamecocks? Negotiate that, despite playing dodgy ball in half of its games, and then the Fightin’ Dabos have to face Mark Richt’s now-undefeated Miami Hurricanes? Good luck.
Clemson lost four times in one weekend, and they’re probably not done losing either. People will focus on the QB questions down the stretch, but the thing that has troubled me all season, as I’ve harped on repeatedly, is the lack of a running game. It chomped them in the butt in Upstate New York, and that’s not a problem that’s going away.
The greatest beneficiary of the Tigers’ woes, by one school of thought, has to be the Georgia Bulldogs. Outside of ‘Bama/UGA, the SEC has not looked great, but the conference is still respectable in its out-of-conference games and the top half is sitting between zero-and-two losses. Throw in an excellent road win for the DWAGS at Notre Dame, and it’s not out of the realm of possibility that a one-loss Georgia could get a nod (Please note: While possible, I do not at all advance this argument or believe it has much merit. See infra. below.)
On to the blogpoll: When there’s so much chaos, you find that nothing much has changed, at least in terms of the big picture. This week’s edition will probably require some explanation since we have to play the “good wins vs. bad losses” game. Besides, it’s time to take stock anyway. As always, schedule, roster talent, injuries, butt-like coaching, alchemy, and good ole’ fashioned eyeballs make up the WNaBP.
If you hate these, then tell me why I’m stupid below, and then take my job. No, seriously, please take my job.
Week 8 Blogpoll.csv
|1||Alabama Crimson Tide||1|
|2||TCU Horned Frogs||5|
|4||Penn State Nittany Lions||7|
|8||Ohio State Buckeyes||8|
|10||Oklahoma State Cowboys||10|
|11||Washington State Cougars||4|
|13||Notre Dame Fighting Irish||15|
|16||Michigan State Spartans||16|
|18||Virginia Tech Hokies||19|
|19||NC State Wolfpack||25|
|23||West Virginia Mountaineers||--|
|24||San Diego State Aztecs||18|
|Texas A&M (!)|
Dropped Out: Auburn has one win over a team with a winning record and is 0-fer presently ranked squads. Texas Tech is out this week, but will likely be back before season’s end. Georgia Tech is out this week, but can redeem themselves against Clemson next week. Utah Close, but no cigar.
Considered: Damn, look at you 5-1 Virginia. One more win over a team with a winning record, and you’re in. That Indiana loss is respectable but... Texas A&M This is the dumbest, most talented 5-2 team in America. Everything Alabama feared about starting a true Fr. QB last year has manifested in College Station -- and yet, they’re STILL in second place in the West and won in the Swamp with a true freshman under center. Auburn can redeem themselves down the stretch with some wins over a combination of A&M, Alabama and/or Georgia. Who thinks that’s happening? Now that I think about, I’m sorry, Aggies. This is the dumbest 5-2 team in America. Curois coaching calls, including play-calling, adjustments, and a brutally unforgiveable late punt on 4th and less-than-1 cost them this game. Their pain is delicious. Moar, please.
The Top Half
Alabama is the same as always: Plugs away on offense while taking entire periods off. But, when it wakes up, you stare at the scoreboard and they’ve hit 40 or 50 points. The defense may be the most aggressive one under Saban yet. The penchant for early knockouts is a huge bonus...and fun. For the love of god, throw Xavian Marks back there -- we know he can field a punt. TCU has some truly great top-heavy wins without the detriment of losing any games. By resume, this is probably the best collection of elite wins (only Clemson, Georgia, TCU, LSU, Washington State, USC and Memphis have beaten two or more ranked teams this year IIRC - - I need to doublecheck that though.) Georgia. I like the eyeball test; I hate the secondary and have hated it all year. But, that’s not why I’m not buying in to the CFP hype yet. Assume Alabama wins the SECCG next week, what is Georgia’s best win? Notre Dame, right? What’s their next one? 4-2 App. State? 4-2 Mississippi State? Who’s the second-best team in the East -- Kentucky. And then add to that the ‘Dawgs have not won their conference? It’s the same problem Alabama has. You throw that record against a one-loss P12 winner, an undefeated or one-loss B12 winner, or a 1-loss/undefeated B1G winner, or a 1-loss Clemson — where all of them will have at least a Top 10 win, and there’s no way Georgia jumps ahead; not with the committee’s insistence on winning games against Top 25/winning records and a preference for conference champions. Jawjah needs to 1. win the SEC, or 2. if not, then pray Notre Dame stays the course and that Auburn, Mississippi State and Georgia Tech rebound (or another East team gets ranked all of a sudden.) So, let’s tap the brakes on Georgia for the moment, no matter how good the eyeballs are.
Businesslike effort in tough ones for Wisconsin, USC, Michigan State, and Oklahoma. Penn State has a bye before facing Michigan, which also had a tough one in the hellish road game at Indiana. Ohio State has simplified both sides of the ball and it’s paying dividends. This team is finally playing like we thought it might. Wazzu wet the bed against Cal, sure. But those wins over USC and Boise State look a might bit better now, don’t they? This is one of the rare instances where I ranked an H2H loser ahead of the team it beat. And, that’s only a because I trust USC‘s running game more than I trust Luke Falk’s arm down the stretch. Clemson, well...you know that story. With every Georgia and Michigan State win, Notre Dame looks better and better. One of College Football’s great intersectional rivalries, this week’s game between USC and ND, should be a barn-burner (besides being a playoff elimination game.)
The Bottom Half
UCF is an absolute machine right now. Not a single team in the country has threatened them. That said, they’ve played one ranked team, and besides USF, may have the weakest wins of any G5 competitor. Memphis has two wins over ranked opponents, but got smoked on the road by the Knights. These two could rematch in the AAC championship. Still, the Tigers two ranked wins are enough to re-earn a spot in the WNaBP.
The AAC’s main opponent for a New Year’s Six Bowl will likely come from one team: The San Diego State Aztecs. SDSU’s offense has been in the tank for a few weeks now, and it bit them last night in a home loss to resurgent Boise State. But, they’ve done something that Washington was not able to: win on the road in Tempe. Listless loss by the Huskies. Last season, they had this same game against Utah on the road but pulled it out with a special teams touchdown. They’ll rebound, and, if they’re a one-loss P12 champ, they’re also likely in -- they have the opportunity to pick up some excellent wins over Washington State, Stanford and likely USC. Besides, Oklahoma and USC, no other one-loss team is in as good a position. Finally, as well as the Trees have been playing lately, and as much as they deserve to be ranked, you can’t in good conscience put them above the Aztecs who won straight up (see how we came perfect circle there, kids?)
For the above and forgoing reasons, despite the chaos of the weekend and the hopes and dreams of Georgia and Clemson fans, the Playoff projection still has not changed. In order, your field will be:
2. Ohio State
3. Big 12 Winner