We finally have a data point for the Penn State Nittany Lions. After struggling on the road against Northwestern and Iowa, and after a fairly awful out of conference slate, the Lions were gifted the opportunity to put a hurting on the reeling Wolverines. Consequently, PSU exacted revenge and finally racked up a nice win over a ranked team. Although, how long Michigan remains ranked is subject to speculation. Outside of blasting a depleted and young Gator team to open the season, Blue has played average-to-awful most weeks. Still, a team that wants to be taken seriously as a title contender in a weak Big 10 did what it must: make the most of its opportunities and leave no doubt in the process.
Yet, the day belonged to the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. The Trojans have been spotty at times this season, but have nevertheless managed to out-talent most of its schedule. Then they ran into another team that recruits at a high level. With Touchdown Jesus presiding, Brian Kelly’s Golden Domers laid waste to one of the preseason playoff darlings, and in the process dealt a serious blow to the PAC 12’s playoff chances.
With blowout wins over ranked Michigan State and USC, a thorough beating of quietly-good BC, and a toss-up game versus Georgia under its belt, the back half of the schedule firmly places the Irish in the playoff discussion. ND will have opportunities for wins over five straight bowl teams, with three of those being presently ranked. Notre Dame could very well finish with the best collection of wins, one-through-twelve, of any team even without having a conference championship. If the Irish run the table, there’s simply no way this team won’t get an invitation. If I am a one-loss Big 10 or PAC 12 contender, I start to grow nervous right about now.
But, there are still six weeks of football left to play. So, for now, even though ND has entered the discussion, and the PAC 12 has taken a body blow here, the Playoff Bracket remains unchanged. However, I get the feeling that the next two weeks will completely alter the landscape.
- Big 12 Champion
- Ohio State
On to the blogpoll as we enter Week 9:
Week 9 BlogPoll.csv
|1||Alabama Crimson Tide||1|
|2||TCU Horned Frogs||2|
|4||Penn State Nittany Lions||4|
|8||Notre Dame Fighting Irish||13|
|9||Ohio State Buckeyes||9|
|10||Oklahoma State Cowboys||10|
|11||Washington State Cougars||11|
|16||Michigan State Spartans||16|
|17||North Carolina State Wolfpack||19|
|20||Iowa State Cyclones||--|
|23||West Virginia Mountaineers||23|
|San Diego State Aztecs|
|Texas A&M Aggies|
|Mississippi State Bulldogs|
- Pssst, Iowa State is playing the best football of anyone in the Big 12 in October. Wins over Oklahoma and Texas Tech (both on the road no less) get the Clones in the spotlight...and it’s well-earned. Just wait until the team gets a recruiting bump from this and gains some talent.
- Don’t look now, but the SEC, oft-maligned, is making its case for the nation’s best conference...again. Seven teams have two losses or less; five are presently ranked; and nine have been ranked at some point this season. No other conference comes close to matching that.
- The Arizona schools are quietly making a nice push for respectability. RichRod and Todd Graham entered the season somewhat on the hot seat, and the teams have responded: ASU is 4-3 with a pair of nice wins and Arizona is 5-2, also with a pair of nice wins.
- Oklahoma State faced the most physically talented team on its schedule yesterday. And, for probably the first time in the Gundy era, played high-percentage, ball-control football...dare I say, conservative? It wasn’t pretty, but it worked. The Cowboys got another decent win under its belt.
- Mississippi State’s win over LSU looks better every week. It’s hard to erase the memory of those beatings in Athens and Auburn, but at home, this team is very good. Alabama may have a tougher-than-it-looks time in Starkville in three weeks — despite winning its first five conference games by an average of 40 points.
- The Big 10 is in trouble. Wisconsin is sitting at No. 5, but it is in a terrible division where literally no one can meaningfully challenge it or provide a ranked win for the Badgers. You can easily forsee a situation where an undefeated Big 10 Champion Wisconsin would be passed over for, say, one-loss Oklahoma or Notre Dame. In the East, the circular firing squad is starting to sort itself out, but it looks like we are facing a situation similar to last year: the hottest team may not be the league champion. And, having flopped last year when given the benefit of the doubt, you’d think Jim Delany is praying for the Nittany Lions to run the table.