At the halfway point of the season, conventional wisdom is largely triumphing again: teams we suspected would be very good are very good. There have been some surprises, both for good (Washington State) and ill (Florida State.) But, Oklahoma and Urban Meyer have both gotten their yearly chokes out of the way. Alabama has had its annual midseason bedwetting against a team it should have demolished. Auburn is having its October peak. Arkansas fans hate their team and coach. Floridians wonder how two offensive coordinators can be this bad. And UGA is highly ranked and still secretly terrified of losing to those selfsame Gators. So, yeah, 2017 is right on target.
I’m stubbornly sticking with my preseason playoff bracket: Alabama, Washington, Ohio State are self-evident. Oklahoma and Oklahoma State have gone back and forth for the 4th spot, largely based on the depth of an ACC which I don’t think is going to leave any undefeateds (looking at you and your offense, Clemson.) But, it turns out the Big 12 may have as much (or more) elite talent at the top than does the ACC. Where the ACC has an advantage is the wealth of middle class teams that create a solid schedule for contenders. That said, there are plenty of opportunities for a one-loss Oklahoma or Oklahoma State (or even TCU) to ring up superb-quality wins over several Top 15ish programs. Until someone else steps up in the ACC, be that Miami or NC State, or the flyover states cannibalize themselves, I’m going to ride the B12 Champion.
Here’s this week’s blogpoll. It’s fairly self-explanatory based on season results to-date, head-to-head, talent, injuries, and how teams have been playing the last two or three weeks.
Week 7 Blogpoll.csv
|1||Alabama Crimson Tide||1|
|4||Washington State Cougars||7|
|5||TCU Horned Frogs||10|
|7||Penn State Nittany Lions||4|
|10||Oklahoma State Cowboys||11|
|14||Ohio State Buckeyes||25|
|15||Notre Dame Fighting Irish||17|
|16||Michigan State Spartans||--|
|19||Virginia Tech Hokies||19|
|20||San Diego State Aztecs||18|
|22||Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets||21|
|23||Texas Tech Red Raiders||24|
|25||NC State Wolfpack||--|
|West Virginia Mountaineers|
The only things I would add are:
- People are sleeping on the AAC; the top half of this conference is extremely good: UCF, USF, Navy, Memphis, Houston. Teams that draw the league’s upper echelon in bowl season, are going to be in for serious dogfights.
- USC has got to run the ball more. It is unconscionable that Ronald Jones II had 12 carries, while the Trojans put the ball in the air 37 times. This is a very talented offense that has to learn to be patient and do the ugly things that win football games. Five-yard carries aren’t sexy in the PAC 12, I know. But those five-yard carries are why Washington won last year and why the Huskies are in Top 10 in offensive and defensive efficiency again this year.
- San Diego State and Michigan are wasting truly excellent defenses with absolute garbage offenses. In Michigan’s case, it’s probably time to look at the coaching. Harbaugh has had two offensive coordinators, and they’ve been interchangeably crappy. I love paleoball as much as the next red-blooded American, but damn, Jim, that only works if you can actually win the line of scrimmage and run the ball.
- Lastly, per the title above, for the third straight year, in the rain and muck and wind of autumn in Big 10 country, a league favorite was unable to move the ball and lost -- Michigan, Ohio State, Michigan. The weather wasn’t the only commonality; all lost in ugly games in the rain and wind to one team: Michigan State. Three times is a trend, buddy. So, the next time a Rust Belt blowhard rehashes a talking point about other teams being unable to win in B1G weather, feel free to remind them that unless they are Spartans fans, they can’t either.