No. 1 sits at No. 2, at least for the committee. The high ranking of Clemson, and Michigan State being ranked at all, suggests the committee, as it has done previously, is not just evaluating whether a given team has a winning record or not, but also evaluates schedules at the time the games are played.
And that, friends, is a good thing for the Tide, as it paints a more complete picture. Alabama has wins over No. 21 A&M, No. 25 Vanderbilt, No. 2 Florida State, and two bowl-eligible Mountain West Conference foes (did you know Fresno State is 6-2, for instance?) Looking ahead, the Tide faces No. 16 LSU, No. 18 Mississippi State, and No. 14 Auburn -- before even reaching the nation’s consensus No. 2, the Georgia Bulldogs.
Alabama is in no danger, is what I’m suggesting. And, that stretch run begins today. Enjoy that #ratpoison ‘Dawgs.
So, here’s what we’re watching today, and why. Below is your schedule in Eastern Time, as always, courtesy of Joe Piechowski at Bruins Nation.
Florida at Mizzou (-3.5) 12:00 EST
Don’t actually watch this game, but keep an eye on the score. Or, hell, maybe watch it? One SEC coach is gone, another is on his way out the door. Native Son Barry Odom could very well join them. Some of the Tigers contenders don’t overlap with Tennessee and Florida, but some they do, and others they overlap with Ole Miss, including ISU’s Matt Campbell, Toledo’s Bob Candle, and Memphis’ Mike Norvell. BTW: Florida’s defense is going to get lit up like a Diwali festival. Odom’s guys needs to play some defense to keep his job. This is the third must-win in the SEC in two weeks (yeesh.)
No. 14 Auburn at Texas A&M (+14) 12:00 EST
Two touchdowns. Yikes. Both Alabama and Mississippi State dominated the tempo with the running game. NBD, Aggies — it’s not like Auburn runs 2/3rds of the time or anything. Another super-ugly, lifeless blowout could spell the end for Kevin Sumlin. Auburn isn’t necessarily a must-win, but Mississippi State absolutely was. This is as endangered as Sumlin’s job has even been. Go out and compete, guys; an upset could save your coach’s job. A blowout loss is one more nail in Sumlin’s coffin. Auburn is facing some injury problems, so the Tigers could be ripe for the picking...or they could win by 20 points. That inconsistency is what drives the Barners nuts.
No. 7 Penn State at No. 24 Michigan State (+8.5) 12:00 EST
What kind of hangover do these teams have? Both are coming off of brutal, last-minute road losses to teams they had leads on late. Penn State is the far better team, but the Lions have underwhelmed on the road. Fortunately, they’d be hard-pressed to screw this one up: Sparty has tried to give away its last three contests before finally derping one away to Northwestern. The Big 10’s playoff resume gets murdered if PSU drops this one. In Sparty’s favor: It’s cold, windy, and pouring buckets — Dantonio loves notching upsets in the muck.
Syracuse at Florida State (-5) 12:20 EST
Has Jimbo completely lost this team? It’d be easy to lose heart and then lose the game against a Syracuse team that can light it up in spates and is definitely on the upswing in Dino Babers second year. How good has Babers been at BGSU and now rebuilding this turd-burger? He’s very much a viable candidate in Gainesville. ‘Noles haters could have a good afternoon here.
No. 4 Clemson at No. 20 NC State (+7.5) 3:30 EST
If the Wolfpack want to recapture some of that magic they had for six weeks, this would be a good game to do it. The Tigers offense still isn’t back on track, but the defense is super-salty. After a walloping in South Bend, NCSU is looking for some redemption, and that begins winning some battles up front. The Irish flat whipped their butts for three hours. Clemson could do the same.
No. 6 Ohio State at Iowa (+17.5) 3:30 EST
I’d hate to be Urban Meyer this week. The trip to Iowa City is always a tough out, and, on the heels of that season-saving PSU win, it’s easy to see how the Buckeyes could come out flat against an Iowa team needing a signature win to salvage a very mediocre season. I doubt the winner gets much over 17 points, much less covers it. This is a four-alarm upset special: Can Urban Meyer’s poorly-disciplined team play old-school B1G football and stay alive? A loss here practically eliminates the Big 10 from playoff contention (sorry, Wisconsin...who is at Indiana, and who could very well lose too.)
No. 21 Stanford at No. 25 Washington State (-2) 3:30 EST
If any team needed a home game, it was the ‘Cougs. Fresh off of two straight terrible losses on the road, Dread Pirate Leach returns to the wheat-blown desolation of Pullman, where his Wazzu squad plays night-and-day better. Too bad they still can’t stop the run. This one could be a track meet, as Stanford runs for 600 yards and Luke Falk passes for 600. Because, not sure if you noticed, but the vaunted Stanford defense has been terrible against good quarterbacks.
No. 15. Iowa State at West Virginia (-2.5) 4:00 EST
Another week, another heartbreaker in Morgantown. Easily the hardest roadie the ‘Clones will take. Can they get a fifth straight win over a team then/previously ranked? Holgo needs a W in the worst kind of way. Does the Matt Campbell goodwill tour stop here? Do the distractions of an impending coach-poaching finally get to the Cyclones? Vegas thinks so.
South Carolina at No. 2 Georgia (-24) 3:45 EST
Georgia is good and all, but they haven’t played a team with a winning record in a month. Let’s see how all that RATPOISON treats them. Battle between two ex-Saban DCs in Athens. I am selfishly hoping to see Georgia Dawg it up. They’re due for one. ARP ARP ARP
Others of note:
Wake Forest at Notre Dame: If Notre Dame doesn’t take this one seriously, the stingy Demon Deacons defense could make it far more interesting than it has any right being.
BEDLAM! No. 7 Oklahoma at No. 11 Oklahoma State: This is one of three critical games matchups down the stretch that will determine the Big 12’s playoff fortunes. A win by the Sooners burnishes an already-stout playoff resume. For the Pokes, it’s another quality win and a chance to re-enter the playoff discussion. OSU’s not played well since its loss to TCU, but they’ve not dropped a game either. This one is going to be nuts.
No. 24 Arizona at No. 19 USC: Who knew this game would be important in September. Fans of quarterbacking will love this one. The presumptive No. 1 draft pick, Sam Darnold, may not even be the best guy under center either. The Wildcats’ true freshman signal-caller Khalil Tate has been electric. If ‘Zona’s defense can hold, USC could be in for a third loss.
No. 12 Virginia Tech at No. 5 Miami: The Hurricanes have tried their damnedest to give away games all year. The high-powered Hokies offense are a tall order and they still have Bud Foster’s No. 4-ranked defense. I suspect Virginia Tech finally grants Miami’s wish -- and it won’t be within one score.
We will be along near supper with your late afternoon thread, and then the game content. Enjoy your day. It’s going to be a good one.
|#4 Wisconsin at Indiana||12:00 PM||ABC||WatchESPN.com|
|#7 Penn State at #24 Michigan State||12:00 PM||FOX||FoxSportsGo.com|
|#16 Auburn at Texas A&M||12:00 PM||ESPN||WatchESPN.com|
|UMass at #21 Mississippi State||12:00 PM||SEC Network||WatchESPN.com|
|Florida at Missouri||12:00 PM||ESPN2||WatchESPN.com|
|Kansas State at Texas Tech||12:00 PM||FS1||FoxSportsGo.com|
|Western Kentucky at Vanderbilt||12:00 PM||ESPNU||WatchESPN.com|
|Baylor at Kansas||12:00 PM||FSN||FoxSportsGo.com|
|Illinois at Purdue||12:00 PM||BTN||BTN2Go.com|
|East Carolina at Houston||12:00 PM||CBSSN||CBSSports.com|
|Syracuse at Florida State||12:20 PM||ACC Network||WatchESPN.com|
|Georgia Tech at Virginia||3:00 PM||ACC Network||WatchESPN.com|
|Appalachian State at Louisiana Monroe||3:00 PM||None||WatchESPN.com|
|Georgia State at Georgia Southern||3:00 PM||None||WatchESPN.com|
|Rice at UAB||3:00 PM||None||CUSA.tv|
|New Mexico State at Texas State||3:00 PM||None||WatchESPN.com|
|South Carolina at #2 Georgia||3:30 PM||CBS||CBSSports.com|
|#3 Ohio State at Iowa||3:30 PM||ESPN||WatchESPN.com|
|Wake Forest at #5 Notre Dame||3:30 PM||NBC||NBCSports.com|
|#6 Clemson at #20 NC State||3:30 PM||ABC||WatchESPN.com|
|#14 Iowa State at West Virginia||3:30 PM||ESPN2||WatchESPN.com|
|#18 Stanford at #25 Washington State||3:30 PM||FOX||FoxSportsGo.com|
|South Florida at Connecticut||3:30 PM||ESPNU||WatchESPN.com|
|Maryland at Rutgers||3:30 PM||BTN||BTN2Go.com|
|Charlotte at Old Dominion||3:30 PM||None||WatchESPN.com|
|North Texas at Louisiana Tech||3:30 PM||None||Facebook.com|
|Northwestern at Nebraska||3:30 PM||BTN||BTN2Go.com|
|Army at Air Force||3:30 PM||CBSSN||CBSSports.com|
|#8 Oklahoma at #11 Oklahoma State||4:00 PM||FS1||FoxSportsGo.com|
|Ole Miss at Kentucky||4:00 PM||SEC Network||WatchESPN.com|
|Coastal Carolina at Arkansas||4:00 PM||SEC Network||WatchESPN.com|
|Cincinnati at Tulane||4:00 PM||None||WatchESPN.com|
|Louisiana at South Alabama||4:00 PM||None||WatchESPN.com|
|Oregon State at California||5:00 PM||Pac-12 Networks||Pac-12.com|
|Utah State at New Mexico||5:30 PM||None||WatchStadium.com|
|Hawai'i at UNLV||6:00 PM||Spectrum Sports||Stadium iOS App|
|Nevada at Boise State||7:00 PM||ESPNU||WatchESPN.com|
|Colorado State at Wyoming||7:00 PM||CBSSN||CBSSports.com|
|UT San Antonio at Florida Intl||7:00 PM||None||WatchStadium.com|
|Texas at #10 TCU||7:15 PM||ESPN||WatchESPN.com|
|#15 UCF at SMU||7:15 PM||ESPN2||WatchESPN.com|
|Southern Mississippi at Tennessee||7:30 PM||SEC Network||WatchESPN.com|
|UTEP at Middle Tennessee||7:30 PM||beIN Sports||None|
|Minnesota at Michigan||7:30 PM||FOX||FoxSportsGo.com|
|#19 LSU at #1 Alabama||8:00 PM||CBS||CBSSports.com|
|#13 Virginia Tech at #9 Miami||8:00 PM||ABC||WatchESPN.com|
|Colorado at Arizona State||9:00 PM||Pac-12 Networks||Pac-12.com|
|Oregon at #12 Washington||10:00 PM||FS1||FoxSportsGo.com|
|San Diego State at San Jose State||10:30 PM||ESPNU||WatchESPN.com|
|#23 Arizona at #17 USC||10:45 PM||ESPN||WatchESPN.com|
|BYU at Fresno State||10:45 PM||ESPN2||WatchESPN.com|