Every year, and it’s usually sometime in November, there is a weekend where you absolutely do not want to be in the Top 25. Alabama has both been a victim and beneficiary of the massacres — notably in 2011, 2012, and 2015. Call it a win for parity, the lack of elite teams, or the general malaise of inconsistency that defines the college game, but yesterday was one of those days: four teams in the Top 10 fell. But, it had been hinted at after last week’s result that saw seven Top 25s fall flat.
For a quarter, Alabama looked to be in a tougher matchup than the names on the jerseys would suggest: banged up, looking ahead to its traditional rivalry, and still painfully inexperienced at key places, Mizzou had Alabama in as good a spot as any team will.
But, Alabama is just playing a different sport entirely in 2018.
Here’s your WNaBP after seven weeks of play. As usual the criteria, such as they are, encompass a capricious and curious admixture of: injuries, coaching, star power, strength of schedule, margin of victory, completeness of team, advanced stats, sometimes head-to-head (with the realization weird stuff just happens,) my own lying eyes, and finally I have a real chubby for lineplay: I haven’t seen a championship contender yet that didn’t have a dominant line on one side of the ball.
|1||Alabama Crimson Tide||1|
|3||Notre Dame Fighting Irish||2|
|6||Ohio State Buckeyes||3|
|10||Oregon Ducks...I guess.||--|
|16||Texas A&M Aggies||--|
|17||San Diego State Aztecs||19|
|19||Fresno State Bulldogs||21|
|20||Mississippi State Bulldogs||20|
|21||Washington State Cougars||24|
|23||Penn State Nittany Lions||13|
|24||Appalachian State Mountaineers||--|
|25||West Virginia Mountaineers||7|
|Utah, UAB, USF, Boise State|
|USF, Auburn, Ok. St., Maryland|
I’ve been telling you for a month that I really didn’t like the way Georgia and Ohio State have been playing. Notre Dame is flirting with this UGA/OSU ignominy as well. OSU were frustrated and moved on at will by a pedestrian Gophers’ team with a sorry offense and absent its best defenders. The DWAGS got rolled by LSU on the road. And, whatever you think of the Tigahs’ victories over Miami, Auburn, and Georgia, that’s not at all a bad resume, is it? In fact, forget the other undefeateds: the body of work through seven games is more than enough to justify the lofty ranking — even if Alabama is will roll this team by four touchdowns.
Sure, it’s ugly. And yes, the Aggies can’t get out of their own way, but that win over Kentucky is better than anything UGA has and the road win over USCe matches the best victory of the Bulldogs. Which brings us to Florida. How foolish a prediction do you find it now, when I said in the preseason that the Gators are going to win the East? This team is powered by emotion, but that helps a defense that has been stellar, especially in generating takeaways. You still don’t know if Franks is the answer at QB, but it’s enough for the moment. The WLOCP will be for the East and a potential path to the playoff for the winner. Loser gets to enjoy Orlando over New Year’s.
Man, how bad is Auburn? By proxy, how bad is Washington to lose to that team? Is Oregon really the No. 10 team in the country? Probably not. But they should be undefeated by rights with the heaviest lifting behind them. I’m sure they can’t beat anyone in front of them. But I’m also pretty certain they wouldn’t lose to teams ranked below them either: prove me wrong, Wazzu. Put Texas in the same class as the Ducks. Probably not a Top 10 in any other year, but they smoked the Frogs, the Sooners (despite the final), and that USC win is gaining a lot of currency as the season progresses. Don’t overlook the fact that Baylor was 4-2 and had a Top 25 secondary going into that game yesterday.
In a “commissioner called the replay crew”-moment, the UCF Knights needed a phantom holding call against Memphis in the waning moments to hang on to their undefeated status. Temple or Cincinnati are going to beat this team. And though ranked below them, I’m not sure the Knights could beat App. State.
The good Mountaineers got some love from us this week, but the bad ones got seriously dinged for good cause. At one point in the second half, West Virginia had been outgained 2:1, had 7 points, and all game long they were eviscerated by an Iowa State freshman QB: Purdy is the real deal. This was a team that could have competed for a shot at the playoffs, but, like fellow underachiever Penn State, they hold on in the rankings based on tremendous talent and potential: let’s hope neither get a competent coach anytime soon.
Clemson holds steady. They host the NC State Wolfpack this week, and we’ll finally learn a lot about both. I’ve been high on the ‘Pack all year. The winner should waltz into Charlotte with a shot at the playoffs. But, you really don’t trust anyone in the ACC at this point.
Michigan is really turning into a damned good team, y’all. And people are noticing. But, there another B1G team that no one’s talking about much, and it may turn out to be the one that meets Wolvie in Indy for a playoff spot: Take the Iowa Hawkeyes lightly at your own peril. You know who else is being shamefully overlooked? The UAB Blazers. They had one serious hangover game, but otherwise the Blazers have been a terror in CUSA: Next week’s meeting against North Texas in Birmingham is is the de facto CUSACG game.