May Go Undefeated Without Playing a Close Game:
Has anyone been as dominant, and looked so invincible along the way, as Alabama, Boise State, and Georgia have? Didn’t think so.
Warts and All:
Clemson’s boom-or-bust offense, lack of interior running game, and woeful secondary is going to cost it. Now, whether there’s anyone in the ACC capable of exploiting it remains TBD. Sunshine is going to be special though.
Oklahoma and Ohio State suffer from Big Twelvitis: Terrifying offenses, with defensive lapses that make you not truly trust them if they have to match someone punch-for-punch.
Consistent effort has always been Notre Dame’s knock under Brian Kelly. Predictable letdown was predictable. And, you still really don’t quite trust Wimbush, do you?
Wisconsin’s piss-poor scheduling the last few years have obscured a frightening tendency to start slow in games against some really bad opponents. The Badgers usually adjust, and make the score prettier than it is, but nothing yet has distinguished this team from several versions that came before it. Hornibrook is Wimbush’s less-mobile cousin.
Fold what was said about Wisconsin and Notre Dame and combine it into one Fambly-sized package, and you have Auburn: gross play calling, late stat-padding, inconsistent effort, and last week’s offensive line issues still have not been sorted out. The team does have a passing game, but it’s going to put that defense on the field too much in tight SEC games. The Barn has done more than Mississippi State at the moment, but I don’t think it’s better than the Bulldogs.
Mississippi State: I’m not sure this team can complete enough passes to win the West. But the running game is the deepest it’s ever been in Starkville and the line play has been stellar. That’s usually enough for a ten-win season. I’m sticking with my 9-month long prediction: The West is won or lost when CLANGA comes to town, not in Baton Rouge or when the Barn comes for their Iron Bowl beatdown.
Stanford: Two quality wins on the ledger sheet. If this was strictly about resume, the Tree would be ranked higher. ‘Furd is still missing playmakers on the outside, quality depth behind Bryce Love, and you really don’t want to go into a shootout with Kevin Hogan as your main man, do you? Like Michigan State, USC showed you something in the loss though: the Trojans are trying to play defense now.
Super salty and quietly kicking ass:
I’ve got my eye on you West Virginia, LSU, Utah, Boise State. The Broncos are the Alabama of the G5: may not have a particularly close game all season. LSU’s offense is detestable though. Fans were pissed at a shutout 31-0 victory over lowly SELU. And they probably should have been. Who knew hiring Tommy Tuberville’s offensive line coach to mentor quarterbacks and put up points would produce less-than stellar results?*
*Everyone. Everyone knew this.
|Alabama Crimson Tide
|Notre Dame Fighting Irish
|Mississippi State Bulldogs
|Ohio State Buckeyes
|West Virginia Mountaineers
|Boise State Broncos
|Arizona State Sun Devils
|Virginia Tech Hokies
|Penn State Nittany Lions
|You're outta' here, Buddy
|Memphis Tigers, Florida Gators
|South Carolina Gamecocks
|On the outside, but looking good
|TCU Horned Frogs
|Michigan State Spartans
Look at you:
The criminally-underrated Benny Snell is going to do bad things to people when given the chance. Mark Stoops must have seen how Memphis gave away its game, and finally stopped overthinking this. He let Kentucky’s 31-game Florida losing streak ride on Snell’s shoulders and Benny feasted.
Last week Arizona State got my attention manhandling UTSA. The opponent doesn’t matter, how they played did. Then ASU really grabbed everyone’s attention late last night. The offense will throw 70 times a game on you if they have to — and they may, TBH. The offensive line needs some work. But the defense is really feisty and the special teams are excellent. Can the Sun Devils win the South with their issues? Who knows, but with the turmoil in the division, the spunky Sun Devils are likely to ruin a few people’s seasons — like they just did. Dare I say it, Herm Edwards is doing a bang-up job?
Colorado — They’re not particularly great wins, and CU did all it could to give away a win against Nebraska yesterday. But, they did something Arkansas did not: Blew out CSU on the road. The Buffs are playing better than they have in the last two seasons. Call this a potential pick: Colorado could be 4-1 or 5-0 when it has to travel SC. The Arizona State game the week before that could surprisingly be a lot of fun. Besides, anyone that ruins Scott Frost’s debut gets at least a one week tip o’ the tam o’ shanter.
Back to the drawing board:
Dan Mullen’s offense was absolutely helpless in the red zone. The Florida linebackers didn’t improve much, if at all, from last year. Worse, the defensive line has regressed. They got punched in the mouth for 60 minutes in a loss to UK that wasn’t as close as the score. Lotta’ work to do, and it begins with the coaching.
What was that, Boom? South Carolina had been pointing to this one for a year, and this is the banner of poop the Gamecocks unfurled? Sometimes you’re the windshield. Sometimes you’re the bug. And sometimes you realize you’re coached by Will Muschamp. That wasn’t talent alone: that was also being thoroughly out-coached and out-prepared in every phase of the game.
Memphis: Jay Norvell lost this game for the Tigers, point blank. Averaging nearly 10 yards per carry in the Annapolis squall, the Tigers nevertheless decided to force some balance up by two scores, throwing in a torrential downpour. Navy didn’t overthink this one: RTDB and win. And they did.
Texas A&M: On a weekend where several teams struggled with clock management, Texas A&M really stood out. In contrast, Herm Edwards put on an absolute coaching clinic in the final four minutes of ASU’s upset win.
Alabama — The core of this team is still learning to be consistent for 60 minutes and how to play their positions, how scary is that? Tua Tagovailoa aside, Jalen Hurts has had a really danged good 2018, the one-yard-line fumble and Irv Smith’s drop notwithstanding. Enos is doing great work with him. The blowouts are also giving a young, inexperienced team plenty of reps down the depth chart. This is a killing machine. #SabanJoylessMurderball
Clemson — This team, for whatever reason, struggles on the road. A&M threw for over 400 yards...with Kellen Mond...and with the strength of the offense being its run game. While Aggie didn’t have enough in the tank, there are some sleepers on the schedule that can exploit this secondary just as easily — Syracuse, NCSU, Duke come to mind. Or, they could play a fundamentally sound defensive game at home and make the inconsistent Tiger passing game try to beat them — at Boston College and Wake Forest are possible suspects. With Notre Dame, this team seems to have the narrowest margin of error against quality foes.
Notre Dame — The Stanford and USC games will be dicey, of course. But look at the big picture. While Pitt and FSU have stunk it up, diminishing the SOS, the schedule is getting quietly more difficult in other ways: Virginia Tech, Wake, Syracuse, and Northwestern all figure to vie for bowls. Then again, three of those team could completely fall off the the map, making the Domers’ path the easiest outside of Georgia.
Georgia — Assuming both teams play all season as they have through two weeks, the ‘Dawgs can lose to Alabama and make the playoffs. And vice versa. This team has the easiest road to the playoffs otherwise; there’s no one in the East that should scare this team.
This Week’s Stupid Rule
It is time, beyond time, to eliminate the through-the-endzone rule that gives possession of the ball to the opposing team. Besides still being scarred by the 2010 Iron Bowl, that rule (and some sketchy earlier clock management) cost A&M the game; it was nothing Clemson did down the stretch.
Too high? Too low? Under the radar? Who’s most likely to see the wheels fall off?