Happy Tuesday, everyone. We start off today with SI’s look at the unbeatens, and their chances of staying so.
A case for finishing undefeated: QB Tua Tagovailoa and his quatro of freakish receivers can score consistently on anyone (well, except for Clemson last season). But Clemson isn’t on the regular season schedule and neither is Florida nor Georgia.
A case for not finishing undefeated: Two of the last three Iron Bowls played in Auburn have gone the Tigers’ way. The Tide has to visit some other hostile, loud places too (Texas A&M and Mississippi State), and its defense has shown some holes.
This is a fair assessment, though I’m not sure Starkville is scaring anybody who’s worth a damn this season. As long as the injury bug stays away from the defense, it should get better as the youngsters grow up. Just get us to the playoff, Tua, and bowl practice should be a godsend for this crew.
USA Today offers their rerank, and they have Clemson at #3, with some curious wording.
Clemson falls from the top spot but only to a point: Dabo Swinney and the Tigers are No. 3 after narrowly escaping North Carolina. For one, it seems like an overreaction to punish Clemson for a single game; the Tigers have played four Power Five teams, more than anyone in the FBS, and breezed past the first three before struggling against the Tar Heels. Clemson has played in these sort of upset-minded games before, notably against Pittsburgh and Syracuse, and lost by a single possession. This time, the defending national champions survived against a team finding an identity under new coach Mack Brown.
Emphasis mine. This is obviously not the first time we’ve heard this kind of talk, but it continues to litter the discussion with regard to rankings, even those offered by the playoff committee. Ranking teams is not done punitively. You look at the data you have and sort the teams based on who you believe is the best, and that data changes weekly. Besides, Clemson didn’t exactly look like the best team over the first four games either, particularly now that we know what Texas A&M is.
Now, a strong case could be made for Ohio State at #1. They have been more dominant against a better schedule than Alabama has, and while SP+ has the Tide at the top, the margin is razor thin between the two and as of now that should probably be seen as the most likely matchup. Michigan is mediocre and the Buckeyes get both Wisconsin and Penn State at home. This might be the year they manage not to screw up.
Speaking of SP+, Bill Connelly put out a really fun read.
To date, Alabama and Clemson have occupied nine of 20 total CFP spots since the playoff began in 2014. Throw in Oklahoma and Ohio State, and four teams have accounted for 14 bids.
All four teams are obvious contenders this season, too, but is there any chance of some new blood to join the 10 programs that have made at least one appearance?
Possibly. Using ESPN Stats & Information’s FPI ratings, five potential first-timers currently have at least a 5% chance of making the dance: LSU (26%), Auburn (25%), Penn State (17%), Wisconsin (9%) and Florida (6%).
There is all sorts of good stuff in here about teams that have surprised, etc.
Alabama recognized some players from the Ole Miss game.
Outside linebacker Anfernee Jennings
Jennings posted nine tackles and a tackle for a loss. It’s the fifth straight week coaches have picked Jennings as one of the team’s players of the week.
Safety Xavier McKinney
McKinney recorded a team- and career-high 13 tackles.
Inside linebacker Ale Kaho
Kaho blocked a punt during the third quarter and recovered it for a touchdown.
That blocked punt was our first TOTO of the season, the week after we stopped talking about them. I think that is an omen to retire the post.
Devonta was honored by the conference as expected.
DeVonta Smith has received some additional recognition for his record-breaking performance from Alabama’s win over Ole Miss on Saturday.
The Crimson Tide’s junior wide receiver was named SEC offensive player of the week on Monday, a day after being selected as the Walter Camp national offensive player of the week.
Five receiving TDs. Just incredible.
Last, Mark Barron had himself a night on national TV.
Barron (St. Paul’s, Alabama) started at left inside linebacker for Pittsburgh in the AFC North game. He made 11 tackles, including one behind the line of scrimmage.
The Cincinnati offense’s best drive of the game covered 67 yards in 15 plays. The 16th snap of the series was a pass into the end zone from the Pittsburgh 13-yard line. Intended for tight end C.J. Uzomah, Dalton’s throw was intercepted by Barron with 5:51 to play in the Bengals’ ninth straight loss to the Steelers.
Good for him. The fact that a 214-lb. former safety can competently play ILB in the NFL tells you something about the state of the game.
That’s about it for now. Have a great day.