How we feelin’ this morning, fam?
Jim Harbaugh lost. Jeremy Pruitt’s Vawls lost. Kirby Smart lost. James Franklin lost. Dabo lost. That’s about as juicy a Saturday as anyone could want on a bye week, no?
Here is this week’s blog poll. As usual, we factor in injuries, competition, coaching, conference, talent, hot/cold streaks, advanced data, a little bit of power pollishness, and our own lying eyes. A quick explanation follows:
2020 Blog Poll Week 10
|23||San Jose State||--|
|OUTTA' HERE||WVU, Boise State|
|CONSIDERED||Oregon, CMU, Buffalo|
- Alabama — Did you watch football yesterday and realize that this team can beat just about anyone else in the Top 10 by two at least touchdowns? I did.
- Aggie — Yup. A&M jumps up to the second spot. There are undefeated teams, like ND. There are teams with better offenses, for sure. There are ones with better defense. But it’s hard to argue with how well the Ags are playing right now. Shutting down Florida for a half looks better and better dunnit? They’ve not had quite the schedule as some others, but there’s more to this than schedule, and do they look good right now. The last month is a step up with several loseable games. Don’t Jimbo this up.
- Ohio State — I think this team is outstanding? Probably? Maybe? But we simply may not know for a while. Given the way Maryland is playing, and the Buckeyes’ iffy defense, ‘Lia may put on a show in College Park next week. Seriously though, shore up that secondary.
- Florida — I can’t wait to see this defense in the SEC Championship Game. I am dreading seeing Kadarius Toney and Kyle Pitts in the SEC Championship Game (though I still think Kyle Trask is a bit overrated, and I don’t trust this running game to salt one away if the Gators need it).
- Cincinnati — Devastatingly good team, and they make it look easy too.
- Notre Dame — I’m not going to overreact here. It was a quality win against a good team with some very nice pieces (though, I am not at all sold that Clemson is an actual national title contender). The defense has surrendered 102 points this year in 6 games — 40 of them came last night. Ian Book finally had a good game. But, as usual, Brian Kelly had to make it way too hard on himself; this should have been a two-score beatdown.
- BYU — See Cincinnati above. I don’t know the last time that a team strolled into the Smurf Turf and beat the Broncos by five touchdowns. It may have been way back when BSU was still a truck driving academy (that’s a real fact, BTW). I don’t recall seeing such utter devastation during their 1AA title runs and certainly not in the last 15 years or so. But it happened, and it wasn’t illusory. BYU made Boise look like Directional Texas.
- Indiana — How are the Hoosiers this good? The defensive line can be ran upon, but the offense is legit; the secondary gets it done; and like Cincy they just play outstanding team football. And their offensive line may actually be the Big 10’s best. Who knew that when Ohio State travels to Bloomington in two weeks that it very likely will be for the East division title?
- Oklahoma State — Without exaggeration, the Cowboys may play the best team defense in the Power 5. And I also repeat: If this team ever gets a real coach...
- Miami — We’ve had football for two months now, and teams are on their 6th or 7th game, and I still don’t know that Miami is actually this good of a team. And, like A&M, the ‘Canes also face three very losable games in the last month (UNC & Virginia Tech you know. But don’t overlook a sneaky road trip to Wake, or a much improved and much angrier Ga. Tech team).
- Coastal Carolina — You bought in yet? I told you in Friday’s Superlatives piece that there is literally not one phase of the game where the Chanticleers are deficient. They ordinarily force turnovers and nuke opponents from orbit with a great passing attack. But when Coastal faced a stout and conservative USA team on Saturday, the Chanties ditched their usual game plan and instead went to manball and defense...and won by three scores. There are few teams in the country that can flip the switch and find ways to win so convincingly and in so many different ways.
- Liberty — Everything I said about Coastal applies to the Flames. They pound the rock; they hit you with relentless deep strikes; they force turnovers; and they just keep winning with far less talent than their opponents. It’s a Hugh Freeze team, in other words. And I’m glad that guy is gone.
- Northwestern — This is the Big 10’s answer to Oklahoma State: the offense scares no one, but godspeed trying to score on them. Through a third of their season, this my leader for the Western Division crown. I bet no one at the B1G office expected a potential Northwestern-Indiana title game, did they?
- OU — Dirt Burglars are getting better every week. Even worse for the B12, they’ve been so dominant that they’ve been able to develop their depth. Bedlam looks to be a barnburner this year.
- Marshall — The poor man’s version of Cincinnati and BYU, but with a stud freshman under center instead of an established veteran. Think: Northwestern with an offense.
- Texas — Still pounding the rock, still playing defense, still winning games since the RRR loss. Funny how fundamentals can still pay off, huh? And that is the difference in the last month versus the first two-plus years of Tom Herman: the Longhorns actually look...dare I say...coached?
- Appalachian State — We said it last week and we’ll repeat it again: alongside ULL, Army, and Marshall, this is the lower-midmajor Fearsome Foursome. They all have the same thing in common too: The Thundering Herd, Mountaineers, Knights, and Ragin’ Cajuns win up front on both sides of the ball and play outstanding defense. If you want to watch good fundamental, old school football tune in to any of their games
- SMU — I bet the Mustangs would like a rematch with Cincinnati to avenge their only loss of the season. Since that game, the ‘Stangs have been balling out. They will very likely get their wish.
- Georgia — We observed last week that you were looking a bit fraud-ish with soft corners and that you would eventually need to pass your way to a victory. Little did we realize that the need would arise six days, where the most incompetent display of passing this side of KJ Costello stole the show. It was so bad that it made Florida’s secondary look outstanding. This is an outdated team playing outmoded football on both sides of the ball. Chasing off Justin Fields for Jake Fromm was coaching malpractice that may wind up costing Smart his job in a season or two — that was a career-defining and program-crippling boo boo of the first order. Why? Because the other dirty secret no one wants to talk about is this: Every year. for the past three years, Georgia has gotten worse. Kirby’s best shot may have already passed him by.
- Clemson — The wrong quarterback is starting. DJ Uiagalelei’s superior arm strength and quicker release gives this offense options it simply doesn’t use as much as with Sunshine — especially vertically and working the middle of the field in traffic. But, even with DJU, it’s not a title contender. Etienne has been quite human this year and is fumbling too much, and in critical moments too. The Tiger corners play undersized and soft; the safeties are woeful, and it’s just not a physical team. Notre Dame bullied that offensive line all night. In the SEC, this Clemson team loses 3 games.
- Auburn — Yeah, yeah...I know.
- Nevada — The Wolfpack have been on my radar for the preceding two weeks. Their defensive line play has keyed them, and the ‘Pack are just an infinitely better squad than one that suited up three years ago. They get opportune scoring to go along with sound D. Are they a favorite in the MWC? They very well could be — it’s a wide open conference this year.
- San Jose State — If you’ve not seen the Spartans play this season, you owe it to yourself to do so. SJSU’s main problem has tended to be its defense and lack of physicality. But in 2020, this is a squad that has been reborn hard. Like Nevada, they completely dominate teams up front. And Nick Starkel is thriving once he was given the chance to learn an offense and actually get reps. He’s the best QB in the MWC by a light year. But, Nick was injured on the first series last night with an undisclosed injury and did not return. We’ll assume it’s minor and go ahead and rank San Jose State here — they’re 3-0 for the first time since Ronald Reagan was president.