Time flies when you’re watching a slow-rolling hot mess of ineptitude! Can’t believe we’re down to just two weeks left. So, with a full 10-game dataset to choose from, I’ve completely re-ranked these bad boys based on what they’ve done on the field, and (notably) how they’re playing now.
Some teams started off white-hot then suffered injuries (Coastal Carolina), some read their press clippings all summer (Iowa State, Liberty), some needed the right coach (Utah State), some are hiding a good team behind a bad record (Fresno State), some are actually hiding a bad team behind a good record (Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Oregon), some expectedly good teams are good (UGA, OSU), and some just took us by storm, being Top 25ish with absolutely no reason to be (Fresno, UTSA, Michigan State).
Here is the penultimate regular season blog poll, with a few very brief remarks where necessary. Usual caveats: The criteria are nebulous, far-ranging, and capricious — strength of schedule, bad and good coaching, injuries, exigent circumstances, home/away results, defense or lack thereof, offense or lack thereof, line play, power poll-ishness, can you cover a spread (Vegas is pretty smart about how good a team is), head-to-head where possible or prudent, and my own lying eyeballs.
2021 Blog Poll: Week 12
|TOP 40ish||Kentucky, USU, Fresno, Liberty, Coastal, UAB|
|WKU, KSU, Clemson, SMU, AFA, Army|
DYK: Michigan State has the very worst passing defense in the country? It is remarkably opportunistic and has scraped by to good wins with half a roster. Mel Tucker is abut to get fat paid.
It took about two months, but the MWC is finally starting to look good again: Brady Hoke’s SDSU Aztecs have been dominant, Fresno State came out of nowhere, Nevada rebounded after a shaky start, Air Force is winning road games, and even lowly UNLV is becoming a hellish game for visitors — but there have been some regressions (Boise State, Wyoming looking at you). I was sky-high about Blake Anderson being hired at USU, but not even I expected an 8-2 start to the season. He has to be a contender for COTY considering what a lowly state Gary Andersen had driven the Aggies into.
The SEC is every bit as down as we expected it might be: There is absolutely no one in the East outside of Georgia. And, even the second tier in the West have been smoked by Bama (State, Ole Miss) or have been unable to generate consistency (Aggie).
The Big 10 mirrors the SEC in many respects: a few teams at the top you don’t want to see on the schedule, and then a whole lot of ACC-ish round-robin mediocrity. Michigan and OSU are damn good one-loss teams. Sparty? Meh...dunno about that, overall. Penn State is still dumb as hell. And look at the West? Yuck. Iowa and Wisconsin, dark horses for the B1GC, were eliminated from the playoffs before the leaves turned.
What’s that saying? You are what your record says you are? Not this year. I was cranking predictive algorithms, and 2021 Cincinnati loses to 2020 UC 8.2 times out of 10, by an average of 6 points. In October, I was all for seating the Bearcats at the big boy table. But after screwing around with four straight awful teams, I’m not so certain. And even the 8-2 SMU team they face this week isn’t exactly a juggernaut. The conference is just generally down overall: Tulsa, Navy, Memphis, and UCF all regressed, and USF is plain putrid. Even Temple, amazingly, managed to get worse.
One AAC team that has righted the ship and gotten very good in a hurry? Houston. Cincinnati best beware: that is a very losable ACCCG. Very, very losable.
You know who’s kind of fraudish though, besides Oklahoma every year? Notre Dame and Oregon are hiding iffy teams behind soft schedules and near-misses against bad teams. But, the good thing about 2021 is that everyone apparently sucks! So, into the Top 10 you go!
Speaking of fat paid, Jeff Traylor (Gigachad, UTSA), is about to quadruple his salary at a Power 5 conference. You could tell last year how much more improved the Roadrunners were. This year? It’s all come together. See also, Dave Clawson at Wake Forest.
He’s not alone: We are about to lose a ton of outstanding Midmajor coaches — Hugh Freeze (Liberty), Jaime Chadwell (Coastal), Billy Napier (UL-L), Traylor among them. The jobs Dana Dimel, Holgo, Brady Hoke, and Sonny Dykes have done at UTEP, Houston, SDSU, and SMU may earn them another shot at the Bigs. Someone with a big check is eventually prying Kilani Sitake out of BYU. And I would not at all be surprised to see someone like Wazzu or Colorado to cast moony eyes at Blake Anderson and say, “our man is just down the road in Logan, Utah.” DeBoer has been fantastic at Fresno, and keep an eye on UNLV’s Marcus Orroyo — I get the feeling that dude is an up-and-comer.
PREDICTED PLAYOFF PARTICIPANTS
- Alabama (yup. Beating UGA in the SECCG...again)
- Ohio State (yup. Beating Michigan and slaughtering the West champ...again)
- Georgia (nope. No intraconference first-round rematch...again)
- Oklahoma State (I mean, why not? Beats inviting Notre Dame and Oklahoma for their annual beating)
Know who’s out? Oregon, who I think is going to blow it this week or in the P12CG; Notre Dame, who’s going to be just outside looking in with no chance for an elite W in sight; Wake Forest, who could finish undefeated with some good wins, but not a single elite one — and Swofford will howl; Oklahoma, who’s getting smoked down the stretch; Cincinnati even if they run the table, and frankly they deserve to be after this past month and how down the AAC is; Michigan and Michigan State — who are about to lose by about a combined 110-56 to the Buckeyes; and UTSA, because, c’mon man, It’s C-USA.