Sunday, October 19, 2014

Week 8 College Football Recap: Rankings, Heisman, Playoff Projections

Week 8 brought us a few fantastic early games, then a host of blowouts, capped by one of the best games of the season so far. We have a rash of one-loss teams and only four unbeatens left, two of which from the same conference…division…state… This is the perfect scenario to mess with the selection committee and force the NCAA to boost their playoff system to 8 teams within a few years. I love this schizophrenic season. Check out the fallout below.
Top 25 Poll
Others receiving votes: East Carolina, Georgia Southern, Oklahoma State, Stanford, UCLA
Dropped from the rankings: Oklahoma State (17), Stanford (18), Washington (21), Texas A&M (22)

25  (NR). Colorado State (6-1) – Their sole loss was in Boise, which there really is no shame in. They do not have a signature victory, but stacking up wins in BC and Nevada bode well for the ever-improving program.
24 (NR). Boise State (5-2) – Since their competitive opening loss to Ole Miss, the Broncos have continued to improve and have become maybe the best team in a decent MWC.
23 (12). Oklahoma (5-2) – The Sooners are always hyped so much, and then a team that is just better coached comes in a breaks their hearts at home. All of the Sooner upset losses are always in Norman.
22 (NR). West Virginia (5-2) – Morgantown proves once again to be one of the toughest places to play in the country after the Mountaineers dismantled Baylor. Their two losses to Oklahoma and Alabama look pretty good right now.
21 (19). Nebraska (6-1) – Weird to move them down after a big rivalry game win, but they sputtered for three quarters once again. Not every team will be worn down by their relentless running attack.
20 (NR). Minnesota (6-1) – Their only loss was a 30-7 beating by TCU, one of the best teams in the nation. This team is always hard to predict. David Cobb is a stud, though. This could be a shocker B1G Championship Game participant.
19 (20). Duke (6-1) – The Blue Devils are still sitting here with one loss to the most Jekyll and Hyde squad in the conference in Miami. This team is really good and always well coached. They have to be the favorite in that division.
18 (24). Utah (5-1) – When you travel to Corvallis, it is survive and advance. A double OT victory works. Their only issue is that they have that head-scratching loss to Washington State on their resume, the worst loss for a one-loss team in the nation.
17 (25). USC (5-2) – The Trojans demolished Colorado yesterday. Their two losses are a game in which they hardly showed up in Boston and that hail mary against ASU. This is a frightening team that no one should want to play.
16 (23). Arizona State (5-1) – This was the first time in several years where a team just completely made Stanford look average. They had no answer for the Sun Devil speed and versatility. (15). Marshall (7-0) – They still count as an unbeaten, right? If they lose, I will be shocked. Rakeem Cato…check him out. That guy is a stat machine.
14 (11). Michigan State (6-1) – Sparty scuffled with Indiana for a bit before pulling away. The Big Ten is just not all that good. It is hard to really judge a team that lost its only real test by 19 points.
13 (10). Georgia (5-1) – Other than Utah, the Bulldogs (…and East Carolina, I guess) have the worst sole loss on their ledger. I think they are a great team, but how exactly did they lose to the Gamecocks? I watched that game, and I still don’t know.
12 (14). Ohio State (5-1) – Since their loss to Virginia Tech, the Buckeyes have pretty much stepped on the throat of every opponent. This looks like one of the best teams in the nation. We will see when they get to play Sparty.
11 (2). Baylor (6-1) – It has to be discouraging to Bears fans to have such a magical comeback / best win in program history one week, only to just not show up defensively and lose to a lesser team. Baylor is always going to just be one step away until they get a rockstar D Coordinator.
10 (6). Auburn (5-1) – IDLE.
9 (9). Oregon (6-1) – They torched the Huskies in that rivalry game that has lost nearly all its juice over the last 11 years. It disgusts me.
8 (8). Arizona (5-1) – IDLE. (16). Alabama (6-1) – After hardly getting going against Arkansas, the Tide spanked a ranked Texas A&M squad as bad as any ranked team has ever been spanked. 59-0. Yikes.
6 (3). Notre Dame (6-1) – The Irish were a couple strange penalties away from taking down Florida State, who still hasn’t lost in two years. They proved to everyone (I didn’t really need that confirmation) that they are absolutely legit and still are well within play for a playoff spot.
5 (13). Kansas State (5-1) – It is weird to think that Kansas State really just outclassed Oklahoma in their own building for the second time in a row. Never count out Bill Snyder. This is the only Big 12 team without a loss, and their only non-conference loss was that fluky field goal debacle on a Thursday night against Auburn.
4 (7). TCU (5-1) – The Big 12 is insane. That conference has so much depth. This might be the best team? I really don’t know, though. I haven’t seen Oklahoma State get manhandled like that since…well before Dez Bryant was there. The Frogs somehow got that pathetic defensive showing against Baylor out of their heads in one week.
3 (4). Mississippi (7-0) – The Rebels will get beaten soon. You can’t go scoreless against hapless Tennessee for the first 25 minutes of a game and expect that to be good enough. That defensive is stifling, though…no doubt the best defense in the nation.
2 (5). Florida State (7-0) – After taking down Notre Dame in memorable and controversial fashion, I can now start to buy into this team again. Winning big games has never been this program’s problem. We will see if they can avoid a slipup against a bad team in that putrid ACC.
1 (1). Mississippi State (6-0) –  IDLE.

Top 5 Games for Next Weekend
5. Ohio State (#12) at Penn State, 5:00PM ABC – The Nittany Lions used to be my darling pick, but after two losses in a row, it is clear that their format was not sustainable. The Buckeyes have been rolling, but can they keep it going in Happy Valley?
PREDICTION: Ohio State 20-13
4. Arizona State (#16) at Washington, 7:45PM ESPN – The nightcap game next week pits a couple teams that always seem to have memorable matchups. Washington is going to have a gut-check after getting smashed by the Ducks, while ASU is coming off a huge win against the Cardinal.
PREDICTION: Washington 17-10
3. West Virginia (#22) at Oklahoma State, 12:30PM ESPN – This will be another big shootout Big 12 game for a couple teams trying to avoid their second loss and being all but eliminated from conference title consideration.
PREDICTION: Oklahoma State 38-35
2. Mississippi (#3) at LSU, 4:15PM ESPN – The Tigers are not a great team, but they still somehow have racked up 6 wins in 8 weeks. Mississippi is coming off a sluggish performance. Can we see an upset in Baton Rouge?
PREDICTION: Mississippi 28-9
1. USC (#17) at Utah (#18), 7:00PM FS1 – This is certainly the most interesting matchup. They are two teams that are playing at the top of their game at the moment, and this could very well decide the Pac-12 South.
Heisman Trophy Watch
5. Rakeem Cato, QB, Marshall – His team is probably going undefeated, and this would be the closest thing that we could have to recognizing greatness throughout a career. He is the most underrated player in the nation.
4. Melvin Gordon, RB, Wisconsin – His stats are just stupid. He is electric to watch and will no doubt get an invite if he can keep it up without much help at all from his passing game.
3. Ameer Abdullah, RB, Nebraska – Another absurd rushing day places the senior right back in the thick of things. If he can carry his team to a conference championship game, then he needs an invite.
2. Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon – He still has yet to throw an interception, and with his offensive line looking better, he has been able to heal up and return to his unstoppable self.
1. Dak Prescott, QB, Mississippi State – He remains #1 even though he didn’t play and should remain #1 until they lose…if they lose.

College Football Playoff Projections
~Dream scenario for someone who wants the playoff system to expand or blow up~
1. Alabama lost to Ole Miss
2. Ole Miss loses to Auburn
3. Auburn lost to Mississippi State
4. Mississippi State loses to Alabama
5. All four teams finish with one loss, ranked #2-#5 behind an unbeaten Florida State team. 
Don’t get me wrong. I hate the SEC as much as anyone, but we need 8, 12, or 16 teams in a playoff to make it fair. This is not out of the realm of possibility either. Anyway, back to reality…

Chik-fil-A Peach Bowl: Mississippi State over Marshall
Cotton Bowl: Michigan State over Mississippi
Fiesta Bowl: Oregon over Alabama
Orange Bowl: Notre Dame over TCU

College Football Playoff Semifinal #1 (Rose Bowl): Florida State over Georgia
CFB Playoff Semifinal #2 (Sugar Bowl): Kansas State over Ohio State
National Championship Game: Florida State over Kansas State

What did you think of this weekend? Rankings? Heisman predictions? Let me know below!

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