This past weekend, two of the consensus top 5 teams in the nation went on the road to hostile environments against AP top 10 teams. This created mixed results, but both teams survived their tests. What really came out of this weekend was the uncertainty of the ACC. Clemson (who inexplicably stormed the field) and Louisville looked lousy at home against unranked teams, and the entire Coastal division has multiple losses. An upset of Clemson could mean the elimination of the conference for playoff consideration. Look at how all this breaks down below…
Top 25 Poll
Others receiving votes: Miami, South Florida, Virginia Tech
Dropped from the rankings: Miami (15), Tennessee (17), Virginia Tech (18), Arizona State (19), North Dakota State (20), Air Force (22), Mississippi (24)
25 (NR). Pittsburgh (5-2) – James Conner and company are really living on the edge, but they are hanging around in the ACC Coastal. This is the type of team that a Clemson or Louisville doesn’t want to see in the ACC Championship.
24 (NR). Arkansas (5-2) – Arkansas is a hard team to figure out. Week by week they are either a top 15 team or a team that should not receive votes.
23 (NR). North Carolina (5-2) – The Tar Heels are as Jekyll and Hyde as any team. They had a nice win over Miami this week.
22 (NR). Colorado (5-2) – Colorado rebounded from getting beat by USC with a whipping of a 5-1 ASU team.
21 (NR). Washington State (4-2) – Just like in 2015, WSU has completely put behind an FCS loss and is a threat in the PAC-12.
20 (23). Navy (4-1) – IDLE
19 (NR). Florida State (4-2) – The Noles look much better these days. I can see them really giving a fight to Clemson in that monster matchup.
18 (25). San Diego State (5-1) – After losing to South Alabama, Donnel Pumphrey has gone off and reestablished The Aztecs as a potential Group of Five representative in the New Years Six.
17 (21). Toledo (5-1) – Toledo is potentially even better this year than last year when they upset Arkansas. This is a team to keep an eye on.
16 (NR). Florida (5-1) – Florida isn’t really a good enough team to be ranked this high, but there really is no one else with 1 loss in the power 5.
15 (14). Houston (6-1) – Houston survived one of their toughest conference matchups by hanging on late against Tulsa.
14 (16). West Virginia (5-0) – I still don’t really buy West Virginia, but their defense really showed something by shutting down Texas Tech in Lubbock.
13 (13). Utah (6-1) – The Utes are flying under the radar, which is exactly where they want to be. They host the Huskies in two weeks.
12 (11). Western Michigan (7-0) – Western Michigan would be an easy Group of Five team any year, but when you have dynamite teams in Houston and Boise State, they might unfortunately get left out, despite two Big Ten wins.
11 (10). Boise State (6-0) – The Broncos aren’t as good as they were under Petersen, but this is the best team they have had since. They should roll through the MWC and get a crazy showdown with San Diego State in the title game.
10 (8). Wisconsin (4-2) – It’s hard to justify dropping them at all, but a second loss is a second loss, even if it was to the best team in the country in overtime.
9 (12). Nebraska (6-0) – Nebraska finally had a decent test on the road, and they survived.
8 (9). Baylor (6-0) – The Bears are a dark horse team for the playoff. No one wants to admit it, but they likely control their own destiny, barring the long shot chance that every conference has an unbeaten team.
7 (7). Louisville (5-1) – They struggled mightily on Friday night against a weak Duke team. They were not the same team they were before their heartbreaking loss at Clemson.
6 (6). Texas A&M (6-0) – IDLE
5 (3). Clemson (7-0) – The Tigers had to hold on and get lucky that NC State has no kicker in order to remain undefeated. The Wolfpack usually close those games out.
4 (4). Michigan (6-0) – IDLE
3 (5). Alabama (6-0) – The Tide absolutely destroyed Tennessee in Knoxville. Finally! We don’t have to hear about that team’s magical comebacks anymore!
2 (1). Washington (6-0) – IDLE
1 (2). Ohio State (6-0) – The Buckeyes had a very impressive win in Madison, despite making a one-dimensional offense look pretty good. If they lose before The Game, I would be shocked.
Top 5 Games for Next Weekend
5. BYU at Boise State (#11), THU 7:15PM ESPN – The Broncos need to be careful with BYU. The Cougars have had huge matchups every week, and every single one of them have been nail-biting. They won’t be afraid heading up to the blue turf.
PREDICTION: Boise State 45-42
4. Miami at Virginia Tech, THU 4:00PM ESPN – This is a huge game in the ACC Coastal. It could very well be the game that decides the division. Of course it is on a Thursday night, where crazy things happen each and every week.
PREDICTION: Virginia Tech 17-7
3. Arkansas (#24) at Auburn, 3:00PM ESPN – This is not a game with real SEC title implications, but it is one of the more unpredictable and intriguing matchups of next weekend. The Razorbacks are absolutely the better team, but this game could go either way.
2. NC State at Louisville(#7), 9:00AM ABC – Does NC State have anything left in the tank after choking away a win in Clemson? We will see when they match up with an angry Louisville team with an early kickoff.
PREDICTION: Louisville 49-23
1. Texas A&M (#6) at Alabama (#1), 12:30PM CBS – A&M has given the Tide trouble in the past, as has QB Trevor Knight. I can see a potential close game here, but this isn’t where Bama loses.
PREDICTION: Alabama 34-17
Heisman Trophy Watch
5. Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson – As long as they keep winning, he will remain in the running, even though this season is much less impressive than his campaign a year ago.
4. Donnel Pumphrey, RB, San Diego State – He is moving up the all time rushing list and just scorching teams for 200+ seemingly every week.
3. Jabrill Peppers, LB/S/CB, Michigan – Last week, he had a game statistically that will undoubtedly swoon voters. He is getting carries on offense now.
2. Jake Browning, QB, Washington – He is on pace to break the all time passing efficiency record in college football, currently held by Russell Wilson.
1. Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville – He struggled this week with the rest of his team, but he made the plays down the stretch to seal it. He’s the obvious frontrunner.
College Football Playoff Projections
Chik-fil-A Peach Bowl: Boise State over Florida
Rose Bowl: Ohio State over Utah
Fiesta Bowl: Clemson over West Virginia
Sugar Bowl: Louisville over Texas A&M
College Football Playoff Semifinal #1 (Orange Bowl): Alabama over Baylor
CFB Playoff Semifinal #2 (Cotton Bowl): Michigan over Washington
National Championship Game: Michigan over Alabama
Who are your playoff teams? Heisman favorite? Let me know in the comments.