Oct 7

Ten Things - Week Six

Posted By:Wes Mewbourne - Birmingham, AL  Tags: college football, Top 25

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Welcome to one of the wildest weeks college football has ever seen.
That’s no exaggeration.  For the first time in the history of the AP
poll five of the top eight ranked teams lost.  For only the second
time, eleven ranked teams lost.  Everyone’s preseason playoff
predictions are at least half destroyed.  And no one should get as
much sympathy as this season’s playoff selection committee.  The
season isn’t quite half over, but the tides have turned for many of
the traditional powers while many new faces are hoping to stick around
for the show.  Let’s take a look at the ridiculous week that was in
this edition of Ten Things…

1. 2007 Redux – You remember 2007, right? The year where it seemed
every other week the top two was replaced.  That season saw Week 5 as
the beginning, with #3 Oklahoma, #4 Florida, #5 West Virginia, #7
Texas and #10 Rutgers all losing and only West Virginia losing to a
ranked team.  Sound familiar? This time, it was #2 Oregon, #3 Alabama,
#4 Oklahoma, #6 Texas A&M, and #8 UCLA.  Just like that landmark year
where a two-loss LSU played for the national title, don’t be surprised
if the inaugural playoff has one (or two) two-loss teams.

2. Magnolia State Madness – It’s easy to see why the party was so
intense for so long.  Both Ole Miss and Mississippi combine for seven
SEC titles, but the latest of those was 1963 (Ole Miss).  Only once
has a team from Mississippi played in the SEC Championship game (Miss
St, 1998). So, while fellow division rivals Alabama, Auburn, and LSU
have added conference and national titles to their trophy cases, the
Bulldogs and Rebels have fallen into relative obscurity.  No longer,
though.  With Mississippi State’s trouncing of Texas A&M and Ole
Miss’s never-say-die win against Alabama, both teams proved that they
belong in the elite group.  And they did it at home in front of their
fans, which is just icing on the cake.

3. Down But Not (Yet) Out – Once the dust settled on the weekend, many
teams were left wondering what went wrong.  Given the state of the
rest of college football, however, one loss is not a season-killer
(unless you’re BYU). For Alabama and Texas A&M, winning out and
(possibly) winning the West division is the surest bet.  But even
then, a two loss contender might rise to the top, too.  For Oregon and
UCLA, this week’s game is a virtual elimination game in what is now a
surprisingly diluted PAC-12. Oklahoma could win out and still climb
back up, though beating Baylor might prove more difficult than waiting
for TCU to lose a game or two.

4. Playoff Four: If the playoff were decided today

Auburn – After delivering LSU their most lopsided loss in more than a
decade, Auburn has now taken the mantle as the most complete team in
the nation.  Winning against Arkansas and Kansas State look better
each week, the offense is on a roll, and allowing zero points to the
Mad Hatter for the final three quarters is quite an accomplishment.
This is the class of the SEC right now.

Florida State – Say what you will about how the Seminoles win, but
they keep winning. And as long as they stay unbeaten (likely until an
October 18th visit from Notre Dame), the defending champs have to be
in the mix.

Baylor – As difficult as it may be to believe, Baylor is an
established name. Leading the nation in scoring at 51 points per game
and trailing only Marshall in yards per game (591 yards per game) is a
good way to keep up appearances.  Sure, they haven’t “played anyone”.
But if they aren’t for real, then we’ll know this time next week after
a visit from TCU.

Notre Dame – You think I’m crazy, right? Well, take a look at the
schedule.  If they can knock off Florida State in two weeks, they will
become the nation’s darling team for ridding us of a postseason full
of shenanigans in Tallahassee. And aside from a Hail Mary at Arizona
State or USC finding its rhythm, it’s doubtful the Irish will be
tested.  And do you really think the selection committee will leave
out an undefeated Irish team, regardless of the potential one-loss SEC

5. The Next Four: These are the next four teams waiting to step in
should any of the above teams falter

Mississippi State - The Bulldogs are so close to taking that next
step.  Quarterback Dak Prescott is a bona fide Heisman contender with
13 touchdowns and averaging nearly 250 yards a game.  Solid wins over
Texas A&M and LSU (though the latter doesn’t look as impressive at the
moment) give Dan Mullen’s team reason to be optimistic, but if the
cowbells are to invade the playoffs they will need to play well
against Auburn this weekend.

Mississippi – The Rebels showed they are ahead of schedule with a
tough win over Alabama.  The defense is superb, holding the Tide to
just three points in the entire second half and saving the game with a
crucial interception on their final series.  Bo Wallace showed what he
could be, though he needs to be consistent if he is to lead this team
into the playoff. That starts with not having a letdown in College
Station against Texas A&M.

Michigan State – Many counted Sparty out of playoff consideration
after getting beat by 19 points at Oregon earlier, and with the lack
of potency in the Big Ten who could blame them?  But with the teams
above them dropping and a solid win against Nebraska.  Suddenly,
there’s a potential top ten matchup with Ohio State in a month and a
bunch of trap games between the Spartans and a Big Ten Championship
Game birth.

TCU - After a few rocky transition years in the Big Twelve, the Horned
Frogs are now in a position to make waves. A huge upset of Oklahoma,
capped off by an interception returned for a touchdown, exemplifies
the work that Gary Patterson’s team has done on defense.  The only
team with a better defensive output in the Big Twelve is Baylor, and
guess who TCU plays this week…

6. Trending Up: The New Guys. In a weekend where traditional favorites
fell by the wayside, it’s only natural for some fresh faces to grace
the stage.  TCU, who hasn’t really been on the radar since a Fiesta
Bowl loss to Boise State in 2010, now find themselves traveling to
Baylor with a chance to secure a strong lead in the Big Twelve race.
Arizona, who hasn’t won more than eight games since 1998, find
themselves at 5-0 and getting ready to host USC.  Plenty has been said
about the newcomers from Mississippi.  And all four of these teams
have reason for optimism, with no signs of slowing down.

7. Trending Down: Home Field Advantage in the PAC-12.  What happened
to home field advantage?  Two of the biggest upsets of the weekend,
Oregon and UCLA, were at home.  But we shouldn’t be surprised.  Utah,
who upset UCLA, fell in their own upset the week before against
Washington State.  Those same cougars were playing Oregon at home the
week before, so it’s not a stretch to say the Ducks would’ve lost that
game in Eugene.  Just a bit earlier, it was Stanford falling to USC in
Palo Alto.  So perhaps Stanford ought to be wary of unranked
Washington State and Arizona shouldn’t overlook USC this week.

8. The Forgotten Heisman – Maybe it’s the great games this season or
maybe it’s the lack of team consistency detracting from standout
individuals, but there hasn’t been a lot of Heisman love toward any
particular candidate yet this season.  Todd Gurley at Georgia started
strong, but hasn’t really run away with it.  Oregon quarterback Marcus
Mariota would be a strong contender if he can get protection.  Dak
Prescott and Bo Wallace (Miss St and Ole Miss, respectively) could
make some noise, but only if their team success continues.  Amari
Cooper at Alabama is finding out why a pure receiver has never won the
award, with his stats dropping considerably as well as the Heisman
attention.  Could this be another season where a standout on just a
pretty good team (e.g. Robert Griffin III from a 10-3 Baylor team)
comes away with the award?  Maybe so.

9. SEC Rundown – Aside from the name brands that we all saw, I bet you
didn’t watch South Carolina embarrass its coach once more.  In
allowing three touchdowns to Kentucky to close the game, the Gamecocks
fell 45-38.  Early in the day, though, Will Muschamp seems to have
cooled his seat off by escaping Knoxville with a 10-9 win (Tennessee
led 9-0 into the fourth quarter). And Georgia wasn’t caught looking by
Vandy, downing the Commodores at home 44-17.  That bye week couldn’t
have come at a better time for Missouri and Arkansas, as both get
ready to host big games next week.

10. Three To See:

#2 Auburn at #3 Mississippi State – The two best teams thus far in
what is considered one of, if not THE, best single division in college
football.  The defending SEC champions travel to a terribly difficult
location to win (just ask the Texas A&M).  Dak Prescott vs Nick
Marshall.  The best pass defense in the SEC vs Auburn receivers Sammie
Coates and Duke Williams.  Auburn escapes with the win, 41-31

#9 TCU at #5 Baylor – At stake is nothing more than a solid grasp on
the top spot in the Big Twelve Conference and an inevitable playoff
birth if the winning team wins out.  No pressure.  In this game, the
reigning conference champs are at home, but Baylor is coming off a
week in which they struggled to move the ball at times against Texas.
Will they be able to overcome similar problems against TCU, arguably a
better defense and definitely a better team?  TCU can’t keep the upset
train rolling and falls, 27-20.

#12 Oregon at #18 UCLA – Just about the only thing Oregon has going
into this game is that they are the visiting team.  Both teams here
have proven vulnerable, both limp in after losses, and both would
likely be eliminated from playoff contention with a loss.  Probably
the best thing for the conference is for Oregon to win and ultimately
play Arizona as a one loss team, but don’t count on it.  UCLA finds
it’s rhythm and Hundley steals the spotlight from Mariota in a 45-20
runaway win.

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