Ten Things - Week Ten
Posted By:Wes Mewbourne - Birmingham, AL Tags:
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Ten Things, Week Ten
Remember way back (it seems that way, doesn’t it?) to the days of the
BCS, when implementing a playoff system would ruin the best regular
season in all of sports? Yeah, that’s what was said. But we are not
quite two-thirds of the ways through the first season with a playoff –
and only one official playoff ranking to date – and there has already
been an entire season’s worth of drama and intrigue. And guess what?
It’s only getting better as the weeks go by. So without further
adieu, let’s look back on the best of the week that was in this week’s
1. Playoff Already Superior To BCS – If the BCS was still in effect,
the only teams we would be focusing on right now are Mississippi State
and Florida State. Every other team would still be playing big games,
but they would be meaningless in the national scope unless one of
those two lose. Well after just one preliminary ranking from the
selection committee, the Auburn-Ole Miss game had more importance as
well as West Virginia-TCU and Arizona State-Utah. The importance of
losing a second loss brought extra weight to Georgia, Utah, and
Arizona. The tension is thicker than ever and the excitement is
palpable every week. The playoff has actually made the best regular
season in sports EVEN BETTER.
2. Get Well Soon – For all the focus on wins and the playoff, let’s
not lose sight of the players that give everything (sometimes
literally) to the sport we all enjoy. This past weekend, three
competitors ahd their seasons end with injury. Most of us saw Laquon
Treadwell’s injury, if only because officials reviewed the play and
the broadcast team felt it was important to show us the gruesome play
ad nauseam. Elsewhere, Notre Dame will greatly miss linebacker and
defensive quarterback Joe Schmidt. Finally, Washington State
quarterback Connor Halliday will no longer pursue the single-season
passing record; the fifth year senior has thrown his last pass as a
college qb. Gett well soon, gentlemen.
3. Unsportsmanlike And Ridiculous – For those who saw the
Maryland-Penn State game, you were treated to the rare pregame penalty
flag that wasn’t due to a brawl. In what appears to be an effort to
fuel this renewed rivalry as conference foes (if a 1-35-1 record
qualifies as any kind of rivalry), the captains for Maryland opted to
not extend the traditional pregame handshake. As a result, the team
drew a flag, Maryland’s Stefon Diggs was suspended for a game, and
both he and coach Randy Edsall were issued public reprimands. Oh, and
Maryland wound up winning the game. Which means that, sadly, behavior
like this is likely on the horizon again. There is a place for
trading barbs and taunts of rivals – in the week leading up to the
game and the post game. Once the teams take the field, actions like
this are simply immature.
4. Playoff Four – If the committee were to seed the teams today, this
is what it should look like
Mississippi State – Yes, they didn’t appear particularly dominant
against an Arkansas team that is winless in the conference. But they
won. They’ll have plenty of opportunity to solidify their resume in
the coming weeks with Alabama and Ole Miss on the schedule, as well as
a potential ranked opponent in the SEC Championship game.
Oregon – Without their offensive line healthy, they were on the
outside looking in. With a steadily improving offensive line,
quarterback Marcus Mariota is more free to do what he does best – find
the endzone. After removing the monkey from their backs and not just
winning but routing Stanford, the Ducks appear to be hitting another
gear. For a team that hasn’t won a conference championship since
2011, it’s now within reach.
Auburn – One day this luck is going to go against the Tigers. But
darned if they don’t always find a way to come out on top. But give
this team credit, the Gus Bus has been rolling steadily and while
moments of luck do seem to tilt in their favor, they were in the
position to win before that. Ole Miss was solid against the run,
allowing just over three yards per attempt and only three touchdowns
all season. Auburn gashed the Rebels for 5.5 yards a pop and three
Florida State – Falling behind 21-0 is tough for any team to overcome,
much less on the road (just ask Auburn), so give the Seminoles credit
here. On the other hand, a team looking to crack the top four should
be playing better. But ultimately, the Seminoles remain undefeated
and when they are clicking very few teams in the country can keep up.
5. The Next Four – These teams are still outside looking in
Kansas State – Undefeated in conference play, and their sole loss is
to a playoff-bound Auburn. That’s not a bad situation to be in,
especially with the biggest games of the season (at TCU, at West
Virginia, and at Baylor) still to come. Win out, and the Wildcats are
the wildcard for the selection committee.
Michigan State – There’s still the solid win over Nebraska (which
looks better every week), and the lone loss is on the road to a
playoff team. This week is the best opportunity for the Spartans to
make a statement, hosting one-loss Ohio State. A win, and subsequent
Big Ten Championship sets up nicely to possibly sneak into the
Alabama – Still no strong wins, but with a back loaded schedule that
begins with trip to Baton Rouge this week sets up what could be the
beginning of a string of wins that rockets the Tide into the playoff.
Of course, it could be one of several losses down the stretch that
send Bama to Orlando for a bowl game.
Notre Dame – The Irish are still in the mix, but struggling down the
stretch against a fairly weak Navy team is not the way to garner
confidence in the wake of their narrow loss to Florida State. A
one-loss Notre Dame team likely makes the playoff, but not if they
finish with more wins like this one.
6. Trending Up: Playoff Teams Outside The SEC – It had to happen
sometime, and it’s looking more and more that other teams are up for
the challenge. The SEC is starting to cannibalize itself, with
Georgia and Ole Miss falling to Florida and Auburn, respectively.
Mississippi State isn’t looking as good as it has early on and Bama
looks to get a strong test from a resurging LSU team. Meanwhile, the
Big Twelve has three legitimate contenders (TCU, Baylor, Kansas
State), the PAC-12 has Oregon and Arizona State, and the Big Ten still
has a trio of one-loss teams (Michigan State, Ohio State, and
Nebraska) that could rise to the top in a few weeks. Parity is
starting to have its say in the landscape.
7. Trending Down: Group Of Five – For years, it seemed that a
“mid-major” was in a position to step up with the big boys, usually
Boise State. Well now, the renamed “Group of Five” has a spot
reserved in the premiere bowl structure for its highest ranked team.
But with East Carolina losing to Temple, it’s likely that the next
ranking comes out without a team from the group. It’s not likely that
a two loss East Carolina creeps back in and no confidence has been
shown in Marshall’s unblemished record. It would be a shame for the
first year of the playoff to not include a Cinderella.
8. Les Being Les – In honor of Bama-LSU, since this game will not be
included in Three To See, here’s a very Les Miles quote from his press
conference (via The Times Picaune): “Just recognize that it's Election
Day coming up, where all those model citizens will get off and take
care of their duties to their country. This is not Columbus Day; this
is not just for the Italians. This is certainly not St. Paddy's; it's
not just for the Irish. It is for all of those who have the ability
to vote in our country, so get out and do that, please”. You geaux,
9. SEC Rundown – Well, there’s never a dull moment here. Georgia got
Muschomped and now has to beat Auburn and have Missouri lose a game to
ensure that the East division winner doesn’t have a loss to Indiana.
Florida, meanwhile, has some much needed momentum and new life.
Missouri secured another conference win to secure its lone spot atop
the East. Tennessee (aka the Arkansas of the East) captured its first
conference win against South Carolina after several close calls. On
the other end, Arkansas is still looking for its first conference win
after choking at top ranked Mississippi State. Ole Miss has to be
hoping the wheels fall off after their offensive star, Treadwell, was
lost in their second consecutive defeat (their next SEC game is
against a tough Arkansas team). Speaking of wheels coming off, Texas
A&M was outgained 347-243 by Louisiana Monroe (at least they won).
10. Three To See:
#10 Notre Dame at #14 Arizona State – The Irish look to notch a
signature victory now that Stanford hasn’t panned out. Arizona State
is in position to pad its resume before competing for the conference
title. As one of three games pitting one-loss teams all vying for
playoff contention, it’s not a “win and you’re in” situation so much
as “lose and you’re out”. Notre Dame closes this one out without a
drive-killing pass interference penalty and wins 41-27
#9 Kansas State at #7 TCU – The Horned Frogs are coming off a huge
comeback win over West Virginia while Kansas State cruised to a
beatdown of Oklahoma State. Both teams are looking for traction in the
conference race, and one will come away with a quality win that’s
bound to draw the attention of the selection committee come December.
The Wildcats will assert their dominance in a strong road victory and
come home with a 38-20 win.
#16 Ohio State at #8 Michigan State – In a rematch of last year’s Big
Ten Championship game, both teams look to parlay a win into a doorway
to bigger and better things. The Buckeyes would love a signature win
to offset their horrible loss to Virginia Tech. The Spartans would
likewise appreciate a quality win to pair with their 19-point loss at
Oregon. As good as the Buckeyes have played, they fall just short and
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