Last weekend wasn’t supposed to happen. The new college football playoff was supposed to trivialize regular season games. Instead, there were five upsets of teams ranked in the top eight, and the outlook for the rest of the season changed drastically. The Pac-12 came close to eliminating itself from playoff contention, while two Mississippi teams decided they would be relevant together and shake up the entire SEC race. The Big 10, once thought to be left for dead, is now (barely) alive again. The top of the Big 12 is good enough that a one-loss conference champion still has a great chance of making the playoffs.
This weekend has the potential for even more upsets, and the rankings will look much different again next week.
The Big 10 Just Missed the Cut: Ohio State, Oregon, Oklahoma State, Georgia Tech, UCLA, Nebraska
14. Kansas State The Wildcats don’t really have an impressive group of wins, but neither does any other team fighting for this spot. Kansas State has a “better” loss than both Ohio State and Oregon, so they’re in the 14th spot for now after last week’s dominating Texas Tech last weekend. The Fighting Bill Snyder’s have a bye this week before a big showdown at Oklahoma next Saturday.
13. Texas A&M Remember the hysteria surrounding the Aggies blowout win over South Carolina? Well, that win over a 3-3 team doesn’t look quite as good now. Texas A&M’s first true road test resulted in a blowout loss to Mississippi State, and the Aggies had no chance of containing the Dak Attack. Luckily for Kevin Sumlin, his team can make up for last week’s loss by knocking off Ole Miss in College Station.
12. Georgia Georgia’s season took a turn for the worse on Thursday afternoon after it was reported that star running back Todd Gurley was indefinitely suspended. Apparently, Gurley signed autographs for money. Which, for reasons unknown to me, is an NCAA violation. Gurley reportedly made $400 off his own signature, and now he can’t play. Why? Because the NCAA is a joke. Any outrage directed toward Todd Gurley is incredibly stupid. And it’s equally stupid to use the “Well he’s going to get millions soon in the NFL” argument. What does that have to do with right now? If Gurley, or any other college athlete for that matter, can make money off of his own name, he should have that right. The NCAA and the University of Georgia can sell red #3 jerseys, but Gurley can’t be compensated for them? Are you freaking kidding me? Now, the best player in all of college football might miss the rest of the season. He’s definitely out for the Missouri game tomorrow, and if he misses the rest of the year, the Bulldogs are done. It’s a damn shame, and everyone should now know that the NCAA has clueless, imbecilic leadership that’s jeopardizing the careers of college athletes. Free Todd Gurley.
10. Michigan State
9. Oklahoma The Sooners, Spartans, and Crimson Tide are still very much alive in the race for a playoff spot, but they can’t afford another loss. Alabama has more chances for redemption after the loss to Ole Miss, but the schedule is filled with landmines. The Crimson Tide have their toughest three remaining games at home: Texas A&M, Mississippi State, and Auburn. However, road games at LSU and Tennessee could be tricky, and this week’s matchup against Arkansas is a dangerous spot for the Tide. Out of these three teams, Michigan State has the best chance to run the table. The Big 10 is weak, and the toughest test remaining on the Spartans’ schedule is the matchup against Ohio State. A 12-1 Michigan State team would be hard to ignore for the playoff committee.
If Oklahoma wins out, they’re making the playoff. That would include a win over Baylor in November, as well as wins over Oklahoma State and Kansas State. Though if the Sooners lose again, Bob Stoops will have some explaining to do. This team is loaded, and there’s no reason for them to finish worse than 11-1.
8. Arizona No, I don’t think Arizona is a top ten team. But here they are. The Wildcats narrowly defeated Texas-San Antonio, and they needed a Hail Mary to beat Cal. However, the win at Oregon was the best win of any team this season. Winning a Thursday night road game in Eugene is not easy, so I have to give credit to Rich Rodriguez and the Wildcats. However, don’t be surprised if ‘Zona loses to USC on Saturday.
7. Ole Miss Ole Miss’s win over Alabama might be the best in school history. It was a milestone victory for Hugh Freeze and the Rebels; unfortunately, the euphoria surrounding that win will be short lived. Ole Miss is losing to Texas A&M this weekend. I still think the Rebels are the most overrated team in the country, although they do have what might be the nation’s best defense. If they can knock off the Aggies, they deserve any praise or credit, but I just don’t see it happening.
6. TCU The second best win of any college football team this season belongs to TCU. I thought Oklahoma was the nation’s most complete team, and the Horned Frogs upset them last Saturday in Fort Worth. As a reward, TCU now gets to play Baylor on the road. Good luck with that.
5. Notre Dame It’s easy to say the Fighting Irish are overrated. Saturday’s win over Stanford was their first impressive win of the season, and it took a miraculous throw on 4th and 11 from Everett Golson for Notre Dame to win the game. Nevertheless, I actually think this Notre Dame team is really good. Golson is much better than he was in 2012 when he led the Irish to the national championship game, and Brian Kelly has another solid defense in South Bend. Next week’s game against Florida State will be the best indicator of how good this Notre Dame team really is this year.
4. Baylor The Bears have played a weak schedule, but they’ve dominated everyteam they’ve played this year. This week’s game against TCU will be the first big test for Bryce Petty and the Bears.
3. Florida State Florida State’s first half performance against Wake Forest was a pretty good indicator of how the first half of the season has been for the Seminoles. They’ve played lethargically in almost every game, and luckily for them, they’re talented enough to do so. If they play that way against Notre Dame next week, though, they might lose.
2. Mississippi State
1. Auburn Auburn and Mississippi State are the best two teams in college football right now. When they square off this Saturday in Starkville, we’ll see two similarly styled teams. Both have great rushing defenses, and both run the ball well offensively. Both have mobile quarterbacks who are now in the Heisman conversation. Dak Prescott is the front-runner, and Nick Marshall is climbing up Heisman lists almost by default. The winner of this game could go a long way in determining that race, as well as the race for the SEC West crown. The biggest advantage Auburn has is its passing attack. Marshall accuracy is a concern, but he has plenty of weapons to on the perimeter, including Duke Williams and Sammie Coates. Dan Mullen has won two big games in a row, and if he knocks off Gus Malzahn’s Tigers, the Bulldogs might be the favorites to win the national title.
Pick Six I’m a generous person, so here’s six winners you can take to Vegas. Home teams in bold
1. Texas A&M (-2.5) over Ole Miss – I’m still not onboard the Ole Miss bandwagon. I like Kevin Sumlin coming off of a loss at home.
2. Georgia Tech (-3.5) over Duke – The Yellow Jackets are the forgotten unbeaten, and the schedule sets up nicely for them to potentially be 10-0 heading into the Clemson game in late November (I will have the previous sentence deleted from this site when they lose four games in the next month).
3. Oklahoma (-15.5) over Texas – This is a lot of points for a rivalry game, especially considering that the Longhorns upset the Sooners last year. But I can’t help but take Oklahoma coming off of a loss. Also, Texas sucks. Lay the points.
4. LSU (+1) over Florida – Joe Mags and I made fun of this game at length in our latest podcast, and this game will likely be terrible. With Gurley out for Georgia, South Carolina not being very good, and Missouri being inconsistent, the SEC East is up for grabs. Florida could absolutely win the East. Which means I’m 100% taking LSU here. I don’t trust Will Muschamp. I think he’s a terrible coach. Also, people are starting to count out Les Miles, which is a dangerous idea. LSU isn’t very good right now, but they find a way to win this.
5. Southern Cal (-3) over Arizona – USC lost on a fluke Hail Mary against Arizona State. The Trojans aren’t great, but Arizona is certainly beatable, even at home. A top ten team is a home underdog to an unranked team. How often does that happen?
6. Baylor (-8) over TCU – I think Baylor is two touchdowns better than TCU. The Horned Frogs just had their biggest win as members of the Big 12, and they’re following that up with a road game at Baylor. Tough scheduling. Extra Points • There are a few more games I like against the spread, but I don’t feel too confidently about them. If I had to, I’d take Auburn (-3) over Mississippi State; Arkansas (+10.5) over Alabama; Missouri (+3) over Georgia; and Oregon (-2.5) over UCLA. • Washington State’s Connor Holiday threw for an NCAA record 734 yards against Cal last week, and the Cougars still lost. • Kentucky is 4-1, and will likely be 5-1 after this week. Mark Stoops has done a tremendous job so far in Lexington.