Time is running short, and the top four spots in the College Football Playoff are still up for grabs (except Alabama’s). So let’s jump right in and get started. Mr. Crosland, you’re up first!
Pac-12 Down to Four: The Pac-12 division races have been one of the best things about this college football season. Each division has whittled down to two teams. Colorado and USC in the South and Washington and Washington State in the North. Colorado controls its destiny in their game against Utah. Win and they’re in, lose and they are out. USC would make it into the championship game if the Buffaloes lose. The North comes down to the game known as the Apple Cup, in which Washington and Washington State will battle for division supremacy.
Strong Chance of a Firing: Charlie Strong entered the year on the hot seat, due to the fact that he coaches at Texas and the expectations are incredibly high year in and year out. He has yet to live up to those expectations in his tenure. He has had highs and lows, but this previous Saturday was the lowest of the low. Texas lost to the Kansas Jayhawks, who hadn’t beaten an FBS team since November of 2014. Just to put how monumental this loss was, Kansas hadn’t beaten Texas since 1938. This loss may have just made Strong’s seat nuclear. Unless they can somehow recover and beat TCU, I’d say Strong will be out of Austin shortly after the game.
Vandy Manhandles The Rebels: Ole Miss came into this game, off the heels of their huge win against Texas A&M, needing to only win one more game to become bowl eligible. Vandy came into the game with slim chances of making a bowl, but if they could win their last two games they would be able to go bowling for the first time in the Derek Mason era. Those two games being Ole Miss and Tennessee made it seem a little less likely though. Vandy, however, came out and just physically beat down the Rebels to step one step closer to bowl eligibility. Vandy now looks to pull one more upset against Tennessee to make dream of bowling come true, while the Rebels need to beat Mississippi State who would like nothing more than to ruin Ole Miss’ season.
Louisville’s Playoff Hopes Dashed: With the losses of Michigan, Washington, and Clemson just two weeks ago, the door was opened back up for a team like Louisville to find it’s way back into the playoff conversation. They had to travel to Houston on a Thursday night and with how Lamar Jackson has played all season you would’ve thought this game would be a runaway with how Houston has played late in the season. Houston came to play though and manhandled the Cardinals, holding the probable Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson to only 244 yards of offense and only 1 touchdown. This destroys any chance the Cardinals had of making the playoff and prevents the excitement of seeing Jackson have a shot at leading his team into the national title contention.
A Goal Line Stand in the Bayou: In a game mired with controversy, due it having to be rescheduled because of weather early in the season, the defenses shined. Florida needed to win this game to lock up the SEC East, and LSU wanted to do everything they could to make sure that didn’t happen. Leonard Fournette was going to sit out this game, but after an altercation with Florida players and coaches before the game he decided to suit up. He didn’t end up play very much, so it was Derrius Guice who was charged to carry the load. He was provided his chance to be a hero, as they had the ball on the goal line with just seconds left. The heroes ended up being the defensive line of Florida, as they were able to stuff Guice and fullback J.D. Moore on the final plays to come away with a win.
All you Scott!
Thank you sir!
-Dark days in South Bend: I can’t start my takes without talking about the utter mess that is Notre Dame Football. First a blown 17 point lead in a 34-31 loss to Virginia Tech that will give the Irish their first losing season since 2007. Now there’s the revelation about violations centered on academic misconduct by a former student athletic trainer and two football student-athletes during a three-year period. The student trainer also provided six other football players with impermissible academic benefits across 18 courses in two years. The forfeited wins won’t happen, but this is inexcusable for a university of their standards. Brian Kelly should be fired, whether he knew anything or not. Jim Calhoun walked away from UConn when it happened on his watch, and it should happen here.
-Judgment Day in Columbus: This Saturday is the biggest game for one of the best rivalries in college football. Ohio State ALMOST looked past Michigan State (which this guy mentioned last week) in a 17-16 win over the Spartans sets up next week’s war with Michigan. JT Barrett struggled, completing only 10 passes for 86 yards but Mike Weber rushed for 111 yards and the the Buckeyes defense held Tyler O’Connor to 6-16 passing.
-Speaking of next Saturday: Playing without Wilton Speight, Michigan struggled at times but De’Veon Smith saved the day with 158 yards on 23 carries as the Wolverines beat Indiana 20-10 to set up the showdown in the Horseshoe. Speight should be ready this week and he needs to be as John O’Korn threw for just 59 yards, the fewest passing yards for a Michigan QB since 2001.
-See yah Mountaineers: Just like Louisville, West Virginia came into this week’s game with new invigoration as a 1 loss team that could get its way into the playoff. But, just like Louisville last week they rolled snake eyes and laid a stinker out at home in a 56-28 loss to #9 Oklahoma, effectively ending their playoff chances. Sameje Perine had 160 yards rushing and two TD’s as the Sooners jumped out to a 34-0 lead and never looked back. The Sooners have bedlam this weekend but their playoff chances are slim.
-Academies Update: At this point all three teams (Army, Navy, Air Force) will make a bowl game, and of course the big one is in two weeks when Army plays Navy in Baltimore.
Now a look at the updated Playoff rankings, which will definitely change next week:
#4 Clemson vs. #1 Alabama
#3 Michigan vs. #2 Ohio State
Outside looking in:
#7 Penn State
There’s four teams with one loss, and one of those teams will be eliminated with a second loss. As this is rivalry weekend, more than just pride is on the line in some cases. Let’s look at this weekend’s battles. Games on Saturday unless otherwise noted:
#5 Washington at #23 Washington State, Friday at 3:30pm: The biggest Apple Cup game in quite some time. Huskies need a win because they will probably slide into the playoff because of the next game.
#3 Michigan at #2 Ohio State, Noon: Winner stays in, loser is out. It’s that simple.
#13 Auburn at #1 Alabama, 3:30pm: It’s the Iron Bowl, they could both be winless and it would still be a great game. Alabama could probably afford a loss and still be in the playoff at this point.
Notre Dame at #12 USC, 3:30pm: This will be very ugly, as anytime ND is this bad this late in the season they usually get motorboated. It’s not even in prime time.
Michigan State at #7 Penn State. 3:30pm: The Nittany Lions should win this one and still be in the playoff chase.
Minnesota at #6 Wisconsin, 3:30pm: The Badgers are probably an overrated #6, but they are still in the hunt if they win here.
#22 Utah at #9 Colorado, 7:30pm: The Buffaloes should be in the Pac-12 Championship if they win here.
South Carolina at #4 Clemson, 7:30pm: The battle for the Palmetto State.
#15 Florida at #14 Florida State, 8pm: Always a fun game, even though both teams future are pretty secure.