The stretch drive begins! Welcome back to the newest Hot Takes, with a change to the format. With the Playoff Rankings starting this week, we will add those later in the column instead of the AP Top 10. Before we get to the list, let’s dive into the Hot Takes from an exciting weekend. I will let Mr. Logan Crosland go first!
-Pac-12 Update After Big Weekend: Last week I talked about how the Pac-12 standings seemed to be dominated completely by surprise teams. Washington and Washington State stood atop the North division, while Utah and Colorado were tied atop the South. College Gameday traveled to Salt Lake City, Utah this week to witness the game of the week between Utah and Washington. Washington was able to run a punt back with a little over 3 minutes left to put away Utah 31-24 and remain tied for the division lead, as Washington State was able to squeak by Oregon State. Due to Colorado being off this week, the Utah loss puts the Buffaloes in first place. This is a division race worth paying attention to in the remaining weeks.
-Tennessee’s Downward Spiral Continues: After getting a come from behind victory over Florida some weeks ago, the Vols seemed to be poised to actually live up to expectations and win the SEC East to go to Atlanta for the SEC Championship. After 3 straight conference losses though, it seems they will fall short of that goal once again. Tennessee could’ve lived with losing consecutive games to Texas A&M and Alabama, but losing a third game in a row to likes of South Carolina might just put the nail in the Vols coffin. Butch Jones seat might be a little hotter for the rest of the season, after falling below expectations once again.
-Auburn Continues to Roll Through SEC Play: Auburn came into Oxford on Saturday riding a four game winning streak, in which they have been rather dominant. Ole Miss on the other hand had been the loser of 3 consecutive games. Like most games the Rebels have been involved with this season, they not only lead at halftime but they lead going into the fourth quarter of this game. Throughout the season they have made a habit of blowing these types of leads, and Saturday was no different. After being down 22-20 at the half, the Tigers were able to outscore the Rebels 20-7 in the second half to win 40-29. Auburn seems poised to be maybe the last team to have a shot at competing with Alabama for the SEC West.
-1,296: The use of this number may confuse some people out there reading this article. Well, this is how many yards of offense I was witness to this past Saturday in a game between Samford and Mississippi State. As a Mississippi State fan, I fully expected that we would get about as many points and yards as we wanted to playing lower level competition. Along with all of the other Miss. St fans, I was surprised to only outgain Samford by 42 yards. It isn’t more that I’m surprised that we only had that many more yards than them, it was that we had 669 yards of offense and no one ever would’ve thought that an FCS school could put up 627 yards on an SEC team. Luckily, despite this atrocious defensive performance, Miss. St. was able to come away with what may be their last victory 56-41.
Michigan Gets Sweet Revenge: In a rematch of the game that ended on a blocked punt ran back for a touchdown, Michigan was looking to seek some revenge on their in-state rivals Michigan State. Michigan is drastically better than the team from last year that almost beat the Spartans, who were national semifinalists last season. After the first drive for Mich. St., it was looking like this game might actually be interesting when they methodically drove down the field and went up 7-0. Michigan would score on their next possession and would go on to dominate the next two quarters. The Spartans would try to make it interesting in the fourth quarter cutting into the lead, but would ultimately fall short 32-23 with Michigan exacting revenge from last year’s dramatic loss.
Take it away Scott!
Thank you sir…
-Survive and Advance: That has been the mantra for the Clemson Tigers this season. They’ve maybe played one or two real solid games this season, and in the others king of slogged along until the fourth quarter. Saturday in Tallahassee was probably Clemson’s last real test before the ACC Championship game. DeShaun Watson had another great game, throwing for 378 yards passing (430 yards of total offense) and 2 TD’s, but also threw 2 INTs and the Florida State Seminoles led late in the fourth quarter. Watson hit Jordan Leggett with 2:06 and with the 2 pt conversion came back to win 37-34 and remain undefeated. Jimbo Fisher was in his offensive line’s face for most of the night and they responded in the second half with solid blocking and protection. The future is bright for Deondre Francois and the Seminoles.
-The Small 12: There were really only two solid options for the Big 12 to win a spot in the playoff: Baylor and West Virginia. Well both screwed the pooch Saturday and now the Big 12 may be out of the playoff. As THIS GUY said in last week’s column, West Virginia may have been walking into an ambush in Stillwater, and they did. Dana Holgersen’s Mountaineers lost 37-20 to Oklahoma State as Mason Rudolph threw 3 TD’s for the Cowboys. WVU had three turnovers and are no longer undefeated. Neither is Baylor, who lost by a point to Texas in what may have been a job saver for Charlie Strong. Then again, Baylor is a villain anyway, so no one wants to see them do well.
-Nice win in South Bend: It’s not exactly Catholics vs. Convicts anymore, but I still get excited when I see Notre Dame and Miami play each other. ND blew a lead (big shock) but came from behind for a 30-27 win over Mark Richt’s Hurricanes. DeShone Kizer threw for 263 yards and a couple TD’s but Justin Yoon is probably the MVP of this team. He hits field goals when they need them the most. ND is now 3-5 but a bowl berth is still very tedious.
-Have a cocktail: The red Solo cups were flowing in Jacksonville (That’s right I’m not politically correct. Suck it ESPN) as Georgia and Florida met in their annual battle, and the Gators defense led the way in a 24-10 win. Nick Chubb was held to 20 yards rushing and Jacob Eason was rattled most of the game. Tough first year for Kirby Smart, but they will get better.
-Service Academy Update: Army got back up off the deck with an impressive 21-13 win over Wake Forest. They’re now 5-3 and are one win away from being bowl-eligible. This week is a big one against fellow Service Academy Air Force, who broke a three game losing streak with a 31-21 win over Fresno State. They’re also 5-3. As for Navy, their defense was atrocious in a 52-45 loss last Friday to South Florida. The two teams combined for 729 yards rushing, which is the most I’ve ever seen for a game not involving Army. Navy has Notre Dame in a brunch kickoff of 11am Saturday on “The Big Eye”.
Well instead of the AP Top 10, we will give you the playoff semifinal scenarios as the first rankings came out this week, as well as the four underneath:
#4 Texas A&M vs. #1 Alabama (Ugh we hate rematches)
#3 Michigan vs. #2 Clemson
Outside Looking In:
6. Ohio State
Of course there is MORE than plenty of football left before these are etched in stone. Here’s the big games this week, and there’s not that many. Incidentally one game has already been played; Central Michigan is now 9-0 after beating Ball State 52-20.
UCLA at #15 Colorado: Thursday at 9pm: Big boy game for the Buffaloes if they want to stay atop the Pac 12 South.
#22 Florida State at North Carolina State, 7pm: After the Wolfpack almost stunned Clemson earlier in the season, they get a crack at home against another conference heavyweight.
#1 Alabama at #13 LSU, 8pm: Yep, that game.
#10 Nebraska at #6 Ohio State, 8pm: With Texas A&M having a loss, this is a big game for both teams if they want a slot in that top 4 playoff.
#5 Washington at California, 10pm: This could be a trap game for the Huskies, who are probably a bit miffed they’re not #4 in the Playoff.