See, all it took was taking a week off to look at quarterback and defense ratings for the entire college football world to fall apart. Last week was college football’s Look at Me! Moment, which it inevitably has every year. Things are going according to plan, and then eventually that plan includes running into a side of the mountain and bursting into flames.
That’s what we get for buying our plans from Acme. However, despite all of the chaos, there are some constants. And one of them, unfortunately, is Bama. The Tide keeps crashing relentlessly against the shore.
1 Bama. I’m sure the Tide faithful will find many things to complain about a 41-9 thrashing of Arkansas. Perhaps a backup kicker didn’t tie his shoelaces correctly or something.
2 Georgia. The Dawgs finally failed to cover in a game they won by 25 points. Georgia’s underlying numbers are getting awfully Bama-like. Bama is at +228 scoring this year, Georgia is +175. Still behind, but the gap is closing.
3 Texas A&M. Right now, they lost a heartbreaker in Pac-12 After Dark, where weird stuff happens, and a respectable loss to Bama. Easily the best resume of the mere mortals right now.
4 Kentucky. They are actually covering a wide receiver away from being unbeaten right now. It’s crazy, but ten wins isn’t out of the question, even with a loss to Georgia.
5 LSU. Team Lazarus was rightfully left for dead two weeks ago, but the Tigers found new life after getting humiliated by Troy with back-to-back big SEC wins.
6 Auburn. This team still has a pretty good defense, credible quarterback play, and a monster in the backfield. They just aren’t as good as they thought they were.
7 South Carolina. The losses to Kentucky and A&M are looking better, though no one is gonna put beating a struggling Vols team by 6 on their Christmas cards.
8 Florida. The horseshoe finally ran out of luck, but it’s not like the Gators are getting blown out. Two consecutive narrow losses could have gone either way.
9 Mississippi St. About to play three of our top four in their next four games. So, perhaps they should enjoy this moment above water before they start drowning.
10 Ole Miss. You know, maybe they aren’t abjectly terrible. Sure, it was Vandy, but a blowout win is a blowout win.
11 Tennessee. One of four winless teams in conference play, and they are about to play Bama and Kentucky. Eyeing that November 11th matchup with Mizzou longingly.
12 Arkansas. They’ve gone from the “keeping it close in encouraging losses” portion of the season to the “I think they are packing it in” section.
13 Vanderbilt. This was supposed to be the week Vandy righted the ship by playing weaker competition. Instead, Ole Miss exposed them.
14 Missouri. Showed life for a quarter and a half. That’s progress.
3 NC State
4 Virginia Tech
The ACC boasts five teams with one loss or less. So, even in a week in which their standard bearer got upset by upstart Syracuse in-conference, the overall conference still looks incredibly strong. They are going to have multiple bites at the playoff apple given their large batch of contenders. Miami is the least impressive unbeaten team in a while, but they have a chance to improve that resume with games against both Virginia schools, Notre Dame, and a suddenly frisky Syracuse team. At the end of the day, ugly wins still count like regular wins. Let’s also not right off Clemson just yet. They still have a looming matchup with NCSU on the road and Florida St at home, but Clemson will certainly be a favorite in every game remaining on its schedule. If the Tigers win out, they get a chance to notch a quality win in the ACC title game, and they will be assured a playoff spot. It’s just that their margin for error is now gone.
3 Oklahoma St
4 West Virginia
The top three have separated themselves from the rest of the conference, though give credit to the Big 12’s overall depth. Five teams currently sit at 2-1 in conference play with only TCU at 3-0. That means five teams are all legitimate contenders for the inaugural Big 12 title game redux. WVU and OSU are a bit ahead of the pack, as they have each already received their loss to TCU. Texas might be sitting at 3-3, but part of that is a rough schedule, and they have now gone toe to toe with USC and OU. Yes, those were losses, and moral victories only count as losses, but the Horns are showing themselves to be a pretty good team, and their schedule is about to ease up. If they can pull an upset over OSU or TCU, they can still insert themselves into the title race, much to the conference’s chagrin.
1 Penn St
2 Ohio St
The East is looking every bit as strong as we thought it would be. Four teams have one loss or less, though they haven’t quite started beating each other yet. Only Sparty has a quality win in conference, over Michigan, but the round robin is about to begin. Penn St, who has played a Charmin soft schedule so far, now plays Michigan, Ohio St, and Sparty in consecutive weeks. We find out now how good the Nittany Lions really are. Meanwhile, the team sitting prettiest is Wisconsin, already with a two-game lead in the West, and only Michigan on its schedule of the East powers. Sure, there’s a Big Ten title game, but the Badgers are set up well for a quiet undefeated regular season. The Badgers are now in don’t screw it up mode, which is the most dangerous mode in college sports. The Chaos Gods do not approve.
4 Washington St
Pac-12 After Dark has been working overtime this season. Stanford lost to USC at home and then San Diego St. They are now the front-runners in the South. Washington lost its unbeaten season against 3-3 Arizona St. Previously winless in-conference Cal throttled Wazzu. Colorado has lost two conference games by a combined 7 points, the difference between 3-1 and 1-3. I still like Utah, they have just been the victim of close losses to USC and Stanford, who look like the two best teams in the Pac-12. But that could change next week. The Pac-12 has been insane this season, and I doubt it will suddenly start making sense.
Current Playoff Bracket
There’s been some talk of two SEC teams making the playoffs, but I just don’t see it. The SEC is a dumpster fire this season, and Georgia and Bama are on a collision course for Atlanta. That game will serve as a virtual elimination game for the playoff. Bama might make it if they lose by virtue of being Bama, but Georgia has to win the SEC title or hope for even more chaos. But the problem is that the Big Ten and ACC both have so many contenders, it’s highly likely someone will come out of each of those conferences with one loss or less. Given the strength of those conferences, that will be enough to make the playoff. The Pac-12 is now on high alert, as none of its contenders can afford another loss, and even winning out might not do the trick. The Big 12 still has two contenders in TCU and Oklahoma. Either an unbeaten TCU or an OU team that wins out from this point on would be a near lock for the playoff. The only path for any conference to get two teams in is a lot more chaos. Then again, it’s barely October. There’s plenty of time for the Chaos Gods to do their work.