Weekends of college football keep unfolding like the events of a Stephen King novel, keeping us on the edge of our seat until the much awaited conclusion. Even though the new year holds the ultimate drama, we’re getting closer to crowning a champion and right now we’re learning a lot about each team as we go.
- The Huskies and Cougars flipped results this weekend with WSU (6-3) pulling out a win over Arizona State and UW (4-5) not having enough answers for Utah. It was really disheartening to see the Utes’ Devontae Booker run all over a Husky defense that felt like they were playing at a high level. It’s still a growing year for Chris Petersen and the Dawgs, but they still have three winnable games left and only need to win two for bowl eligibility. Regardless, they’re probably a year or two away from getting “over the hump” and winning close games that they’re currently losing. The future is bright for UW, but they won’t be happy to know that they’re not the best college football team in the state of Washington. That designation belongs to the Cougars who came back from an early deficit, and got some help from the officials, against the Sun Devils to earn their sixth win. The Cougars are already in the midst of their best season since 2013 and could make it their best since 2003 when they won 10 games. It’s no secret the Cougs live and die on the right arm of Luke Falk who leads pretty much every passing category in the Pac-12. A big test lies ahead at UCLA this week and if they can pull off the upset they’ll undoubtedly find themselves ranked in the top-25.
A look at the rest of the Nation:
Poor officiating continues to rock some key outcomes across the nation, none more than undefeated Michigan State who likely saw a birth in the college football championship slip away due to a missed call. The Spartans weren’t the only undefeated team to fall with #2 LSU, #8 TCU, #13 Memphis and #24 Toledo all losing.
- Three teams that control their own destiny into the college football playoff notched the biggest statement wins on Saturday– #1 Clemson, #4 Alabama and #14 Oklahoma State. Clemson beat ACC mainstay Florida State and clinched a berth in the ACC championship game, the winner of that game last year (Florida State coincidentally) went to the playoff. Alabama knocked off LSU at home in dominating fashion as they shut down Heisman frontrunner Leonard Fournette to the tune of 31 yards on 19 carries. As for Oklahoma State, I said they were given the least respect of all the undefeated teams last week when the rankings came out and they must have heard me. Gone are the questions for why TCU was ranked so low as the Cowboys forced another Heisman candidate, Trevone Boykin, into his worst performance of the year throwing four interceptions. Cowboy sophomore Mason Rudolph looked like the one vying for the Heisman in that game as he threw for 352 yards and 5 scores.
My thought process for the playoff with just three weeks left in the regular season:
- If Oklahoma State knocks off both Baylor and Oklahoma in the final two weeks of the season, both of which are at home, they should be in the playoff. Baylor will have to beat both Oklahoma schools as well as TCU to find their way in. If a Big 12 team goes undefeated I don’t see a way you can disclude them from the playoff. If none of them go undefeated it will likely be the second year in a row the conference is snubbed.
- The only way the Pac-12 will get a team in is if Stanford wins out (meaning they beat Notre Dame at home) and wins the Pac-12 championship game. An outside shot comes from Utah who will get a crack at UCLA and potentially Stanford before everything is sorted out.
- SEC’s champion will be in for sure and it will be one of three teams– Alabama, Florida or LSU. Alabama and Florida seem poised to meet in the SEC Championship game, the winner of which will be in the playoff.
- The Big Ten is interesting because the “big three” of the conference (Ohio State and the Michigan schools) play in the east and only one will get the chance to play for the Big Ten championship. Whoever comes out of the east will likely play undefeated Iowa with the winner finding its way into the playoff.
- One more team of interest: Notre Dame. Not being able to play for a conference championship will hurt the Irish in the same way that it hurts the Big 12. With that said, Notre Dame has that big name factor and one last chance to make a statement at Stanford for their final game. If Notre Dame wins out you have to like their chances of clinching a playoff berth.
My playoff prediction: #1 Clemson, #2 Alabama, #3 Ohio State, #4 Notre Dame