Notre Dame and QB Jack Coan’s late game heroics may have saved their season well into a full Saturday slate of college football. While Notre Dame was busy wrapping up their survival of a gritty Toledo team, Oklahoma was taking the field en route to a 76-0 thrashing of Western Carolina. The college football world is, in a sense, unpredictable and so why try to predict the unpredictable? Because it’s fun to be right, and how else to be right than make a couple of questionable predictions and decisions (sort of like Ohio State’s decision to punt from Oregon’s 33 yard line) in hopes of one hitting gold.
Is 4-4 on the table for the Irish?
First, an upstart Purdue (2-0) rolls into South Bend fresh off a dominant road win at UConn in shutout fashion. I expect Notre Dame to survive another scare against the Boilers. From there however things go south quickly. The Irish have 4 of their next 5 games against ranked teams. ( vs. No. 12 Wisconsin, vs. No. 8 Cincinnati, @ No. 15 Virginia Tech, vs. No. 21 North Carolina) While 3 of those 4 ranked teams travel to South Bend, count me as someone who hasn’t seen enough out of the Irish and fully expect the Irish to be 4-4 after 8 games. Per the NCAA, Notre Dame’s defense ranks 104th out of 130 teams in rush yards allowed per game while the rush attacks of Wisconsin(12), Cincinnati(48) Virginia Tech(56), North Carolina(T-58) all rank higher in yards per game than Toledo (T-66) who almost pulled off the unlikely road upset against the Irish. Expect Brian Kelly’s defense to have their hands full.
Panic Time in Columbus?
Regardless of which recruiting service you use (Rivals, 247Sports, ESPN, etc.) Ohio State has had top 5 recruiting classes each of the last 2 years including a 2nd place ranking last year, suggesting they have as much talent as anyone in the country not named Alabama. Among these classes are multiple 5 star defensive lineman which begs the question: Where has the Buckeye star-studded defense been? Oregon had no issues doing whatever they wanted offensively Saturday, and even Minnesota seemingly was in the game until RB Mohamed Ibrahim exited with a leg injury. The Buckeyes total defense ranks 112th out of 130 in the country while their talent level ranks third in the entire country per 247 Sports 2021 College Football Team Talent Composite. Is it a fluke, or (now that Urban Meyer left campus, he taught a class after resigning from the head coaching role) are the Buckeyes destined for their first season with no Big Ten title since 2016 and more than two losses since 2011? It may be panic time in Columbus.
The Big Ten East is Wide Open
Two games into the season and five of the Big Ten East teams are still undefeated. Conveniently, all five of those Big Ten East teams were under .500 last season. Ohio State and Indiana ranked No. 4 and No. 17 in the preseason, have slipped, and are 1-1. OSU has fallen out of the top 10 while Indiana has fallen out of the poll altogether after a week one blowout by Iowa (34-6 L). Does this mean the division is wide open? Short answer, yes and no. Preseason favorite Ohio State may be 1-1 but their one loss was non-conference meaning they still have a horse in this race. Indiana would likely have to win each of their remaining Big 10 games to make the title game as a loss would be even more of a hit to their season than week one. Michigan, Michigan State, Penn State, and the dark horse, underrated Rutgers Scarlet Knights all have claim to the game. Each of the teams mentioned had under .500 win percentages last year and have things to be excited about already this season. For Michigan (4) and MSU (6) their rushing attacks are ranked top 10 nationally. Penn State already has a big road win against Wisconsin on the road. The Scarlet Knights 2-0 record is their best start since 2014 and they lead the entire nation in turnover margin. With Ohio State potentially having a down year the Big Ten East is wide open and Michigan, Michigan State, Penn State, and Rutgers, all would like to stake their claim. This race should be red hot well into November.
First CFP Appearance For Pac-12 Since 2017?
The Pac-12 has Oregon, UCLA, and Arizona State all left standing at 2-0. 3 of the Pac-12’s teams are 0-2, and the rest are 1-1. With only Stony Brook left on the non-conference schedule for the Ducks, if they can scamper through a fairly easy Pac-12 conference schedule unscathed they will have a real shot at a playoff appearance. UCLA, conveniently, is Oregon’s only challenging road game from here on out. The Bruins seemingly have the best path. They host the other two Pac-12 undefeated teams and if they can exhibit a modern environment they have a real shot at making a title run themselves. Lastly, Arizona State has an eerily similar conference schedule to Oregon. It appears this race is already narrowed to three teams and could very well be decided by UCLA. If they can beat both of those teams they will likely go to the Pac-12 championship with more than just a conference title on the line. Chip Kelly is BACK!