Week 3 showed us the true Pac-12 as the south division alone made the college football world regret all the nice things said about them last week. At the same time Florida and QB Emory Jones erased a 21-3 first quarter margin to give Alabama all they could handle late, proving that the everlasting favorite Crimson Tide are mortal. A pesky Nebraska team gave an Oklahoma team coming off a 76-point win last week a scare and host Ohio State needed a freshman rushing record to go down before being able to handle a zero-win visiting Tusla team. Could this be the year of parity that college football so desperately needs?
2 loss team in playoff?
Seeing the Pac-12 seemingly lose all hope in a playoff team (apart from Oregon) by week 3 constitutes the boldest prediction thus far. (Only to be outdone ~ keep reading) If Oregon slips up along the way through their conference season which could happen (see trip to UCLA) the door is certainly open for a two loss team to sneak into the playoff. Most likely a team from the SEC or Big Ten. Every ACC team thought to be a contender at the beginning of the season has either one loss or looked so unimpressive that their playoff chances are dropping with wins, reference Clemson. With Oregon’s wins over Fresno State who emerged into the top-25 this and on the road against Ohio State, will that be enough to plug them into the playoff over a two loss Big Ten or SEC team that wins in their conference championship?
Two Conferences Will Be Represented In The CFP
It doesn’t get bolder than this. Before you immediately dismiss this preposition, sit back and think about this. Oklahoma, the Big 12’s best, barely survived Nebraska, one of the worst teams in the weaker division of the Big Ten. If Oklahoma has one loss along the way, which is certainly possible considering they visit Kansas State and Texas back to back weeks, and Oregon stumbles (see above) is it impossible to think that two teams from the Big Ten and SEC each could get in. Iowa is ranked in the top 5 with a defense that could stop rain from falling. According to ESPN’s FPI, Michigan is now projected to win every game remaining on their schedule. Michigan State and Penn State are both coming off of impressive wins and Ohio State lives to see another day. The SEC is looking as top heavy as ever with Alabama and Georgia who has the only defense in college football that could rival Iowa’s. Kentucky and Ole Miss are on the rise with the latter having at this point my heisman favorite in Matt Corral. This narrative could easily be defeated this week as Ole Miss visits Alabama and Big Ten action really gets underway but it’s fun to dream.
The Big Ten East vs The SEC West
If the football gods are listening right now please let this happen somehow somewhere in Bowl Season. These are the best divisions in college football and there is no debate there. The only question many have is which one of these stacked divisions is better. Top to bottom the Big Ten East takes the cake. LSU was embarrassed by UCLA, Auburn just lost to a Big Ten East power, while Mississippi State is 2-1 it likely won’t last as they have trips to Texas A&M (Oct. 2), Arkansas (Nov. 6), and Auburn (Nov. 13) all remaining on their schedule. Not to mention all of the losses in this division of the SEC so far have come on the road. Meanwhile the Big Ten East has 5 3-0 teams still and one of the two teams with at least one loss is Ohio State. The last place team Indiana, arguably has had the most difficult schedule of all of these teams thus far having traveled to Iowa and then hosting Cincinnati. A little time to get their feet underneath them could give them the boost needed to make a deep run to the title game, and the same goes for Ohio State. All bias aside I do believe that as the season goes on the Big Ten East will emerge as the best division in college football by a fairly wide margin.
Group of 5, Could This Be The Year?
First, there are the teams I think have a reasonable chance. Cincinnati. That’s it, that’s the list. Fresno State is on the outside looking in, they did beat UCLA this weekend, but one impressive win won’t be enough. Had they beat Oregon as well the discussion would have changed. Coastal Carolina is likely out as well. While they can definitely go undefeated their toughest game will be traveling to Appalachian State who already lost to a Miami team that has one win. Cincinnati however, struck thought into voters minds last season when running the table before barely falling to seventh-ranked Georgia in The Peach Bowl. This year could be different for The Bearcats. They already knocked off Indiana on the road 38-24 and have a bye week upcoming before traveling to face Notre Dame on the road. If the Bearcats beat the Irish and go undefeated, while the Hoosiers and Irish go on to have respectable seasons the argument certainly could be raised to push this Cincinnati team into The College Football Playoff.
Ohio State and Clemson
2 teams that have had marquee matchups in the playoffs the last two years and seemingly have been in the conversation every year since the playoff was implemented. Wouldn’t it be weird to see neither of them make it this year? With each passing week it is seeming more and more likely. Ohio State’s defense didn’t improve with a new signal caller as it took them all of three quarters and then some to put away a winless Tulsa team. Their total defense is now ranked 14th worst in the entire country and second worst in total yards allowed, not exactly on brand for the Buckeyes. Not to mention their home attendance for the Tulsa game was 76,540, the smallest crowd since 1971. On the contrary Clemson doesn’t have defensive problems. In fact they probably would still be playing Georgia with a score of 3-3 had their QB DJ Uiagalelei not thrown the game changing pick-six. Which brings me to their concern, offense. The Tiger offense only managed 14 points against Georgia Tech and likely would have lost the game had they not had the second best scoring defense in the country. Clemson’s offense rans 17th worst in the nation in total yard gained and 18th worst in the nation in passing efficiency. Uiagalelei hasn’t been good to say the least and certainly not good enough to break Clemson’s Heisman Trophy drought he was largely predicted to. Clemson’s defense better get it figured out because their defense can only win them so many games.