College Football Believe it or Not: Jim Harbaugh, Notre Dame playoff hopes both done

(Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
(Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images) /

Time again for FanSided college football experts Michael Collins and Patrick Schmidt to attack the latest college football narratives in the nation.

Four weeks of the 2019 college football season are complete, and many things are still as murky as they were before the season began. However, some upsets, big losses, and quality wins have set off a whole new set of hot takes to be dispelled or supported.

The number one team in the nation held serve with a convincing win over Intramural State (or you may know them as Charlotte) but the rest of the Top 10 had an interesting weekend creating some interesting fodder for another edition of, “Believe it or Not”, with FanSided college football experts Michael Collins, and Patrick Schmidt.

5. Believe it or not, a QB won’t win the Heisman this year

Schmidt Says – Not: With all due respect to great running backs Jonathan Taylor and Travis Etienne, the Heisman is a quarterback award now.

Reggie Bush, Mark Ingram, and Derrick Henry are the only running backs to win the Heisman since 2000. In that same time, 16 quarterbacks have won the Heisman, including the last three years. Taylor could run for 2,500 yards and 30 touchdowns and still, it might not be enough to beat this year’s group of quarterbacks.

I’m betting on Jalen Hurts, Tua Tagovailoa or Joe Burrow to win the Heisman with Taylor getting an invitation to the ceremony to see one of the quarterbacks win.

Collins Says – Not: We may never see another defensive player win the coveted Heisman Trophy, and wide receivers make everyone with an award vote twitch a little too much. That leaves running backs and quarterbacks, and running backs are no longer the commodity they were in the old days.

Most great running backs simply run out of gas by the time the season is nearing an end and the Heisman voters are really paying attention. Add to that the fact that the quarterback is the only player (other than the center) to touch the ball on virtually every offensive play. The deck is stacked in their favor.

In today’s pass-happy, oop-de-oop, spread offenses, the Heisman has essentially become the Davey O’Brien Award but with a bigger NFL Draft Day payoff.

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(Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images) /

4. Believe it or not, Cal can win the Pac-12.

Schmidt Says – Believe It: It’s technically possible as the Bears are the last undefeated team in the conference. The Bears have one of the best secondaries in the nation and Justin Wilcox is a rising star in the coaching ranks.

But I’m not ready to say Cal is the team to beat in the Pac-12. They can win the Pac-12, but I still trust Washington, Oregon, and USC more than the Bears right now.

Collins Says – Not: Cal is off to a great start and is the remaining Pac-12 team without a blemish in the L column. So, mathematically can they win the conference? Sure. Mathematically any Pac-12 team can win the conference. But not the Golden Bears. Not this year.

I’ll make this simple. As long as USC is beating ranked teams with their third-string quarterback, Cal is not winning the Pac-12.

3. Believe it or not, Notre Dame can still make the playoff.

Schmidt Says – Believe It: Of course, it got a lot harder after losing to Georgia but it wasn’t an elimination game. Notre Dame needs to win out for starters and then they’ll need a little bit of help.

The Irish need USC, Virginia and Michigan to be the best versions of themselves to boost their strength of schedule. USC may win the Pac-12, Virginia may get to the ACC Championship Game, but Michigan may not be the strong win they’ll need it to be. Then, they’ll need the SEC to cannibalize itself so Alabama-Georgia-LSU is whittled down to one playoff team. If all that happens, then they have a path to the playoff.

Collins Says – Not: I’m of two schools of thought on this. If Notre Dame had been run out of Sanford Stadium in a rout, it would be a different story. But, with a close loss to a Top 3 team, Notre Dame really did nothing to completely damage their playoff hopes.

But then again…

The road is vastly more difficult now than it would have been with a win over the Bulldogs, and although this will be viewed as a “quality loss” by the playoff committee, you can’t help but think that anything but an undefeated record would be needed for the Irish to slip into the top four for a second straight season.

This loss coupled with the fact that the Irish don’t have that 13th game in the way of a conference championship game to help support their case means it’s going to be next to impossible for Notre Dame to do any better than a New Year’s Six bowl berth.

2. Believe it or not, this will be Jim Harbaugh’s last year at Michigan.

Schmidt Says – Not: Certainly, things are not going well for Jim Harbaugh and Michigan after getting dominated in every facet vs. Wisconsin. And certainly Michigan expected Harbaugh to win games against Ohio State, something he’s yet to do.

But with three 10-win seasons in the last four years and a $15 million buyout, I don’t think this is his last year in Ann Arbor. Coaches get fired way too soon and unless they’re going to bring in Lincoln Riley, I don’t think they’d get a legitimate upgrade over what they have. It would be a knee-jerk reaction to fire him this year. If it’s his last year, it’s because Harbaugh gets a Jon Gruden-like contract from an NFL team.

Collins Says – Not: Jim Harbaugh was brought into Michigan to take them to the next level, from a good program to playoff and championship team.

In the big picture, his 40-15 overall record doesn’t look too shabby. But when you really examine what he’s NOT accomplished — no Big Ten Championship game appearances, no playoffs, no wins over Ohio State, 1-9 vs top 10, 1-7 on the road vs ranked teams — it takes on the look of a coach about to begin logging into the coaches transfer portal.

However, when you take into consideration Harbaugh’s $15 million buyout, the $2 million insurance payment and the other irrevocable perks which he’s been granted as the anointed savior of Big Blue, it’s clear that he’ll be granted clemency for at least one more season.

Then again, his buyout is only reduced to $10 million next season, so this may go on for a while.

(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /

1. Believe it or not, Alabama isn’t the best SEC team

Schmidt Says – Not: Not. I have concerns about the depth of Alabama’s defense after the unit was ravaged by some injuries to key players at key positions. But let’s not overthink it. Alabama still has the best coach in Nick Saban, the best player in Tua Tagovailoa and the best track record of performing in big games.

LSU has looked great with Joe Burrow transforming the Tigers into a pass-happy offense and Georgia might have the best win so far with a win over then-No. 7 Notre Dame. One of those teams may end up winning the SEC over Alabama, but today, it’s Alabama and that’s why the Coaches and AP voters have Alabama ahead of the pair.

Collins Says – Believe It: Alabama has probably the best quarterback, wide receiver corps, and head coach in the SEC (maybe even the nation). But they are not the best team in the SEC, not in their current state.

The injuries continue to mount up on defense, and the offensive line is still not performing like a typical Alabama offensive line. In fact, they’re performing like an offensive line directed by Steve Sarkisian. If it weren’t for Tua’s arm and legs, Alabama would be in a heap of trouble this season already, and they’ve yet to really play any competition.

LSU should be able to match Alabama offensively blow-for-blow, and if Alabama ends up facing Georgia in the SEC Championship Game, it’s likely to be the best defense they’ve faced all season – probably better than their own. There’s very little separation between those three teams, and certainly not enough to call the Crimson Tide the best team in the conference.

Next. Power Ranking Projections After Week 4. dark