Believe it or not, Michigan is beating Ohio State, Alabama is making the College Football Playoff and Texas isn’t even the biggest disappointment of the year.
No more unbeaten teams went down, but Ohio State did have a bit of a struggle-win with Penn State leading into their huge rivalry game with Michigan. LSU probably allowed more points and yardage to Arkansas than most expected, and Georgia once again proved they can win in squall conditions.
How does that set things up for the last regular season week of the year? Believe it or not, we’ve got answers for you.
Believe it or not, this is the year Michigan beats OSU
Michigan has won four in a row since their 28-21 loss to Penn State when they almost came back to win that game. They’ve won seven of eight and playing their best football all season at the right time of year. Shea Patterson is coming off arguably the best game of his college career with five touchdowns and 366 yards passing in the win against Indiana.
Jim Harbaugh has his team peaking as they prepare to host Ohio State. If there was ever a year for Michigan to snap their seven-game losing streak to the rival Buckeyes, it would be the year after Urban Meyer retires, right?
We’ve seen this story before from Michigan who is playing great coming into The Game and it’s always the same result. Ohio State wins. The Wolverines have one win against Ohio State since 2003. After Saturday afternoon, it’ll still be at one win since 2003. Justin Fields and J.K. Dobbins are too good on offense and Chase Young is unblockable on defense.
It’s too much for Michigan to contend with. The Wolverines will keep it close in the first half before the Buckeyes pull away in the second half with a 17-point win.
Collins: Believe it
Harbaugh is 0-for-forever against the Buckeyes and facing Top 5 teams, so there’s no reason to think Michigan will win this game. Ohio State is hands down the better team with the two biggest stars – Justin Fields and Chase Young – but it won’t be enough this time.
Did you see Ohio State fumbling and bumbling against Penn State? They almost allowed a big comeback with the Nittany Lions’ backup quarterback at the helm. Meanwhile, peaking Michigan tuned up against Indiana without having to break much of a sweat or pull anything unexpected from the playbook.
Is Michigan’s offense capable of keeping up with Fields and Ohio State in a shootout? Certainly not, but the Michigan defense can certainly limit the points, yardage and time of possession by the Buckeyes even better than Penn State did.
The game will come down to this. Michigan’s strength is their front seven, and the only Achilles heel Ohio State has had this season is sacks and sack yardage allowed. That plays right into the hands of the Wolverines. Sacks and turnovers will be the story of the game for Michigan.
It’s going to be a close game, possibly even overtime, and the Wolverines will pull off a huge, emotional upset in the Big House.
Believe it or not, Alabama is making the playoff
Schmidt: Believe it
I buried Alabama after they lost to LSU with the belief they wouldn’t have any quality wins to come back from their quality loss to the Tigers. Alabama travels to three-loss Auburn in the Iron Bowl on Saturday afternoon and they still won’t have a quality win provided Mac Jones can lead the Crimson Tide to a win. I think Alabama will win but their playoff hopes are boosted by what is happening outside of their control.
I think LSU, Ohio State, and Clemson are locks for the playoff. That means Georgia is not winning the SEC and getting in. The Big 12 champion between Oklahoma and Baylor won’t have enough ammunition to pass up Alabama, so they’re eliminated. And if Utah is the Pac-12 champion, they lost to USC who started their third-string quarterback, which is much worse than Alabama falling to the No. 1 team in the country. Prepare to get angry, the SEC is getting two teams and one will be Alabama who didn’t even win their division while two conference champions are left out.
I’ve never been one to subscribe to the conspiracy theories surrounding Alabama, the SEC and the College Football Playoff. Since it’s inception, the playoff committee has basically gotten it right every year.
But if Alabama gets in this year without a TON of help (which is unlikely) I may start believing in those theories.
There are simply too many chances for upsetting the entire balance of the rankings during rivalry week to even prognosticate about Alabama making the playoff right now.
Oklahoma State could upset Oklahoma.
Michigan could (and I think will) upset Ohio State.
South Carolina could upset Clemson.
Georgia might look past Georgia Tech to LSU.
Baylor could miss the flight to Kansas and forfeit the game.
And most importantly…
Auburn could very well upset Alabama.
With a week of big games involving almost all the major players in this year’s playoff chase, it still needs to be left at Alabama is on the outside looking in, and their schedule is the reason why. Like I’ve said for the past few weeks, a lot of teams can get in, but Alabama needs a lot of help.
Oregon losing eliminated Utah from the playoff
Schmidt: Believe it
Normally, the only thing that can eliminate a team from making the playoff is what that team does. If you win your games and control your business, you let the chips fall where they may, and all the other sports clichés you can think of. In the case of Utah making the College Football Playoff, they needed Oregon to keep winning ahead of the Pac-12 Championship Game to have the best possible quality win to impress the playoff committee.
After Oregon was upset by Arizona State and Justin Herbert was a human turnover machine, the Utes took a loss just as much as the Ducks. Yes, that’s harsh, but it’s also the reality because Utah is not making the playoff even if they beat Oregon 56-0 in the Pac-12 Championship Game on a Friday night in Santa Clara in front of 25,000 fans.
It’s unfair for the Utes who have looked dominant in every game they’ve played except for the Friday night game at USC when Kedon Slovis led the Trojans to the upset win. Utah would love to have a mulligan because they won’t measure up as a one-loss team compared to Alabama.
It’s about time someone started giving Utah the proper credit. They’re not just a good one-loss team who made it to the Pac-12 title game, they are probably a better team than Oregon and have been all along. The loss at USC doesn’t loon nearly as bad as it once did, and the Utes are really peaking defensively right now.
Like Alabama, the Utes will need a little help, but they are far from eliminated. If Utah can dominate Oregon in the Pac-12 Championship Game and get the style points they need to be bumped up into playoff contention they still have a shot. The problem there is Oregon, who is a very good team and won’t just roll over and show their belly to the Utes.
If it comes to one-loss Utah who dominated their conference title game, and one-loss Alabama who played a weak schedule and didn’t make their conference title game, I think the pendulum swings away from the SEC this time.
Believe it or not, Ed Orgeron won’t win the Coach of the Year
I love Coach O and what he’s meant for LSU football and transforming the Tigers offense into a record-breaking unit behind Joe Burrow. He’s got LSU at No. 1 for a reason and could win the national championship. His hire of Joe Brady to bring the passing game into 2019 might be the best hire in the last several years.
He would be a great pick to win the Coach of the Year and I have no objections if he were to win. But I’m going to make the case for Baylor’s Matt Rhule who has the Bears in the Big 12 Championship Game two years after Baylor was 1-11 and trying to come out of a sexual assault scandal that could have shut the program down. And he’s done it without elite recruiting classes supplemented by a five-star quarterback or offensive game-changer.
Rhule has built it from the ground up and his team plays tough, disciplined, defensive-oriented ball. It’s a winning formula that was a few plays shy in the fourth quarter vs. Oklahoma from being undefeated and knocking on the door of a playoff appearance.
After Rhule, I’d vote for Minnesota’s P.J. Fleck who only has one four-point road loss to a ranked Iowa team or else the Gophers would be in line for a playoff spot too. They need to beat Wisconsin this weekend to get to the Big Ten Championship Game and if they get there, Fleck is going to get his share of votes too. I’d be happy with any of the three winning but I’d have it Rhule, Fleck and then Orgeron on my ballot.
Collins: Believe it
I’ve said all season that Ed Orgeron is a very good coach, but not one of the top coaches in the nation. He made great hires to get this program where it is, but without Joe Brady (and Burrow) we’re still looking at the same old tired LSU offense and listening to the same old excuses.
Full marks to Coach O for knowing where his weaknesses were and finding help to make up for that, but Matt Rhule, P.J. Fleck, and Scott Satterfield have all done better coaching jobs with less to work with this season.
Believe it or not, Texas isn’t even the biggest disappointment this year
Schmidt: Believe it
Texas is having a miserable season and Tom Herman looks like a far cry from the genius he was billed as earlier in his coaching career. The Longhorns fell to 6-5 after getting totally dominated in every facet of the game on Saturday. If not for an escape act vs. Kansas, Texas would have a losing record and be in jeopardy of missing a bowl game.
All this from the preseason No. 10 team in the nation who was coming off a convincing Sugar Bowl win over a great Georgia team and had quarterback Sam Ehlinger returning. It’s been bad for Texas, but it’s been worse at a handful of other programs.
Washington was the preseason No. 13 team but is 3-5 in the Pac-12 and 6-5 overall after winning 32 games the previous three seasons combined. This is the worst season of Chris Petersen’s 14-year coaching career.
Michigan State, Syracuse, Nebraska, and Stanford were all preseason Top 25 teams who won’t come close to cracking the final rankings. In fact, if Michigan State and Nebraska don’t win their season finales, all four of those teams will miss a bowl game.
Texas is absolutely the biggest disappointment of the year, and here’s why:
That declaration was what started it all. Nevermind that Texas had just whipped a completely undermanned and disinterested Georgia team. Ehlinger and the rest of the nation were convinced that Texas was back.
It was all set up. Texas and Oklahoma would once again be the powerhouses in the Big 12, and the conference could possibly get two teams in the College Football Playoff if they split the Red River Shootout and the Big 12 title game.
Yeah, other teams have kind of tanked this year or had less than expected seasons, but no one came in with higher expectations and came completely nowhere near them than Texas.