The final week before the College Football Playoff Selection Committee takes over the sport has ended so before we all start making fun of the committee and their rankings, let’s hand out some superlatives.
State of Indiana – It’s not often that the state of Indiana receives high water marks for their performance on the gridiron but the Hoosier State got two wins from two in-state teams on Saturday. The Notre Dame Fighting Irish who hail from South Bend, Indiana, got a big road win against up-and-coming Temple Saturday night. The Irish weathered the first half storm to maintain a narrow four point halftime lead before forcing a critical late game turnover to preserve the four point victory. The Irish are used to big wins but the Purdue Boilermakers who call West Lafayette, Indiana, home are not. The Boilermakers have fallen on hard times for the last decade or so and every win is sacred, especially for head coach Darrell Hazel whose seat is as hot as they come in the Big Ten. Purdue forced 5 Nebraska turnovers and hung on for dear life in the 4th quarter as the Cornhuskers scored 29 points but in the end, it wasn’t enough and Purdue earned their second win of the season.
Playing Games The Week Before the College Football Playoff Committee Meets – There were only five teams in the AP Top 10 who had games this past Saturday and actually playing benefitted two of them immensely. The Clemson Tigers were on the road at NC State and escaped with a 56-41 victory over the Wolfpack and managed to jump from 3rd in the AP poll to 1st in the College Football Playoff rankings. The other was Notre Dame who were 8th in the AP poll but jumped to 5th in the College Football Playoff rankings after their road win over the previously undefeated Temple Owls. Meanwhile, Ohio State, Michigan State, Alabama, LSU & Baylor all opted to have this as their bye week this season which in my opinion was a cheap move on their parts. I guess the risk of losing or even playing poorly this past weekend was far greater than the risk of looking good in a win which few of those teams have done yet. Yes, none of those teams have a quality win.
American Athletic Conference West Division – Like Rodney Dangerfield, the West Division of the American Athletic Conference just doesn’t get any respect. This division has more undefeated teams than the entire ACC, Pac-12 & SEC with wins over teams from two of those conferences but the committee turned a blind eye and put Memphis at 13th (a joke) and Houston at 25th (a bigger joke). The Tigers of Memphis have as good of a win as any team in any conference, that 13 point shellacking of Ole Miss, and the Cougars are fresh off of a dominating performance against Vanderbilt where Houston beat Vanderbilt far worse than any of the Commodores’ SEC brethren. Yes, the top two teams in the AAC West are undefeated, untied and overlooked which is a shame because they are playing extremely well. Oh yeah, the division also contains the 6-1 Navy Midshipman whose only loss came at the hands of now 5th-ranked Notre Dame. Just keep winning boys, eventually the committee will have to notice you.
ACC Officials – It was a rough weekend for the ACC officials in Durham, North Carolina, where the fellows in stripes just couldn’t get their act together. The penalty disparity between the home team and the road team was as contrasting as I’ve ever seen when the Miami Hurricanes were penalized an ACC-record 23 times for 194 yards while the Duke Blue Devils were only flagged for 5 penalties for a grand total of 41 yards. So before we even get to the final play of the game, there’s that ridiculous disparity in penalties and yardage. The Blue Devils drove the length of the field in the final minute and scored on a rushing touchdown where it’s still questionable whether the ball carrier crossed the goal line. The Blue Devils also benefitted from multiple pass interference calls on the drive. Finally, on the kickoff the officials missed two blocks in the back, one downed player and a player from the sideline running onto the field without his helmet at the end of the play. The ACC has suspended the crew from the game & it’s very probable that they won’t be assigned any more games this season.
Undefeated Gang of Five Teams – It’s rough being an undefeated team from a Non-Power 5 conference. Just ask the Memphis Tigers & Houston Cougars. Even before this past weekend there was still no love for the Temple Owls or the Toledo Rockets, even though both teams suffered their first losses of the season within the last four days. The first set of College Football Playoff rankings have solidified the notion that no matter how good your football teams it, you will always be inferior if you are not in one of the Power 5 conferences. Even the undefeated teams in the Power 5 conferences got stiffed by the committee for a one-loss SEC team so you can only imagine what it would take for a Gang of Five undefeated team to crack the top four. It’s unfortunate that the sport has been separated into two halves where one half of the teams are completely left out of the grand prize simply because they don’t play in one of the predesignated conferences that allegedly matter. Not to mention that if Memphis or Houston run the table they will have done so in one of the more difficult divisions in the nation.
SEC East – Things are rough for SEC East teams these days. The Florida Gators have all but locked up the division and the rest of the teams are still battling it out to become bowl eligible. This past Saturday the Gators calimed the top spot in the division by defeated the next best team on their side by 24 points in Jacksonville. The South Carolina Gamecocks gave a valiant effort in College Station against the Texas A&M Aggies but in the end were beaten by a true freshman quarterback in his first start as a college football player. The Tennessee Volunteers got a big win but did so against a Kentucky team whose fan base has already shifted it’s attention to basketball season where the Wildcats have opened the preseason as the 2nd ranked team in the nation according the Associated Press. Then there was the road game for Vanderbilt where the Commodores allowed the first road Non-Power 5 loss in nearly a decade to take place when they were shutout 34-0. Things are rough in the SEC East and they are only going to get tougher as I am predicting eight more losses to non-conference & SEC West opponents.
Player of the Week
Deshaun Watson – QB – Clemson
It’s not uncommon to wind up in a shootout with the Wolfpack when you travel to Raleigh and Clemson needed a player like Deshaun Watson for that game on Saturday as he accounted for 6 touchdowns in the fifteen point victory. Watson finished with 437 total yards of offense on the day which included back-to-back touchdown passes late in the 3rd quarter to build the lead that eventually won the game for the now number one ranked Tigers.
Coach of the Week
Tom Herman – Houston Cougars
He was the name on everyone’s radar last season but the Cougars struck first & hired Herman before the postseason had ended. This season Herman may be in the same situation as he has only been on the job since mid-January after guiding the Ohio State Buckeyes to the national championship with the third string quarterback. This past week Herman’s Houston Cougars beat the Vanderbilt Commodores 34-0 in a game that was over within the first 20 minutes of the game.
Uniform of the Week
Minnesota Gophers – When I first saw the uniforms on twitter, I wasn’t a fan but when I tuned in to watch the Minnesota/Michigan game, I immediately loved the home grey’s for Minnesota. The maroon collar and maroon helmets balanced out all the yellow numbers and completed a pretty sweet uniform.
Honorable Mention – St. Louis Rams – Rarely do we venture into the NFL but Sunday afternoon the Rams busted out the old blue and cheese yellow uniforms for their home game against the 49er’s and it was a home run decision.
Dud Uniform of the Week
Washington Huskies – Nothing is worse than wearing black for black’s sake and Washington did just that on a night when plenty of other teams had done the same thing. The difference is that Washington has attempted black already this season and failed. Their solution: add more black.
Dishonorable Mention – Texas A&M Aggies – When the idea of these uniforms was conceived, I’m sure they had a night game in mind for when they’d wear them. The reflective logo on the helmet was only visible under the flash of photography. The only problem was that the Aggies played the South Carolina Gamecocks at Noon and it just looked like black helmets.