This weekend produced the single most important Saturday of the college football season.
Things have been completely shaken up; the cream has risen, the contenders have fallen and we’re left with a much clearer picture of what lies ahead. And now that the dust has settled, it’s time to do what college football fans do best -- overreact!
Here are five gross, massive overreactions to Week 9 of the college football season.
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The College Football Playoff picture WILL NOT change between now and the first weekend in December
Take the four undefeated teams, most of them with their toughest games behind them, and say that they’re going to win out -- that doesn’t sound too crazy to me. Until you remember that something crazy always happens in college football. Let’s not forget that at this time last year, Ohio State and LSU were No. 1’s and 2 in the country and neither made the playoff.
But this year, craziness feels like the exception and not the rule. All four teams in position to make the playoff now -- Alabama, Michigan, Clemson and Washington in some order -- will end up in college football’s Final Four.
None of those sound like much of a recipe for upsets.
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The team most likely to be upset between now and the playoff announcement is -- Alabama!
As good as Alabama has been, they are the most likely of the four projected playoff teams to get upset.
The obvious game would be this Saturday at LSU. Tiger Stadium remains one of the toughest venues to play in, especially at night. But I’m targeting another game as the most likely Crimson Tide upset: against Auburn in the Iron Bowl.
The Tigers have won five straight since their 1-2 start and their two losses (Clemson and Texas A&M) are against teams that are now a combined 15-1. They are coming off another impressive win at Ole Miss and Gus Malzahn’s offense has always given Nick Saban trouble. It was just two years ago that Auburn put up a staggering 630 yards in a near-upset of the No. 1 ranked Crimson Tide.
Be warned ‘Bama fans, your toughest game remains.
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Mike Riley and Nebraska will become the pre-eminent team in the Big Ten West for years to come
Nebraska is no longer an elite job and I have criticized Riley for being more sizzle than steak -- a nice guy, but not a great football coach. And I was wrong.
Despite their loss on Saturday, Nebraska proved they deserve their Top 10-15 ranking and even if they lose Saturday night against Ohio State, a solid 10-2 finish is likely and not a bad ending to Year 2 for Riley.
Add all that in with a solid recruiting class and the future appears to be bright in Lincoln. I was wrong on Riley and Nebraska. They’ll be a factor in this conference and specifically the Big Ten West, for years to come.
Oklahoma will give the College Football Playoff committee their toughest challenge going forward
Oklahoma has now ripped off five straight wins and jumped out to a 5-0 start in conference play. With the way everyone else has looked in Big 12 play, the Sooners could finish undefeated in the conference and end 10-2 on the year. They could also give the College Football Playoff committee its toughest decision on selection day.
It could happen if one of the other teams, say Clemson or Washington, loses in their conference title game. Could you possibly take one of those teams (only with one-loss) over Oklahoma, who is an undefeated Power 5 conference champion?
No. But remember, the playoff committee has emphasized the importance of two things in recent years: Being a conference champion and tough out-of-conference scheduling. In this scenario, OU would be a conference champ and the other wouldn’t, so you’d be punishing the Sooners for going out and playing tough competition out of conference. Is that a precedent you really want to set? Wouldn’t keeping Oklahoma out, deter teams from scheduling tough games in the future?
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Oklahoma State will give the Sooners their toughest game of the year
The Pokes are quietly one of the hottest teams in the country right now with four straight wins, including Saturday’s upset over the Mountaineers. Plus, Oklahoma State’s losses were both fluky (on a crazy play against Central Michigan, and in a matchup at Baylor where they turned the ball over four times), so really OSU could just as easily be 8-0 as they are 6-2.
Oklahoma State is a veteran team and could realistically be on a seven-game win streak by the time they play Oklahoma. They should give the Sooners their toughest game of the year.