Believe it or not, we’ve reached the halfway point of the college football season for many teams.
We can look around the college football landscape and assess how conferences are shaping up, how many national title contenders there are, and even ask the question, uh oh, what if five different conferences finish with undefeated teams? (Louisville is going to finish undefeated, but as we’ve been telling you since the season started, the Cardinals have zero chance of playing for the BCS title).
So let’s say that SEC, the Pac-12, the ACC, the Big Ten, and the Big 12 all finish with undefeated champs.
How would you rank these teams?
Well, first, you have to break down who the undefeated teams would be. In the SEC, it’s probably Alabama — although Missouri is still unbeaten as well. The Pac-12 has Oregon and Stanford left, the ACC has Clemson and Florida State, the Big Ten has Ohio State and Michigan and the Big 12 has Oklahoma, Baylor and TCU.
Based on these teams at play, I think you could easily rank the undefeated teams based on the conferences themselves.
4. Big 12
5. Big Ten
My point here is that if you’re a Michigan or Ohio State fan, you have zero chance of your team playing for the title unless at least three of the SEC, Pac-12, ACC and Big 12 finish without an unbeaten team. That’s even if your team is undefeated at the end of the year.
Most people haven’t recognized this yet, but they will.
The final year of the BCS could be a complete and total mess.
1. Baylor is a legit national title contender.
I’ve had Baylor in my top 10 for a month now. Each week the Bears have been the most controversial team in my rankings.
Did you see what they did to West Virginia? Simply amazing. (Sure, West Virginia isn’t great, but the Moutaineers aren’t awful. They’re coming off a win over Oklahoma State.)
It’s time to recognize that Baylor will be 7-0 when Oklahoma rolls into town for a Thursday night game on Nov. 7.
Win that game and Baylor probably wins the Big 12. Then the question becomes, can the Bears go undefeated? Well, suddenly, that closing stretch of neutral site against Texas Tech, at TCU, home against Texas and then on the road to finish the season at Oklahoma State doesn’t look so difficult does it?
Before the season started, I said Baylor was my dark horse from outside the top 25 to make a legit title run.
If only I’d backed that up with some money on the BCS odds.
Baylor’s BCS title odds have already dropped from 200-1 to 6-1.
2. Clemson and Florida State’s game on Oct. 19 is beyond massive.
Whoever wins that game is going to go into the final week of the season undefeated.
After Florida State, here’s Clemson’s final five games: at Maryland, at Virginia, Georgia Tech, Citadel, at South Carolina.
Until the South Carolina game, Clemson should be a double-digit favorite over every team left on the schedule after Florida State.
Meanwhile, here’s Florida State’s remaining schedule after Clemson: NC State, Miami, at Wake Forest, Syracuse, Idaho, at Florida.
Other than home against Miami and at Florida, Florida State should win each of these games by two touchdowns or more.
Basically, a home SEC team, either South Carolina or Florida, has a good chance to ruin an undefeated ACC team’s season.
Looking even further ahead, it looks like either Clemson or Florida State will play either Miami or Virginia Tech in the ACC title game.
3. Missouri is for real.
The Tigers equaled last year’s win total with an impressive takedown of Vanderbilt on Saturday night.
Yes, I still think Georgia will have enough to get past Mizzou on Saturday, but I think Mizzou upsets either Florida or South Carolina at home in Columbia.
That would put the Tigers at 6-2 headed into the final four games of the season.
I think the Tigers go 3-1 in those final four — with the only loss at Texas A&M. That would be a 9-3 season, a hell of a bounce-back performance from last year’s 5-7 record.
Remember when some people said the Big 12 got better by adding TCU and West Virginia and losing Texas A&M and Missouri?
Right now, Texas A&M and Missouri are a combined 9-1. Meanwhile, TCU and West Virginia are a combined 5-6.
So much for that argument.
4. Georgia’s injuries on offense this year are unbelievable.
Three serious knee injuries in the same game at Tennessee? Have you ever seen that happen before?
I can’t remember seeing it.
By the end of the game Georgia was playing without three of its top four wide receivers and both of its top running backs. Yet, Aaron Murray still found a way to get his team the win.
The question is, are all these injuries too much to overcome?
Meanwhile, Tennessee fans, who all profess not to believe in moral victories, are secretly convinced this was a moral victory. But I’d pump the brakes on that. You know who almost beat a top-10 team on the road in his fifth game as Vol head coach? Derek Dooley, during the infamous 13 men on the field game against LSU. Did Dooley’s first year near-win mean anything in the long run? Nope. Wins matter, period.
Having said that, the Vols have a decent chance to beat South Carolina in two weeks.
After that game, Tennessee will lose to Alabama and then its season will be decided in a four-game stretch at Missouri, Auburn, Vandy and at Kentucky. Barring a South Carolina upset, Butch Jones is likely to need three of these four games to qualify for a bowl game.
5. Ohio State beat Northwestern to run Urban Meyer’s coaching record there to 18-0.
In that time period, Northwestern, at No. 16, is the highest rated team Ohio State will play.
It’s possible that by the end of the season Ohio State will not have played a current top 25 ranked team.
Put simply, the Buckeyes are in the same boat as Louisville, with no real chance to play for a national title unless complete disaster befalls a bunch of teams ranked above them.
6. Auburn got a massive win over Ole Miss.
Gus Malzahn, as predicted here before the season started, will have the most successful opening season of any of the first year SEC coaches.
With the win over Ole Miss, Malzahn guaranteed that, at minimum, his team will qualify for a bowl game.
Right now I’d bet against any of the other first-year SEC coaches qualifying for a bowl game this year.
Meanwhile, Ole Miss is in danger of a free fall. Four straight losses look likely with Texas A&M and LSU in the next two weeks.
7. Dana must go on Homeland.
This week’s season three episode was impossible to watch. Put simply — none of us care about Dana’s teenage struggles in life.
Not one of us.
She’s seriously killing this show, the Derek Dooley of Homeland.
How this all happened, I’ll never understand.
8. I don’t understand how the Washington replay call was reversed and the Texas call wasn’t.
Officials still seem to interpret instant replay differently.
In Saturday night’s Washington game, I think the ball probably touched the ground on Keith Price’s fourth-down pass. But based on the replay I saw, I can’t be 100 percent sure it happened. So how does that call get reversed?
Meanwhile, on Thursday night’s Texas at Iowa State game, I was much more confident that Texas fumbled before the player was down than I was that Washington didn’t catch the ball. But officials said they couldn’t be 100 percent certain the fumble occurred, so the call on the field had to stand in the Texas game.
So how does that Texas call stay with the ruling on the field, but the Washington call changes?
Put simply, how does 100 percent certainty mean something different depending on the official who is making the call?
Basically, instant replay in college football still seems like a mess to me.
9. What’s going on with South Carolina?
The Gamecocks are a complete mystery to me.
Steve Spurrier sounded drunk on his post-game show last week, and this week he blasts Jadeveon Clowney for saying his rib hurt right before kickoff.
The Gamecocks are playing football like wayward children: One moment they’re great, the next they’re allowing Kentucky or Central Florida or Vanderbilt to storm back from massive deficits and make games close.
Now comes three straight road games: at Arkansas, at Tennessee and at Missouri.
I might be crazy for saying this, but it wouldn’t shock me if South Carolina lost all three. And I am 100 percent certain the Gamecocks will lose at least one of these games.
10. My national top 10 based on games that have been played so far:
8. Florida State
10. Texas A&M
11. My SEC power rankings No. 1-14 — with Ohio State included.