Starting 11: Give us the playoff now

Here it is: The final Starting 11 of October.

1. Why can’t we start the playoff a year early?

I’ve been arguing this for a while — over a year, actually — but it’s never made sense to me that we should have a college football playoff announced and then have to stick with the BCS for another year.

Why can’t we just just go ahead and start the playoff?

That’s particularly the case this year when there’s a decent chance we may end up with four undefeated teams from four major conferences. Just use the BCS standings to seed the top four teams in the playoffs.

If the season ended today, your final four would be No. 1 Alabama playing No. 4 Ohio State and No. 2 Oregon playing No. 3 Florida State. Hell, if the bowl sites won’t work, play these two games in the stadium of the higher ranked team and then let the Rose Bowl still host the BCS title game. Would anyone object to this? Wouldn’t it be the perfect solution for the mess we’ve got brewing?

I’m going to write more on this later in the week, but it makes too much sense not to do.

2. The BCS standings work even better as the playoff pool expands 

I’ve come to enjoy the actual unveiling of the BCS standings, ridiculous and flawed as they are.

That’s because the weekly BCS standings allow fans to survey the entire college landscape and provide fairly predictable patterns for the weeks ahead.

Sure, the BCS is imperfect — but it definitely lets you know where your team stands in relation to other teams. Look at the standings and you can divine what your team needs to do to play for the title.

With the college football playoff selection committee, will we have any of this same predictability?


My top preference for seeding the playoff would be to let Las Vegas do it. My second preference would be to use the existing BCS standings to pick the top four teams. This committee is actually my third favorite method to pick teams. I think it’s less reliable and more prone to horse trading and political intrigue.

3. Don’t sleep on undefeated Baylor moving up in the BCS standings 

The Bears play three top-15 coaches poll teams in November. (Plus Texas on the first weekend in December in a game that’s likely to decide the Big 12 title).

The three top-15 teams left on Baylor’s schedule — Oklahoma, Texas Tech and Oklahoma State — are all higher ranked than any team that Urban Meyer’s Buckeyes have thus far played in his nearly two years in Columbus.

Why does this Baylor schedule being backloaded so much matter?

Because each of these games will give Baylor a chance to prove how good it is for a national audience while also sending Baylor’s computer ranking surging.

There’s a very good chance that a 12-0 Baylor would jump a 13-0 Ohio State.

Honestly, Baylor should jump the Buckeyes if both finish undefeated, because Baylor’s better. Las Vegas would peg Baylor as a touchdown or more favorite over Ohio State on a neutral field.

4. Mizzou, good Lord, Mizzou

Many have focused on Mizzou’s missed 24-yard field goal as the reason for the Tiger collapse, but I think that play misses the point.

It’s college. Kickers miss easy kicks all the time because most young kickers are totally unreliable.

To me, the biggest story is the failed fourth-and-15 overtime defense. How was Mizzou in man-to-man there? This was a complete coaching failure.

Remember the situation: It’s fourth-and-15 and South Carolina has to score a touchdown to prolong the game. There’s zero reason to defend any part of the field short of the goal line. How do you not drop at least eight players to the end zone and play zone there? With eight men actually in the end zone, there’s no way South Carolina can complete a pass to an open receiver, right?

The pass has to cover at least 20 yards in the air (probably more) meaning that all you have to do is react to the ball in the air. Sure, South Carolina could still complete a pass, but it would have to be a jump ball or a tip ball situation. 

You don’t have any threat of Connor Shaw running the football in, because he has to cover 15 yards even after he gets to the line of scrimmage. (Not to mention Shaw’s playing on a gimpy leg.) Your entire team can swarm him well short of the goal line if he actually scrambled.

Instead, Mizzou played man-to-man and got burned. This is a clear example of a coaching staff confronted with a scenario they weren’t prepared for. Mizzou’s coaching staff failed its players in this situation.

5. Plan your work excuses for Friday, Nov. 8 already

Thursday night, Nov. 7, is better for college football fans than Saturday that week.

I’m just giving y’all a head’s up in advance. Take Friday off from work and hang out with your buddies Thursday night — or, more likely, sit up in your house drinking alone — to watch both of these games.

At 7:30 p.m ET on FOX Sports 1: Oklahoma at Baylor.

Then at 9 p.m. ET on ESPN: Oregon at Stanford.

This is the greatest Thursday night college football slate in the history of the sport. You don’t want to miss any of it. 

But that Stanford game isn’t going to end until around 1 a.m. on the East Coast. So why not go ahead and take Friday off?

Come Saturday you’ve got LSU at Alabama, but otherwise the day’s games are much worse than Thursday night’s.

6. Our weekly Homeland interlude

Yes, episode five was much improved, the best so far of the season — but if you’ve been watching the show, you’re going to love this YouTube clip from last year.

It’s titled, "Dana passes the salt." And hardly anyone has actually seen it.

How perfect was that?

7. Kliff Kingsbury and Texas Tech pulled off an awesome punt return trick play that I’ve never seen before

Kingsbury sent his returner running up the left sideline to signal a fair catch. The Oklahoma punt defense followed the returner, only the ball was kicked further toward the right sideline. 

Tech peeled back an upback who fielded the kick on a bounce and ran 32 yards — most of the time with no one near him because everyone had followed the returner — before being tackled out of bounds.

Kliff Kingsbury, I love you.

8. The top five undefeated teams in the country won their games this week by a combined 189 points

That’s an average victory margin of 37.8 points.

I understand the BCS has worked out every year except 2004 (sorry, Auburn fans) but this year feels different.

It isn’t just that the top teams are winning, it’s that they are mauling the competition. What’s more, Alabama, Florida State and Oregon will be double-digit favorites in every game remaining on their schedules — and Baylor might be as well. (Ohio State figures to be favored around five or six at Michigan in the Buckeyes’ closest remaining challenge.)

Sure, upsets could happen — but it would take a series of pretty big upsets at this point to ensure that no major undefeated team is left out of the title game.

That’s why we need the playoff a year early.

9. Mack Brown’s probably going to be back at Texas next year

Ever since the officials gave Texas a gift at Iowa State, the Longhorns have played very well, destroying both Oklahoma and TCU at a neutral site and a road game, respectively.

Now, the Longhorns come back home for three of the next four weekends, playing Kansas, at West Virginia, Oklahoma State and Texas Tech.

There’s a pretty decent chance that Texas is 8-0 in the Big 12, 9-2 overall, when the season finale at Baylor arrives. If that’s the case, then Texas at Baylor will probably be for the Big 12 title.

Can you really fire Brown in that situation regardless of the outcome? No way. Sure, Brown could agree to step down, but that doesn’t seem very likely. It now appears more likely than not that Brown will be back next year at Texas.

10. My national top 10, which I detailed on Sunday

1. Alabama

2. Oregon

3. Florida State

4. Baylor

5. Stanford

6. Ohio State

7. Miami

8. Missouri

9. Auburn

10. South Carolina

11. My SEC power rankings

(I’ve pulled Ohio State out of the mix because it appears the Buckeyes have a very slim chance of actually playing for the title this year. It’s important to note that Vegas would still favor Bama, LSU, South Carolina, Texas A&M and potentially Mizzou over the Buckeyes.)

1. Alabama

2. Mizzou

3. Auburn

4. South Carolina

5. LSU

6. Texas A&M

7. Georgia

8. Ole Miss

9. Florida

10. Tennessee

11. Vandy

12. Mississippi State

13. Kentucky

14. Arkansas