Prepare for Texas is back talk, and to hear that Washington has a clear path to the playoff. But let’s start in the Big 10—where the conference a pathetic day.
From Fox research: The Big Ten lost seven non-conference games today to unranked teams. It's the first time that has happened since the AP poll started in 1936— robert smith (@Robert26Smith) September 16, 2018
Rutgers lost 55-14 to Kansas. That’s where everything has to start, and probably best encapsulates a disastrous day for the league. The Hawks had two FBS wins in 3+ years under David Beaty. They ran for over 400 yards on the Scarlet Knights.
Temple—a team that started 0-2 and lost to Villanova—blew out Maryland. Nebraska lost at home to Troy. Illinois lost in Chicago to South Florida, which is at least a good team. Akron beat Northwestern, and Purdue couldn’t stop Missouri.
The worst loss for the Big Ten—and likely any conference this season—was Wisconsin falling to BYU yesterday. The Badgers finished the regular season 12-0 last year. They returned every member of a starting offensive line that was the best in the country. With how weak the Big Ten West is, the Badgers only needed to win a couple of tough games to make the playoff. Now they need to run the table and hope there aren’t four undefeated one loss or undefeated teams.
The Big Ten’s hopes rest with Ohio State. The Buckeyes trailed TCU 14-13 at halftime, and then went on a massive run in the third quarter. That include a shovel pass interception return for a touchdown:
Junior defensive tackle Dre'Mont Jones takes matters into his own hands as he intercepts Shawn Robinson's shovel pass and barrels 28 yards to the house for Ohio State's 26-21 lead over TCU late in the third quarter. pic.twitter.com/bMWIlefJGB— Garrett Stepien (@GarrettStepien) September 16, 2018
Ohio State should win this league. The Buckeyes travel to Penn State in two weeks, and maybe their early struggle against Appalachian State was a one week problem. But the Buckeyes have the most talent in the league, and outside of Penn State, there’s nobody that seems like much of a threat.
While this league has been ridiculously overhyped so many times this century, this year the league is phenomenal.
Alabama is the best team in the country. They beat Ole Miss 62-7. Tua Tagovailoa went 11-of-15 for 197 yards and two touchdowns. He could have thrown for plenty more. The Tide have the stringent defense they’ve always had, and one of the best quarterbacks in the country. Someone may catch them on the right night, but this squad looks like the best Alabama team of the Saban era.
LSU has the country’s best resume. They have a win over Miami and just won at Auburn.
Georgia is just out there thrashing people.
The only terrible team in the league is Arkansas. The Razorbacks have now lost to UNT and Colorado State in back-to-back weeks. Chad Morris is in for a long rebuild.
Kyler Murray is having the best 2018. The former Texas A&M quarterback received a $4.7 million signing bonus from the Oakland A’s. He also looks like a Heisman finalist. The Sooners are now 3-0 after avenging last season’s loss to Iowa State. Murray has been phenomenal.
Oklahoma State is for real. Boise State came to Stillwater looking like the old Broncos. They left with a 23 point loss. The Cowboys play Oklahoma-West Virginia-TCU to end the season. That’s a stupid stretch. But it could set the Cowboys up with a 9-0 start.
Texas Tech picked up a nice win for Kliff Kingsbury. The Red Raiders knocked off Houston 63-49.
Bill Snyder’s Wildcats looked much better in week three. They beat UTSA 41-17.
Texas is still not back. USC is just terrible. But the Longhorns were much better in week three than they were against Maryland or Tulsa.
The Herm Edwards show took a sad turn, as Arizona State lost to San Diego State 28-21. The Sun Devils’ pass from the 35 yard line was batted away as time expired to give SDSU the victory.
This league is just not very good. Washington could run the table and make the playoff. But I think a one loss SEC team would absolutely get in over a one loss conference champion from this league. The league didn’t play well in the non-conference, outside of Arizona State’s win over Michigan State. Ohio State’s win over TCU is going to be much better than Washington.
The league needs to hope the Big Ten and Big 12 champions have two losses. Or that only one SEC team emerges with one loss. I don’t see the path to the PAC-12 getting a playoff team.
This remains Clemson’s league. Trevor Lawrence played most of the game in their 38-7 win over Georgia Southern.
Florida State’s having a rough year. The Seminoles now have eight different GoFundMe sites trying to raise money to buy out Willie Taggart. That’s goofy, given it’s year one and their offensive line is just so bad:
Never seen a college QB get hit more than DeAndre Francois. Kid must be a glutton for punishment... pic.twitter.com/Q5TSlFGrv1— Jim Weber (@JimMWeber) September 15, 2018
As always, these are predictive. LSU would certainly be in the field today, but I don’t think the Tigers will emerge from the SEC.
1) Clemson- The Tigers have a much easier path to staying undefeated than anyone else. I don’t think they’re the best team, but they have enough talent and excellent coaching. This team could win another national title.
2) Ohio State- Urban Meyer returns to a 3-0 team that gets to play in a terrible Big Ten. Ohio State should have fired him, but now he’s probably going to make another playoff.
3) Alabama- The Crimson Tide have such a tough road to go undefeated. A bad week against Auburn, LSU, Mississippi State or Georgia could lead to a loss. But they’re too talented to lose twice.
4) Georgia- Oklahoma’s defense has me worried they’ll slip up twice over 10 Big 12 games (including the conference title). I think Georgia losses to Alabama in the SEC title game, but then makes the playoff over Washington and a two loss Big 12 champion.
This is also predictive.
1) Tua Tagovailoa- Alabama’s quarterback is putting up insane yards per attempt, and has plenty of flashy plays. If Alabama is a playoff team, he’s the huge favorite.
2) Kyler Murray- If Murray leads Oklahoma to an undefeated season, I think he jumps Tua. But the Sooner’s defense leaves me worried about that.
3) Ed Oliver- Oliver hasn’t put up the counting stats that Heisman voters might like, but he’s the best player in college football. That will mean something, especially without as many traditional candidates.