Kansas ended a 46 game road losing streak, and Arizona State picked up a giant victory over Michigan State. But let’s start in the ACC, where Clemson’s close victory over Texas A&M leads to an easy road to the playoff.
Clemson survived a late push from Texas A&M to escape College Station with a 26-24 victory. Former Baylor commit Kellen Mond threw for 430 yards and three touchdowns. Clemson has the country’s best defensive line, but their secondary is going to be a problem as the Tigers go for a second title in three years.
Winning is all that matters in college football, and Clemson has an easy path to the playoff. The only possible ranked team they have left in the regular season is South Carolina. It’s hard to imagine Clemson picking up two losses the rest of the way.
The bottom, or maybe even the middle of the ACC, has problems. North Carolina lost to Easts Carolina. Larry Fedora’s time in Chapel Hill could be nearing its end. Florida State trailed Samford at halftime. They ended up winning. The same couldn’t be said for Virginia. They fell to Indiana. And Pitt lost by 45 to Penn State.
This is Clemson’s league.
Georgia picked up a nice victory over South Carolina. Behind a 21-0 third quarter, the Bulldogs knocked off the Gamecocks 41-17. Georgia has to go to Baton Rouge and plays Auburn. Once they win the East, they’ll then likely need to beat Alabama. Go 2-1 in that stretch and Georgia has a good shot to be back in the playoff.
Mississippi State crushed Kansas State. We’ll get to the Wildcats’ problems in a second, but winning a road power five game is always nice.
Arkansas brutally lost to Colorado State. They led 27-9 in the third quarter. Chad Morris is in year one, so he can get away with those kind of problems. Some Big 12 coaches can’t quite say the same.
Kansas State should be pretty worried. A week after trailing South Dakota 24-12 in the fourth quarter, they weren’t close against Mississippi State. The Wildcats can’t find a quarterback, and they haven’t found much of a defense.
Texas didn’t have much of a week either. They escaped Austin with a 24-17 win over Tulsa. Tulsa finished last season 2-10. The Longhorn Network summed it up:
After Texas beats Tulsa 28-21, Longhorn Network catches someone (unclear who) saying: “Can we just agree though that this sucked?” pic.twitter.com/7AjvcFLL76— Matt Young (@Chron_MattYoung) September 9, 2018
Oklahoma looks like the class of the league. Kyler Murray He accounted for 375 yards and had five total touchdowns in their win over UCLA.
TCU took care of business after a long weather delay on Friday, and West Virginia won too. But the Sooners have looked more dominant and have better talent. Anybody that makes the playoff out of the Big 12 needs to go 9-1 in league games (including the title). That’s not easy, but it’s not impossible.
Kansas won a road game! The Jayhawks ran over Central Michigan. Pookah Williams averaged nearly nine yards a carry and had two big touchdowns. The David Beaty era is still on borrowed time, but good for him to grab a road win.
Michigan State fell in PAC-12 after dark. A week ago, the Spartans survived a Friday night battle with Utah State. Their offense wasn’t good enough this time. They finished with just 2.3 yards per carry and 13 points.
Michigan rebounded and so did Penn State. But the former lost week one and the latter barely beat App. State a week ago.
Wisconsin has been money. Jonathan Taylor ran for 253 yards and three touchdowns. Behind the nation’s best offensive line, the Badgers’ running back should make it to New York.
No. 5 Wisconsin's Jonathan Taylor has gone for 398 yards and 5 TDs through two games pic.twitter.com/tmqAj3s2uF— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) September 8, 2018
Ohio State won their second power five game. But Oregon State and Rutgers aren’t TCU. The Buckeyes’ take on TCU at 7:00 on Saturday in Dallas. That’s the game of the week next week and one the Big Ten could really use.
Outside of Arizona State’s giant win over Michigan State, Stanford had the best night in the league. The Cardinals knocked off the Trojans 17-3. Bryce Love returned to form by rushing for 136 yards and a touchdown.
USC or Texas will be 1-2 after next week. Expect to hear plenty of “Texas is back” if the Longhorns can beat a USC team that has not looked good the first two weeks.
Kevin Sumlin hasn’t been at Arizona for a good time so far, and if he keeps this up, he may not there for a long time either. Houston knocked off Arizona 45-18. The Wildcats lost their first game to BYU. Khalil Tate was one of the most explosive running quarterbacks last season. Sumlin has kept him in the pocket. That hasn’t worked well. It’s time for something to change in Tucson.
As always, both the playoff and Heisman calls are future predictions. I’m not ranking either based on just the games we have.
1) Clemson- The schedule is ridiculously easy and they have the cache of making the playoff three times. It’d be a monumental disappointment to not make the field.
2) Wisconsin- The Badgers went 12-1 last season and look a good deal better than that team. We could have two undefeated teams for the first time in the playoff era.
3) Alabama- The Crimson Tide are better than the two teams above them, but the SEC is much better than the Big Ten and ACC. Alabama rarely finishes the season undefeated, but they’re always in the mix.
4) Oklahoma- The final playoff spot could get really interesting, especially comparing a 12-1 Oklahoma and 12-1 Georgia or 11-1 Auburn. Auburn’s win over Washington could overwhelm Oklahoma’s conference title. But I think as long as Oklahoma doesn’t lose late in the season, they’ll make the playoff with one loss.
The debate we seem destined for is SEC team No. 2 against a conference champion with the same number of losses. Notre Dame could also get into the mix here. I expect this playoff debate to be messy most of the season.
1) Tua Tagovailoa- He threw for over 10 yards per pass and is a star. As long as Alabama makes the playoff, I think he’s the heavy favorite.
2) Jonathan Taylor- Running backs don’t usually win this award now. He’ll have a ton of yards and his team will be relevant all season.
3) Kyler Murray- He’s a great story with the MLB Draft and a very likable guy. The Sooners need to beat West Virginia for him to not lose out to Will Grier in Heisman voting.