2018 College Football Roundtable: You Play to Win the Game

As we enter Week 3, we’re starting to see which teams might be good enough to make the playoff and the others which are pretenders. We’ll discuss our Top 4, Herm Edwards and yes, Kansas State.

Arizona State and first-year head coach Herm Edwards are in the Top 25 after beating Michigan State Saturday night. Can Edwards keep the Sun Devils in contention for the Pac-12 championship?

Josh: Not this year, but they’re on their way on the strength of Edwards’ coaching and name recognition.

Bird: The short answer is, yes. The Pac-12 South is a weak division. I see either USC or Utah winning it and Colorado might give them a push, but so will Herm and Arizona State, given the level of competition. I do think the Sun Devils will be in contention for most of the season. But, in the end? No.

Mitch: I don’t see why not. That South division is up for grabs, far as I’m concerned. UCLA and Arizona are garbage water this year. USC has proven, repeatedly, it lacks that killer instinct. Who knows what to expect from Colorado and Utah, honestly. What I do know is Herm Edwards runs a tight ship, and that bodes well.

Courtney: Herm has a tough schedule still ahead of him with four ranked teams still to play against. Arizona State still must play Washington, Stanford, USC and Oregon. It will be a very difficult task for Herm to win the Pac-12 championship this year, but I think he will contend for the championship next year.

David: On paper there really isn’t a dominant team in the Pac-12 which certainly favors ASU staying in the hunt. Beating Michigan State was a big win for Edwards and the Sun Devils. While it is very early, I’d be surprised if ASU is not at least in the Pac-12 South conversation heading into November.

Kansas State loss 31-10 to Mississippi State and is 32-20 its last 52 games under Bill Snyder. Snyder’s coaching contract extends through 2022, but is it time for Snyder to go now for the sake of the program?

Josh: It’s time for him to go. The Big 12 isn’t as top-heavy as the Big Ten or SEC, so there’s no reason K-State can’t make a legitimate run at the title on a regular basis.

Bird: Kansas State is, obviously, not what it once was under Snyder. It has no chance whatsoever to win the conference. He is such a legend and you hate to see him get pushed out, so yes, it would probably be better for both Snyder and K-State if he voluntarily stepped aside.

Mitch: Depends what your expectations are for K-State football. I’d be interested to know what @sprotsGAT thinks. For me, the Wildcats are the quintessential solid football team. You can pencil them in for six wins every season. (Last time they didn’t reach six was 2008.) You know you’re going to get a tough game when you head to the Little Apple. There’s not an overabundance of talent in Kansas so being able to execute the fundamentals is crucial. I think Snyder can still get his team to do all those things. Realistically, how much better can K-State be? I’d be cautious of making a switch.

Courtney: I was born, raised and graduated from K-State. So, it is hard to see the program I have grown to love, struggle the way they are and to only have a 32-20 record in the last 52 games under Snyder. The first time I saw Snyder I cried tears of joy. Then I ended up working for him when I was in college. So, this is a very hard question to answer. But since I am being honest my answer would be yes, Snyder should retire. I think Kansas State needs a positive change. New blood would be good, if it is the right person.

David: K-State would be out of their minds to get rid of Bill Snyder. It might not be what Kansas State fans want to hear, but like so many programs, K-State isn’t going to win a national championship. They don’t have the depth of talent and aren’t going to pull enough 4- and 5-star kids to Manhattan to compete with Alabama, Clemson, and Oklahoma. Bill Snyder is a winner who can keep Kansas State winning a lot more games than they lose. There is a lot to like about that.

If the playoff were to start today, which are the top four teams?

Josh: I agree with the AP. 1. Bama, 2. Clemson, 3. Georgia, and 4. Ohio State. Bama beats OSU, Georgia beats Clemson. Bama beats Clemson. we’re all bored and spend the last six weeks of the season arguing about expanding the playoffs again.

Bird: 1. Alabama 2. Georgia 3. Ohio State 4. Clemson (with Auburn and Oklahoma nipping at Clemson’s heels).

Mitch: 1. Alabama 2. Georgia 3. Clemson 4. Ohio State
Bama is No. 1 until further notice. Georgia really impressed me this past weekend at South Carolina. Clemson’s talent is staggering. Then it’s a toss-up between Ohio State and Oklahoma. I’m going with the Buckeyes because they’re going to win this weekend (vs. TCU in Arlington) and the Sooners (at Iowa State) are not.

Courtney: 1. Alabama 2. Clemson 3. Ohio State 4. Oklahoma. There are many teams playing very good right now so the top four are somewhat difficult to choose.

David: If I was simply submitting the four best teams, I would list, in order Alabama, Clemson, Georgia, and Auburn. The reality is, there is no way three teams from the same conference could make the playoffs, especially from the SEC where each week brings a new terror. (Okay, maybe Vandy and Kentucky aren’t going to terrorize anyone)
Given the reality of what’s possible in predicting the playoff lineup, I’d have to go with the following: 1. Bama 2. Clemson 3. Georgia 4. Oklahoma

Three of college football’s winningest program are playing in Texas this weekend. Ohio State vs TCU in Dallas and USC vs Texas in Austin are you most interested in seeing and which two teams will win their respective matchups?

Josh: Ohio State vs. TCU is more interesting because the Buckeyes are in the playoff hunt, and HOLY SHIT what a Big 12 statement it would be if TCU beat them. I’m not interested in Texas or USC this year.

Bird: The Buckeyes and the Horned Frogs is, easily, the most compelling matchup of these two games. That is if you’re not a huge fan of Texas or USC. The implications of the game at Jerry World are far reaching. I think TCU will give Ohio State all it can handle, but the Buckeyes close the deal in the fourth quarter. Now, down in Austin. Tom Herman and his Longhorns continue to struggle. I don’t think all is well down there and I see USC coming away with the W.

Mitch: Ohio State vs. TCU is far more intriguing and will be a far better game. While there is that little storyline of the 2014 Playoff (where the Bucks got the final spot and the Frogs were left out), this game is about what’s on the field now, not what was on the field in the past. USC vs. Texas is being hyped solely on history. I’ll only flip on the Trojans and Longhorns for a couple minutes, during commercials of the big boy game. Buckeyes and Trojans win.

Courtney: I will be watching the Ohio State vs. TCU game. I think this game will be closer and more exciting. The game will be close by Ohio State will pull it out. USC will beat Texas in Austin.

David: No program has done less with more in recent years than Texas. The Longhorns have a massive and enthusiastic fanbase, their football program prints money, their facilities are second to none, and they are in the epicenter of high school football talent. Yet since 2009, Texas has won more than 5 conference games just once and has had 4 losing seasons. Texas kicked off 2018 with an embarrassing loss to Maryland whose program was in total disarray the week before the game. Texas is going to have to win several big games before I pick them to win against a quality opponent like USC.

Ohio State is on a roll. Love or hate Urban Meyer, he recruits talent to his program and wins football games. I am going to pull for TCU in this game, but I don’t see Ohio State leaving Fort Worth without a victory.

LSU plays Auburn in Jordan-Hare Saturday afternoon and Auburn is a 101-point favorite. Can LSU win this game and what does Auburn need to do prevent the win? Between LSU’s Joe Burrow and Auburn’s Jarrett Stidham, which has the better passing game?

Josh: A 101-point favorite? I’ll take LSU and the points.

Bird: LSU can, absolutely, win this football game. I REALLY like Auburn, at home, in this one. The adage of winning in the trenches holds true here. And I think Auburn will win that battle on both sides of the ball. Gus Malzahn’s sixth edition of the Tigers has a chance to be special and this game should go a long way toward propelling it toward very big things. LSU is talented, but Auburn has a little bit more talent than Orgeron’s Tigers. They’re also deeper and, I believe, hungrier. Last year’s debacle in Baton Rouge will also be a motivating factor. I don’t think it’s close between Stidham and Burrows. Burrows is hitting 44 percent of his passes at LSU and Stidham is passing at a .667 clip in games he has played at Auburn thus far. That is FIRST all-time in AU football history. Cam Newton is second at a .661percentage. Auburn wins handily.

Mitch: I’ll start with the easy part. I liked Joe Burrow’s game against Miami in Week 1. I’ve heard some national pundits downplaying it, but 1) that game was over by halftime (27-3) and 2) LSU hasn’t had much hope at QB in recent years. Get excited, Tigers fans. Burrow is going to be good, and he’s got some stud receivers to spread it around to. But right now, Jarrett Stidham is simply better. Stidham was a gunslinger and a wild card in his Baylor days. Fortunately for him, he got out of that hell hole. He’s since taken his game to the next level, refining his decision-making and learning how to effectively scramble and pick up yards with his legs. He made some NFL-type throws against a stout Washington secondary. He’ll get another tough test here, with LSU’s Greedy Williams lurking in the defensive backfield. LSU’s chances in this game rely on Williams and the defense making plays and forcing turnovers. You must imagine Auburn will be able to do the same, considering LSU’s revamped offense is still finding its sea legs. If Auburn gets rolling with its three rotating running backs, that’s going to open things up for Stidham, and it’s all bad news from there for LSU. Keep those guys in check, make this an ugly game, get into the fourth quarter, and somebody step up and make a play. That’s the (unlikely) winning formula for the Bayou Bengals.

Courtney: I do not think that LSU will win this game. For Auburn to prevent LSU from winning the tigers need to play defense they have been playing this year. If Auburn can stop LSU converting third downs, which has been LSU’s struggle this season, Auburn should win. I think that Jarrett Stidham will have a better passing game than Joe Burrows does. It will be close but Burrows hasn’t shown much success yet this season so that is why I am choosing Stidham. But if the LSU pass rushes like they did last year then Stidham will struggle.

David: LSU looked fantastic opening the season against a Miami team that is deep in talent and has a proven winner leading the program. LSU has been my secret SEC indulgence since I was a kid. As much as I would like to see them win this game, I think that Bama, Georgia, and Auburn have separated themselves from the rest of the SEC this season. I am not sold that Joe Burrow as the answer to LSU’s persistent QB challenges, but I’d like to be wrong. If LSU can keep this close they could pull what I think would be a big upset late in the game. My worry is the Auburn gets on a roll early, which they are more than capable of doing, and this game gets boring in a hurry.

David’s Bonus Question: Will Vandy’s bad football mojo rub off on Virginia now that their game with Ohio University has been moved to Nashville or will Virginia leave a hex on a program that can ill-afford it?

I was planning to sit in the pouring rains of hurricane Florence watching Virginia play has to Ohio. Those plans went down the drain, so to speak, when the Virginia brass wisely finagled a way to move the game to Nashville. I recall from grade school that the product of two negatives is a positive. I think the Vandy football mojo and the Virginia’s disfavor with the football gods is going to result in a win for Virginia and an upset win for Vandy over the Gamecocks next week. Book it…or not.