Tag Archives: Baylor Bears

March Madness – From Pistol Pete to a Magic Carpet Ride

I didn’t begin to grow my hair, longer than the crew cut I sported at the time, because of the influence of rock groups I listened to, like Steppenwolf and Cream, who were popular at the time. It was due to a basketball player who was my idol, “Pistol” Pete Maravich. I loved the way Pistol Pete’s shaggy brown hair flopped as he brought the ball up the court for his team, the LSU Tigers.

Freshmen weren’t allowed to play on the varsity back in 1966, so Pete’s first year as a starter for the Bayou Bengals was the fall of 1967. And there were very few games that were televised back then, but when there was a game on television I was watching. I couldn’t wait for Saturday afternoons and the SEC game of the week.

I was also a sophomore on our high school’s team in ’67 (we didn’t have a varsity and junior varsity). We had an “A” team and a “B” team and I was on the “B” team.

The problem was, we had to cut our hair to play sports at Wilcox County High School in Camden, AL. I began to let mine grow in 1968 which was my second year on the “B” team (that team went 17-0 by the way). But come November and basketball practice, whack, we had to get that hair cut. Mine wasn’t trimmed short enough so I had to go back and get it snipped again. And friends, it wasn’t very long to begin with.

The fall of 1968 was also when I had my first kiss, my first taste of whiskey, and my first cigarette. I’ve since given up the cigarettes.

So those were heady days. And as the lyrics to the Grateful Dead’s Uncle John’s Band go, “Wo, oh, what I want to know, where does the time go?”

It has now been 50 years since Pistol Pete Maravich was in his first varsity season down in Baton Rouge. I was fortunate to witness him play the first game in what became Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum in Auburn on January 11, 1969. The home team Tigers won that game, 90-71. Sorry Pete.

And, it is noteworthy that LSU never made the NCAA Tournament during Maravich’s playing days. They did receive an invitation to the NIT his senior year.

March wasn’t exactly bursting with madness back in those days. In fact, there were only 23 teams in the NCAA Tournament. But, the UCLA Bruins were in the middle of a three-year title run under the tutelage of John Wooden and the leadership of their star center, Lew Alcindor, who was later to become Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

Yes, it’s a long way from those 23 teams, from 50 years ago, to the field of 68 that we grapple with today, and there are 10 of the usual suspects (North Carolina, Princeton, West Virginia, Dayton, Virginia Tech, Kansas, Louisville, New Mexico State, SMU, and UCLA) in both sets of brackets.

But interest is at a fever pitch, in the year 2017, and we are all caught in the throes of what is now termed “March Madness.”

The “Sweet 16” will have begun play by the time you read this, and here is the way I see it shaking down.

In chronological order:

Sweet 16

Michigan over Oregon

Gonzaga over West Virginia

Kansas over Purdue

Arizona over Xavier

North Carolina over Butler

South Carolina (Welcome Cinderella!) over Baylor

UCLA over Kentucky

Wisconsin over Florida

 

Elite Eight

South Carolina over Wisconsin

Gonzaga over Arizona

Kansas over Michigan

UCLA over North Carolina

 

That leaves us with a Final Four of:

South Carolina vs. Gonzaga

Kansas vs. UCLA

 

So let’s fasten our seat belts as we approach the final turn on that magic carpet ride… ”March Madness.”

 

E-mail Bird at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @Autull.

Wake Forest Leak Was Dumb, But Wouldn’t Even Rank as a Top Scandal in the ACC

If we are at the point of the year where we’re discussing the Wake Forest football team, one of two things has happened. It’s either A) The Demon Deacons have done the impossible and have snatched away the ACC crown and are heading to one of the CFP games this New Year’s Eve or B) Wake Forest is caught up in something so incredibly stupid it’s almost too hilarious to even be considered a scandal.

Since Option A obviously didn’t happen (nor will it ever, if Clemson and Dabo Swinney have anything to say about it, among others), it’s clearly B.

Former Deacons assistant coach and radio announcer Tommy Elrod was caught leaking Wake Forest game plans in the run-up to its game against Louisville. It’s not really as if the Cardinals needed any additional help since they hammered the Deacons, 44-12, but Elrod obviously lost his radio gig and has, all of a sudden, raised questions about what else he might have divulged. That includes the recent news out of Virginia Tech that he passed along info to Hokie assistants in 2014.

On the surface, though, when you look how Louisville overcame some early miscues in that game and beat the brakes off of Wake Forest, does anyone outside of Wake really think that it was the result of some chicanery?

Since the story is building and taking on a life of its own, you can go ahead and come up with whatever theory you like as far as Elrod’s motivation. Was this an intricate plot to seek out revenge on his alma mater for firing him from the coaching staff in 2013? At this point, though, it reads less like a James Bond novel and more like he was playing the role of The Mole from one of the Austin Powers movies.

And, no, we’re not supposed to talk about the bloody mole!

No matter how things shake out, in terms of mind-boggling scandals, the Wake Forest revelations aren’t even close to being the biggest of the year. The Baylor football team won that crown walking away a long time ago.

And since the Cardinals are involved, particularly Bobby Petrino, does this even rank in their list of biggest scandals? Petrino had to do a press conference because he got into a motorcycle crash while he was stepping out on his wife (Yes, he was at Arkansas at the time, but still).

Let’s also not forget that Louisville just got over everybody paying attention to the men’s basketball team and the escort scandal, although the school is still dealing with the NCAA regarding the violations that came out of that mess.

So yes, while it’s probably true that the Cardinals, in some way, ran afoul of the NCAA regarding Wake Forest, they’ve got a little bit more on their plate.

Speaking of plates and scandals in the ACC, the Wake scandal isn’t exactly Jameis Winston and the crab legs kerfuffle, even though both would rank up there in terms of sheer ridiculousness. In terms of far-reaching and flagrant violations, North Carolina and its ongoing academic integrity scandal is worse than anything that Elrod could have given Louisville.

And let’s not forget that Miami is in the ACC. Sure, Coral Gables has been pretty quiet recently, but you never know with the Hurricanes. Who knows when another Nevin Shapiro will magically appear?

Impressively, it’s Clemson that seems to be the most scandal-free of all the ACC teams in recent years (though that 1985 steroid scandal is still pretty high on the all-time scandals list). The worst thing that Swinney has done in his tenure is accidentally butt-dial a recruit on Facetime.

If there’s any good news for Wake Forest, at least there will be a little bit more intrigue for its December 27th match-up against Temple in the Military Bowl in Annapolis. Realistically, with the Demon Deacons sitting at 6-6, most of the publicity was going to be centered around the 24th-ranked Owls. That tends to happen when you win the American Athletic Conference championship game in an upset over Navy.

Now the intrigue will shift over to Wake Forest. An otherwise mundane pre-New Year’s bowl game (in which Temple is heavily favored) might be worth looking into, all of a sudden. The questions about where the Demon Deacons might have been, win-wise, if not for the spiteful actions of their radio guy could serve as a better narrative.

That is, unless you were okay with the one about the Owls coming to serve notice that they’re the best team in the AAC and laying waste to their bowl opponent as further proof of that. Nobody would blame if you if you’re still sticking with that storyline, though.

Ultimately, while Wake Forest is really in the weeds with Elrod and his shenanigans, the scandal itself will most likely turn out like most football seasons do for the Demon Deacons: middling and inconsequential in the grand scheme of things.

Email Bob at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @bobmcdonald.

Image via Wikipedia

Big 12 Schedule Changes Fall Flat

The Big 12 took another step in its continual pursuit of the rest of the college football world this week when it released the conference schedule for next season.  The biggest change of all, of course, is the addition of the conference championship game.  Finally, this sad group of little houses on the prairies can feel like the Power 5 conference that it is, or is supposed to be.

As you may recall, there’s been a lot of talk surrounding the Big 12 in the past 18 months or so.  For a while there during the summer, when we really had nothing better to talk about, it seemed each week there was a new school rumored to be joining the conference to help boost its membership to 12.  As it turned out, there was no expansion after all.  We didn’t really believe all that meaningless talk anyway, did we?

No, the Wild West, where little to no defense is ever played, remains the Power 5 least common denominator, both in numbers and in quality.  That’s why these minor changes are considered such big news for them.  But hey, they’ve got a championship game now.  And that, with just a 10-team league, actually creates an interesting dynamic.

The one thing I do respect the Big 12 for is the fact that each team plays every other team in the conference.  There’s no hiding from the big boys in the other division (looking directly at you, Penn State, you fake champion, you).  This round-robin model of conference play has severely hurt the Big 12 in the recent past.

History Lesson Learned

Fans of TCU and that Baptist school in Waco, Texas will remember a mid-October, 2014 game with a ridiculous 61-58 final score.  The Bears won but would lose their next game and finish essentially tied with the Horned Frogs in the final College Football Playoff rankings.  The indecisive shootout dragged both out of the top four.  The Buckeyes wanted me to make sure to say, “Thank you very much,” by the way.

For whatever it’s worth to them now, TCU proved to be the better team in the bowl season.  The Horned Frogs mollywhopped the Ole Miss Rebels, 42-3, while the Bears were outscored 21-0 in the fourth, losing to Michigan State in one of the greatest comebacks we’ll ever see.

One Truly True Champion

Anyway, with a conference championship game in place, the nightmare of having two good teams both get shut out of the Playoff isn’t really a possibility anymore.  If you run into a similar situation, two one-loss teams having played a very close game two months ago, you now have a legitimate tiebreaker.  There really will be “one true champion,” truly!

Nothing is more American than a do-over and if you can’t step up and beat your opponent when they call for a re-do, then you don’t deserved a spot in the running for that hideous trophy anyway.

So, here’s to the Big 12.  Welcome to modern college football, we’re all hoping this means you can start contributing significantly now.

Let’s take a look a few of the big money matchups we have to look forward to in 2017:

September 23

Oklahoma visits that Baptist school in Waco, Texas in the premier matchup of the first week of conference play.

September 30

Texas heads to Iowa State for its first Big 12 game under new head coach Tom Herman.  I’m willing to bet they lose that bad boy.  Any takers?

October 14

The Red River Shootout, Rivalry, or whatever they’re calling it now, takes over Dallas.

October 28

Kansas State and Kansas… Nah, I’m just kidding.

November 4

Oklahoma at Oklahoma State, Bedlam will be a bit earlier than we’re used to next fall.

December 2

The long-awaited, much-anticipated, hotly-debated inaugural Big 12 Championship Game.  Where else but Jerry World?  Maybe they can find a couple of teams that actually deserve to be there.

E-mail Mitch at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @GreatGatzke

Photo: Wikipedia

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Can the Oklahoma Sooners Crash the College Football Playoff Party?

Once the first 2016 college football playoff ranking was unveiled with all of the pageantry that ESPN could muster, college football fans had one more topic to argue about. Was Texas A&M deserving of its top four ranking or was Washington the more deserving team? It didn’t matter then and it doesn’t matter now. That fanatical argument doesn’t matter because there is still a lot of football left to be played this season and chances are good that one of the teams currently on the outside looking in will sneak into one of the playoff spots.

Oklahoma could be that sneaky team.

With two losses on its resume, Oklahoma may seem like a long shot that only a Big 12 homer such as myself (no, not really) could hold out hope for. But there are a few two-loss teams that are ranked ahead of the Sooners and some of those teams could realistically expect to lose another game or two. So please, hear me out on this.

Oklahoma’s loss to Houston no longer looks like the quality loss that it once did. Losing to Tom Herman is no longer the badge of honor that it once was considered. But how about that loss to Ohio State? I’ll tell you how that loss to Ohio State looks. It looks like a proverbial quality loss. That loss continues to look better and better if Ohio State continues to play like it did against Nebraska.

As for what Oklahoma can control? The Sooners control their own destiny to a large extent and it all starts this Saturday as Stoops and his Sooners end the season against Baylor, West Virginia and Oklahoma State. All of those teams are ranked so all of those wins would strengthen the resume of the Sooners.

The Big 12 and Oklahoma aren’t known for suffocating defenses, but that’s just fine. The Sooners have the offensive fire power to rip through the remainder of the schedule. Baker Mayfield is torching opposing defenses with the help of Dede Westbrook. If the Sooners hadn’t lost to Ohio State, both of those players would be in the Heisman conversation based on the statistics that each are producing.

If having players the caliber of Mayfield and Westbrook weren’t enough for opposing defenses to deal with, the Sooners will have both Joe Mixon and Samaje Perine available against Baylor. If Perine stays healthy and Mixon stops throwing temper tantrums at campus parking lot attendants, the Sooners should have all of the pieces in place to scare the rest of the conference.

The Big 12 has a bad reputation when it comes to comparing its teams to the upper echelon of teams from other conferences. I’m as guilty of that as everyone else. But if you’re a Big 12 fan and specifically a fan of Oklahoma, none of that should matter. What should matter to you is that the Sooners do have a puncher’s chance to slide into the playoff. Could the team win the championship? Get into the playoff first and then we’ll talk about that.

E-mail Seth at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @SethMerenbloom.

Photo: Wikimedia

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Latest Overreaction in College Sports: Cancel Baylor’s Football Season

On Sunday, a headline popped up in my timeline that immediately grabbed my attention. It read: “Rape activist says Baylor should cancel season.”

Earlier this year, immediately after Baylor fired Coach Art Briles, I weighed in on the situation. I said then (and still maintain now) that firing Briles was the right move for the university.

Since then, there have been many people within the program and even just fans of the Baylor football team that have come forward to say they feel differently. They feel that Briles didn’t do anything serious enough to warrant losing his job. After all, this is a sexual assault issue, not a football issue.

I hate to break it to you, but this is a football issue if those accused of said sexual assaults are football players. They made it a football issue even though it usually wouldn’t be one.

So now that we’ve established that this is, in fact, a football issue, let’s get back to what I started off this article by mentioning. A rape activist, who spoke to the Baylor football team this summer, is calling for the university to cancel the remainder of its football season. Even as a sexual assault survivor myself, I think that’s a completely ridiculous idea.

Oh, but Harvard canceled the remainder of the men’s soccer season after a much less serious sex-based scandal. So clearly this wouldn’t be overkill in this situation, right? Wrong.

That was most definitely overkill in the Harvard situation. And it would be overkill for the Baylor football program, too.

I understand the idea of actions and consequences. But the consequences for actions should be reasonable. In this case, the intentions of the team wearing black can’t even be proved. So how in the world could they make the leap to cancel the rest of the season?

They just couldn’t. Yes, fans did purchase and wear black shirts with #CAB (Coach Art Briles) on them. Yes, the players did opt for a blackout instead of the originally planned green out.

Do I believe that the team wearing black was not intended to make a statement about the former coach? No. The countless tweets in support of Art Briles say otherwise. The university probably just swooped in with the narrative of innocence to cover its behind.

But can any of us prove that the team wore black with the intention of protesting Briles losing his job? No. You cannot punish them for something you can’t prove they did.

Was it insensitive to wear black uniforms given the fact that fans had planned to wear black in support of Briles? Probably. But insensitivity isn’t something we should cancel a football season over. It’s an oversight at the very least, but it shouldn’t be the death sentence for a football season.

There can be other consequences for the team anyways. Force more sexual assault seminars down the players’ throats (because that clearly works). Require a team apology to the victims. Suggest community service hours for those who spoke out in favor of Briles. There are many options that are less extreme but still send a message.

And the message I’m talking about isn’t really for the players. The message is for the victims of sexual assault, still scarred from their horrifying experiences. The message would show them that Baylor will not tolerate sexual assault and will not support anybody who does.

Sure, canceling the season would do that. But what about the people who don’t tolerate sexual assault and are involved in the football program? How about the business owners who count on football games to boost revenue on Saturdays in November? What about the people at the university who benefit from the money generated by the football games? What about the young fans looking forward to these games all season?

At the end of the day, the football games do more good than harm. Canceling the season, on the other hand, would do much more harm than good.

But it’s 2016 and people in America are so sensitive that they think the rest of a football season should be canceled because feelings got hurt. Don’t get me wrong, the feelings of those sexual assault survivors are important. But canceling the rest of Baylor’s games won’t soothe the wounds created by being personally violated.

Try something else. Make a heartfelt apology, and then make sure that players and fans alike respect those victims the rest of the season. Do that and maybe we can all move forward.

You can email Kristen at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter @OGKristenB.

Photo: Daniel Huizinga, Flickr

Mock College Football Playoff 2016, Week 9

Welcome to the first week of Campus Pressbox’s official mock playoff committee. Every Tuesday I’ll be publishing the top 10 based on a group vote.

The committee:

Tim Bach (@Tbach84)
Kristen Botica (@OGKristenB)
Damien Bowman (@damienbowman)
Mitch Gatzke (@GreatGatzke)
Cooper Goetz (@uf_goetz)
Cole Hankins (@Cole_Hankins)
John Horlander (@John_Horlander)
Seth Merenbloom (@SethMerenbloom)
Evan Skilliter (@Skilliter)
Ben Belden (@bbelden330), Writer- Slap the Sign
Thomas Gardner
J.R. Goetz

The rules:

Each week, committee members will submit their top 10 teams and each team will receive points based on their position. The team’s will be ranked 1-10 based on which has the most points. Ties will be broken by which team has the highest votes in a specific position.

Points are assigned as follow: first place – 10, second place – 9, third place – 8, fourth place – 7, fifth place – 6, sixth place – 5, seventh place – 4, eighth place – 3, ninth place – 2, tenth place – 1.

Week 9 Results:

Place Team Points First Place Votes
1 Alabama 120 12
2 Michigan 103
3 Washington 93
4 Clemson 91
5 Louisville 59
6 Ohio State 58
7 Texas A&M 48
8 Wisconsin 37
9 Auburn 24
10 Florida 15
Additional Votes: Nebraska 11
LSU 1

Playoff:

Bowl Teams
Peach No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 4 Clemson
Fiesta No. 2 Michigan vs. No. 3 Washington

New Year’s Six:

Bowl Teams Tie In
Orange Louisville vs. ACC vs. Big Ten, Big 12 or SEC
Cotton At Large vs. At Large
Rose Ohio State vs. Utah Big Ten vs. Pac-12
Sugar Oklahoma vs. Texas A&M Big 12 vs. SEC

Notes and Observations:

  • There were three clear groups of teams.
    • The undefeated front-runners, consisting of the teams that received 1st or 2nd place votes (Alabama, Michigan, Washington, and Clemson)
    • The Contenders, consisting of the teams that peaked at 4th, 5th or 6th place votes (Louisville, Ohio State, Texas A&M, Wisconsin, and Auburn)
    • The Long shots, who, at best, received 7th place votes (Florida, Nebraska, and LSU)
  • Wisconsin and Auburn seem to be the most likely candidates for the Orange Bowl Big Ten/Big 12/SEC at large spot.
  • LSU, No. 15, was the lowest ranked team in the AP Poll to receive a vote. The Tigers jumped 3 Big 12 teams (Oklahoma, Baylor, West Virginia), none of which received a single vote. LSU’s single 10th place vote was courtesy of Seth.

 This Saturday’s Marquee Matches

No. 10 Florida @ Arkansas (3:30 P.M.)

Nebraska @ No. 6 Ohio State (8 P.M.)

No. 1 Alabama @ LSU (8 P.M.)

Our Work:

For transparency, here is how each member of the committee voted this week:

Voting Week 9

 

E-mail Cooper at [email protected] or follow him on twitter @uf_goetz
Image Courtesy of tujabro_99 – Flickr
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The Longhorns Are Down, But Not Out Yet

Here we go again. Every week presents a new turn in the roller coaster ride that is the Texas football program.

Just when you think the Charlie Strong era is going to come to a dramatic end with a blowout loss at home against Baylor…THAT happens.

The game was far from pretty, and neither team really deserved to win the game, but at least we know the Longhorns still have some fight left in them. So what did the game really prove?

It just proved that the team is exactly where we all thought they were. It’s still a largely inconsistent team that makes a ton of mistakes, but can find ways to win games when they’re fully engaged and playing with purpose. On paper, this 4-4 team has beaten two top-ten teams (even though that Notre Dame game lost a lot of luster since then), and is undefeated at home and winless on the road.

The mistakes Texas made against Baylor are the same ones they make in road games, but as we know, mistakes are magnified on the road. The inexplicable timing of taking time-outs, the head-scratching play calling blunders, clock management errors and not putting your best players on the field in big moments are all what doom the Longhorns on the road. Somehow the team gets away with it at home.

And speaking of head-scratching play calling blunders, it’s officially time to declare that the 18-wheeler needs to go in the shop for maintenance. Hide the keys and don’t roll it out again until it’s fixed. Right now, it does nothing but kill momentum because of the predictability of the package. Fix it, or don’t use it. Simple as that.

Back to the game. If Trent Domingue missed that field goal at the end of the game, I have no doubt it would have seemed like the world ended. All the mistakes would have been brought to light and so many cases would have been made as to why Charlie Strong shouldn’t even be allowed to make the trip to Lubbock next week.

Instead, the field goal surprisingly split the uprights, and now people are talking about him winning out and saving his job. The only thing more inconsistent than Strong’s team is the media and the fan base that pays attention to it.

But that just proves the point that winning solves all problems. People will forgive boneheaded mistakes if you still win the game. There were plenty of mistakes in this game, and I honestly have no idea how Texas won the game. This game just came down to which coaching staff was going to make the least costly mistake, because Baylor was just as poorly coached as Texas.

Now the attention gets turned to Lubbock. Yet another chance for Strong’s team to make a statement on the road. It’s easy for the players to get amped up for a home game, but for some reason they just can’t get it together on the road.

A win gives Strong a notch on his belt as a sign of improvement. A loss will start over the media circus again and we will be right back where we were prior to the Baylor game.

Showing fight and passion against Texas Tech won’t do any good unless they get the win. Alternatively, looking sluggish will be just fine as long as they walk away with the victory.

When the season began, most people just wanted to see improvements in year three under Strong. But with four games left, wins and losses are all that matter now. Every game is magnified over these final four games, and it starts in Lubbock.

Flashes of improvement don’t hold much merit anymore. It’s all about the victory, and it’s critical that it happens on the road this week for Strong’s group.

E-mail Chase at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @chaseholik88.

Photo: Wikipedia

College Football Playoff Rankings: Week 8

Welcome back to week 8 of Campus Pressbox’s Playoff Rankings. We are back to full force this week. As always, any previous rankings can be found right here.

  1. Alabama Crimson Tide (1)

Every single position in this week’s rankings changed hands, except for the No. 1 spot. Alabama continued to show its dominance by beating top 10 Texas A&M by 19 in a game that was never truly even close. It is honestly hard to tell if any team in college football can compete with the Crimson Tide, much less win the game. Nick Saban continues to build incredible teams year after year, earning the highest praise from everyone, including Alabama basketball coach Avery Johnson. The only crack in the Tide’s armor is the surprisingly tight 5-point win over Ole Miss (a team that is now below .500). LSU and Auburn are the only true challenges left for Alabama. 2016 Alabama is the biggest shoo-in we have seen in the three years of the College Football Playoff.

  1. Washington Huskies (4)

Remember when we all shook our heads at Chris Petersen when he left perennial Group 5 powerhouse Boise State, a team, no, a program that he had built with his own two hands, for the miserable Washington Huskies, whose national ranking had not risen into the top ten since the AP preseason poll of 2002? Well, Peterson has gone and proved all of us, myself included, wrong. Peterson has turned the Huskies into a mammoth powerhouse in only three years as head coach. Only a single one of Washington’s current wins has been by less than 24 points. That is a ridiculous statistic. Next week is Washington’s largest remaining challenge, a showdown in Salt Lake City against the 17th ranked Utah Utes. Washington has shown nothing to prove that it won’t treat the Utes the same as Oregon, Stanford and every other team the Huskies have left desolated in their wake. However, because Utah is a very good team, we will hold off on defining Washington’s CFP aspirations until Sunday morning.

  1. Michigan Wolverines (5)

The Beneficiary of this week’s “lucky dog”, Michigan was able to get back on the lead lap after Ohio State lost in Happy Valley on Saturday night. Michigan finally controls its own destiny and will most likely take big advantage of this fact. Like Washington, the Wolverines have proved ridiculously dominant (against sub-par opponents) and have shown no reason to believe Michigan won’t make it to Columbus, Ohio undefeated. And, frankly, there is also no reason to believe that the Wolverines won’t leave Columbus at a perfect 12-0.

  1. Clemson Tigers (3)

Clemson was off this week, and got passed up by Michigan as the Tigers’ win the previous week over N.C. State was, how should we say, uninspiring. Clemson has been very inconsistent in its play this season, and the Tigers need to be sure to come to play this week, or the Florida State Seminoles will walk all over Clemson’s playoff dreams.

  1. The Ohio State Buckeyes (2)

Just like the cliché of the teenage daughter getting caught coming home late by her parents, Ohio State left the weekend bawling. The only way to appropriately describe what happened to Ohio State on Saturday is the word embarrassing.  The Buckeyes failed to show up in Happy Valley, and Penn State made Ohio State pay big time. This is the same Penn State team, mind you, that lost to the Michigan Wolverines by 39. I guess if you are the Buckeyes, you just try to block the previous week’s nightmare from your memory and start prepping for Michigan, whom the Buckeyes would actually prefer to be undefeated going into week 12.

  1. Louisville Cardinals (7)

If anyone was wondering: Yes, the Louisville Cardinals do still exist. It seems like many people seemingly forgot and/or dismissed the Cardinals after the loss to Clemson. However, Louisville is still just as dominant as the week it beat Florida State by 43. That being said, Louisville may not get a second chance, unless Clemson loses this weekend. If that does happen, you may ask, “Well what happens now?” The answer, my friends, is chaos.

  1. Baylor Bears (9)

Baylor hasn’t beaten anyone spectacular thus far, but the undefeated record plus the win over SMU, who would go on to beat Houston, allow the Bears to jump over the third best Big Ten team, Nebraska. Even if Baylor wins out, which is pretty unlikely in my opinion, the Bears and the Big 12 will be the odd ones out of the Playoff. The question going into this season was which Big 12 or Pac-12 team would be good enough to make the playoff, a category that Washington clearly leads over Baylor by a wide margin.

  1. Nebraska Cornhuskers (8)

Hey, its everyone’s favorite top ten team without a good win over a solid opponent. I’m going to keep this brief people. Nebraska, needing a statement win, is going to lose to Wisconsin this weekend and then turn around and lose to Ohio State the next. Well, “Why put Nebraska in your top 10?” you might ask. Well, the truth is, I have no earthly idea. I guess, somewhere in my mind, it is more fun to give Nebraska the benefit of the doubt only to watch the Cornhuskers struggle. What can I say, I love good, old fashioned, schadenfreude.

  1. West Virginia Mountaineers (10)

West Virginia has been fighting to make a name for itself the entire season. The Mountaineers already have a plethora of solid wins, including victories over Missouri, BYU, and TCU (my preseason pick for Big 12 champion). It will be interesting to see if the Mountaineers can keep pace now that they have the public’s attention. West Virginia needs to prove itself more as a Washington and less as a Miami, who dropped its first game after gaining public attention.

  1. Florida Gators

There were a good number of teams who could’ve easily gotten the No. 10 spot on this list. However, I believe the Gators are the best of the bunch. Florida’s defense is second in the nation only to Michigan, and has made opposing offenses cry themselves to sleep. Despite the Tennessee meltdown (which was largely due to the offense’s inability to stay on the field in any way, shape or form) the Gators have been impeccable this season. Not to say Florida has very much of a chance against Alabama, but the Gators now control their own destiny, which gives them the advantage over any of our honorable mentions.

Drop Outs and Honorable Mentions

Texas A&M, this weeks sole dropout, is also one of the top honorable mentions. Along with Wisconsin, Florida St., and Boise St, all the honorable mentions have one thing in common. Despite all of the big wins and even bigger abilities, none of these teams are in control of their own destines, keeping them off this week’s list.

 

E-mail Cooper at [email protected] or follow him on twitter @uf_goetz
Image courtesy of Sam Howzit – Flickr
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Nebraska Has the Best Opportunity to Be the Man

Take a look at the Week 9 Top 25 ranking. There are lots of familiar faces in the Top 25, and the Top 10 teams have some shiny records. Does that mean that all of those Top 10 teams are worthy of those rankings? No.

As Ric Flair said, to be the man, you have to beat the man and there are two Top 10 teams that haven’t beaten the man. I’m looking at you, Nebraska and Baylor.

The voters must really like perfect, undefeated records because that eye candy is all Nebraska and Baylor have going for them. Nebraska is 7-0, but their best win has been against a 5-2 Wyoming team. One of Nebraska’s wins came against a Fresno State team that just fired its coach mid-season and the victory over Oregon was against a team that may be considering firing its coach.

What Nebraska does have going for it is that the level of difficulty increases the next two weeks. The Huskers play road games against Wisconsin and Ohio State. The high ranking will be justified if the Huskers can at least be competitive in each of those games.

As for Baylor, the road ahead of the Bears doesn’t look nearly as opportunistic as it does for Nebraska.

Baylor’s best win has been against a 5-2 Oklahoma State team. Other than that average looking win, the rest of Baylor’s resume is a big pile of “meh.” As for the teams that Baylor will play, the best of the bunch appears to be a December 3rd game at West Virginia. Sorry Baylor fans. That game against West Virginia is not the same as Nebraska’s back-to-back road trips against Wisconsin and Ohio State.

None of this is the fault of Nebraska or Baylor. The recipe is simple. Play the teams on the schedule and beat the teams on the schedule. Both Nebraska and Baylor have done this. The actual issue is not with these two over-ranked teams. The issue is with college football in general.

Outside of a handful of teams, I don’t believe there are many teams capable of playing elite level football on a consistent or inconsistent basis. And this is why teams like Nebraska and Baylor are ranked in the Top 10.

These teams are considered top-notch programs because the schedule makers for each team realized that all their teams had to do was win. So Nebraska and Baylor loaded up the schedules with either garbage opponents or opponents that had name recognition. But given how watered down college football has become, not just any team can pull off this magic act of legitimacy. There are plenty of teams that attempt this, but wind up looking like the 2016 Missouri team.

There is no solution to this. And, truth be told, I’m not sure it’s considered a problem by most people. Take the fans for instance. The watered-down product is attractive to the fans because it allows them to brag about cheering for an undefeated team. This sub-par, but winning product, lets the average fan stand around the water cooler at work and have bragging rights over the fans who cheer for the truly pathetic teams.

And having the appearance of parity is good for television. If people believe that there is equality in the Top 25, more people will tune in when Baylor plays Iowa State or when Nebraska plays Indiana. The networks know that we’ll buy anything if the product is effectively marketed, and the current state of college football is proof of that.

Maybe Nebraska will at least split its games against Wisconsin and Ohio State and prove that they’re worthy of a Top 10 ranking. Playing in a legitimate conference like the Big Ten will give the Huskers the opportunity to prove it. And maybe Baylor will go undefeated as a result of a mediocre Big 12 schedule. There are still a lot of “ifs” with each of these teams, but Nebraska has the best opportunity to be the man.

E-mail Seth at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @SethMerenbloom.

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College Football Playoff Rankings: Week 7

Welcome back to the Campus Pressbox College Football Playoff Rankings. This week’s rankings are an abbreviated version, but we will be back to full force next week. As always, you can find  previous weeks’ rankings here.

Rankings

1.  Alabama Crimson Tide (1)

2. The Ohio State Buckeyes (2)

3. Clemson Tigers (3)

4. Washington Huskies (4)

5. Michigan Wolverines (5)

6. Texas A&M Aggies (6)

7. Louisville Cardinals (7)

8. Nebraska Cornhuskers (8)

9. Baylor Bears (10)

10. West Virginia Mountaineers

 

Drop Outs

Wisconsin Badgers (8)

Honorable Mentions

Florida State Seminoles, Boise St. Broncos, Florida Gators, Tennessee Volunteers, Western Michigan Broncos.

 

Games to Watch This Weekend

Texas A&M @ Alabama

Everyone is in agreement that the Top 10 showdown between A&M and the Crimson Tide is by far the best game this weekend. It should and will most likely decide who wins the SEC West. Obviously, that team will also be the favorite to win the SEC championship and to advance to the CFP. Alabama has shown neither remorse for its opponents nor any signs that the heavy schedule is having any effect on the team. For that reason, it just makes too much sense that Alabama will be able to overcome the surging and surprisingly good Aggies.

North Carolina State @ Louisville

N.C. St. surprised everyone last week when they kept pace with Clemson. The Wolfpack was only a field goal away from a huge upset, but was unable to pull it off. However, Louisville still needs to be wary. The Wolfpack may be a bit melancholic after last week, but there is a chance State comes out looking for blood. If that happens, Louisville could be in some trouble. Louisville just needs to be ready to play, and I’m sure Lamar Jackson will take care of the rest.

E-mail Cooper at [email protected] or follow him on twitter @uf_goetz
Image Courtesy of Aparkswv – Wikimedia Commons
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