Tag Archives: Memphis Tigers

Who Will be the 2017 National Signing Day Diamonds in the Rough?

It’s all about the stars, baby! It’s all about those 4 and 5-star future All-Americans who will catapult your favorite college football team to a national championship. Collecting a stable of primetime players may be easy for coaches like Urban Meyer and Nick Saban but that kind of success on the recruiting trail just isn’t the reality of the situation for the majority of coaches. If your team isn’t considered to be a football blue-blood, success is going to be a process that is built upon 2 and 3-star recruits who will need time to be developed.

But success can be achieved with these so-called “diamonds in the rough.” It’s not an easy path to success, but it can and has been done. Rivals and 247 don’t have crystal balls that will clue us into who these diamonds in the rough will be. Even the most experienced coaching staffs can’t predict which of their less heralded recruits will lead their teams to divisional and conference championships.

With today being National Signing Day, let’s take a look back and some 2 and 3-star recruits from the past who proved to have significant impacts on the field.

Marcus Mariota was barely recruited before signing with Oregon. He was a 3-star recruit with two scholarship offers. Oregon and Memphis. That was it. All Mariota did was lead Oregon to an appearance in the 2015 National Championship game and he won the 2014 Heisman Trophy. Not bad for a recruit who struggled to receive offers.

I can’t imagine Michigan State fans were waiting with eager anticipation for the day a 2-star running back recruit with offers from Bowling Green, Eastern Michigan, and Marshall would step on the field for them. All Le’Veon Bell did in his Spartan career was rush for 3,346 yards and 33 touchdowns. In his junior season, before leaving early for the NFL, Bell rushed for 1,793 yards and 12 touchdowns. He proved to be more talented than a 2-star recruit with mid-major offers.

Missouri’s Charles Harris makes Bell look like a highly sought after recruit. Harris excelled on the high school basketball court and had barely played any football prior to Missouri offering him a scholarship. His options were Northern Iowa, Missouri Western and Pittsburg State. In his three-year career, Harris recorded 18 sacks, 34.5 tackles-for-loss and forced 5 fumbles.

Jordy Nelson committed to Kansas State as a 2-star safety prospect. His options were Kansas State and Kansas but even those weren’t legitimate options. Neither coaching staff was willing to provide a scholarship offer to Nelson so he attended Kansas State as a walk-on. Nelson holds the Kansas State record for most receiving yards in a single season and is 2nd all-time in career receiving yardage. Not bad for a high school player that nobody wanted.

Gaines Adams was a 3-star tight end recruit who chose Clemson over Michigan State, North Carolina, Virginia, and Virginia Tech. Compared to the others on this list, Adams offer list made him look like a blue-chip recruit. Not only was he not a blue-chip recruit, tight end wasn’t even his ultimate position. Adams became a first team All-American and ACC Defensive Player of the Year in 2006.

As fans, we like to get all worked up over National Signing Day. How many 4 and 5-star recruits has our team collected? Which kids pulled a signing day surprise and left our team at the alter? Which players did our team’s coaching staff manage to flip? It can be an entertaining soap opera to follow, but none of us have a clue as to how the story will unfold.

My advice to you is this – Have fun with recruiting, but don’t become so invested in it that a signing class ruins your day. None of us will know the verifiable quality of this recruiting class for another few years. Enjoy the ride, because who knows, maybe your team has a diamond-in-the-rough buried in this recruiting class.

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

Photo: Flickr.com

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The Group of 5 Does Not Need its Own College Football Playoff

The debate that has been raging since the inception of the College Football Playoff is whether or not four teams are enough. Some say that four teams are enough. Others say, “not so fast,” we need more than four participants. And there is yet a third opinionated group of voices that tells us that a playoff isn’t needed regardless of the number of teams participating.

And now there is a fourth voice in the argument and its proposal would be the most disruptive of all. Northern Illinois athletic director Sean Frazier is leading the charge for the Group of 5 to have its own college football playoff.

Schools that compete in the American, Conference USA, Mid-American, Mountain West, and Sun Belt conferences feel like they’re living on the Island of Misfit Toys. The reason that these conferences feel this way is justified, but it’s also not unfair.

Even when schools like Houston and Western Michigan have magical years, they don’t get into the playoff. Houston proved with its 2015 Peach Bowl victory over Florida State that it could not only compete with but beat a Power 5 school. The Cougars followed that up with a 2016 victory over the Oklahoma Sooners. Then, as the season progressed, things went down hill for Houston.

As Tom Herman led the Cougars into the October 8 game against Navy, Houston was sitting at 5-0. That unblemished record was highlighted with the win over the Sooners. The team had positioned itself well for playoff consideration. And then Houston lost to Navy. But that wasn’t Houston’s only loss. The Cougars then lost to SMU and Memphis. Game over. Playoff consideration was off the table and rightfully so.

But being shunned by the playoff committee was not the fault of the playoff committee. It was Houston’s fault. Houston took care of Oklahoma but then couldn’t take care of its AAC business. Too bad. Go back to the Island of Misfit Toys.

Having a separate playoff for the Group of 5 will not solve this problem because there isn’t a problem to be solved. All that this proposed second tier playoff will do is create a larger divide between the Group of 5 and Power 5 schools. The perceived difference in quality will grow at an exponential rate.

Frazier believes that the current playoff system is designed to crown a Power 5 champion. He believes that the Group of 5 is being held down and left out at a systemic level. Frazier wants us all to ignore the fact that the highest-ranked Group of 5 team is guaranteed a spot in one of the New Year’s 6 bowls. That isn’t the definition of being left out. That isn’t being confined to the Island of Misfit toys no matter what your teams do.

Western Michigan is the 2016 version of the 2015 Houston program. P.J. Fleck and his Broncos rowed the boat all the way to a 13-0 season. The reward is a trip to the Cotton Bowl where the opponent will be the Wisconsin Badgers. Western Michigan had a great season, but don’t be fooled, all 13-0 seasons are not created equal. The Broncos, much to Frazier’s assumed chagrin, do not belong in the playoff. Western Michigan didn’t have its “rightful” spot in the playoff stolen.

P.J. Fleck did go undefeated against the Big Ten this season, but those wins came against a 7-6 Northwestern team and a 3-9 Illinois team. Nope. Sorry/not sorry. The Broncos don’t belong in the playoff. And to be honest, the Broncos are lucky to be in the Cotton Bowl. Thank goodness for negotiated contractual clauses.

2017 has the potential to be an interesting year in terms of playoff consideration if, and only if, Western Michigan can upset Wisconsin. If Western Michigan can manage to do that, it will surely start 2017 off with a high preseason ranking. Package that potential ranking with road games against Southern Cal and Michigan State and the Broncos could be in consideration for the 2017 playoff. But even if the Broncos knock-off Wisconsin, Southern Cal and Michigan State, Fleck will still have to go undefeated in the Mid-American Conference. Sound easy? Just ask Houston about beating schools from the Power 5 only to screw it all up by struggling against its Group of 5 competition.

The Group of 5 is what it is. It’s a collection of good, but not great football programs. There are teams like Houston and Western Michigan that have the potential to be in the same conversation as the Power 5 schools, but teams like the Cougars and Broncos have to build up to a playoff run over the course of multiple seasons. Unlike a Power 5 school, it can’t be done during a single season. Creating a Group of 5 playoff won’t solve this non-problem. If anything, it will be perceived as the Group of 5 creating its own participation trophy.

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

Photo: Pixabay

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Bright Future Ahead for a Pair of AAC Foes

Last season was a year of great triumph for both the Memphis Tigers and Houston Cougars college football programs. While Memphis’ season ended in bitter fashion with a 31-10 Birmingham Bowl loss to Auburn and the departure of first-round NFL draft pick Paxton Lynch, the Cougars carried their regular season momentum into the Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl by upsetting ACC powerhouse Florida State 38-24.

The two American Athletic Conference rivals finished the season with a combined record of 22-5, which included a 35-34 home victory for Houston in their lone head-to-head matchup. The future is bright for both schools, but for drastically different reasons.

Firstly, the Memphis Tigers will begin the new season with a pair of fresh faces leading the way. On December 3, the Tigers replaced departed coach Justin Fuente, who took the head coaching position at Virginia Tech, with Mike Norvell, who most recently served as the offensive coordinator at Arizona State. In addition to the change at head coach, the Tigers were in desperate need of a new face at quarterback with the departure of Paxton Lynch, currently of the Denver Broncos.

Norvell was able to deliver with the acquisition of third-ranked junior college quarterback Riley Ferguson, who signed with the Tigers just weeks after Norvell’s hiring. Ferguson averaged nearly 327 passing yards per game last season for Coffeyville Community College in North Carolina. Memphis will begin the season on the first Saturday of September against Southeast Missouri State of the Ohio Valley Conference.

While Memphis looks to begin a new chapter in its history with a pair of fresh faces, the Houston Cougars will look to build off of last season’s historic run with Heisman Trophy hopeful Greg Ward, Jr. leading the way for Tom Herman’s high-octane offensive attack. The Cougars remained in the national championship picture a season ago until their lone loss of last season, which came at the hands of conference rival Connecticut in their third to last contest of the year.

Despite the departures of running back Kenneth Farrow and wide receiver Demarcus Ayers to the NFL, the Cougars will undoubtedly possess one of the most prolific offenses in the nation with Greg Ward Jr. leading the way and Tom Herman continuing to add to his already impressive coaching resume.

Houston will begin its new campaign in a showdown with Baker Mayfield and the Oklahoma Sooners on September 3. American Athletic Conference fans will have to wait until the final week of the season to see the to see the Cougars battle the Tigers in what should be a game with conference championship implications.

E-mail Alec at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @alec_kwait

Image: Flickr/Lindsey Turner

Realigning into 16-Team Power Conferences

So much has been said about conference realignment in the last few years that we’ve become numb to it.  We recognize that the motive behind all of it is money, and that, understandably, turns many of us off to the whole idea.

I haven’t seen anybody try to turn this sensitive issue into something fun though.  Obviously, this is a complicated case with a lot of ins, a lot of outs, a lot of what-have-yous.  We don’t need to get into all of that.  It’s been done before.  It’ll be done again.  So, forget all that and proceed with an open mind.

Let’s just stuff 16 teams into each of the Power 5 conferences and see what that looks like.

First of all, logistically speaking, adding teams gives us an opportunity to level the playing field a bit.  16-team conferences break down nicely into four divisions of four and that allows me to mandate schedule changes.

Every team will play 12 games in a regular season, three non-conference contests against other Power 5 teams and nine within the conference.  Teams will play their three divisional foes every season.  They’ll also annually rotate playing one entire division within their conference.  This leaves two more games, filled by one team from each of the remaining divisions in the conference.  Those, too, will rotate yearly.

From there, division winners will be pitted against each other in a two-week long playoff to determine a conference champion.  The five conference champs will receive automatic bids to the College Football Playoff with three more bids going to the most deserving at-large teams.  Oh yeah, we’re expanding the Playoff too, but that’s another column for a different time.

Enough introduction, let’s realign.

ACC

We’ll start out with the easy one.  The Atlantic Coast Conference already has 14 teams and it’s a basketball league anyway.  It shouldn’t be hard to add two schools that’ll make the East Coasters happy.

Additions: Memphis and Temple

The Tigers and the Owls both had surprisingly solid seasons in the American Athletic Conference in 2015.  Timing might have a lot to do with this but it seems like they’d be the best fits for right now.

Div. 1                          Div. 2                          Div. 3                          Div. 4

Clemson                    Florida State            Louisville                    Boston College

North Carolina         Miami                       Virginia Tech              Pittsburgh

NC State                    Georgia Tech            Virginia                       Syracuse

Wake Forest              Duke                          Memphis                     Temple

The problem with the ACC is there aren’t many schools you know you can count on to field a solid football team every year.  That made splitting them up evenly a bit more challenging and I think these combinations are as fair as you’re going to get.

To clarify the schedule reconstruction from earlier, let’s use Clemson as an example.  The Tigers would play UNC, NC State and Wake Forest every year going forward.  In 2016, they’d play every team in “Div. 2” and one team from “Div. 3” and “Div. 4”.  I think that shakes out to be a much better schedule than anything we see under the current system.

Of course, you’d rotate home and away to prevent Clemson from rarely leaving Death Valley, but breaking all that down would be delving into details that are not the aim of this column.  Again, we can do that some other time.

Big 12

Yee-haw!  Here’s where the real fun is to be had.  The Big 12 needs six teams to get itself up to code.  There’s been a whole lot of talk coming out of the Wild West, but it seems everyone is too afraid to pull the trigger on any real moves.  Let’s make it easy for them.

Additions: Houston, Cincinnati, BYU, Boise State, Arkansas State, North Dakota State

With so many spots to fill, this was the toughest conference to add to.  Houston, Cincinnati, BYU and Boise State all belong in the Big 12 for real and I figured why not throw in Arkansas State and FCS-powerhouse North Dakota State for fun.  All of these teams would run the Kansas Jayhawks out of the building so I’m not worried about having to dig a deeper basement.

Div. 1                          Div. 2                         Div. 3                          Div. 4

Oklahoma                  Texas                        Houston                    West Virginia

Oklahoma State        Baylor                      Boise State                Iowa State

Kansas State              TCU                         BYU                             Cincinnati

Kansas                        Texas Tech            North Dakota State   Arkansas State

Look, I know this isn’t perfect, but like the ACC, the Big 12 isn’t giving me much to work with.  It’s a conference dominated by its haves and embarrassed of its have nots.  I’ve almost made it into a coast-to-coast league by adding Boise State (that’s a long way from Morgantown, West Virginia) but the conference itself didn’t seem too bothered by that when it added the Mountaineers in the first place.

I tried to keep as many rivalries alive as I could without severely crippling any one of the divisions.  Who knows what to expect from “Div. 3” with all newcomers, or “Div. 4” with West Virginia at the top.  There’s a lot going on in the Big 12 and frankly, I’m glad I don’t have to deal with it on a regular basis.  Sorry, Courtney McCrary.

Big Ten

Welcome to Big Ten country, where football is just better.  Sure, we’ve recently added a couple ridiculous East Coast members in Maryland and Rutgers, but they do serve nicely as automatic wins for our real teams.  Just two additions needed here.

Additions: Notre Dame and Ohio

Now that I know I’ve scared away all the Golden Domers, I can just come right out and say that it’s utterly ridiculous for Notre Dame to be playing half of an ACC schedule.  The Irish belong in the Big Ten.  We all know it.  They all know it.  The only reason they’re not, you guessed it: money.

Also, welcome the Ohio Bobcats whose campus is absolutely beautiful (and great fun on Saturday nights).  Maybe now people will realize there is, after all, another school besides THE one in Columbus.

Div. 1                          Div. 2                          Div. 3                          Div. 4

Ohio State                Michigan                    Nortre Dame            Wisconsin

Penn State                Michigan State         Iowa                            Minnesota

Maryland                  Indiana                      Northwestern            Nebraska

Ohio                           Rutgers                       Purdue                        Illinois

Truthfully, I would love to boot Maryland and Rutgers, make them go play in the ACC and add a couple more MAC schools.  Northern Illinois, Toledo, Central and Western Michigan would all suffice, but for the purpose of this column I’m simply working with what’s already there.

Notre Dame gets to play schools it can start, or continue, a legitimate rivalry with.  They’ll have to play those fake rivalries they’ve got on both coasts on their own time.  The Buckeyes will have to play the Bobcats every year because I know that scares them.  As far as “The Game” is concerned, like our own Damien Bowman says, Michigan vs. Ohio State would be an even bigger game if it wasn’t played annually.

SEC

I know I angered many of you from the Southland with that wise crack about football being better up north.  We all know where the best football is played.  It’s just that people are tired of hearing about it.  The best conference in college football also needs just two teams to fill itself out.

Additions: Western Kentucky and Southern Mississippi

You’re the best, right?  Well, then you shouldn’t need any more help proving it.  Take these two C-USA teams (last year’s division winners), and consider them replacements for those mid-season walk-throughs y’all like to schedule against FCS schools.

Div. 1                          Div. 2                          Div. 3                          Div. 4

Alabama                    Florida                       LSU                             Ole Miss

Auburn                      Georgia                      Arkansas                     Tennessee

Texas A&M               Kentucky                    Missouri                     Mississippi State

South Carolina        Western Kentucky    Vanderbilt                  Southern Mississippi

There are so many rivalries down south it’s impossible to keep them all intact.  This divisional split preserves many of the big games while setting up some intriguing new ones.  This shakeup seems perfect to me, particularly for this coming season, but I’m sure some of you have one or two issues with it.  I’m curious what our SEC guys (and gals), Bird LeCroy, Seth Merenbloom and Kristen Botica, think about this.

Pac-12

Fifth and finally, that wacky conference out west that loves to put up points.  Unfortunately, picking last and being on the West Coast severely limits the options here.  With four spots to fill, this is going to be a tough one.

Additions: Utah State, Colorado State, San Diego State, Nevada

Basically, the Pac-12 absorbed the best available teams from the Mountain West and banished the rest of them to whatever level we’re setting up underneath the Power 5.

Div. 1                          Div. 2                          Div. 3                          Div. 4

USC                            Stanford                    Oregon                         Utah

Arizona                      UCLA                         Washington                Colorado

Arizona State            California                  Washington State      Colorado State

San Diego State       Nevada                      Oregon State               Utah State

Dividing this group of teams was even more difficult than finding which ones to add to it.  I wanted to keep USC and UCLA together, but doing so makes all the other divisions look much less formidable.  The door does seem wide open for Oregon and Utah in this setup.  I tried to put the Ducks and the Utes together but, again, the repercussions make things worse than they stand now.  What say you, Mike Wilson?

Reminder

Sports are supposed to be fun.  If they’re not, then what’s the point?  And while I understand this is a serious topic with a lot of money involved, I have a hard time taking it seriously since all anyone wants to do is talk.  Until something real happens, I’ll just keep serving up far-fetched proposals to stir the conversational pot.

I hope you enjoyed reading and I look forward to many of you telling me what I already know, why this won’t work, in the comments section below and on Twitter @GreatGatzke.

Image courtesy of Wikipedia.

Expansion or No Expansion…That is the Question

Maybe it’s because I am a K-State fan, but this article made me laugh out loud. Does it really surprise anyone that no Kansas football players were drafted? De’Andre Mann, Taylor Cox and Larry Mazyck have been picked up in free agency. Mann signed with the Atlanta Falcons, Cox has been invited to Cowboys camp and Mazyck will be attending free agent tryout camp with the Houston Texans. It will be interesting to see if more KU players can make in impact in the NFL like Harris and Talib did this year. I just don’t really see players from these past few years making it very far considering what their record has been.

The contract from Brad Underwood has been approved. Underwood will make a total of 6.3 million the next five years with a starting salary of $1 million for next season. This doesn’t include the incentives he will be receiving from the Big 12 and Oklahoma State if he wins. As I said in my article earlier this year, Underwood is a great coach and deserves a large contract. I am very happy he is in the Big 12 again, I just wish it was with a different team.

Memphis President M. David Rudd released a promotional publication on his twitter account. He is really pushing for his school to join the Big 12. I think this would be a very interesting move by the Big 12. I wouldn’t be opposed at all. Memphis is progressively getting better in football and, of course, is very good in basketball. It is also somewhat close to other schools so people would travel, which is always important. I am not sure how much people who actually make these decisions pay to twitter and make their decisions off of promotional videos.

Bob Bowlsby finally spoke up about when decisions are going to be made in regards to expansion. He said “we need to move ahead and make decisions. I just think we need to move ahead expediently.” At this point I am somewhat indifferent about what happens. I am just ready for them to make a decision and hope it is the bet one for the conference. It sounds like they will have a decision made in the next ten days.

The Big 12 needs votes from eight schools to expand. I have heard they currently only have votes from seven schools. I have never liked Texas, nor will I ever like Texas. I feel like Texas is a very selfish school. Texas wants to keep the Longhorn Network so the Longhorns are pressuring TCU and Texas Tech not to vote for expansion. So, instead of thinking about what is best for the Big 12, the Longhorns are just thinking about themselves and what their TV contract will do for them. The Longhorn Network has lost money the past few years. So in the long run Texas is losing money for something they are so adamant on keeping.

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Birmingham Bowl: Auburn vs. Memphis

Paxton Lynch

Do you know who that is? It is the name of the player you will be hearing the most about coming into this game. He is the quarterback for Memphis and he could be the best QB in college football. He will, most assuredly, be the first signal caller taken in the NFL Draft this spring.

Let’s love him a bit more.

Lynch has completed 280 of 407 pass attempts this season, for 3,670 yards and 28 touchdowns. He has thrown only 3 interceptions. Lynch has a 166.8 efficiency rating and his completion percentage is 69%. And get this, he is 6’7” and 245 pounds.

Thus, here is Bird’s strategy for Auburn to win the football game. KEEP THE BALL AWAY FROM PAXTON LYNCH! Brilliant, huh?

And how does one keep the ball away from Memphis and Lynch? By running the heck out of it.

Now here is where that proposition gets dicey. The strength of the Memphis defense is stopping the run. They allow only 137.8 rushing yards per game. Auburn runs the ball for 191.8 yards per game. Mark this as a critical matchup. The Memphis D-line vs. the Auburn O-line. Something’s gotta give. Or not.

Memphis Tigers

These two sets of felines have met only twice on the gridiron. Who do you think leads the series? If you said Auburn, you were wrong. Memphis beat Auburn both times they faced off. In 1975 Memphis State, as she was called back then, beat Auburn, 31-20, at Jordan-Hare Stadium. The following year Auburn fell 28-27 at the Liberty Bowl in the Bluff City.

Memphis is a member of the American Athletic Conference. These Tigers finished the 2015 regular season with a 9-3 record and they were 5-2 (third) in conference play.

Their interim head coach is Darrell Dickey. Also, a new head coach has been hired. Waiting in the wings is Mike Norvell, who was previously the offensive coordinator and Deputy Head Coach at Arizona State. That’s what they call them out there. Deputies. It’s the west. Norvell will be the youngest head coach in FBS football. He is 34 years old. I have a son older than that. When I was 34, number 34 was winning a Heisman Trophy at Auburn. You know who that was.

Now back to Memphis. There are a lot of great songs about Memphis. No, the football team. Short-term memory.

Pass the Geritol, please.

Offense? They average 510.4 yards per game and 42.7 points per game. Like I said, keep the ball away from Paxton Lynch and that juggernaut of an offense! Covering Mose Frazier would be a good place to start. Frazier nabbed 66 passes for 750 yards and 4 TD’s.

When Memphis runs the ball, Doroland Dorceus is their ‘go-to’ guy. He ran for 613 yards at 4.3 yards per rush.

And, by the way, Lynch is very good at extending plays with his legs. Keep the ball away from Paxton Lynch!

Auburn Tigers

We’re not going to say, keep the ball away from Jeremy Johnson or Sean White. We don’t know, just yet, who the starting quarterback will be for Auburn, but, suffice it to say that neither will strike fear in the hearts of the Memphis faithful the way Lynch will in Auburn Tiger fans.

But…BUT… whichever of those two guys Gus Malzahn and Rhett Lashlee starts, he better manage a good game, not turn it over, and make good decisions. If the Auburn QB does not do these things, then the burnt orange and navy blue will, likely, suffer through a long afternoon at 400 Graymont Ave W, Legion Field.

Auburn’s QB numbers are pedestrian. Johnson is 94 of 156 (60.3%) for 1,043 yards. White has thrown 130 times and completed 75 (57.7%) of those for 1,064 yards.

What MUST Auburn do to be successful on offense? That’s right! They MUST run the football and run it well. The guys who can get that done? Peyton Barber and Jovon Robinson. Barber has run the ball for 976 yards at 4.3 yards per carry. Robinson, who hails from Memphis, is averaging 5.7 yards per carry. He has 513 rushing yards.

When Auburn does throw, their most popular target is Ricardo (The Prayer at Jordan-Hare) Louis. Louis has hauled in 45 passes for 699 yards. He is averaging 15.5 yards per catch.

The AU Tigers’ D has been a bit porous but they had begun to gel, somewhat, as the regular season came to an end. They allowed 421.8 yards per game. Opponents rushed for 189.7 per contest (WAAAAAY TOO MUCH) and passed for a 232.2 yard average in each game (WAAAAAY TOO MUCH).

Johnathan “Rudy” Ford lead all Tiger tacklers with 113. That was also good for second place in the SEC.

Placekickers

Daniel Carlson (Auburn) and Jake Elliott (Memphis) are excellent placekickers. Oddly enough, they both hit 22 of their 26 field goal attempts. If it comes down to a last second field goal both schools are, obviously, in great shape there.

What To Expect

A shootout? Possibly. But nothing like the 55-52 pinball game that Virginia Tech and Tulsa found themselves embroiled in recently. It should be something more like the 37-29 Nebraska win over UCLA.

Memphis is going to get some passing yards. Auburn is going to get some rushing yards.

Both sets of Tigers will score some points. The question is, who gets the most points? That is who always wins the football game. Every time. Book it. Done deal.

In the end, Auburn (6-6, 2-6 SEC) has more talent, SEC talent at that, and really wants to send this group of seniors, who have NEVER won a bowl game, out with a win. I like what I’m hearing from the practice filed concerning Auburn’s work ethic, attitude, and effort.

The Tigers of Lee County Alabama subdue the Tigers of Shelby County Tennessee.

Prediction. Auburn 34, Memphis 24.

Here is the link to the Birmingham Bowl website.

http://www.birminghambowl.com

Staff Pick’em: Week 12

Everyone tried to be nice and uniform and all score 3-3 last week but I had to be a jerk and break that streak as long as I didn’t fail at math which is known to happen. We’re really getting down to crunch time with only two weeks left and technically everyone is still in the race. Your leaders in the clubhouse are me and Mitch who are tied at the top. Britt’s bringing up the rear but like I said, not eliminated yet.

 

David Poole (@VirgoAssassain): 3-3 (31-23)

Mitch Gatzke (@GreatGatzke): 3-3 (36-18)

Courtney McCrary (@CourtMac17): 3-3 (32-21)

Derek Woods (@D_Woods21): 3-3 (31-23)

Britt Zank (@BZank17): 3-3 (29-25)

Tim Bach (@TBach84): 5-1 (36-18)

 

#13 Michigan State at #3 Ohio State

David Poole: Both teams had gimme games last week, so confidence should be on an upswing. However, I’m sure Sparty and company are still smarting a bit after that Nebraska loss. The Buckeyes are clearly more formidable with JT Barrett at the helm. With that, I think Ohio state leans on Barrett and Elliot in the run game and tire out Michigan State by the fourth and begin to air it out to close the game. Buckeyes in a dogfight, 24-21.

Mitch Gatzke: The Spartans love being the underdog and they’ve got their wish here. I’ve been calling it since August so I couldn’t possibly turn back now. Michigan State forces a couple turnovers and wins by a touchdown.

Courtney McCrary: Ohio State: I think it will be a close game, especially if Connor Cook is healthy enough to play in the game. But I think Ohio State will win it at home.

Derek Woods: Ohio State is the more talented team and will prove it on Saturday. The real test for the Buckeyes will come the following week at Michigan.

Britt Zank: Urban Meyer is a big game coach and he will have his team playing at their best.  This will be a battle of strengths with the OSU Offense vs the MS defense. But in a low scoring affair I see Ohio State making more plays to win 20 – 14

Tim Bach: This isn’t your usual Michigan State team after all the injuries, especially on defense and to Connor Cook. Ohio State isn’t great but Sparty doesn’t have the stamina to keep up. Ohio State pulls ahead late and keeps the lead.

 

#21 Memphis at #22 Temple

David Poole:  Memphis is coming off a heart-breaking loss, while Temple got flat out obliterated. I see Memphis picking up where they left off and finishing the job this time around. Tigers win convincingly, 35-20.

Mitch Gatzke: Memphis is probably the more talented team of these two, but sometimes it takes more than talent. Temple is looking to lock up the AAC East this weekend. That should to motivate them to hold Paxton Lynch and company in check. The Owls win a close one.

Courtney McCrary: Temple: Both teams had tough losses last week and will be looking to rebound this week. i think Memphis will have a harder time rebounding from their loss and Temple will win.

Derek Woods: Memphis blew a game it easily should have won last week against Houston and will get back on track in a close win over temple.

Britt Zank: Memphis goes into Temple and wins a shootout.

Tim Bach: It makes me happy that we’re still talking about teams like these this late in the season. I think bouncing back from a drubbing is sometimes easier than coming back from a heartbreaking loss. Give me Temple at home.

 

#19 UCLA at #10 Utah

David Poole: The Utes aren’t nearly as ferocious as they were at the beginning of the year. With that, I think Josh Rosen has no problem connecting with his receivers for huge gains and Paul Perkins does enough on the ground to keep Devontae Booker on the sidelines. UCLA wins, 34-28.

Mitch Gatzke: I feel like every time I’ve picked one of these teams they’ve repaid me with a loss. Utah running back Devontae Booker will not play the rest of the season. The Utes relied heavily on him and they’ll struggle to replace him. You never cheer for injuries but the Bruins have to be happy they’re not up against Booker this weekend. Somehow I think UCLA pulls off the mini-upset.

Courtney McCrary: Utah: The Utes have a lot to play for. As long as they win out they should still be playing in the PAC-12 tournament.

Derek Woods: Utah will slow down the UCLA offense just enough to pull at a win a home.

Britt Zank: UCLA is a bit overrated and Utah can’t afford another loss if they want to stay in the playoff discussion so I think their game is at it’s best and they beat UCLA pretty easily.

Tim Bach: What happened to Utah? They were so good in the early part of the season. The Pac-12 is just stupid this season. Give me the Utes at home.

 

#9 LSU at Ole Miss

David Poole: I think this is going to be an ugly, slow, methodical game. Think SEC power matches of 5-6 years ago (with half the talent). I don’t see a Les Miles led team losing 3 straight. With that, It’ll be a low scoring affair with lots of defensive stops. Points will be at a premium. Tigers steal one in Oxford, 20-16.

Mitch Gatzke: Ole Miss plays well one week and then doesn’t show up the next. It’s hard to pick a team like that. LSU is too good to drop three in a row anyway. Geaux Tigers.

Courtney McCrary: Ole Miss: Both teams have losses to Arkansas, which doesn’t look good. Ole Miss is coming off of a bye week and is a home so I think they will win, but it will be a close game.

Derek Woods: I don’t see LSU losing three straight. Leonard Fournette will get it going on the ground after not cracking 100 rushing yards the past two games. LSU wins going away.

Britt Zank: LSU will go into Ole Miss and win a close one. Leonard Fournette will get back on track as LSU will simply run Ole Miss into submission late in the game.  See this as a 24-17 type of contest.

Tim Bach: Alabama broke LSU and they haven’t been right since. Fournette learned that he was human after all and the entire team lost their confidence. The Landshark defense holds him in check again and Ole Miss gets another big win.

 

#6 Baylor at #8 Oklahoma State

David Poole: If the weather holds, this will should be a classic shootout with little excuses for sloppy play. Baylor got thumped by the Sooners and are itching to get back in the saddle. The Cowboys stared defeat in the face and came away unscathed. Cowpokes get it done in front of the Stillwater faithful.OK State wins a wild one, 56-42.

Mitch Gatzke: Oklahoma State’s defense should clamp down on Baylor the same way Oklahoma did. The Cowboys are a better team and I think they’ll prove it this weekend.

Courtney McCrary: Oklahoma State: Baylor is not 100% and hasn’t won in Stillwater since 1939 and I don’t think it will change this weekend.

Derek Woods: I think the Big 12 will eliminate themselves with these backloaded schedules they all have. Oklahoma State finally slips up against Baylor and loses its first game of the season.

Britt Zank: The Big 12 will completely ruin itself for the playoff hunt as Baylor will go in and beat Oklahoma State in Stillwater.

Tim Bach: The Big 12 is stupider than the Pac-12. We should’ve done an over/under on this game or something because there’s going to be a ton of points scored. I see Oklahoma State getting the win to set up a big showdown with Oklahoma.

 

Spread pick: Purdue +21 at Iowa

David Poole: The Hawkeyes  better not overlook the Boilermakers. This may be a trap game in the making. I think Purdue hangs around longer than expected and cause Iowa not to cover the spread.

Mitch Gatzke: 21 points is a lot for a grinder-type team like Iowa to cover. I’ll take Purdue and the points.

Courtney McCrary: I don’t think that Iowa will cover the spread. Purdue had a dominate passing game and will keep the game close.

Derek Woods: Iowa covers the spread at home against a 2-8 Purdue squad to continue its quest towards the Big Ten title game.

Britt Zank: At home Iowa will roll Purdue 48 to 13.

Tim Bach: Purdue has a pretty potent passing offense so I think they’ll keep it close. Iowa is starting to look to the finish line and will let Purdue sneak in at the end to cover.

Staff Pick’em: Week 11

Well last week didn’t exactly go according to play. All combined, we averaged .500 which ruins a pretty good run we had been on. We all owe Oklahoma State an apology because not a single one of us picked them to win. Some idiot picked against Alabama too but we won’t talk about that.

 

David Poole (@VirgoAssassain): 2-4 (28-20)

Mitch Gatzke (@GreatGatzke): 4-2 (33-15)

Courtney McCrary (@CourtMac17): 3-3 (29-18)

Derek Woods (@D_Woods21):  3-3 (28-20)

Britt Zank (@BZank17): 3-3 (26-22)

Tim Bach (@TBach84):  3-3 (31-17)

 

#2 Alabama at #17 Mississippi State

David Poole: Tide are in right back in the thick of things. It would be foolish to bet against Saban’s bunch at this point of the season. I like Dak Prescott, but that’s not going to be enough. Alabama in a close one, 28-21.

Mitch Gatzke: Mississippi State’s Dak Prescott is a great college quarterback.  If he goes off the Bulldogs might have a chance.  I don’t think Alabama is going to let that happen though.  Especially after seeing what happened last week.  Roll Tide.

Courtney McCrary: Mississippi State– They will make some big plays and pull out a surprise upset.

Derek Woods: Mississippi State is a little overrated in my estimation at 17 with their best win of the season coming against Auburn. They will have a rude awakening this weekend when Alabama comes to town. Bama wins easily over MSU.

Britt Zank: Alabama over Mississippi St

Tim Bach: I refuse to waiver on my stance that Mississippi State is overrated. Alabama’s defense unfortunately showed me something last weekend as well. This could be a trap game but I think Alabama wins by at least two scores.

 

#21 Memphis at #24 Houston

David Poole: Well looky here. The most unlikely of football games to dissect. Odds makers have Houston as a 7 point favorite. I haven’t watched enough of either team to get a real feel for them. I do know Memphis quarterback Paxton Lynch has raised a few eyebrows this season. However, Houston has the more balanced attack, plus home field advantage. I’ll take the Cougars, 45-38.

Mitch Gatzke: Memphis is certainly out of the running for the playoff now, but they’ve still got an outside shot at the AAC championship.  I think the Tigers beat the Cougars here, and tell them to go beat the Midshipmen in two weeks to force a three-way tie for a spot in the inaugural championship game.  Memphis wins a close one.

Courtney McCrary: Houston- Houston leads the nation in turnovers and will get some this weekend to help beat Memphis.

Derek Woods: Memphis was brought back down to earth last weekend by the Navy option attack. Houston is still unbeaten, but have their toughest stretch of games still ahead of them. This game will be a shootout but I see Memphis winning and handing Houston their first loss of the season.

Britt Zank: Houston over Memphis in a 100 pt shoot out.

Tim Bach: If these teams played in a Power Five conference, this would be at least a Top 15 battle instead of a Top 25. Just saying. Look at Houston’s stats sometime. They’re pretty similar to Iowa’s, again I’m just saying. Houston by 10.

 

#12 Oklahoma at #6 Baylor

David Poole: Oh man! This is a pure pick ’em! I can see advantages for either team. I have to look at Oklahoma’s loss to Texas. They didn’t show up for that game at all. My fear is that it may happen again. Since it hasn’t happened to Baylor yet, and it seems as if Baylor QB Seth Russell is set to return this week, momentum looks to favor the Bears. Not to mention, Baylor is at home. Baylor in a wild one, 59-49.

Mitch Gatzke: Both of these teams light up the scoreboard, but only one makes stops.  Oklahoma’s offense will keep pace and their defense will clamp down.  Sooners win 45-37.

Courtney McCrary: Baylor- It will be a close game but I think the Bears freshman QB will have another good performance.

Derek Woods: Even before Baylor lost their starting quarterback and handed the reins over to the true freshman Jarrett Stidham, I still saw them losing a game in the stretch run of a back loaded schedule. I think this will  be the game as Oklahoma knocks off unbeaten Baylor in a close high scoring contest.

Britt Zank: Baylor beats Oklahoma easily, OU defense won’t be able to stop Baylor offense.

Tim Bach: The curse of “Big Game Bob” versus the true freshman quarterback who took over halfway through the season. This is either a landmark win for Baylor or the deathnail in their coffin. Oklahoma pounds that nail in..

 

Washington State at #19 UCLA

David Poole: Can you say trap game? Washington State is surpassing all expectations. With a potent pass attack, quarterback, Luke Falk looks to pad his stats on an already stellar season. However, that’s where the buck stops. With a virtually non-existent run game, all UCLA has to do is limit the big play and run the ball with Paul Perkins. It would be in the best interest for the Bruins to grind this one out. I’ll take UCLA in a snoozer, 21-13.

Mitch Gatzke: The Cougars can throw it around the lot with the best of them.  That’s about all they do though. We all seem to have forgotten about UCLA since their consecutive losses to Arizona State and Stanford, but they still control their own destiny.  Give me the Bruins.

Courtney McCrary: UCLA- I think the UCLA offense will be too big of a threat for the Washington St. defense.

Derek Woods: Washington State is having a pretty good season in the Pac 12, and I see them adding to it with an upset victory over UCLA on the road.

Britt Zank: UCLA over Wash St in a easy one sided affair.

Tim Bach: How does UCLA keep climbing back up these rankings? I was going to make my dog pick but he’s currently buried under the covers but he hates bears so I’m going with Washington State.

 

Minnesota at #5 Iowa

David Poole: The Hawkeyes are one glorious step away from college football playoff contention. In their path are the lowly Minnesota Gophers. This game should be a minor formality. Iowa takes it and gains one step closer to making this a season for the ages. Hawkeyes win big, 35-10.

Mitch Gatzke: There’s no way Iowa doesn’t show up for this game in a big way.  If the Hawkeyes win out, they’ll be in the playoff.  Minnesota is a tough matchup for anyone in the Big Ten, but there are larger forces at play here.  Iowa wins by two touchdowns.

Courtney McCrary: Iowa- Minnesota will put up a fight just like they did against Michigan and Ohio State, but Iowa will pull it off in the end.

Derek Woods: Minnesota played really well against in my opinion the two best teams in the Big Ten this season in Ohio State and Michigan. Iowa has risen all the way to number five in the college football playoff rankings, but will be knocked out of the playoff chase this weekend as they finally slip up against Minnesota.  

Britt Zank: Iowa over Minnesota in a lose Big 10 defensive battle.

Tim Bach: This is really Iowa’s last “challenge” until they get to the Big Ten Championship. I really don’t understand how they do it but they are fierce. Iowa keeps on rolling towards that Championship game.

 

Spread pick:Oregon +10 at #7 Stanford

David Poole: This point spread is definitely bulletin board material if I was an Oregon Duck. But, I’m not. Both teams have ultra-talented backs- McCaffrey for the Cardinal and Freeman for the Ducks. It’ll come down to quarterback play and defensive stops. Cardinal cover easily.

Mitch Gatzke: Oregon isn’t playing that badly of late, but it’s Stanford’s year to dominate the Pac-12 North. They can actually score points in bunches for a change.  I’ll lay the points and take the Cardinal -10.

Courtney McCrary: I don’t think Stanford will cover the spread. This game has always been close, so I think it will come down to the wire. Oregon and the points.

Derek Woods: Stanford rolls at home against Oregon covering the spread and then some. Stanford is the much more physical team and Oregon just doesn’t have what it takes to win big games this season.

Britt Zank: Away from Oregon I’m taking Stanford & the points in a cake walk

Tim Bach: Every time a Pac-12 team runs into a solid defense, their offense stalls. Look for the same thing to happen this week. Take Stanford and the points.

Five You Must See: Week 11

#2 Alababma (8-1) at #17 Mississippi State (7-2) Saturday 3:30pm on CBS

Alabama made a loud statement last week by shutting down LSU completely.  Mississippi State, who’s lost to those Tigers and the Aggies of A&M, has since rattled off four straight wins during the midseason lull in their schedule.  Winning here would give them, Ole Miss and LSU new life in the crowded SEC West race.

This game features two of my favorite offensive players in the country.  Alabama running back Derrick Henry, fresh off a 210-yard, three-touchdown performance, is finally getting some Heisman hype of his own.  Most everyone was focused on Leo Fournette this time last week, but by out-rushing the former frontrunner by 179 yards, Henry has shifted the attention to him.  It’s time for him to follow it up with another stellar game on the ground to let everyone know he’s for real.

On the other side, watch out for (who else) quarterback Dak Prescott.  He’s really the only hope the Bulldogs have in this game.  The senior leads his team in passing and rushing yards, and I’m sure he would lead in receiving too if they had someone who could throw it to him consistently.  He’s also been responsible for 25 touchdowns this season.  For his team to have a chance in this one, Prescott has to go off.

This is the best chance all you Alabama haters have to see the Tide slip up again.  Tune in to hear Verne Lundquist and Gary Danielson on the call.

#21 Memphis (8-1) at #24 Houston (9-0) Saturday 7:00pm on ESPN 2

Memphis ruined any shot they had at the playoff by losing to Navy last week.  Meanwhile, Houston’s 20-point win over SMU was much closer than the score suggests.  This matchup will likely be a battle of two great junior quarterbacks.

Memphis’ Paxton Lynch is getting some mention as a top QB in this year’s draft class if he decides to declare.  It’s hard to argue that based on his body of work.  He’s one of eight guys in the country who’ve thrown for more than 3000 yards.  He’s ninth in completion percentage at 68.9.  And with 19 touchdowns on just two interceptions he takes care of the ball too.  A signature game in front of a national audience would validate his high draft stock.

Greg Ward Jr. is just as prolific, though his game is much different.  Ward is that dual-threat that we’ve seen open up the NFL to new possibilities.  At 70.4 percent, he ranks second in completion rate.  He’s the top rushing quarterback in the nation outside of Navy’s Keenan Reynolds who has an unfair advantage, running the triple option.  To average 92 yards per game on the ground as a QB is just sick.  The Tiger defense is going to have to keep a spy on Ward all night if they hope to hold him in check.

All of a sudden Memphis finds itself third in the division, needing a win here and a Navy loss to have a shot at the AAC West crown.  Houston, on the other hand, still has dreams of an undefeated season and a playoff spot.  This is easily the biggest game in the AAC’s brief history.

Oregon (6-3) at #7 Stanford (8-1) Saturday 7:30pm on Fox

Oregon is finally playing well.  They’ve won three in a row, but a fourth will be difficult.  Stanford is really good.

The Cardinal calling card has always been a stout defense.  Now that they’ve added offensive firepower to their arsenal they’re an absolute nightmare of an opponent.  They can, and will, pound you between the tackles with Christian McCaffrey who averages 134 yards per game.  That’s made life so much easier for Kevin Hogan who’s completing 66 percent of his passes now that most of them come off a play action fake.

The Ducks are finally getting the production they need from Vernon Adams, which is good news because they’re going to have to outscore the Cardinal to win this one.  In the last three games he’s thrown 10 touchdown passes and just three interceptions.  Like McCaffrey does for Hogan, Royce Freeman opens up opposing defenses for Adams.  The sophomore standout has rushed for at least 100 yards in seven of nine games this fall, with a pair of touchdowns in four of those seven.

It’s been a disappointing season for the Ducks but they’ve still got a chance to spoil Stanford’s playoff party plans.  There should be a fair amount of bad blood in Palo Alto.

#12 Oklahoma (8-1) at #6 Baylor (8-0) Saturday 8:00pm on ABC

The Baylor Bears have been waiting to prove themselves all season, but the Sooners have needed to prove themselves since taking a terrible loss to Texas.

This is the first of three gauntlet games that round out Oklahoma’s schedule.   They’ve got TCU coming to town next week and they’re headed to Stillwater for Bedlam against Oklahoma State in two weeks.  All three are huge obviously, but a loss here would significantly detract from the next two.  A quick note on quarterback Baker Mayfield: he’s completing 70 percent of his passes and averaging 10 yards per attempt.  That combination is astounding and needless to say, no one else is even close to that sort of production.

Baylor’s offensive machine is now operating with a backup quarterback.  Freshman Jarrett Stidham has the keys now after Seth Russell was injured two weeks ago.  He exceeded expectations last week against a formidable Kansas State defense.  He’ll need to be even better against hands down the best defense the Bears have seen all season.

Baylor also has a bumpy road ahead with trips to Oklahoma State and TCU, and a game against Texas on conference championship weekend that looks like the perfect opportunity to trip them up if they’re somehow still standing.  The odds are stacked against them, but that’s pretty much what they asked for.  Let’s see how they handle it.

Washington State (6-3) at #19 UCLA (7-2) Saturday 10:45pm on ESPN

Don’t pass out early.  The nightcap should be fun too.

Washington State has been entertaining this year.  At an astronomical 56.9 attempts and 417.3 yards a game, nobody throws it around the lot like the Cougars.  What else would you expect from a Mike Leach offense?  Luke Falk is another one of those guys completing passes at a 70 percent clip, but when you air it out 56 times a game it brings a whole new meaning to the stat.  UCLA’s defense has been banged up all season.  Falk and company will be aiming to take advantage.

UCLA is still alive despite back-to-back losses to Arizona State and Stanford.  They still control their own destiny with games at Utah and at USC after Wazoo.  Sure it’s tough to ask them to go out and win those last two, but that’s what championship teams do.

Josh Rosen has become a must-watch player for me.  He can make all the throws.  It’s clear he’s got the talent.  Now it’s a matter of him progressing as a quarterback, not just a thrower.  He has to learn how to diagnose defensive schemes and figure out how to consistently move his team down the field in order to take that next step.  I’m excited to see if he can do it.

Do the Bruins come out flat and fall on their faces again, or have they gotten their act together?  Stay up late to find out.

Crimson Tide ROLLS over LSU in Tuscaloosa

Leonard Fournette has had a run of at least 25 yards in six of LSU’s eight games this year. He has had at least a 31 yard run in four games. But 31 was the total number of rushing yards Fournette was able to muster against Alabama’s defense on Saturday. That includes a long of 18 yards which felt like a 50 yard gain the way the game was going. Fournette only gained 18 yards on his other 18 carries on the night. Most of it wasn’t his fault however. The Alabama front seven dominated the line of scrimmage.

It would have helped Fournette if the passing game had showed up, but I guess it was hard to expect a passing game to show up when one hasn’t really been present all year. The Tigers haven’t asked QB Brandon Harris to do much this year, choosing instead to ride their star running back the way the Dallas Cowboys did DeMarco Murray in 2014. It showed up in this game, as Harris had no shot against an Alabama secondary that has improved compared to its disasters in recent years. Harris threw a great ball on a 40-yard touchdown to keep LSU in the game. Outside of that the passing game was just as bad as the running game.

Nick Saban probably didn’t even need the extra week to prepare for LSU’s offense but with it, LSU didn’t have a chance. They hit a couple big pass plays that lead to points in the first half but otherwise looked like a high school team against Alabama’s defense. The Tigers defense actually held up fairly well in the first half but was grounded down as the game went on as the Tide finished the game basically doubling up LSU in time of possession.

So after this, Alabama is BACK right? Not so fast. I should preface this by saying that Alabama deserves to be in the Top 4 (I have them in my Top 4) and the fact that people say several undefeated’s should be ahead of them simply because of Bama’s loss to Ole Miss is garbage. Sure the Rebels aren’t helping Alabama’s cause in recent weeks, but Ole Miss has three, if not four, first round picks on that team. Ole benefited from one of the flukiest touchdowns you’ll ever see and also won the turnover battle five to zip. They still only won by six. How many other teams could lose by just one score in that scenario like Alabama did? Zero? One? Sure as hell not Iowa.

Alright now that I defended Alabama’s spot in the Top 4, I have to caution any Tide fans out there getting too excited over that LSU win. For years we’ve seen the Tide struggle with the spread/dual-threat type QBs and offenses they run. I would say it’s because they’re front seven is full of players that are huge for their position and can’t move in space. You know what they don’t struggle with? Offenses that try to play in the box and pound it up the middle. Alabama’s defensive front is just bigger and more talented than almost every other team’s. The last decade of recruiting rankings can tell us that. Throw in that scenario with Nick Saban having an extra week to prepare against a power offense that’s also one-dimensional and it was a disaster waiting to happen.

The Crimson Tide have a pretty easy path to the playoff now. They play Mississippi State who has Dak Prescott and little else and then Auburn, who has done their best USC impression this year. After beating whatever helpless team comes out of the SEC East, Alabama may even find themselves as the favorite to win the playoff again. But that’s where the Tide will let their fans down again. They won’t get to face the LSU-type offenses once they get in the playoff. They’re looking at possible games against teams like Clemson, Baylor, Ohio State, and Oklahoma State. And they’d have to win two games in a row against spread offenses. I wouldn’t bet my money on that. So fans in Tuscaloosa better enjoy these next few weeks, because they might be looking at another offseason of “SEC=overrated” venom from the rest of the nation.

Quick Hitters

  • Navy’s win over Memphis Saturday not only put Memphis bid as the top-ranked Group of Five team on life support, it also jump-started Navy’s push for the same spot.
  • Baylor barely survived against K-State, but anytime you can get a conference road win on a week night, you have to take it, especially in Manhattan, KS. The Bears get their first real test this weekend against Oklahoma, and I think they stay undefeated.
  • Ohio State’s offense struggled with Cardale Jones starting which means JT Barrett will get the starting QB gig back when he returns from suspension, and that’s probably a good thing for the Buckeyes long-term.
  • Another referee fiasco led to Michigan State suffering their first loss off the season. First of all, don’t give up 33 points to Nebraska (before that last touchdown). Second of all, it probably means little in the grand scheme of things. The Spartans will have to beat Ohio State and Iowa to get to the playoff anyway, and whether the Spartans finished 13-0 or 12-1 with a Big Ten title they probably would make the playoff.

Top 4

Baylor
Clemson
Ohio State
Alabama