Tag Archives: TCU Horned Frogs

The New Era of College Football: The Haves Trump The Have-Nots

The evolution of college football has created a new reality. Thanks to the college football arms race in facilities, fan support, and money as well as the nascent playoff system, there are two types of college football programs:

  1. Those that have a chance to win a national championship
  2. Those that have no chance to win a national championship

There is no migration between the types of programs. You either have a chance to win it all or you don’t. The rich teams get richer, everyone else treads water or drowns.

While there are two types of college football programs, there are three types of college football fans:

  1. Those fans who correctly recognize that their teams have a chance win a national championship
  2. Those fans who correctly realize their teams have no chance to win a national    championship
  3. Those fans who incorrectly believe their team has a chance to win the national championship, when in reality, they have no chance.

No convinced? Take a look at the following videos:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NVC3UziHeGk and this https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZU4NXtu2T5E.

These are, theoretically, facilities for college students. But we all know what these really are. Recruiting tools to draw top athletes to Texas and Texas A&M. These are “in-kind” payments to players who are ostensibly amateur athletes.

I have no doubt that the other programs with a chance to win a national championship have (or will soon have) facilities on par if not better than these. We all know the names of these programs – Alabama, LSU, Georgia, Auburn, Florida, Ohio St, Michigan, Clemson, Florida State, & Oklahoma. You could probably add Oregon, Tennessee, Notre Dame and a small handful of other programs to this list, but that’s it. No other programs have a chance.

It is not shocking for fans of programs like Virginia, Wake Forest, Duke, Boston College, Vandy, Kansas, and Northwestern that they have zero chance to win a national championship…ever. I think the fans of these programs understand that they will never have facilities like Texas or Texas A&M. They will never compromise their integrity to the extent that the contending programs must to get the numbers of top players needed to compete for a national championship. Fans from these programs and many more like them realize their role in the world of college football. They are fodder for the teams with a chance to win it all. They can have successful seasons and win bowl games, but they will never hoist the national championship trophy. Maybe that’s okay. The point of college, after all, is to educate young minds, not win national championships. College athletics is supposed to be entertaining, so if you recognize your place and revel in reaching the heights of success within the boundaries of your possibilities, college football is a great deal of fun.

What might be shocking to the vast majority of the fans of programs not listed above, is that their teams also have no chance to win a national championship. None, zero, zilch, nada… they just don’t realize it. Many programs fit this description…we can all name these programs with perpetually frustrated fans who mistakenly think they are on the cusp of breaking into the top tier of college programs – Virginia Tech, NC State, UNC, West Virginia, Michigan State, South Carolina, TCU, Baylor, Arizona, Missouri, Maryland, Iowa, Kansas St, and Arkansas among many others, have no chance to win a national championship. Unfortunately, their fans think they do.

Think about how excited fans of these programs are when they land a big-time recruit. A 5-star or high 4-star kid who is a “can’t miss” prospect. There are high-fives all around and dreams of winning the college football playoff. The sad reality is, the teams that have a real chance to win it all, get at least a half a dozen of these players – every year. Not one per year or every other year like the wannabe programs. So the teams with a real chance to win it all have 30 or more can’t-miss players on their teams. The wannabe teams might have 5.

None of this is lost on the best coaches in the industry either. Do you think Nick Saban is going to leave Alabama to coach Northwestern anytime soon? Urban Meyer going to Wake Forest? Which programs have huge donor bases that make space-age locker rooms possible? (hint: it’s not Duke and it’s not Virginia…nor NC State or West Virginia) The best coaches go to the programs with the biggest donor bases that pay the biggest salaries & fund the best facilities, which draw the best talent…and so the cycles continues.

Like gambling in Vegas, the college football game is rigged. Over the course of any season, there will be exciting times when wannabe teams beat the odds and score big upsets. But over the course of a full season (including the playoffs), a single wannabe program cannot beat the system. There are too many 30+ mega-recruit teams out there, getting better every day and one of those teams will win the national championship every time. It’s why house wins over time in Vegas. The swanky trappings of the Bellagio are not there because gamblers go home winners. The odds favor the house, so it always wins. The system favors the top programs, so they will always win.

As we begin the 2017 college football season, we could create a list of 18-20 programs with a chance to win it all. It would be the same list from 2016. The participants in the football championship will be from that list – with no chance for an upstart to crash the party. It’s like the list to get into the VIP section of a popular night club. Not on the list? Not getting in.

The downside of this could be that as more college football fans realize the game is rigged against them, fans will lose interest and the game’s popularity could begin to fade. Then again, Las Vegas doesn’t seem to be losing its steam and state lotteries continue to be wildly popular. Maybe the fans of the wannabe programs understand their fate better than they let on. Maybe they are like the lottery players, thinking that someone is going to win this jackpot, if I buy a ticket it might be me, so every season, misplaced hope springs eternal. Unfortunately, the odds of winning the Powerball are better than their team winning the national championship.

E-mail David at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @dmrayner.

The Best and Worst of 2016: Big 12

The Big 12 Conference had a pretty forgettable year on and off the field in 2016. The conference was shut out from the College Football Playoff again and hit rock bottom in terms of conference prestige.

But not everything was a complete disaster. Here are some of the best and worst games in the Big 12 last season.

Best Games of 2016

Texas vs. Notre Dame

Texas is back” is what college football fans heard on the Sunday of Labor Day. The Longhorns kicked off the season with a thrilling double overtime win over 10th-ranked Notre Dame. It appeared very briefly that Texas would make some national noise, but finished 5-7 instead. And despite the game being fool’s gold because of Notre Dame also being highly overrated, it was still arguably the best game for a Big 12 team, especially in the non-conference schedule.

TCU vs. Oklahoma

This was a game many thought TCU could win, especially with Oklahoma’s early struggles. The Sooners ran away with the game in the first three quarters before TCU mounted a strong comeback. They had an opportunity to win in the end, but it ended up being an Oklahoma victory 52-46. The win was the beginning of some serious momentum for Oklahoma that propelled them into an eventual top-10 finish in the polls.

TCU vs. Texas Tech

This game may not have looked pretty, but it was highly entertaining. In what was expected to be a shootout, no one could have predicted the score to be tied at 17 at the end of regulation. The Red Raiders won on the road in double overtime 27-24 after the TCU kicker missed a short field goal on the first possession in double OT. In true Texas Tech fashion, they played conservatively and kicked a game winning field goal. A fitting end to one of the most surprising results of the Big 12 season.

Honorable Mention: Kansas State vs. Texas A&M and Oklahoma State vs. Colorado

It’s worth mentioning these two bowl games together because it’s always good for the conference when a team beats a former conference mate. Kansas State beating Texas A&M was a true shocker, and no one expected Oklahoma State to handle Colorado the way they did. These games really helped the perception of the Big 12 during the bowl season.

Worst Games of 2016

Oklahoma vs. Ohio State

The final score showed Ohio State winning 45-24, but anyone watching the game knows it was much worse than that. This was supposed to be the game to put Oklahoma and the Big 12 on the map. Instead, the Sooners got embarrassed by the Buckeyes at home. It capped off a rough start for Oklahoma, who eventually would win the conference. Which raises the question: just how far behind is the Big 12 when it comes to being nationally relevant?

Texas Tech vs. Oklahoma

This game was just purely embarrassing for the Big 12. With the final score of 66-59, how can you really claim either team won? The teams should have just rested their defenses and let the offense play against air. It would have been the same result. I have no problem with a high scoring game, but this one got out of hand. A big embarrassment for the conference, to say the least.

Kansas vs. Texas

Big 12 critics seem to think the conference won’t be relevant again until Texas and Oklahoma are both top-10 teams again. Texas proved they have a long way to go after losing to lowly Kansas. It’s easy to say this was the worst game of the Big 12 season, but you can’t take away that much from Kansas. You can. This was an awful game from start to finish. Kansas snapped their 23-game losing streak to FBS opponents and Texas finally hit rock bottom. No one truly won this game, and the conference took a huge hit to its reputation as a result.

Honorable Mention: Oklahoma State vs. Central Michigan

You may not have seen a wilder finish to a game than this one. The referees admitted a mistake on their part, which gave Central Michigan one last chance with an untimed down. They threw up a Hail Mary, which got lateraled back and ran across the field for a touchdown. Cowboys fans will want to forget this one forever.

Iowa State vs. Texas Tech

Overshadowed by Texas’ loss to Kansas, Texas Tech managed to lose 66-10 to Iowa State on the same day. I’m not even sure how that’s possible on either side of the scoreboard, but somehow it happened. As if anyone wanted to really watch this game anyway.

Well, there you have it. Time to close the book now on the 2016 Big 12 football season as being one to forget. But hey, look at the bright side, the conference can’t get much worse in 2017!

Or can it?

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

Photo: Wikimedia

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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Auburn Tigers and Malzahn Are More Fit to Win than Razorbacks and Bielema

This is not a team I usually write about, but I just couldn’t resist weighing in on this game. I know the Auburn Tigers are ranked a little below the Arkansas Razorbacks, but they’re going to beat them anyways. Plain and simple: Auburn is a more balanced team than Bret Bielema’s Razorbacks.

Before I get to pump up those Tigers, let me smack down these Razorbacks just a little bit.

Remember their first game of the season this year? I do. It was almost a borderline erotic upset win—for the other team. Arkansas hosted the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs and only won by a single point. The Razorbacks were a 21.5-point favorite heading into that game and they beat the Bulldogs 21-20. That’s just plain embarrassing.

Speaking of embarrassing games, Arkansas got absolutely whooped by the Texas A&M Aggies almost a month ago now. I don’t care if they’ve proven to be a good team this year and they have the 12th Man, that’s just inexcusable. The 19-point loss at home against the Alabama Crimson Tide is far more excusable than that.

Really, the only thing the Razorbacks have going for them is their win over the Ole Miss Rebels last weekend. No, the double-overtime win over the TCU Horned Frogs is not that impressive. TCU is overrated once again. But somehow the Razorbacks are still ranked ahead of the Tigers. I just don’t understand.

Maybe the Razorbacks had more preseason optimism surrounding the team than the Tigers did, but the preseason is long gone now. What matters is what these teams have actually done on the football field so far. And Auburn definitely has the edge there.

Auburn has two losses this year: a 6-point loss to the Clemson Tigers and a 13-point loss to the Texas A&M Aggies. It’s worth noting that Auburn’s loss to the Aggies was less severe than that of Arkansas. And having a 6-point loss against a team that went to the National Championship Game last year is nothing to be ashamed of either.

If you’re like me and you need numbers to justify this clear advantage I say that the Tigers have, then you’ll love this part.

Arkansas has allowed 398.9 yards per game and 27.9 points per game. Auburn has allowed 346.8 yards per game and 16 points per game. The gap there undeniably favors Auburn’s defense. If you swear by ESPN’s statistical analyses then you’ll enjoy knowing that the Tigers are 13th in defensive efficiency while the Razorbacks are 60th.

Although Auburn has the advantage defensively, the two teams are pretty evenly matched offensively. They’re also pretty evenly matched as far as special teams go.

The difference here really does come from the defense. With a stronger defense and the home field advantage at Jordan-Hare Stadium, you’d be crazy to think that Auburn doesn’t have the upper hand.

Heck, even ESPN’s FPI gives Auburn an 84.7% chance of winning this game. Considering the Razorbacks are ranked no. 17 and the Tigers are ranked no. 21, I’d say that kind of margin is a pretty good sign for the Tigers.

And if you really want to get ugly about it, let me just remind you that the Arkansas head coach, Bret Bielema, looks like he ate Auburn’s head coach, Gus Malzahn. Low blow? Maybe. But come on, the Tigers are clearly more fit to win this game when you take everything into account. Plus Coach Malzahn can actually move around the sidelines with his team as they put points on the board over this unimpressive Razorback defense. You can’t beat that!

So let me leave you with two of the most recognizable words in all of college football: WAR EAGLE.

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

Photo courtesy of Organizedchaos02 on Wikimedia Commons.

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Why Is Oklahoma Even Showing Up?

Hey, look Oklahoma, thanks for coming but you can just go ahead and head on out. No seriously, why are you even here?

I’m done with you, Oklahoma. Every year you somehow manage to trick us. Every year you somehow convince us that not only are you good, but you’re going to live up to expectations. Every time you make us think you are, you take a giant crap like you did last season in the College Football Playoff. Thanks for ruining my bowl picks, by the way. I could’ve placed for money. You owe me at least twenty bucks, Oklahoma.

At some point, the Sooners are just going to lose every game for the rest of eternity. Or at least until they fire Bob Stoops.

“Big Game Bob” always tends to crap the bed when it comes to big games which kind of makes you wonder how he got that name. Unless it was supposed to be ironic, but at the time it probably wasn’t. He already got beat up by Houston in Week 1, his No. 3 Sooners losing by 10 after being a 10-point favorite.

So what’s the next big game? Ohio State! They’re going to get up for that…

Oh. Well, maybe not.

You had one shot to save your season and you blew it. You got trounced, absolutely trounced, by the Buckeyes. You gave up 45 points to a team that basically sent an entire starting lineup to the NFL. You, on the other hand, retained your Heisman-hopeful quarterback in Baker Mayfield and starting running back Samaje Perine. What’s your excuse? Ohio State hadn’t even played a real game yet and they stomped you. Their toughest test thus far had been Tulsa, although maybe that was a sign. Can you imagine what’s going to happen if someone in the Big 12 actually develops a defense too?

Sorry, got a little side-tracked there. I’m still a little bitter I got proven wrong to some Ohio State fans. I defended you Oklahoma!

Right, so you got wrecked by Houston and Ohio State. Now you’ve got No. 23 TCU coming to town and Vegas is finally calling you out, making you a 3.5 point underdog. It’s a big game, right? A chance to still maintain some relevance in the Big 12, right?

Well, you’re going to lose. Because that’s what Oklahoma does in big games and this is suddenly a big game. It’s against a ranked team and is important, hence a big game. As logic shows, Oklahoma will then lose.

After that, it’s the Red River Showdown. Which you lost last year, to a Texas team that’s not as good as this one and wasn’t ranked No. 23. So you’re going to lose that.

At that point, every game is going to become a big game.

Kansas State? Big game. You lose.

Texas Tech? Big game. You lose.

And so on and so forth, including a loss to Kansas. Basically, every game will suddenly have monumental importance and because Big Game Bob Stoops is still patrolling the sidelines, Oklahoma is going to lose them all and miss the postseason for the first time since 1998. Despite it seeming crazy, the only recourse will be for Oklahoma to fire Bob Stoops in an effort to end this strange curse that he bestowed upon them. He can then go to LSU and bring his weird, anti-clutch curse with him to the bayou.

Good lord, I didn’t realize that I disliked Oklahoma this much until now.

E-mail Tim at [email protected].

Image courtesy Flickr via Creative Commons

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Woo Pig Sooie! Here Comes Bret Bielema and His Razorbacks

It should come as no surprise to anyone that, when talking about the SEC, the West is king of the mountain. And when talking about the SEC West, all roads to the divisional championship go through Tuscaloosa. Any notion of Alabama having a down year was laid to rest when the Crimson Tide made short work of USC in the season opener. The final nail in that down year coffin was smacked when Alabama came from behind to put Ole Miss in its place.

Alabama is a team that none of us really need to watch on any given Saturday. As long as Nick Saban is on the sideline, we should all expect the team to win.

Still, there is plenty to play for if your team is in the SEC West and this weekend is an opportunity for the “best of the rest” to create separation from the also-rans. Arkansas versus Texas A&M is a week four matchup that will begin creating that separation.

I’m a fan of Bret Bielema and therefore am also a fan of Arkansas. As I’ve written about in past articles, Bielema has the confidence, charisma and swagger that make a football fan believe in not only him, but also his Razorback team. And unlike a coach like, say, Jim Harbaugh, Bielema doesn’t carry his swag in a way that portrays arrogance.

Prior to the season kicking off, Arkansas was my pick for SEC darkhorse and I have no reason to eat crow as the Razorbacks prepare to play the Aggies. Arkansas defeated Louisiana Tech in the season opener, 21-20. In holding a typically potent Tech offense to 20 points, the Razorbacks showed us all that the defense was capable of standing up to a high powered offense. Arkansas followed this win up with a thrilling 41-38 overtime win against TCU. In scoring 41 points, Bielema’s offense proved that it could keep pace with a full throttle Power 5.

And here is what should scare the rest of the SEC going into conference play – Arkansas can grind it out and win or the team can win in a shoot out. Don’t look now, but here come the Hogs.

The SEC game that everyone will be fixated upon this weekend will be Florida versus Tennessee. While the rest of you are watching that SEC East classic, i’ll be focused on this Arkansas versus Texas A&M game. You know, a game that will actually mean something in the big picture of college football.

Whichever team wins this game will be in the driver’s seat to give Alabama a run for its money and I expect the winner of this game to be Arkansas. if the Razorbacks do, in fact, win the game this Saturday, it will set up one of the biggest games in Bielema’s career when Alabama visits Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium on October 8.

Like I said, it would be difficult for me to pick against a Nick Saban coached Alabama team, but Arkansas was my darkhorse pick and I continue to stand by that. it’s for that reason that i’d give Arkansas a chance against Alabama, Especially with that game being in Fayetteville.

Woo pig sooie! The preface to Arkansas’ season starts against Texas A&M.

 

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

Photo: en.wikipedia.org

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Campus Pressbox 59: Mitch and Kristen Review Weak 2

Kristen shares her experience at the Battle at Bristol. Mitch asks if Georgia and Clemson fans should be worried. Is this the win Arkansas needs? Should Central Michigan give back its win over Ok State? Then the pair of them break down the big games this coming weekend.

Topics:

  • Battle at Bristol
  • Georgia and Clemson Struggle
  • Arkansas Beats TCU
  • Central Michigan pops Ok State
  • FSU vs. Louisville
  • Other Big Games this Weekend

Links:

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College Football Playoff Rankings: Week 2

This is the week 2 edition of Campus Pressbox’s College Football Playoff Rankings. To check out last week’s inaugural rankings, click here. Bracketed numbers represent last week’s rank for that specific team.

  1. Alabama Crimson Tide (1)

‘Bama unsurprisingly tops this list for the second consecutive week. There was no way that the Crimson Tide was going to lose its grip on the top spot unless it faltered heavily against Western Kentucky. Alabama didn’t  struggle whatsoever against the Hilltoppers (despite Lane Kiffin’s scolding), so the Tide were an easy pick at #1. Ole Miss, a team who has upset the Crimson Tide multiple times in the past awaits on Saturday. But until then, there is no doubt that Alabama is both the best team in college football and an easy pick to make the college football playoff at this point in the season.

  1. Florida State Seminoles (2)

FSU had the easiest matchup of week 2, as the Seminoles faced off against an FCS team who suspended 14 of its players for the matchup over a pretty ridiculous infraction. The ‘Noles unsurprisingly dominated, and maintain its spot as the two seed in the college football playoff. FSU has a big challenge this week, as it travels to Papa John’s Cardinals Stadium to face 9th ranked Louisville.

  1. The Ohio State Buckeyes (4)

Ohio State will finally be challenged in week 3, as the Buckeyes have to travel to Norman, Oklahoma to beat a very talented Sooners squad who are hungry to bounce back after losing to UH. This game will be one of the best of the week. J.T. Barrett has been phenomenal for the Buckeyes thus far, and even though we won’t see the true might of Ohio State until Saturday, the Buckeyes definitely deserve its spot in the CFP right now.

  1. Houston Cougars (6)

The Cougars followed up its gargantuan win vs Oklahoma with a dismantling of Lamar. This box score should be what many of its box scores look like the rest of the season. Houston looks like it has a very real chance of going undefeated, and if it does, the Cougars will absolutely be one of the four teams competing for the College Football Championship. The big games remaining for the Cougars are not until later in the season.

  1. Michigan Wolverines (5)

Everything which I wrote about Ohio State goes almost identically for the Michigan Wolverines. The Wolverines first challenge really is this weekend, as it has to beat a Colorado team that has proven itself to be legitimate so far this season. Michigan, in my eyes, is the team on this list (not counting the teams who are facing ranked opponents) whose the most likely to be upset in week 3. The Wolverines have an absolute gauntlet to run through the rest of the season, so its spot on this list means nothing until Michigan begins to rack up wins proving it can fight off a Big Ten that is starting to look like the best conference in College Football this year.

  1. Clemson Tigers (3)

Oh, how the mighty have fallen faltered. Incredibly, despite the fact that it hasn’t even lost a game, Clemson has fallen four spots in the last two weeks, purely due to the fact that it hasn’t shown up to play in either game. Watching what should be a powerhouse Clemson offense struggle has been painful. Considering the results from the last two weeks, it is 100% essential now that the Tigers beat the Seminoles in Tallahassee in a few weeks’ time if Clemson is to have any chance of finishing the season in the top 4. At this point, Clemson’s odds to make the CFP are shrinking rapidly, and the Tigers will have to do a lot on Saturday to prevent more teams from jumping over the biggest disappointment of 2016.

  1. Wisconsin Badgers

Wisconsin’s move into the top 10 this week has more to do with week 1 than week 2. Though the Badgers 44-point win over the Akron Zips was impressive, the hype around this football team is purely a result of its win over LSU. Wisconsin isn’t close to being in the CFP yet, as the Badgers literally play the four other elite Big Ten teams all in a row in October (and then play Nebraska the next week to boot). If somehow, Wisconsin manages to beat Michigan St, Michigan, Ohio State and Iowa all in a row, then the Badgers would be guaranteed a spot in this year’s College Football Playoff.

  1. Stanford Cardinal (7)

Stanford dropped a spot in the rankings this week almost entirely due to the growing momentum around the Wisconsin Badgers. But that’s not to take anything away from Stanford. The Cardinal is still an incredibly elite squad. A weakened Pac-12 seems to give Stanford at least an outside shot at making the College Football Playoff if it keeps up last year’s level of play throughout the season. And an ever-explosive Christian McCaffrey means that Stanford could absolutely keep up its momentum. McCaffrey remains possibly the only player in college football who could singlehandedly bring his team to the CFP.

  1. Louisville Cardinals

Louisville is the biggest jumper in this week’s rankings. Last week, Louisville wasn’t even in the honorable mentions, and I had the Cardinals ranked around 16. However, a Heisman performance from Lamar Jackson over Syracuse, a team that was competitive in a lot of big games last year, allowed UL to leap frog right onto this list. Louisville has a tough road ahead, with what looks like its biggest game of the season this weekend as the Cardinals host FSU. I don’t think “the ‘Ville”  will be able to come out of this game with a win, but it goes without saying that, this game, in terms of Louisville’s CFP hopes, is an absolute must win.

  1. Washington Huskies

Capping off this week’s list is the Washington Huskies, who have had two easy wins in the season thus far, over Rutgers and then Idaho. The Huskies offense shined, putting up at least 48 points in each. Washington will have another assured win this weekend against Portland St., but then the schedule heats up. I would be very surprised if the Huskies manage to knock off Stanford on September 30th, but if that does happen, Washington would become the Pac-12 only real hope at making it into the College Football Playoff.

Drop Outs and Honorable Mentions

TCU lost its eighth ranking due to its loss to Arkansas Saturday night. Tennessee, despite an impressive win, still sounded some alarms due to a slow start to the game against VT. There are still far too many questions to validate Tennessee remaining a top 10 contender for the College Football Playoff. Michigan State, due to inactivity, dropped in favor of teams that had much better performances than the Spartans uninspired win over Furman in week 1. Teams that just missed this week’s list also include Iowa, Texas, and Oklahoma.

E-mail Cooper at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @uf_goetz.
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Image Courtesy of Ken Lund – Flickr

Show Out Games Must not be Taken Away

A thought-provoking point was brought to our attention through the Facebook post of a student-athlete at Charleston Southern University, last week.

Saturday, the Charleston Southern football program experienced what it’s like to play against the Florida State Seminoles on Bobby Bowden Field at Doak Campbell Stadium in front of 75,831 fans.

Tragically, those Buccaneers were without 14 of their teammates next to them because of CSU’s decision to suspend the players in “violation.”  32 players will serve suspensions, in total.

It’s unfortunate and the NCAA and Charleston Southern should be ashamed of themselves, but our Bob McDonald already covered that for us.  I only bring it up to help make a point.

College is all about having an experience.

Athlete or not, ages 18-21 are reserved for doing dumb (hopefully harmless) things and coming away mostly unscathed, with the best stories possible.

Going into a big-time program’s backyard and expecting to compete, let alone pull out a victory can often be classified as a dumb move.

Still, these games serve many purposes.  Power 5 teams get a “week off,” or so they think.  Small schools that struggle to support all their sports teams get their bills paid.

Best of all, the players on these underdog teams have a chance to show a national TV audience what they can do.

There were so many of these matchups in last Saturday, some dubbed it “Weak 2.”  Instead, it turned out to be quite an exhilarating day of college football.

I love the small school show out games.

Nicholls State took #9 Georgia to the brink “between the hedges,” as if that means anything anymore.  The Colonels out-scored the Dawgs 10-0 in the fourth quarter, time expiring on them still trailing, 26-24.

Controversially or not, Central Michigan upset #22 Oklahoma State, on the road, 30-27.  Look, that’s a rough way to lose a game but when you trail for extended periods and repeatedly fail to put a team away, I don’t have much sympathy.

Wyoming hung around with Nebraska until the Huskers exploded for a 28-point fourth quarter.

Ohio hit the road and thrashed a Power 5 team, even if it was pitiful Kansas.

FCS Illinois State kicked a game-winning field goal as time expired in its game at Northwestern.

Troy gave #2 Clemson much more than it bargained for.  Eventually, the Trojans ran out of gas and lost, 30-24.

Arkansas, though certainly not a small school, was not given much chance by too many at #15 TCU.  This was an absolutely unreal game, by the way.

So, yes, while mandating that Power 5 schools play only each other in early season non-conference games would create more of a buzz similar to what we saw in Week 1, it would also take away most of the David vs. Goliath magic that makes college sports far superior to the professional ranks.

Eliminating cupcake matchups denies student-athletes a unique experience that goes beyond wins and losses.

They’re not sexy, they don’t draw the same audiences, and more times than not they’re effectively over by halftime, but these games have their place.

I love watching guys with something to prove raise their game and have fun while doing it.  I enjoy seeing guys who won’t play on Sundays have career days against teams that never would’ve recruited them.  That doesn’t happen nearly as much if you take away these show out games.

I say, continue to schedule these matchups and enjoy watching smaller schools go up against the bluebloods.  Give these kids who weren’t highly recruited a taste of what it’s like playing top-tier college football.

As we saw in “Weak 2,” there’s a decent chance they’ll take advantage of their opportunity.

Tweet @GreatGatzke or e-mail Mitch at [email protected].

Photo: Wikimedia Commmons

I Guess TCU Beats Arkansas, But the Big 12 Still Sucks

Here at Campus Pressbox, my disdain for Bret Bielema is well-documented, as is my complete lack of faith in the Big 12. When faced with two, unsavory options, what is a man to do?

In this weekend’s matchup between Arkansas and #15 TCU, I’m airing on the side of talent. I’m taking the Horned Frogs.

Although, again, I’m not loving my options. Both teams embarrassed themselves last week in spite of earning victories. Arkansas eeked out a one-point victory against Louisiana Tech. TCU allowed 41 points and 461 yards against an FCS squad. Certainly not inspiring performances.

Nevertheless, TCU is still my pick to win the Big 12. That’s contingent upon their defense being able to stop a nosebleed, but hey, fingers crossed. Aside from an 87-yard rush that briefly gave South Dakota State the lead, TCU only allowed 1.8 yards per carry last week. The Horned Frogs’ rushing defense wasn’t the problem, their secondary was. Thankfully, Austin Allen doesn’t look poised for a 300-yard passing day anytime soon. Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe Austin Allen proves me wrong, but the SEC has failed to do that so far this season.

When TCU has to face Big 12 opponents clinging to the air raid, the Frogs may have a reason for concern. This week, the fans in Fort Worth shouldn’t be concerned. Expect TCU to handcuff the Razorbacks’ developing offensive line and shut down their rushing attack.

Now that’s out of the way, it’s time for the main event: Bielema-bashing.

Let me get this straight. Bret Bielema almost became a victim of the BielemaMeter last week, but this week he’ll rally the troops and defeat a ranked opponent? With an unproven QB incapable of making big plays? With an offensive line that revealed a myriad of flaws against a C-USA team? After a dismal week for the SEC? Count me among the skeptics. Arkansas might be tracking upwards, but the issues they showed against Louisiana Tech aren’t being resolved overnight.

Why Bielema ever accepted the Arkansas job is beyond me. Bielema was 68-24 while coaching in Madison. He could operate his smashmouth offense against the likes of Rutgers and Purdue and still make a Rose Bowl every now and then. Instead, Bielema opted to take over a stalled program in an impossible conference, only now beginning to dig Arkansas out of a years-long slump. The money isn’t any better, and now he’s the fourth or fifth best coach in the SEC rather than the third best coach in the Big 10. Is that relevant to this Saturday’s matchup? Absolutely not. It is, however, an important chapter in the brilliantly confusing, unending book that is Bret Bielema.

So yeah, I’m not crazy about either team. I’m not a Bret Bielema fan. I’m not an Arkansas fan. I’m not a fan of terrible offense. I guess that means I’m picking TCU.

But the Big 12 still sucks.

Photo: Dallas Morning News

Email Cole at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @Cole_Hankins.