Tag Archives: West Virginia Mountaineers

College Football’s Opening Weekend Owes Us More

I love college football just as much as the next guy.  Saturdays aren’t for the boys so much as they are for the boys to gather around a big screen, drinking as many 96-calorie Miller Lite’s as they’d like.  We’ve yet to find anything that comes anywhere near college football’s ability to help us justify that weekly decision.

We owe a lot to college football Saturdays.  When I pick through the Week 1 schedule we have lined up for Labor Day weekend, though, it feels like college football owes us a little more.

Stanford is beginning its season with a game in Sydney, Australia.  That’s cool.  The fact that the Rice Owls are the opposition is not cool.  There’s a Florida rivalry game right off the bat.  Unfortunately, it’s between Florida International and Central Florida.  University Alabama-Birmingham makes its glorious return to football after a two-year hiatus, against Alabama A&M.  How have we possibly contained our excitement all summer?

In all seriousness, there are some things worth looking forward to.  P.J. Fleck, Lane Kiffin, and Tom Herman take the field with their new teams for the first time.  Ohio State opens on the road, on a Thursday night, against a conference opponent for the first time in… probably ever.  Florida State and Alabama collide in a top-five matchup in Atlanta.  Michigan and Florida head for Jerry World and a top-15ish meeting.  West Virginia and Virginia Tech will likely both be ranked for their opening contest in Landover, Maryland.

If you’re not a fan of those programs, you’ll probably be forced to watch your team playing in a glorified scrimmage.  Whether your team is the one laying the beat down or getting its ass kicked makes no difference, really.  Nobody wins if the boys had to finish the Miller Lite by halftime just to make it interesting.

At what point do we stop flooding to football just because it’s back?  At what point do we demand more as consumers, as opposed to blindly accepting whatever we’re given?  My guess is that will never happen.  Until it does, we’ll continue to receive a mediocre slate of games on opening weekend, with the only ones truly worth watching happening hundreds of miles off campus, in NFL stadiums.

This is big business we’re talking about and there’s a ton of money involved in these neutral-site games.  I understand that.  Still, it pisses me off.  These are essentially bowl games.  Actually, these games are more important because the whole season is still ahead.  If money grabbing is what we’re doing now, and it most certainly is, then why not take it to the extreme?

What Can We Do?

Let’s schedule bowl game rematches for the first week of the season.  Think for just a second about the storylines.  Would Clemson be able to pull off another upset of Alabama eight months after their instant classic?  Could USC and Penn State replicate the craziness of last year’s Rose Bowl Game?  Is Lamar Jackson really that containable, or did LSU’s defense just do everything right that day?

Wouldn’t it be fun if the two semifinal losers got a crack at each other to start the new season?  Imagine the hype that would surround a Washington-Ohio State clash in a couple weeks.  Automatically, one of the top contenders to reach the playoff would have an impressive feather tucked into its cap.  The four-letter network could have a field day with that buildup.

If your team was not invited to participate in a bowl game the previous year, it can do whatever it would like.  Honestly, nobody outside of the school gives a damn about your five-win team.  I’m only concerned with the primetime programs here.  And in tying them all up in these bowl game rematches, I am, in turn, saving a lot of you from an opening week embarrassment anyway.  It’s a win-win, even for the losers.  You should be thanking me for ignoring your meaningless team.

Is this grand idea ever going to materialize?  No, it won’t.  Like so many things in the world of college football, it makes too much sense to become a reality.  Still, it doesn’t hurt to dream, especially when the boys still have two weeks to save up their beer money.

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

Photo: Wikipedia

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March Madness – From Pistol Pete to a Magic Carpet Ride

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In chronological order:

Sweet 16

Michigan over Oregon

Gonzaga over West Virginia

Kansas over Purdue

Arizona over Xavier

North Carolina over Butler

South Carolina (Welcome Cinderella!) over Baylor

UCLA over Kentucky

Wisconsin over Florida

 

Elite Eight

South Carolina over Wisconsin

Gonzaga over Arizona

Kansas over Michigan

UCLA over North Carolina

 

That leaves us with a Final Four of:

South Carolina vs. Gonzaga

Kansas vs. UCLA

 

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

 

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

The West: What to Look For in Day Two

The Round of 64 provided quite some excitement in the west region, let’s recap

Number 1 seed Gonzaga let the SDST Jackrabbits stay close before pulling away. The Zags looked just as good as they have all season, solid defense and a balanced attack. The win advances the Zags to the round of thirty-two where they will see Northwestern.

The Wildcats playing in their first ever NCAA tournament beat Bryce Drew’s Vandy team after a mistake foul by Matthew Fisher-Davis with Vandy up one with fourteen seconds left gave Northwestern two four shots and their first NCAA win.

If you are playing in a second chance bracket or a round by round bracket pool take Gonzaga as a lock. Northwestern snuck into the tournament with some upset wins and will be no match for the balanced Bulldog offense.

My Pick Gonzaga

Notre Dame defeated Princeton in the 5-12 match up in Buffalo. It was one of the better games of the day as it came down to a missed Princeton three-pointer with 3.7 seconds left in the game. The Irish will march on to face West Vergina.

Huggy Bear and his team had all they could handle with a resilient Bucknell team that kept it close until the very end. Prevailing 86-80 over the Bison

The Notre Dame -West Virginia game could be the best of the day Saturday and it’s an early 12.10 tip-off from Buffalo.   The former Big East rivals come in each 3-2 over their last five games. Notre Dame is the only team to reach the Elite Eight the last two NCAA tournaments and I expect them to get to the second weekend. Look for them to feed swingman Bonzie Colson. The only way I see the Mountaineers winning this one is if they play better defense than they did vs Bucknell and control how many touches Colson gets.

My Pick Notre Dame

I did not think Xavier could do it, knock out a Melo Trimble Maryland team; at least not the shell of what Xavier is without Edmond Summer. Xavier proved they can take on anyone. Maryland was kept to 40% shooting from the floor and a cold 25.9% from behind the arch. Xavier was powered by their ability to hit shots at right times and the thirty point they had coming off the bench.

Florida State were winners over FGCU in one of the fastest paced basketball games I have ever watched. FSU struggled in stretches to keep up with FGCU but held on for the win. FSU is one of the tallest teams in college basketball and they like to score inside they have to stick to that it has worked all season if they want to compete with Xavier.

For me, though the is something about this Xavier team that I really like they have a spark and that’s why I have to pick them to make it to the sweet 16.

My Pick Xavier

St.Mary’s took out VCU in a battle of Mid-Major Darlings, St.Mary’s was put in the same region as conference rival Gonzaga kind of odd for the committee to do with teams from a non-major confrence. That being said I highly doubt they meet up. St.Mary’s gets to deal with an Arizona team fresh off a 100-82 win over North Dakota. Arizona looks like a team that could win the whole thing. Sean Miller has a team that is built for a deep run. The Pac-12 Regular season and Tournament champions will look to overpower the Gales who to their credit have had a great season. I don’t think the wildcats will have much of a problem with St.Mary’s. Arizona will inch closer to their first final four trip since 2001.

My pick Arizona

E-mail Karic at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @karic_jones.

Mock College Football Playoff 2016: Week 11

Welcome to the third week of Campus Pressbox’s official mock playoff committee. Every Tuesday I’ll be publishing the top 10 based on a group vote. You can view the previous weeks’ results here.

The committee:

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

The rules:

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

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

Week 11 Results:

Place Team Points First Place Votes
1 Alabama (1) 120 12
2 Ohio State (6) 102
3 Louisville (5) 89
4 Michigan (2) 88
5 Clemson (3) 76
6 Wisconsin (7) 55
7 Washington (4) 47
8 Oklahoma (9) 37
9 Penn State (10) 23
10 West Virginia 12
Additional Votes: Western Michigan 4
Colorado 2
Oklahoma State 2
USC 2
Utah 1

(#)=last week’s position.

Playoff:

Bowl Teams
Peach No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 4 Michigan
Fiesta No. 2 Ohio State vs. No. 3 Louisville

 

New Year’s Six:

Bowl Teams Tie In
Orange No. 5 Clemson vs. No. 9 Penn State ACC vs. Big Ten, Big 12 or SEC
Cotton At Large vs. At Large
Rose No. 6 Wisconsin vs. No 7 Washington Big Ten vs. Pac-12
Sugar No. 8 Oklahoma vs. LSU Big 12 vs. SEC

 

Notes and Observations:

  • In a surprise to no one, Alabama received all of the first place votes for the third consecutive week.
  • Up until this week, Louisville had been in front of Ohio State by a single vote each week. This week, the Buckeyes jumped the Cardinals and have a secure 13 point cushion for the No. 2 spot.
  • In general, there was a lot less certainty following all the losses this past weekend. The standard deviation was definitely much larger this week compared to weeks previous.

 This Saturday’s Marquee Matches

No. 3 Louisville @ Houston Cougars (8 PM)

No. 8 Oklahoma @ No. 10 West Virginia (8 PM)

Washington St. @ Colorado (3:30 PM)

Our Work:

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

screen-shot-2016-11-15-at-10-51-48-pm

E-mail Cooper at [email protected] or follow him on twitter @uf_goetz
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
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Moral Victories Don’t Count in the Standings

I don’t believe in moral victories, but I do believe in progress a team can make to make a loss feel a lot less painful. That’s what I saw at DKR on Saturday.

I saw a team that could have beaten another ranked opponent. I saw a coaching staff that may have coached their best game of the season. I saw a team that could have given up when the score was 17-3. But I also saw a Longhorns team that just flat out got beaten by a better opponent.

Texas sits with a 5-5 record with two games left. That’s not the standard here. The team is one game better than their 4-6 record at this point last season. But why does this year feel different?

Maybe it’s because the games are more competitive this year and there’s clear improvement across the board. Last year we saw losses like 38-3, 50-7, 24-0 and 38-20. This year, four of the five losses have been by a touchdown or less.

This doesn’t make me feel any better by looking at the standings, but it’s a clear sign of progress.

This team is better than the 5-5 record shows. They’ve just got to figure out how to put everything together for four quarters. Hopefully it happens over the next two games and the bowl game, otherwise, the players may have to do it with a new coach in 2017.

Nothing about the game against West Virginia should have people screaming for Charlie Strong to get fired. Yes, there were the same clock management issues. Yes, there were a few questionable decisions. But those happen in every game across the country. And I understand it’s all about wins and losses for the big money boosters.

Texas fans and media tend to nitpick at the tiniest details, and I’ll throw my name in that ring too. It’s very clear that this team is far from being perfect, but they aren’t far from being good again. Just look at the entire body of work instead of criticizing the smallest details, and you’ll see it.

Just about every single opposing coach this season has said Texas is a better team than the record indicates. So why doesn’t the record reflect the product?

That’s a question no one can truly answer, including coach Strong himself.

His players love him.

The players play hard.

Talent is all over the field.

The offense can score.

The defense can stop teams.

So what’s the problem?

The Longhorns have all the ingredients to be a good team again. They just don’t know how to put all the ingredients in the same bowl yet. Once they understand how to do it, look out.

Until then, the moral victories and signs of progress will continue to pile up without showing up in the standings.

With two games left in the season and a possible bowl game, there’s still plenty to play for with this 5-5 team. Take care of business on the road against Kansas and then go out and win against a respectable TCU team to save Strong’s job. It’s that simple.

If the West Virginia game ends up being the last moral victory of 2016, then there’s a good chance Charlie Strong will be patrolling the sidelines for Texas again in 2017.

If not, then all bets are off.

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

Photo: Wikimedia

Mock College Football Playoff 2016: Week 10

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

The committee:

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

The rules:

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

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

Week 10 Results:

Place Team Points First Place Votes
1 Alabama (1) 120 12
2 Michigan (2) 104
3 Clemson (4) 93
4 Washington (3) 90
5 Louisville (5) 65
6 Ohio State (6) 64
7 Wisconsin (8) 45
8 Auburn (9) 42
9 Oklahoma 13
10 Penn State 13
Additional Votes: West Virginia 6
Texas A&M 3
Western Michigan 2

(#)=last week’s position.

Playoff:

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

New Year’s Six:

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

Notes and Observations:

  • I stated last week that I felt as if the teams were separated into three vote getting groups. This week, the voting shows that the teams have separated into 5 pairs.
    • The Front-Runners: Alabama and Michigan were the top pairing, earning both over 100 total points.
    • The Lesser Playoff Qualifiers: Clemson and Washington earned 93 & 90 votes respectively, cementing themselves by a wide margin as the last two teams into the CFP over teams ranked fifth  and sixth.
    • The Stalkers: While Louisville and Ohio State were behind by 25 points to pair No. 2, but the Cardinals only earned a single more point that the Buckeyes.
    • The Closers: Wisconsin and Auburn, in as the fourth pair, trailed the 3rd pair by 20 points, but much like pair No. 3, the Badgers only earned 3 more points than the Tigers
    • The Long Shots: Finally, Oklahoma and Penn State together rounded off the pairing. They, ranked No. 9 and No. 10 respectively, trailed the previous pairing by 30 points, but the Sooners and the Nittany Lions tied for points at 13. The Sooners got the Ninth spot over Penn State because Oklahoma received 1 more ninth place vote than PSU.
  • Every member of the committee, except for Mr. Thomas Gardner, had Alabama, Michigan, Clemson and Washington ranked at No. 1 thru No. 4 in one way or another.
    • Mr. Gardner’s choice of Louisville at No. 4 and Washington at No. 5 gave the Cardinals the single point advantage it needed to cement its 1 point lead over Ohio State
  • Western Michigan, with 2 points, was the only Group of 5 team to receive votes from the committee.
  • This is the second consecutive week in which Alabama has received every single first place vote.

 This Saturday’s Marquee Matches

This week’s slate of games is much weaker than last week’s, but if we had to pick a few games to pay attention to it would be:

Baylor @ No. 9 Oklahoma (12 PM)

No. 2 Michigan @ Iowa (8 PM)

USC @ No. 4 Washington (7:30 PM)

Our Work:

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

screen-shot-2016-11-08-at-9-11-32-am

E-mail Cooper at [email protected] or follow him on twitter @uf_goetz

Image Courtesy of Ken Lund – Flickr

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Can the Oklahoma Sooners Crash the College Football Playoff Party?

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

Oklahoma could be that sneaky team.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo: Wikimedia

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Mock College Football Playoff 2016, Week 9

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

The committee:

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

The rules:

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

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

Week 9 Results:

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

Playoff:

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

New Year’s Six:

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

Notes and Observations:

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

 This Saturday’s Marquee Matches

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

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

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

Our Work:

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

Voting Week 9

 

E-mail Cooper at [email protected] or follow him on twitter @uf_goetz
Image Courtesy of tujabro_99 – Flickr
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College Football Playoff Rankings: Week 8

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

  1. Alabama Crimson Tide (1)

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

  1. Washington Huskies (4)

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

  1. Michigan Wolverines (5)

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

  1. Clemson Tigers (3)

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

  1. The Ohio State Buckeyes (2)

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

  1. Louisville Cardinals (7)

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

  1. Baylor Bears (9)

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

  1. Nebraska Cornhuskers (8)

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

  1. West Virginia Mountaineers (10)

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

  1. Florida Gators

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

Drop Outs and Honorable Mentions

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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