Sunday, October 29, 2017

Sports: College Football (Week 8&9)

There wasn't enough movement in the rankings two weeks ago for me to write a whole post about college football so I'll recap the last two weeks. A lot happened this last week to really change the landscape of college football and it sets up a lot of interesting matchups moving forward as nearly every conference has two top teams that will compete either in a regular season game or in a conference final. There is only a month left of football so every big game counts extra in these next four weeks. I wasn't sure how this season would play out and it has followed through being quite a shocking season with new teams showing up while other standard teams who have been dominant the last few years are still in contention. I'll look at each conference and their divisions to see who might be showing up in the College Football Playoffs.

SEC
SEC West
I don't see anyone one beating the Alabama Crimson Tide who started at the top and have stayed that way through the whole season. With eight wins, they are one of five undefeated teams left in the league. Alabama has been blowing out everyone but they haven't played a lot of ranked teams beyond their win over Florida State in the first week of the season. They had a bye week this last week after destroying Tennessee the week before. Looking ahead, they will have some lower ranked opponents like LSU, Mississippi State, and Auburn in their final four weeks.

SEC East
The Georgia Bulldogs have stunned me this season by becoming the second-ranked team overall with their powerful play against some great teams. Their early win over Notre Dame propelled them into the top rankings and a follow-up blowout two weeks later over Mississippi State confirmed their position. They have taken out every SEC East opponent, most recently Missouri and Florida. The Bulldogs have a challenge of Auburn and Georgia Tech but I doubt either of these team will prevent them from entering the SEC Championship and moving to the playoffs.

Big Ten
Big Ten East
The Big Ten had an interesting run of games the last two weeks but a sudden comeback and upset has tipped the rankings around in this division. The Ohio State Buckeyes looked to be defeated by the Penn State Nittany Lions when they scored 19 points in the fourth quarter to come back and win. Ohio State now has one loss to Oklahoma that tarnishes their record but if they can win out and triumph in the Big Ten tournament, then they'll get a place in the playoffs. Their biggest challenge in the next four weeks are Michigan State and Michigan who have both been falling off in recent weeks.

Big Ten West
The Wisconsin Badgers are the other undefeated team in the top five who hasn't had enough wins yet to put them at the top of the rankings. Barring any upset, their eight-win record should be enough a platform to build off of making them a contender in the finals. Their biggest challenge will be a fight with Ohio State in the Big Ten Championship. 

Independent
Notre Dame has risen up suddenly to be a contender for a fourth spot in the college football playoffs knocking off another champion from a big conference. Their loss to Georgia in the second week is a blemish on their record but they've put together six consecutive wins since then including over top-ranked USC and NC State. They still have challenges ahead like undefeated Miami and Stanford but these wins will also propel them up the rankings to a top spot.

ACC
Atlantic

Clemson suffered a rough loss to Syracuse two weeks ago but after a bye week and a win over Georgia Tech, the reigning champs can still make the playoffs as they lost a bad game last year and still went on to win it all. They'll face a tough battle with NC State next week but after that, they should be able to cruise into the ACC Championship. 

Coastal
The Miami Hurricanes have yet to earn the respect of the ranking committees as the Coaches' Poll has them at sixth and the AP has them down at nine. Still, two rankings in the top ten are great for a team that wasn't getting a lot of early attention. Their path ahead is not an easy one with Virginia Tech and Notre Dame in the next two weeks. Miami could prove that they are deserving of a spot in the playoffs.

Big 12
Iowa State may not make it into the college football playoffs but after a defeat of Oklahoma and now TCU this last week, they are good at playing spoiler to other Big 12 team hopes. Still, Oklahoma may have a chance if they can beat Oklahoma State next week and TCU the week after that. There is also a Big 12 championship to consider as one of these teams fights to prove they are ready for the playoffs.

The PAC-12 has pretty much been eliminated from any chance of entering the playoffs. Washington has one bad loss but they would need to win out while others lose badly. College football heads into November with the final four weeks of the season that will provide a lot of suspense, great games, and great football action. My prediction is that the SEC gets two teams into the playoffs and Ohio State and Clemson also slip in. I look forward to seeing how it all plays out. 

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