1. College Football Playoffs committee gets a second chance
The CFB Playoff committee threw a curveball last week when it selected Texas A&M at No. 4 ahead unbeaten Washington and stronger one-loss teams Ohio State and Louisville in the first set of rankings. It was baffling to say the least to have the Aggies in the top four and a bit of the committee’s credibility was lost with their decision.
One week in, they learned what the rest of the nation already knew — the Aggies did not belong. Texas A&M lost to unranked Mississippi State 35-28 on Saturday, the same Mississippi State that lost to South Alabama.
Now that fiasco is over, the committee can restore their credibility and pick one of the true best four teams in the country. At this junction, it’s hard to accept them selecting anyone other than Washington, the leaders in the Pac-12. the Huskies are a perfect 9-0, 6-0 in the Pac-12. On Saturday they dismantled California in Berkley. Cal was previously unbeaten at home and had wins over Utah, Oregon, and Texas prior.
Still there’s a case for both Louisville and Ohio State. The Buckeyes steamrolled Nebraska 62-3, knocking Tommy Armstrong, Jr. from the game in the process. Ohio State appears destined to meet Michigan on Thanksgiving weekend for the de facto Big Ten East Championship game. Meanwhile, the Cardinals close loss to Clemson will hang over their heads, but outside of that the Cardinals have been rolling.
Lamar Jackson padded his Heisman resume with seven touchdowns versus Boston College in their 52-7 win over the Eagles to bring his season total to 45 scores. The committee will try their best to avoid putting two teams from the same conference — unless it’s from the SEC — and a team that did not win its conference championship. So Louisville will stay in purgatory unless there are no other choices, and right now Washington and Ohio State are.
2. The Biggest winners of Week 10: Washington
Not only did the Huskies pummel California 66-27 to remain undefeated, but their resume grew stronger with wins by their Pac-12 rivals. Washington controls its own destiny, in my opinion, no matter if they are in the top-four on Tuesday when the new CFB Playoff rankings are revealed or sitting just outside it.
Their remaining schedule may be the strongest of any playoff contenders. And their future opponents are doing everything to ensure that statement holds. Washington’s next opponent, USC, routed Oregon 45-20 to become bowl eligible. In-state rival Washington State remained undefeated within the conference with a 69-7 win over Arizona. The two will meet Nov. 25 with presumably the Pac-12 North division title up for grabs. Both teams could be 8-0 in the Pac-12 as well.
Even Colorado, who leads the Pac-12 South standings, and would meet Washington in the Pac-12 Championship Game if the standings hold, beat UCLA 20-10. All Chris Petersen’s team has to do is keep on winning and they won’t be any discussion about their placement in the playoffs.
3. The Biggest losers of Week 10: The SEC East
Florida leads the SEC East, but after they got thrashed 31-10 at the hands of Arkansas, any chance of a playoff berth evaporated. The Gators’ loss to the Razorbacks shows how much stronger the SEC West is than the East.
Arkansas already has three losses, getting dropped badly by Texas A&M, Auburn, and Alabama, but they still thumped the Gators. Many, including myself, thought the SEC East was set to close the gap with the West this season, but as it stands the division has a long way to go to get to the level of their SEC counterparts.
Examining the Gators’ resume they do not have a significant win to show for. And their loss to Tennessee early in the season no longer is a good loss as the Volunteers too have succumb to the forces of the SEC West, losing to Alabama and Texas A&M.
Whether it’s Alabama or Auburn representing the SEC West they will be heavily favored over whoever wins the SEC East in the Conference championship in Atlanta in December.
4. Wisconsin has a clear path to the Big Ten Championship Game
Wisconsin is one of the best eight teams in the nation. Unfortunately they had one of the toughest schedules in the nation that led them to seven-point losses to Michigan and Ohio State — the two powers of the Big Ten East. Nebraska had surpassed them early but a Badgers win against the Cornhuskers on Oct. 30 put them one game behind for the Big Ten West lead.
The Badgers needed another act of aid and they got it on Saturday with Ohio State crushing the Cornhuskers. Now Wisconsin finds themselves in a first place tie with Nebraska, who they hold the head-to-head tiebreaker against, and Minnesota, who the Badgers will play Nov. 26.
If Wisconsin holds serve and wins their last three games they will put themselves in great position to become the first two-loss team to make the playoffs. They would face off against either Michigan or Ohio State in Indianapolis for a chance to revenge one of their losses and quite possibly a berth into the Final Four.
5. Penn State is back!
It’s taken James Franklin just three seasons to restore Penn State as a power in the Big Ten. After back-to-back seven-win campaigns his first two years, Franklin has the Nittany Lions with seven wins already this season. Ever since their 49-10 drubbing at Michigan, Penn State has been on roll winning five straight, including a 24-21 upset win over Ohio State.
They have avoided the hangover with two dominating performances in back-to-back weeks since. They followed up a 62-24 beat down of Purdue with a more impressive 41-14 dumping against Iowa to improve to 7-2 overall and 5-1 in the Big Ten.
Saquon Barkley has put the resurgence of Penn State on his back. He has totaled 675 of his 1,055 rushing yards in the last four games. He has eclipsed the 200-yard mark twice.
As the Nittany Lions get set to travel to play Indiana this week, they have made great strides to getting the program back on the map. Regardless of how the season concludes, and looking at their schedule they have a good chance of finishing with three more wins before a bowl game, its apparent Penn State is headed to being back!
KCM Sports Power Rankings
- Louisville remains ahead of Clemson in this week’s power rankings despite Clemson beating the Cardinals. Still a firm believer if the two teams met again, the Cardinals would win.
- Florida took a huge tumble from No. 13 out of the top 25 power rankings. Arkansas climbs into this week’s power rankings, leaving no place for Florida nor any other SEC East team. All five SEC teams that are in, are from the West division and deserving so.
- Penn State and Colorado are the biggest climbers as both ascended 11 spots. Penn State is No. 11 and Colorado is No. 13.
- Penn State’s resurgence gives the Big Ten five teams in this week’s rankings all being in the top 12. In comparison the Big 12 has no teams in the top 15. At this point until bowl season changes the narrative, the Power 5 has been more like the Power 4 the first three years of the CFB playoffs. And so, the Big 12’s highest ranked team is No. 15 — Oklahoma State.
- Washington State has leaped to No. 19. No longer can we hold their loss to Eastern Washington in September against them, as the Cougars have won seven straight and has transformed into the team everyone expected them to be.