Going on road trips is an inevitable event for every college football team, every season. Sometimes, going on the road presents no trouble at all. Other times, it can present minor setbacks, and sometimes, the car explodes as it careens off a thousand-foot cliff. Such is life. Last week, twelve playoff contending teams went on the road. Four of those lost (FSU, Utah, Texas A&M and Cal). This week, there are seven road games. Who will falter?
Pick Em Up:
The undefeated list of power 5 teams has shrunk to 8 teams. The trip is going so well that you have no worries in picking up hitchhikers on your bandwagon. Si!
#1 Ohio State Buckeyes (8-0): Last Week @ Rutgers - 49-7. Urban Meyer has found his Quarterback in J.T. Barrett, or maybe the Buckeyes simply got their offense going against slump-buster Rutgers. Rutgers scored with :13 seconds left to prevent the shutout and Ohio State was dominant for this first time this season. Ohio State has solidified their AP #1 ranking for now. The Buckeyes have Minnesota at home next week (best wishes to recently retired Coach Jerry Kill.) 9-0 is the most likely outcome, but I expect Minnesota to come out and play tough.
#2 Baylor Bears (7-0): Last Week ISU - 45-27. The Bears led 35-7 at halftime of a rainy game, which did not appear to slow the Bears down until the second half. However, QB Seth Russell is out for the rest of the season from an injury suffered in last week's game in the fourth quarter. You might ask what Seth was doing in the game so late, but the Bears' offense sputtered, which allowed Iowa State to make the game respectable. I don't think this completely derails Baylor's Playoff hopes, but it definitely puts a damper on it. Seth Russell had complete control of this offense. Art Briles will plug and play freshman five star QB Jarrett Stidham on the road against Kansas State this week, and for the rest of the season. Expect a heavy dose of Shock Linwood this week.
#3 Clemson Tigers (6-0): Last Week @ Miami - 58-0. Clemson devastated the Hurricanes, holding them to zero points, 146 yards of offense, and six first downs. Six! This led to the firing of Miami Coach Al Golden. Will someone think of the Airplane ad banner pilots?!?! How are they supposed to make a living now, Clemson? Clemson silenced a lot of critics, and showed that it is a contender. There is still time for some "Clemsoning", as Clemson goes on the road to NC State. This could be a trap game if Clemson is looking ahead to the matchup against FSU the following weekend.
#4 LSU Tigers (7-0): Last Week WKU - 48-20. QB Brandon Harris stole the spotlight in a flooded Tiger Stadium by throwing for 289 yards and three touchdowns. Leonard Fournette only had 150 yards rushing and only one rushing touchdown. LSU is on a bye this week, which is the deep breath before the plunge on the road at Alabama.
#5 TCU Horned Frogs (7-0): Last Week BYE. This Thursday, TCU faces West Virginia in Fort Worth. West Virginia is currently 0-3 in the Big 12, and should move to 0-4. Thursday night college football games are known to get weird. If any coach knows how to get weird, it's coach Dana Holgorsen. Let's get weird in Funky Town.
#6 Michigan State Spartans (8-0): Last Week Indiana - 52-26. This score is misleading as Michigan State scored three touchdowns in the final 4:26 of the fourth quarter. At the end of the third quarter, this was a 28-26 game in favor of Sparty. Michigan State is starting to look like 2013 Auburn, in that it continues to find a way to win late. This week, Sparty is on a BYE.
#10 Iowa Hawkeyes (7-0): Last Week BYE. Iowa has Maryland at home next week, and nothing should derail Iowa's trip to the B1G Championship Game. Iowa's remaining schedule is currently 2-15 in the Big 10, and 14-23 overall. Just to be clear, Iowa has one more conference win (3) by itself than the remaining 5 Big 10 teams do combined (2). Iowa does have some skins on the wall as it has beaten Wisconsin, Pitt, and Northwestern so far this season.
#12 Oklahoma State Cowboys (7-0): Last Week Kansas 58-10. (Please don't drink and drive. Not once, not ever. Oklahoma State is still reeling from the homecoming crash which left four dead and many more injured. Such a senseless tragedy that is so easily avoided.) OSU won easily against helpless Kansas. The Cowboys will go to Lubbock to face the defenseless Texas Tech Red Raiders. This is probably the best odds for a team in this category to take a loss, as the Raiders can score points. Although it's probably just a fool's hope of an upset.
Totally Redeem Yourself:
These are the one-loss teams that still control their destiny, but need the above one-loss teams to crash and burn. Alabama, Stanford, Notre Dame, and Florida probably have the best chance, OU has an embarrassing loss against Texas, but can beat BU, TCU, and OSU to overcome that. The rest have too much to overcome.
#7 Alabama Crimson Tide (7-1): Last Week Tennessee - 19-14. This was a hard fought rivalry game. The Tide scored the go ahead touchdown with 2:24 remaining in the fourth quarter. The Tide defense took over and stuffed Tennessee on two straight sacks and a fumble recovery to seal the victory. Tennessee did miss three field goals. Sorry Vols, the 2011 Texas A&M team feels your pain. Alabama is on a bye and will rest up to face Leonard Fournette and the LSU Tigers at home. I expect that game to be another 9-6 type game.
#8 Stanford Cardinal (6-1): Last Week Washington - 31-14. Stanford was in control of this one throughout the game. Stanford also held the ball for 40 minutes of play and was seen lining up in the power I formation throughout the night. Stanford is a physical team and is getting stronger each week. This week, the Cardinals go to Pullman to face the Mike Leach- led Cougars' air raid attack. Game day snubbed Pullman for Temple. Poor choice, if for no other reason than that we are deprived of Mike Leach interviews.
#9 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (6-1): Last Week BYE. Notre Dame is on GameDay this week to face the Temple Owls in Philadelphia. The Irish are currently 10 point favorites; however, Temple is currently 3-0 as an underdog against the spread. Notre Dame will have its hands full this week but should remain in the playoff hunt this week. Expect a defensive showdown.
#11 Florida Gators (6-1): Last Week BYE. The world's largest cocktail party is underway in Jacksonville this week. Both teams are without key starters with RB Nick Chubb (injury) and QB Will Grier (suspension). The Bulldogs still have a top notch passing defense, but how will that fair against Florida's rushing attack? Florida is currently in the driver's seat to win the SEC East, and I think they get it done this weekend.
#13 Utah Utes (6-1): Last Week @ USC - 42-24. Vegas pulled one over on the betting public this weekend. USC crushed the hopes and dreams of Utah's playoff chances. Utah does appear to be in control of the Pac-12 South division and is still in this. Utah should get back on tract at home against Oregon State. However, I believe Stanford is the Pac-12's best hope in having a playoff team.
#14 Oklahoma Sooners (6-1): Last Week Texas Tech - 63-27. Oklahoma dismantled Tech by forcing 4 turnovers and scoring 21 unanswered points to close out the game. OU has looked very dominant the past two weeks, but that loss against Texas is keeping the Sooners from rising very far in the polls. OU goes on the road to Lawrence for a
scrimmage game against the Kansas Jayhawks.
#17 Florida State Seminoles (6-1): Last Week @ Georgia Tech - 22-16. College Football fans were rewarded with another game winning kick-6. Georgia Tech was reeling from a five game losing streak and had no business hanging with FSU. Then College Football happened. It was glorious. Florida State will have a tune up game against Syracuse before facing Clemson the following week.
#22 Duke Blue Devils (6-1): Last Week @ VT - 4OT 45-43. The Hokies failed to convert the 2 point conversion in the fourth overtime, but the Blue Devils did. Duke's thin playoff hopes remain for the time being. Duke has Miami this week at home, and Vegas currently has the line as a pick em. Miami should be more talented, but will it show up to play for interim head coach Larry Scott?
#23 Pittsburgh Panthers (6-1): Last Week @ Syracuse - 23-20. Pitt looked to be on its way out of the playoff discussion. However, Chris Blewitt did not blow it [sees self out] and kicked the game winner as time expired. Thankfully, Pitt plays Coastal Division foe and fellow one loss team UNC at home this Thrusday night. One team will have to lose and be removed forever from the 2015 playoff discussion. Still, Coach Pat Narduzzi has done an amazing job in year one at Pitt.
NR North Carolina Tarheels (6-1): Last Week UVA 26-13. UNC goes on the road to Pitt this Thursday as a 3 point favorite. Win, and the Tarheels should move into the rankings for a showdown against ACC Coastal foe Duke. Raise your hand if you had this Thursday night circled as a game with potential playoff implications? No one? In the end, this game probably will be nothing more than a weird Thursday Night game. Enjoy.
So, You're Telling Me There's A Chance:
#16 Memphis Tigers (7-0): Last Week @ Tulsa 66-42. Road games are tough, but Memphis handled Tulsa in the second half in what was an AACtion Offensive showdown. Memphis gets hapless Tulane this weekend at home. Games against Houston and Temple loom in the near future.
#18 Houston Cougars (7-0): Last Week @ UCF 59-10. Houston rolled over struggling UCF, which led to coach George O'Leary stepping down as coach. This week, the Cougars face SEC team Vanderbilt at home. Vandy is coming off its first SEC win since James Franklin left for Penn State. Houston is an 11 point favorite and should handle the 'Dores with ease. Houston has not played a difficult schedule to date, so it will be interesting to watch how they do against the Vandy defense.
#20 Toledo Rockets (7-0): Last Week @ UMass 51-35. UMass led Toledo 28-10 at halftime, but gave up 38 unanswered points in the second half. Toledo faces NIU at home this week in what should be a tough MAC West showdown. After that, the Rockets have the best teams in the MAC left to go. Should be very difficult to stay undefeated.
#21 Temple Owls (7-0): Last Week @ ECU 24-14. Temple pulled away late with 14 points in the fourth quarter in what was a defensive showdown. This week, College Game Day is coming to your Citay, Philly. The setting will be in front of Independence Hall and will give Lee Corso another opportunity to dress like a Revolutionary Forefather. I just hope there are live owls involved. The Irish are 10 point favorites however. If Temple can pull off the upset at home, then they would become a serious contender to make the playoffs. Temple would of course need to beat Memphis, and then Houston or Memphis again in the AAC title game.
That John Denver is Full of Shit:
Don't believe the hype. Michigan, Ole Miss, UCLA, and Mississippi State are the only two loss teams currently ranked, and deserve to be mentioned; however, I do not see a 2 loss team making the playoffs at this point in the season. Crazy things can and most likely will happen; but don't hold your breath for a two loss team.
OUR PETS' HEADS ARE FALLING OFF:
Last week, Texas A&M, and Cal suffered their second loss and fell from the AP polls. There are still enough games to climb back in the polls, but as written above, a two loss team will not make the playoffs this year.
Still Way-Too-Early Predictions
My playoff teams based on the first 8 weeks of college football are:
4. Ohio State
Sorry Pac-12. Thank you, Georgia Tech.