Week 7 was crazy. Jason (@Jlindy87) did a good job of recapping the best, so I have thoughts on Blake O'Neill's detractors then on to the best of the rest of 2015 and my mock playoff committee ballot.
The two saddest and funniest fans of Week 7.
— Timothy Burke (@bubbaprog) October 17, 2015
On Michigan State’s scoop and score
Well, I’ve never done anything in front of 100k plus people live and millions more on television, so I can’t imagine what that pressure is like when “all” you have to do is punt the ball away to secure your programs most important victory of the season. That said, mistakes happen and pressure is high, and Blake O’Neill will be fine. The people who aren’t fine are those who made death threats or suggested the kid kill himself.
If you’re one of the people that decided to get in touch with O’Neill and suggest terrible things to him, you’re the problem with society. If you think football – college football at that – is literally going to ruin your weekend if your team loses, then re-evaluate your life’s priorities.
The play was huge and yeah, it’s a little crazy how it went down, but keep things in perspective.
The hilarious audio from the Michigan State radio. The color guy is really the show.
The most important games of the rest of the season
Hyperbole and all that. That said, these are the games that will define college football the rest of the season. All the other games are also-rans.
Week 10 – Saturday, November 7
TCU at Oklahoma State – If Kansas State didn’t put a scare into TCU, Oklahoma State will. We’ll assume both teams head into the game undefeated, but Mike Gundy needs to win this game more than Gary Patterson. Sure, the powers-that-be in the Big 12 would prefer TCU to win to bolster the end of season matchup with Baylor, but Gundy needs to win this game to prove that he can win big games. Oklahoma State was atrocious in 2014, and 2015 looks to be its best season in several years. Little OSU could certainly shake up the entire Top 25 – and probably find its way into the Top 10 – with a win over TCU.
LSU at Alabama – I’ll say it now: The Game of the Century. It’s been awhile since these two have played in a GOTC, so why not make this one? No. 5 LSU looks great with Leonard Fournette running all over the place and Brandon Harris might actually be a decent quarterback for the Tigers. No. 8 Alabama is shootin' its regular, (as my inner-city friends would say) and certainly looked like they could beat the world after the first half against Teas A&M on Saturday. This game being in Tuscaloosa (not a great college town) certainly hurts the wow factor, but I’ll figuratively bet against my tide and take Les Miles and the Tigers. See below about why LSU winning this game is super-duper important.
Florida State at Clemson – This is obvious. Florida State looks great again. Dalvin Cook is the real deal and I have no idea what Jimbo Fisher did this off-season to grow his hair back and fix Everett Golson, but that sounds like the coup of 2015. Clemson for the sake of ‘Clemsoning’ needs to beat Florida State which it hasn’t been able to do since 2011, and overall is 8-20 versus the Seminoles. Florida State can solidify its playoff-contender status by beating Clemson on the road and staying undefeated. I have to say, I had zero faith in Florida State this season after its playoff exit, but Golson and Cook have sold me. Keep on truckin, Florida State.
Week 11 – Saturday, November 11
Memphis at Houston – This makes the list because I’m from Ohio and I guess I have to love Tom Herman. He’s a great offensive mind that Ohio State wishes they still had. Memphis beat Ole Miss last weekend and will face Navy on November 7. Houston faces somehow-Power 5 Vanderbilt on October 31, then plays should-be-Power 5 Cincinnati on November 7 before hosting Memphis. Assuming both teams remain undefeated, the winner of this game has a great shot a New Year’s Six appearance.
Oklahoma at Baylor – Big Game Bob or his usual No Game Bob? We’ll find out. If Oklahoma didn’t get up for the Red River Shootout, I’d be shocked and awed that they’d get up for Baylor. Oklahoma certainly cannot score as many points as Baylor, but if their defense can slow it down throughout the entirety of the game it may provide a blueprint for everyone else. Maybe.
Week 12 – Saturday, November 17
LSU at Ole Miss – This is simple. Let’s assume LSU beats Alabama, but loses to Ole Miss. Ole Miss owns the SEC West tie breaker. If Ole Miss then goes on the SEC Championship Game and wins, the SEC will not make the college football playoff. That’s why this game is super-duper important. I talked to Kristen (@OGKristenB) who told me I don't know what I'm talking about and that Ole Miss only has the tiebreaker over Alabama (obviously). So, while fun, this game as of right now is NOT super-duper important.
UCLA at Utah – I gave up on the Cleveland Browns years ago, but I’m not ready to give up on UCLA. UCLA still has hope and Utah looked shaky against Cal a few weeks, so I’d say if there were any team that could upset them between now and the Pac-12 Championship Game it would be Cal. The only thing that would make this better is if this were on a Thursday.
Michigan State at Ohio State – This will decide the champion of the Big Ten East. No other game in the entire conference is more important this season. I’ll make my conditional pick right now, if Urban Meyer is still trying to re-live Tim Tebow and Chris Leak with J.T. Barrett and Cardale Jones then Michigan State wins. If Meyer names and sticks with Barrett then Ohio State wins. Winner is in the playoff unless they lose to West Division champion Iowa. Yeah, I said it. See below.
Week 13 – Friday, November 27
Baylor at TCU – First to 70 wins. We’ll assume both teams are undefeated, so the winner of this is the Big 12 champion. I’m not a betting man, but if I were, I’d put my money on Baylor. There will be absolutely zero defense in this game, but I think Art Briles’ offense is just too much for TCU to handle. Again, TCU struggled against Kansas State and Texas Tech. Baylor puts up 60 almost every week and tells you to come get them.
Week 13 – Saturday, November 28
Notre Dame at Stanford – Playoff implications and all that. Will both teams enter with only one loss? Stanford needs to win this game in case it loses the Pac-12 Championship Game to even have a sniff of the College Football Playoff. Every game is a must win for Notre Dame because of its loss to Clemson who I think loses to Florida State a few weeks earlier. Everything is murky, but this is probably the best game on the board right now.
Florida State at Florida – I’m still not sure what to think of Florida. Their only loss was a close one to LSU this past weekend and they aren’t scheduled to face another ranked opponent until they welcome the Seminoles to the Swamp. In the interim, Florida State will travel to Clemson, where I think they win, but this game isn’t as important as the game at Clemson. If Florida hasn’t lost another game and is en route to the SEC Championship game in Atlanta, then the Gators will want to claim their first win over the Seminoles since 2012 and second in seven years.
Explained: My Week 8 Top Ten Ballot
Baylor, Utah, TCU, LSU, Ohio State, Clemson, Alabama, Florida State, Michigan State and Notre Dame
That’s my ballot for the Campus Pressbox mock playoff committee this week. Thoughts, quickie style:
- I’m bearish on Baylor because even though they don’t play defense it seems like they can outscore anyone. The biggest test for them will obviously be TCU, who struggled against Kansas State and allowed Iowa State to score 21 this weekend. I’m temporarily giving them the benefit of the doubt. Keep reading.
- I’m under the impression that Urban Meyer will finally name J.T. Barrett the starting quarterback for Ohio State. I’ve said since they won the National Championship he should be no matter what Cardale Jones did for the team last season. If Barrett is named the starter, I’m back on the Ohio State train and will have no problem replacing TCU with them in the top four. The ballot is that fluid.
- Dalvin Cook and Everett Golson put Florida State into my top 10. I really have no idea where Florida State came from. I think a lot of us wrote them off with the departure of Jameis Winston, but Florida State looks good. Their biggest hurdle is the weak ACC, so beating Clemson (read above) should vault them back into the national conversation. I hope their playoff performance this season is better than the last.
- Number 11 is Iowa. They’re good and if we’re going to give Ohio State respect despite their schedule we have to do the same for Iowa. I’ve made no secret of my shock that Kirk Ferentz still has a job. I’m also 33 and able to admit when I was wrong, and Kirk has earned his paycheck this year. Iowa doesn’t face Ohio State or Michigan State, but Iowa doesn’t make the schedule and if the Hawkeye’s played both teams and beat or hung around both then they’d still at least be in the Top 15. Mea culpa.
- I’m still not sure about Alabama and Clemson. Talk to me after November 7th. Scroll up.
Links That I like (sorry, no short reads allowed)
The Sad Story of Steve Sarkisian: Too much, too soon [Jack Follman/Pacific Takes] - Jack is a great writer. Here’s the story of former USC coach Steve Sarkian’s demons and how he got in and out of USC so fast.
Former Louisville recruit about his visit: 'It was like I was in a strip club' [John Barr and Jeff Goodman/ESPN] - Where there is smoke, there's probably fire. I'm not sure this type of behavior doesn't go on at every school, but that doesn't make it right. I don't think this matters much this season, but I didn't think Jim Boeheim would essentially be forced into early retirement. Keep an eye on this.
LSU's Leonard Fournette is calling to mind the greats, but what does hype matter to a child of Katrina? [Alan Shipnuck/Campus Rush] - I have no idea if Leonard Fournette is going to play football next year, but it’s clear at least right now that he’s the best running back, if not the best player, in college football. I’m not 100% on board with Seth’s (@SMerenbloom) assessment that players should be able to go right to the NFL – which is the NFL’s policy – but I will concede that certain players should be allowed to go if a plurality of the NFL teams think he’s ready. It’s also bad for college football if Leonard Fournette sits out because then no one gets to see his amazing talent. Also, a child of Hurricane Katrina? Jesus, I am old.
How They Do in Oxford [Kiese Laymon/ESPN] - I’d be lying if I told you I didn’t like Ole Miss. I love any place that tailgates and despite everything that’s happened in the past at Ole Miss, I think it’s one of the best stories in America. If you haven’t read Wright Thompson’s Ghost’s of Mississippi or seen the 30 for 30 – Ghosts of Ole Miss then you’re truly missing out. Racism is still a thing in America, but the read and the film show how deep it was and how many of us were and are shielded from it. Laymon’s take is decidedly different, but worth the 12 minutes it will take you to read it.
The Persecution of Patriots Nation [Erik Malinowski/Rolling Stone] - Love or hate the Patriots, it’s clear the goal of the team and their fans is to have Roger Goodell handing Tom Brady another Super Bowl trophy on February 7, 2016 in Santa Clara. I’m always for people scoring their comeuppance, so I hope this works out for them. I know, it’s NFL – you’ll be alright.
Epic Blue Jays–Rangers seventh inning will be talked about for years [Bruce Arthur/Toronto Star] - This is some of the best baseball writing I’ve seen in years. I can’t imagine another inning of baseball will be better this post-season. Read, re-live and repeat.