Five Cavalcade of Whimsy footballey opinions and, like, other stuff
5. The fine line between success and total disaster
It’ll start becoming a bigger deal by Saturday, but there are two huge parts of the puzzle about to be put together.
Of course there are some massive rivalry games, but the pressure is on Oklahoma and Washington State more than just about anyone else.
Everyone knows that the Michigan-Ohio State loser is out of the CFP race and doesn’t get to play for the Big Ten title, but the same goes for Wazzu.
Lose the Apple Cup to Washington, and that’s it for the Pac-12 North, there’s no Pac-12 Championship appearance, and the playoff hopes and dreams are all gone thanks to the bitter rival.
Texas is almost certainly going to beat Kansas. That means if West Virginia beats Oklahoma, the Sooners are out of the College Football Playoff, and out of the Big 12 Championship, too.
4. Someone wants a swag bag full of gift cards really, really badly.
Virginia Tech might schedule a 12th game so it can try keeping its streak of bowl appearances – currently at 25 years – alive.
If the Hokies beat Virginia this weekend, it’ll play Marshall on December 1st with the sole purpose of getting a sixth win so it can be bowl eligible – sort of like Florida State last year scheduling ULM. And if they lose to the Cavaliers …
Whatever. Game off.
Here’s the problem. Going to a bowl game is barely a break-even proposition, and more often than not, it’s a big loss for the school after buying up the ticket allotment, sending the band, sending all the personnel, feeding everyone, sticking them in hotels, and on and on and on. But playing a home game?
Of course it’s more than this, but turn the lights on, sell tickets, cook up some hot dogs, and here we go. There’s a chance to make money here.
So, financially, it might just be in the best interest of the school to lose to Virginia and play Marshall, while letting the kids play more college football, but …
3. I can’t resist. Sorry …
Yeah, yeah, if IFs and BUTs were candy and nuts, Papa Neal would be Nana Nelly. BUT … IF you did a schedule swap …
You’ve seen UCF play. It couldn’t stop Temple, should’ve lost to Memphis, and was solid in the win over Cincinnati. Give it credit for blowing away Pitt, so it could absolutely hang with just about anyone in a Power Five conference, but it’s always about the game after game of body shots taken against those teams.
What if you gave the Knights, say, the Vanderbilt schedule.
Middle Tennessee (WIN), Nevada (WIN), Notre Dame (50/50, but let’s say LOSS), South Carolina (Ehhhh, LOSS), Tennessee State (WIN), at Georgia (LOSS), Florida (Ehhhhh, LOSS), at Kentucky (Ehhhh, UCF would absolutely win at least one of these … WIN), at Arkansas (WIN), at Missouri (I say loss, but I’ll give them this WIN), Ole Miss (WIN), Tennessee (WIN).
Give or take a +/- 1.5 margin of error on this, realistically, UCF would be around 7-4 right now. At reasonable best, 8-3.
Now, forget the brand name. if you’ve been paying attention, Vanderbilt has been solid and competitive against most of its rough slate. It’s a win against Tennessee away from going bowling, so let’s say it gets the UCF schedule …
at UConn (WIN), South Carolina State (WIN), Florida Atlantic (WIN), Pitt (Ehhhh, UCF rocked the Panthers, but let’s play here and say LOSS), SMU (WIN), at Memphis (WIN), at East Carolina (WIN), Temple (again, let’s be weird and say LOSS), Navy (WIN), Cincinnati (WIN).
Being generous, Vanderbilt is probably 9-2, at worst 8-4, and potentially 11-0.
2. Michigan State’s run defense
To be fair, this is compared to some other teams – like a few at Alabama – who did this playing more games.
In raw rushing yards allowed, Michigan State is in the mix to pull off something special after leading the nation in rushing yards allowed last year -giving up 1,239 – even though Alabama allowed fewer per game, and played one extra game.
The Spartans lead the nation in run D, allowing just 78.9 yards per game and 868 on the season. Texas A&M (911), Marshall (915 in ten games) and Clemson (927) are right there, too, but with Rutgers up next on the schedule – averaging 136 rushing yards per game – if Sparty comes up with a big performance, it could finish the regular season going under the 1,000 rushing yards allowed mark.
2016 Alabama gets all the credit for allowing 959 yards in 15 games, and the Tide gave up 938 in 2011. To beat the 938, MSU has to allow a total of fewer than 70 yards against Rutgers and in the bowl.
It gave up eight to Northwestern, 26 against Maryland, and on the year, allowed fewer than 70 yards in seven games.
1. The Les Miles experience
It sort of flew under the radar, but it really is amazing that Kansas got Les Miles.
The Jayhawk football program now has one of just five current college football head coaches who have won a national championship, and Nick, Urban, Dabo and Jimbo are all on a first-name basis with America.
The guy was – probably – a West Virginia win over Pitt in 2007 away from being the Michigan head coach. Or, at least really, really close to getting the gig, but LSU backed into the BCS Championship and won the thing.
He was this close to a second national title if Alabama hadn’t found its way in to the BCS Championship in 2011- despite losing to LSU earlier in the year at home – and there but for a flickering play-clock in a wild loss to Auburn in 2016, he’s still probably in Baton Rouge.
Whether it works out or not, Kansas got one of those guys.
It’s not going to be boring.