Five questions. Five answers. Five opportunities for me to bare my soul with you.
1. Missouri may be the biggest surprise of 2013 with a 7-0 record and a No. 5 ranking in both the AP and BCS polls. With a two game lead in their division will the Tigers make it to the SEC title game?
The easy answer right now is to say yes. Two out of the three presumptive division favorites (Florida & Georgia) have three overall losses and fallen from the ranked teams. However, South Carolina still looms and would you look at that the Gamecocks travel to Missouri this weekend.
Missouri's odds still look good to lock up the division but a loss this weekend to the Ol' Ball Coach could be devastating. The Tigers remaining schedule isn't terribly difficult but they still have a road game at Ole Miss plus home games against A&M and plucky Tennessee. They're sky high right now but a 10-2 season is still very possible.
I think South Carolina wins and Missouri falls apart down the stretch. I just can't see them in the conference title game. Too weird. Not ready for that.
2. Based on resume, who are your top 7 teams in the country heading into the weekend?
No. 1 Alabama
They don't have a huge win right now but victories over Va Tech, A&M, and Ole Miss are solid enough. Especially when you've only given up 16 points total over the last 5 games. The machine rolls on.
No. 2 Florida State
Their schedule is fairly weak but they just demolished a Clemson team that could still be a top 5 team. The Seminoles look like they've turned a corner in recent weeks.
No. 3 Oregon
Their win over Washington has since been quite devalued and their blowouts over Tennessee and Virginia are just okay. They'll have the opportunity to jump up the ranking in the coming weeks.
No. 4 Missouri
They've beaten Vanderbilt, Georgia, and Florida in three straight weeks. That's not as impressive as it would have seemed in the pre-season but it's still impressive.
No. 5 Ohio State
They have wins over Wisconsin and Northwestern right now. With all apologies to Iowa I think Buffalo might be the Buckeyes third best win right now which is saying something.
No. 6 Baylor
You could put them ahead of Ohio State based on the Bears demolishing a UB team the Buckeyes somewhat struggled to put away. Still, Baylor's schedule so far has been ridiculously weak.
No. 7 Stanford
I thought about putting Miami here but the Canes best win is over a Florida team that is reeling and the Cardinal, despite a loss, have beat Arizona State, Washington, and previously unbeaten UCLA. That's a better resume.
3. Let's say Notre Dame finishes the regular season at 9-3. Without taking into account all the bowl tie-in nonsense, who would be some of the teams you'd like to see the Irish play in the post-season in terms of entertainment, intrigue, and quality of matchup?
I'll take one team from each of the major conferences who might end the season around the same record as the Irish.
Virginia Tech- We've never played the Hokies and I look forward to doing so in the future. But first, a nice crack at their defense would be a good post-season test.
Oklahoma State- Also another team Notre Dame has never played. This could be a really fun game.
Wisconsin- How we've gone almost 50 years without playing the Badgers is a mystery.
UCLA- The Vanderdoes Bowl.
South Carolina- Since Steve Spurrier loves Notre Dame so much why not get this game going? We also haven't played the Gamecocks in nearly 30 years.
Wouldn't it be great if in the future non-playoff teams ditched the bowl games and negotiated their own post-season games with opponents?
4. With the big shakeup in the SEC over the past weekend (A&M, LSU, Georgia, Florida, South Carolina all lost) how much danger is the conference's national title streak in right now?
I think it's still safe for now with Alabama still standing strong. Their third toughest test the rest of the way is this week against Tennessee and the Tide are 28.5 point favorites. They have LSU in a couple weeks but that's at home and the Tigers don't look nearly as frightening as a month ago. And does anyone really think Auburn is going to win the Iron Bowl?
Alabama should get to the SEC Title Game where they'll play some 1 or 2-loss team (Missouri or South Carolina) and likely be double-digit favorites. For their mighty standards under Saban getting to the BCS Title Game right now really shouldn't be that hard.
Ah, but the team who meets them there could offer a big test. Ohio State might get there but I don't think they're capable of beating Saban with that much time to plan. I want to say Florida State could win it all, but I'm not prepared to make that statement right now when the Seminoles are really living off one big win (and it was a huge one). I just want to see more.
I think they might be able to do it this year. In my opinion this is the best Ducks team ever from what I've seen. Their defense certainly looks better than ever creating a ton of takeaways and Marcus Mariota is currently on pace for 4,000 passing yards, 40 touchdowns, and ZERO interceptions. What's more, the Oregon offense really hasn't taken major advantage of a running quarterback quite like they have this year. In past seasons the Ducks QB would get a healthy 600 yards, which is nothing to sneeze at, but Mariota is pushing towards 1,000 yards at 10.0 per carry(!!) and 20 more scores rushing.
Mariota is exactly the kind of player who could de-throne Alabama, and wouldn't it be such a great story to see Oregon win it all the first year after Chip Kelly left Eugene?
We'll know a lot more about Oregon in two weeks. If they beat UCLA and Stanford---and convincingly---the Ducks might cruise to the BCS Title Game easier than Alabama. If you're asking me today I'll still pick the Crimson Tide to keep the SEC title streak alive, though.
5. What's been the biggest mistake the College Football Playoff has made since it was announced the current post-season would be changed following this season?
I've been a huge proponent of a college football playoff and for the most part I think they've done a decent job of setting this new system up. I'm not too concerned about the committee but there's something that really bugs me and has since they announced the new set up.
I really hate that their playing the semi-final games in a rotating basis among the Rose, Sugar, Orange, Cotton, Chick-fil-A, and Fiesta Bowls.
I'm fine with bidding out the national title game to a different location each year like the Super Bowl, but keeping the bowl sites involved with the playoff is so stupid. Not only does it feed the corrupt bowl executives who suckle off the teet of college football without doing much work at all on an annual basis, it denies us the ability to see all sorts of great matchups on campuses.
Florida up at Ohio State in January? Nope, sorry that'll be in New Orleans.
Oregon going down to Tuscaloosa? That's too bad how does bland Sun Life Stadium sound?
The atmospheres would be 4 million times better on campus, the home team can make so much more money (they can share the profits with the visiting team), and it would be insanely easier to sell out the games. Instead, we'll get stale atmospheres, more money funneled to execs, and fans having to shell out hundreds more dollars to watch these games.
My plan was to completely remove the bowls from the system---almost make them like a more important version of the NIT Tournament in college basketball. Luckily, I think at some point we'll move to this type of system as the playoff inevitably expands to 8 and possibly 16 teams. It would be a complete farce for teams (and fans) to travel to 3 or 4 neutral site destinations and for the title winning team to have come away with multiple "bowl" wins in one season.
Play the damn games on campus.