SCENE: The playoff selection committee believes they have been cast for the Bravo social commentary-within-social commentary show The People's Couch (yes, this is real). In reality, our sneaky mole has just slapped a Bravo sticker on a webcam and recorded their reactions as the Red Wedding of Week 6 unfolded. Winter Is Coming...
Archie Manning: Anybody else want a hot toddy? Gosh I love these things. Might as well have a few now to prepare for when my Rebels pull their annual collapse.
Barry Alvarez: Let's see that popcorn, get it moving around. No hogging it this time, Gould.
TV Narrator: The royalty of college football gathers for a feast to toast their supremacy. This will be the day that places the elite firmly on the road to the first-ever college football playoff. The strains of various fight songs can be heard drifting daintily through the festivities as we join our heroes.
Tyrone Willingham: I am Groot, I am Groot!
Tom Jernstedt: He says, "Oh boy, this is gonna be great!"
TV Narrator: Oregon, Alabama, Oklahoma, Texas A&M, and UCLA all enter a great ceremonial hall. Oregon stands tall, feigning the mien of a sovereign; Alabama snarls its way through a crowd that knows its fearsome reputation; Oklahoma, fat and happy, strolls along behind; Texas A&M, strong but too unorthodox to be fully accepted by its brethren, walks next self-consciously; UCLA brings up the rear, stepping primly and prettily through the throng.
Steve Wieberg: This really is a sportswriter's dream - the stories practically write themselves. Makes me want to go clock in again at USA Today. By the end of today, we'll have a clear picture of who belongs in the top four.
TV Narrator: Pomp and joyousness are the order of the day - but not for long... The music suddenly changes to a much more ominous melody as our triumphant marchers find inhospitable hosts.
[Oregon is shot by arrows, seemingly from nowhere. A man who was persona non grata in his previous home now boldly thrusts a dagger into the Ducks' collective gut, saying only, "The Pac-12 sends its regards."]
Pat Haden, squealing: AAAAAAAAAAAAAAHH! My conference's clearest path to the playoff!
[Texas A&M flails wildly in self-defense but can't avoid the battle ax swung by Mississippi State, taking the full force of the blow in its soft belly.]
Jeff Long: No! Bulldogs, you know you won't last! Why did you have to ruin someone else? Next thing you know we'll hear...
[From the courtyard comes a fierce growl, then a sharp yelp that sends shivers down each committee member's spine. The cheers filtering through the hall windows carry an unmistakable message - Ole Miss has shot down Alabama.]
Long, dropping his popcorn: Nooooooooooooooooooooo!
Manning: Make me up a darned pitcher of toddies, somebody! I'm tying one on tonight! Laissez le bontemps rouler! Where's Eli? Get Eli on the phone! Yee ha!
[Oklahoma, in its quest to protect its high ranking, rushes valiantly but blindly into the fray, and is cruelly shot with an arrow dipped in horned frog blood. TCU raises its arms in triumph.]
Oliver Luck: Well hell, now we're out too. Yeah, Baylor's up there, but does anyone believe they'll make it to the end? At least the Big Ten can keep us company on the golf course when everyone else is in the playoff.
[UCLA, desperate to salvage some shred of honor, seizes the waterboy - but never sees Utah come up behind and draw a blade across its throat, ending its delicate dreams.]
Haden: We didn't want to let them in. We shouldn't have let them in. They don't KNOW that they're not supposed to mess with everyone else, they're just supposed to be a nice doormat. They... They... [begins to babble incoherently]
Dan Radakovich: Wait... When the music changed... I know that song - is that "The Rains of South Bend"? What does it all mean?
The OFD Top 25
With the carnage of this past weekend, filling out this week's rankings was almost like starting from scratch. I moved some schools around this week given that resume evaluation is a little more doable at this point, so even among teams that won you'll see some changes.
1. Florida State: Teased Wake Forest for a quarter and then put them away. They travel to Syracuse next weekend, a common-opponent matchup that should catch the interest of Irish fans in advance of our next potential Game of the Century in Week 8.
2. Auburn: Destroyed LSU, who apparently is less than we thought they were, but still. I almost jumped them to #1 this week given FSU's occasional shakiness, but then I remembered that Kansas State game. Huge matchup next week as they host Mississippi State.
3. Ole Miss: I really wanted to put Notre Dame here, but honestly, the Rebels' win over Alabama was better than anything we've done to this point. Very impressive job taking Alabama's best shot and finishing them off. They travel to Texas A&M next week in yet another fantastic game.
4. Notre Dame: Words cannot describe the experience of that game. The elements were perfect for Stanford to negate the advantages the Irish held heading into this game, and Notre Dame won anyway. The defense dominated, allowing just 205 total yards and a paltry 19.66% of available yards. Did Golson have a Heisman moment on the game-winning score? The Irish will be tested by the reverse sandwich game next week against doughy North Carolina.
5. Mississippi State: Very impressive win over A&M, but it's not quite enough to jump them into the top four. I think that was an exposure of A&M as a paper tiger, and after LSU's best win, Wisconsin, lost to Northwestern this week and LSU themselves got embarrassed by Auburn, some of the shine is off that win for the Bulldogs. Still, a very impressive season for a team that will face another big test in Auburn next week.
6. Alabama: A tough loss for the Tide, and it showed in Saban's sideline behavior. Wonder if the media will focus on that as tightly as they did on Kelly's purple-faced tirades in the South Florida game? Don't hold your breath, or you'll be purple too before we hear anything... Anyway, tough loss to a tough opponent, so they don't drop too far. They'll travel to Arkansas next week; if Bielema's improved Hogs can somehow pull a major upset, Tuscaloosa may go nuclear.
7. Baylor: Took care of business against unranked Texas, the first non-awful team they've played. Next week they'll play their first ranked opponent, giant-killer TCU. TCU is by far - and I mean like too far to see anything more than a dot - the best team Baylor will have played so far, so this should be interesting. I don't like ranking a Power 5 undefeated behind a 1-loss team, but I think Alabama would win head-to-head.
8. Michigan State: I know, four teams above them in my ranking lost and they only jumped one spot. But tell me Ole Miss and Mississippi State didn't deserve to jump them, or that you think they could beat Alabama head-to-head, and I'll call in a neurologist to take you through the Michigan concussion protocol. They escaped against #21 Nebraska and travel to Purdue next week. Come on, Boilers.
These next two rankings are a little crazy, but... I hadn't been putting any stock in these team's undefeated records. Their performances this week showed how misguided that was.
9. TCU: It's hard to look by resume and put any of the remaining teams ahead of them. They're 4-0 with three demolitions of inferior teams and an impressive win against Oklahoma; they get the nod here over Arizona because I haven't forgotten Arizona's Hail Mary to beat Cal. They'll head to Baylor next week with the chance to make some real noise.
10. Arizona: Why not? They're 5-0; yes they needed that Hail Mary to beat Cal, but a road win at Oregon that showcased their defense and timely running game was very impressive. They host a wounded USC team next week with the chance to really take control of the Pac-12 South. Oh, and Michigan fans: HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.
11. Oklahoma: The Sooners should thank the football gods for the chaos of the weekend, as it prevented them from dropping a few more spots. Hopefully the TCU hangover won't be too severe, as they take on Texas in the Red River Shootout at Jerryworld on Saturday. Texas has been showing signs of life lately - taking UCLA to the wire, crushing Kansas, and giving Baylor a game in the first half before fading. They could make this one interesting.
12. Texas A&M: There was some belief in these quarters that A&M, while a good team, was not close to an elite team; the South Carolina win in the opener looks less impressive as time goes on, and needing overtime to dispatch Arkansas was a warning sign. This week they were humiliated by Mississippi State; they were down 31 before adding two cosmetic scores in the last three minutes to lose by "only" 17. They'll get a chance to prove me wrong next weekend when they host Ole Miss.
13. Georgia: Gave a spanking to Vanderbilt and Derek Mason, whose bottom must be very sore at this point. They won and dropped, but I think Arizona and TCU deserve to be above them and A&M, who smacked around the team that beat Georgia, doesn't deserve to be below them. They'll travel to Missouri this week.
14. Stanford: Perhaps the biggest beneficiary of the mayhem of this weekend, ironically - they lost a tough game on the road against a top opponent, but everyone around them lost too so they won't drop too far. How do you think they would do head-to-head against the next three teams? I'll admit I was wrong and say that their defense is indeed elite, especially the front seven. They can stop any offense in the country, and they'll get a chance to prove it against high-octane Wazzu next week.
15. Ohio State: It's a sign of how wacky this year has been that a team with a convincing home loss to a now-unranked Virginia Tech team can still climb steadily up the rankings. They unsurprisingly took care of business against Maryland, and will have a bye next week - which definitely seems like the smartest weekly strategy this year.
16. Kansas State: Manhandled Texas Tech, who is now officially in a free fall after starting Big 12 play 0-2. They'll also sit home with some delicious cheeseburgers next week.
17. Oklahoma State: Pulled away from sad-sack Iowa State in the second half, although ISU coach Paul Rhoads thought (and was probably right) that they had some significant help from the zebras. They travel to Lawrence next week to take on the headless Jayhawks, which is essentially another bye.
18. Oregon: Showed for the umpteenth time that much more often than not, they fold like a cheap lawn chair when they get punched in the mouth. While the Ducks lost more because of their porous offensive line and inability to stop Arizona with the game on the line than because of quarterback issues, Mariota didn't help his Heisman cause too much in this one with a late fumble that killed the Ducks' chances of mounting a comeback. They'll take on fellow upset victim UCLA on the road in a game that may be won by the team that lets down less.
19. UCLA: I've felt all year that UCLA was overrated and was extraordinarily fortunate to escape against unranked Virginia and unranked Texas when they didn't play very well; they could just as easily be 2-3 as 4-1. The loss to Utah just cemented those feelings. I suspect they have at least two more losses in them - they still have to play Oregon (next week), USC, Arizona, and Stanford.
20. Arizona State: Holy cow, what a finish. Other than watching the entire Michigan program circle the bowl, few things warm my cockles more than watching USC get its heart ripped out, thrown to the ground, and stomped into a pile of pulp. Mmm... An impressive win with their backup quarterback, however it happened; they'll have a bye week to savor it and get Taylor Kelly healthier.
21. East Carolina: Had a soft third quarter against weakling SMU, but otherwise continued their roll. They'll travel to South Florida next week. I know I keep saying this, but it's really a shame their schedule is what it is - we may have to wait until the bowl season to know how good they really are.
22. Missouri: Cheeseburgers. They'll try to carry the momentum from their South Carolina win over to this weekend against Georgia
23. Utah: Very impressive performance to win on the road at UCLA. They sacked Brett Hundley ten times (ten!) and ran the ball at will with the game on the line. Had they not just given away the game against Washington State last week, they'd be sitting pretty right now. That Wazzu loss holds me back from ranking them above UCLA, which bugs me since they just won the head-to-head. They should benefit from some cheeseburgers next week.
24. Nebraska: Came oh-so-close to a comeback for the ages against Michigan State but ultimately fell short. Still, a pretty respectable performance on the road against a top-10 opponent prevents them from dropping out. They'll have a bye week to lick their wounds before traveling to Chicago to take on suddenly-hot Northwestern.
25. Georgia Tech: Not a huge fan of this ranking, but it's kind of by default. They haven't been tested too much and likely won't be until a late-season matchup with Clemson, but still, they're 5-0. Marshall isn't here because their schedule is even softer than Georgia Tech's.
Dropped out: #15 LSU - something smells like burned tiger hair; #16 Wisconsin - losses to Northwestern are inexcusable; #17 BYU - upset by Utah State and lost Taysom Hill for the year, which is about as bad as a game day can get; #22 USC - you should probably keep track of where the other team's best player is on a Hail Mary. Just a suggestion.