Hey Irish fans, it's hockey season! Let's take a look at the teams whose opportunities for a successful season are still alive. A group which, just in case it wasn't clear enough, does not include Notre Dame.
The Official Committee Rankings
|Rank||Team||Last week||Week 13 result||Toughest opponent left (per F/+)||If the season ended today ...|
|1||Alabama (10-1)||1||Won 48-14 vs. Western Carolina||Auburn||Sugar Bowl vs. Mississippi State|
|2||Oregon (10-1)||2||Won 44-10 vs. Colorado||Oregon State||Rose Bowl vs. Florida State|
|3||Florida State (11-0)||3||Won 20-17 vs. Boston College||Florida||Rose Bowl vs. Oregon|
|4||Mississippi State (10-1)||4||Won 51-0 vs. Vanderbilt||Ole Miss||Sugar Bowl vs. Alabama|
|5||TCU (9-1)||5||Idle||Texas||New Year's bowl|
|6||Ohio State (10-1)||6||Won 42-27 vs. Indiana||Michigan||New Year's bowl|
|7||Baylor (9-1)||7||Won 49-28 vs. Oklahoma State||Kansas State||New Year's bowl|
|8||UCLA (8-3)||9||Won 38-20 vs. No. 19 USC||Stanford||New Year's bowl|
|9||Georgia (9-2)||10||Won 55-9 vs. Charleston Southern||Georgia Tech||Orange Bowl vs. Georgia Tech|
|10||Michigan State (9-2)||11||Won 45-3 vs. Rutgers||Penn State||New Year's bowl|
|11||Arizona (9-2)||15||Won 42-10 at No. 17 Utah||Arizona State|
|12||Kansas State (9-2)||12||Won 26-20 at West Virginia||Baylor|
|13||Arizona State (9-2)||13||Won 52-31 vs. Washington State||Arizona|
|14||Wisconsin (8-2)||16||Won 26-24 at Iowa||Minnesota|
|15||Auburn (8-3)||14||Won 31-7 vs. Samford||Alabama|
|16||Georgia Tech (9-2)||18||Idle||Georgia||Orange Bowl vs. Georgia|
|17||Missouri (9-2)||20||Won 29-21 at Tennessee||Arkansas|
|18||Minnesota (8-3)||25||Won 28-24 at No. 23 Nebraska||Wisconsin|
|19||Ole Miss (8-3)||8||Lost 30-0 at Arkansas||Mississippi State|
|20||Oklahoma (8-3)||21||Won 44-7 vs. Kansas||Oklahoma State|
|21||Clemson (8-3)||22||Won 28-0 vs. Georgia State||South Carolina|
|22||Louisville (8-3)||24||Won 31-28 at Notre Dame||Kentucky|
|23||Boise State (9-2)||NR||Won 63-14 at Wyoming||Utah State||New Year's bowl|
|24||Marshall (11-0)||NR||Won 23-18 at UAB||Western Kentucky|
|25||Utah (7-3)||17||Lost 42-10 vs. No. 15 Arizona||Colorado|
Overall impression: SEC bias? Hmm... Arizona and Wisconsin both jumped an Auburn team that won. Arizona is an easy one to figure, since they blew out a decent team on the road. Wisconsin squeaked past Iowa, but the guess here is that the committee considered Iowa a more meaningful opponent than Samford and Auburn is getting dinged a bit for losses in consecutive weeks by their two best wins (LSU and Ole Miss). Also, three-loss Ole Miss, despite having a win over Alabama on their resume, fell behind three-loss Minnesota.
The next couple of weeks should be very interesting. Assuming they handle their business against Texas Tech this week, I have a sneaking suspicion that Baylor can vault into the #4 spot by beating #12 Kansas State - that will give them a positive-vibe double whammy of a very good win and the Big 12 title. Stay tuned.
Surprise Team of the Week - Up Mode: The biggest surprise is Minnesota, who got enough credit for beating Nebraska on the road to move from #25 to #18. As Murtaugh would say, Jerry Kill is Doing Good Things™. Good for them.
Surprise Team of the Week - Down Mode: Nobody. I don't see any head-scratchers among the teams that moved down or fell out.
Who's Out This Week:
Once again, nobody. The week's games mostly went as planned, and those that didn't don't really have any significant bearing on the playoff race. This weekend will go a long way towards sorting some of the chaff out, though.
The OFD Ballot
1. Florida State: After squeaking by Boston College on a last-second field goal FSU now has five one-score wins on the year; four of those have come against currently unranked teams. I'm keeping them at #1 as the sole Power 5 undefeated, but as I've noted here over the past few weeks I have no problem with where the committee has them either. They're off this week in advance of their rivalry game with Florida, which could get interesting.
2. Alabama: Played some school with an adjectival compass point in its name, with predictable results. The Iron Bowl is on tap for this weekend; an Auburn win coupled with a Mississippi State win could freeze the Tide out of the playoff. What are the chances Saban is still burning about the miracle finish last year?
3. Oregon: Hammered Colorado as Mariota burnished his Heisman resume a bit further. They'll play Oregon State in Corvallis with the Pac 12 North title already locked up. In the Pac 12 title game, they'll face either UCLA or the winner of the Arizona-Arizona State game if UCLA loses to Stanford. So UCLA.
4. TCU: Sat idle this week and sat still. They'll travel to Austin to face an improving Texas squad on Thursday night that could knock them out of the playoffs.
5. Mississippi State: Led Vandy 37-0 at halftime before cruising to a 51-0 win. As noted above, they are very much alive for the playoffs still if they can get past Ole Miss, which seems increasingly likely with each passing week.
6. Ohio State: Took care of business against Indiana, although the 281 rushing yards (7.8 per carry) that they gave up makes you wonder how their defense would do against elite offenses. They'll host Michigan, who could ease some of the sting of this terrible season by knocking Ohio State out of the playoff picture.
7. Baylor: Clobbered Oklahoma State, who has seen a once-promising season go down the tubes in stunning fashion over the last few weeks, and faces an eminently beatable Texas Tech team in Lubbock this week. They'll have only Kansas State left as an obstacle to the Big 12 title - but would even that be enough to overcome doubts about their schedule?
8. Kansas State: Held off a late charge from West Virginia to eke out the win, and will host the moribund Jayhawks this week. Also mathematically alive for the Big 12 title (would win it with wins over Kansas and Baylor and a TCU loss to Texas or Iowa State), so they have plenty to play for.
9. Michigan State: Beat up on hapless Rutgers and will travel to Penn State to close out their regular season.
10. UCLA: An impressive win in a big rivalry game for UCLA, leaving no doubt about the outcome in their big win over USC. They can lock up the Pac 12 South crown with a home win over Stanford on Friday, as they hold the head-to-head tiebreaker over both Arizona and Arizona State.
11. Georgia: Played some school with an adjectival compass point in its name, with predictable results. They'll host Georgia Tech for Rivalry Week in a game that will have no effect on either's conference title chances - Georgia Tech is in, and Georgia would be in with a Missouri loss to Arkansas.
12. Wisconsin: Melvin Gordon already lost his single-game rushing record, but it's OK - he also became the fastest ever (by carries) to 2,000 rushing yards. And that was just enough to help the Badgers slide past Iowa. They'll host Minnesota for a winner-takes-the-division game.
13. Arizona: Destroyed a decent Utah team that took ASU to overtime, so they jumped the Sun Devils this week. It's kind of academic, though, as they play each other this Friday in Tucson. Bragging rights and an outside shot at the Pac 12 South title are on the line.
14. Arizona State: Struggled with Washington State for three quarters before blowing them away in the fourth. For the rest, see above.
15. Auburn: Logged an impressive win over a solid Stanford defense... Oh, wait, you said Samford. Never mind. They'll be in Tuscaloosa with no chance at winning the division but a big chance to ruin Alabama's postseason plans.
16. Georgia Tech: Sat idle this week and slid up a spot. Cheeseburgers! They have a chance to show us something this weekend against Georgia, although as noted above they've already locked up their spot in the ACC title game. Remember when Florida State had a little trouble with the Citadel, which is an option team? Hmm...
17. Missouri: Held off Tennessee and their eleventy successful-but-failed onside kick recoveries for an impressive road win that kept them on top of the SEC East. They'll host a suddenly dangerous Arkansas team that they'll have to beat to win the division.
18. Ole Miss: Speaking of Arkansas... The Hogs absolutely throttled Ole Miss in a game that was not competitive. The Rebels' only win in their last four games is against Presbyterian, and now they host Mississippi State, who has a humming offense and a lot to play for. This could get ugly.
19. Colorado State: Surprisingly, Jim McElwain had no trouble whatsoever in dismantling Bob Davie's New Mexico squad. They'll close out their regular season this week with a visit to Air Force. They'll need Boise State to lose to Utah State to make it into the Mountain West title game, since Boise State has the tiebreaker over them.
20. Oklahoma: Hammered Kansas and enjoyed true freshman Samaje Perine breaking the week-old single game rushing record with a whopping 427 yards on 34 carries. They'll have a week off before hosting Oklahoma State to close out a disappointing regular season for the preseason #4.
21. Minnesota: Won in Lincoln as 10-point underdogs to keep their Big Ten West title hopes alive. They'll travel to Wisconsin to break the tie atop the division standings.
22. Louisville: Notre Dame had its chances, but still, a solid road win by the Cardinals vaults them back into the top 25. They'll host Kentucky this weekend.
23. Marshall: You wonder why nobody believes in them? They beat UAB 23-18 this week. That's why. They host Western Kentucky on Friday evening... Hey! Wake up!
24. Boise State: If they beat Utah State at home this weekend they'll clinch their spot in the Mountain West title game, where they should be favored comfortably. Could they claim the top Group of Five spot in the New Year's Eve/Day extravaganza with a conference title?
25. Arkansas: Yeah, they belong here. They lost to my current #2 team by 1, to my current #5 team by 7, and they embarrassed decent LSU and Ole Miss teams the last two weeks. It looks like Bielema has this thing moving hard-a-starboard, which should make the rest of the SEC West concerned about 2015. They travel to Mizzou with one more chance to play spoiler.
Rough week for the bottom end of the rankings...
- #19 Nebraska: Upset by Minnesota and lost any chance of getting the division title anyway when Iowa failed to upset Wisconsin.
- #21 Utah: Just didn't have enough to hang with Arizona, recording their fourth loss in the process.
- #22 USC: Never recovered from UCLA's score just before halftime, and also recorded their fourth loss of the season. A proud rivalry will feature two very wounded teams this week in USC and Notre Dame.
- #25 Duke: Lost badly to North Carolina, who as it turns out might actually be the best team Notre Dame has beaten this year. The loss bumped the Blue Devils out of the ACC title game.