For those that clamored for a playoff, you got your wish. Sure, the new playoff system doesn’t start until 2014, but if we look carefully, the playoffs have really begun right now! We have four remaining undefeated teams in the top-5 that are playing for two spots in the title game. Who may or may not have the inside track? Lets take a quick peek.
I think the majority of the nation would agree that if Alabama wins their remaining games (Texas A&M, West Carolina, Auburn, SEC title game), they are as much of a lock to go to Miami as any of the unbeaten teams. Alabama survived a scare in Death Valley this past weekend, only to see the finish line in front of them. They need to be careful though because Texas A&M and their super freshman Johnny Manziel could present a bit of a problem for a defense that was definitely worn down by games end last week. Assuming Alabama gets past the Aggies, I would expect smooth sailing until the reach the SEC title game, most likely against Georgia. In the end, it would seem the number-1 team in the country controls their own destiny to get to the title game.
Oregon would now seem like the most likely partner for Alabama in the title game. Chip Kelly’s squad is an offensive juggernaut to say the least. I’m not even sure video games set on the easiest level could match the offensive output that the Ducks are capable of getting. Oregon literally outscored USC Saturday night in the Coliseum. USC really didn’t play that bad of a game yet they lost by double digits and gave up 62 points. In fact, Oregon has scored at least 42 points in every game they have played thus far (Oregon leads the nations in average points scored per game with 54.3). The remaining games for the Ducks include @ Cal, Stanford, @ Oregon State, Pac-12 Title game. Of the undefeated top-5 teams, Oregon has the toughest remaining schedule, but winning out will also improve their strength of schedule enough that they should be able to leapfrog Kansas State in the BCS rankings. At this point, some wagering sites have listed Alabama as a 4-point favorite over Oregon right now. Interesting!
Kansas State is playing some of its best football right now. Wildcats quarterback Collin Klein, nicknamed Optimus Klein, has not only given his team a shot at the national title, but also he has given himself a chance at the Heisman Trophy. Klein left Saturday night’s game against Oklahoma State with what is believed to be concussion-like symptoms. Early reports out of Manhattan say he is doing well and is likely to play this weekend. Kansas State plays a tough schedule to end the year @ TCU, @ Baylor, Texas). The bonus / problem for Kansas State is that there is no Big 12 title game. Many teams, especially those in conferences like the Big Ten prior to last year, used to loathe the fact that their season was over in November while other teams played either into December or had conference championship games with which to impress voters. Kansas State will essentially be done at the end of November. So, while the Wildcats only have to win 3 more games to finish unbeaten, they also won’t have a chance to impress voters after that either. It would seem that unless either Oregon or Alabama loses or has a poor showing, Kansas State will be left out of the national title picture.
Finally, Notre Dame would present the longest odds of making the title game out the four top-rated undefeated teams. The Irish have been a breath of fresh air this season as their magical run to an unbeaten season continues. The Irish were fortunate to remain without a loss after a 14-point come-from-behind victory over Pittsburgh this past weekend. Notre Dame took advantage of the Panthers miscues and made the plays they had to in order to come out on top. Unfortunately for Notre Dame and their fans, the Irish’s strength of schedule, compared to the other top teams is likely to go down. Notre Dame’s remaining schedule looks like this: @ Boston College, Wake Forest, @ USC. Most certainly voters will be tuning in to see how the Irish are able to do out in SoCal, but they are in a no-win spot by playing Boston College and Wake Forest. If they win by large margins, well, they were supposed to do that. If they lose, that’s even worse. Close games are also no good for a team that really needs to impress voters. While Notre Dame has had a remarkable season, one that many outside the program did not think was possible this year, I just don’t see how Notre Dame makes the title game without both Oregon and Kansas State losing a game along the way.
Some other teams that have title game aspirations would be the Georgia Bulldogs and Ohio State Buckeyes. For Georgia its clear that their only shot at getting to the title game is to win the SEC title over an undefeated Alabama team as well as having two of the three other unbeatens (Kansas State, Oregon, Notre Dame) lose a game. While that is not impossible, it does seem like a stretch.
Ohio State presents an interesting case because they are under NCAA sanctions. As such, they are ineligible to participate in a bowl game as well as assume a ranking in the USA Today Coaches Poll and BCS rankings. How can Ohio State win the national title then? Well, they are still ranked 5th in the latest AP poll and if Alabama, Oregon, Kansas State, and Notre Dame all lose prior to the bowl games, it could be possible an undefeated Ohio State team gets the nod as national champion. It seems unlikely a split national champion would be crowned, but that is why college football is unique and exciting.
So, with the college football’s regular season winding down, the intrigue and the excitement is just heating up. Time and time again I hear about November games are what separate the title contenders from the pretenders. It seems like this year is just another example where that adage is proven correct. I can’t wait to see what’s going to happen as we come down the stretch.
OK, before we take a look at the games we have on tap for week #11, let’s quickly take a look back at how my “prime-3″ games and extra points picks for week#9 fared (Sorry I missed last week!).
For Full Disclosure:
“Prime-3″ Picks from week #9 – 1-2 ATS, 0-3 SU. On the season, my record stands at 13-14 ATS, and 14-13 SU.
Extra Points Picks (ATS) from last week – 12-10-0. On the season, my record stands at 82-61-2.
…As always, I will try and do better this week!
In this week’s installment of “prime-3″, we will turn our attention to the number-1 team in the country and see how they fare after their emotional win last week. We will then look at a game pitting two Pac-12 North teams, and finally we delve into a Big Ten match-up that will have Legend’s Division title implications.
We start with a look at some key match-ups involving the #15 Texas A&M Aggies and #1 Alabama Crimson Tide. We then shift our focus out west as Pac-12 teams #11 Oregon State and #14 Stanford duke it out for 2nd place in the Pac-12’s Northern Division. Finally, we look at a Big Ten tilt that has Legend’s Division ramifications. The Penn State Nittany Lions travel to Lincoln to do battle with the #16 Nebraska Cornhuskers.
And, without further ado, let’s get to the “Prime-3″ games!