The Huddle: Championship Week

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Welcome to The Huddle, in which the college football writers at No Coast Bias share their thoughts on the season so far, and what’s yet to come. Join us each week as we cover the most interesting stories, compelling matchups, and of course, updated playoff picks each week. Let’s get to it.

Most interesting thing from last week.

Taylor Venema: The damn Game, especially the second half. Wilton Speight gifted the Buckeyes a touchdown with an interception. Urban Meyer gifted one right back with a fake punt inside his own twenty. J.T. Barrett ran an exceptional four-minute drill. Tyler Durbin went #collegekickers but hit the one he needed to. Curtis Samuel ran 70 yards to gain eight. Barrett either definitely did or didn’t get a first down. It was everything we dreamed it would be. And both sides have plenty to argue about over the offseason.

Brian Hall: Too hard to pin just one thing down from last weekend, as rivalry weekend was excessively dope. The Game actually lived up to the immense hype that it had coming in, Memphis played their asses off to spoil Tom Herman’s going away party, Navy and Pitt dropped 75 and 76, respectively. This was a weekend full of stuff to take in, and while it wasn’t all amazing, it had a bit of everything, which is sometimes what you need.

Derek Hernandez: The internet’s immediate reaction to the Ohio State/Michigan game. Anytime a moment can make everyone go all Zapruder on a particular play, you know you’ve struck a nerve.

Chris Hatch: Coachella. That’s the name of the wild, rave-style party of coaches getting thrown around on the neon-hued cocaine tilt-a-whirl that is college football’s coaching offseason. We had Tom Herman attempting ocular homicide on ESPN’s reporters when they asked him about leaving, telling us not to read “the papers” (Which, I’m not sure what he’s referring to. Like, paper white on a kindle? What are these “papers” you speak of, Tom?) and then immediately bolting to go get paid at Texas. Now we’ve got the Helf on the Shelf getting canned at Oregon and rumors running rampant there. It’s going to be fun.

Doug Palmer: This pretty much just happened but the firing of Mark Helfrich up in Oregon. One bad year (and yes, it was BAD) and Oregon goes crazy and fires their coach. I’m starting to think that Oregon puts themselves on the same pedestal as an Ohio State or Alabama where they can dominate year in and year out. The problem is that, with that talent, you’re going to have up and down seasons. Granted, 4-8 is a tough sell and you can totally blame having two transfer QBs in a row on Helfrich but Oregon isn’t at that level. Phil Knight’s billions haven’t bought them decent defensive play or top 10 recruiting classes.

Game you’re overreacting to the most from last week.

Taylor: Vanderbilt completed the SEC East Circle of Depression with its 45-34 win over Tennessee. In a division that lacks an elite team, one has to ask: does it even have an average team?

Brian: Can we quietly appreciate how much better the PAC12 is at this point in the season than it was coming out of non-conference play? USC was a dumpster fire in September but according to some folks in Vegas, if the gamblers were in charge of the rankings, the Trojans would currently be ranked third or so. That’s pretty good. Then you’ve got Washington still looking good, and Colorado(!!!) surprising everyone with a PAC12 title game appearance. Wazzu has impressed after a slow start (excluding the Apple Cup, obviously) and other than a program or two (side-eyes Oregon and UCLA) the PAC12 has easily shown the most improvement over the course of the year. Pretty good for a conference that people immediately wrote off at the start of the year.

Derek: Iowa laying the smack down on Nebraska. I’ll just leave it at that since the game didn’t sit well with me. Alright, I have one comment: I’D BE ALL FOR BLOODBATH PRACTICES IF WE (NU) HAD ACTUAL DEPTH. That is all.

Chris: Michigan VS Ohio State. It kinda feels like they should both be in the playoff, doesn’t it? I mean, really? I don’t know if I’m overreacting to it, so much as stating what we all kind of know: the Big Ten is dope this year. Or maybe college football is just a complete mess. Either way: I would totally be cool with Ohio State and Michigan playing again in the playoff even though they didn’t make the championship game this year.

Doug: Memphis/Houston. I just kind of found it funny that the Golden Gift to Coaching lost to SMU, Memphis and Navy this season. And now he’s at Texas so that should be just fine.

Game you’re most excited to watch this week.

Taylor: The Pac-12. The last time Jake Browning played an elite defense (USC) he came to pieces, so I’m curious to see how he rebounds against a Colorado team that can get them off the field.

(I want to say Big Ten but we all know Michigan-Ohio State was the real Big Ten championship.)”

Brian: Clemson/Virginia Tech – The PAC12 title game has its own fascinations, but I’m much more excited for two turnover-prone teams with solid defenses to square off for the ACC title. Virginia Tech could shock Clemson if the Tigers let them stick around long enough, and this game could really shake things up ahead of the playoff rankings Sunday.

Derek: Washington/CU. I’m just salivating over the fact the Huskies are going to roll all over the Buffs and end their smoke and mirrors season.

Chris: Pac 12 Title Game. I am fascinated by the rise of the Huskies and the seemingly inexplicable play of the once-lowly Buffs. It’s gonna be lit. And not just because both fan bases are going to be legally able to be actually lit. If Washington wins, I would be fine with them being in the CFB playoffs. If Colorado wins, I’m going to be hotter than the temperature of a urine balloon that their fans are probably going to chuck onto the field even if they win.

Doug: Pac 12. I don’t really think any of the other games will be competitive. A lot of people have been knocking Washington for their weak schedule *looks at Clemson* but a win over a pretty good Colorado team would definitely get them in the playoffs. If Colorado can upset, however, it would probably put two Big Ten teams into the CFP and I’m all for that.

Your playoff as of right now and why.

Taylor: “1. Ohio State. Yeah I bumped ‘Bama because they A I N ‘ T P L A Y E D N O B O D Y. Fight me IRL. 2. ‘Bama. (ain’t played nobody.) 3. Clemson. On a weekend when it would have been excusable to let South Carolina hang around and escape with a win, they went to work and dominated. 4. The winner of the Big Ten title game this weekend.

Just missed: The Big 12 and Pac-12 champs. Sorry y’all.”

Brian: “1. Ohio State 2. Alabama 3. Clemson 4. Western Michigan

Just Missed: Washington, Penn State, Wisconsin, several others TBH

I agree with Taylor, the Tide ain’t played no-damn-body. “”But the ES-EE-SEE!”” you shout at your screen. Ok, let’s look at the SEC through 2016. In 2016, four of the five Power Five conferences have at least three nine-win teams. The conference that doesn’t? The SEC, which has exactly one (1). The conference with the most, the Big Ten, has five, which is how many bowl-eligible teams are in the SEC West, the once-scariest division in college football. Ohio State has played six nine-win teams. Alabama has only played two. ‘Bama ain’t played nobody.

As for the other two – Clemson can get in because Louisville has imploded in the last three weeks, and Western Michigan deserves a spot for being undefeated. I don’t care about a PAC12 champion (even if Washington is a great team that could actually make some noise in the playoff), any team that goes undefeated at the FBS level deserves a shot.”

Derek: ‘Bama + 3 B1G teams because why not.

Chris: Should Alabama scrimmage itself on live TV? 1) Alabama. 2) Ohio State 3) Washington 4) Clemson? I would love for Clemson to lose, Alabama to somehow choke away a sure-fire championship season, and chaos to reign. The first one is possible. The second? Doubtful.

Doug: 1) Alabama – although I am very scared of Taylor’s threat to fight…. 2) Ohio State – a lot of people don’t want a non-conference champ to be in but as long as the Playoff criteria is “a bunch of people pick them” then OSU gets in. They’re playing really well right now. 3) Clemson – I hate them and their schedule is weak sauce but they’re getting in. Whatever, leave me alone. 4) Washington – because I assume they will beat Colorado in a tight game therefore they will beat Colorado by 30.

Bowl Matchup You’d Most Like to See.

Taylor: Navy versus a legit Power Five squad, preferably of the 9-3-to-10-2 variety. The Mids are racking up video game numbers with a third string quarterback and I want to see how they fare against a top team. (Now that I’ve said this Temple will shut them out Saturday.)

Brian: I know I said I’d have the Broncos in my playoff, but that isn’t going to happen per the committee’s rankings and explanations and so forth, so that would leave me with Western Michigan and Penn State in the Cotton Bowl. There’s a chance that Navy actually bumps a 13-0 team out of the NY6 bowl, but if we pretend that doesn’t happen, that would let PJ and his boys prove themselves on a very big stage, and against a team that would’ve just lost it’s conference title game and missed a possible playoff bid. Also, I very much want to see Penn State suffer for reasons that don’t have much to do with football, and I won’t apologize for that. Row the damn boat, Broncos.

Derek: Washington vs.’Bama – Despite their hiccup against USC, I’m still really high on this team. Chris Peterson is a master at being the underdog and I think he’ll have his squad more than ready for this potential CFP matchup.

Chris: I saw a projection that would pit Colorado against Oklahoma State in the Alamo bowl. I think that opportunity for us to watch a game played in the shadow of the Alamo, by a head coach (Mike Gundy) who is currently styling his hair into a human coonskin cap would be fantastic. Also, weed jokes about Colorado.

Doug: Tennessee vs Life. Butch Jones already declared Tennessee to be the champions of life but I’d like to see them prove it on the field.

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Brian likes all sports to a varying degree that ranges from mild interest to intense obsession. He primarily writes about college football, the NBA, and pop culture, but will also write about other, more obscure things when his superiors allow it. He also doesn't care in the slightest for Bruce Springsteen, which separates him from 98% of all other sports writers.

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