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 Big 12 decided not to expand, which seemed inevitable from about the second week. Obviously we had to go through the whole charade anyway, with David Boren taking advantage of every hot mic.
Obviously Oklahoma and Texas run the conference, and the rest are just hangers-on. Listen to Iowa State AD Jamie Pollard’s comments, wherein he seems both bullish about the conference’s future while also saying things like “without [Oklahoma and Texas] we’re the Mountain West.”
Brian Hall: Other than ‘Bama, who bench pressed Tennessee for like three hours, just about every top-ten team had to fight and scrap for a win on Saturday. Ohio State went down to the wire with Wisconsin in what was easily the best game of the weekend, Louisville took a very long time to properly discard Duke, and Clemson needed a missed NC State field goal to send the game to overtime, in which they’d win the game. The fun and exciting angle of this is, “Hey! Anybody can beat anybody and that’s going to make the race to the playoff that much more exciting!” and the realistic and sad angle is that it doesn’t matter because the title is just kind of Alabama’s to lose at this point.
Derek Hernandez: ESPN Gameday’s giggle fest segment. Look, does Nebraska have top 10 talent? Probably not. Has their schedule been soft up to this point? Definitely. But talk about those points rather than giggle like little school girls remembering an inside joke.
Chris Hatch: Parity. There is no one really out there reaching out and snatching my attention, other than Alabama. It reminds me of another contest that is taking place in a highly publicized way where everyone seems to be lamenting the lack of legitimate, strong options. Only there, we HAVE to pick someone.
Doug Palmer: The separation of the Top 6 and the rest of college football. I know Clemson tried really hard to Clemson and lose but they’ve shown they can pull out close games recently. Alabama is the clear no. 1 right now but I think Ohio State’s close win over Wisconsin is going to prove to be a good one. The Michigan/Ohio State game later in the year appears to be headed to de facto playoff-game status. Washington is still rolling along. After that? Louisville is almost there but that loss to Clemson will probably keep them out. Nebraska, Baylor and West Virginia are all unbeaten but still have a lot of questions. Wisconsin is an excellent football team with two losses already, thanks to a brutal schedule. I don’t see the top 4 changing much, other than possibly Michigan jumping Ohio State, for the rest of the season.
Game you’re overreacting to the most from last week.
Taylor: West Virginia hammering Texas Tech. While I enjoyed the relative parity in the Big 12 these past few seasons (55-52 games are so much fun), 2016 seems to have a much clearer divide: West Virginia, Baylor, and Oklahoma are your frontrunners, TCU might be hanging around, and the rest look like garbage. The Mountaineers have quietly developed one of the conference’s most consistent defenses and finally have the passing game dialed in on the arm of Skyler Howard. And most importantly, they host TCU, Baylor, and Oklahoma.
Brian: Weird and bad opinion incoming: I’m very over Clemson. I have been since they came out flat to start the season. I don’t care that DeShaun Watson is an exciting player or that the defense is so utterly dominant at times. I’m tired of watching a team that got utterly befuddled by Alabama in last season’s National Championship Game just sort of mosey through the season, only showing up and looking great for exactly one game thus far. So when NC State had a chance to knock the Tigers off of the rickety and poorly-built thrown that sits atop the ACC, I was low-key excited. Of course, because I can’t have nice things, the Wolfpack missed the game-winning field goal, and the Tigers survived in overtime. Consider me on the Louisville bandwagon, but the Cardinals are more exciting and haven’t shown that they can’t actually beat Alabama within the last year, so yeah, I’d prefer they got the nod to the playoff.
Derek: Colorado whomping on Arizona State. Are the Buffs back or is the Pac 12 just that bad?
Chris: Alabama decimating Tennessee with a lot of Jalen Hurt’s legs. I’m going to start calling him Hurt Reynolds just so I can call Saban & Kiffin Smoky and the Bandit.
Doug: Alabama/Tennesee. It wasn’t a surprise that Alabama won but it was a surprise that Tennesee never even had a chance. Tennesee has had some close calls and some lucky breaks late but that is often the sign of a good team. Finding a way to win and all that. It seemed like everything went wrong for them against Alabama last week and I don’t know how they bounce back from that. Luckily, the SEC East is still theirs for the taking. If that means they play Alabama again..well, good luck to the Vols.
Game you’re most excited to watch this week.
Taylor: Has to be A&M/Bama, where Sumlin’s boys are the last hope for the field to topple the Tide barring some complete disaster.
Brian: Imagine the largest number you can think of. Is it even a number? Is it infinity? In elementary school, kids used to top “times infinity” with “times googolplex”, which is effectively 10 to the 10100th power. That makes it less than infinity, by definition, but elementary school children are seldom known for their understanding of complex exponents and their relation to infinity. But anyway, one of the previously mentioned numbers is going to be about how much Washington scores on Oregon State this weekend.
Derek: Texas A&M and Bama. This is more or less the Tide’s final hurdle to the CFP as they’ll wax anyone from the East in the SEC Championship game.
Chris: A&M vs Bama. Johnny Football isn’t walking through that door, or stumbling through if we’re going for accuracy. So it’ll be up to Trevor Knight to recapture Katy Perry and the nation’s attention.
Doug: NC State/Louisville. Louisville’s only loss this season was a tough game on the road against Clemson. Clemson struggled last week against NC State. Does transivite property apply here or was it just a fluke last week for the Wolfpack? Lamar Jackson probably keeps running wild but I’m curious if NC State can’t at least keep it close.
Your playoff as of right now and why.
Taylor: The teams are unchanged from last week, but the order is. Again, if the season ended today: 1. Ohio State: the Buckeyes survived a vicious upset bid from Wisconsin at a rowdy Camp Randall and lived to tell the tale, they continue to earn this spot. 2. Alabama: moves up from the fourth spot with its domination of Tennesee. How many whole teams has the Tide’s defense outscored? 3. Michigan: Jim Harbaugh spent the bye week eating footballs, probably. 4. Clemson: Beat Louisville, which to me is slightly more impressive than Washington’s obliterations of Stanford and Oregon, but only slightly so.
Brian: 1.) Alabama 2.) Ohio State/Michigan 3.) Washington 4.) Clemson
Just Missed: Texas A&M, Louisville, Ohio State/Michigan
Alabama got that quality win that everyone has been harping on them about. If winning against a beaten up and maybe not as good as their record appears to indicate Tennessee team isn’t enough, the Tide host Texas A&M this weekend. If A&M wins, they vault into the playoff picture. When the Tide win, they’re here to stay unless they lose a dumb game (*looks hopefully at the trip to Baton Rouge next week*). Ohio State has the better resume, but I’m still not convinced they can beat Michigan. However, I will continue to be indecisive on which will make the playoff if only to make both fan bases very mad about being grouped together in such fashion. Washington chose to spare some poor souls by not playing last weekend, but make up for it by drawing Oregon State coming out of the bye. At this point, it appears that the only way the Huskies lose is in a very weird game to a lesser team and PLEASE LET IT BE THE APPLE CUP. Also, Clemson gets in purely by record, I guess, and because Louisville didn’t beat Duke by enough to warrant their jumping ahead of the Tigers.
Derek: 1) Bama 2) Ohio State 3) Clemson 4) Washington
Bama has been super impressive against ranked foes in back-to-back weeks, Ohio State just proved they can win a close one, Clemson just finds ways to win and they are experienced and Washington is by far the class of the Pac 12.
Chris: 1) Alabama. 2) Ohio State 3) Washington 4) Clemson
Doug: 1) Alabama – They put themselves here until they lose and make it more emphatic each week that they play. 2) Ohio State/Michigan – probably winner of the Big Ten gets the 2nd spot. 3) Clemson – Despite some close games, they’re still winning. 4) Washington – class of the PAC-12 so far and an unbeaten season gets them in.