The Huddle: Week 9

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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: Texas Tech racked up 59 points and 854 yards, completed 52 passes, earned 42 first downs, and scored touchdowns on five straight second half possessions . . . and still lost. Have the Red Raiders considered flag football?

Brian Hall: ‘Bama completely controlled the entire game against the 6th best team in the country. That wasn’t even a flukey team that’s gotten in by favorable scheduling and stayed there despite squeaking past awful teams *cough cough* sorry, must’ve had something in my throat. Anyways, that’s a very good Texas A&M team with a lot of talent, and the Tide never even looked remotely uncomfortable. Their evolution under Lane Kiffin, of all people, has them looking absolutely terrifying.

Derek Hernandez: Penn State knocking off the Buckeyes. Happy Valley is a tough place to play, but I didn’t think the Nittany Lions would even put up a fight against the Bucks. I was obviously wrong. Is this win what propels James Franklin to success at Penn State? What does this mean for the Buckeyes? How does this affect the B1G’s playoff chances? So many questions coming out of this game.

Chris Hatch: James Franklin defibrillating his career by pulling out the insane win against a struggling Ohio State team. Franklin looked to be in a gigantic bit of trouble had that elusive “signature win.” How will this impact things in the national perspective remains to be seen. but, in the mean time: Urban Meyer pizza memes!

Doug Palmer: Ohio State’s struggles against Penn State. The special teams blow ups are the story of the game but don’t overlook OSU’s middling offensive performance. JT Barrett is an excellent football player but he can’t be expected to make every single play on offense. The Buckeyes are too talented and usually too well coached to let a game like that slip away. Plus, it lends credence to the idea that James Franklin is a good football coach which we had almost proved was totally false.

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

Taylor: While Ohio State’s special teams gaffe-riddled loss to Penn State knocks them out of the top four in the polls, it doesn’t do a thing to eliminate them from Playoff contention. Games against Nebraska and Michigan remain, plus a conference title game. Win out and the Buckeyes are still in.

Brian: LSU has looked excellent ever since they fired Les Miles (that physically hurt to type) and watching Leonard Fournette kill a young defensive back on a football field was very enjoyable. If LSU’s offense can limit mistakes and keep production up, and the defense can contain Jalen Hurts, the Tigers’ tilt with ‘Bama in Baton Rouge could be very fun viewing.

Derek: Auburn pounding Arkansas. Is Gus Malzahn back?

Chris: Copy. Paste. PSU vs Ohio State. I knew that Ohio State was not quite the juggernaut of years past (with minor struggles against lesser foes in the previous couple games) but this one really shifted the course of the Big Ten and the national playoff picture. since it was a night game at Penn State, I guess I should give Ohio State a little break, but this appears to have Michigan firmly in the driver’s seat. That Buckeyes VS Wolverines game is going to be epic.

Doug: I’m also going with Auburn over Arkansas but from the other side. What on Earth happened to Arkansas?

Game you’re most excited to watch this week.

Taylor: Nebraska visiting Wisconsin. While a banged up offensive line will make it hard for the Huskers to move the ball, I haven’t seen anything from the Badgers to say they’ll run away with it either. Nebraska has been the subject of much derision but can prove it belongs this week.

Brian: Hey so we haven’t talked much about how Michigan State isn’t very good this year. Or how they now have to play Michigan. Or how they’re about to play Michigan during a down year that happens to be the year after they won on one of the craziest, most nonsensical, would never happen in a million years plays ever. Also, Michigan is coached by a crazy person who would not soon forget such a play occurred on his watch, lest you happen to.

Derek: Nebraska-Wisconsin. The Huskers will finally play “someone” and the Badgers can continue their quest at being the most legitimate 2-loss team in the land. Camp Randall has been a house of horrors for Nebraska, so it’ll take a complete team effort to knock off the Badgers. Huskers win here and their game against OSU the following week will be gigantic.

Chris: Stop me if you’ve heard this before: Nebraska VS Wisconsin. We are an almost tribally tight knit band of fans and, for once, our perception is reality. “They” actually don’t believe in us. Hell, “we” barely believe in us. And nothing and no one will be able to buy in without an actual big game win against an actual opponent. This game is going to be bananas.

Doug: Nebraska vs Wisconsin. Now we get to find out if Nebraska hasn’t played anyone good OR if Wisconsin has been overrated all along. Just kidding (sort of) but it is really the first true test for Nebraska. Wisconsin is 1-2 so far against the better teams on the schedule. NU is banged up on offense, Wisky on defense. We’ll see who blinks first and the winner has a decent path to the Conference Championship game.

Your playoff as of right now and why.

Taylor: Ohio State’s loss shakes things up a bit. As usual, if the season ended today:

1. Alabama – It took them a few weeks but good Lord the Tide look better than ever. Lane Kiffin must be having a blast. Nick Saban must be miserable. 2. Michigan – The Wolverines get to unleash several years of frustration on a punchless Michigan State team this week. 3. Clemson – To be clear, I think Louisville is the better team, but the Tigers have the tiebreaker. Stinks. 4. Washington – Ohio State’s loss makes room for the Huskies to sneak in. They can solidify their place with a decisive win over Utah in Salt Lake City this week.

Just missed: Ohio State, who can win out and easily make it in as a one-loss conference champ. Louisville, which is clearly one of the nation’s most dominant teams but needs Clemson to lose twice to have a realistic chance. And I see you out there, undefeated Nebraska, who is number six in the country simply by staying alive. Go to Madison and earn it this week

Brian: 1. Alabama 2. Michigan/Ohio State 3. Clemson 4. Washington

Just missed: Louisville, Ohio State/Michigan, Baylor

I could honestly just start and end this by saying that nobody is going to beat Alabama and we should all just stop paying attention to college football at all, but that wouldn’t be fun. Yes, Michigan is the stronger team than tOSU right now, but the Wolverines still have to actually beat the Buckeyes unless they drop another game, and the better team doesn’t always win a rivalry game. Louisville gets snubbed for the fake-ass Tigers who are 2014 FSU-ing so hard that I very much look forward to them getting stomped in the playoff provided they keep squeaking by (yes, I’m VERY bitter about the Cardinals/Lamar Jackson losing to Clemson). Washington continues to destroy everything in their path, but the PAC12 gets weird very quickly and nothing is really a given there. Also, Baylor looks fine and only has like two somewhat difficult teams to deal with on the schedule so look out for them, I guess.

Derek: 1) Alabama 2) Michigan 3) Clemson 4) Washington

Bama has been the most consistently good team all year, Michigan is straight up mashing people, Clemson has the experience of a champion and Washington is an extremely dangerous team.

Chris: 1) Alabama 2) Alabama 3) Alabama 4) Alabama. I hate typing Alabama that much. but they are so much better than everyone else that if this were a track and field contest they would be lapping the field while undressing the field’s girlfriend with their eyes. Realistically? Clemson is my #2, Washington my #3 and Michigan is my #4. What a weird year.

Doug: 1) Alabama – forever and ever. 2) Michigan/Ohio State – I still think the Big Ten champ gets in at the 2 or 3 spot. 3) Clemson – They keep winning despite their best efforts. 4) Washington – a tough game at Utah is the only test for a while.

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