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: R.I.P Les, one of the old guard, we miss you already. His quirky turns of phrase and errant disregard for the concept of time made college football better. I think of the 2007 Auburn game when he had Matt Flynn heave one to the end zone. Touchdown, game won. Les said if it had been incomplete there would have been one second left to try a field goal. Sure. I think of the 2014 Ole Miss game when Les’ mother passed away the Friday before. His two word post-game tribute: “Mama Miles,” delivered with a somber smile. Sadly, as old-fashioned a guy as Les was, he couldn’t modernize his offense, and perennial top recruiting classes passed through Baton Rouge into the NFL without any hardware to show for it. Sharing a division with Nick Saban isn’t easy, as evidenced by the ever-warming seats of Les’ contemporaries, Gus Malzahn and Dan Mullen. Les will land on his feet, but we’ll miss him.
Brian Hall: Folks seem to really think Wisconsin is for real after whooping a Michigan State team that whooped a Notre Dame team that might not get bowl eligible by season’s end. I still need more convincing, as Sparty had a lot of obvious problems that Wisconsin exposed, and the Badgers still play two definitely better teams and one possibly better one. They could prove themselves in time, but I can’t buy them yet.
Derek Hernandez: The fact everyone called someone was going to get fired after the Auburn-LSU game. They say football is a game of inches, but for Malzahn and Les Miles their jobs hung in the balance over half a second. Insane.
Chris Hatch: Les Miles finally gets canned from LSU. They’ve been aching for a chance to can the coach and, for whatever reason, decided to pull the trigger after 4 games where his teams again underachieved respective to their talent. My main concern here is that Les basically set the bar too high for himself. he was a victim of his own recruiting prowess and ended up cannibalizing himself. He basically came out and dropped “Get Rich Or Die Tryin'” and then never got there again.
Doug Palmer: Wisconsin as well. They were given a ton of credit for beating a top 5 LSU team that has gone 2-2 and already had their head coach fired. Wisconsin had an impressive showing against a rebuilding Michigan State team but I’m not ready to crown them as a top ten team yet. They’ll get their chances to prove me wrong soon, though.
Game you’re overreacting to the most from last week.
Taylor: Are we all heaping enough #disrespekt on Sparty that they’ll go nuts on the rest of their schedule? Ahh, perhaps not, but even with a loss we can’t count out Mark Dantonio to ruin Jim Harbaugh or Urban Meyer’s day.
Brian: Remember when Ole Miss was bad and couldn’t hold a lead? Remember when Geoergia was a clear top-15 caliber team despite hanging on for dear life against Nichols and barely edging out Mizzou? Week four did well to cleanse our palate of such thoughts; reminding us that Chad Kelly will scramble and then throw into triple coverage multiple times without fear, and that against lesser defenses that will work, and also that Georgia’s offense without Nick Chubb is a very unfortunate handicap that nobody should wish on a team, but something the Dawgs will have to live with if his ankle doesn’t get healthy anytime soon.
I still think Florida is overrated, but I also thought all the hype the Vols received before the season was unwarranted. To exercises the Gator demon the way they did will go a long way this season. I never thought I’d have confidence in a Butch Jones team, but maybe I’m just overreacting.
Chris: Wisconsin demonstrating that the Spartans were not prepared for glory. I wrote in this very post last week how little I truly believed in the badgers and they went out and turned Mark Dantonio into Mike D’Antoni during the Lakers years.
Doug: Tennessee finally figuring out how to put a football game together. The Vols were an early favorite to win the SEC East but have looked very mediocre so far. I think they put together a great game against Florida and are finallly putting their money where their mouths are.
Game you’re most excited to watch this week.
Taylor: Here for some quality #Pac12AfterDark Friday night. Stanford quarterback Ryan Burns has impressed so far and Washington just survived its first real test beating Arizona in overtime. I’m excited to see Jake Browning against a legit defense (granted, one that will be missing its top two cornerbacks) and to see whether Christian McCaffrey can keep doing ridiculous things.
Brian: Stanford at Washington! Is Washington actually an elite team as people suggest? Will Christian McCaffrey rise to the occasion? Will this be a slow burn of two heavy weights punching it out, or two offenses trying to score as early and often as possible? I don’t have the answers to any of these questions. All I know is that this is a Friday night PAC12 game with playoff implications, and my body is very ready.
Is Louisville for real? After this week we’ll know for sure. Plus I’m going out on a limb and saying the Clemson offense will come alive in this matchup to make it an offensive showcase between DeShaun Watson and Lamar Jackson. TDs on TDs on TDs on…
Chris: Louisville VS Clemson. I’m not entirely sold that Clemson is as bad as they have looked so far. The Tigers have big game experience, motivation, and DeShaun Watson. Standing in their way, however is the most dynamic player in college football, Lamar Jackson. This one promises explosions. Scoring and lots of Bobby Petrino jokes. In the words of Bart Scott: Carson Wentz is fool’s gold. Also in the words of Bart Scott: “Can’t Wait.”
Doug: Texas/Oklahoma State. I have conflicted feelings about how much I hate Texas versus how much I want to see Charlie Strong succeed down there. After an up and down (mostly down) 2015 the Longhorns have looked a lot more competent this year. I’d like to see how they stack up in a very, very, very weak Big 12.
Your playoff as of right now and why.
Taylor: Unchanged from last week: 1. Louisville 2. Alabama 3. Ohio State 4. Houston
Louisville obviously has a lot on their plate this week visiting Clemson. Houston gets a shot at revenge against the only team to beat it in 2015. (Unless something goes very wrong I’m guessing that probably doesn’t happen again.)
Brian: 1. Alabama 2. Louisville 3. Michigan/Ohio State 4. Stanford
Just missed: Houston, Michigan/Ohio State, Clemson
Alabama remains in the top spot as Saban, who was unhappy with simply consuming the soul of his alma matter in a 48-0 drubbing, also made sure to consume Les Miles’ job and the future of LSU football in the process. Busier than average week for him. Louisville is next in because while Clemson’s defense could give Lamar Jackson the biggest challenge he’s yet seen, the offense has done nothing this season to suggest they can run away with a win that a season ago seemed laughably doable. This also means that Houston, who plays Louisville later this season, will have one loss and definitely not be making it in to the playoffs barring a lot of weirdness. Michigan/Ohio State takes over the Clemson/FSU spot, as both of these teams will likely go undefeated until playing each other for the Big Ten title game unless Michigan State ruins one of their seasons or Wisconsin beats both of them in back to back weeks before losing to Northwestern or something (both scenarios are equally likely). And finally, Stanford gets in after a slow start, assuming they win at Washington on Friday, and escape from all of the PAC12 weirdness unscathed, a feat that should guarantee a playoff spot all on its own.
Derek: 1. Ohio State 2. Louisville 3. Stanford 4. Alabama
OSU has looked the most impressive against legit competition. I also give them the slight nod over Louisville as I think the Bucks will get better as the season progresses. Stanford seems to beat a Power 5 team every week and Bama gets a slot until they lose in my mind.
Chris: 1) Alabama. 2) Ohio State. 3) Louisville. 4) Houston (obligatory question mark). I believe that once some other teams start adding more quality wins to their much tougher schedules I will bail on Houston faster than future LSU Coach, Tom Herman.
Doug: 1. Alabama 2. Ohio State 3. Stanford 4. Louisville
I still like my conference winners, sans the Big 12, to get in. Right now I’m just running chalk all the way up until one of these teams loses. Houston could get in if they stay undefeated especially if Louisville or Stanford were to slip up.