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 is down to just two undefeated teams (Baylor and West Virginia). While I picked Oklahoma as a Playoff team (oops), I figured TCU or Oklahoma State would be right there with them. But TCU isn’t playing defense and Oklahoma State’s offense is one-dimensional. Does anyone have any confidence in Baylor or WVU to make a Playoff run? While the games will still be wildly entertaining the stakes will be decidedly lower than the 2015 conference campaign, and that’s a shame.
Brian Hall: People want to talk about the SEC West and how down of a year it’s been so far, but man, the SEC East might be as bad as ever. Tennessee continues to underwhelm everyone and is somehow still a division frontrunner. Georgia looked like a steaming pile of crap for most of their game against Missouri before winning late in the fourth quarter to stay undefeated. And then there’s Florida, who easily looked like the best team up until Luke Del Rio went down with a knee injury that will keep him sidelined for the next few weeks, and leave the Gators offense as anemic as ever without him. Couple that with Kentucky finally winning despite allowing 42 points to New Mexico State, South Carolina squeaking past ECU, and Vandy just being Vandy, and this division is an absolute dumpster fire.
Derek Hernandez: FSU getting boom-roasted caught my eye. It’s been a while since the ‘Noles have looked that atrocious and Lamar Jackson’s performance vaulted him straight to the front of the Heisman race.
It’s going to be very interesting to see how the ACC’s trifecta of greatness (FSU, Clemson, UL) affects the playoff race this season as I doubt the Tigers and Cards will sweep the matchups against the other two teams.
Chris Hatch: I think it was the dismantling of Oklahoma by the Ohio State Buckeyes (closely followed up by Iowa getting blown up by NDSU). This Buckeyes team was supposed to be too young. Hell, half their team from last year is playing on Sundays or watching from the pine on Thursdays (hi, Cardale). And now they are out there doing Urban Meyer things, like being WAY ahead of schedule. Damn it, I want to hate Ohio State, but I’m too busy trying to car-jack my jaw off the floor after watching them.
Doug Palmer: The Big Ten might have just placed itself in the position of Best Conference in Football. There were four marquee games and Nebraska, Michigan, Ohio State and Michigan State all came out on top. Iowa’s loss to an FCS team (even an elite one like North Dakota State) hurts but I think the top four or five could hang with almost anyone in college football right now.
Game you’re overreacting to the most from last week.
Taylor: Louisville blasting Florida State. Not that Louisville isn’t good, but Florida State absolutely cannot be that bad.
Brian: Louisville completely clobberknocking FSU. Nobody anticipated the Cardinals would win by that large of a margin, if at all. Clemson took a big step forward last week to instill confidence, but the ACC has a new team to fear, and it’s quarterbacked by Lamar Jackson.
Derek: Sparty knocking off the Irish. MSU had looked rather pedestrian the first couple of weeks, but they controlled that game from start to finish. A lot of the talk right now is “don’t sleep on Dantonio” but what if the Irish just aren’t that good this season?
Chris: Iowa losing to North Dakota State. I know, I know. I should try to have perspective. I know, it would behoove me to look at this Iowa loss from a macro perspective and *gasp* think of the conference! But you dont go macro when you’re strapping your grave-dancing Irish Clogging shoes on and preparing to Lord of the Dance all over the graves of the decaying carcass of your least favorite program in America!! All I can see is Kirk Ferentz’s beady, bloodshot eyes staring into my soul while Timmy Armstrong threw pick #4 and the temperature was the only thing more chilled than my soul as I watched Iowa beat Nebraska to stay undefeated.
Doug: Ohio State/Oklahoma. tOSU dominated from start to finish over a pre-season top 5 team. While I think OU was very overrated, especially at the time, a win like that over a usually dominant program is nothing to shake a stick at. Ohio State not only put itself back into the National Title conversation but probably but Bob Stoops on the hot seat.
Game you’re most excited to watch this week.
Taylor: Nebraska at Northwestern. Grabbing a 35-32 win over Oregon last week was great, but Nebraska fans aren’t worried about whether the team can get psyched for big-time opponents: even the 6-7 Huskers beat Michigan State and UCLA last year. But now we’ll find out whether Nebraska can take care of business on the road against an opponent over which the Huskers seem to hold advantages across the board. There are a lot of good vibes in Lincoln this week but stumbling against the other NU would take a lot of them away.
Brian: Louisville at Marshall. This will not be a good game. This will not even be a competitive game. It almost certainly won’t be on TV. But if there’s any way I can watch Lamar Jackson go to work on a Marshall team that just allowed 65 points to Akron, you better believe I’m going to. Jackson just showed what he can do with a full 60 minutes against one of the better teams in the country. Now imagine what scorched earth policy the Cardinals will reveal when they play a team as mediocre as Marshall.
Derek: Wisconsin – Michigan State
We’ll see how much that Spartan win over the Irish was a sign of Michigan State’s chances at challenging tOSU for the B1G crown being legit after this game. I don’t think they are as nearly as good as they looked last week, but I also think Wisky isn’t nearly as good as people thought they were after they beat LSU. Something has to give here and neither team can afford a division loss this early in the season give their remaining schedules.
Chris: Wisconsin VS Michigan State. I anti-believe in Wisconsin. I negative believe in them. I cannot believe that they are inexplicably ranked as highly as they are. I get it, they beat LSU. But, for the love of Chryst: can they be for real? Also: how in the H is this game not in primetime?
Doug: Clemson at Georgia Tech. I still don’t trust Clemson and Ga Tech usually puts up a decent fight. I’ll be curious to see if this is the classic Clemson game where they shoot themselves in the foot or if the Tigers are able to keep getting better.
Your playoff as of right now and why.
Taylor: If the season ended today: 1. Louisville: No one’s looked better than them, and they answered all my questions emphatically in their demolition of Florida State. One assumes at some point some team will neutralize Lamar Jackson and make the Cards figure out another way to beat them …maybe Clemson? If not them, then maybe not anyone. 2. Alabama: slipped from my top seed but are still comfortably in. 3. Ohio State: wallopped Oklahoma in Norman and have shown absolutely zero sign of slipping as the young players take over. 4. Houston: took until the fourth quarter to take care of Cincy but it was a trap game. I wonder if Greg Ward can keep up being the Cougs’ first option on offense. Just missed: Stanford, Michigan
Brian: 1.) Alabama 2.) Lousiville 3.) Michigan 4.) Stanford
Just Missed: Houston, Clemson, Ohio State, Michigan State
The Tide exorcised some demons by beating Ole Miss last weekend, and are starting to roll with freshman QB Jalen Hurts. Louisville decimated a team that most had in the playoff a week ago and are the clear frontrunner in the ACC. Stanford slides in after comfortably beating USC and because Houston struggled with Cincinnati for three quarters on Thursday. And as for Michigan over Ohio State, I’m not entirely sure that soundly beating Oklahoma is any better at this point in 2016 than soundly beating Colorado. The Sooners have looked flat-out bad in two of their three games this season (against ranked opponents, sure, but bad is bad regardless of who you’re playing) and the Buffs have looked very good so far, and even gave it to the Wolverines for a half. Ultimately the Big Ten will come down to Michigan, Ohio State, and MSU like always, and until those teams play each other we’re all just throwing out educated guesses.
Derek: 1) Ohio State 2) Louisville 3) Alabama 4) Stanford
Ohio State and Louisville have the most impressive wins out of these four, Bama gets the benefit of the doubt and Stanford has beaten the most high-profile teams out of this group (KSU, USC).
Chris: 1) Alabama: I feel like I should just copy and paste them every week. 2) Ohio State. Damn it. Urb and co. are here until someone forces them to eat some despondent Papa John’s. 3) and speaking of Papa John’s…Louisville! Anyone else think that Lamar Jackson looks a lot like a Randy Gregory? 4) Houston(?) for now.
Doug: 1) Alabama 2) Ohio State 3) Louisville 4) Stanford
I’m still being lazy and going with the conference champs from every conference except the Big 12. I think it’s safe to say they’re out of it now. Alabama will fall if they lose and I really like what the other teams are doing so far.