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 story/team from the offseason.
Taylor Venema: It has to be the Baylor sexual assault scandal and subsequent fallout. It’s only been a few months and we’ve seen it resonate across the college sports landscape. My guess is that in the years to come we will see sweeping changes to Title IX implementation and enforcement, in addition to a wholesale makeover of the way universities handle player discipline. Hopefully these changes will be for the better and we can be less ashamed of the sport we love.
Derek Hernandez: Can you really be considered a darkhorse if everyone says you’re a darkhorse?
The hype trains for Tennessee and Washington gained more an more steam as the offseason went on. It feels like Butch Jones has been building to this one season since he stepped foot in Knoxville, and it’s going to be VERY interesting to see how his team handles the attention. Washington seems to be everyone’s sleeper pick going into the season despite only going 7-6 last year. With Chris Peterson you know you’re in good hands and they have a ton of talent coming back, but the Pac-12 seems like a total crapshoot this season.
Either way, I’m definitely interested in tracking these two programs’ performance this year given everything I’ve heard about each team this offseason. My guess is the Huskies living up to their lofty expectations while the Vols succumb to the gauntlet that is the SEC.
Brian Hall: With the Big XII looking to expand and keep competing with the other power five conferences, I’m really interested to see how the teams trying to get in will act throughout the year. Does Houston beating Oklahoma in week one help or hurt their chances? How far will some teams go to try and appear as the best option? And what happens if the Big XII announces their decision, and the teams’ conferences that their currently in start to openly work against them, a la Nebraska in 2010? There’s some version of the future in which Houston beats Oklahoma, becoming a major playoff contender and practically definite Big XII addition, only to have The American do everything they can to sabotage the Cougars at every turn.
Chris Hatch: As much as I hate to say it, I’ve found myself to be unfortunately riveted by Weird-ass Jim Harbaugh. His “tantics”, to quote true American hero, Ryan Lochte, have put an enormous target on the Wolverines and I’m fascinated to see if they can deliver. Also, I love making jokes about Jim Harbaugh and his BFF, convicted felon, Screech.”
He seems to be running afoul, recently, with a few big recruits and I’ve got to think that his bizarre nerd-intensity will eventually turn this supernova into a khaki-clad blackhole. But, it’s utterly fascinating to me.
Game you’re most excited to watch this week.
Taylor: The Oklahoma/Houston barnburner. The offenses will be hot and the narratives that follow will be hotter. (Now that I’ve written this it will be 13-10.)
Derek: Auburn vs. Clemson. Gus Malzahn is just too good of a coach to get throttled by Clemson, right? RIGHT?
Brian: Week one has a ton of dope matchups, but I’m going with a bit of a curveball here: Kansas State at Stanford on Friday night. Bill Snyder always coaches his team to perform above their talent level, and Stanford got off to a slow start last year that they couldn’t quite (but nearly did) recover from. That game even potentially cost Christian McCaffrey the Heisman a year ago.
Chris The Kiffining. I can’t wait to watch USC take on Alabama in a battle of teams that are absurd from a talent perspective. I’m interested to see if Saban will continue his streak of not giving a single minute crap about quarterback play and if he’ll be such a good coach that it will continue to be totally fine. There are so many good games, this weekend, too. I’m going to have to wrestle the remote away from my 4-year-old. Sorry, Paw Patrol.
Your four playoff teams (and teams that just missed) as of right now.
Taylor: 1. Alabama, because… 2. Florida State, even though Clemson is the easier pick. Florida State has answers for every question Clemson has on defense and it has Dalvin Cook, who can carry the ‘Noles even with a new quarterback. 3. Oklahoma, whose early quality win over Ohio State looks better and better as the Buckeyes improve each week. 4. Ohio State, who shakes off that early Oklahoma loss to finish 13-1. Just missed: Michigan, which beats Michigan State in East Lansing but is confounded by Urban Meyer and J.T. Barrett once more.
Derek: 1.Ohio State 2.Clemson 3.Oklahoma 4.Alabama
Yeah, I know my picks are pretty much chalk, but OU is clearly the best team in the Big 12, Bama is Bama, Clemson has the best QB and possibly the best offense in the nation and when in doubt in the B1G you gotta roll with Urban.
Brian: 1. LSU 2. Michigan 3. Clemson 4. Alabama
Just missed: TCU, Oklahoma, Notre Dame, FSU
Yeah, this is the year a conference gets two teams in. LSU is good enough to go 12-0 which means Alabama’s one loss is to the undefeated No. 1 team in the country. That gives them a better resume than whichever Big XII team wins the conference, because none of them are going undefeated, and Notre Dame, who will definitely have at least one loss. Michigan has the easiest path in the world provided they win in East Lansing and Columbus, and Clemson is too good to lose more than maybe once, although if it’s to FSU they’re in trouble.
Hate all you want, but if the BCS could put two SEC teams in, the playoff will almost certainly do the same, provided the resumes are there.
Chris 1) Alabama (at this point the only interesting thing about this perennially boring power is that ridiculous piece ESPN crammed down our cram-holes about how chill of a brah, Nick Saban is when he’s at his billion dollar lake house.)
2) Ohio State (Urban’s Outfitters). I keep waiting for them to have an off year and I keep being wrong. So I just bitterly cling to my Papa John’s memes of Urban.
3) Clemson (Duh-Shaun Watson) and that explosive, insane offense.
4) Oklahoma. They have a TOUGH early schedule, but I firmly believe that Baker Mayfield is Johnny Football reincarnated on the field and I firmly pray that he’s NOT Johnny Football off the field.