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: Is everything all right in Fort Worth? While considering the opponent (Arkansas was first in Offensive S&P+ last year) seeing the Horned Frog defense fold over and over through two games has been very weird. TCU does not play in a conference where one can get by with a patchy defense. The sloppy play has been even stranger given how loaded the unit is. I trust Gary Patterson to turn things around, but they’ve got questions to answer, especially in the secondary (which on paper appeared to be the defense’s strength).
Brian Hall: The way TCU lost to Arkansas. This was the year that the offense was supposed to regress with the loss of Boykin and Josh Doctson, and the defense would need to carry them until they found sure footing under transfer-starter Kenny Hill. Against Arkansas, though, it was the opposite. Arkansas’s Austin Allen threw for a respectable 223 with 3 TDs, and more importantly, no picks. Meanwhile Kenny Hill threw for 377, a score, and a pick, but added 93 yards on the ground and a pair of scores. I’m not sure if I’m more surprised that TCU let this be a punch-for-punch shootout, or if Arkansas managed to keep it that way to the end.
Derek Hernandez: Clemson continuing to struggle. I wonder if they’ve just been uninterested or if we have a full-blown Ohio State 2015 on our hands here. I’m leaning towards the former as Deshaun Watson is just too good for that offense to struggle like they have.
Chris Hatch: “Bret Bielema’s squad getting borderline erotic against TCU and Kenny Trillary for America. I had so many shirtless Bielema and “”#karma”” tweets ready to go, that were 🔥🔥 and I had to scrap them all. it was interesting to me to see Bielema and co. attempting to salvage the SEC’s early non-con even though they’ve kind of been under the radar by SEC standards for a while. ”
Doug Palmer: Clemson looking like a mid-level ACC team. I really thought they’d come out swinging this year after being in the National Championship game last season. So far, they’ve looked lost on offense and unprepared on defense. That and Scott Frost saying that Central Florida “outhit” Michigan in a blowout.
Game you’re overreacting to the most from last week.
Taylor: Georgia/Nicholls. The SEC East has been a quagmire for awhile but it’s easy to see how poor the Bulldogs look and assume something’s really wrong . . . after they soundly defeated a very good North Carolina team in week one. Can’t pencil anyone in for that division yet.
Brian: Tennessee/Virginia Tech – I was one of the few who didn’t hit the Vol’s panic button on their behalf after narrowly escaping from Appalachian State at home last week. After getting off to a slow start against the Hokies, Tennessee finally turned things up, and ended up running away with the game. I want to believe that a crazy talented team that fell just short a couple of times last season just needed an extended wakeup call before hitting their stride. The Vol’s still get another non-con before starting SEC play against Florida in two weeks, but I think Vols fans can breath a sigh of relief.
Derek: Florida/Kentucky – I know it was only the Wildcats, but the Gators actually look like they have an actual functional offense. They should continue to roll over North Texas in preparation for their showdown with the hated Vols two weeks from now. #teamdelrio
Chris: Also TCU and Arkansas. It would appear that the Big 12 is garbage. They may already be fully out of the playoff talk, other than Texas. We’ll see how Oklahoma does against Ohio State but this has been a ROUGH start to the season for Big 12 playoff hopes.
Doug: Georgia/Nicholls – The Bulldogs just barely getting by Nicholls (apparently not Nicholls State anymore) was a huge surprise. I would’ve thought Kirby Smart’s teams would be better prepared than almost anyone on the schedule. They really struggled to put away Nicholls and it makes me wonder what kind of talent Mark Richt might have left behind.
Game you’re most excited to watch this week.
Taylor: Ohio State visiting Oklahoma. Oklahoma should be well-suited to challenge the young (but red hot) Buckeyes and can reverse the damage done by Houston in week one…but I’m still picking the Buckeyes.
Brian: Louisville/FSU – The two hottest QBs in the country squaring off. Major difference is that only one of them will play an elite secondary, however Jackson has shown he can do damage with his legs, so he could have the skillset to take FSU to the wire. This game could be a total blast to watch from an offensive standpoint, especially if Dalvin Cook reemerges onto the scene.
Derek: Oregon/Nebraska – I could either see this as Oregon’s “2001 NU/CU” unraveling game or bloodletting like no other for the Big Red. After getting beat down by the Ducks for so many years, you know Riley has a few tricks up his sleeve for this one. If Nebraska pulls this off, they could be off to the races towards a 7-0 start leading up to their trip to Madison.
Chris: **Homer Alert** **Homer Alert** Yes, I too, am going with Oregon VS Nebraska. It’s a fascinating game for both programs and one that (hopefully) will have national ramifications towards the end of the year. Also, I feel like both teams on this one are so volatile that the fame could either be fantastic or a blow out either way. Ignoring my own biases, that FSU VS the university of Lamar Jackson game should be dope.
Doug: Oregon/Nebraska – I have to go with this one, too. Both teams see this game as a measuring stick to judge the progress of their respective programs. For Nebraska, it’s a chance to show that last season was a fluke and they really are ready to contend for division and conference titles. Oregon will set out to prove their winning formula still works and they’re still near the top of the PAC-12.
Your playoff as of right now and why.
Taylor: Unchanged from last week: 1. Alabama, even if Nick Saban thought they played like crap. 2. Florida State, who took on a dilapidated Charleston Southern team and duly dominated it. 3. Houston, who has a sneaky tough road contest tonight. 4. Ohio State, who has an opportunity to let its young guys show the world something on Saturday.
Brian: 1. Alabama 2. FSU/Clemson 3. Michigan 4. Houston
Just Missed – Ohio State, Notre Dame, FSU/Clemson
Nobody in my field from last week did anything to lose their spot instead of Clemson, but if they remain this mediocre, FSU will win that game and likely win out or have one loss, and depending on who that’s to, should still make it in. This week didn’t do much to change anyone’s perception of anyone except further show how bad the Big XII might be this season.
Derek: Alabama – unless they lose two games this year, they’re pretty much a lock.
Florida State – since the second half of that Ole Miss game, they’ve pretty much been the most impressive team in the nation.
Houston – they have the most impressive win so far this season.
Louisville – the Cards have been crushing the competition this year and Lamar Jackson is putting up video game numbers.
Chris: 1) Alabama. I think they should create angry Nick Saban emojis and call them “Nick Pics”. 2) FSU. I legitimately feel like this week against Louisville should be a BIG test, and I feel like Clemson has a real chance to challenge them once they get rolling. But for now: the ‘Noles are in. 3) Ohio State. Big test this weekend for the Urban Outfitters. 4) Houston(?) maybe? This spot is entirely up for grabs.
Doug: 1. Alabama – until they lose they’re staying at number one. 2. Florida State – if they can get past Clemson, I don’t see a loss on their schedule. 3. Ohio State – This week will tell a lot but I’m not ready to count out Urban Meyer. 4. Stanford – I still like the PAC-12 champ to get in, but an undefeated Houston team could find its way in by season’s end.