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’ rebuilt offense. With as well as Charlie Strong has recruited in Texas, we knew Sterlin Gilbert would have the pieces to work with, but I didn’t expect him to make them work so soon. Gilbert drew up a plan that would let both quarterbacks play to their strengths with Swoopes and the running backs pounding the front while Buechele punished the Irish over the top. Eventually there’ll be a snag (Buechele gets banged up and Swoopes has to run the whole show, Gilbert outsmarts himself, etc.) but for now let’s just enjoy it.
Brian Hall: Houston taking Oklahoma to the woodshed. Everyone knew Houston was good, but whether Oklahoma has regressed or the Cougars are actually much better than advertised, nobody expected what the cougars did to the Sooners on Saturday. Houston is not only about to crash the top 10 and most projected playoffs, but also now has a very good chance of barging into the Big XII as well. What a difference a game can make.
Derek Hernandez: The momentum shifts in the Florida State – Ole Miss game.
Whether you viewed the game as the Rebels collapsing or Florida State leveling up following what surely was a skrong halftime speech from Jameis Winston, you couldn’t have drawn up two entirely different halves.
Even more interesting than the game though were the Twitter reactions. #collegefootballtwitter basically rehashed all their jokes from the first half and changed the names for the second half.
Chris Hatch: The young QBs are not a flash in the pan, they’re not an anomaly. This is what college football is now, when major programs can plug in kids who can barely vote (for Bernie Sanders, probably) and they are able to effectively run an offense during a massive game. Texas, Alabama, Florida State, et. al showed that difference instantaneous frosh difference-makers like Johnny Manziel and Mr. Liveskrong himself, Jameis Winston, are not outliers but may be proven to be the norm with the way CFB is trending. And, yes, it’s too early for that comparison, but you get the point.
Doug Palmer:: The number of top ten teams that lost to competition to whom they had no business losing. For me, it was another argument against pre-season polls. And, of course, USC being sent back to the early 90’s by Alabama.
Game you’re overreacting to the most from last week.
Taylor: Oklahoma’s loss. They’ll get another spotlight game against Ohio State soon to redeem themselves but given how easily Houston dominated their offensive line they didn’t look much like a defending power conference champ.
Brian: Texas/Notre Dame – Texas might be one of the most fun teams to watch in the country this season, which is remarkable when you consider where they were at just a year ago. With a retooled offense under a new offensive coordinator and led by a freshman quarterback, there’s a lot of reasons to think the Longhorns can’t sustain this flash of success, but I’m not buying it.
Derek: It’s not a game, but the entire SEC’s performance in week one has me thinking the SEC’s run as the clear-cut best conference is over. That doesn’t mean the conference isn’t any good any more, it’s just that the other Power Five conferences have made up ground. As long as they have ‘Bama though, the SEC will still have chances to thump their chests.
Chris: Ole Miss/FSU – The team went full-on Tom Clancy nuclear disaster in the 3rd quarter against the ‘Noles and served as the poster child for a disappointing weekend for the highly touted SEC. Also, Chad Kelly got stole on by a porn star for being in her DMs and all of Twitter was loving it. Tough, tough, night. What do we call that new thing where people basically entrap someone with a DM screenshot just so they can expose them later on? I think “Booty Trap” would work good. Suggestions? Hit me in the comments.
Doug: USC/Alabama – ‘Bama looked dominant, like NFL dominant, and made USC look like a bad FCS team. I don’t think the talent gap is really a large as it looked but the coaching gap showed up in a big way. Clay Helton was a somewhat controversial hire from the beginning and, so far, it looks like the critics were right.
Game you’re most excited to watch this week.
Taylor: TCU/Arkansas. Neither looked sharp in their week one tuneups (SeptemBERT in full effect) but will get a chance to make a bit more of a statement this week.
Brian: Man, the slate this week is very underwhelming considering last week, but I guess I’ll go with Iowa/Iowa State. This game is always a knock-down-drag-out, ugly thing, which actually works well for the Cyclones this year. Iowa has everything to lose here, and Iowa State is always good for one or two wins they shouldn’t get every season.
Derek: The Vols versus the Hokies. The crowd shots in that NASCAR stadium are going to be epic. Also, Tennessee is totally losing this game.
Chris: Tennessee vs. The Program formerly known as Beamer Ball. This matchup, which is basically patient zero for “Games that will be WAY better to watch from home” is so concerned with being gigantic that they don’t care that half the people jammed into the NASCAR stadium won’t even be close enough to watch Butch Jones’ panicking antics.
Doug: There aren’t a lot of matchups that jump out this week but I’ll probably watch Arkansas/TCU closely. TCU struggled badly last week against South Dakota State and I want to see if it was a first week anomaly or a hint at some larger problems with the Horned Frogs.
Your playoff as of right now and why.
Taylor: If the season ended today: 1. Alabama, who will never lose another football game. 2. Florida State, who shook off the dust to eventually roll Ole Miss. 3. Houston, who has the season’s most impressive win through one week and therefore boots Oklahoma from this spot in last week’s Huddle. 4. Ohio State, who apparently forgot that they have to replace all their skill guys.
Just missed: Michigan (#bodyclocks)
Brian: 1.) Alabama 2.) Clemson/FSU 3.) Michigan 4.) Houston
Alabama beat a ranked and talented team by 46 points, so other teams shouldn’t bother trying at this point. I’m putting either Clemson or FSU at No. 2 because unless a key piece for either team gets injured, this spot will be decided by whoever wins their game on October 29th in Tallahassee. Michigan over Ohio State just because I think the Wolverines will still win out, including beating the Buckeyes. (I also had LSU undefeated and in the playoffs. Never listen to me.) And Houston didn’t just beat, but whooped a playoff team from last year that was also No. 3, so there’s no reason to think they can’t win the rest of their games and make it in.
Just missed: Clemson/FSU because one of these two teams, unfortunately, has to lose. Texas because in the “what have you done for me lately” column, they’ve beaten a very good top ten team and actually looked good doing it on a weekend when the Big XII looked very much up for grabs. And finally, Notre Dame who could still go 11-1, which will likely look very good given Texas’ apparent rebirth as a program.
Derek: Alabama, Florida State, Houston, Ohio State
‘Bama, FSU and Houston had the most impressive wins to me last week, and tOSU’s offense looked BAE in week one.
Chris: 1) Alabama – The Tide have continued to roll, look fantastic, and have added none other than Cutty Sark, Steve Sarkisian to the squad. Watch out, SEC. ‘Bama is already in mid-season form. So is angryfornoreason Saban.
2) Florida State – Jimbo and company just seem to be SO damn talented. Which, I think we could say every year for the past 3 years. As long as they get past Clemson, they’re in.
3) Ohio State – No test in week one, plenty of tests coming up.
4) Houston – They should be replaced here in a few weeks when everyone else starts playing conference games and they just stay Boise-State-from-2009-ing it up.
Doug: Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State, Stanford. I think the easy bet is the conference champions getting in but it looks like the Big 12 is going to play itself out again this year.