Where do I start with this past week? First off, Ohio State suffered a stunning loss at home which snapped their 23 game streak winning streak – even without Connor Cook playing for Michigan State. Oklahoma State’s bid at an undefeated season also came to an end as they were defeated by Baylor.
Due to two losses in the top 6, there’s a shakeup all around. My love for Oklahoma continues to grow, even though they barely edged a Boykin-less TCU team. Wins against Baylor and TCU in back-to-back weeks is never easy. They need to complete the trifecta with a win against Oklahoma State with the Big 12 on the line. Michigan State sees a big boost this week. Wins against Michigan and Ohio State are very impressive. I’m still not on the Iowa and Notre Dame hype trains. At least until Iowa wins the Big Ten and not until the Fighting Irish get a signature win – which they can do this weekend on the road against Stanford.
Rivalry week will result in yet another shakeup, but at least we’ll be one week closer to a concrete playoff picture. Check out this week’s top 25 while it lasts!
1.) Clemson Tigers
2.) Alabama Crimson Tide (+1)
3.) Oklahoma Sooners (+1)
4.) Michigan State Spartans (+5)
5.) Iowa Hawkeyes (+1)
6.) Notre Dame Fighting Irish (+1)
7.) Baylor Bears (+3)
8.) Ohio State Buckeyes (-6)
9.) Oklahoma State Cowboys (-4)
10.) North Carolina Tar Heels (+3)
11.) Florida Gators (-3)
12.) Florida State Seminoles (+2)
13.) Michigan Wolverines (+3)
14.) Stanford Cardinal (+3)
15.) Navy Midshipmen (+4)
16.) Northwestern Wildcats (+5)
17.) TCU Horned Frogs (-6)
18.) Oregon Ducks (+4)
19.) Houston Cougars (-7)
20.) Ole Miss Rebels (+5)
21.) Washington State Cougars (+2)
22.) UCLA Bruins (NR)
23.) Mississippi State Bulldogs (NR)
24.) Temple Owls (NR)
25.) LSU Tigers (-10)
Dropped Out: Utah, Wisconsin, USC
Under Consideration: Toledo, Pittsburgh, Utah
How I see it, the Heisman race is only between three competitors now.
Leonard Fournette jumped out to a tremendously strong start, but his production has dipped and LSU has lost three straight. Ezekiel Elliott suffered his worst performance of the season as Ohio State’s 23 game winning streak was snapped. They are both out of contention.
So who’s in? Derrick Henry seemingly took over the Heisman race when Alabama pounded Fournette and LSU a few weeks back. Of course Deshaun Watson is right there as Clemson remains undefeated and he continues to produce. With another big win and a big performance, Baker Mayfield has solidified himself as a legitimate Heisman contender.
1.) Derrick Henry, RB, Alabama
Stats: 1,526 rushing yards, 6.2 yards per rush, 21 TDs, 97 receiving yards
2.) Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson
Stats: 2,936 passing yards, 70% completion percentage, 26-10 TDs-INTs, 642 rushing yards, 6 TDs
3.) Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma
Stats: 3,209 passing yards, 69% completion percentage, 33-5 TDs-INTs, 343 rushing yards, 6 TDs
Ahhh yes. You gotta love rivalry week, it’s the best time of the year, for college football. It’s the week where you can solidify yourself as a playoff team, or just win bragging rights and crush your bitter rivals hope at a playoff appearance.
The Big 12 is on the line this week and a couple of teams have a chance to punch their playoff ticket, Notre Dame being one of them. “The Game” takes place in Ann Arbor in what looks to be the next chapter of the greatest rivalry in college football. Florida and Florida State battle it out for a spot in the top 10. Baylor and TCU will be a battle of backup QBs, unless Boykin is ready to go – with the winner getting the much better bowl bid.
This week goes way beyond my Top 5 Games to Watch, but check out what I’ll be watching during rivalry week.
1.) #3 Oklahoma @ #9 Oklahoma State
This game is for all the marbles. Win, and you’re Big 12 champs. The Sooners have been very hot as of late, but are coming off a narrow win against a TCU team who was without their star QB, Trevone Boykin. On the flipside, the Cowboys’ fell for the first time this season snapping their run at an undefeated season. Both teams are in the think of things regarding the playoff – whoever wins will surely be in the conversation moving forward. A win for the Sooners would all but lock them in as one of the four teams. Oklahoma State hosts the Sooners in this year’s installment of the Bedlam Series – the team’s have split in the past four years. This matchup shapes up to be a typical Big 12 shootout.
2.) #6 Notre Dame @ #14 Stanford
While this game isn’t as big as speculated earlier in the season after Stanford’s loss, it still carries tremendous weight for a committee-favored Notre Dame team. A win here for the Fighting Irish would all but guarantee them a spot in the playoff. Stanford already has a spot in the Pac-12 conference championship, but a win would surely brighten up their resume, although it looks like their playoff hopes are extremely dim. Notre Dame is still without any signature wins on their record, but this would be just that. The Fighting Irish have won 2 of the 3 last meetings, but haven’t won on the road since 2007. This game will make or break Notre Dame’s season.
3.) #8 Ohio State @ #13 Michigan
No matter where these teams are ranked, you know this always makes for one of the best games of the year – especially now that Michigan is relevant once again. Ohio State’s 23 game winning streak was snapped this past week as they were stunned in Columbus – that all but demolished their playoff hopes. Michigan still has a chance at the Big Ten title, but they need a win along with a Michigan State loss. The Buckeyes have dominated the series in recent memory, winning 10 of the last 11 meetings. A win would be huge for Jim Harbaugh and the Wolverines, perhaps their ready to start a new chapter in the rivalry. This game is going to be one for the ages.
4.) #12 Florida State @ #11 Florida
Yet another heated rivalry on this week’s slate of games. The Gators barely avoided a major upset against a 2-win Florida Atlantic team while Dalvin Cook and Florida State continued to roll against inferior competition. This game goes way beyond bragging rights. Whoever wins gets a big boost in the polls, a win would be even bigger for Florida as they still have a shot at the SEC title. Back-to-back wins against FSU and Alabama would be very appealing to the committee, though it’s unlikely based on their play this past week. The Seminoles have won 4 of the last 5 and I see them carrying out that play. If Florida wins, they’re going to need Treon Harris and the offense to step up big time. Dalvin Cook vs. Florida’s defense makes for a good matchup.
5.) #7 Baylor @ #17 TCU
There really isn’t anything on the line here, but Baylor could sneak into the playoffs with a win, and a bunch of other losses – though it’s unlikely. Still, this matchup presents the best of the best that the Big 12 has to offer. The Bears handed Oklahoma State their first loss of the season while TCU was barely edged as a failed two-point conversion lost them the game against Oklahoma, even without Trevone Boykin. If Boykin is unable to play this week, it will be a battle of backup QBs in Fort Worth. Even though both teams are out of conference contention, it will make for your classic Big 12 shootout with a big Bowl bid on the line. Baylor has won 3 of the last 4 meetings while TCU hasn’t won at home since 2010.