September is almost over, and this week the calendar will flip to October, which is the de facto beginning of fall, and in college football, the de facto beginning of the real regular season.
Yes, we've seen a rise in the number of power conference teams willing to take on other prominent power conference teams outside of the conference, and will continue to see that trend grow in years to come. But there's nothing quite like conference play kicking in full bore.
Starting next week, we should be seeing at least two or three games every weekend that are College Football Playoff shaping types of match ups, virtual elimination games that will be legacy shaping for many of the coaches and certainly some of the players involved.
Like this coming weekend, for example, is a practical playoff weekend in the SEC West, with six teams ranked in the top 15 facing off. The match ups are as follows:
#6 Texas A&M at #12 Mississippi State We saw chinks in the Aggie armor this weekend against Arkansas. Can Dan Mullen keep his string of big wins in the division (which is at one right now) alive!
#3 Alabama at #11 Ole Miss Alabama is actually number one in the coaches poll, despite having fewer first place votes than Florida State (which makes me wonder just how low some coaches have moved FSU, and how much of it is based on Jameis Winston being Jameis Winston).
#15 LSU at #5 Auburn An absolute elimination game for Les Miles and LSU, first of many elimination games among these six teams.
Add in #14 Stanford traveling to #9 Notre Dame (elimination game for both) and #6 Oklahoma traveling to #25 TCU (chance for TCU to make a statement), and it's a monster weekend.
By the way, Arkansas is 2-2 and only getting five votes in the coaches poll and eighteen votes in the AP poll. Their two losses are on the road at Auburn (game was tied in the second half) and at a neutral site against Texas A&M. They destroyed Texas Tech in Lubbock.
The SEC West's six other teams may be in the actual Top 25 (top 15 actually), but Arkansas is one of the top 25 teams in the country as well, I have no doubt.
This is probably as good a time as any to continue the weekly feature, "The Real" or "The Raisin Balls" (in homage to The Iron Sheik) where we look at all of the undefeated teams and determine if, for now, they are an actual threat to make the College Football Playoff ("The Real") or of they're a pretender ("The Raisin Balls").
Let's take a look (comments where necessary):
THE REAL Florida State (4-0): The defense is a mess compared to last year, vulnerable Oregon (4-0): Michigan State win gets bigger each week Alabama (4-0): My vote for number one, by a nose hair over... Oklahoma (4-0): ...the Sooners Auburn (4-0): If they beat LSU, would have three best wins in country (Ark, KSU, LSU) Texas A&M (4-0): Yikes, that was close! Baylor (4-0): Easy win in Ames not to be underplayed UCLA (4-0): Hundley fans breathe sigh of relief in ASU game Mississippi State (4-0): Week off between LSU and A&M is a nice gift
THE RAISIN BALLS Notre Dame (4-0): Horribly sloppy against Syracuse, win over Stanford then back to "The Real" Ole Miss (4-0): Close game against Memphis hopefully a look ahead BYU (4-0): No real chances the rest of the way to impress Nebraska (5-0): Oh yeah, I forgot...Huskers vs Spartans is an elimination game. i just forgot the Big Ten still mattered. TCU (3-0): SMU not a great tune up for Oklahoma Arizona (4-0): Wake up call coming this weekend vs Oregon Marshall (4-0): Um, ok.... Georgia Tech (4-0): Lots of average foes the rest of the way, but that's the ACC
A few other happenings from the weekend:
OHIO STATE STRENGTH COACH IS A BAD ASS Anthony Schlegel is the Ohio State strength coach, which by definition means he's a very strong man. Unfortunately for the scrawny fellow in this video, he choose to run onto the field at Ohio State this weekend in the general proximity of Schlegel. Big mistake....
— Brian Hofmann (@BrianHofmann) September 28, 2014
PENN STATE LINEMEN BLOCK EACH OTHER Well, so much for the Penn State reinstatement into the postseason being some sort of master plan to get an undefeated Big Ten team into the conversation for the College Football Playoff. In order to get to the CFP, you need to beat Northwestern, and in order to beat Northwestern, you need to block Northwestern....not block the guys on your own team....
COLLEGE FOOTBALL PLAYOFF PROMO Oh also, to make the College Football Playoff, you need to beat Minnesota at home. Yeah, I'm looking at you, Michigan....
Yeah, pretty sure your season isn't coming down to the Ohio State game (unless you're referring to bowl eligibility).
CHARLIE WEIS IS A JOKE OF A HEAD COACH Finally, we got our first big firing over the weekend, with Kansas correctly letting Charlie Weis know his services would no longer be required. Of course, this meant two things --
1. It meant that Charlie Weis would be placing another $7 million in severance pay on top of the $19 million that Notre Dame paid him to go away in the few years following his ouster there in 2009. (Seriously, I picture all of Charlie Weis severance money in a huge pile in his foyer in the form of gold coins with random jewels and sacks of money with a dollar sign on the front sprinkled in, like the king in the cartoon versions of Robin Hood.
2. Second, Charlie Weis went 19-6 in his first two seasons at Notre Dame. Since then, in five seasons (plus four games) as a college head coach, he has gone 22-43. He won one Big 12 game in two seasons (plus one game), and after beating three ranked teams in his first five games as a head coach in 2005, he beat two more ranked teams over the remainder of his head coaching career (19th ranked Penn State in 2006, 25th ranked UCLA in 2007). To this day, his greatest head coaching accomplishment (and impetus for his massive extension that eventually got his family $19 million in severance) is still a close loss to number one USC in 2005 (the "Bush Push" game).
Above all else, Charlie Weis proved that if you're a self-important gas bag who touts himself as a disciplinarian despite weighing as much as half a classroom of kindergarteners, who can recruit a little bit but can't develop talent to save his life (his coaching life, at least), you can still stack millions upon millions if you trick the right athletics directors into thinking you're as smart as you openly say you are.
And really, inspiring kids is what college football is all about.