We are on the cusp of a massive weekend of college football, a weekend where traditional rivalries shape the months of December and January, and they do so with the added bonus of massive amounts of food consumed over a 72 hour period.
It truly is glorious.
One price that we pay, though, for Rivalry/Thanksgiving Weekend football is the snoozefest the week before, where relevant teams are playing tune up games, including half the SEC staging a de facto jamboree with FCS schools. The only good things about the Snoozefest Appetizer Weekend are:
1. I can actually attend a wedding on a Saturday night and not feel any "I'm missing football!" animosity toward the bride and groom. (NOTE: I had a wedding to go to Saturday, and had a fine evening. Thank you, Jessica and Gabriel!)
2. I can basically cut and paste the top half of the rankings from last week, so...time saver!!
Here are the fifth iteration of the College Football Playoff rankings, along with thoughts.
1. Alabama 10-1 2. Oregon 10-1 3. Florida State 11-0 4. Mississippi State 10-1 5. TCU 9-1 6. Ohio State 10-1 7. Baylor 9-1 8. UCLA 9-2 9. Georgia 9-2 10. Michigan State 9-2 11. Arizona 9-2 12. Kansas State 8-2 13. Arizona State 9-2 14. Wisconsin 9-2 15. Auburn 8-3 16. Georgia Tech 9-2 17. Missouri 9-2 18. Minnesota 8-3 19. Ole Miss 8-3 20. Oklahoma 8-3 21. Clemson 8-3 22. Louisville 8-3 23. Boise State 9-2 24. Marshall 11-0 25. Utah 7-4
1. The top seven are all the same, so everyone seemed to pack enough style. Did anybody in the top seven do anything remarkable? No, not really. Alabama, Oregon, and Mississippi State all had blowouts against FCS schools. (Actually, Oregon's blowout was against Colorado, my co-host Ted Johnson's alma mater. This is my way of seeing if Ted reads my posts.) Florida State had a close shave at home against Boston College, which was apparently acceptable to the committee. TCU practiced for Thursday's game with Texas. Ohio State and Baylor had tussles that were closer than expected (and closer than the final score might indicate in the case of the Buckeyes), but in the end, status quo ruled. In the case of TCU and Baylor, it makes you wonder how impressive (or unimpressive, for TCU) each must be in order for Baylor's actually beating TCU on the field to kick in.
2. And moving up one big notch...UCLA. My "UCLA national champion 100/1" ticket took an unexpected uptick this past weekend with Arkansas knocking off Ole Miss 30-0. Anyone who said that the playoff decreases interest in the regular season will clearly not be in my living room this weekend. TCU-Texas on Thursday, the Iron Bowl, the Egg Bowl, Florida-Florida State, Ohio State-Michigan...these games all matter to me! (Oh, also UCLA-Stanford. That, too.)
3. So who is UCLA rooting for in Arizona versus Arizona State? It's an interesting question. UCLA beat both teams, but which win gets a little more sizzle with that opponent winning in the battle for the desert. Arizona would almost assuredly jump into the top 10 over Michigan State, which would then mean UCLA has a win over a top ten team, and a potentially win in the Pac 12 title game over Oregon, which would mean two top ten wins. Pretty salty resume for a two-loss team.
4. For a game being played in Madison, WI, Minnesota-Wisconsin has some wide reaching tentacles.... Boy, does it ever. First of all, I guarantee Ohio State is rooting like crazy for the Gophers, so they don't have to face Melvin Gordon in the Big Ten title game. That's number one. Second, a Wisconsin victory helps the SEC West a slight bit because LSU beat them in the season opener (right here...IN HOUSTON, TEXAS!). Third, a Minnesota victory is HUGE for TCU who beat the Gophers 30-7 early in the season, which would slowly become one of the highest ranked out of conference wins of any team in the playoff hunt.
5. ....as does Georgia Tech-Georgia. Georgia Tech is the only team that has two top ten opponents over the final two weeks of the season -- 9th ranked Georgia Saturday and then 3rd ranked Florida State for the ACC title. A Tech win on Saturday would squash any hope Georgia has of sneaking into the College Football Playoff as the SEC champion, a dream that is still alive, unless....
6. Missouri stands to really poop in the SEC's punch bowl, potentially. ....the Tigers have any say so about it. Missouri was invited to join A&M in the SEC as almost an afterthought back in 2012. A&M provided the sweet Texas nectar, Missouri came along because they have a couple decent sized TV markets, and 14 is an even number. Now, with a win over Arkansas (which will be tough, Hawgs have beaten LSU and Ole Miss by a combined 47-0 the last two weeks), Missouri would end Georgia's championship dreams by winning the SEC East. Then, with a massive upset of the SEC West winner, they'd end that school's dream. Mizzou has a chance to be a real problem child, folks.
7. Hey look! Actual top 25 teams from outside of the power five conferences! Well, what do you know? There ARE schools outside the power five conferences! Who knew?!? And actually, the top rated school among the "other five" conferences, gets a major bowl bid. Right now, Marshall's undefeated season is getting kicked square in the junk by a 9-2 Boise State team. I'd get worked up about it, but I look at Marshall's schedule and can't even tell you what their best win is because I'm not sure which schools have won three games and which ones have won seven or eight games. I literally don't know.