College Football, Week 8 — 4 Winners, 4 Losers

As we head toward Halloween weekend, we are getting down to the part of the college football calendar where we can somewhat definitively identify the teams that still have a chance at playing in the College Football Playoff. Heading into this weekend, the number ranged anywhere from 19 (according to Dennis Dodd of CBSSports.com) to 22 (according to Bovada's big board). 

So nailing down "winners" and "losers" from now through Selection Sunday when they announce the four teams in the playoff will have a very decided "How did this impact your playoff chances?" feel to it. Because if you're not playing to win the crown, then what are you playing for? So let's get cracking, shall we?


4. David Shaw
After the first week of the college football season, and the Cardinal's disappointing 16-6 loss to Northwestern (who's turned out to be better than we thought), I went all in on the Stanford head coach, and even paid him the ultimate insult by juxtaposing his career record alongside that of former Miami head coach Larry Coker. Wow, how wrong I was. Credit Shaw for not only pulling Stanford out of its early season tailspin, but making them the number one "team no one would want to play right now," following another workmanlike win on Saturday night, 34-17 over Washington. This is all setting up for a de facto play-in game against...

3. Notre Dame
….on November 28. The Irish were off on Saturday, which meant they got to watch Utah and Florida State tumble in front of them on Saturday night. The Irish should be considered a top 10 team in the country right now, and enter a patch of schedule that has two frisky top 25 teams (Temple, Pitt) on the road before finishing the regular season against Stanford, in what could be a huge draw on Thanksgiving weekend. Up until now, Notre Dame's schedule has not been all that great, but if it matters, they do have the most impressive loss of the one-loss teams, a two point loss to Clemson in Clemson that ended on a failed ND two point conversion attempt. 

2. Paul Johnson
Hey, speaking of Notre Dame, remember when Georgia Tech was favored over the Irish in South Bend? Seems like it was ten years ago. It was actually about a month ago. Since that game, up until Saturday night, the Yellow Jackets had gone from "dark horse playoff contender" to "possibly staying home at bowl season," falling to 2-5. But credit Paul Johnson for getting his team ready to play and upsetting Florida State on Saturday night on this week's version of ALCOA's fantastic finishes ...

Jimbo Fisher, sorry man. Couldn't have happened to a nicer scumbag.

1. If the season ended today…..
….my four team playoff would be 1. LSU vs. 4. Ohio State, 2. Baylor vs 3. Clemson. Pac-12 are the conference that's left out, which brings us to a couple things here on the "losers" side...


4. Baylor
Yeah, the Bears won another game convincingly, 45-27 over Iowa State. Yeah, we learned that the only thing that can keep the Bears under 50 points might be Mother Nature. But the Bears also may have lost their quarterback Seth Russell to a broken bone in his neck. Art Briles' system has proven in the last five years to be completely QB-agnostic. In other words, whoever runs it, if the trains run on time, puts up big numbers. RG3, Nick Florence, Bryce Petty, Russell. Next up could be freshman Jarrett Stidham.

3. Utah
So, you see what I meant now when I called all of you "suckers" when you were salivating over catching 3.5 points against an unranked USC team on Saturday night? (The line closed at Utah +6. SIX!) Sometimes, talent wins out, and USC has it in droves over Utah, a team that had survived so far on a steady, unsustainable diet of turnovers and special teams. For so many weeks, Michigan had been getting credit for "hanging with" Utah in the season opener. By the time, the season is done, Utah will be getting more credit for beating Michigan than Michigan will for "hanging with" Utah. Watch.

2. Texas A&M
This is actually a topic that probably deserves its own post, especially after the performance of Twitter Aggies on Saturday night after their team turned in an offensive meltdown typically reserved for FCS teams marching into an SEC game on a September Saturday afternoon. I'll just throw this question out and expand on it sometime later this week, but ask yourselves, Aggie fans, what meaningful things have the Aggies accomplished since 2012 that didn't involve Johnny Manziel? (And you can't answer "stadium expansion" because that probably doesn't happen, at least not to the tune of over $400 million, without Johnny Manziel. Also, it has nothing to do with how decidedly average your on-field product has been the last two seasons.)

1. Al Golden
In 2015, when it ends for a beleaguered head coach, it usually ends with one of two things (or both) —  a loss where the cracks in the foundation turn into one big sinkhole of quit (58-0 loss to Clemson, CHECK) and a social media barrage from prominent alumni and rappers calling for your head on a spit….


Tough times at the U…..

Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 2 to 7 p.m. weekdays. Also, follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanTPendergast and like him on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/SeanTPendergast.                 

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