2015-09-25 15:55

I really like the way the season is developing.
Especially the SEC looks entertaining, because at the moment there is a very high potential the contenders will beat each other.
If this goes beyond 1 loss, the SEC might get out of contention of the playoff spots, which would be a super-gau.

But this will take the whole season to see if this is true or just a wish.

The consequence of this weekends results is, that my top 10 list is becoming a guess list.
Some teams might fall, some might fight back, some might win all games.

TOP10 teams for the playoff spots (sorted by likeliness)

#1 Ohio State Buckeyes
The game against NIU (won 20-13) was not really the nail to hammer them into this spot forever, but they did win and at the end of the season this game will only be a brief note.
Because they will have to play some tough BIG10 teams over the season and if all things go as expected, they will also play the best team from the other BIG10 division for the conference championship.
True, the other division might not be that tough, but still there is some reputation to gain by winning the conference.
Mark that date: 21.11. Michigan State at home. Might be the division deciding game.
Next game: Western Michigan.
For now they are (still) my pick as BIG10 Champ.

#2 Baylor Bears
Baylor had a bye week Ubefore that they did hammer FCS-team Lamar 66-31) and the jumped from #7 to #2?
Yes, because Alabama lost and I will not exchange their spot just with Ole Miss and TCU at #3 did win, but lost some defense players.
That did gave Baylor the lead in MY ranking to win the BIG12 and at the moment it's totally valid that the BIG12 champ will earn the #2 spot.
Mark this date: 28.11. TCU on the road. Might become the deciding match, but at the moment I would say only 60%.
Next game: Rice
Until they lose, the Bears will be my favorite to win the conference.

#3 Georgia Bulldogs
And another big jump.
The Bulldogs made the jump from #9 to #3 because of the following reasons.
They won against South Carolina 52-20.
Big win for them.
They do look like the best bet for the SEC east and as long as they do not lose, they are my favorite now to win the SEC.
Tough words, but I will give not Ole Miss or any other west team this spot before Georgia loses or a dominant west team comes up.
Mark this date: 03.10. Alabama, at home. This is maybe the only chance to get a real test of strength before the conference final.
If they beat Alabama, they will stay here.
Next game: Southern (FCS)

#4 Clemson Tigers
The ACC did get the juicy #4 spot only for this reason:
If Clemson can win it all, which can happen, they would have a perfect season.
I think the PAC12 champ won't have such a perfect season and at the end of the season, it will be hard to put a 1 loss champ in front of an unbeaten champ.
Clemson did beat Louisville 20-17 and so far the Clemson dream is alive. Louisville, for sure, will bounce back from the bad start they had and will very likely be a force in the ACC.
Mark this date: 07.11. Florida State, at home. Clemson will be tested several time the next few weeks, starting with next week against Notre Dame, and they might be not in the top4 spot anymore, when they have to face the eventually only remaining team left to challenge them for the division title.
They will have to win this to get into the championship game.
Next game: Notre Dame
For now Clemson has the edge for #4, but the might drop out of that spot faster than you can say 'Irish win'.

#5 Oregon Ducks
USC did lose and with that loss my favorite for the PAC12 did lose.
Next in line was Oregon and therefore did they jump to #5.
They have the tools to win the PAC12 and they did beat Georgia State last week 61-28.
Not impressive to beat down a SBC team, but if they wouldn't have done that, they would be marked as weak.
Why not UCLA at this spot?
Because Oregon has a nice schedule and will very likely at least get into the championship game and I'm also not sold on UCLA after their BYU game.
Mark this date: 07.11. California, at home. There are several tests on the next few weeks, but that Cal game might become a very important one, maybe THE important one, for the division title.
Next game: Utah
For now they are my favorite to win the PAC12 and because of the 1 loss, will be left out of the playoffs.

#6 Michigan State Spartans
Still at #6 after the win against Air Force 35-21.
I don't think a 2nd team from a conference will get a shot at #2 to #4 until the other potential champs will lose more than once.
They might jump the 5th champ, but even that is doubtful, if the champ has only 1 loss (even against MSU).
Mark this date: 21.11. Ohio State on the road. If all things go good for the Spartans, this game will be their ticket to the conference championship game, or their ticket for a lesser bowl.
Next game: Central Michigan.
The real fun will start, when the BIG10 games will come.

#7 Alabama Crimson Tide
They lost to Ole Miss 37-43, so why are they still here?
Because they did that also last season and won the conference.
It's a bit unfair for Ole Miss, but as long as Alabama does not lose another game, they will be still my favorite to win the division, if Ole Miss will not win all remaining games, which I doubt.
Mark this date: 03.10. Georgia, on the road. This game will be the next big test for the Tide.
If they win, they will be back on track (as long as Ole Miss will lose at some point), if they lose, they will drop out of this list.
Next game: Louisiana-Monroe

#8 Oklahoma Sooners
Where did the Horned Frogs go, you might ask?
I had them on that spot, when I did my picks for the weekend and I picked the Frogs going down against Texas Tech.
How could I have put them at #8 here, if I believe they go down the next weekend?
So I took the next in line for the BIG12 contest, Oklahoma.
Last weekend they did win against Tulsa, 52-38.
They have already won against a SEC-team (Tennessee) and are 3-0 so far.
They are for sure in the mix.
Mark this date: 14.11. Baylor, on the road. This will be a tough test for the Sooners. If they win this, they will have to face a few more tough teams in November to maybe earn the BIG12.
Next game: West Virginia, after a BYE week.
I think the BIG12 might become again a drama queen in November, but we will have to wait until then.

#9 Arizona Wildcats
I had the Bruins at this spot, but as with TCU, I did pick against UCLA for this weekend and that way Arizona became the leading candidate.
They had a BYE last weekend and before that they did win against Nevada 44-20.
This is a shaky pick and they might fall at some point, but so far it looks OK.
Mark this date: 03.10. Stanford, on the road. If Stanford really got behind their bad season start and do keep winning like last week, this game might become very interesting.
I have the feeling that the PAC12 South will be a mess in November and there will be a few teams in contention for the title.
None will be relevant then for the playoffs.
Next game: UCLA
This could already be the end for the Wildcats in that list.

#10 Ole Miss
Yes, no ACC team at that point.
Why? Because there is FSU, GT and maybe even Miami or Duke for the next in line of the ACC and none did convince me enough to give them a better spot.
Ole Miss did win against Alabama 43-37 and if they keep on winning, they will be the west-winner of the SEC.
It will take some time, to get them on a higher spot, but winning will help.
Mark this date: 24.10. Texas A&M. It looks like this will become 1 of the next toughest tests for that team.
Of cause there will be others, but until that date it looks like a championship caliber team might get there unbeaten.
Next game: Vanderbilt

Dropped out:
TCU Horned Frogs (This is a bit unfair, but plausible. They had my edge over Baylor last week, but lost that edge after the gameday. They should be 2nd place in the BIG12 now, but since I picked Texas Tech for the win this weekend, they dropped to 3rd or worse.)
USC Trojans (lost to Stanford and is now hardly able to win the division. They have to hope for losses of several other contenders, or, have to win all remaining games, which is unlikely, after last games production)
Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (lost to Notre Dame and even if they win their division, they are now a bit tarnished. If they would win the conference, they would for sure not get a spot worth the playoffs, if not 1 or 2 of the other camps do have a 2+ loss season.)

Here are the 3 most likely non power 5 teams to crash the party:
#1 Temple Owls
After I got familiar with them and accepted them to become better, they won only by 2 points against UMass (25-23).
Mark this date: 31.10. Notre Dame, at home. If they survive until then, they will face off against a probably ranked team here.
It would be a bomb, if they would win this.
Next game: Charlotte, on the road, after a BYE

#2 Boise State Broncos
The did destroy Idaho State 52-0.
That's far from being relevant.
The Broncos will have to win many games to get back into the ranks.
Mark this date: 10.10. Colorado State, on the road. This looks like a perfect trap game.
CSU is maybe not as strong as last season, but for sure they can still play football.
Next game. Virginia, on the road.
The Broncos have to win here to stay in the big bowl hunt.

#3 Toledo Rockets
This one is on one hand nice and on the other one not.
It's nice, because Toledo did win in 2 weeks against 2 power 5 teams (Arkansas 16-12 and Iowa State 30-23).
This is not so nice, because this looks like a bit of a fraud, since they will have to play a lot of their MAC opponents left and I'm still thinking NIU will rule later in the season.
But the potential is their and it's hard to argue against those 2 wins (and a half win in addition for the canceled game against Stoney Brook).
Mark this date: 03.11. Northern Illinois, at home. If the season gets stopped, it will be very likely be here.
Next game. Arkansas State

Dropped out:
Western Kentucky Hilltoppers (lost to Indiana 35-38 and is now tarnished. There are several other teams able to make a case left, untarnished.)

Now let's have a look at the BLOCK OF GRANITE TOP GAMES FOR WEEK 4

Sat. Sept. 26 - 4:45 pm ET
#3 TCU @ Texas Tech
As mentioned above, I think Texas Tech will win here.
There are a few factors to consider here.
TCUs defense is hurting and this might be enough for Texas Tech to put up many points.
Granted, TCU is also able to score, but enough in a shootout?
Next factor is the site. It's on Red Raiders ground.
And as last major factor, we have a big beat down of TT by TCU last season, which is well remembered.
The team and the fans will be motivated to get the best out of the team.
This sums up to a hurting team comes in a hostile stadium and has to play a quite potential team.
Vegas has TCU as a favorite here, but I like a Texas Tech upset in a wild game.
Red Raiders win.

Sat. Sept. 26 - 8:00 pm ET
#9 UCLA @ #16 Arizona
Also mentioned above I think Arizona will win in this game.
UCLA was able to win last week, but the young QB did show some errors and if the very good Arizona defense is able to get their running game under control, the young QB has to win the game.
On the other hand we have a UCLA defense, which was not able to beat down the quite weak BYU offense line and destroy the Cougars.
Now put into that matchup a very good Arizona offense, quick and fast, there might be a problem.
Add a game in Arizona on national television and this might get very entertaining.
Vegas has UCLA ahead by a few points, I do see Rich Rod breaking his 3 game losing streak against UCLA and win with his team.

Sat. Sept. 26 - 8:30 pm ET
#18 Utah @ #13 Oregon
On paper, this looks great.
Utah looks the first time since the PAC12 join capable to make some noise in the league and Oregon is not as quick and dominant as last season.
Upset potential?
I think Oregon is good. Really good, that's why I did put them back into my PAC12 favorite spot.
Utah is also good, but that's it.
They might be able to keep up a few quarters, but I'm sure at the end of the day will Oregon win, at home!
My guts are telling me, the most exciting thing of this match will be the Oregon uniforms. Maybe.

Sat. Sept. 26 - 10:30 pm ET
#19 Southern California @ Arizona State
To have this PAC12 heavy preview completed I decided to take the Trojans - Sun Devils game.
For now it looks like the Sun Devils are not the same kind of team they were last season.
They lost to Texas A&M, won not very high against a FCS team and did win also not very high against New Mexico.
Last season they would probably won all 3 games and the last 2 ones very high.
USC on the other hand DID look very good in the 1st 2 game and did then lose to Stanford last gameday.
Assuming the Cardinals found their men-cards somewhere in the locker room, the Trojans should win this game against Arizona State in a good way.
Only pro for the Sun Devils is, they play at home.
Vegas does see them as underdogs with less than a TD difference.
I'm not convinced, they will really stay in the game that close, but it could happen.
For me it will go down with 10+ points in favor of USC.
I pick the Trojans.

'Til next time

PS: Great day today on Amrum. Best day so far.

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