2015-10-27 18:18

That was the quite not so exciting Week 8 and we will narrow the teams further down in the future, but it did not happen too much, this weekend.
Only 2 teams got the 1st knock, Utah and Florida State, and only 2 teams got the (probably) final knock with their 2nd loss, Cal and Texas A&M.
18 teams are left in the list.

I did had a look at the remaining games of this teams against each other and I think the picture will get clearer then.
Of cause can every team lose against a team NOT mentioned here, but playing for titles and a playoff spot, they better win those other games.
Because otherwise the tough games will be, well, very tough and won't have that meaning anymore.
Many teams do have already 1 loss and as long as 4 teams with 1 loss or less remain, 2 losses will be too much.

The so far remaining 1-loss Power5 teams + Independents after week 8 are:

ACC (5 teams)
Clemson Tigers (7-0) - has to play Florida State 07.11.
Duke Blue Devils (6-1) - has to play North Carolina 07.11 and Pittsburgh 14.11.
Florida State Seminoles (6-1) - has to play Clemson 07.11 and Florida 28.11.
North Carolina Tar Heels (6-1) - has to play Pittburg 31.10. and Duke 07.11.
Pittsburgh Panthers (6-1) - has to play North Carolina 31.10., Notre Dame 07.11. and Duke 14.11.

dropped out:

BIG10 (3 teams)
Iowa Hawkeyes (7-0) - has to play none of that list
Michigan State Spartans (8-0) - has to play Ohio State 21.11.
Ohio State Buckeyes (8-0) has to play Michigan State 21.11.

dropped out:

BIG12 (4 teams)
Baylor Bears (7-0) - has to play Oklahoma 14.11., Oklahoma State 21.11. and TCU 28.11.
Oklahoma Sooners (6-1) - has to play Baylor 14.11., TCU 21.11. and Oklahoma State 28.11.
Oklahoma State Cowboys (7-0) has to play TCU 07.11., Baylor 21.11. and Oklahoma 28.11.
TCU Horned Frogs (7-0) - has to play Oklahoma State 07.11., Oklahoma 21.11. and Baylor 28.11.

dropped out:

PAC12 (2 teams)
Stanford Cardinal (6-1) - has to play Notre Dame 28.11.
Utah Utes (6-1) - has to play none of that list

dropped out:
California Golden Bears (5-2), lost to UCLA

SEC (3 teams)
Alabama Crimson Tide (7-1) - has to play LSU 07.11.
Florida Gators (6-1) - has to play Florida State 28.11.
LSU Tigers (7-0) - has to play Alabama 07.11.

dropped out:
Texas A&M Aggies (5-2), lost to Ole Miss

Notre Dame Fighting Irish (6-1) - has to play Temple 31.10, Pittsburgh 07.11. and Stanford 28.11.

I did put Notre Dames Temple game into that mix here, because even if Temple is not monitored in my list above, they are still unbeaten and part of the FBS and part of the non-power-5-contenders.
If Notre Dame win this, they get a small boost, if they lose this, they will drop and Temple will rise.
I still think that no Non-Power5-team will make it into the playoffs, but you never know.

It will be interesting to see, how the pieces will fall together.
Keep in mind, that most of the conference will host a championship game and that even if a lone team is left in my list for a conference, that championship game might change that stuff, again.

Let's have a look at my list of the

TOP10 teams for the playoff spots (sorted by likeliness)

#1 Baylor Bears
They did win against Iowa State 45-27, with the Cyclones score most of the points in garbage time, but they lost their starting QB with a neck injury, which might have a huge impact, if you remember their upcoming schedule.
Baylor can be dead fast, if their offense can't produce.
Mark this date: 21.11. Oklahoma State, on the road. You could put almost every November game in that slot.
Next game: Kansas State, on the road, after a BYE
I doubt seeing their starting QB again this regular season. He might be back for a bowl.

#2 Ohio State Buckeyes
The Buckeyes did switch their QB and the team looks better now.
They did beat Rutgers 49-7.
At the moment they are better respected than last week and that Spartans game will be the key to silent every one.
Mark that date: 21.11. Michigan State at home. It will be exciting to see both teams colliding.
Next game: Minnesota, at home, after a BYE
THE GAME against Michigan will be very interesting, regardless of the Spartans result, because it's on the road, and after a major contest.

#3 Clemson Tigers
With that 58-0 win against Miami is Clemson on TOP.
FSU did lose, the Tigers did win big and I think everyone is waiting for the perfect season.
Mark this date: 07.11. Florida State, at home. Still important, since FSU is only 1 win behind.
Next game: North Carolina State, on the road
If Clemson stays perfect, I think it's hard to argue against other conferences. They would be in.

#4 Alabama Crimson Tide
And the SEC is back on the driver seat for a playoff spot.
The Tide did win on the road against Tennessee 19-14 and are still my favorite to win the SEC.
Mark this date: 07.11. LSU, at home. Could become THE deciding match.
Next game: LSU, at home, after a BYE
The rest program after LSU is Mississippi State, a FCS team and Auburn. Pending a total decline, if they win against LSU, the division is theirs.

#5 Utah Utes
I'm not pushing the Utes away after 1 loss.
Every PAC12 team has minimum now 1 loss.
Stanford is the only team having no conference-loss, but they will have to play Utah (or which team every gets to the championship game) and they might lose there.
But Utah did get a hard knock with their loss against USC, 42-24.
Mark this date: 21.11. UCLA, at home. Could be the final test, maybe they get the hardest test a week before against Arizona.
Next game: Oregon State, at home
The PAC12-South got a bit more open with Utahs loss. But if Utah gets its game together, again, they will win the division.

#6 Michigan State Spartans
They did win against Indiana, 52-26. That did show all other teams, that the Spartans are here to play.
Mark this date: 21.11. Ohio State on the road. A look at the remaining games does show only this one to be very tough.
Next game: Nebraska, on the road, after a BYE
With 4 games left to play, I think many fans are starting dreaming.

#7 Iowa Hawkeyes
Nothing happened in the bye week.
Mark this date: 07.11. Indiana, on the road. I'm still waiting for the meltdown, but it looks like they will play in the championship game.
Next game: Maryland, at home
Keep an eye on the Hawkeyes. They might become stars end of November.

#8 TCU Horned Frogs
The Frogs had also a BYE.
Mark this date: 21.11. Oklahoma, on the road. I'm still confident, that TCU will run out of luck at some point.
Next game: West Virginia, at home
The Horned Frogs will have to stay focused until the season is over.

#9 Stanford Cardinals
When you beat Washington 31-14, its clear that you are way better than the Huskies.
But are they also better than Washington State, this season. Next weekend will show this.
Mark this date: 21.11. Cal, at home. The Big Game, as it is called, is the Cardinals to lose. The game after that, the Notre Dame game, will also be crucial.
Next game: Washington State, on the road
Some do see Stanford as the PAC12 champ to be. Not so fast.

#10 LSU Tigers
Winning 48-20 against Western Kentucky is not really a signal.
So far, LSU does look good.
Good enough to beat Alabama?
Not sure.
Mark this date: 07.11. Alabama, on the road. A tough rest program will sort LSU out or will let them rise fast.
Next game: Alabama, on the road, after a BYE
So far did LSU not play very impressive teams. Florida might be OK, but maybe Florida is hyped. We will see LSU for real in November.

Dropped out:

Here are the 3 most likely non power 5 teams to crash the party:

#1 Houston Cougars
They won 59-10 against UCF.
It will be interesting to see, how the team will hold together, once the coaching changes will be discussed and how the current Houston HC will become the next HC at what ever school.
The good thing is, Memphis has to live with such talks about THEIR HC, also.
Mark this date: 14.11. Memphis, at home. Looks like an exciting match.
Next game: Vanderbilt, at home
This season might change things in Houston, again.

#2 Toledo Rockets
Almost lost to UMass, winning the game 51-35, while it did not look too good at halftime.
Mark this date: 17.11. Bowling Green, on the road. Hard to tell, but looks like one of the toughest games they will have.
Next game: Northern Illinois, at home on 4th of November.
An open debate, if they will drop a game at some point.

#3 none.
I decided to leave that spot for the rest of the season.
Basically it's AAC or MAC, all other conference do look very unlikely.
It doesn't make much sense to put Memphis here, since I expect them to lose at some point.
I'm not happy with the current situation, but it looks like the season gets quite boring in terms of conference competition on that level.

Dropped out:

A small news update:
Miami (Fla.) did fire their HC Al Golden after that Clemson loss.
TE-Coach Larry Scott will be the interims coach.
The internet is happy.

George O'Leary announced his retirement, valid NOW, from the University of Central Florida.
QB-coach Danny Barrett will be his replacement until season final.
Hard to say, but I think the pressure after a 0-7 start did force the school to do something.
Retirement sound nicer than firing, I think.

Now let's have a look at the BLOCK OF GRANITE TOP GAMES FOR WEEK 9

Thurs. Oct. 29 - 7:00 pm ET
North Carolina @ #23 Pittsburgh
I think I have to make another Thursday-Special! here.
At the moment there is Duke, North Carolina and Pittsburgh on top of their ACC division with zero conference losses so far.
THIS game will push 1 team a bit deeper in the standings.
Vegas is seeing ... drum roll .... North Carolina in the favorite role.
So Pittsburgh, at home, ranked, does not get the favorite role.
I'm a bit surprised here.
They won against Virginia Tech, on the road, they won against Georgia Tech, on the road.
They only lost so far against Iowa, ranked at #10 at the moment.
North Carolina did win against Georgia Tech on the road, also, and lost to South Carolina on the road at season opener.
All other games were home games so far, all wins.
I'm not saying North Carolina is a bad team, but from the perspective, so far, they did play weaker teams, rightful not get the same ranking votes as Pittsburgh, but gets the favorite role?
Not for me.
Pittsburgh does impress me with their turnaround this season and if that trends keeps on for the next 1 or 2 seasons, Pittsburgh will become serious contender in the FBS.
North Carolina did so far impress me by not messing their season up, like they did the last few seasons.
I think Pitt will have a tough game, maybe the toughest game of the season.
I think it will be close, but I think they will win this.
Panthers win.

Sat. Oct. 31 - 3:00 pm ET
USC @ California
I did think long about the 4 games on Saturday and at the end I had 1 game less than needed.
Most games are not really impressive, either not really close from competition point of view or not really great from competition point of view.
So I grabbed this one.
USC had their huge win against Utah last week.
Cal started good into the season, but lost the last 2 games against Utah and UCLA.
For both teams it's do or die, since both teams already have 2 conference losses and another loss will send that team for sure into the bottom half of the conference and way out of reach of the division title.
Cal is 2 behind already, USC just 1.
This game is played in Berkeley, where Cal did not lose so far.
USC did win and lose on the road, so no real trend available here.
The only thing which is good for USC: They did play very good against Utah, as interims coach team, much better than before.
Cal on the other hand is maybe able to rebound from the last 2 losses.
Vegas call: Cal is a FG behind and a 30-something to 30-something game is expected.
Under such conditions is everything possible.
My pick: The home field will help Cal just enough to win this. I'm 55% confident that will happen ....
So, Golden Bears win.

Sat. Oct. 31 - 3:30 pm ET
Georgia vs. #11 Florida
Ha, "World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party" played on a neutral turf in Jacksonville, Florida, is 1 of the longest played rivalries in the FBS.
This is played annual since 1926! with 5 games before that not played annual.
Both teams are not sure when the rivalry began, Georgia does count a game in 1904, which they won, while Florida does not count that game, since the team Georgia played was not from the University of Florida, but from 1 of the schools which BECAME the university of Florida 1905!.
Well ... Georgia is leading the series and did lose the last meeting last season.
This season they are a FG behind as underdog.
The Gators did have a great turnaround under new management, but lost their starting QB because of doping.
They lost to LSU 2 weeks ago and had a BYE last weekend.
Georgia did start fast, but struggled since the Alabama game, losing to the Tide, the Vols and win barely against Mizzou 9-6.
Not so good. (as a sidenote: Their living mascot UGA IX did retire last week and UGA X will take over. Good? Bad?)
They had also a BYE last weekend.
If the Gators win this, they would very likely win the division, while a Georgia win would push the division race wide open again.
My guts are saying, the Gators are not that good as advertised.
My head does say, Georgia did struggle big time since the Alabama game and is not sure they will recover.
I really do expect an ugly game.
Who will win?
I think if Georgia does not reinvent their offense, they will lose.
Am I confident they will do that?
Gators win.

Sat. Oct. 31 - 8:00 pm ET
#9 Notre Dame @ #21 Temple
This is 1 of the biggest games, Temple ever had.
Maybe it is the biggest 1.
Strange how a ranking does change the perspective.
In pre-season it was clear Notre Dame will come to town.
Now it is clear not only the Irish will come, but also the whole ESPN Gameday crew.
(which means for me, there are no bigger games this weekend ESPN is allowed to broadcast, Georgia/Florida is CBS Sports)
I think nobody is expecting a Temple win here.
Notre Dame is only a 10 point favorite, which they were not in pre-season, for sure, but it's still a long way for Temple to win this.
What's on the table?
Notre Dame needs that win, it will boost their reputation and they need all wins until season end to have an outside chance for a playoff spot.
Temple on the other hand needs that win to keep in the hunt for a new years bowl, or even more.
A very unlikely scenario could see all remaining zero- or 1-loss teams lose at least twice over the season and an unbeaten Temple team.
Which would mean Temple became AAC-Champion after beating Notre Dame and Memphis and which ever team is in the championship game (Houston, Memphis or Navy then probably)
That might be enough.
Can Temple win here?
Yes, but they have to play perfect on defense.
Not allowing too much offense production, keep it under control and play fast on offense.
Notre Dame has a lot more to lose here, expectations are high and a loss here will send them out of the playoff hunt and will make the rest of the season hard.
As I said, nobody is expecting a Temple win here and honestly, I think this will get not that close as advertised.
I expect a 15-20 points margin win by Notre Dame.
Irish win.

Sat. Oct. 31 - 10:30 pm ET
#8 Stanford @ Washington State
Some did say, ESPNs Gameday should have been here.
It's an elimination game for Wazzu, trailing 1 game behind a strong Stanford team and another loss will very likely seal the deal for Stanford for the PAC12-Championship game.
So, the Cougars, with their best season so far in years, should be motivated.
Stanford on the other hand can rely on a big winning streak and they look great every game.
That explains the 12 points they get from Vegas as favorite.
Can Wazzu win this?
Not sure.
Yes, they won some games against other good teams, but Stanford did not win against the same opponents, they did WIN. BIG.
This might get to a game, where we see the 1st time both teams next to each other and we can see, that this Cardinal is way bigger than this Cougar.
I pick Stanford for the win.
Cardinals win.

'Til next time

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