2016-11-09 11:13

Last week did not sort things out, in fact it did only eliminate 1 team from my playoff candidate list by a loss, LSU, after their 3rd loss of the season, against Alabama.

But if you look at the AP TOP 25 rankings, it's clear what the journalists do see as TOP teams. LSU did drop in the ranks, yes, but they are the best ranked teams with 3 losses at #19 (The CFP Ranks see them as #24, best ranked 3-loss team is Florida State at #18).
Wisconsin is still the best ranked team with 2 losses at #7 (also for CFP Ranks) and Louisville is the best ranked team with 1 loss at #5 (For CFP Ranks this is Ohio State at #5, Louisville is #6).

Especially the close gap between Wisconsin and Louisville shows that the quality of schedule does have a big influence on the rankings.
That's also the reason why Western Michigan, the only unbeaten non-power5-team left is only ranked at #14 (CFP Rank is #21).
These conference games against the other MAC teams do hurt the team big time and if they lose only once, they would for sure fall from grace fast.

That's the reason why I'm a bit in doubt regarding my playoff hopeful list.
On one hand it do give an overview about the teams with zero, one or two losses, but on the other hand does it not include the strength of schedule.

So I decided to adjust the teams slightly, for example does a MAC team or a SBC team get 2 "losses" by default, means they are ranked lower, since they would need not only a perfect season, they would also need probably many power 5 teams to drop 2 or more games to get serious considerations as playoff team.
I did not adjust it per team, only per conference.
The only non-power5 conferences I did keep as it is now (just 1-loss adjustment) is the American and the MWC. They have the status and teams to justify the 1-loss rule.
All other (MAC, CUSA and MAC) got 1 loss on top to my old rule.
The Independents did also keep their 1-loss adjustment.
This might be too much for some teams and too little for others, but at least this season it's irrelevant, since all teams did play not good enough to be even in the TOP 25.

Because of this did Troy drop out of the playoff race as SBC team this week, which is realistic.

Here are the 'remaining' teams for the playoffs, based on my easy system:

Clemson Atlantic Coast Conference
Clemson is close to win the division, but they can't afford to stumble.

Michigan Big Ten Conference
The game against Ohio State will likely seal the deal.

Washington Pac-12 Conference
Washington will need to win against Washington State to win the division.

Alabama Southeastern Conference
Alabama has only Auburn as last division rival to fear.

"In needs of a great goalline stand"
Louisville Atlantic Coast Conference
Needs to win all remaining games and has to hope that many of the teams do stumble over the next few weeks.

West Virginia Big 12 Conference
Did drop quite deep and would need to win all remaining games to boost their reputation.

Ohio State Big Ten Conference
Needs to win against Michigan as highest priority.

"In need of a Hail Mary"
North Carolina Atlantic Coast Conference
Still a contender in the ACC Coastal, but needs VT to lose.

Virginia Tech Atlantic Coast Conference
Needs to win all remaining games to get a clear shot.

Baylor Big 12 Conference
Is almost done for the playoffs, outsider.

Oklahoma Big 12 Conference
Needs to win the BIG12 and has to hope for a meltdown of the leading other teams of the other conferences, outsider.

Oklahoma State Big 12 Conference
Is more or less done. They can win the BIG12, but would need even more luck than Oklahoma to get a spot. Outsider.

Minnesota Big Ten Conference
Are still in the mix to win the division, but for the playoffs they are outsider.

Nebraska Big Ten Conference
Are also almost done, can win the division, but outsider.

Penn State Big Ten Conference
Needs to win all remaining game and has to hope for some other teams upsets Ohio State and Michigan.

Wisconsin Big Ten Conference
Is surprisingly still in the division title race, and could sneak into the playoffs as the best ranked outsider right now.

Western Michigan Mid-American Conference
Lone unbeaten non-power5-team left, primed for a new years bowl spot.

Boise State Mountain West Conference
After an upset loss against Wyoming might not even win the division.

San Diego State Mountain West Conference
Might win their division in the MWC or more, still outsider.

Colorado Pac-12 Conference
Right now leading team in the PAC12 South, but outsider.

Utah Pac-12 Conference
Needs to win all remaining games to win the division, playoff outsider.

Washington State Pac-12 Conference
Needs to win all remaining games, the conference and has still to pray for a lot of upsets in other conferences, outsider.

Auburn Southeastern Conference
Looks right now as the only remaining threat to Alabamas dominance, could win the division and conference and would then skyrocket. Probably the second best ranked outsider right now.

Florida Southeastern Conference
Contender for the SEC East division, needs to play an additional game against LSU.

Texas A&M Southeastern Conference
Did lose the second time now and is only an outsider.

A lot of teams got send from the 1-loss pool to the 2-loss pool in last weeks games, like Nebraska and Florida, and we will see a reduction of THAT pool over the next few weeks, I'm sure.
The 1-loss pool got down to 3 teams, which opens ups a lot of opportunities for 2-loss teams and it will also fire up the discussion of playoff worthy teams.
Louisville is right now ranked 5th.
What does that mean?
If Washington does stumble once, but win the division and the conference, will they be left out, and Louisville, as a team not even winning a division, nor a conference, gets a spot?
Probably not.
But if the PAC12 South winner has 2 losses and wins the conference against an unbeaten Washington team?
I don't know.

We lost only 2 teams this week from the list, LSU because they lost to Alabama and that way a 3rd time, Troy as SBC team, because they had already a loss and I added 1 as adjustment to the already existing one being a non-power5-team.

The upcoming week will probably send more teams out of that list in total.
There are a lot of second tier games which will have a huge impact on the list and the conference standing.

I will try to build a conference overview regarding contending teams for division and conference titles next week.

Let's have a look at the BLOCK OF GRANITE TOP GAMES FOR WEEK 11

Thu. Nov 10 7:30 PM ET
#17 North Carolina @ Duke
This is a rivalry game between both North Carolina schools honored with the Victory bell and UNC has a 2-game winning streak running.
The Tar Heels are a 10.5 point favorite this season and only the home game of Duke does make me a bit aware that this might become a bit tougher than expected.
Both teams do have a short week, UNC did win against GT at home last weekend, Duke lost at home a close game against division leader VT.
Duke did so far not play well this season, lost all ACC games so far, but the team is not to be underestimated.
UNC needs the win to stay in the division title hunt, Duke needs the win to at least dream further of a bowl spot.
My feeling is, we will see a close game here.
But I do have also the feeling that UNC is far better equipped than Duke this season and all home town spirit is not enough to avoid another Blue Devils loss.
Tar Heels win.

Sat. Nov 12 12:00 PM ET
Tulsa @ Navy
The winner of this game will be very close to winning the American Athletic West division.
Both teams do have 1 conference loss and do have manageable games left to play, so this game is a do or don't game.
Tulsa lost to Houston, Navy lost to South Florida.
Vegas sees Tulsa 1 point ahead, which is basically nothing.
If this would be in Tulsa, I would pick the Golden Hurricanes.
But on Navy-ground this is different.
Navy has not lost at home this season.
So Navy? Tulsa?
I pick Navy as home team and under the impression that Tulsa had some trouble on the road.
Midshipmen win.

Sat. Nov 12 12:00 PM ET
Baylor @ #11 Oklahoma
The last chance for Baylor to keep in touch with the conference contenders.
If they lose, they lose all chances for the conference title and can just concentrate on a bowl game (if the administration accepts an invitation, pending any NCAA investigations and sanctions).
Oklahoma is right now the favorite, 15.5 points by Vegas and it's hard to argue against this.
So far did Oklahoma win all conference games and the play at home, so what could go wrong?
Well, it might be a long shot, but Oklahoma could collapse and lose against Baylors fast scoring offense.
I don't see that coming, but you never know.
Right now there is no doubt for me, that Oklahoma will win this by a score or likely more.
Sooners win.

Sat. Nov 12 7:30 PM ET
#20 USC @ #4 Washington
A heavy game here and Washington is lucky to have this at home.
USC is coming and won 5 in a row, since they lost against Stanford and Utah on the road in September.
The Huskies are 8.5 point favorite in this game and I can understand why.
Unbeaten they do face a late winning team, so it's hard to predict an outcome here.
Well, I make a bold prediction, Washington will bury USC.
They will beat the spread and will win at home, because the team is hot, well coached and plays at home.
This is not the sunny weather of California, this is Seattle, and if USC is lucky the do not have rain on that day.
Huskies win.

Sat. Nov 12 3:30 PM ET
Appalachian State @ Troy
Yes, a Sun Belt game in the TOP games, because this game is critical one to separate 1 team from the 3 current unbeaten-inside-the-conference contenders for the conference title.
Appalachian State, Troy and Arkansas State do sit on top of the SBC and Troy is the team which can make this a 1-team race in the next 2 weeks, playing both other teams.
Saying that, it will not be easy for them to do so.
They need to win this week and honestly I think it's the tougher one.
If they win this, at home, they can also win against Arkansas State next week, also at home.
Vegas has not made up their mind to 100%, but so far I found an even spread or a -1 for Troy, which means nothing.
Overall I think Troy has a slightly better team and plays at home, so I pick them here, but it will be close.
A big play might decide the game to either side, expect a good game.
Trojans win.

Other interesting games:

Thu. Nov 10 7:30 PM ET
#15 Utah @ Arizona State
This can make the race inside the PAC12 South boring or interesting.
ASU has the ability to score an upset here, at home.
They have lost 3 in a row, so they are for sure not willing to lose another one.
Utah on the other side needs this win to stay in the hunt of the division title and if they lose, they can more or less concentrate on the bowl season.
Of cause things can happen, especially if Colorado loses, but they should not count on that.
Utah is a 5.5 point favorite and it's hard to see them lose here with their new running game.
I pick them as the winner and hope that the PAC12 South is still worth a look after the weekend.
Utes win.

Sat. Nov 12 12:00 PM ET
South Carolina @ Florida
This might look like an easy game for Florida, but they need this to win the division and South Carolina needs this to get a bowl spot early and the gamecocks have shown lately that they can play.
They won 3 in a row, but all at home.
Now they visit Florida and the Gators are 11.5 point favorite here.
I expect a close game, can imagine an upset, but can't commit in that upset bid.
Chances are good that Florida will use this easy game as their ticket to the conference title game and they will play this the best they can.
Gators win.

Sat. Nov 12 12:00 PM ET
#10 Penn State @ Indiana
This looks like a trap game for Penn State.
Indiana did stay in all games, did play well and were a bit unlucky against the better teams.
Penn State can win here of cause, Indiana can win, too.
PSU is a 7 point favorite and I think it will be much close.
I smell an upset coming, but I'm not bold enough to pick it, sorry.
Nittany Lions win.

Sat. Nov 12 12:00 PM ET
#16 West Virginia @ Texas
Here I pick an upset.
West Virginia has still to proof they can play with the big boys and playing in Texas against a 2-game-winning-streak Texas team will at least challenge them.
If the Mountaineers are really the contenders some did see in them, they should win this.
I think they are not that strong and the Longhorns will win this in a close one.
Vegas has a line of -2.0, so also Vegas doesn't trust the Mountaineers.
For Texas it would be the bowl ticket, for West Virginia would win mean they are still in the mix for the conference, a loss would mean they are out of contention.
Longhorns win.

Sat. Nov 12 12:00 PM ET
Kentucky @ Tennessee
Last chance for Kentucky to get in touch with the division title.
If they lose, Florida is division champ by direct compare, regardless the result of the LSU game.
If they win and Florida drops 2 games, Kentucky would win the division, which would be a nice surprise for all Wildcats fans.
Vegas sees the Vols 13.5 points ahead, so it would be also a big surprise if Kentucky wins this game.
I see the Wildcats as good coached team, but as Basketball university they just don't get the prospects needed to make a step up in the food chain.
It's not impossible they will win this, but unlikely.
I pick Tennessee as home team.
Volunteers win.

Sat. Nov 12 3:30 PM ET
#9 Auburn @ Georgia
Georgia can spoil the fun, if they win the game here.
With a spread of -10.5 for Auburn this seems to be a bit unlikely.
I'm not sold on that, since Auburn did not play THAT well on the road, but you can't ignore the wins they had over the last few weeks.
I hope for a great Iron Bowl and that needs an Auburn team winning here.
I have no reason to believe that the rebuilding Bulldogs team will somehow win here.
Tigers win.

Sat. Nov 12 7:00 PM ET
#24 LSU @ #25 Arkansas
I think latest after the Alabama game it was clear that LSU did turn around under the interims coach and the new offense coordinator.
Yes they did not score against that bully defense, but they did also keep Alabama in check.
Now they face Arkansas and are favored by 7 points.
I can think of two scenarios, one where LSU is to banged up to play 100% against a good Arkansas team and will lose a close one, or a game where LSU plays 100% and wins, likely with more than 7 points margin.
I pick the second scenario here.
Tigers win.

Sat. Nov 12 7:30 PM ET
Minnesota @ #19 Nebraska
The winner is still in the hunt for the BIG10 West, the loser lost a game and the direct compare.
Given the fact it's at the Huskers home I see them winning this by 10.
Vegas is not sure yet, but I saw a 7 point spread for Nebraska, which I think they can beat.
Cornhuskers win.

Sat. Nov 12 8:00 PM ET
#3 Michigan @ Iowa
A tough game, with Iowa a game behind in the division title race and Michigan unbeaten but in need to keep winning to stay on top.
The Wolverines are 21.5 point favorite, so an upset would be huge.
I see that only happening if Iowa gets their defense together and their offense starts clicking like last season.
Unrealistic, if you ask me.
Wolverines win.

Sat. Nov 12 10:30 PM ET
California @ #23 Washington State
Could be an easy game for the Cougars, the spread is -15.0, but Cal is not a team you can beat anyway you like it.
They can and will fight for a win and only the fact that it's Cougars home game does prevent the upset alert to ring.
Cougars win.

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