2020-12-02 12:06

We are closing in on the last games of the season to determine the conference champions (or first who can play for it) and to get the playoff participants named and somehow also the bowl participants.

This only to be described crazy and also unfair season is about to end.

In a normal year, the evaluation of the top teams is already a mess.
How value an 11-1 teams against a 12-0 against a 10-2 with almost or no common opponents, over the time of a 3 month period from different conference with different budget and setup? Complicated at best.

Now add the Covid-19 craziness on top with different amount of games scheduled to play because of different season starts and to put the icing on the cake, also to have many games being postponed/canceled because of the protocols.

Before I give an overview on the situation right now, let's have some recaps.

Week 12 recaps:
Western Michigan won the game against Central Michigan on the road 52-44. That does basically put WMU into the drive seat for the division title and CMU would need more than 1 WMU loss to leap frog them. I guess the CMU dream is likely over.
Tulsa won in OT against Tulane 30-24. Tulsa in course to play a big role in the American conference. Tulane has despite the loss a good season so far.
Minnesota win against Purdue 34-31. The Gophers are still far away from the results of last year.
Ohio State did win against Indiana a close game 42-35. That was a big scare for the Buckeyes, but they survived.
Cincinnati did win against UCF 36-33, which gives them a big push towards the conference finals.
Wisconsin did play Northwestern and lost 7-17. Now Northwestern is the leading team to win the division.
Oregon won the 'Kelly-Bowl' against UCLA 38-35. Not the dominant showing they would need to get higher into the ranks.
Oklahoma did redeem themselves into the top places of the conference with a win against Oklahoma State 41-13. Still not the leading team inside the BIG12.
Coastal Carolina still rocks the house and keeps winning, this time against Appalachian State 34-23. Great season for them.
USC did win against Utah 33-17. Last season that did mean nothing when USC did lose later 2 games, but I guess this season it will determine the division champ.
Liberty, highly ranked, did lose their 1st game of the season, against NC State 14-15. That did drop them out of the rankings.
Illinois won against Nebraska 41-23. The Huskers do have a bad, bad, season. Not sure the coach will survive this.
Iowa won against Penn State 41-21. The Lions with a really bad season this year.
Oregon State did win against Cal 31-27. Oregon States 1st win of the season.
Pitt won against Virginia Tech 47-14. That way VT is midfield as is Pitt.
Michigan won in 3 OT against Rutgers 48-42. That was only the Wolverines 2nd win of the season.

In total there were 18 games postponed or canceled, which is a new record. Some were a bit strange, but all according the protocol, sometimes on short term notice which lead to some strange accusations, like Clemson claiming Florida State did call off the game, while Clemson was already at Florida, because the wanted to, not because they had to. Read it as 'You were chickens'.
That kind of statements don’t help to work on Covid-19 protocols and it also won’t help to secure peace and harmony inside the locker rooms.
I will not list all games, 18 games is just too much and we lose focus here.

Week 13 recaps:
#2 Notre Dame did play ranked North Carolina and won 31-17. Right now this season do look like one of the best the Kelly-led-Fighting Irish did ever had.
Iowa State win the very important game against Texas on the road 23-20. This season looks incredible for the Cyclones.
Oregon State won the 'Civil War' called rivalry game against Oregon 41-38. A catastrophe for the Ducks, a season blessing for the Beavers.
Iowa won the rivalry game against Nebraska 26-20. The Heroes Trophy now six times in a row for the Hawkeyes.
Stanford barely won against Cal 24-23. That's the 1st win for Stanford this season.
Alabama did crush Auburn in the Iron Bowl 42-13. Nick Saban was not at the game, because the Alabama HC had a positive Covid-19-Test.
LSU lost against high ranked Texas A&M 7-20. The Tigers do perform really bad as defending champion, now 3-4.
Michigan State won against ranked Northwestern 29-20. The Wildcats can still win the division by their own power.
Penn State won against Michigan, on the road, 27-17, to get the 1st win of the season.
Missouri won against Vanderbilt 41-0, which did cost HC Derek Mason the Vanderbilt job.
Ole Miss did win the Egg Bowl against Mississippi State 31-24. Ole Miss has a quite good season so far.
Georgia Tech won against Duke 56-33. GT still in rebuilding mode, but that result is promising.
Washington won against Utah 24-21, which makes the Huskies the leader inside their division.

In total 13 games were canceled or postponed. That included such games as Wisconsin - Minnesota rivalry for Paul Bunyan's Axe, which is the most played rivalry game in college football and which was played annually since 1907.
Also important would have been the San Jose State - Boise State game, which would have put one of the teams into a 1-loss team and which could have opened up a spot for the next in line.
Now both are without a loss inside the conference and might play the final.

The 1st playoff rankings came out and the most disappointed community is likely BYU.
The Cougars are ranked inside AP and coaches poll at #8, but the playoff committee did put them at #13, which basically means that only complete meltdown of most of the ahead of them ranked teams could bring them into the playoffs.
The remaining schedule of BYU is not strong and their schedule so far was also not that strong, hence the ranking I guess.

Those rankings are not that important right now, but interesting is, that the ACC has right now 2 spots in the top 4.

Conference Standings for the upcoming weekend are:
No divisions here and the best 2 teams will play for the conference crown.
It's Cincinnatis having a secure spot already.
They are 1st place with 6-0 and won so far all crucial games.
They only play Tulsa in 2 weeks, while the 2nd place Tulsa at 5-0 inside the conference will play the Bearcats and Navy.
So the Bearcats can only lose 1 game and the next in line after Tulsa is Memphis with 2 losses.
Tulsa can only lose their spot by losing both games, because they did so far not play Memphis and they tie breaker might make Memphis 2nd.
But that's a bit unlikely, still possible.
Cincinnati has a tiny hope for a playoff spot but would need some help I think.
Also an unlikely scenario.

The ACC plays without divisions also and the 2 leading teams will play for the championship.
Right now is Notre Dame leading with 8-0 inside the conference and Clemson (7-1) and Miami (6-1) are behind them with 1 loss.
Those 3 teams will bring in the championship matchup teams, since the next in line do already have 3 losses or more.
The Irish have 1 games left to play, Clemson so far just 1 and Miami 2 games.
The Irish did win against Clemson, while Clemson won against Miami. Irish are already set for the Championship game.
If Clemson win their last game, they will rematch for the championship game against the Irish, which will be the best matchup they can get.
If Clemson loses, the ACC did hint they might schedule another game for Clemson. Don't ask, crazy times.
It's not clear what will happen if both teams, top 4 both right now, will meet again regarding playoffs.
Likely, if Notre Dame wins the rematch also, the Tigers would fall a bit, out of the top 4, if they win, it's possible that Notre Dame AND Clemson would stay inside.

The BIG12 does play as last season, with the 2 best teams inside their division-less conference do play against each other, usually a rematch.
This season the competition is a bit different than usual.
Highest set team at #1 is Iowa State, with 1 loss inside the conference.
Next in line inside the conference is Oklahoma at #2 inside the conference with 2 losses.
Followed by Oklahoma State with also 2 losses.
Iowa State can only lose 1 more game, against West Virginia.
Oklahoma is scheduled to play 2 more games, Baylor and West Virginia, while Oklahoma State has to play TCU and Baylor.
Now in a complete strange cascade of events it's possible that both Oklahoma teams would vanish from the high spots and Iowa State would play a different team, but it's more likely 1 of the Oklahoma teams will play against Iowa State for the title.
But to have them mentioned, it's Texas and West Virginia with 3 losses behind those Oklahoma teams.
All teams will likely have zero impact in the playoffs.

The BIG10 does look awful right now.
In the East division does Ohio State run the football to division championship being perfect so far. But the 2 Michigan teams are still to be played.
Sure they could lose a game here, but right now it's unlikely.
Next in line is surprising Indiana with only 1 loss against the Buckeyes.
They are scheduled to play Wisconsin and Purdue. Not likely they win both, but it was also not likely they win so many games at all, so ....
And next in line behind would be Maryland who lost against Indiana and did not play Ohio State because of a canceled game.
The West division is not much better, with Northwestern leading with 1 loss and they have to play only Illinois as remaining game, since another game was canceled.
Next in line is Iowa with 2 losses and Illinois and Wisconsin remaining to play.
And 3rd in line is 1 loss Wisconsin playing Indiana and Iowa at best.
Northwestern has 5 wins, while Wisconsin has only 2 wins.
I guess the wins will count, but honestly I don't know.
Regarding playoffs is only Ohio State so far a contender at top 4. If they lose, they might fall deep, dependend on the opponent.

Conference USA
They have Marshall leading the East division with a perfect record (4-0).
Next are Florida Atlantic (4-1) and Charlotte (2-1).
The Herd has only 2 games left to play, FIU and Rice and their combined conference record is 1-5. So, it's quite likely Marshall will get the championship game spot.
If they lose 1 game, I think they would still be in based on tie-breakers, of cause 2 losses would be bad.
FAU has to play 1 game, against Southern Miss for the conference, Charlotte has also only 1 game left, against FIU, but the have not played a game since a month.
The West is big mess with different record and amount of games played and still to be played.
Highest win amount has UTSA (5-2), next sorted are UAB (2-1) and next is Louisiana Tech (3-2).
As you can see, it will be fun to see who will get the spot, since there is from my point of view no real great rule for such cases.
UTSA has no games left to play, the other 2 have to play 1 more game.
It seems this could change the sorting, but I could not find any hints.
Marshall is ranked right now so they could end up as group of 5 candidate for a big bowl, but playoffs are off reach.

The MAC did play their games quite regularly and right now Buffalo from the East does look like the biggest contender.
They won all games so far but do have 2 games left to play.
Waiting are Kent State, Miami (OH) and Ohio all with 1 loss.
Could become a big tie-breaker scenario.
The West is lead right now by Western Michigan with a perfect record.
Right behind them are Ball State and Central Michigan with 1 loss each.
WMU has to play Ball State on season final, so this is not done yet.
This season the MAC will not have a say in the rankings and of cause not in the playoff discussion.
With more games, Buffalo might have gotten a chance for a ranked spot, but not this way this year.

This season just a conference with no divisions, the 2 leading teams are San Jose State and Boise State.
The game between them was canceled.
Waiting behind them with 1 loss are Nevada and Fresno State, but honestly there is not much room left.
Nevada will play SJSU in a week, so this might change something, we will see.
Boise State usually has some bonus regarding ranks, but when they lost 1 game they dropped out and that's that.
MWC will not have a say in the playoffs and not in the group of 5 ranks, as it seems.

The conference started late and looks like a mess right now. With some more games, the undefeated teams should have had more beef in the rankings, but it is as it is.
The North is Washingtons to lose, perfect right now at 3-0, but unranked.
Oregon and Washington State do have just 1 loss, but there are not many games left to play.
The Huskies will play Stanford and Oregon and the Ducks game will likely determine the division title.
The South is right now dominated by USC at 3-0.
Next is Colorado at 2-0 and a lot missed games, and then it's getting dark.
USC and Colorado will not play against each other, so if both win all games there will be a tie-breaker.

The SEC does profit heavily from their relentless commitment to the season and their reputation as strong conference.
Both did result in more games played against more higher valued teams which lead to a lot of SEC teams in the TOP 25 (well only 4, but those are #1, #5, #6, #8).
Alabama is leading the pack unbeaten as West division champ. If they lose their game against LSU the direct compare to 1-loss A&M is still for the Tide.
The East is more open with Florida having 1 loss and Georgia behind them with 2. Georgia did lose against Florida, so Florida is set if they win either the Tennessee game coming next or the not so far really rescheduled LSU game.
Likely Florida will play Alabama.
If Alabama loses against Florida in the Championship game, it could be that both will slip into the playoffs.

Sun Belt
I think the Sun Belt did profit a bit in this season regarding the conference.
Right now they have 2 teams ranked inside the TOP 25, while for example the MWC has none.
Weather that's OK, I'm not sure. What really misses this season is the wide network of inter conference games.
Coastal Carolina leads unbeaten in the East division, Followed by Appalachian State with 1 loss, which they got against Coastal Carolina.
With 1 game left to play inside the conference, CCU is set for the Championship game.
The West is also set, the Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin' Cajuns are way ahead of all other teams.
I think they teams might have a say for the Group of 5 spot, of some stuff for other ranked Group of 5 teams do go wrong, but right now the Sun Belt can only see some bigger bowls coming, but not the biggest.

That's it right now.

Some upcoming games this weekend, week 14:
#4 Ohio State will play against Michigan State on the road. That will be some sort of a bumper for the Buckeyes, with a small potential to stumble. OSU is 24 points favorite, but you never know.
West Virginia travels to #9 Iowa State. Very important game for both teams. With the BIG12 still open, Iowa State can use every win they can get. Playing at home will help of cause. West Virginia NEED a win to stay in the hunt.
#12 Indiana will visit #16 Wisconsin and that's also crucial for both teams. Likely not regarding the division decisions, they seemed to be almost done, but regarding rankings and bowl spots. Indiana has lost their starting QB, so maybe the high flying Hoosiers will land hard this week.
Buffalo does go to Ohio, very likely to play for the division title. If Ohio wins, they should leapfrog Buffalo, if Buffalo wins, they play for the championship.
Stanford plays at #22 Washington. A really bad season so far for Stanford this game is a chance to put them at least back in the map regarding strength. Washington need a win to rise and shine in the ranks.
#3 Clemson at Virginia Tech is a must win situation for Clemson to get the ticket for the Irish rematch for the Championship game.
#1 Alabama plays at LSU for pride here. LSU is in bad shape right now as defending champion. In Tigers stadium is a lot possible, but this is Crimson Tides game to lose.

'Til next time

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