2022-10-25 07:13

An interesting weekend, which made some stuff clearer, but some did get a bit foggy again.
Overall, some teams did lose some grip on conference contention, which is of course normal, if you have high level matchups inside a conference.

For one coach the weekend did also mean he don't have to bother about the trip to the training facilities anymore, Will Healy of Charlotte was fired after a 1-7 season so far with the team.
He was in his 4th season and had an overall record of 15-24. In his 1st season the team had 7 wins and went to a bowl, after that it became quite bad, did rebound almost last season with 5 wins, but I guess since there was no progression, just a downwards spiral, the program did decide to look for a new coach, who will help to adjust the team to the American conference, in which the team will play likely next season. The remaining season inside the CUSA will be guided by interims coach Peter Rossomando, the OL coach. He had served as HC prior to this job in Div II and on FCS level.

Let's have a look at the featured games.


Sat. Oct 22
#14 Syracuse @ #5 Clemson
A quite messy game, Clemson was unable to dominate in the 1st half and allowed, based on some bad decisions, Syracuse to pull away in the 1st half.
The teams did split with Syracuse leading 21-10.
In the 3rd quarter it was all nothing, thanks to Clemsons turnovers. Unfortune for Syracuse, the Orange were unable to get points out of this.
Then the Clemson Starter was benched, and the backup did orchestrate a comeback rally with 17 unanswered points to win this game.
Syracuse tried everything, but the Clemson defense had found some tools to stop them and did not allow a single good drive, except the last one, which was so desperate and guarded by prevent defense, that at the end the ball was intercepted.
Well, Clemson won, but it did show that Clemson is NOT top caliber.
#14 Syracuse 21 @ #5 Clemson 27 -> Jacks TOP GAMES Score: 13-6

#9 UCLA @ #10 Oregon
The 1st half, especially the 2nd quarter was ALL Oregon.
Oregon led 31-10 at the half.
Then UCLA did adjust a bit but was only able to keep the speed of Oregon and therefore the margin did only drop a little bit until the end, so Oregon did take down UCLA and is right now the hottest teams in the PAC 12.
UCLA needs for sure to play better defense that what I saw to have a chance in an eventually rematch game for the Championship.
#9 UCLA 30 @ #10 Oregon 45 -> Jacks TOP GAMES Score: 13-7

#17 Kansas State @ #8 TCU
The Frogs are hot, and they are already almost a lock on the BIG 12 Championship game.
Sure, there are still plenty of games to play, but they did so far win against the biggest teams this season.
Kansas State played very well until the half; they did actually lead 28-17.
Then did TCU come out of the locker room and scored and scored and the Wildcats had problems and did not score at all.
They missed field goals, the had interceptions thrown.
They could have won this but failed.
The season is not over, they can actually get to a rematch in the Championship game.
TCU is unbeaten and will have now some easier game, but Texas and Baylor are also to be visited. Not done yet.
#17 Kansas State 28 @ #8 TCU 38 -> Jacks TOP GAMES Score: 14-7

Other interesting games:

Sat. Oct 22
#20 Texas @ #11 Oklahoma State
It seems Texas started as it finished. Bad.
They did throw and INT on their 1st drive and later had a fumble.
Surprisingly the Longhorns did still look like they would win this game until the 4th quarter.
At that time Texas led 34-27.
All they need was to play it out, but Oklahoma State stopped them on 3 plays and then scored for the tie.
A bit later did the Longhorns failed a field goal try and the Cowboys did score instead. OSU led (and later won) 41-34.
Texas needed to open up a bit and were intercepted, twice. The 2nd was basically with time running out, even OSU had to kneel down once more.
The Cowboys are in the hunt, the Longhorns have still some homework to do, to get back into the BIG 12 top.
Jacks interesting games Score: 14-7

#24 Mississippi State @ #6 Alabama
This can be told fast.
The Bulldogs were held scoreless until the very last drive, which was in garbage time. They scored on the last play, declined the XP try and lost 6-30.
Alabama did not look like a super team but were always in control and maybe the Tennessee game was still in their bones.
Jacks interesting games Score: 15-7

North Texas @ UTSA
A close game, which was decided only on the last drive, which was made by the Roadrunners.
At that time, they were behind, 24-27.
But a quick drive with less than 1:40 left to play did result in a TD to win the game 31-27.
UTSA is right now the only unbeaten team inside the conference.
Jacks interesting games Score: 16-7

Toledo @ Buffalo
Toledo did look like a winner starting the 4th quarter, leading 27-10.
But Buffalo scored 24 unanswered points and won this game 34-27.
A huge blow for Toledo.
Big win for Buffalo.
Jacks interesting games Score: 16-8

Other scores:
Virginia got their 1st win inside the conference by beating Georgia Tech 16-9. GT had 2 wins in a row prior that, but did fall flat here, losing at home against one of the worst teams inside the ACC so far.
Troy won against South Alabama on the road 10-6. I had this game almost as additional 'other game' since it was a top game inside the Sun Belt, but I felt the game had too limited impact. Still the loss of South Alabama does hurt them badly.
And WKU did beat UAB, 20-17. WKU still in the mix for the CUSA Championship game.
LSU did take down Ole Miss at home, 45-20. Ole Miss was the lone unbeaten in the West, but now it's a 3-team race again.
Rutgers won against Indiana, 24-17. That's the 1st BIG 10 win for Rutgers. Maybe the firing of the OC 14 days ago did help.
Duke did beat Miami on the road, 45-21. I really like Duke under the new HC.
Eastern Michigan did win against Ball State 20-16. Who would have thought that EMU would have the best record so far of all the MAC-Michigan teams?
Rice won against Louisiana Tech 42-41 (OT). Right now is Rice in the hunt for the Championship. Who would have thought about that?
Liberty did take down BYU, 41-14! That's a huge win! BYU lost now 3 in a row and went from ranked to unloved problem child.
Georgia Southern won against Old Dominion, 28-23. That does spice up the Sun Belt a lot.
Florida International got their 1st win against a CUSA team, winning against Charlotte 34-15. That did cost the 49ers-HC the job, as described.
Stanford won against Arizona State 15-14. Not a pretty win, 1st win inside the PAC 12 for Stanford.
And the next unbelievable thing, Colorado State won against Hawaii 17-13 (that's not the shocking thing) and are actually in the hunt for a Mountain West Championship as 2-5 team, thanks to a 2-1 record inside the conference. I guess it will correct fast ... still ...
South Carolina did beat Texas A&M 30-24. The season of A&M just gets worse.
East Carolina did win against UCF, 34-13. The American does also produce some funny results this season.
Louisville won against Pitt, 24-10. That makes some sort of defending the ACC crown for Pitt almost impossible.

That's that for week 8.

Let's have a look at the playoff contenders.

For the rules on the list, please look at the blog entry for week 5-7.

I did mark the week 4 TOP 10 teams with a ‘*’.
I did also order them based on AP-poll ranks, for the reason, please look into blog entry of week 8.

#1 * Georgia Bulldogs - SEC (7-0, had a BYE, next week against Florida on neutral site)
#2 * Ohio State Buckeyes - BIG10 (7-0, won against Iowa, next week against Penn State on the road)
#3 Tennessee Volunteers - SEC (7-0, won against a FCS-team, next week against Kentucky at home)
#4 * Michigan Wolverines - BIG10 (7-0, had a BYE, next week against Michigan State at home)
#5 * Clemson Tigers - ACC (8-0, won against Syracuse, next week BYE)
#6 * Alabama Crimson Tide - SEC (7-1, won against Mississippi State, shifted to CONTENDER, since they have the same loss amount as Ole Miss and LSU for the division title, next week BYE)
#7 TCU Horned Frogs - BIG 12 (7-0, won against Kansas State, next week against West Virginia on the road)
#8 Oregon Ducks - PAC12 (6-1, won against UCLA, next week against Cal on the road)
#9 * Oklahoma State Cowboys - BIG 12 (6-1, won against Texas, shifted to CONTENDER, since they are with 1 loss with Kansas State in the mix for the Championship spot, next week against Kansas State on the road)
#10 * USC Trojans - PAC12 (6-1, had a BYE, next week against Arizona on the road)
#12 UCLA Bruins - PAC12 (6-1, lost against Oregon, next week against Stanford at home)
#15 Ole Miss Rebels - SEC (7-1, lost against LSU, stays at CONTENDER, since they have the same loss amount as Alabama and LSU for the division title, next week against Texas A&M on the road)
#18 Illinois Fighting Illini - BIG10 (6-1, had a BYE, next week against Nebraska on the road)
#22 North Carolina Tar Heels - ACC (6-1, had a BYE, next week against Pitt at home)

#10 Wake Forest Demon Deacons - ACC (6-1, won against Boston College, next week against Louisville on the road)
#13 Penn State Nittany Lions - BIG10 (6-1, won against Minnesota, next week against Ohio State at home)
#16 Syracuse Orange - ACC (6-1, lost against Clemson, shifted to HOPEFULL, since they as 1-loss-team behind leader Clemson for the division, next week against Notre Dame at home)

ELIMINATED this week
Kansas State Wildcats - BIG 12 (lost against TCU, now a 2-loss-team)

Just one team eliminated and some shifting back to CONTENDER. But the group of unbeaten starts to shrink fast.

Right now, there is actually a discussion, whether THREE teams from the SEC could make it to the playoffs. I doubt it, but you never know, since the other conference might only produce 1-loss champions (or worse) also, and then the discussion can start.

Inspired by the playoff list I thought I could also make a list of all Conferences and teams in competition.
I check a bit in the past and found some different win-loss-ratios for winning a division or conference.
So I decided to make this rule here:
- The lowest loss-amount of a team inside a division or conference is the upper limit
- The teams with that lowest loss-amount and teams with up to 1 additional loss are tracked
- teams with more losses are not tracked, until they might get interesting, since the lowest loss-amount did drop
- teams which are eliminated from the title race, because of loss amount and, more important, tie-breaker rules, are not tracked, except ties with the leading team, which would mean a shared division crown
- overall record is irrelevant

That means, if the leading team has zero losses, I track inside that division up to 1-loss-teams. If that perfect team loses, so becomes a 1-loss-team, I track to 2-loss-teams.

I will only show conference record, no overall record.
There are basically 2 systems though the conferences.
First system is a conference with no divisions, top 2 teams play for the Championship.
The second a conference with 2 divisions, the 2 leaders of the division play for the Championship.

Tulane 4–0
Cincinnati 3-0
UCF 2–1
Houston 2-1

The American has 4 teams left right now to s e l e c t 2 teams for the Championship game. Crucial games are likely Tulane vs UCF and Cincinnati vs Tulane. Houstons seems to have the easiest remaining schedule.

Clemson 6-0
Syracuse 3-1
Wake Forest 2-1

In this division Clemson only has to win the last 2 games and that's that. Syracuse and Wake Forest have to wish for 2 Clemson losses. This is almost done.

North Carolina 3-0

Thanks to losses by GT, Miami and Pitt is right now UNC the lone team to watch. But they have 5 games left to play, including ranked NC State and Wake Forest. Could be that soon the list gets much bigger again.

Michigan 4-0
Ohio State 4-0
Penn State 3-1

This does look like a 2-way-race, with Penn State not realized to be out. After this weekend it's likely the GAME between Michigan and Ohio State will determine the division title.

Illinois 3-1
Purdue 3-2
Nebraska 2-2

I think nobody had that list in mind for the division title prior the season. Some tough games left, and this list could expand soon to almost the whole division teams again.

BIG 12
TCU 4-0
Oklahoma State 3-1
Kansas State 3-1

Now a 3-team-race for 2 spots in the Championship game. But if TCU falls, the list can expand. OSU and KSU will settle their beef upcoming weekend.

UTSA 4-0
Western Kentucky 3-1
North Texas 3-1
Rice 2-1

A 4-team-race, which is far from over. UTSA still does not look like they will finish perfect, and the rest is also far from unbeatable.

Buffalo 4-0
Ohio 3-1
Bowling Green 3-1

The game Buffalo @ Ohio will likely determine the division title race to become clear, or wide open.

Toledo 3-1
Eastern Michigan 2-2
Western Michigan 2-2
Ball State 2-2

Toledo has their fate in their own hands, playing EMU upcoming week and WMU at season end.

Boise State 4-0
Wyoming 3-1
Colorado State 2-1

When Boise is visiting Wyoming mid-November, this might get settled for good.

Fresno State 2-1
San Jose State 2-1
San Diego State 2-1
UNLV 2-2
Hawaii 1-2

Still sooooo many teams in the mix, but this will get boiled down fast, since every week is now a conference game week.

PAC 12
Oregon 4-0
USC 4-1
UCLA 3-1
Utah 3-1

Oregon looks like a lock, but will Utah later, USC and UCLA will also play their rivalry game later. Likely the Championship game will be stuffed with 2 out of those 4 teams, which right now features only 1 of the former North division.

Georgia 4-0
Tennessee 3-0

They will battle it out in 2 weeks.

Alabama 4-1
LSU 4-1
Ole Miss 3-1

In 3 weeks the teams will have played against each other and the maybe we will have a lone survivor or a nice tie-breaker.

Coastal Carolina 3-1
Old Dominion 2-1
James Madison 3-2
Georgia Southern 2-2
Appalachian State 2-2
Marshall Thundering 1-2
Georgia State Panthers 1-2

Well, good for the competition, ALL Division teams are still in the mix. Will get sorted out quickly, I think.

Troy 4-1
South Alabama 2-1
Southern Miss 2-1
Louisiana 2-2

In the West a bit less stuff to track. If Troy keeps winning, they will win the division.

The November will bring a lot of clarity, but it might get painful for some teams and fans.
I did just saw some sort of prediction tool for the playoffs and based on that, if Alabama would win all and the SEC against Tennessee (Vols won against Georgia and the rest) and Georgia wins all, except the Vols game, all three have chances over 50% to make the playoffs.
For compare, if Oregon or USC win the PAC 12 by winning all and the Championship game, their chances are under 50%, while 2 1-loss SEC teams with no title would eventually sneak in.
The BIG 10 looks OK, if the winner is Michigan or Ohio State and the loser, if wins out the rest, would also have a high chance to make the playoffs, 60%+.
Clemson needs a sweep, otherwise they would not be in, BIG 12 would be in if the winner is an unbeaten TCU team, else not.
That's the predictor take.

The good thing is, it's not done yet, the games have to be played and upsets can happen, and the best is, they DO happen.
Whether those do happen in the 'right' place or not ... we will see.

Let's focus on the next week, the last gameday in October. Again, one additional game of interest here.


Sat. Oct 29
#2 Ohio State @ #13 Penn State
A tough game in a tough place.
Ohio State should be better on paper, but the hostile environment is a bonus for Penn State.
Penn State did not convince me about their strength and as it seems also not Vegas, making them a 15.5-point underdog at home.
Granted Ohio State did so far not stumble a bit.
Their closest game was against Notre Dame on season opener and since then did they dominate ever game.
Penn State had mixed results, most concerning for me was the very close game against Northwestern, who had very bad games so far in the season and who lost by far more points against on-paper-weaker-teams.
Penn State did recover from the heavy loss against Michigan by beating Minnesota on a high margin, so maybe they have their stuff fixed?
I don't know.
It's hard to see Ohio State falling here.
Maybe it will be close, likely not a 40-something-to-12-win by the Buckeyes, but I still expect a win.
Buckeyes win.

#9 Oklahoma State @ #22 Kansas State
This game might decide the 2nd BIG 12 Championship participant.
The loser will be 1 game behind the winner AND had the worst direct compare.
Of cause it all come down how the teams will play until season end, but this here might setup an important tie-breaker-case.
It's not over for the loser, but the field of competition and the hope for losses of the higher listed teams gets bigger.
Kansas State as home team is favored by 1.5 points.
Not much.
Oklahoma State has shown so far great plays and much better defense than I did anticipate.
But the Wildcats did also show a lot of positive things, just not enough to stop TCU winning last week.
Will they again let the opponent take over late in the game?
With the home crowd behind them, I expect them to play better.
Wildcats win.

#19 Kentucky @ #3 Tennessee
This is quite easy but does have potential.
Kentucky is the team, which is not football, and which is usually just a check on the schedule.
The past few seasons the team did grow and became more than a pushover, they won games.
And they become sometimes the team to upset a contender.
Will this happen on the road this week?
Unlikely, but if that could be predicted, it would not be an upset.
Tennessee is favored by 12.5 points, so Vegas has a clear expectation.
My expectation is even higher, because Tennessee plays at home, and they need some scoring to build up a case.
So, no prisoners, no mercy.
Volunteers win.

Other interesting games:

Sat. Oct 29
Florida vs #1 Georgia
A rivalry game on neutral site in Jacksonville.
Known as 'World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party' this game is played for t least 99 times, maybe 100 times. The schools do count differently.
Regardless, Georgia is leading the overall record and won last year.
This season it looks like a done deal already with Georgia being favored by 22.5 points.
That's a lot.
The energy of the game might help, but I don't see Florida in position to really challenge the Bulldogs.
But you never know!
Bulldogs win.

#15 Ole Miss @ Texas A&M
This is a must-win for Ole Miss, if they still want to have a say in the division race.
A loss here would mean very likely out of contention.
Texas A&M does have a tough season, way under expectations with 3-4 overall and 1-3 in the conference.
Still, they have a national championship HC and they play at home and they have a talented roster.
Ole Miss is not unbeatable, and they did actually lost last week against LSU in a big way, on the road.
Now, on the road again, they are favored only by 1.5 points.
Not sure what will happen, but I pick here the Aggies to win.
Aggies win.

Michigan State @ #4 Michigan
The next rivalry, which had some great games with great endings.
The winner gets the 'Paul Bunyan – Governor of Michigan Trophy' and MSU has that one since 2 seasons.
Last year, when Michigan finally did win the BIG 10 again, this game gave them the only regular season loss.
Michigan does dominate the series, but in the past 10 seasons, the Spartans do lead 6-4.
This year, it looks like a done deal, with Michigan State stumbling and played at Ann Arbor.
The Wolverines are favored by 22.0 points, which is a lot.
I expect a rough game, a hard-fought game and Michigan to prevail, either by a big margin or very close.
Wolverines win.

Pittsburgh @ #22 North Carolina
Pitt is far from the strength of last year, which made them the winner of the ACC.
They lost last week and are now 2 games behind the division leading UNC.
So, in the best case, they win here, on the road, and try to get back into the diver seat.
Unfortune for them, North Carolina is playing quite well this season, the game is at home and also Vegas sees them as favorite, but only with 3.5 points.
If Pitt gets their inconsistence under control, this can become a great game.
Still, I prefer the Tar Heels as winner, betting on their good offense and having their home crowd helping the defense to win this.
Tar Heels win.

That's it for the upcoming weekend.
Happy Halloween everyone.

'Til next time

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