2023-10-18 13:19

Roughly half the regular season is already over, but in terms of conference play only a third of the games are played.

That's because of the strange scheduling rules of college football where a regular season has 12 to 13 games, but conference games do only cover 8 to 9 of those and the rest is then filled up with non-conference games, often rivalry games and cupcake games, sometimes real test between contenders from 2 different conferences.

So far, the season has not many surprises, but some I will mention after the reviews.

Let's look back at the results of the BLOCK OF GRANITE TOP GAMES FOR WEEK 7

Sat. Oct 14
#8 Oregon @ #7 Washington
That must have been a fun game to watch.
Both teams needed a drive to get into the game, but then each drive did end with a Touchdown on both sides.
Both did try to surprise the opponent, tried and made 2-point-conversions on one drive and when Washington was finally able to stop Oregon and force a field goal from 45 yards (which was good) it did look like the Huskies could finally get lead into the game with 22:18.
But on the next drive they were intercepted at mid-field.
Lucky for the Huskies, the Ducks drive went for all-or-nothing and on 4th and goal on the Washington 3-yard line the Ducks did commit an incomplete pass, instead of am easy field goal.
The 3rd quarter was still an open game, both teams made it to the endzone once, but Oregon did cut the deficit to 3 by another good 2-point-conversion.
And when the 4th quarter came up the game became open again.
Ducks did score to take the lead and with roughly 2 minutes left to play did Oregon decide to go for 4th and 3 on the Washington 47, instead of punting the ball.
The did not made it and Washington did need only 2 passes to score a Touchdown and to regain the lead.
Oregon now with the ball, 1:40 left. Marched across the field, made it to the Washington 25-yard line, tried a 43 yarder to tie the game and ... missed it.
Washington won 36:33.
As I thought the game was decided by small errors, from my point of view (but I'm aware that as HC on the field such decisions do happen, since you HAVE that confidence, and you BELIEVE in your team) those go-for-it came at the wrong time and place.
Washington is now in a prime position to get into the Championship game (at least for a week, haha) and Oregon has to win now even more desperate than before, otherwise they will not play in a championship game.
#8 Oregon 33 @ #7 Washington 36 -> Jacks TOP GAMES Score: 15-7

#10 USC @ #21 Notre Dame
This went totally different than I did expect it.
The reason for that was the USC QB, who did perform one of his worst, if not THE worst game in his career.
Caleb Williams has won the Heisman, last year and was for sure at the top this year, but with that game against Notre Dame ... not sure how much that did cost him.
Completion rate was OK, but 3 INTs were just too much.
On top came a fumble lost by USC return for a TD, which I think says enough.
USC was really bad on that day.
Lucky them, it was only a rivalry game with no conference implications, but playoffs are now a bit far away.
Surprisingly did Notre Dame rebound from their loss against Louisville with a statement, not sure what that means.
Likely that the team is inconsistent, and you never know what you get.
#10 USC 20 @ #21 Notre Dame 48 -> Jacks TOP GAMES Score: 15-8

#25 Miami @ #12 North Carolina
That also must have been a fun game to watch, if you are not a Hurricanes fan.
UNC did take the lead, Miami did answer and took the lead by themselves, USC tied and at the end of the half did Miami lead 17:14.
Overall, it did look like Miami does get a hold on that game.
But UNC came out of the locker room and score 21 unanswered points, so Miami did trail at the start of the 4th quarter 17:35.
But Miami did fight back, at least stopped UNC for field goal and scored TDs on their own, forced UNC with a bit more than a minute to punt, still trailing by 10.
And then needed too much time to overcome that deficit and at the end were even intercepted.
UNC won 41:31 and kept their push for the ACC Championship alive, while Miami can try to focus on some other things, like winning the next game.
#25 Miami 31 @ #12 North Carolina 41 -> Jacks TOP GAMES Score: 16-8

And some other interesting games:

Fri. Oct 13
Tulane @ Memphis
I had hope in the Tigers, but in the last quarter did Tulane score too much, while on the other side their defense was able to shut down Memphis.
Tulane won 31:21 and is right now the team to beat inside the American and Memphis did fail to do so.
Jacks interesting games Score: 10-9

Sat. Oct 14
#18 UCLA @ #15 Oregon State
Oregon State did look scary in that game. UCLA had from my point of view no chance to win this, the Beaver did just do as UCLA only better and with less errors.
They did lead at the half 23:10 and UCLA tried to catch up, only to realize they need more than 4 quarters to do so.
At the end did Oregon State win again UCLA 36:24.
Jacks interesting games Score: 11-9

Missouri @ #24 Kentucky
Oh, the Wildcats did let me down and Missouri did prove that they are good this season, except against Georgia.
But lucky them, Kentucky is not Georgia, hence Mizzou won against the Wildcats 38:21.
Jacks interesting games Score: 11-10

Wyoming @ Air Force
I did believe in the Falcons here and they did overcome a halftime deficit and won at the end 34:27 after a wild finish, in which Air Force did fumble twice, Wyoming did score a TD and miss a Field Goal, Air Force scored the winning TD and finally was able to stop Wyoming on their comeback attempt.
Air Force stays in the hunt for the Mountain West, Wyoming is likely reduced to play spoiler.
Jacks interesting games Score: 12-10

What else on the results front?
Coast Carolina seems to get a grip on their play and won against Appalachian State 27:24. Maybe CCU does get the turnaround done?
A super-wild finish between West Virginia and Houston did bring Houston a 41:39 win. How wild? Imagine Houston score a TD to lead 35:24, but WV answers to short the lead 35:32 and stop Houston with 1:17 left. One drive left? No problem, WV scores with a Hail Mary play of 50 yards with 12 ticks left to take the lead 39:35.
12 ticks left? No problem, 2 plays later with a tipped Hail Mary pass in the endzone Houston scored and won.
Stanford won against Colorado on the road in 2 OT 46:43. Is the hype now dead? Don't get me wrong, I think Colorado will play a bigger role in the upcoming seasons, but this season they will have to adjust to the new coach and will eventually get to a bowl.
Pitt did win against ranked Louisville 38:21. Very surprising result, since Pitt did struggle big time so far.
Arizona did annihilate Washington State 44:6 on the road. Biggest surprise this week.
Oklahoma State won against ranked Kansas 39:32. The Cowboys with a much-needed win here.
Illinois did beat Maryland 27:24. Illinois needed that win after 2 losses in a row.
TCU did get a BIG12 win against BYU by winning 44:11. Will we see TCU now regaining some strength?
Iowa did score enough to win against Wisconsin 15:6. A crucial win for Iowa to eventually winning the division against a direct competitor.
Northern Illinois won against Ohio 23:13, which is the 1st conference loss for so far dominant looking Ohio.
UNLV did beat Nevada in the rivalry game 45:27. So far now reactions from Nevada, who’s coach from my point of view is on a hot seat.
Georgia State did beat Marshall 41:24. Big win for Georgia State.
Colorado State won against Boise State 31:30. A big win for CSU, a big setback for Boise.

OK, time for some mid-season results.
Most surprising teams for me are ...
In terms of above expectations: Georgia State, South Florida, Duke, Louisville, Iowa State, West Virginia and Missouri
All are right now higher in wins than at least I did expect some of those are even in contention for the title, which I had for none of them in consideration.

In terms of below expectations: Appalachian State and Coastal Carolina, Clemson, Pitt, Wake Forest, TCU and UCF
Those teams did so far not reach the level I did expect of them. Some seemed to eventually getting the season turned into the right direction, but overall it seems they will not get the win total I did anticipate.

As said in the last blog entry, I will try to keep the conferences and the teams of those in contention in some sort of high-level overview.
I call it the


No entry for the independent teams, since they do only play for a bowl spot and eventually for a playoff spot, but no conference championship.
The only team which had hopes for a playoff spot was Notre Dame, but the team did lose already 2 games and it is unlikely, they will get back into the TOP 4 with that result.
Needed for that would be a lot of 2-loss-Conference-Champs and a massive meltdown on the unbeaten und 1-loss-teams.

Regarding the conferences, the highest ordered team, most of the time unbeaten or with just 1 loss, would get the Championship Game spot right now and then, depended on the conference rules, the teams with best chance to get into that place are listed also. I do only list teams with maximum 1 loss more than the team(s) on Championship game spots.
Teams not listed might get back into the mix, if the leading teams do lose and therefore eventually a 2-loss-team has a chance again.
It won't be too complicated.

American Athletics

Tulane2-05-1#23Tulane seems to be the best bet right now
SMU2-04-2SMU has a quite easy schedule, which might let them cash in a ticket
Florida Atlantic2-03-3Several tough games against Competitors will either let them rise or fall fast
UTSA2-03-3UTSA also has several tough games against Competitors
Memphis1-14-2 Memphis lost already a crucial game, against SMU for sure is another one
North Texas1-13-3 The next 4 games are crucial, likely will fall fast in that period
Rice1-13-3 Rice has a tough schedule, one of the toughest, it seems unlikely they will survive this
Tulsa1-13-3Tulsa looks not strong enough to keep up with the competitors, but might spoil the fun for some of them

Unlikely the conference will present a college football playoff team with the best team having 5-1. If they keep winning, they might sneak into a big bowl.

Florida State4-06-0#4Likely the Duke-game is the toughest for a long time coming, they have the best chance to get into the finale right now.
North Carolina3-06-0#10November will be a rough period, but right now they look fine for that
Duke2-05-1#16They have shown great strength this season, but some real tough games ahead
Louisville3-16-1#21The loss last week did push them back, beside Duke the rest looks manageable, but they need help
Georgia Tech2-13-3I don't think anyone thinks they can do it, but that Miami win did prevent them to drop from the list
Virginia Tech2-13-4A quite easy remaining schedule might keep the in the mix for a longer period, but overall, I doubt they will survive here

Right now, the ACC has several teams in the Championship playoffs mix, but I think only an unbeaten team will get into the playoffs, beside some strange stuff.

East Division
Michigan4-07-0#2Right now the team looks most complete inside the BIG10, but November is the crucial month to see the truth
Ohio State3-06-0#3OSU did survive some scares; the Penn State game will eventually show their weakness or keep them in the hunt
Penn State3-06-0#7They know Michigan and OSU have to be beaten, the rest is just work
West Division
Iowa3-16-1#24The team looks right now like the toughest team not able to score to play, but the winner of this division is likely determined on last gameday
Wisconsin2-14-2Wisconsin did lose to Iowa, which makes their live worse. But this division is wide open
Northwestern1-23-3Surprisingly the team with the interim coach is still in the mix. I don't think that will last long
Minnesota1-23-3Minnesota needs to win in the crucial games, like in the upcoming weekend
Nebraska1-23-3The team seems to have a small turnaround, but I doubt they will at the end stand on top

Whoever wins the East is expected to win the conference and getting a playoff spot. We might see a 2nd team from the BIG10 to emerge, if the only loss was against the later BIG10-Champ in a close game.

BIG 12
Oklahoma3-06-0#6The win over Texas did lift the program this season to the 1st place. Now they have to avoid upsets
Iowa State3-14-3The Cyclones did start in a bad way, from my point of view, but did recover lately. Not sure they can keep that up
Oklahoma State2-14-2Almost the same for the Cowboys, bad start, but lately some good results
Texas2-15-1#8They lost to Oklahoma, but if they win against the rest, they should be in for a rematch
West Virginia2-14-2That loss to Houston must have hurt. It seems the program goes into the right direction and a quite soft schedule might lift them into contender range
Kansas State2-14-2A sightly tougher schedule might limit them to mid-level
Kansas2-25-2Next week against Oklahoma might already bury the championship hopes
TCU2-24-3They did start not as expected, might recover, but need help
Texas Tech2-23-4Way off the expected results, will have a hard time to stay in the mix
BYU1-24-2BYU did not play good football inside the BIG 12 and the good teams are coming
Houston1-23-3Their 1st win inside the conference is a game to remember with that Hail Mary, but likely the team will drop out of contention fast
Baylor1-22-4Baylor will also likely drop out fast

Oklahoma has a good chance for the playoffs, the remaining BIG12-teams, even if they would win the conference, would likely stay out of the playoffs, if all other teams competing perform well.

Conference USA
Liberty4-06-0One of two teams unbeaten not been ranked. Right now, they do look like the best bet for the CUSA Champ
Western Kentucky2-04-2WKU will likely play Liberty in the Championship game, but lost to Troy and might lose at some point again to drop in the list
Jacksonville State3-15-2They are not eligible to get into the post season. I kept them in to show they are there, and the direct compare or other tie breaker might include them
New Mexico State2-14-3The did start a bit slow, but so far, I like what I see. Most crucial game is likely against WKU in November

No Chance on a playoff spot, from my point of view, even as unbeaten team.

East Division
Miami (OH)3-06-1Right now Miami looks like the team to beat. If they beat in 2 weeks Ohio on the road, the division is 90%+ theirs, a win against Toledo this week will help also
Ohio2-15-2The lost last week and will have to win from now onwards. They host Miami in 2 weeks, which is crucial, a loss will mean 'bye bye'
Buffalo2-12-5A very mix result bag so far from this team, but inside the conference so far still in the mix. But Miami and Ohio are coming in November
West Division
Toledo3-06-1The team will play Miami this weekend and CMU and EMU in November. This is far from done yet
Central Michigan2-14-3CMU did surprise a bit with some strong results, but will have to beat the direct competitors, including the Michigan-Teams to get the division
Eastern Michigan2-14-3Same here for EMU, I think we will see a clear contender in November earliest
Northern Illinois2-13-4NIU did start slow, but they are still in the mix inside the conference. Likely this up-and-down-team will stumble on their way at some point

The winner will at least have 1 loss on their board, so very likely the conference will not send any to the playoffs and will only send a few teams to mid-level and low-level-bowls.

Mountain West
Air Force4-06-0#22The team did crack the TOP25 the 1st time since ages this week and looks right now like the most complete team in the MWC
UNLV2-05-1It was expected the team would perform good this season, but THAT good is a bit surprising
Wyoming2-15-2The next 3 games will decide their fate, since it's against strong teams
Boise State2-13-4The loss against Colorado State was a setback, they need to win now onwards to stay in the hunt
Fresno State2-16-1The people lost a bit their faith after the team did lose against Wyoming. Now wins are needed
Colorado State1-13-3The Rams did start slow, but last week’s win against Boise did for sure turn some heads. Now it depends on, whether they keep winning or not

If Air Force keeps on winning, they will likely get a spot on the event, but not as special guest. A high-level bowl seems possible.

USC4-06-1#18USC lost to Notre Dame in an embarrassing way, so it will all depend now on their conference performance. The 1st half of November is the ultimate test
Washington3-06-0#5Right now they are the best bet for all with their win against Oregon. But champions are formed in November in a tough schedule period
Oregon State3-16-1#12They could slip into the Championship game, thanks to their schedule, but more likely they will drop in November
Oregon2-15-1#9Absolutly in the mix and waiting for some errors by the other contenders
Utah2-15-1#14Do not look like they could make it, but that's what I thought often in the past 2 seasons, and they did win, back to back

All eyes will be on the PAC-12 in their final season. Realistically the winner will likely get a spot, and Washington seems to be that team this season.

East Division
Georgia4-07-0#1So far not spectacular, but they won and all games coming do look manageable, so right now the best bet for the division title
Florida3-15-2Needs to win against Georgia in 2 weeks and then has to hope for a bit more, since they do not look as complete as needed
Missouri2-16-1#20That loss against Georgia was hard, but overall the team looks like a stronger version of themselves and might sneak in, if Georgia drops 2 (which is unlikely)
Tennessee2-15-1#17The Vols need to hope and prey, but in theory they can still win it all
West Division
Alabama4-06-1#11No game looks as dominant as in the past, but the team did get it done so far
LSU4-15-2#19Their loss against Ole Miss might hunt them later
Ole Miss2-15-1#13More fun to watch, but that loss to Alabama is big

Georgia vs Alabama is great, but maybe a bit overdone. It seems unlikely the conference will send 2 this season to the playoffs.

Sun Belt
East Division
James Madison3-06-0No eligible for the Championship game, but likely will win the division. The other non-ranked unbeaten team
Georgia State2-15-1The Panthers do play good, if not great, and if they keep winning they can reach the Championship game on their own term
Old Dominion2-13-3Did not play very convincing so far and the remaining schedule is hard. Likely gone soon from the list
Georgia Southern1-14-2They will likely battle it out against GSU End of October
Marshall1-14-2A tough schedule will likely send them packing soon
Appalachian State1-13-3The November will decide their fate, but right now I think they will fail to qualify for the Championship game, maybe even for a bowl
West Division
Texas State2-15-2A hop-or-flop-team, likely to drop fast in the next few weeks
Troy2-15-2Might get into the Championship game thanks to an easier schedule and toughness
Louisiana1-14-2The team is really not bad and might come up big at the end of regular season
Arkansas State1-13-3The Red Wolves do not look like a consistent team. Will likely drop fast
South Alabama1-13-3I had more hopes on the team in pre-season, but the team did underperform from my point of view too often

The conference will likely not bring any team into the playoffs.


Sat. Oct 21
#7 Penn State @ #3 Ohio State
One of the 3 games inside the division, which will decide the division, and likely also the conference. The winner has a loss less in the standings and also the direct compare on their side.
Bad for the Nittany Lions, this is played inside the horseshoe.
Ohio State is favored by 4.0 points, but that is not that much.
Both teams did show strength and weaknesses this season so far, both are absolutely beatable, so any winner would not be a surprise.
It will likely come down to momentum shifts and both offenses.
Most interesting will be, who Penn State does perform against a competitive defense, which will be important to know for the remaining season.
Penn State had not really a big test so far, Ohio State did turn the Notre Dame game on the road and won that, beside that also no real contest.
Overall, I do expect Ohio State to prevail in a close game, since the homefield should give them the needed boost.
Buckeyes win.

#17 Tennessee @ #11 Alabama
Tennessee did lose a bit unexpected to Florida a few weeks ago and by that did get a setback in the division leader race.
Alabama did so far win all their games, but do need to win here, to keep the advantage they have so far against the competitors.
Both teams have their weaknesses, and if this would be in Tennessee, I would consider a Volunteers win here.
But since this is in Alabama, I'm with the Vegas line, which says Crimson Tide -9.0.
Well, I'm not sure this margin is fair, but I believe it's more realistic that Alabama wins here, than Tennessee.
The Vols will need a almost perfect game to win here, and that is usually not realistic.
But maybe Alabama will commit some errors.
Summed up, I hope for an upset, but believe in an ...
Crimson Tide win.

#16 Duke @ #4 Florida State
To put this in the right light, FSU is favored by 14.0 points in this game.
This is only interesting, because FSU did show some flaws, so they can be beaten and are not as dominant as the #4 ranking might suggest.
And also, Duke is having a good, if not great, season, so there could be a surprise here.
It's likely that Duke will lose here and will drop a game behind in the conference championship spot standings, but with a small value it's probable that Duke pulls an upset here.
Their running game is excellent, so if they can bring that on and make it work, they can control the clock.
The defense of Duke is also quite capable, so they might find some ways to at least stop FSU from time to time or to slow them down.
I see 2 results; FSU wins big here or it's a close game and small errors will decide the winner.
I'm not willing to bet against FSU at home, but the Blue Devils do have a chance.
Seminoles win.

And some other interesting games:

Sat. Oct 21
#14 Utah @ #18 USC
Utah had their share of close games which they won but lost on the road to Oregon State. USC had their share of close games but lost against Notre Dame last week big time on the road.
Now they are lucky to play at home and being favored by 6.5 points, but if Utah’s defense comes up as in many other games, this game could come down to a close game with a field goal or less.
What makes me think is, that Utah’s offense did not show much, so if USC does score often and a lot, then the Utes will have a hard time.
Trojans win.

Minnesota @ #24 Iowa
A rivalry game for the Floyd of Rosedale trophy and Iowa is leading the series by 2 wins and drives a 8 game winning streak.
Iowa is favored to win this by 4.0 points and a lot does suggest a win for the Hawkeyes, sure.
What is not in Iowa’s favor is their offense, but their defense is very capable, so if Minnesota can move the ball, Iowa has a problem.
Minnesota needs that win, otherwise they are way behind Iowa in the standings, so expect a game with intensity.
I'm not willing to let Minnesota go here, they can play, and Iowa is beatable, so every streak has to break at some point, maybe this weekend.
Golden Gophers win.

Toledo @ Miami (OH)
A strange battle, which the winner will take as it is, without many consequences and the loser HAS to take it as it is with not many consequences.
Because very likely the direct compare INSIDE the divisions will decide the division title and this INTER-division game will help on wins and losses, and will eventually drown the loser down the standings, but I think it won't be too hard for either team and it is only a test of strength.
Toledo is favored by 2.0 points; I think Miami has the better team and will stand their ground at home.
Redhawks win.

Colorado State @ UNLV
A bit of a surprising duel in the Mountain West.
UNLV is almost on top of the conference and CSU did stay in contention with their win against Boise.
Now it will likely be their end in contention with UNLV being favored by 8.0 points at home.
The Rams do have to show they manage to turn the season around until I will pick them, so
Rebels win.

That's it for this week.

'Til next time

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