2023-11-08 09:12

I think several pieces did fall into place this weekend, but of course, since the season is not over and strange things can happen, some of those pieces are not fixed, yet.

Florida State is set for the title game in the ACC, as is Liberty in the CUSA. Georgia is also fix for the Championship game of the SEC.
Toledo in the MAC is almost there, has 2 games ahead, with 3 remaining.
And Alabama won the crucial game against LSU and is 1 game and head-to-head ahead of Ole Miss with 2 remaining games.

That's not THAT much, but most teams still have to play 3 to 4 games until season ends, so having this set NOW is already interesting.

Still no coaching changes, it seems the programs are waiting for the hammer to fall until the season has ended.
Some results were so mixed that some coaches might have received a delay card on the firing, since firing after a win is always a bit strange, right?

Of those candidates I did mention last week, only 1 team did win, the rest did lose. Still no news.

Indiana? Won.
Syracuse? UTEP? Baylor? East Carolina? All did lose. But still no reactions.

The normal amount of HC changes is roughly 20-30 each season.
But several of those do come from domino effects, when high valued programs do hire HCs from mid-level or low-level programs you get also a new HC on the leaving team.
That means, a fired HC can lead to several changes down the ladder.

Right now, we only have Northwestern and Michigan State, who will hire a high-profile coach, but not necessarily a HC from another program.

Interesting news is, that James Madison did again ask the NCAA to drop the 2-year-transition-post-season-ban.
If that would happen, the team would likely be eligible for the Championship game and for sure for a bowl.
Since they are right now unbeaten, they could even jump to a new-years-bowl, a BIG bowl.
I don't think the NCAA will revert their decision from April, when JMU did already ask for a shorter period, but ... you never know.


Sat. Nov 4
#14 LSU @ #8 Alabama
This did prove, this season Alabama is inside their division again the team to beat and that so far, no team was able to do that.
Until halftime this was quite open. Tied at 21.
Then LSU score early in the 3rd and it did look like they might be able to pull away.
But the Crimson Tide did answer on their next drive to tie the game again, forced a LSU punt and scored on the next drive again.
Now LSU was behind, again, and ... was intercepted.
'Bama did score again and that's that with the motivation of the Tigers.
Alabama is now in a quite comfortable seat, 1 game ahead of the Rebels, plus having the direct compare against them.
They play Kentucky and Auburn on the road, and I can't imagine 2 losses in a row here, so the division title is close.
LSU can think about a bowl, more is no longer realistic.
#14 LSU 28 @ #8 Alabama 42 -> Jacks TOP GAMES Score: 22-9

#12 Missouri @ #2 Georgia
Missouri did stay in the game, for the whole time, but it did never look like they could actually turn the tide.
They did score, did even lead, early, but Georgia did just play, consistent, tied the game, took the lead, allowed a tie for the halftime, but did pull away in the 3rd and then kept Mizzou at arm length away from getting back into the game.
At the end a win for Georgia, at least a share of the division is secured and also secured is a spot in the title game.
Missouri can only hope for a Georgia meltdown to at least get a share of the division, but that would be just that.
#12 Missouri 21 @ #2 Georgia 30 -> Jacks TOP GAMES Score: 23-9

#9 Oklahoma @ #22 Oklahoma State
Oh, it must be fun to be a Cowboy fan in such a situation.
As written in this rivalry the wins usually go to the Sooners, and once in a while (in recent history a bit more often that the average) the Cowboys do win.
And I guess such a win is great for a Cowboys fan, since it only comes from time to time.
There were periods, when a whole generation did not witness a Cowboy win against the Sooners.
And this year, they won.
They did lead at halftime by 3, but the Sooners did take that lead in the 3rd and it did look like they have the edge from that time onward.
But the Cowboys did get the lead back, extended it a bit and then gave Oklahoma the ball back with less than 2 minutes to play, leading by 3 points.
The Sooners did get to mid-field and were forced to play a 4th and 5.
The was too short and the drive ended. The Cowboys did kneel down twice to run down the clock and the crowed did storm the field.
This did not only mean a win against the rival, it means also, that the so-sure-to-play-for-a-title-Sooners did lose 2 in a row and do now need help to eventually get back into one of the 2 top spots. How sweet to push a rival out and yourselves IN the contention. Because OSU is now in the driver seat.
This was eventually the last Bedlam-Game for a longer period of time, since the Sooners will go for the SEC next season and the Cowboys will stay, so any series between them would need an inter-conference-game agreement.
As far as I know, nothing was done so far.
But you can be sure, since rivalries do fuel the fire and the attention, the Bedlam will return, just in a different way.
#9 Oklahoma 24 @ #22 Oklahoma State 27 -> Jacks TOP GAMES Score: 23-10

And some other interesting games:

Sat. Nov 4
#23 Kansas State @ #7 Texas
Texas did look like the winner, leading at halftime 17:7, and after the 3rd 27:14.
But Kansas State did turn on the jets in the 4th and with time running got tied the game at 30.
In OT did then Texas settles for a field goal in their 1st drive and Kansas State managed to get to the Texas 4 yard line but decided to go for a TD and failed.
So, Texas won 33:30 in OT.
Texas is now on the top spot of the conference.
Their remaining schedule is quite soft, so their chances are now quite good.
KSU is a game behind and needs help.
Jacks interesting games Score: 17-14

#5 Washington @ #20 USC
I did say, now HC was fired after the weekend, but a DC had to go after this game here.
USC did lose in a high scoring game and the HC of USC did give his DC the pink slip after allowing 52 points.
Overall Washington did pull away, late in the 2nd quarter and never did give USC a realistic chance to recover, even when the Huskies did commit turnovers.
Final score was 52:42.
Washington is THE team in the PAC-12, USC did drop in the standings and has to win against Oregon next to stay in contention.
Jacks interesting games Score: 18-14

#21 Kansas @ Iowa State
Iowa State did not look like a team in contention for a BIG 12 title game spot.
Kansas did outplay them for almost the whole game.
Iowa State did kick a field goal with less than 5 minutes left to play to get within a TD close but failed to stop Kansas running down the clock and lost at the end 28:21.
Jacks interesting games Score: 18-15

What else?
Central Michigan did win against Northern Illinois, 37:31. That kicks NIU down the ladder and makes Toledo almost for sure the division champ.
Clemson did beat Notre Dame at home 31:23. That pushes Notre Dame down the ladder regarding playoffs, which is now for sure out of reach for the Irish. Clemson can register a good win, but still needs 1 win for a bowl spot.
Oregon State won against Colorado, 26:19. This is the 3rd loss for Colorado in a row and they need 2 more wins out of 3 games to get to a bowl game.
Arizona did beat ULCA, 27:10. A surprising bad offense performance by the Bruins.
Air Force was so far unbeaten but lost now the 1st time this season. Surprisingly and bad for the Falcons against rival Army, who had won this season until then only 2 games. Army won 23:3, which is a big surprise regarding the defense performance.
Arkansas did beat Florida, 39:36 in OT. The 1st conference win for Arkansas and a bad game for Florida. I ask myself, whether the Gators will change coach again after the season? The coach is only in his 2nd season, but with 3 stronger teams still coming, the team might finish worse than last year.
Indiana did beat Wisconsin, 20:14. It looks like no team in the BIG10 West wants to win the division and the least stupid team will get the right to get its ass handed to them by the East winner.
Michigan State won against Nebraska, 20:17. Another 'West' team, which bags for a void on the title game spot.
Arkansas State did beat Louisville, 37:17. Louisville with a mixed performance so far this season, far from the expectations.
Illinois won against Minnesota, 27:26. Another West drama, this time internal.
Iowa did win a close game against Northwestern, 10:7 and is by that right now the leading team in the BIG10 West.
UCF won the fight of the bottom-feeder inside the BIG 12 against Cincinnati, 28:26. UCF now with their 1st win inside the conference.
James Madison keeps on winning, this time against Georgia State, 42:14. By that they do shake up the ranks each week and since they are not allowed to play for the championship the list of next-in-line-teams stays long, while the real leader, JMU, would now already be fixed for the game. Strange rules.
Stanford did win against Washington State, 10:7, which drives the Cougars deeper into the non-contender-country.
And Fresno State has beaten Boise State, 37:30. That did hurt for Boise and does Fresno State lift to contention spot, where they have their destiny in their own hands.

The next playoff rankings came out and I just realized that this season the top group of 5 teams in the conference standings, Air Force, James Madison, Liberty, Toledo and Tulane have very fluffy schedules, and most of them did already lose a game. No wonder the teams do not get a good position inside the rankings. Tulane is the only team with a rank (at #23 right now) even they lost already a game, because they did lose not in a big way against Ole Miss. But the rest of the schedule does not feature any other ranked (and by that for the committee relevant) teams.
Liberty not even has a game against a power 5 teams, Toledo did play only Illinois and lost, Air Force also no power 5 team on the list and lost to Indy Army.
And James Madison did win against Virginia, in a close one, and that's that.

It seems the big teams, did learn from the past and avoid too fluffy opponents. Or it's just bad luck this season.
Anyhow, this season it seems there is a wall between the power 5 and the group of 5 and whether or which team of the group of 5 will get into the BIG bowl, is open.
Right now, Tulane looks like the front runner, but the season is not over yet.


Please note, that the standings are prior the next MAC-games, which did already started on Tuesday evening.

American Athletics

Tulane5-08-1#23Came close to a loss, but stayed unbeaten inside the conference. Likely the winner of the game against UTSA will get one Championship spot
SMU5-07-2If they keep winning, they will be in the Championship game. Memphis is the strongest team remaining on the schedule.
UTSA5-06-3In season finale they play Tulane and the winner might advance to the Championship game. But UTSA has some other tough games left.
Memphis4-17-2 SMU is the next tough game, they need to win

Florida Atlantic did drop out, but if 2 of the 3 unbeaten teams lose at some point, FAU could get into it again.
Unlikely the team will present a college football playoff team with the best team having 7-1. If they keep winning, they might sneak into a big bowl.

Florida State7-09-0#4They did punch the ticket already to the Championship game, which is a great accomplishment for the HC, who was on the hot seat beginning of last season.
Louisville5-18-1#11Not yet finished, but close. They face Virginia (2-7) and Miami (6-3) as remaining conference games.
Georgia Tech4-25-4Slowly the Yellow Jackets did sneak into the 3rd place. They need help to overcome Louisville.
Duke3-26-3The Blue Devils recover a bit, but have 3 games left inside the conference and right now they do not look like they will jump higher.
North Carolina3-27-2#24The Tar Heels did play a FCS team to boost the win count, but still need help to get back higher.
Boston College3-26-3BC became bowl eligible by now winning 5 in a row. They will need help to get much higher, but I think they know this already.
NC State3-26-3The win over Miami did lift the team to a bowl game and did send competitor Miami down the pit and outside this list.
Virginia Tech3-24-5VT did lose to Louisville, which dropped the team deep into this list and now VT needs a lot of help to get back on top and to become bowl eligible.

Miami did drop out and only the strange other results did keep so many on the list.
FSU is still the best bet for a Playoff spot, but they need to win the ACC. A 1-loss Louisville champ could maybe make it, but I doubt it right now. Depends on the other conferences.

East Division
Michigan6-09-0#3Penn State and Ohio State are left as potential tough games. Those will decide the division
Ohio State6-09-0#1THE GAME is likely the only game left on the schedule which will mean something, but that will be big.
Penn State5-18-1#10Next Michigan, which will decide their fate.

West Division
Iowa4-27-2#22Came out of this last gameday as the leading candidate to win the division, but I guess the BIG10 regrets the divisional system already.
Minnesota3-35-4Lost to Illinois and did already accomplish what I expected a bit later.
Wisconsin3-35-4The Badgers acted friendly and gave Indiana their 1st conference win of the season, so they don't feel too shy inside their division. The con of that nice move is, Wisconsin is almost for sure toast for the division title.
Nebraska3-35-4I did not expect them to lose against a team in the center of self-destruction, but Nebraska managed to send a win to Michigan State, their 1st inside the conference, and did by that eventually destroy their chances on a division title (was slim anyway) and a bowl game (that was not that slim, but is slim now).

Northwestern did their part and lost, so they did drop out again, but if the season did show anything, Iowa might just give them a last chance on next gameday by losing.
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
Texas5-18-1#7Texas won in a close one and suddenly the team is back in the driver seat for a Championship spot and maybe even a playoff spot.
Oklahoma State5-17-2#15The team that lost against South Alabama and Iowa State in September did beat their arch rival and is now on their way for a conference Championship game spot with one of the weakest remaining schedule of all teams? Well done, that turnaround.
Kansas4-27-2#163 seasons ago, nobody would have seen Kansas being here, with already 7 wins (best record of the HC on the team so far) a bowl spot for sure and still with a chance to win the conference. WELL DONE!
Oklahoma4-27-2#17Just 2 losses in a row and the team went from star to shit. They have of course still the chance to get back into the top 2 spots, but man, you could have done that easier and I think it will not happen.
Kansas State4-26-3#25Close to win against Texas, but not close enough. Still, I like the team and the spirit and it's not over yet.
West Virginia4-26-3The did sneak in, slowly, but next is Oklahoma. If they win THAT, it might get interesting.
Iowa State4-25-4Whenever I think they get the machine working and could make a statement, the team fails and loses again. Likely again not a bad season at the end of the year, but again no progress towards the top.

No dropout this week, thanks to the upsets and results.
Now it seems Texas has the best chance to sneak into the playoffs, if they win the conference. The rest is under normal conditions already toast.

Conference USA
Liberty7-09-0Secured the top spot in the Conference Championship game and has by that home field advantage.
Jacksonville State5-17-3They 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 State5-17-3Next is WKU. A win against them will left them into the Championship game, a loss will open it up for WKU.
Western Kentucky3-25-4Next NMSU at home, which is crucial. Beside that 2 more games left, so it's not over.

No changes this week.
No Chance on a playoff spot, even as unbeaten team.

East Division
Miami (OH)4-17-2Buffalo is next, which is very important to win.
Ohio3-26-3They need to hope for a Miami meltdown and of course they need to win.
Bowling Green3-25-4The last 2 games in November will be hard and likely their downfall.
Buffalo3-23-6This is not a really good team, but they can play spoiler to the contenders.

West Division
Toledo5-08-1The Championship game spot is officially not done yet, but they have 2 games ahead with 3 games remaining.

Northern Illinois did drop out, thanks to their loss to Central Michigan.
Even a perfect MAC team would need a prayer to make the playoffs and they have already 1 loss on the best team.

Mountain West
Air Force5-08-1The loss to Army did not hurt inside the conference, but the ego and eventually hopes for a BIG bowl are crushed. Hawaii, UNLV and Boise State will decide their fate inside the conference.
Fresno State4-18-1Right now, the team looks like they want a top spot and will get a top spot. Mixed remaining schedule might challenge that.
UNLV4-17-2UNLV can still make it to the top, but needs to win. Air Force in 2 weeks is most crucial.
Boise State3-24-5That loss against Fresno State did hurt. Now bowl game so far secured, 3 games remaining to play, Air Force on season finale and 2 wins needed at least. Oh dear.
Wyoming3-26-3UNLV next is crucial, if they win that, they might jump into the leaders again. But they have already a bowl spot at least.
San Jose State3-24-5A BYE did help to prepare for Fresno State.

Nevada did drop out again, and I think we will see some changes next week.
Playoffs were always beyond a dream, but the BIG bowl spot seems to be also gone.

Washington6-09-0#5With Utah and Oregon State they have 2 more tough games and at the end the rival game against Wazzu.
Oregon5-18-1#6A big win against Cal, but now USC is coming and the rivalry game against the Beavers will be hotter this season.
USC5-27-3The season is not over, but got a big setback with the loss against Washington. Not sure the firing of the DC will help against Oregon on the road. A loss will mean very likely, they can concentrate on a bowl game.
Arizona4-26-3#21Slowly did Arizona rise in the ranks by winning 3 in a row. But the last 3 games are hard.
Oregon State4-27-2#12Imagine the team would win the last 2 games against Oregon and Washington. They would play for a title, I think.
Utah4-27-2#18Right now the team looks like a better bet for leaving this list soon, than rising higher.

UCLA got their ass handed to them by Arizona and by that the team did leave the contender list.
The teams with a chance to make the playoffs get lower in numbers, but as the conference did play out so far, the teams will beat each other out of playoff contention in November.

East Division
Georgia6-09-0#2The team did win the division, at least a share, and will play for the SEC title, again.

West Division
Alabama6-08-1#8The win against LSU was a major step forward, now it's 'only' Kentucky and Auburn left.
Ole Miss5-18-1#9They did win against A&M, but do now face Georgia, on the road. A loss there will hand Alabama the division for sure.

Missouri lost to Georgia and is out, LSU lost to Alabama and did also leave the contender list.
Georgia vs Alabama is great, but maybe a bit overdone. It seems unlikely the division will send 2 this season to playoffs.

Sun Belt
East Division
James Madison6-09-0They keep winning, while they are not eligible to play for the championship. By winning they shake up the next-in-line-list every week.
Coastal Carolina4-26-3Suddenly, thanks to Georgia Southern losing to Texas State, CCU is actually in the driver seat to get to the Championship game. But they play Texas State and James Madison as remaining conference games. Ufff.
Georgia Southern3-26-3The loss against Texas State was hard, but if they win now against Marshall, Old Dominion and Appalachian State they can get on top.
Appalachian State3-25-4They won against Marshall, but will face now Georgia State, Georgia Southern and James Madison. I doubt they will survive that period.
Georgia State3-36-3Another victim of the JMU dominance. The team lost now 2 in a row and will have a harder time to win the division.
Old Dominion3-34-5Lost to CCU and will have to play the 2 Georgia teams of the Sun Belt to complete the conference games. I think they will drop out without a chance for a bowl spot.

West Division
Troy4-17-2If they drop now from the top spot, they did never deserve consideration. One of the fluffiest remaining schedule in the conference.
Texas State3-26-3They won against Georgia Southern, which I did not expect. Next a road game against Coastal Carolina.
Arkansas State3-25-4The team looks like it will get to a bowl, but not to a championship game.

Louisiana and South Alabama did lose and left the list of the West Division.
I think no chance for a playoff spot.

And we advance to the BLOCK OF GRANITE TOP GAMES FOR WEEK 11

Sat. Nov 11
#3 Michigan @ #10 Penn State
This is very easy.
Penn State is a game behind Michigan and Ohio State, since they lost to Ohio State already.
If they win here, they can hope for a Michigan win against Ohio State and the division is open again, if they lose, the season has only a bowl as goal left.
For Michigan, they need to win here to keep a competitor away. A loss would not end their conference campaign but would be a setback.
They will need to win against Ohio State on the last gameday anyway, but for sure they want to have the division decided in that game, between both teams and not because of some 3-team-tie-breaker rule.
Michigan is favored by 4.5 points, and I think the only reason for that is the home advantage of Penn State.
I don't see the Lions to win this, Michigan did looks so far very good, while Penn State did show some flaws.
Wolverines win.

#9 Ole Miss @ #2 Georgia
The most interesting, meaningless game of the season?
Let's face it, Ole Miss needs the win to say in the hunt to Alabama, but since Alabama has the direct compare to Ole Miss, the chance to leap frog Alabama are very slim.
So realistically winning here will just prolong the pain, losing will just give Alabama the division they will have anyway.
And Georgia has already a spot in the SEC Championship game and could only secure the division title as single team here.
A loss will open the division title race a bit more for Tennessee to get a share.
The only real thing on the line is the playoff standing, where Georgia would take a small dive by losing and Ole Miss a small jump by a win.
A Georgia win would help them of course in that context, and Ole Miss will drop a few spots.
Played in Athens, this game is Georgia as 10.5 points favorite to lose.
Don't underestimate Ole Miss, they did show a lot of spirit in the season, but I would be a bit surprised if they win here.
Bulldogs win.

USC @ #6 Oregon
One of the many do-or-die-games this weekend.
Oregon needs the win to stay in the top 2 of the conference, USC needs the win to stay in the competition at all.
Whether the firing of the DC by USC will help or will make it worse is open.
Played in Eugene, Oregon is 16.5 points favorite to win this game.
USC has a very explosive offense, so the key to the game will be, whether Oregon can keep that good in check and on the other hand, whether they will counter the production.
With the given trouble on defense at USC and the results Oregon was able to accomplish so far, I would be nuts to bet against the Ducks.
Ducks win.

And some other interesting games (XXL this week):

Fri. Nov 10
Wyoming @ UNLV
Both teams do need the win to stay in contention, the loser is likely out (in case of Wyoming) or at least a game behind (in case of UNLV) contention.
Played in Nevada, UNLV is favored by 4.0 points.
I expect a close game, but I will not bet against the home team here.
Rebels win.

Sat. Nov 11
#18 Utah @ #5 Washington
It's do or die for Utah, playing in Seattle.
The Huskies are 9.5-point favorite to stay unbeaten and they better do that, since losing will create a lot of chances for the almost-eliminated teams.
Utah did look bad against Oregon and if everything works fine, the Huskies should dominate here.
Huskies win.

#17 Tennessee @ #12 Missouri
This looks a bit like a pity-bowl.
Both teams are on the same level in terms of conference wins (3-2, 2 games behind Georgia).
Both teams now, they still have a chance for a share of the division title, but only the winner can dream on, the loser will have to think about a bowl.
Of course, the dream is anyway over, of Georgia does beat Ole Miss on national television, but that's a different story.
The Vols are favored by 1.0 points, which is not much.
I believe in the Tigers here, since they did show great spirit throughout the season.
Tigers win.

New Mexico State @ Western Kentucky
New Mexico needs the win to stay on one of the 2 top seat for the Championship game, a loss would set them back heavily.
WKU needs that win to GET on one of the top seats and to stay there.
Vegas favored WKU by 4.0 points, which seems fair.
But don't underestimate the Aggies, they did great so far.
Expect a close game, and I like the Aggies here to prevail.
Aggies win.

West Virginia @ #9 Oklahoma
Another last-chance-match.
Oklahoma lost 2 in a row. If they lose this, I think the BIG 12 Championship game is gone.
For West Virginia it's almost the same situation, except they play on the road and are not favored by 13.0 points.
I doubt the Mountaineers will be able to stop the Sooners often enough.
Sooners win.

Duke @ North Carolina
And a rivalry game as last-chance-game.
Both teams need the win to stay in touch with Louisville having a loss less than they have.
But the 'Victory Bell' is baby blue since 4 seasons and Duke will try to get that and the win of course this season.
Unfortune, the game is at Chapel Hill and Vegas favors the Tar Heels 13.0 by points.
But THIS Blue Devils team might have a say in this, if their starting QB returns.
If not, I see ... baby blue. So far, I did not read any good news, so ....
Tar Heels win.

That's it for this week.

'Til next time

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