The college football playoff committee must pick four teams. This year that might be fairly easy. There just doesn’t seem to be a lot of good teams this year.
So who are the playoff worthy teams?
Ohio State? No doubt. Right now the Buckeyes are the best team in the country. They still have a tussle with Penn State in a few weeks, followed by their rivals, the resurgent Michigan Wolverines. Their season would then finish in the Big Ten championship against a two touchdown underdog, whomever that ends up being. Justin Fields is a better quarterback than they’ve had recently, and that is saying something. However, it is the defense that is making the biggest difference for Ohio State. Look for the Buckeyes to cruise to a playoff spot.
LSU? Absolutely. The Tigers went on the road to beat Texas(not as great of a win now), and they handled Florida and Auburn at home. They clearly have the best resume to date. With Joe Burrow behind center, they may have the best quarterback in the country. In two weeks they will travel to Tuscaloosa for the game of the year against West division rival Alabama. Oklahoma’s loss this week(more on that later) allows for LSU to lose at Alabama, and still have a great argument for a playoff berth. I’m sticking with my preseason pick to win it all.
Alabama? Of course. This year’s Crimson Tide team has an issue. They haven’t played anyone really good. As mentioned above, they will host LSU in two weeks, and then they have rival Auburn to close the season. If Alabama were to lose one, they don’t have nearly the argument as LSU. However, they are Alabama. The Tide hasn’t looked completely unbeatable like some years. Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa is hurt, but set to return for the LSU game. The defense has been wobbly at times. Obviously if they beat LSU at home they are in pretty good shape. A loss puts them on the bubble.
Clemson? The Tigers are most likely one of the four best teams. The thing is, they haven’t exactly showed a lot on the field. They appear to be rounding in to form, but they have one of the lightest schedules of any power five team in recent time. They will end the season, most likely, having only played one team with three or less losses. That team is Wake Forest. All due respect to the Deacons, but that’s not exactly something to hang your hat on. Teams in the Coastal division of the ACC keep exchanging losses, as if nobody wants to face Clemson in the ACC championship game. Clemson is clearly in right now, but if they lose one game with that powder puff schedule they should be completely out of the conversation.
Penn State? Maybe. Kind of. Most likely. I guess. What I’m saying is I think Penn State is a good football team, but I’m not 100% sold just yet. They have weapons on both sides of the ball, but the Nittany Lions schedule hasn’t exactly been grueling. They struggled against Buffalo and Pitt, slogged through a typical game at Iowa, were outplayed for two and a half quarters by Michigan, and handled a Michigan State team who is in disarray. In other words, the Nittany Lions have handled everything put in front of them. At times they looked extremely talented. At times they looked suspect. The coaching remains curious, to be kind. Penn State goes to Minnesota, who is 8-0 for the first time since 1941. The Golden Gophers will be looking to prove they are for real. I have my doubts. That game is followed by a better-than-we-thought Indiana team, then the big one at Ohio State. I’ve been saying for weeks now, I see this team finishing 11-1. That won’t get it done for a playoff berth, but a Rose Bowl should be in the cards.
Oregon/Utah? Eh, maybe. Both teams go on the road this week for their biggest remaining tests. Oregon, fresh off a nail biting last second victory over Washington State, heads to LA for a date with the USC Trojans. Earlier Saturday Utah travels to Seattle to take on the Huskies of Washington. Both will be tough tests, but if they survive both Oregon and Utah will be heavily favored in their remaining games. This would lead to a head to head battle in the PAC 12 championship game. Utah is an extreme long shot to make the playoffs due to their strength of schedule. Plus they need USC to lose(yes, I know) just to reach the championship game. Oregon, on the other hand, lost to Auburn back in August. This would be considered a “good loss”. In addition they would have gone on the road to beat Washington, USC, and Arizona State, with a win over Utah in the championship game. That would be a pretty solid resume. They will be hurt by the stigma of the PAC 12 being weak. Hey, it ain’t no ACC.
Florida/Georgia? I consider both of these teams fringe players in the playoff race. Georgia has looked lousy all year. I see at least one more loss in their future. I have a little more faith in Florida. If they beat Georgia in Jacksonville this week, they will probably win out. That would set them up as a one loss team heading to the SEC championship game versus either Alabama or LSU. A win there puts them in, but the most likely scenario would be a loss and a trip to one of the other New Year’s Six bowl games.
Oklahoma? Not anymore. Oklahoma is likely to win out, although Baylor may get two cracks at them to make that a falsehood. No matter what happens, though, I think Oklahoma will have trouble living down this past weekend’s loss to Kansas State much like Ohio State has the last two seasons. Unfortunately, unless you are in the SEC you can’t afford a bad loss.
Baylor and Minnesota? No. They’re rowing the boat fiercely in Minneapolis and in Waco they are following the golden Ruhle, making for two great stories and energizing those two fan bases. Both teams will have chances to take their shots. I just don’t think either team is quite ready to be a big time player.
Everyone else is out.
Michigan took Notre Dame to the woodshed, and the Wolverines will have a chance to play spoiler. Notre Dame was most likely out of the race anyway, but Saturday’s flatline performance sealed the deal. Auburn is good but has just a ridiculously difficult schedule. They, too, can still play spoiler. Texas is long gone.
The bottom part of the top 25 is filled with the likes of Appalachian State, Cincinnati, Memphis, San Diego State, and Boise State, none of which are world beaters. It’s just that everyone else is already sitting with three or more losses. Some teams with two losses such as Iowa, Wisconsin, Indiana, Kansas State, and Wake Forest with one loss are all likely to add to their loss columns.
Welcome to parity, I guess.
Here’s this week’s Two Cent Top Ten:
- Ohio State
- Penn State
The cavern between the haves and have nots has never been greater. Some of the haves still have some question marks. So much so, that many of the haves could still be had.
Two Cent Takes
~There is never a dull moment with Les Miles at the helm. Take a look at how his Kansas Jayhawks won a game Saturday.
It is almost Halloween. Les Miles is a bit of a sorcerer. Or this was just the dumbest play of all time by Texas Tech. Kansas gets a second kick from closer and wins it. #MilesMagic pic.twitter.com/fzowbfR69s
— Tim Clark (@TrojanTim66) October 27, 2019
~LSU is 7-1 in their last 8 games against top 10 teams under Ed Orgeron. Orgeron wasn’t good enough for then USC AD Pat Haden. Instead he hired Steve Sarkisian who drank his way out of the job, then Haden hired current coach Clay Helton. Helton is currently a dead man walking, or coaching as it were.
~This stuff has got to stop.
Wait for it… pic.twitter.com/wMZHpP0WvM
— Max Olson (@max_olson) October 26, 2019
~Lincoln Riley argued vehemently about the call on the onside kick that gave the ball back to Kansas State.
Sorry, Lincoln. This time the referees got it right. The ball touched an Oklahoma player before going ten yards. This threw Oklahoma into the hopeful bin.
~Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi sure isn’t endearing himself to the Panthers’ fan base. He took conservatism to a whole new level on Saturday, trying to hold on to a two point lead. The result was a loss to the reeling Miami Hurricanes. The ice beneath his feet is growing more thin.
~Mark Dantonio should be coaching his last few games at Michigan State. After three top ten finishes from 2013-2015, Dantonio has gone 24-22 since. There are off field issues constantly popping up, and he seems like a genuinely miserable human being.
~Joe Moorehead’s stay at Mississippi State May be a short one.
~The Bengals stink on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, too.
~In honor of Halloween, Sam Darnold continued to see ghosts.
~Third time in four years JJ Watt has failed to play eight games. Unfortunate injury for a great talent.
~Don’t bury the Eagles just yet. Sometimes controversy and bickering inspires players to play harder. Just ask Kirk Cousins and the Vikings.
~The Chicago Bears ended last season with field goal kicker issues. They still have issues. A missed field goal took the Bears to 3-4 and fading fast.
~The missed Bears field goal left the Chargers with a faint pulse. Can Philip Rivers find some magic going forward or will my Two Cent Curse be too much to overcome.
~With a bye week coming, Drew Brees probably should have rested one more week. Or not. 34/43, 373 yards, 3 TD.
~As much as I favor the Saints, the NFC may go through San Francisco. The 49ers hung 51 on Carolina, and have the Cardinals, Seahawks, and Cardinals again on the docket. 10-0 seems probable. Seven sacks and three interceptions from that defense led by the best front four in the game.
~Is there anyone who looks more miserable on a rainy day than Bill Belichick?
Um, yes. Stephen Belichick, his son.
The holidays must be a real hoot at the Belichick residence.
~Freddie Kitchens, offensive genius head coach of the Super Bowl Browns, called this play, and future Hall of Fame quarterback Baker Mayfield executed it to perfection.
Freddie Kitchens really is an offensive genius!
— Tim Clark (@TrojanTim66) October 28, 2019
Later, on 4th and 11 Kitchens had a guy intentionally jump offsides to make it 4th and 16. He did this so they could go for it without wasting a timeout.
When your the Browns, you’re going to do Browns things.
~The Steelers will try to inch closer to first place Baltimore by beating the Dolphins tonight. What exactly did ESPN do to upset the NFL schedulers? In addition to this thriller tonight they’ve had:
- Patriots vs Jets
- Broncos vs Raiders
- Browns vs Jets
- Bears vs Redskins
- Bengals vs Steelers
- Browns vs Niners
This has given announcer, and I use that term loosely, Booger McFarland a chance to find his groove. The Monday Night schedule picks up after this week.
~Antonio Brown has been on a Twitter roll again, prompting a new Twitter feed called “Antonio Brown Translator”. The translator attempts to make sense out of whatever language Brown speaks. And just in time for Halloween the perfect costume.
— Tim Clark (@TrojanTim66) October 28, 2019
2019 World Series
~After beating both Gerrit Cole and Justin Verlander in Houston, the Washington Nationals came home and lost all three games to the Astros. Not ideal.
Also not ideal was finding out ace Max Scherzer had severe neck spasms and couldn’t pitch.
The Astros can close the series out Tuesday in Houston. If they win it will be their second championship in three years. They have a really good nucleus that will be back for years to come. One of the best minor league systems in baseball has allowed them to replace pieces either through call ups or trade. Could this be a baseball dynasty not located in New York, Boston, or Los Angeles?
~Gerrit Cole becomes a free agent at the end of this series. He will undoubtedly set records when he signs a new contract. Everyone assumes he is going elsewhere, including his teammates. I don’t get not coming back to the Astros. Take a bit less to stay with a winner. Plus it is the place where his career really took off.
~The Pirates have replace team president Frank Coonelly with former Penguins front office worker Travis Williams. Regardless of Williams’ baseball acumen, this is a positive move. Coonelly did nothing positive on the baseball side of things.
Williams will be announced today, and apparently it is his decision whether or not to keep GM Neal Huntington.
Apparently Ogden Nutting, Bob’s daddy, isn’t happy with the direction of the franchise.
How sad to see the Three Stooges breaking up. Oh well, it was a great run while it lasted.
~While the Pirates perfect dysfunction and are still searching for a manager, the Phillies found a new manager, and a good one. Owner John Middleton apparently intervened to make sure they hired his guy, Joe Girardi. Girardi has a great pedigree and should be able to quickly get control of that clubhouse. His next job will be getting control of some guys that can actually pitch.
A Penny For My Final Thought…
When Tiger Woods struggled in the last three majors people started commenting that he put everything in to winning the Masters that he didn’t have anything left. Some said that was Tiger’s way of riding off into the sunset. The former may have had some merit, but when will people stop insinuating the latter?
The great ones find a way to succeed even when times change. Times changed for Woods when he had multiple back fusion surgeries. Just making it back on to a golf course was a victory. Playing well and eventually winning was the next hurdle. He cleared that and went on to win a major.
That Masters victory put Woods on the tip of everyone’s tongue once again. He was, once again, the lead story at every major. Woods admits he has to think his way around the course now because he can’t hit it as far as he used to.
That was apparently no problem in a Japan this week, where Woods went wire to wire to win the ZoZo Open. It was Woods’ 82 PGA tour victory. That ties legendary Sam Snead for first place on the all time list.
It only took Woods 23 years to accomplish that feat. In comparison, it took Snead 29 years. Jack Nicklaus took 25 years to win 73 tour events. It would be foolish to think Woods doesn’t have some more wins left in that bag.
That smile says it all. Woods is back in the winner’s circle, as team captain he is most likely going to pick himself to play in the President’s Cup, he announced he will write a memoir, and even rapper Cardi B said she will name her next album Tiger Woods.
Does it get any better than Cardi B naming an album after you?
Tiger, Tiger Woods y’all!
Just my two cents…
Tim Clark is a columnist and editor for PennSports.LIVE, and a wonderful writer of words. He is a lifelong sports fanatic with an eclectic mix of favorite teams including USC Trojans football, Louisville Cardinals basketball, and the Pittsburgh Steelers, Pirates, and Penguins in pro sports.