PostHeaderIcon WHO DOES FLORIDA HIRE TO REPLACE WILL MUSCHAMP FOR ITS PLUM JOB?

 

That’s the big off-the-field question in college football.

The Gators’ head coaching gig is one of the best in all of football, including the NFL. And Athletic Director Jeremy Foley surely has learned his lesson – no more coordinators for this job after Ron Zook and Will Muschamp have failed. He will hire someone who already is a successful head coach, and probably one whose offense is prolific.

The list: Ole Miss’ Hugh Freeze,  Las Vegas actually set a mock line (no betting) on this and has Freeze the favorite at 5-1 and Notre Dame’s Brian Kelly next at 6-1. Oklahoma’s Bob Stoops is 7-1 and UCLA’s Jim Mora Jr. is 9-1. Oklahoma State’s Mike Gundy is 10-1.

Mississippi State’s Dan Mullen, an offensive coordinator under Urban Meyer at Florida, doesn’t seem to be a candidate. Some insiders say Foley found him abrasive and combative at times. And none of the others seem plausible, outside of Freeze. If Foley found Mullen abrasive, what would he think of Kelly, who spends much of game days with a red face and bulging neck veins from shouting at his quarterback? Stoops already has turned down UF overtures in 2002 and ’05. Mora didn’t leave UCLA for Texas when he had the chance a year ago, so I couldn’t see him leaving for Florida.

If I was in Foley’s position, I would make overtures to Wisconsin’s Gary Andersen. The guy can flat-out coach both sides of the ball. And he would compete for national titles at Florida.

Now that Muschamp has joined Kansas’ Charlie Weis and graduated from ….

THE LATEST HOT SEAT

1. Brady Hoke, Michigan – Must beat Maryland to have any hope to save his job, but he may be gone no matter what.

2. Tim Beckman, Illinois – Upset Minnesota two weeks ago for a glimmer of hope, then regressed again. Probably needs to win last two games to save job.

3. Paul Rhoads, Iowa State – Loss at lowly Kansas probably sealed his fate.

4. Mike London, Virginia – Great recruiter, but not much of a head coach.

5. Bo Pelini, Nebraska – Sure he’s won eight games, but if he loses to Minnesota at home Saturday and at Iowa to finish with three consecutive losses, I could see Nebraska pulling the plug on hot-tempered Bo.

 

BUCKEYES NEED VIRGINIA TECH, WISCONSIN TO WIN OUT

Ohio State received good news with Tuesday’s latest release of the playoff rankings, jumping from No. 8 to 6 to leap-frog idle Baylor.

If that stands, and the Buckeyes win their remaining three games (Indiana, Michigan and the Big Ten Championship Game in Indianapolis), they probably would need two teams ranked above them to lose to make the four-team playoff field.

No. 1 Alabama has Auburn (at home) in the Iron Bowl and the SEC title game remaining; No. 2 Oregon has rival Oregon State and the Pac-12 title game (likely against Arizona State) remaining; No. 3 Florida State has Boston College, Florida (both at home) and the ACC title game (against Duke or Georgia Tech) remaining; No 4 Mississippi State has Ole Miss (on the road) in the Egg Bowl remaining; No. 5 TCU has Texas on the road on Thanksgiving night remaining (in a game that is looking tougher and tougher by the week).

If any or one of them fall, the Buckeyes could also receive some periphery help…

Now that Nebraska has fallen in a lopsided game at Wisconsin, the Buckeyes’ hopes of making the inaugural playoff would be improved by having the Badgers win at Iowa and then win against Minnesota at home to become the Big Ten West champ with a 10-2 record. Of course, it is a double-edged sword because Wisconsin has running back Melvin Gordon and also has a much better chance of upsetting Ohio State than Nebraska had.

So basically, if one or more of those teams above Ohio State loses, and the Buckeyes don’t need any side help, it would be better if the Badgers lost on the way to the Big Ten game simply because they are the bigger threat to upset Ohio State.

Also, it wouldn’t hurt the Buckeyes if Virginia Tech continued winning. The Hokies upset one-loss Duke 17-16 Saturday to even their record at 5-5. If they were to beat Wake Forest handily and then defeat rival Virginia to finish 7-5, that Sept. 6 loss to the Hokies appears somewhat less of a black eye.

Make any sense?

 

GAME OF THE WEEK: Pick postponed -- No marquee games this week. Seriously, check out the schedule. Worst week of the year.

UPSET OF THE WEEK: Maryland (+5) over Michigan – The Wolverines need it to become bowl-eligible, but will miss DE Frank Clark (kicked off the team for domestic battery).

BLOWOUT OF THE WEEK: Clemson 63, Georgia State 0 – The Tigers play a bad 1-9 team, for some reason.

BEST BETS: Boston College (+19.5) at Florida State; and Minnesota (+11) at Nebraska.

OTHER GAMES:

Ohio State 63, Indiana 17 – The Buckeyes will roll over defense-less Hoosiers.

Louisville 30, Notre Dame 23 – The Irish are slumping.

Purdue 31, Northwestern 30 – Beat Notre Dame, then lose to Boilers….

UCLA 33, USC 30 – What happened to playing this game on Rivalry Saturday?

West Virginia 39, Kansas State 24 (Thursday night) – Turns out the Wildcats weren’t as good as everyone thought.

Michigan State 40, Rutgers 17 – The Scarlet Knights have learned about the Big Ten, losing to Penn State and blowout losses to Ohio State and Wisconsin. Now comes a still-angry bunch of Green.

 

 

Last Updated (Wednesday, 19 November 2014 15:50)

 

PostHeaderIcon THIS MAY BE THE YEAR IN WHICH STOOPS LEAVES OKLAHOMA; FOR FLORIDA? MICHIGAN?

The days in which he was called “Big Game Bob” are long gone. Oklahoma just sustained the worst home loss in the Bob Stoops’ era. And Sooner fans are growing restless, judging from the loud booing that took place Saturday at Owen Field.

That’s what happens when your opponent scores 45 consecutive points and whips your team, which a month ago was labeled as a favorite to make the inaugural college football playoff field. Baylor’s 48-14 rout of Oklahoma was plain ugly and it was the Sooners’ third loss of the season, including two at home.

It included Bob and brother/defensive coordinator Mike Stoops arguing with each other and with their defensive backs as Baylor’s Bryce Petty picked them apart like a dentist cleaning plaque from a homeless person’s teeth.

To top it off, Stoops was defiant in defending himself and his program after the game, constantly referring to the Sugar Bowl victory over Alabama. When told fans had booed repeatedly during Baylor’s first second-half touchdown drive, he snapped: "Oh, you're kidding … so what …. I don’t care.”

At one point, Stoops had won 75 of his first 77 games at home. Since, his teams are 14-5. And Sooner fans have noticed.

It appears that after 16 years, including one national title and oodles of big wins in big games, the honeymoon for Stoops is over in Norman.

Now you have to wonder if Stoops, who has been approached a million times about other jobs, may indeed move on. Remember, he is very close to Steve Spurrier, his former mentor at Florida when the Gators’ won a national title in 1996, and he thinks similarly. Spurrier left Florida when he felt his success had spoiled fans, who had started criticizing him during the 2000 season. (The two coaches still own neighboring condos on Crescent Beach).

If the Michigan job comes open, as expected, many in the media already have speculated it could be Stoops’ job if he wants it. He is not a “Michigan Man” per se, but he is a Youngstown, Ohio, man and he has no affinity for Ohio State. He played in the Big Ten at Iowa. He knows the conference. And at 53, he is still young enough to have plenty of work in front of him.

In years past, Florida Athletic Director Jeremy Foley approached Stoops (before he hired Ron Zook) and also before he hired Will Muschamp, but Stoops claimed he was happy at Oklahoma both times.

If the Gators fall to either South Carolina Saturday and Florida State, as expected on Nov. 29, and Foley decides to pull the plug on Muschamp, you have to wonder if Stoops would pick up the phone, call Foley and say, “OK, this time I am ready.”

Stoops and OU athletic director Joe Castiglione have been very close through the years. And they may still be. A lot may depend on how Oklahoma (6-3) finishes the season -- opponents Texas Tech, Kansas and rival Oklahoma State remain.

I never thought I would see Bob Stoops leave Norman, until he retires to the beach. But this may be the off-season in which it happens, even though it would take one of those aforementioned destiny jobs to lure him.

THIS WEEK’S MISERY METER

1. Oklahoma – The loss to Baylor was that ugly and fans are howling.

2. Auburn – Two fumbles in the final minutes deep in A&M territory leads to loss for a 21-point favorite.

3. Notre Dame – Turnover-prone and now out of the playoff discussion for good.

4. Iowa – A 51-14 loss at Minnesota? Will fans hold it against Kirk Ferentz?

5. Northwestern – The 10-9 loss to Michigan including more gaffes and goofs than a Three Stooges’ episode.

 

UTAH’s CLAY DESERVES A SUSPENSION

If I was Utah Coach Kyle Wittingham, I would suspend receiver Kaelin Clay one game and make him issue a public apology to his teammates and Ute fans for dropping the football before he crossed the goal line in the first quarter against Oregon. As he celebrated in the back of the end zone, thinking he had scored a touchdown to put the Utes ahead 14-0, a Duck linebacker picked up the ball and rambled 100 yards to tie the score 7-7. Oregon then went on to win 51-27.

Many claim that Clay feels bad enough and a suspension wouldn’t be warranted.

But for starters, he has done this before, recently doing the Heisman pose after scoring. Coaches suspend players all the time for breaking curfew, smoking pot, missing class, being late to meetings – all deemed selfish behavior. What’s more selfish than dropping the football at the 1-yard line in order to begin a premature celebration? For Clay, it was all about him – not the team.

Ironically, he hails from the same high school – Long Beach PolyTech -- as the Washington Redskins’ LeSean Jackson, who famously pulled the same stunt for the Philadelphia Eagles in 2008 against the Cowboys. If you want to watch a ridiculously selfish, immature move – go to Youtube.com and find Jackson’s stunt during the U.S. Army high school all-star game in 2005. Seeing the end zone and a wide open field in front of him with no would-be tackler in sight, Jackson tried to do a flip and land in the end zone. Unfortunately, he forgot to take the football, which came out of his hands at the 1-yard line. No touchdown.

Still, the Cal Bears signed him and he became a superstar, albeit a selfish one. No doubt that Clay followed his every move since he once labeled Jackson “my idol.”

 

GAMES OF THE WEEK: Alabama 31, Mississippi State 13 – The No. 1 Bulldogs will go down big-time.

Wisconsin 40, Nebraska 23 – The Badgers have the one-loss Huskers right where they want them – in Madison.

Georgia 44, Auburn 41 – Tigers lose a shootout to drop two in a row.

UPSET OF THE WEEK: Miami 30, Florida State 28 – OK, I’ll bite – The Seminoles have played with fire too many times.

BLOWOUT OF THE WEEK: Marshall 59, Rice 7 – The Herd, still unbeaten, rolls through easy schedule.

BEST BETS: Michigan State (-12) at Maryland; and Notre Dame (-17) over Northwestern.

OTHER GAMES…

Ohio State 27, Minnesota 16 – Trap game for the Buckeyes … Lower-scoring game because of bitter cold and snow expected.

Florida 38, South Carolina 28 – The Gators win three in a row as confidence builds.

Tennessee 35, Kentucky 30 – Mark Stoops’ team slumping.

LSU 19, Arkansas 16 – A slobber-knocker.

TCU 44, Kansas 10 – Horned Frogs have no trouble with Jayhawks.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Last Updated (Tuesday, 11 November 2014 17:59)

 

PostHeaderIcon BUCKEYES LIVE UP TO POTENTIAL IN THE BIGGEST GAME, NOW NEED SOME HELP

Now that Ohio State finally played up to its immense potential in a huge game against a top-10 team and beat the TOSUP (the other school up north), it’s time to start worrying about the next steps ahead of the Buckeyes.

Like, can this young team (mostly freshman and sophomores) swat this gigantic win out of its short memory in order to prepare well enough for a 7-2 Minnesota team and not take the Gophers lightly on the road in extremely cold conditions and a breakfast-like 11 a.m. local kickoff time?

If so, can they avoid letting Michigan make its season (remember last year) and Brady Hoke keep his job (after an expected pasting of lowly Indiana, that is)?

Then can they survive the Big Ten championship game, against either Nebraska or Wisconsin, two teams which can ground and pound with the best of them?

And if they do all three to finish 12-1, will the College Playoff Committee gave the Buckeyes a chance to prove their worth for a national title?

Last week, as TCU fought back from a nine-point deficit in the final minutes at West Virginia, I figured then that Horned Frogs’ win might be the one game that could keep Ohio State out of the playoff, if the Buckeyes survived Michigan State.

And they did, big-time. They scored 49 points (could have had more) and redshirt freshman J.T. Barrett, so unsure and raw during those first two games, looked like a fifth-year senior Heisman Trophy candidate.

The Buckeye offense looked no different than it did against Cincinnati, Maryland, Illinois or Rutgers – the cream-puffs the critics pointed to when dismissing Ohio State from the playoff picture.

But they are dismissing this team no more.

"I'm glad we got to play in prime time," Urban Meyer said. "I'm glad (ESPN's) Gameday was here. I'm glad everybody got to see the Ohio State Buckeyes. This is a different Buckeye team than it was earlier this season."

So different. As different as Swiss and Cheddar.

If the defense could patch up some tackling problems and Dontre Wilson could learn to hold onto the ball to complement his break-away but so far untapped potential, this team could run the table, even if it got the chance to make the inaugural playoff.

The Buckeyes got some help Saturday with Auburn’s shocking home loss to Texas A&M and Notre Dame’s one-sided loss at Arizona State, but on the flip side, Alabama’s road escape at LSU and Baylor’s humiliation of Oklahoma on the road didn’t help their cause.

Here’s what I think what the Playoff Committee’s Top 10 will look like Tuesday night:

1. Mississippi State

2. Florida State

3. Oregon

4. Alabama

5. TCU

6. Arizona State

7. Baylor

8. Ohio State

9. Ole Miss

10. Nebraska

The TV types on the national scene continue to point to Ohio State’s 35-21 loss at home to Virginia Tech on Sept. 6 as the worst loss for any team among playoff contenders, simply because the Hokies have dropped five of seven games since.

But is that loss, in which a final-minute pick-six made it look more lopsided than it was (Ohio State had possession and was near midfield trailing by only seven points), any worse than Arizona State’s 62-27 home loss to an 8-2 UCLA team?

I wouldn’t think so.

When you get beat by five touchdowns and give up 62 points on your home field, you shouldn’t be in the running to win a national championship, which means you shouldn’t be in the running for a four-team playoff. Not that it even matters if the Ducks beat the Sun Devils in the Pac-12 title game.

As it is, it sure appears the Buckeyes (8-1) will need some help to make the playoff.

As I’ve said before, I don’t see Florida State losing (unless Miami shocks the Seminoles Saturday night). I don’t see TCU losing, either.

That leaves Ohio State needing whoever wins the SEC West (Mississippi State or Alabama) to lose another game or the Pac-10 champ (Oregon or Arizona State) to lose another game. Or for the Hurricanes to play the game of their lives Saturday and knock off the Seminoles.

Hey, it’s college football – it could happen. History tells us it does each and every season, especially in November.

And even if it doesn’t, the talented but underachieving Florida Gators appear to be waking up. Wouldn’t that be something if Meyer’s former employer ended up knocking off FSU Nov. 29 in Tallahassee, allowing Urban and the Buckeyes to slide into the playoff?

How ironic.

So much football left. So many potential upsets on the schedule.

Here’s what Buckeye fans shooting be rooting for in the games to come:

This Saturday: For Mississippi State to beat Alabama on the road, knocking the Tide out of contention (However, if Alabama wins, then Ohio State would need Auburn to knock off Alabama in the Iron Bowl); or for the Hurricanes to upset No. 2 Florida State in Miami.

On Nov. 22: No contender has a remotely challenging game, unless you count Baylor hosting Oklahoma State.

On Thanksgiving Day: For the Texas Longhorns (hey, they handled West Virginia) to shock TCU in Austin.

On Nov. 28: For Arizona and ol’ friend RichRod to upset Arizona State in Tucson (then for the Sun Devils to surprise Oregon in the Pac 12 title game Dec. 6).

On Nov. 29: For Ole Miss to beat Mississippi State in the Egg Bowl in Oxford; for the Gators to shock FSU in Tallahassee; or for Auburn to beat Alabama in Tuscaloosa.

On Dec. 6: For Kansas State to win at Baylor.

Realistically, Ohio State needs two of these things to happen.

And they also could use the Cornhuskers to win out to arrive in Indianapolis on Dec. 6 for the Big 10 Championship Game as a 11-1 team, and ranked in the top 10.

So much to root for; so much to hope for; and so much at stake.

But at least the picture appears brighter than it did a week ago.

 

Last Updated (Sunday, 09 November 2014 20:49)

 

PostHeaderIcon THE QUESTION ON DEC. 7 IS SIMPLE: WHO DESERVES TO BE IN PLAYOFF?

First of all, I am growing tired of ESPN’s pundits continuous talk of, and demand, to place “the four best teams” in the inaugural playoff.

“We have to figure the committee will get it right in the end and put the four best teams in the playoff,” ESPN’s David Pollack said recently.

Really?

The four best?

Just as the NFL’s best team doesn’t always win the Super Bowl, this inaugural college playoff, much ballyhooed since its inception as the NCAA leaders caved to public pressure, should never be about the so-called four best teams.

It should be the four most-deserving teams.

Otherwise, why play the games? Why play the remainder of the regular season? We could pick the four best teams right now.

I, like most everyone else, would say Alabama is still probably the best team this season, but if the Tide loses a second game, they don’t deserve to be in the playoff. Same goes for Auburn, Oregon, TCU and anyone else.

As Herm Edwards once said, “That is why you play the game!”

Hence, I disagreed with Ole Miss dropping only to No. 11 after two consecutive losses, still ranked ahead of one-loss Nebraska and one-loss Ohio State. Sure, the Rebels may or may not be a better team, but they have two losses and deserved to drop below all the one-loss teams from the five major conferences. Injury or no injury. Close loss or no close loss.

A loss is a loss is a loss.

In addition, injuries are and always have been a part of the game and there should be no pardons just because one team lost a key player at a terrible time. Otherwise, Ohio State wouldn’t be ranked No. 14 today, given that Braxton Miller would have made a difference in the 35-21 loss to Virginia Tech on Sept. 6.

This is the way college football champions have been crowned beginning with the establishment of the polls in 1935 to the Bowl Alliance in 1998 to the Bowl Championship Series a few years later. It was all about who deserved it more? It was never about the best team. Obviously, in a perfect world, sometimes those were the same teams.

And there are dozens of examples over the years. Texas and Nebraska were by far the best teams in 1983 but Miami won its first national title. Tennessee was nowhere the best team in 1998 but the Volunteers were the only unbeaten at the end of the Bowl Alliance so they were crowned national champions. They deserved it, even though the Buckeyes probably were the best team that year, but had lost to Michigan State in Week 10 while ranked No. 1.

In 2000, Miami may have been the best team but Oklahoma, the only unbeaten, deserved it more. Two years ago, Notre Dame was nowhere near one of the top two teams in the country, but the Irish finished 12-0, so they deserved to play Alabama for the national championship. Of course, the Irish were crushed 42-14 but that’s not the point.

Hopefully, this will all work out by Dec. 7 when the committee announces the four playoff teams. But if a one-loss team from a power conference gets cut out of the playoff by a two-loss team (likely from the SEC) which the committee believers is the better team, the new system has failed.

LOSSES MAY DRIVE SPURRIER TO THE BEACH

I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if Steve Spurrier calls it quits following the season.

After getting blown out at home by Texas A&M in the season opener, South Carolina has lost heart-breaking games to Missouri, Kentucky, Auburn and the worst of all, to Tennessee, last Saturday.

In the latter, the Gamecocks (4-5) led the Vols 42-28 with less than two minutes remaining, and yet lost the game even though they had recovered an onside kick after Tennessee cut the lead to seven.

Afterwards, a stunned Spurrier walked into the pressroom, uttered a 42-second statement, announced he would not take questions and walked out. Sunday, he offered a bit more:

“That thought process (of retirement) has hit me the last 10 years when we have a game or two like this. Then you look at the big picture and try to regroup. We’ve got a bunch of good players here, we really do, and we feel we’ve got some defensive players on the way that can help us, and some offensive players, too. We will see how all that shakes out.”

Most coaches can take a loss or two and work harder, more determined than ever. Spurrier, however, has never taken losing well. Or criticism, for that matter. When he deemed Florida boosters were spoiled of the success he created, he left the Gators for the Washington Redskins in 2002. After two miserable seasons in the NFL, he quit with three years remaining on his contract.

And now he could be headed for a losing season and no bowl after entering it as an SEC East favorite. He has often said when he is ready, he will retired to Crescent Beach, Florida, kick his shoes off to enjoy the beach and play golf when he wants to.

If South Carolina loses to Florida or Clemson, I would think Spurrier may decide to rid himself of the heartache of tough losses.

If he does return, there likely will be new coaches on the defensive side of the ball.

“Everybody is safe (through the end of the season),” Spurrier said. “We are going to try to get through these next three games the very best we can. I think every coach evaluates his situation every offseason, but all these coaches were here the last two years.

“Obviously, I like to beat teams that look like you’re supposed to beat them,” Spurrier said. “I have had some losses I am not used to having, especially all together here this year.”

Which leads to …

THIS WEEK’s MISERY METER

1. South Carolina – Leading Tennessee by 14 points in the final minutes on a very cold night, thousands of Gamecock fans headed to the parking lot and warmth of their cars, thinking their team had secured a win. Instead, South Carolina lost 45-42 in overtime.

2. Ole Miss – Two weeks ago, the Rebels were cruising along as one of the feel-good teams of the year. Then came the 10-7 loss at LSU, in which they passed up a game-tying field goal. Then a fumble and broken ankle on what could have been the game-winning touchdown over Auburn.

3. Penn State – No pre-game handshakes, then a one-point loss. Four straight losses overall. Enough said.

4. Georgia – From a darkhorse playoff favorite to losing to the lowly Gators. Now the Bulldogs could play the spoiler by beating Auburn at home and/or winning the SEC title.

5. West Virginia – The Mountaineers had TCU where they wanted them – down nine points in the cold and wind of Morgantown late in the game. Then the Horned Frogs hit a long pass, got a stop and kicked a field on the final play to stay alive in the playoff hunt.

IF YOU ARE A BUCKEYE, ROOT FOR KANSAS STATE

On Saturday, that is.

Ohio State, if it is to upset Michigan State and keep alive its chances to make the inaugural playoff, really needs TCU to lose to Bill Snyder’s Wildcats this week.

As it stands and based on the committee’s initial rankings, Florida State, the SEC champion and Pac-12 champ Oregon or Arizona State have inside tracks to take three spots. That leaves Notre Dame, with two stiff road games left, and the Big 12 champ – Kansas State, Baylor or TCU – alive to get the fourth spot if it has only one loss.

So obviously, the Buckeyes could be 12-1, having defeated the Spartans and won the Big Ten title game in Indianapolis, and sitting at No. 5 on Dec. 7.

While Kansas State and Baylor must play each other and each has a few tough games remaining, Saturday’s game against Kansas State is the last major hurdle for the Horned Frogs. Should they win it, at home in Fort Worth, they would be a heavy favorite to win out and make the playoff.

Of course, we’ll know more Tuesday night. If Ole Miss, coming off two consecutive losses, is still ranked above Ohio State (No. 16 in the initial rankings), then the Buckeyes have a serious problem no matter what they do the rest of the season, thanks to the horrible home loss to Virginia Tech (4-5).

GAMES OF THE WEEK: Ohio State 29, Michigan State 23 – It comes down to this: I think the Buckeyes can throw it better while the Spartans aren’t as good defensively as they were in 2013.

TCU 35, Kansas State 21 – Bill Snyder’s team falls out of contention.

Arizona State 33, Notre Dame 19 – So do the Irish.

Alabama 27, LSU 13 – The Tigers will struggle to move the ball.

UPSET OF THE WEEK: Kentucky (+10) over Georgia – The Bulldogs drop a second straight game as a double-digit favorite.

BEST BETS: Oregon State (-7.5) over Washington State; Tulsa (-12) over SMU; Auburn (-21) over Texas A&M.

 

 

PostHeaderIcon INAUGURAL PLAYOFF RANKINGS: PREMATURE, OVER-DISSECTED AND UNNECESSARY

You would think Moses had returned to announce a new version of the Ten Commandments.

Perhaps that would explain the hype and consternation surrounding the College Playoff Committee’s revealing of its first Top 25 rankings Tuesday night.

I understand ESPN’s interest in the issue, especially considering they hold the contract to televise the playoff, etc. But from the beginning of the season, the exaggeration and constant projection of the four teams that will make the playoff has been the most over-hyped, waste of time and space of anything in the history of college football that I have witnessed.

For the record: Mississippi State is No. 1, Florida State is No. 2, Auburn is No. 3 and Ole Miss is No. 4.

Here’s some news – no more than one, maybe two of those teams -- will make the inaugural playoff field, in my humble opinion, when it is announced on Dec. 7.

Ohio State, ranked No. 16, was a few slots farther South than most Buckeye fans expected. And Nebraska of all teams was ranked one notch above.

Whatever.

Kirk Herbstreit seems to be the only ESPN pundit with perspective on this entire issue.

“Relax,” he said to no one in particular Tuesday night. “If your team is as good as you think they are, they will get the chance to win all of their games and work their way up. So just relax.”

Good advice.

If the Buckeyes (6-1) upset Michigan State next Saturday, run the table, then defeat the Big Ten West champ (Nebraska, Wisconsin, Iowa or Minnesota) on Dec. 6, they would be 12-1 and I would be shocked if they weren’t sitting at No. 3 or 4 – only because all of those teams ranked 1 through 15 are about to start beating up on each other.

And remember, Ohio State doesn’t need all 15 to lose again – just 12 of them. It’s a good bet that will happen. The question is, can the Buckeyes win out?

As far as Ohio State goes, committee chairman Jeff Long (the Arkansas’ athletic director) was asked about the loss to Virginia Tech weighing down the Buckeyes.

“I wouldn’t call it an albatross, but it was not a good loss for them,” Long said. “But Ohio State has opportunities on their schedule to play up (including at Michigan State on Nov.8), as many of these teams do. We’re still early in this process.

“While I wouldn’t get that excited about Ohio State’s placement, we do think that based on the other teams they’ve played to this point in the schedule, this is where they deserve to be ranked.”

I have no problem with that, as long as the committee would give them a huge boost on Nov. 11 should they upset No. 8 Michigan State in East Lansing. If they win that game and still are ranked below the Top 10, then there is a problem in Buckeyeland.

But truly, the Buckeyes’ 14-point loss to the Hokies (now 4-4) can’t be as bad as a 62-27 home loss to UCLA, can it? Arizona State suffered that indignity and the Sun Devils are ranked No. 14.

Nevertheless, the AP football poll, dating to 1935, was never dissected like a dead frog like this thing. Even the old Bowl Alliance system and the BCS rankings, so criticized from 1998-2013, never caused such stir and commotion all those years.

But leading up to Tuesday, it was as if we were anticipating the playoff committee to announce the quarantine parameters for Ebola, the whereabouts of key ISIS leaders and Fidel Castro’s death all at once.

Heck, they met for three days at a swanky hotel in Dallas just to compile this list!  And they will continue to do so each week for the next month. I could have come up with these rankings within 30 minutes in between the nightly news and an episode of Modern Family and had time left over to mow the yard.

These weekly meetings and rankings announcements for six weeks is a huge mistake. The committee shouldn’t have made any rankings or announcements until selecting the four teams on Dec. 7 – just as the NCAA Tournament committee operates each March.

In the meantime, we still have to put up with this weekly over-hyped, irrelevant production and its weekly fall-out.

But on to the real football issues …

HOKE CONTINUES TO HAVE HEAD STUCK IN SAND

“Spikegate,” as the Michigan newspapers have called it, is now Brady Hoke’s latest blunder.

His Wolverines, entering last Saturday’s game with a 3-4 record and five losses in its last six games to Michigan State, somehow thought it was a good idea to carry a spike onto the field and slam it into Spartan Stadium’s turf before kickoff Saturday.

The Spartans, and especially Coach Mark Dantonio, noticed.

Hence, the final touchdown with only 1:00 remaining, to punctuate a 35-11 Michigan State victory.

“I wanted to drive the stake,” Dantonio said.

“I knew something happened, but wasn’t completely sure what,” Hoke explained after the game.

Again, I want to root for this guy to keep his job, but he makes it extremely difficult. It’s as if he’s oblivious to what his team is thinking, feeling and doing, week after week.

The spike or spear was part of a motivational ploy and talk on Friday night before the game. A coach who is in touch and has command of his team would have uttered these words to his team: “Hey guys, remember, this thing stays in the locker room between us and us only. Let’s keep it in a secure place in the locker room until after the game!”

But then again, he was the only guy in 105,000-seat Michigan Stadium who couldn’t tell his quarterback had sustained a concussion earlier this season against Minnesota.

MUSCHAMP’S FINAL CHANCE
Which is what Saturday’s Florida-Georgia game is for the Gators’ head coach.

Will Muschamp must win Saturday’s game to take the first step toward saving his job. Remember, Florida is only 3-3 and he would just about have to win every game, or at least four of the remaining five to be employed as a Gator in 2015.

Even though the Gators have had an off week to prepare and heal, and larger upsets have happened, I don’t see Florida being competitive against the No. 11 Bulldogs (6-1).

And if that happens, don’t be surprised if Muschamp doesn’t get the axe on Sunday – just so Athletic Director Jeremy Foley can start making calls toward landing his next big-time coach.

CHECK OUT THESE ODDS

According to Vegasinsider.com, which lists current odds on future feature matchups, the Buckeyes today are a 3.5-point underdog at Michigan State Nov. 8 and a 19-point favorite over Michigan on Nov. 29. For the uninitiated, those numbers change daily right up to kickoff. Other lines of note: Alabama is favored by 6.5 over Auburn (Nov. 29), while Notre Dame is a 2.5 underdog for both games at Arizona State and at USC. The website also projects FSU, Mississippi State, Alabama and Oregon to make the playoff. The Tide is still the betting favorite to win it all at 6-1; Michigan State is 8-1 and the Buckeyes are 9-1 – the same as Ole Miss and Auburn.

GAMES OF THE WEEK: Auburn 37, Ole Miss 30 – Once the toast of the nation, Rebels lost a defensive struggle to LSU, now will lose a shootout and get eliminated.

Georgia 31, Florida 13 – Bulldogs remain SEC East leader.

UPSETS OF THE WEEK: Louisville (+5.5) over Florida State (Thursday night) – That’s right. It’s the Seminoles’ last chance to lose and I think the Cards’ defense is good enough to get it done at home in a crazy atmosphere. Karma catches up to Jameis. West Virginia (+6.5) over TCU – I think the Mountaineers get it done again at home.

BLOWOUT OF THE WEEK: Baylor 66, Kansas 10 – Those poor Jayhawks. When does hoops season start?

BEST BETS: Navy (+15) against Notre Dame; North Carolina (+17) at Miami; Georgia Tech (-3.5) over Virginia; Cincinnati (-4) at Tulane.

 

Last Updated (Wednesday, 29 October 2014 13:57)

 
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