2015-11-05

FBS - Week 10 Preview

Again was that week not that big in terms of getting the playoff field sorted out, but that's OK, the games are coming to get this done and at the end of the month we will have a better picture.
I'm not sure we will have a clear and complete picture, because at some point several teams will be left on the list and there are only 4 spots.
The Committee did post their 1st playoff list and it had no real surprises, did have of cause an earned value approach than my "most likely to stay alive" approach.

Here is the list:
1 Clemson 8-0
2 LSU 7-0
3 Ohio State 8-0
4 Alabama 7-1
5 Notre Dame 7-1
6 Baylor 7-0
7 Michigan State 8-0
8 TCU 8-0
9 Iowa 8-0
10 Florida 7-1

Most interesting 1 ACC team, 3 SEC teams, 3 Big 10 teams, 1 Independent and 2 Big 12 teams in the mix, NO PAC12 team under the TOP10.
Highest PAC12 team is Stanford at 11, Utah is 12th.
Highest non-power5-team is Memphis at 13.

This is all work in progress, so don't put too much into this.

Last week, again only 2 teams did get the knockout on my list with their 2nd loss and no team did get a 1st loss.
But many teams had a BYE week. This will change the upcoming gameday.


16 teams are left in the list.

I updated the list of the remaining games against each other, but that way I lost the crucial division games coming.
I'm not satisfied with that solution, but I will stick with it for now, because otherwise I would have to boost up the mentioned games with games which were never on the list.

The so far remaining 1-loss Power5 teams + Independents after week 8 are:

ACC (3 teams)
Clemson Tigers (8-0) - has to play Florida State 07.11.
Florida State Seminoles (7-1) - has to play Clemson 07.11 and Florida 28.11.
North Carolina Tar Heels (7-1) - has to play none of that list

dropped out:
Duke Blue Devils (6-2) - lost to Miami
Pittsburgh Panthers (6-2) - lost to North Carolina

BIG10 (3 teams)
Iowa Hawkeyes (8-0) - has to play none of that list
Michigan State Spartans (8-0) - has to play Ohio State 21.11.
Ohio State Buckeyes (8-0) has to play Michigan State 21.11.

dropped out:
none

BIG12 (4 teams)
Baylor Bears (7-0) - has to play Oklahoma 14.11., Oklahoma State 21.11. and TCU 28.11.
Oklahoma Sooners (7-1) - has to play Baylor 14.11., TCU 21.11. and Oklahoma State 28.11.
Oklahoma State Cowboys (8-0) has to play TCU 07.11., Baylor 21.11. and Oklahoma 28.11.
TCU Horned Frogs (8-0) - has to play Oklahoma State 07.11., Oklahoma 21.11. and Baylor 28.11.

dropped out:
none

PAC12 (2 teams)
Stanford Cardinal (7-1) - has to play Notre Dame 28.11.
Utah Utes (7-1) - has to play none of that list

dropped out:
none

SEC (3 teams)
Alabama Crimson Tide (7-1) - has to play LSU 07.11.
Florida Gators (7-1) - has to play Florida State 28.11.
LSU Tigers (7-0) - has to play Alabama 07.11.

dropped out:
none

INDEPENDENTS (1 team)
Notre Dame Fighting Irish (7-1) - has to play Stanford 28.11.

Let's have a look at my list of the

TOP10 teams for the playoff spots (sorted by likeliness)
#1 Baylor Bears
With the BYE week, the Bears better got their QB ready for the upcoming games.
I was tempted to lower their rank, but so far did they not show any sign of slowing down, so they stay at this spot.
They have on paper 1 game to get flying, but playing Kansas State on the road can be hard with a new QB.
Mark this date: 21.11. Oklahoma State, on the road.
Next game: Kansas State, on the road
This will be a warmup, but could become a terror.
KSU is not dead and this game on the road might be harder with a backup QB than expected.
The Bears stay on top of my list, but I have doubt.

#2 Ohio State Buckeyes
The Buckeyes could be in a real mess.
Their new starting QB was suspended shortly before the last gameday for 1 game and since they had a BYE, he will not play THIS week against Minnesota.
It might be that they will not miss him much, but this could cost them dearly.
Mark that date: 21.11. Michigan State, at home. It will depend on how that whole QB situation will be dealt with.
Next game: Minnesota, at home
I have the feeling, the season could go down here very quickly.
It's not that Ohio State is a bad team, it's just that all this distraction could become the small tip to get a loss or two when it hurts the most.

#3 Clemson Tigers
Beating North Carolina State 56-41 was of cause needed to keep in the path of the unbeaten und to stay in the hunt for the ACC.
Mark this date: 07.11. Florida State, at home. I don't think there are many people seeing FSU on top here, but IF they win, it will boost their reputation big time.
Next game: Florida State, at home
It look like the Tigers are only 1 win away to secure a perfect season, but an upset can happen any game.
And the ACC Championship game will also be a game they have to win, before they can dream of national championships.

#4 Alabama Crimson Tide
Funny the playoff committee did put Alabama ahead of Florida, but their explanation for that was the way Alabama did win, compared to Florida.
And that's also my point of view.
Depended on the game this weekend, Alabama might be able to battle that duel out in the SEC championship game.
Mark this date: 07.11. LSU, at home. The SEC West is wide open and a win is of cause needed here.
Next game: LSU, at home
It's do or die for Alabama, every week until the last game.

#5 Utah Utes
Winning against Oregon State 27-12 was nice, but 'nice' won't help them to get the division title.
They do have some tough games left to play and I think they need more than a nice game to beat Washington, Arizona, UCLA and even Colorado.
If they do not wake up fast, they will drop out of this list.
Mark this date: 21.11. UCLA, at home. The division is wide open and they will have to win every game, but UCLA will be very likely the toughest opponent left to play.
Next game: Washington, on the road
This could become a total mess fast, or not. All open.

#6 Michigan State Spartans
The Spartans had also a BYE and will face now the toughest month with Ohio State and Penn State coming soon.
Mark this date: 21.11. Ohio State on the road. After that they will Penn State also.
Next game: Nebraska, on the road
They key for MSU will be to keep the team focused.

#7 Iowa Hawkeyes
They did win against Maryland 31-15 and will face no real competition until season final.
The only real opponent will be Iowa itself.
The Hawkeyes will have to deal with that momentum which is building up with each win.
Mark this date: 07.11. Indiana, on the road. The most dangerous opponent left.
Next game: Indiana, on the road
I really would love to see them win the conference, but my gut says, something will happen.

#8 TCU Horned Frogs
The West Virginia game was won 40-10 and now does everyone believe that TCU is valid.
That might be, it might be that the team did mature in the past few weeks, but I still see those close wins and have that in my mind.
I think TCU can win the Big12, but I also think that they can lose more than once in the next few weeks.
Mark this date: 21.11. Oklahoma, on the road. Yes they will face Oklahoma State this weekend, I still think the game in Norman will be tougher.
Next game: Oklahoma State, on the road
At the moment it does look like the Big12 might become a big cluster bomb. At least it stays open, which is the best I think.

#9 Stanford Cardinals
That was close. Very close. That field goal kick will be that kickers nightmare for years to come.
Stanford won by that missed kick 30-28 and kept their season alive.
Mark this date: 21.11. Cal, at home. The last 2 games, Cal and Notre Dame will be the final rehersal and the very likely championship game the premier where everything has to be perfect, if they want to be part of the national playoffs.
Next game: Colorado, on the road
That 1st committee ranking was a big spank on the PAC12.

#10 LSU Tigers
Win against Bama, win against Bama, win against Bama ....
That's probably on everybodies mind wearing purple and gold.
After that it will not be less preasure, but the big bad elephant will be gone and it's likely will become easier.
Mark this date: 07.11. Alabama, on the road. Win this and the it's very likely they play for the SEC championship game.
Next game: Alabama, on the road
I think I will have to appologize to all LSU fans next week, if they win against Alabama, but be sure, I your team will win, they will get Alabamas spot next week.

Dropped out:
none

Here are the 2 most likely non power 5 teams to crash the party:

#1 Houston Cougars
Winning against vanderbilt 34-0 was big.
Since it all does concentrate on the Amercian at the moment, you now find Memphis at #2.
Mark this date: 14.11. Memphis, at home. This whole non-power5-thing is getting hotter with each week.
Next game: Cincinnati, at home
For me the most interesting thing of the season will be, if the coaches of Toledo, Temple, Houston and Memphis will switch team, or not.

#2 Memphis Tigers
The Tigers did beat Tulane 41-13 and are at the moment the highest ranked team from a non power 5 conference in the AP polls and got an astonishing #13 rank in the 1st playoff ranking.
I still see Houston up front, that's why the Tigers are at #2 at the moment.
Mark this date: 14.11. Houston, on the road. If this would be a home game, I would put Memphis on #1, but they have to show the nation that they can beat Houston on the road.
Next game: Navy, at home
Memphis has on paper the hardest rest schedule of all teams in the AAC, so if they can beat ALL of those teams, they might even scratch at the top 4 spots, if something bad happens with a few contenders.

Dropped out: Toledo Rockets, did lose to Northern Illinois on Tuesday this week

As the last month of regular season games did come, it's time to have a look at the standings and getting a picture of the conference or division title candidates.
Since most teams have to play 4 games until season final, I decided to include all teams, which are up to 2 games behind.
It's quite unrealistic to think ALL teams leading would collapse and a team with 4 games behind would win the division or conference.
If that's gonna happen, I will give you a note early enough.

I will go through this by alphabetical order and will only point out the conference standings.

AAC
East Division
Temple 4-0
Cincinnati 2-2
South Florida 2-2

West Division
Houston 4-0
Memphis 4-0
Navy 4-0

Temple is leading in the East and both, Cincinnati and South Florida will have a hard time catching up.
Still, Temple has to play Memphis and South Florida.
The West is totally strange, having 3 perfect teams so far.
They will play against each other the next few weekends, but the division champ will very likley only be known after the last regular season game.
For all 3 teams, this is a multimillion dollar month, since the last team standing will go to a New Years Bowl. Probably.

ACC
Atlantic Division
Clemson 5-0
Florida State 5-1
Louisville 3-2

Coastal Division
North Carolina 4-0
Pittsburgh 4-1
Duke 3-1
Miami (FL) 2-2
Virginia 2-2

The Atlantic is Clemsons to lose. With the Florida State coming, a win would very much seal the deal, a loss would lift FSU.
The Coastal is still wide open, with Duke and UNC playing this weekend and They have to play Pitt also later.
I think Miami and Virginia will fall out of the race soon.

BIG10
East Division
Michigan State 4-0
Ohio State 4-0
Penn State 4-1
Michigan 3-1

West Division
Iowa 4-0
Wisconsin 4-1
Northwestern 2-2

It's often forgotten in the whole MSU or OSU debate that there are still 2 teams behind them in the east, which are just waiting for an error.
Granted, it's not very likely, but stranger things did happen.
The West is Iowas territory for now and it looks like they will bring that title home.
But Wisconsin did stay in their shadow and is waiting, would need 2 Iowa losses to jump them.

BIG 12
Oklahoma State 5-0
TCU 5-0
Baylor 4-0
Oklahoma 4-1

Here is already the conference at stake and all 4 teams will meet at some kind in the next few weeks.
Could become a clear picture, could become a nightmare, depends on the results.
Remember the Big 12 was left out last season with a 1-loss conference champ.

CUSA
East Division
Marshall 5-0
Western Kentucky 5-0
Middle Tennessee 2-2

West Division
Louisiana Tech 4-1
Southern Mississippi 4-1
Rice 2-2
UTEP 1-3
Texas San Antonio 1-3

The East looks like a 2 team race and they will meet to settle this at season final.
The West is surprisingly open, but UTEP and UTSA do only have mathematical chances.
LT and Southern Miss will very likely also settle this at season final.

MAC
East Division
Bowling Green 4-0
Ohio 2-2
Buffalo 2-2
Kent State 2-2

West Division
Toledo 4-0
Western Michigan 4-0
Central Michigan 4-1
Northern Illinois 3-1

The East of the MAC is in Bowling Green hand. They will have to lose a lot to miss the championship game.
The West on the other hand is quite open. All eyes are on Toledo, but even NIU can win the division.
Some teams do have still tough opponents on their rest schedule, so this will only be final after the final game.

MWC
Mountain Division
Boise State 4-1
Utah State 4-1
Air Force 4-1
New Mexico 2-2
Colorado State 1-3

West Division
San Diego State 5-0
San José State 3-2
Nevada 2-2

While the Mountain does not have a leading candidate is the West already almost closed.
I think the picture in the Mountain will get clearer soon, while San Diego State will have to win only 1 or 2 games to book the flight to the championship game.

PAC12
North Division
Stanford 6-0
Washington State 3-2
Oregon 3-2

South Division
Utah 4-1
UCLA 3-2
USC 3-2
Arizona State 2-3

Stanford did hold off Wazzus challenge, but they are not the division champ yet. They still have some big games coming and the other 2 teams are waiting.
Still, they only have an outside chance.
The South looks more open and surprisingly does even USC still have a valid chance to win this.
ASU has to wish for a lot of luck to still winning this.

SEC
East Division
Florida 5-1
Georgia 3-3
Tennessee 2-3
Vanderbilt 1-3

West Division
LSU 4-0
Alabama 4-1
Ole Miss 4-1
Texas A&M 3-2
Mississippi State 2-2
Arkansas 2-2

I think after that Florida-Georgia game does nobody really think that the Gators will not enter the championship game.
They have only 2 quite easy games left and it's unlikely they lose both.
The West is wide open, I was only able to leave Auburn out of this list.
This will get shorter quickly, but it's obvious that there is still a lot of room for glory and failure.

SBC
Appalachian State 4-0
Arkansas State 4-0
Georgia Southern 4-1
Louisiana Lafayette 2-1
South Alabama 1-2
Texas State 1-2
Georgia State 1-2

At the moment this looks like Appalachian State and Arkansas State will have to battle this out.
And they will do it this weekend.
Still, this is not the end, since some teams can still get an unexpected win and then there would be a shared conference champion.

Now let's have a look at the BLOCK OF GRANITE TOP GAMES FOR WEEK 9

Sat. Nov. 7 - 12:00 pm ET
Duke @ #21 North Carolina
Duke lost last week because of the Miami-lateral-miss-call-miracle and is that way in a bad spot at the moment.
In a perfect world would this be a battle between 2 unbeaten teams in conference games, but with the loss is Duke 1 game short.
Doesn't matter too much, since a win here would send them back into the driver seat.
North Carolina is playing good this season, so the Blue Devils will have a hard time getting this game turned into their favour.
Played in Chapel Hill, it adds 1 more problem to Dukes list of problems.
North Carolinas did improve big time compared to last season and even last season did the Tar Heels paint the victory bell in their shade of blue.
Vegas does see Duke with more than a TD behind.
I think this will either be close or will have a very high margin.
As much as I like the Duke development over the past few seasons, I think UNC has the edge this season in general and for this game, again.
Tar Heels win.

Sat. Nov. 7 - 3:30 pm ET
#17 Florida State @ #3 Clemson
It looks like for all groups, press, fans and even Vegas, this is all but won by Clemson.
I thought FSU would be irrelevant already at this point, but they stayed in the hunt, even after the loss to GT.
Biggest problem for FSU is, they will have to play this on Clemsons home turf.
If this would be in Florida, I would be at least tempted to rethink the Clemson win.
But under this circumstance I have to admit I can't see Clemson lose this and become also a part of that "already won"-group.
The Seminoles will have to keep Clemsons offense in check and that's something I can't see happening.
Vegas have them as 12.5 point underdog.
My guess is at least 14 points, and counting.

Sat. Nov. 7 - 3:30 pm ET
#5 TCU @ #12 Oklahoma State
Welcome to the Big12 eliminator game, part 1.
The Big12 will start their road to the playoffs this week and will do this each week until season final.
If they are lucky, 1 team will survive this unbeaten.
Then they will participate in the playoffs, for sure.
If something like last season happens, I don't know.
It will very much depend on the other teams performance, but with the status at the moment, I think it could happen that the BIG12 would be left out, again, with a 1-loss team.
Here, 1 team will get their 1st loss, mean for that team the door in the playoffs is closing faster, the other team will get a boost.
I'm not a fan of TCU, they had too many close games they won by luck.
This will run out, at some point.
On the road against Oklahoma State sounds quite good for that to happen.
The main reason for TCU being still unbeaten was their fast offense.
Well, this week they will meet another fast offense.
That makes this game as open as it can get.
Can TCU win? sure.
Can they lose? Sure.
Vegas does see TCU as 5 point favourite.
I pick Oklahoma State for win here, because of the home factor.
100% sure?
No.
But more than 50%, so ...
Cowboys win.

Sat. Nov. 7 - 8:00 pm ET
#4 LSU @ #7 Alabama
This is very likely the hottest game of the week.
LSU is unbeaten behind a great RB performance and a strong defense.
Alabama is a 1-loss team, beating most of the teams big time, but lost to Ole Miss, at home.
Still, they are ranked higher than the unbeaten Florida Gators in the playoff rankings.
The committee can explain this the way they want, but at the end of the day, this is reputation.
Miles vs Saban is a nice matchup for years and Alabama is riding on a 4 game winning streak in that rivalry.
Vegas does see LSU behind with a score and honestly, I'm not sure how this will turn out.
Could be low scoring, could be high scoring.
Could be 1 of those rare moment Alabama collapses and LSU wins this with pride, or it could show that a 1-dimensional LSU team can't win all games behind 1 great RB.
In doubt I go with the home team, so I pick Alabama.
I expect a close game, a battle to the bones.
Still ... Tide win.

'Til next time
Jack6 on BLOCK OF GRANITE

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