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The shakeup at the top doesn’t matter. It’s the bottom that does. That said, Florida State stands alone as the team with the best individual shot of being in the CFB playoff regardless of what its conference looks like. The Big Ten narrowed the chasm between itself and the rest of the world, however, and that helps whoever makes it out of that outfit.
Just remember kids, if you ain’t first … it’s college football and it doesn’t matter anymore … you can be fourth best and someone will still let you play.
1. Pac-12: The Left Coast hasn’t had the haymaker out-of-conference scheduling that you’d expect, and it’s sort of ridiculous to give these schools a free pass on it, but everyone else keeps clipping their toenails while not watching what they’re doing and getting skin. The thing with the Pac-12 is that from top to bottom, pretty much no one really stinks. Since you look at a “conference” rather than just a few teams in it, here we go. The Pac-12 has the best win between it and the SEC, the only other reasonable No. 1 — Oregon over Michigan State — and no really bad teams across the board.
Best win: Utah over Michigan. Michigan tried summonsing God to give a lengthy lightning delay in hopes that the game could be cancelled, but even the heavens gave up and just declared Utah better.
Worst loss: Cal to Arizona. It’s not that it’s damning to lose in Arizona so much as how the Golden Bears lost. Nightmares for months in the Dykes household.
2. SEC: I struggled with moving this league down for a week as though it matters, but the East has become that girl in the group of your female friends that refuses to have even one beer, thinks everyone needs to be home by 9 p.m., and wears clothing two sizes too small to the club. No matter how pretty the SEC West is, they need to tell her to either get a makeover or just stop coming around so often.
Best win: Auburn over Kansas State. Don’t be fooled. Kansas State is a legit football team. You felt like Auburn could have gotten to its secondary more, but Auburn is Auburn, and Auburn is clutch now.
Worst loss: Mizzou to Indiana. After getting drawn and quartered by the Bowling Green offense, it was assumed IU wasn’t that good, but then the Hoosiers got a game against the meek SEC East, apparently.
3. Big 12: There were only three games involving Big 12 teams on the docket, so they were off like Katy Perry A cappella (low hanging fruit), but Kansas won; the main event game betwixt Oklahoma and West Virginia showed two strong teams, one that looks like a playoff favorite; and while Kansas State lost, it might not have been that way had the Wildcats fielded even a barely functional kicking game rather than the Bud Ice of field goal units.
Best win: Oklahoma over West Virginia. The Sooners looked formidable, we might have gotten a new freshman Heisman candidate, and WVU continues to look strong and improved.
Worst loss: Kansas State to Auburn. I mean, I didn’t really have much else in terms of options, now, did I?
4. ACC: It was a little bit of a rough weekend for the ACC in general. The league woke up on someone else’s couch not feeling all that well at an address it had never really seen before. I’m guessing the Big Ten spiked its punch.
With 180 proof grain alcohol.
The ACC was 0-3 vs the maligned Big Ten, including losses to two Big Ten teams that were coming off salty defeats to other Power 5 clubs. At least Florida State keeps the conference in the playoff discussion. Oh, and remember when Virginia Tech was back? First impressions are worthless in college football sometimes.
Best win: Florida State over Clemson. It would have been a horrific weekend to have FSU bow out of the top without all the arrows in its quiver. If FSU is going to lose, let’s at least have Jameis on the field to see if it can be done.
Worst loss: Pittsburgh to Iowa. What makes it maddening is it looked like Pitt had Iowa dead to rights. Then Iowa came back and clipped the Panthers with a backup quarterback that looks like a great extra from a 1970s horror film where a bunch of jocks and hot girls go to some abandoned haunted house to try to wake the dead.
5. Big Ten: The gap just got closed considerably, and I’m not talking about the pretty awful preppy clothing store that I’m not sure actually even exists anymore. Do people still shop at The Gap? The conference went 12-1, its best record in six years on a single weekend with only Michigan tinkling the sheets. It’s all important to Nebraska and Michigan State, who both look like they can run this table clean. LSU looking impotent until Les Miles busted out some of his black magic late didn’t help the national perception of Wisconsin.
Best win: Indiana over Missouri. It becomes a program definer if and only if Indiana carries on with what obvious talent it has going into the remainder of this year. Still, very few wins like this exist over the last 20 years for the Hoosiers, so it can be done.
Worst loss: Michigan to Utah. Body bag Michigan. The Wolverines are done. Furthermore, they were so inept, they’ve basically become the national story for ineptitude, program upheaval, and giving away tickets for bottles of soda pop.
Big 3 Perception Games of the Week
1. UCLA @ Arizona State
2. Oregon State @ Southern Cal
3. Missouri @ South Carolina