Another wild week of college football is in the books and our in house expert Shea Freeman is here to break down what happened. Which top team has the best chance to run the table? How bad is that Wisconsin loss for the Big Ten Championship game? Which teams outside of the top five have a chance at the playoffs? And is it finally time to say goodbye to Jim Harbaugh? Find out all of that and more below, and don’t forget to subscribe to Brag House to stay in the loop on the launch date and all you need to know for the college football season!
Shea’s Week 8 Takeaways
1. Top teams cruise; Who is most impressive?
It was business as usual for the top teams in the country as all top five teams served up double digit wins. SEC foes #1 Alabama and #2 LSU were quieter offensively this week, although not by much as they moved a step closer to their pivotal matchup on Nov. 9th. #3 Clemson struggled early on against Louisville, however a strong second half propelled them to a 45-10 win. #5 Oklahoma blew out West Virginia at home behind QB Jalen Hurts’ 5 touchdowns. However, it’s the #4 team that caught my attention.
The fourth ranked Ohio State Buckeyes are, in my opinion, the best team in the country. They have been obliterating teams on both sides of the ball and doing it in convincing fashion, including a 52-3 win on Friday at Northwestern. QB Justin Fields has been sensational all year, surrounded by playmakers like RBs J.K. Dobbins and Master Teague III, and their defense is arguably the most talented in the country. The opposing teams may not be as talented on paper, or maybe the Buckeyes are just that good. They have a huge game against Wisconsin this weekend that will give us a better idea of what kind of team this is, but I really like what I see from them and think they run the table in the Big 10.
2. Illinois upsets Wisconsin, changes Big 10 Title picture
Well this was unexpected... much like last week’s big conference upset of Georgia, this one was projected to be a blowout by #6 Wisconsin and ended up being an ugly reminder of why every game matters in college football. Coming into this contest, the Badgers were one of the best teams in the nation in terms of defense. They hold their opponents to single digit points per game — including three previous shutouts this season— and they have one of the best running backs in college football history in RB Jonathon Taylor. What does this loss mean for the rest of the conference?
For one, Wisconsin’s road to the playoffs just got a little harder. With a win against Rutgers this weekend, #20 Minnesota holds the lead in the Big 10 East, with the Badgers still set to play them in a few weeks, as well as Ohio State this upcoming week. Speaking of the Buckeyes, they might be the 4th best team in the country but #7 Penn State held off #16 Michigan to keep their unbeaten streak alive, as well, and put them tied for the Big 10 West. They still have to face the Nittany Lions in a couple of weeks in what could decide the matchup for the Big 10 Championship. It’s going to be fun to watch this one play out.
3. Oregon, Utah keep playoff hopes alive with big conference wins
With two big wins against ranked conference opponents, #12 Oregon and #13 Utah continued to make their case for a playoff berth. The Utes took care of business at home against a pesky Arizona State team, ranked #17 and coming off two big conference wins, holding them to only three points. The Ducks, meanwhile, had to travel to #25 Washington on the Huskies homecoming night and score late to win the game, giving up their first double digit game in five weeks. If these two teams continue to win out and meet in the conference championship, why shouldn’t they be considered for a playoff spot? Let me make the case for at least one of them...
Take Oregon, for example. Aside from Saturday’s game, the Ducks have been flat out dominant on defense, allowing under 5 points per game coming into the game. QB Justin Herbert continues to show why he should be the first quarterback taken in next year’s NFL Draft and has been improving all year. Even their losses have been impressive, as they lost on a last second TD catch against Auburn to start the year. If Auburn (currently ranked 11th) gets another big win or two and that’s Oregon’s only loss, that doesn’t look too bad on a playoff resume. They have the momentum to get it done, but it’s admittedly a long shot. However, the Pac-12 has looked a lot better this year and in comparison to other power conferences — I’m looking at you, ACC... — these teams are playing tough competition and should be recognized for it.
4. Georgia gets back in wild SEC title race after Missouri upset
The SEC continues to be the toughest conference in college football, and their playoff race is the perfect example of why. The #10 Georgia beat Kentucky 21-0 and while it wasn’t pretty, it definitely brightened up their SEC championship hopes. The Bulldogs were helped in a big way thanks to Vanderbilt’s upset of #22 Missouri and a huge matchup in two weeks vs rival #9 Florida may decide who gets out of the SEC East. Either of those two teams could make a case for a playoff berth if they were to win out and steal the SEC from an even more brutal SEC West.
Speaking of the West, Top teams Alabama and LSU are almost ready for their clash in two weeks, however #11 Auburn is back on track and looking to spoil the party for someone. All three of these teams will play each other in the final month of the season — Auburn and LSU play this weekend — and playoff implications will be written all over those games. Auburn could win one of them, making the LSU/Bama game all the more important. LSU and Bama are two of the best teams in the country, but only one will make the SEC Title game. They will both need to take care of Auburn if they want to keep their title hopes alive — and potentially put two SEC teams in the CFB playoff.
5. Oklahoma, Baylor remain unbeaten in the Big 12
The Sooners have been running the show in the Big 12 and their win this Saturday against West Virginia was yet another reason why they’ve been the best team in the conference for the past decade. QB Jalen Hurts (3 pass TD/2 rush TD on Saturday) is climbing up the ladder of the Heisman race and has a very strong case for winning it the way his team has looked this season. But out there on the horizon is a Baylor team that is also undefeated and would like a little bit of respect put on their name. Many people (myself included) picked them to lose at Oklahoma State but they won convincingly, 45-27. We’ll have to wait until November 16th to see these two face off, but in the meantime, the Bears will need to keep on improving if they want to compete with Oklahoma.
Other News and Notes
Clemson rolls to 7-0
Apparently no one is going to challenge Clemson in the ACC. The conference only has one ranked team and the rest of the Tigers schedule seems like a breeze in comparison to the rest of the top teams. Clemson should go undefeated and cruise to an ACC Championship, but I’m starting to jump on the train that maybe (MAYBE) they aren’t a top 4 team. They had a convincing win against Louisville, but they’ve been underperforming in the first half of games all season. If they were to drop a game this season, I don’t think reigning champs are a lock to make the playoffs but with how bad the ACC is, I don’t think that’s likely either.
Trouble in Tuscaloosa?
Alabama QB Tua Tagovailoa had a procedure to fix a high ankle sprain this morning and will likely miss this weekend’s game against Arkansas. The Heisman hopeful had a similar injury a year ago and bounced back against Oklahoma in the CFB Playoffs but with a month still left to go on the schedule, this injury might nag the star QB and the Tide as they prepare to get ready for LSU. It’ll be interesting to see what Nick Saban puts together against a sub par Razorbacks team but I’m pretty sure they miss their old backup Jalen Hurts, currently balling out at Oklahoma and making his own case for a Heisman.
Harbaugh out at Michigan?
I really like Jim Harbaugh. I thought he got a raw deal in the NFL when there were reports that the 49ers were going to trade him to Cleveland (look it up, that almost happened). It made a lot of sense for him to take the job at his alma mater, Michigan, however it hasn’t been the match made in heaven that people assumed it would be. Now in his fifth year as head coach, Harbaugh’s Wolverines teams have only beat on AP Top 10 team (2016 @ #8 Wisconsin was their only win) and are 0-4 against their rival Ohio State. It didn’t get any better this past Saturday as they lost, yet again, to a top ten team (28-21 against #7 Penn State). I don’t think Harbaugh is going to keep his job but I am hoping the guy can coach in the Michigan/OSU game one last time. To go 0-5 against the Buckeyes would virtually cement his exit, so why not try to go out on top?
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Dec 8, 2019; Grapevine, TX, USA; College football playoff selection committee chairman Rob Mullens speaks to the media during selection Sunday at the Gaylord Texan hotel. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports