Check the Polls
Monday Morning’s Look at the College Weekend that Was
OK, imagine it’s 2009 and someone threw you in a Delorean and cranked that baby up to 88 miles-per-hour. Upon arrival five years into the future on Oct. 12, 2014, you were shown the college football polls halfway through the season. You wouldn’t believe your eyes. Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Florida State and Baylor occupy the top-four spots in both polls. Oh, and we also finally have a college football playoff this year. That last part you would believe, but both schools from Mississippi basically leading the way? Surely you jest.
Nope, it’s true. I was able to catch that Ole Miss team in-person over the weekend and color me impressed. That defense is downright nasty. And Mississippi State might be the best all-around team right now. Could the Egg Bowl basically be the unofficial SEC Championship Game? There’s still a lot of football to be played, but the word, “impressive” really is the best way to describe both programs’ ascension to the top of the polls.
Ole Miss’ top-to-bottom speed makes them lethal. They’ve given up only six touchdowns all year, and one came during garbage time on the last play of the game this past Saturday at A&M. Bo Wallace is showing what experience can really do for a quarterback as well.
Dak Prescott? Well, we did point him out as a possible Heisman candidate back in August. He would be my first pick among any player to start a college team with right now. There are two games to watch prior to the Egg Bowl – MSU at Alabama and Auburn at Ole Miss. They’re the biggest hurdles left for these two teams, though there are also land mines along the way throughout the SEC West.
OU took care of arch-rival Texas in the Red River Shoot… er, Rival… uh, Showdown (isn’t that what we’re calling it now?). The Sooners were fortunate, as 14 points came off a kickoff return and a pick-six. Kudos to Texas for putting up a fight. Had they had adequate time management in the fourth quarter, the Horns might have won. But that’s another story.
After Oklahoma’s win on the field, they got another one down the road in Waco, as Baylor rallied from 21 points down in the fourth quarter to beat TCU. Had TCU hung on and won, the Frogs would have been in the driver’s seat for the Big 12. Now the Sooners are back in the mix, with the huge showdown with Baylor in Norman coming up on Nov. 8.
By the way, should there be a three-way tie at the top of the Big 12 at the end of the season, it may come down to the College Football Playoff rank (replacing the BCS rankings). The first tie-breaker is comparing the overall records, then against the next-highest-placed teams in the conference. After that, the highest-ranked team in the College Football Playoff will get the nod (unless the two highest-ranked teams are within one spot of each other in the playoff poll, then the head-to-head result of those teams would break the tie).
You know – One True Champion. Even if there are three teams at the top of the standings. There will be a test on all of this later.
They Are Who We Thought They Were
Most had the Aggies pegged for a rebuilding season this year, as Johnny Manziel, Mike Evans and Jake Matthews departed and talented youth was infiltrated into the active roster. Projected records of anywhere from 8-4 to 6-6 were abundant.
Then A&M went to (at the time) No. 9 South Carolina and blew the doors off them on August 28. Instantly the Aggies jumped to the top-10 and were included in talk of the new playoff. Over the last few weeks, A&M has struggled while South Carolina has proven they aren’t quite that good this season. That win in Columbia was fool’s gold. Of course, playing in the SEC West does not help the Aggies’ cause, playing the current No. 1 and No. 3 teams over the last two weeks.
So where does that put the Aggies? Pretty much where we thought in August. They’ll go 8-4 or 7-5, with eyes on 2015 to make a jump as the talent starts to develop and increase in both experience and numbers. I see wins vs. ULM, Mizzou and LSU, with losses at Alabama and at Auburn to close out the regular season.
Barometer Playoff Four
Here are the four teams who I personally feel are the four best in the country, based solely on results from games played and quality of opponents (with zero consideration towards the schedule ahead or anything other than what we’ve seen so far). Here’s who I would put into the College Football Playoff if the selection happened today:
Last two teams out: Florida State, Auburn
This is a fluid ranking and will change from week to week, depending on results on the field. Speaking of results – watch Notre Dame at Florida State this Saturday, as well as Baylor at West Virginia.