Expect the Unexpected in College Football

Frog fans were riding high in Fort Worth Saturday night

See ya later Sparty, hope you had a real nice time. All you Irish types can keep on fighting, but it won’t get you where you want to go anymore this season. And any and all felines it is now time for you to immediately leave the building. Week eleven of the college football season has concluded and it had just about everything you could ask for from an entertainment aspect, although no doubt some in places such as Manhattan, Kansas and South Bend, Indiana may disagree with that assessment. We saw another seismic shift take place Saturday as four of the top ten teams were pushed off their perches, while a fifth (No.5 Alabama) narrowly escaped after a defensive overtime showdown in Death Valley against LSU.

The dream to play in the first college football playoff ever almost assuredly came crashing to an end for the No.3 Auburn Tigers, who were stunned at home by Texas A&M 41-38, the No.7 Kansas State Wildcats, who were rolled by No.6 TCU 41-20 in Ft. Worth, the No.8 Michigan State Spartans, who lost to No.14 Ohio State 49-37 in East Lansing, and the No.10 ranked Fighting Irish of Notre Dame, who’s 2nd half comeback attempt against No.9 Arizona State fell short in the desert 55-31.

On this early November day we got a heaping handful of what we all love so much about college football – pageantry, drama, upsets, tremendous plays, crazy plays (see Oregon vs. Utah), tears of both sorrow and joy. The weekly buildup and anticipation that accompanies only twelve regular season games, rivalries that many times have run longer than any one reading this is years old, weekly match-ups that for all intents and purposes are single elimination at this point, and finally, after all these decades, a non-fictional championship waiting at the end of the road this season, make each and every game must see…and must win.

Those Who Know All

Having so few chances to make your mark and impress those that matter (the selection committee), magnifies each and every outcome exponentially. Consequently we hang on every word and prediction that our favorite so-called “experts” deliver, perhaps looking for someone to soothe our pre-game rattled nerves and reassure us all will be fine, or maybe just a tip that will possibly benefit us financially (only when in Vegas where sports gambling is legal of course). They know the game, have all the information about all the teams and players at their fingertips, spend countless hours analyzing every single aspect and intricacy of the game, and thusly deliver to us confident and accurate predictions – right? As one of my favorite weekly prognosticators would say “Not so fast my friend!”

So let’s take a look at a few of the more enjoyable predictions of ESPN’s College GameDay‘s big three of Kirk Herbstreit, Desmond Howard and Lee Corso from some of the premier games this past Saturday:

Herbstreit picked Notre Dame, Kansas State and Oklahoma to all tack up W’s over Arizona State, TCU and Baylor (collectively those three picks lost 145-88).

Howard also jumped aboard the Sooner Schooner and predicted an Oklahoma victory, as well as a Kentucky upset over Georgia – final score Georgia 63-31 – and Michigan State over Ohio State…final score Buckeyes 49-37.

Corso had the Spartan faithful in the palms of his over-sized hands

Corso joined his buddy Herbstreit and picked K. State over the Frogs, then donned the helmet and chestplate of Sparty with his emphatic pick of Michigan State over the Buckeyes. All entertaining television, but hardly the 2nd coming of Nostradamus.

So what’s my point? Just that nobody knows what the outcomes of these games will be, and anything can happen on any given Saturday – and that’s why we love the game so much.

Looking ahead

So what will the new top ten look like when the results are released Tuesday evening? This is what they should look like – whether the selection committee agrees with me is another story. Nothing changes in the top spot as both Mississippi teams continued the SEC tradition of scheduling powder puffs late in the season. No.1 Mississippi State took down some guy name U.T. Martin 45-16 and Ole Miss knocked off Presbyterian (the Dallas Ebola Hospital?) 48-0.

1) Mississippi State  – the marquee matchup this coming Saturday as the Bulldogs hit the road to play the Crimson Tide in Tuscaloosa. Ole Miss on the road in three weeks and potentially the SEC Championship game lie ahead

2) Florida State – Miami up next, after that it’s smooth sailing to the final four for the team with the weakest schedule (unless you believe Duke or Georgia Tech is a threat in the ACC Championship game)

3) Oregon  – on a collision course with Arizona State (potentially) in the Pac 12 Championship game on Dec. 5 – nothing to worry about in between

4) Alabama – Mississippi State at home this weekend, Auburn in the Iron Bowl and potentially the SEC Championship game still loom

5) TCU – the biggest challenges are all behind the Frogs – but the suddenly resurgent Longhorns (beat Texas Tech 34-13 and West Virginia 33-16 the last two weeks) lay ahead on Thanksgiving night in Austin

6) Arizona State – The Sun Devils still have their in-state rival No. 19 Arizona on Nov. 28 and a potential match-up with the Ducks in the Pac 12 Championship game

7) Baylor  – in my eyes this team can play with anyone – but not a whole lot the Bears can do to get into the top 4 except hope teams above them continue to falter. Kansas State can’t lose again before they play them the last game of the year in Waco or their chances will slip even further. No Big 12 Championship game could hurt the Bears as well as their non-conference schedule of SMU, Northwestern State and Buffalo (which absolutely does and deservedly so)

8) Ole Miss  – Mississippi State in the regular season ender Egg Bowl and a shot at the SEC Championship game if they win out (and if things fall the right way for them such as Auburn beating Bama)

9) Ohio State – even if the Buckeyes do jump up to No. 9 as I suggest they will, and win out including the big 10 Championship game, they’ll still have a hard time getting into the final 4 unless they have a lot of help – the perception of a weak Big 10 is a killer for them

10) Nebraska – just see above and change the name from Buckeyes to Cornhuskers


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Tom Fireoved is the Co-Founder of ScoreBoardTX and President of Franchise Sports & Entertainment, a Dallas based athlete marketing and consulting agency. He formerly served as Vice President of the Texas Rangers and Executive Vice President of the Dallas Stars.