UNDER THE RADAR WEEK 6: Playoff Rankings, Penn State's Secret, Washington's Undefeated Obliv
1. If Playoff Rankings Came Out Today: Alabama and Clemson are the top two. Who comes next? The playoff rankings don’t care what you did last year, they don’t care who is left on your schedule. It is only to be based what your team has done so far. The third and fourth team now are probably TCU and Georgia based on the teams they’ve played. Washington State has a win over USC. Penn State, Washington, Wisconsin and Miami have yet to play any teams that were either ranked at the time or who are currently ranked. After a week off things change quickly for Penn State with games against Michigan, at Ohio State and at Michigan State.
2. Penn State’s Secret: With all the hype around Penn State’s offense, this season it has been the defense, punt game and kickoff coverage game that has driven the team to a 6-0 record by dominating the field position battle. In the national rankings Penn State is 2nd in Turnover margin, 2nd in Kickoff Returns, 9th in net punting and 27th in Punt Returns. Special teams have produced three touchdowns in 6 games. On defense Penn State ranks in the Top 20 in 6 of 8 key categories. Penn State’s special teams’ Achilles heel is their field goal struggles where they're just 6/13 on the year.
3. Washington is Undefeated and Unnoticed: The Washington Huskies are once again quietly making mushing their way through the season. They've racked up huge win margins but have yet to play a ranked team. As of now, they have one opponent left on the schedule that is ranked; Washington State in the season-ending Apple Cup. The late-night games give them little exposure to eastern poll voters so expect them to be under the radar until that showdown at season’s end.
4. Believe it or Not The Irish Have a Playoff Path: Notre Dame heads into an off week with a 5-1 record and ranked #16 in the AP Poll. Their only setback was a 1-point loss to Georgia (now ranked #4) while their win over Michigan State (now ranked #21) suddenly looks very strong after the Spartans upset Michigan on the road. If Notre Dame runs the table (a big if), they're in the College Football Playoff. Why? Five of their last 6 games are against ranked teams, no one else can make that closing argument. Their remaining schedule: #13 USC, #20 NC State, Wake Forest, at #11 Miami, #25 Navy and at #23 Stanford.
5. Screen Shot of The Week: As if an 8th loss in the last 10 games against in-state rival Michigan State wasn't bad enough, these fans had to brave a torrential downpour and 5 Michigan turnovers until the bitter end.