BLITZING SEVEN: No Bull--With This Week's Games Who Needs an 8-Team Playoff?
1. We Already Have an 8+Team Playoff: It’s called the month of November and December. After three playoff years the #1 and #2 seeds have played for the National Title 2 of the 3 years and the semifinal games have been blowouts (with the average margin of victory being over 25 points). The #5 seed has yet to win a Bowl Game. For now the limit of four teams has struck the right balance to stir debate and increase the intensity of conference races. So let’s crank up the playoff hype machine for the next 4 weekends.
2. #3 Notre Dame at #7 Miami: At the start of the year did anyone believe this was going to become a monster game? Nope. That’s the beauty of college football. Notre Dame is only a 1 point loss against #1 Georgia from probably being ranked #1 themselves. They've beaten #11 USC, #12 Michigan State and #23 NC State by 76 points. The guy to watch for the Irish is fast-emerging Heisman Candidate RB Josh Adams. A monster game by Adams in a prime time win at Miami could vault him into the Heisman conversation. #7 Miami's weak schedule was a question mark heading into last week’s Virginia Tech game. They handled the Hokies. If Notre Dame loses they’re out. If Miami loses they can still make it by winning out and beating Clemson in the ACC Title game.
3. #6 TCU at #5 Oklahoma: If defense wins championships, TCU should win this game as they have a better defense than the Sooners. That said Baker Mayfield is coming off a huge game last week and will be the best player on the field. Don’t be surprised if TCU relies on their run game to control the clock on offense and keep Mayfield on the sidelines as long as they can. Sometimes the best defense is a good offense.
4. Big 10 Contender—No Bull: When #20 Iowa walks into Camp Randall Stadium at #8 Wisconsin they will be fighting for the Heartland Trophy—which is a Brass Bull. No one does trophies like the Big 10 (among them a pig, an old oaken bucket, Paul Bunyan and a brass spittoon). This is Wisconsin’s biggest game to date. A week after ruining Ohio State’s playoff chances, Iowa hopes they can do the same to the Badgers. Iowa’s defense makes your offense be patience and methodical and that is just fine with Wisconsin.
5. Key SEC Match-Ups: The SEC’s two playoff contenders play ranked teams on the road this weekend. #1 Georgia is at #10 Auburn and #2 Alabama travels to #16 Mississippi State. Any coach will tell you that in November there are no “gimme” putts. Georgia and Auburn have had some great games over the years and fans should expect this one to be no different. With a fast athletic defense and only close losses to LSU and Clemson, Auburn is a play away from playoff contention themselves. They could be an SEC spoiler this month. As for Alabama, no one is probably happier to be ranked #2 than Nick Saban. He is a coach who is never content and worries even more that his team might be content. Expect the Tide to Roll late in this one.
6. Pac 12 Contender: On Friday night #9 Washington is at Stanford. No one among the nine contenders has gotten less respect than the Huskies. They need a big win Friday night and will need #11 USC to close with a 10-2 record and Top 10 ranking to give them a quality Pac 12 Title opponent. If Stanford can get production from their passing game to open the run game for RB Bryce Love the Cardinal could knock the Pac 12 from the playoff discussion.
7. The ACC—No One Saw This One Coming: Before the season Florida State at #4 Clemson looked like a Playoff-play-in game. It still is for Clemson but did anyone expect Florida State to be fighting for bowl eligibility after nine games? If Clemson takes care of business the 3-5 Seminoles will have to win out to get to 6-6. Expect the Tigers to roll.