BLITZING SEVEN: Uncertainty & Drama-This is WAY Better Than An 8-Team Playoff
1. Rematches: If you are one of the few people who thought Rocky 2 was better than Rocky 1 this is your weekend. With a major difference--none of the 7 previous meetings were close (7 out of 9 title tilts are rematches). The average margin of victory in the 7 regular season match-ups was 24.5 points. Of the 3 Power-5 rematches the average margin was 19.7 points.
2. This is Better Than an 8-Team Playoff: For those clamoring to expand the playoff to 8-team playoff, this weekend is in fact better than an 8-team playoff. Why? There is more uncertainty and hence more drama (gotta love the word hence). If the top 4 teams win, they’re pretty much in. However if the top 3 hold serve and Ohio State beats Wisconsin by 17 or more do they get in over Alabama? What if Ohio State and TCU win? The numerous possibilities will keep your attention Saturday AND Sunday. So here are your key playoff games in order of kickoff on Saturday—(all times Eastern).
3. 12:30 FOX #11 TCU vs #3 Oklahoma: Can Baker Mayfield light up TCU’s defense again? That is the question. The way the Oklahoma Quarterback has played in his three biggest games already would indicate that he can. A win here and Mayfield can go straight to New York to pick up the Heisman en route to a berth in the College Football Playoff. A TCU win really makes life interesting and would make the Big 12 immediately regret that whole conference championship game thing.
4. 4:00 CBS #6 Georgia vs #2 Auburn: Auburn could make history here as the first 2-loss team to get into the playoff. If Georgia is to win they will have to run the football and defend the run much better than they did a few weeks ago against the Tigers. If Auburn wins and Clemson were to lose would Clemson still get in by virtue of their 14-6 win against Auburn? See this is better than a playoff.
5. 8:00 ABC #7 Miami vs #1 Clemson: Finally a game that is not a rematch. This is essentially a Clemson home game in Charlotte. If Clemson’s defense is able to stop Miami’s run game as Pitt did last week, the Canes will need a big night throwing the football. Miami may need the turnover chain to make multiple appearances to win. It would seem that the winner of this game is in....BUT Alabama could make a case against a one-loss Miami team.
6. 8:00 FOX #8 Ohio State vs #4 Wisconsin: Wisconsin is undefeated and unloved. They play outstanding defense and run the ball and control the tempo of most games. If JT Barrett’s knee is shaky at all the Badgers could slow down the Buckeyes offense. The swing will be how Wisconsin’s offense handles Ohio State’s front. The teams that have been able to protect the quarterback have been able to throw the ball against the Buckeyes. If the Badgers win they’re in, if not then where do the Buckeye’s land? I hate to be repetitive…but this is way better than an 8-team playoff.
7. A Final Word On Hiring Coaches: For those who focus solely on a coach’s win-loss record in hiring, there is more to the story. A win-loss record is certainly important, but you must consider where they were coaching. Undefeated and 4th-ranked Wisconsin hired Paul Chryst from Pitt where he was 19-19 in three seasons. Before Nick Saban was hired at LSU he was 34-24-1 at Michigan State where he was just 25-22-1 before his last and best season of 9-2 in 1999. For those at Tennessee who were caught up in Greg Schiano’s 67-66 11-year record at Rutgers consider where Rutgers was before he got there. In the previous 11 seasons Rutgers was 40-80-1. That is a pretty impressive jump.