Under The Radar: Big Ten, Pac 12 & UCF Playoff Hopes, Kentucky Leads the SEC East, Almost Heaven
1. The Big Ten’s Playoff Hopes: With a series of bad non-conference losses impacting the perception of the league, it may take a Big Ten team being undefeated to get into the playoff. Among the one-loss teams, Wisconsin’s loss is a bad one at home against BYU. If Michigan runs the table with wins over Penn State, Ohio State and the Big Ten Title game, their road loss to Notre Dame may not keep them out. With Penn State and Ohio State the lone undefeated teams left in the Big Ten, the winner of this weekend’s game in Happy Valley will emerge as the conference’s standard bearer…for now.
2. Almost Heaven West Virginia: Very quietly #12 West Virginia in knocking on the Top Ten’s door and may be a dark horse Playoff contender. At 3-0 they'll be favored to win the next four games at Texas Tech, at home against Kansas, at Iowa State and home against Baylor--before heading to Austin for a big match-up against resurgent #18 Texas. QB Will Grier is a legitimate Heisman candidate with 1117 yards and 14 TDs in just 3 games. But what could make this WVU's year is a defense allowing just 12.3 points per game against a schedule that included games against Tennessee and Kansas State.
3. Kentucky Leading the SEC East: At the quarter mark of the SEC Derby the Kentucky Wildcats are tied with Georgia for first in the SEC East. On the strength of double digit wins over both #25 Florida and #14 Mississippi State, #17 Kentucky has jumped into the football rankings for the first time since November of 2007. Saturday night they played excellent defense, a family industry for Coach Mark Stoops. Mississippi State’s Bulldogs managed just 201 yards in total offense. If the Wildcats are to win the SEC East they will need a similar performance in several weeks when they play another team of Bulldogs….the ones from #2 Georgia.
4. Army’s Ground Assault: Army’s option attack requires playing disciplined assignment defense making it difficult to prepare for in one week. Saturday night they took Top-5 Oklahoma to OT before losing 28-21. Army ran the ball for 339 yards and held the ball for just under 45 minutes—nearly a full 3 quarters of the game. That kept Oklahoma’s explosive offense on the sideline where they could do no damage.
5. UCF Still Winning--But Will The Playoff Committee Notice?: UCF was unbeaten last year and continues that streak in 2018. Their schedule may not feature a single ranked team. Should they finish undefeated this year would they end up on the outside looking in at the College Football Playoff? It is likely that the committee would keep them out once again.
6. PAC 12 Breathes a sigh of Relief: With Stanford’s big comeback at Oregon and Washington’s 27-20 win over Arizona State the Pac-12 North escaped a disaster. The conferences two best playoff hopes remain in position