Under The Radar Week 7:
October is a time when upsets happen because that is when the conference match-ups start to heat up. For 5 or 6 weeks teams may not play a demanding schedule and may be over-ranked. That certainly was evident this past weekend as several Top 10 teams were upset.
1. Georgia’s soft schedule masked some real issues: Conventional wisdom was that Georgia was one of the elite teams in the country…but it was based on last year’s performance and a top 4 preseason ranking. After a big loss to LSU we’ll see how they respond.
2. Reports of Michigan State’s Demise Were Premature: After a surprising loss to Northwestern most had written off Michigan State. They tackled well most of the game holding #8 Penn State’s big-play offense to 17 points. MSU pulled off a fake punt and was a dropped pass away from pulling off a fake field goal. The call of the game came in the 4th quarter. With 2:10 to go MSU QB Brian Lewerke got sacked at his own 35. Rather than go for it or burn a timeout Mark Dantonio ran his punt team on the field and kicked it away. Dantonio was displaying confidence that his defense could stop Penn State’s offense and get the ball back. They did just that giving the Spartans the ball back with enough time to win it. Of Note Michigan State is now a remarkable 10-5 against Top 10 teams under Mark Dantonio.
3. Michigan Creeping Back Into Contention: The Wolverines looked good in a big win over #15 Wisconsin. The Wisconsin game was their first big test after 5 wins over opponents that Michigan was expected to beat. The next two games will be great indicators at #24 Michigan State and when they host #18 Penn State after an open week.
4. The ‘Canes are Far From Back: After starting last year 10-0 and rising to #2 in the National Polls there was excitement that the Miami Hurricanes were back among college football’s elite teams. The next week they were upset at Pitt. That loss started the current 10 game run where they have gone 5-5. They will need a lot more than Turnover Chain swagger to get all the way back.
5. How Good is Alabama Really? They have one win over a current Top 25 team (Texas A&M). While they have outscored their opponents by an average of over 38 point, those teams have a combined record of 22-24. The schedule has played out to be softer this year as their big non-conference opponent Louisville is now 2-5 and their crossover SEC games were against Tennessee and Missouri.
6. Oregon Is Oh So Close: #17 Oregon's win over #7 Washington puts the Ducks at #11 in the Coaches Poll this week. Oregon QB Justin Herbert played a good game and did not turn the ball over. At 5-1, Ducks' fans may be thinking about a key review of an Oregon Touchdown against Stanford. Just after that play was overturned an Oregon fumble was returned 91 yards for a TD that sparked Stanford's win. To get to the playoff Oregon will need to win out in convincing fashion and hope for some upsets. Their case is hamstrung by a non-conference schedule that does not include a single Power-5 opponent.
7. Preseason Top 10 Revisited: Seven weeks into the season let’s see how accurate the Preseason Coaches’ Poll was. 5 Of the preseason top ten teams are outside the top 10 now. Washington (#6), Wisconsin (#7), Miami (#8), Penn State (#9) and Auburn (#10) are all out of the Top Ten with both Miami and Auburn completely out of the Top 25. The average team in the preseason Top 10 has dropped 8.2 spots in the polls.
8. Top 10 Part 2…Party Crashers: The Top 10 party crashers are #4 Notre Dame (preseason #11), #5 LSU (preseason #24), #7 Michigan (preseason #14), #9 Texas (preseason #22) and #9 UCF (preseason #23).