Hey, college football did that thing again! That thing where it’s supposed to be all boring, lots of blowouts, no real chaos and then BANG! There’s chaos.
How bad was this weekend supposed to be? I mean, College Gameday went to JMU. Nothing was supposed to happen. Which is of course, why everything happened all at once. SEVEN ranked teams lost to unranked opponents on Friday and Saturday. Some losses will sting more than others.
Here’s a recap of all seven losses, in order of least impactful to the most.
7. Syracuse 27, Clemson 24
Of all of the things that went wrong for Clemson this weekend, losing to Syracuse is actually pretty far down the list. Among the more pressing problems for the Tigers:
1. Kelly Bryant’s injury
2. Louisville losing to Boston College
3. Auburn losing to LSU
Bryant left the Syracuse game in the second quarter with a concussion. He should be okay and come back in a week or two, but he came into the game with an injured ankle, too. The Tigers use Bryant a LOT in the running game, and the physical toll is starting to add up. As Friday night clearly showed, Clemson needs a healthy Bryant if they want to contend for a national title. I’d be more scared about his health than anything else.
The Tigers’ ridiculously strong resume took a couple huge hits on Saturday with Louisville and Auburn’s losses. The Cardinals especially look like a very average team now, and that Clemson win from Week 3 doesn’t look all that impressive anymore. The Auburn win still carries some weight, but not what it could have carried if they went on to win 10 or 11 regular season games. The Tigers will still make the Playoff if they win out and clinch the ACC title – I’m betting on them to do it – so the Syracuse loss isn’t all that crushing in the grand scheme of things. It’s all of the other things happening outside of their control that should have Tiger fans a little uneasy this morning.
6. West Virginia 46, Texas Tech 35
This game eliminates any chance Texas Tech had at a Playoff run. The Red Raiders blew a 35-17 lead to lose for the second time this season. West Virginia meanwhile, quietly is still very much in the Playoff hunt. The Mountaineers have two losses, but they are almost certainly the best two-loss team in the country. Both came by a touchdown to top-15 teams, and they still have three very quality games left on the schedule – Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas (plus a hypothetical conference title game). It would obviously take a miraculous stretch to run the table from here, but don’t sleep on West Virginia just yet. They’re good enough to do it.
5. Memphis 30, Navy 27
Huge win for Memphis, which now gets back into the conversation for that Group of Five bowl bid. The Tigers were blown out a few weeks ago by UCF, but with the Navy win they now care in the driver’s seat in the AAC West. If the Tigers win at Houston next Thursday night, Memphis will have a clear path to the AAC title game, and have a great chance to be playing on New Year’s Day. Navy’s chances are far from erased, but the Middies are huge Houston fans now. They’ll need Houston to beat Memphis on Thursday. If that happens, Navy will control its own destiny in the conference title race again.
4. Boise State 31, San Diego State 14
The Aztecs are basically out of the hunt for the Group of Five’s spot in the New Year’s Six after Saturday. They still own the best Group of Five win by far when they knocked off Stanford in Week 2, but the Mountain West is so atrocious that I don’t see the Aztecs climbing past whoever makes it out of the AAC alive now. South Florida, UCF, Memphis, and Navy would all have better resumes at season’s end than SDSU.
3. Arizona State 13, Washington 7
This was the type of game you were worried about as a Washington fan. The Huskies’ schedule could not have been any easier up until now, and it doesn’t pick up for another 4-5 weeks after this. The Sun Devils’ offense is what made me think they had a chance, but the defense keeping U-Dub to only a touchdown? The Huskies can survive this type of loss, but their resume is going to look awfully weak compared to some other potential one-loss conference champions.
How did Sun Devils seal it? When Manny Wilkins went full Aaron Rodgers to thread the needle on 4th and 3:
2. Cal 37, Washington State 3
If it wasn’t the most impactful loss of the weekend it was certainly the weirdest one. The Cougars came in with one of the best offenses in college football and for once in his life Mike Leach had found a defense. So how on earth does Luke Falk throw five interceptions against Cal? The Golden Bears had lost three straight before undressing the Cougars in Berkley. This is the kind of loss that’s a big fat black eye on any playoff resume. Even if Washington State goes 12-1 (a long shot after this stinker), can you really put them in the Playoff with this loss on their record? It’s possible, but they’ll need help.
1. LSU 27, Auburn 23
Even with a loss already on its record, Auburn controlled its own destiny to the Playoff before Saturday. A 12-1 Tigers’ team with hypothetical wins over Georgia (twice) and Alabama would likely have finished the season ranked No. 1 or No. 2. Instead, Gus Malzahn’s going to have to face questions about his job after blowing a 20-0 lead at LSU. Auburn’s playoff hopes aren’t completely gone; I still think if they win out they’d probably make it given who they’d have to beat. Are they going to beat Georgia and Alabama? Almost definitely not. But this LSU loss, the way the Tigers lost it, is the type of thing that can derail their season before Georgia even comes to town next month.
THE JP TOP 10
Trying to pick 10 good teams in college football right now is almost impossible. There are less good teams this season than I can remember in a while. We’re already down to only five undefeated teams in the Power Five and it’s not even mid-October. I’ll have the full JP Top 25 on Monday. For now, here are the teams with the 10 best Playoff resumes in college football right now.
- Alabama (7-0)
- TCU (6-0)
- Georgia (7-0)
- Oklahoma (5-1)
- Clemson (6-1)
- Penn State (6-0)
- Ohio State (6-1)
- USC (6-1)
- Notre Dame (5-1)
- Oklahoma State (5-1)