Who’s In and Who’s Out: Week Eight “The Crimson Empire Strikes Back” Edition

Everyone loves an underdog story. It’s what makes us root for Indiana Jones and the plucky Americans over the well-organized and vicious Nazis. It’s what makes a couple kids standing firm against death eaters and Lord Voldemort so inspiring. It’s really a metaphor for our own human story. Ourselves and perhaps our friends and family against overwhelming odds, nation-states, empires, powerful corporations and the world. It really is the oldest story in the world.
The problem is it’s too idealized. When the plucky hero always wins in the story then we start expecting the same in the real world.

 

They don’t make movies where death eaters quietly enter Hogwarts in Harry’s first year and slit his throat. They don’t show the Empire sending dozens of fighter squadrons to take out 50 rebel ships. We don’t bat an eye when Darth Vader, the most powerful and strategic force in the galaxy, is suddenly outsmarted by some teenagers. In realty Darth Vader wipes everything out with professional precision and is back on Coruscant for dinner. We all want so desperately for the hero to upset Alabama but are consistently let down when David’s sling misses and he is killed by Goliath. Only when a team walks with the Almighty like David before them do the stars align and the upset occurs. A kick six in a rivalry game. Johnny Manziel transforming into Johnny Football on national TV. You cannot match Bama on their own terms, you have to have the force and destiny on your side. Does anyone have it? Can Auburn recapture rivalry magic? Can LSU and Ed Orgeron avenge the corpse of Les Miles? Will it be in the playoffs that “Clemsoning” becomes the new verb for “vengeance” or do Jim Harbugh’s khakis possess enough voodoo to overcome Darth Saban?

 

As week eight and October prepare to draw to a close, many teams are finding time and opportunity to make the playoffs running dangerously thin. The vast majority of the college football world has been eliminated but as the ranks of the undefeated, and even the one loss contenders, begin to grow short, one has to wonder if a few two loss zombies might be lurking in the shadows, biding their time until the chaos strikes. We thought the force was strong with Ohio State and Texas A&M, perhaps the hero in this story is Wisconsin which had to fall before it’s epic rise. For the first time this year some two loss teams are officially being upgraded to zombies, though they will need lots of chaos/force/magic/destiny/divine intervention to jump back into the fold. In addition, several one loss teams have been knocked from the “win and you’re in” conference because they will need help. Even the mighty Buckeyes probably needs another Penn State loss to truly secure itself back into the playoff hunt even if they win the rest of the way past Michigan and the Big Ten championship. Furthermore, Western Michigan is running out of opportunities to secure its spot. Boise State has the benefit of name recognition and the fact that much of the undefeated still has to play one another, but Western Michigan is still fighting for respect and needs a Boise loss just to jump into the conversation. Even then. Boise is only in by the skin of its teeth in my opinion. Four teams in the undefeated (assuming they stay undefeated) will play each other knocking at least two out, not to mention there will be rivalry upsets and among others as we prepare to head into November, but even Boise is running out of time.

 

 

The “Win And Your In” Conference

 

The “Undefeated Contenders” Division

Alabama (8-0)

• USC

• Western Kentucky

• Kentucky

• Arkansas

• Tennessee

• Texas A&M

Clemson (7-0)

• Auburn

• Troy

• Georgia Tech

• Louisville

• North Carolina State

Michigan (7-0)

• Colorado

• Penn State

• Wisconsin

Washington (7-0)

• Stanford

West Virginia (7-0)

• Kansas State

• TCU

Boise State (7-0)

• Washington State

• Colorado State

Nebraska (7-0)

• Wyoming

• Northwestern

Baylor (6-0)

• Oklahoma State

 

Alabama has proven in back to back weeks that it is the class of the college football world. Can you beat these guys? Yes, but you have to be perfect. Every mistake gives them a chance to take advantage of you. A false start there or a pass interference there shouldn’t cost you the game but the more they add up the more you know one will come back to haunt you. Right below the tide lay Clemson which has an impressive collection of skins in its own right and then there is a sizeable gap to Michigan, Washington and West Virginia, three teams that are good but have played a good deal of weak competition. All three will face their biggest test on the back nine of the schedule and two have out right championship games to worry about (Baylor-West Virginia could be a championship game in its own right). Nebraska still has a lot to prove but with games against Wisconsin and the eventual Big Ten East winner, an undefeated Husker team would be a shoe in for the playoff. Lastly, Baylor has the entire back half of its schedule as its toughest test, it’s only true game played so far being against Oklahoma State. Baylor’s strength of schedule is among the worst in the nation according to Sagarin rankings and even slots in below some FCS teams. Lastly, Boise continues to quietly accumulate wins and lurks in back, definitely the favorite of the G5 to make a New Years Six bowl and potentially a darkhorse playoff contender.

 

The “Needs Chaos” Conference

 

The “Only Needs A Little Chaos To Make The Playoffs” Division

Texas A&M (6-1)

• UCLA

• Auburn

• Arkansas

• Tennessee

Ohio State (6-1)

• Oklahoma

• Wisconsin

Western Michigan (8-0)

• Northwestern

• Central Michigan

• Akron

• Eastern Michigan

Utah (7-1)

• USC

• UCLA

Florida (6-1)

• Kentucky

 

Until more undefeateds fall, there is a real prospect that 11 win Ohio State and Texas A&M teams might not make the playoff. The Aggies have the most impressive collection of skins from this group but Ohio State, Utah and Florida all have the inside track to conference championship games which would greatly help alleviate the sting of their lone losses. Meanwhile, West Michigan could very well go undefeated and not even make the NY6 thanks to Boise State.

 

The “Zombie Darkhorses That Need A Lot Of Chaos” Division

Oklahoma (5-2)

• TCU

• Kansas State

Auburn (5-2)

• LSU

• Arkansas

LSU (5-2)

• Ole Miss

Wisconsin (5-2)

• LSU

• Akron

• Iowa

 

Only one two loss team won the title in the BCS era but the advent of the playoff gives a two loss team two more chances to sneak into the conversation. If OU runs the Big 12 table, takes the conference title, and a good deal of upsets happen they are definitely in play to sneak in. Auburn and LSU have great shots to reestablish themselves as power players with Auburn yet to play Alabama and LSU yet to play the Tide or the Aggies. Lastly, Wisconsin can claim redemption by winning the Big Ten West over Nebraska and exacting revenge on either Michigan or Ohio State. A few key upsets and running the table from these power players and they are back in the mix.

 

The “Eliminated” Conference

 

The “Best of the Rest” Division

Colorado (6-2)

Florida State (5-2)

Maryland (5-2)

Navy (5-1)

North Carolina (6-2)

San Diego State (6-1)

Toledo (6-1)

Troy (6-1)

Virginia Tech (5-2)

Washington State (5-2)

 

The “Delightfully Above Average” Division

Appalachian State (5-2)

Arizona State (5-3)

Houston (6-2)

Iowa (5-3)

Memphis (5-2)

Middle Tennessee St. (5-2)

Minnesota (5-2)

Northwestern (4-3)

Oklahoma State (5-2)

Penn State (5-2)

Pittsburgh (5-2)

South Florida (6-2)

Tennessee (5-2)

Tulsa (5-2)

Wake Forest (5-2)

Western Kentucky (5-3)

Wyoming (5-2)

 

The “An Alright Boxer Who Can Still Knock You Out If You Aren’t Paying Attention” Division

Air Force (4-3)

Akron (5-3)

Arkansas (5-3)

California (4-3)

Central Michigan (5-3)

Eastern Michigan (5-3)

Georgia (4-3)

Kansas State (4-3)

Louisiana Tech (5-3)

Miami (FL) (4-3)

North Carolina State (4-3)

Ohio (5-3)

Ole Miss (3-4)

Stanford (4-3)

Syracuse (4-4)

Temple (5-3)

UCLA (3-5)

USC (4-3)

 

The “Meh” Division

Army (4-3)

Ball State (4-3)

Boston College (3-4)

BYU (4-4)

Charlotte (3-5)

Cincinnati (4-3)

Colorado State (4-4)

Duke (3-4)

FIU (3-5)

Georgia Southern (4-3)

Georgia Tech (4-3)

Hawaii (4-4)

Idaho (3-4)

Indiana (3-4)

Kentucky (4-3)

New Mexico (4-3)

North Texas (4-3)

Old Dominion (4-3)

SMU (3-4)

South Carolina (3-4)

Southern Miss (4-3)

TCU (4-3)

Texas Tech (3-4)

Tulane (3-4)

UCF (4-3)

UConn (3-5)

UL-Lafayette (3-4)

UNLV (3-5)

Utah State (3-4)

Vanderbilt (4-4)

 

The “They Really That Bad Aren’t They?” Division

Michigan State (2-5)

Mississippi State (2-5)

Missouri (2-5)

Notre Dame (2-5)

Oregon (2-5)

Texas (3-4)

 

The “Drinking Until Basketball Season” Division

Arizona (2-4)

Illinois (2-5)

Iowa State (1-6)

Kansas (1-6)

Purdue (3-4)

Virginia (2-5)

 

The “Just Get A Bowl Game Please!” Division

Nevada (3-5)

South Alabama (3-4)

UTSA (3-4)

 

The “Two Losses Of Hot Garbage” Division

Arkansas State (2-4)

ECU (2-5)

Georgia State (2-5)

Marshall (2-5)

New Mexico State (2-5)

Oregon State (2-5)

Texas State (2-5)

UL-Monroe (2-5)

UTEP (2-5)

 

The “One More Loss And You’re Not Even Bowling” Division

Buffalo (1-6)

FAU (1-6)

Miami (OH) (2-6)

Northern Illinois (2-6)

Rice (1-6)

Rutgers (2-6)

San Jose State (2-6)

 

The “Time DeRuyter Memorial Already Counting To 2017” Division

Bowling Green (1-7)

Fresno State (1-7)

Massachusetts (1-7)

 

Week Nine Elimination Games

 

Never underestimate a rivalry:

Michigan v. Michigan State

Georgia v. Florida

Baylor v. Texas

Auburn v. Ole Miss

 

“There Are No Upsets On The Road In Conference” ~ John Wooden:

West Virginia v. Oklahoma State

Washington v. Utah

Nebraska v. Wisconsin

Boise State v. Wyoming

Clemson v. Florida State

 

 

 

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