Given the Week 4 rankings it’s going to be awfully difficult for the College Football Playoff committee to resist the urge to place two SEC teams in the final four.
Once again, No. 1 Alabama and No. 2 Georgia sit at the top of the rankings, along side with five other SEC members. The Crimson Tide held off a second half surge at No. 11 Florida while the Bulldogs dominated South Carolina at home.
The last time both Alabama and Georgia were in the playoff, they met in the title game. Alabama won the national championship despite not even playing in the SEC title game.
It’s likely that the only time these two titans face off will be in the SEC Championship Game. Should they both maintain their respective standing going into the title game, would the results be moot? Would the loser simply end up at No. 4 when it’s all said and done?
For the other conference front runners, that would hopefully not be the case. No. 4 Oklahoma continues to go up and down the rankings because of how close the Sooners’ soft non-conference matchups have been. Oregon moved up to No. 3 but might not have to luxury of a forgivable loss entering their conference slate. The Big Ten’s three Top 10 teams (No. 5 Iowa, No. 6 Penn State and No. 10 Ohio State) will likely beat each other up Until No. 8 Cincinnati enters the Big 12, the Bearcats will likely need to be perfect and hope for nationwide chaos to get in.
The road to the Orange Bowl will likely go through the SEC but Oregon remains the best hope to crash the party. However, there are other teams new to the rankings who could make a surprise entry.
The PAC is Wack
Speaking of Oregon, is it possible to count Fresno State as a signature win? The Ducks were initially looked at sideways after beating the Bulldogs by a single touchdown in Week 1, but Fresno State shocked the nation this past weekend with a 40-37 win over No. 13 UCLA, who dropped down to No. 22.
Overall it was a bad week for the Pac-12, starting with Colorado, which came close to knocking off a top 5 team a week ago, getting shutout at home 30-0 by Minnesota.
“That was a complete, I would say, beatdown in every way,” Colorado coach Karl Dorrell said.
On the plus side, Buffaloes linebacker Nate Landman continues to look like an NFL Draft prospect with his second consecutive 10 solo tackle game.
Utah became the second Pac-12 team to fall to San Diego State with a 33-31 overtime loss. The Aztecs previously dominated Arizona the week before. The Wildcats are so bad this season that after losing to FCS Northern Arizona for the first time since becoming a member of the Pac-12 a winless season is now a highly probable outcome.
“It’s embarrassing,” said wide receiver Stanley Berryhill III, possibly Arizona’s only good player.
Arizona travels to Oregon this week to be the Ducks’ late night sacrificial lamb on ESPN.
The Pac-12 now serves to prop up Oregon, who will now have to run the table in impressive fashion in order to have a chance at the playoffs. USC winning again and Stanford reestablishing itself with a dominating win over Vanderbilt has helped the Ducks’ potential playoff resume.
BYU is for real
The primary purpose of BYU going independent a decade ago was to have control over the schedule and give itself a better chance to get noticed by the BCS/CFP panel. Not only do the Cougars finally have that schedule but are also good enough to take advantage of it.
The Cougars started the season with three Pac-12 opponents and have cleaned the slate with a 27-17 win over No. 19 Arizona State, who fell off the rankings.
With 561 passing yards and seven touchdowns, BYU quarterback Jaren Hall seems to be picking up right where Zach Wilson left off.
“We’re 3-0 against good opponents,” Hall said. “What more can you ask for?”
The Cougars have Boise State, Virginia and USC as notable games. A perfect season for BYU might be enough to get the Cougars to a New Year Six Bowl if not the playoffs.
Any time an SEC team loses a non-conference game, another conference gets its wings.
Memphis stunned Mississippi State 31-29, Stanford beat Vanderbilt by a 41-23 blowout, and Penn State took down Auburn 28-20.
With the win, Penn State is positioned in the Big Ten’s driver seat. While the Nittany Lions are expected to get through Villanova (this aint basketball) and Indiana with ease, their looming road matchup with Iowa will tell the story of the season for that conference.
Iowa knocked off the Big-12’s second best team in the most consequential matchup between the Hawkeyes and the No. 14 Iowa State Cyclones in recent history. Defense is their identity, so when the two teams face off on October 9, it will have the makings of a classic SEC slugfest, which might help both their causes.
OK Boomer Sooner
Oklahoma entered the season with the Heisman front runner and as a virtual lock to get into the playoff. While the Sooners are 3-0, as their supposed to be, two of their games have been too close to call. Both Tulane and Nebraska came within an arms reach of upsetting the Sooners, which have prompted the AP to penalize them in the rankings.
This may potentially be a down year for the Big 12, which is going to soon experience a boom in added teams before eventually losing their founding members in OU and Texas. Theres a good chance that the Sooners run the table once again and the title game ends up being a Bedlam rematch but until then, more ugly victories could potentially keep OU out this season.