We’re more than halfway through the insanity. Its coming to the serious part of the college football season – the first round of College Football Playoff Committee rankings came out this week, it’s the thick of conference play, and we’re at the point in the season when the great teams separate themselves from the rest. (Also, Tuesday night MACtion is back!)
More unblemished teams suddenly found themselves among the one loss masses. Texas made it past Baylor, and WVU went down to Okie State to leave the Big 12 without an undefeated team in the hunt. Florida State tumbled out of the top 15 with a loss to Clemson for some reason, and Boise State’s thoughts of perfection were marred by a loss to Wyoming on a safety at the end of the game. The top 3 really cemented themselves in the rankings – Bama, Clemson, and Michigan all behaved as expected and kicked butt.
The CFP Committee’s rankings are intriguing. They’re again very focused on strength of schedule this season, which is what drove Texas A&M above Washington for the number 4 spot. In the Group of Five, Boise State dropped one spot below Western Michigan at 23 and 24. This is interesting because it leaves an opening for the blorange Broncos to jump the water Broncos if they row their boat in to a rock during this last month and the Chaos monsters keep kicking the Mountain West enough to allow Boise to end up in their champ game.
However, this is about more than the top 25 and the race to New Years. There are some legit fascinating things going on in the G5. Shout out to University of South Alabama, who interestingly just got their first conference win over Georgia State after scaring Clemson to death, and beating Mississippi State and San Diego State in the OOC games earlier in the season. There are three teams left in the Sun Belt who are undefeated in conference play, and only two of them are bowl eligible. Good on ya, Arkansas State. The Red Wolves are improving and making their run. There’s more to college football than money and uniform combinations, and watching G5 teams is a good way to remember that getting better and learning is what this is really all supposed to be about.
Group of Five Rankings
5. Tulsa Golden Hurricane
Tulsa has quietly had themselves a helluva season. Their only losses are to Ohio State (great P5 win, even as the Buckeyes slide a bit down the rankings), and Houston. Neither of those are bad losses. This week they face off against East Carolina, in a game they should win reasonably easily. This team put 59 points on Memphis last weekend, and is capable of some excellent football. I should’ve had them on this list a while ago.
4. Troy Trojans
Troy is currently in charge of the Sun Belt, and with their only loss coming by six points at Clemson earlier in the year, they’ve put together a nice run through a tough part of their conference schedule. This week is UMass, who are currently 2-7 and shouldn’t be much of a threat.
3. Houston Cougars
Just because they aren’t in the drivers seat for a NY6 game anymore does not mean that Houston is any less of an amazing football team. Sure, Houston’s coach Tom Herman is probably on his way out the door at the end of the season, but while we can, let’s enjoy Greg Ward Jr’s amazing talent and give this team the credit they are due for being fun as f*ck to watch.
2. Boise State Broncos
You lose, you fall. Luckily for Boise, we’re in the part of the season where it’s revealed that they’ll probably be okay if they drop a game to a conference opponent. The MWC is just, barely good enough and Boise State has just enough street cred to be able to do something amazing if they win out and manage to get to the champ game and beyond. OTOH, they did also lose on a freaking safety in Wyoming. So, who knows what’s going to happen.
Boise has an explosive offense, a solid defense, and are a fairly young team learning a lot of lessons that will serve them well in the next few years.
1. Western Michigan Broncos
These boys are rowing hard. Coach Fleck has his team executing at an extremely high level currently, as their top 25 ranking shows. It’s too bad WMU’s strength of schedule is not better, because it will only take one misstep for them to be done. This team is inspiring. Coach Fleck is an amazing man and a brilliant football mind, and it shows in the discipline of his team. They’re in the drivers seat now for a NY6 berth. The pressure is only getting bigger, and they’re acting like they’re ready to embrace it.
Games to watch this weekend
Murica, F Yeah – Air Force @ Army – Saturday, 12:00p Eastern – CBSSN
This game is always fun to watch, even if just to see the young people in the stands and support our troops. It also helps that these teams play ridiculous football right now and it’s going to be like watching a couple of bad MMA fighters throw haymakers for three hours.
It’s Not A Cocktail Party, It’s Just Day Drinking – Georgia Southern @ Ole Miss – Saturday, 12:00p Eastern- ESPN3
Ole Miss isn’t doing super well right now, and Georgia Southern is just the team to take advantage of it. It’s
definitely not a sure thing that GSU will make this a game, but they could. Everyone loves watching SEC teams lose to the Sun Belt, and this might be the last chance we get to see such shenanigans this year.
Battle of the Warriors – Hawaii @ San Diego State – 7:00p Eastern – CBSSN
SDSU is leading the West division of the Mountain West, but Hawaii is right on their heels. The Warriors would also LOVE coming to the mainland, actually being seen on TV, and beating the best team in the division, possibly in the conference. It won’t be an easy task to hold Pumphrey to even a human amount of yards, but they might be able to play well enough on both sides of the ball to make this one really interesting. Hawaii is on a roll, but so is SDSU. Rainbow vs. Aztec is going to be a good time – and worth keeping an eye on.