Could End-Season Logjam Happen?
By Steve Barnes
A lot of conversations have been occurring around the country about who will be on the college football playoff committee. The playoff is a year away, but one thing the members who are chosen will agree on now is they are glad they won't have to pick the four teams that will battle for the national title until 2014.
As for 2013, as many as six teams could finish the season undefeated. Alabama could run the table and would cruise in the SEC Championship Game against an overmatched team from the league's East Division. The winner of Florida State-Clemson will be in a great position to go unbeaten. The same can be said of the survivor of Oklahoma, Baylor and Texas Tech in the Big 12. Ditto for the Pac-12 after the Stanford-Oregon game. It looks as if Ohio State and Michigan could be undefeated when they play the season finale. And let's face it, Louisville should not be tested with the schedule it plays.
That would leave two undefeated teams out of the national championship tournament if the committee was already in place.
It is just a guess, but if Ohio State finishes unbeaten, I think the Buckeyes would be on the outside looking in because of their strength of schedule, or more accurately, their weakness of schedule. The state of Florida boasts seven FBS teams and OSU scheduled Florida A&M from the FCS. Playing Buffalo, San Diego State and Cal didn't exactly help the resume either. The committee will not like that. Louisville would be omitted as well for the same reason. At least the Cardinals would be able to play Ohio State in the Rose Bowl. It would be the only way they could ever meet — they'd never schedule one another.
HOME COOKIN': After consecutive trips to Texas, Alabama and Auburn, Ole Miss gets to play in Oxford again when it hosts Texas A&M. The Rebels can get used to dorm life. Ole Miss does not leave the state of Mississippi the rest of the regular season. After the Aggies, LSU, Idaho, Arkansas, Troy and Missouri all visit The Grove. The season wraps up with a trip to Starkville to play Mississippi State.
HEISMAN POSES AND POSERS: Florida State's Jameis Winston has the week off, but the freshman had his "Heisman Highlight" in last week's 63-0 smoking of Maryland. With the pocket collapsing, Winston stepped up, ducked a sack and disappeared from view, then emerged from the pack, rolled to his right and threw a strike to tight end Nick O'Leary for a touchdown. It is reminiscent of the highlight of Johnny Manziel against Alabama a season ago.
Marcus Mariota of Oregon is at Washington and that game will get lots of viewers. Mariota can grab some Heisman votes from around the country since the game will be played before most people in the East have gone to bed. AJ McCarron will be able to add some stats at Kentucky, but it is not going to be enough because he will split votes with T.J. Yeldon. Tajh Boyd plays Boston College, but he might be thinking ahead to next week's FSU game. At this point in the season, I think the vote goes in order to Winston, Mariota and Boyd. Winston and Boyd will play what amounts to an elimination game in eight days.
PAGING HAWKEYE, HOTLIPS AND RADAR: Georgia could use those three and any other characters from MASH about now. The one certainty in Athens these days is it is standing room only in the Bulldogs' training room. Just last week, wide receivers Michael Bennett and Justin Scott-Wesley and tailback Keith Marshall each suffered knee injuries that required surgery. Bennett could return this season; the other two are on the shelf until 2014.
With the physical and emotional toll of the last two weeks — a last-minute win over LSU and an overtime victory against Tennessee — Georgia welcomes undefeated Missouri to Sanford Stadium this week. Although the Tigers haven't exactly played a bunch of All-America teams, they have won their games and they are getting used to it. If Georgia can rally the troops to win this week, it will be by the hair of UGA's chinney-chin-chin.
DON'T PEEK, CLEMSON: Most of the country has Oct. 19 circled on its calendars when Clemson hosts Florida State in a game that has ACC and national implications. FSU has the week off, but the Tigers welcome Boston College to Death Valley. Clemson had better not look ahead because the Eagles will have tailback Andre Williams all revved up and set to go. The 6-foot, 220-pound senior is leading the nation with 153.6 rushing yards per game. If there has ever been a trap game, this could be it.
THE BEST GAME NO ONE WILL SEE: A lot of eyes will tune into the Florida-LSU game, but it will be due to name recognition. A much better game will take place in the northwest. Boise State travels to Utah State in what could for the Mountain Division title in the Mountain West Conference. In comparison, if LSU loses, it will be its second conference defeat, if it wins, the Tigers still need help to win the division. I'd much rather be in Logan, Utah, than Baton Rouge, La., this week and I never thought I would say that.
THE "ALMOST BOWL": Wisconsin hosts Northwestern on Saturday at Camp Randall Stadium in a "what if" game. Each team already has played Ohio State and narrowly lost. Imagine the hype of this one if the Badgers and Wildcats and won that game. Another good cross-division game in the Big Ten this week is in Ann Arbor as Penn State visits Michigan. Why can other conferences have crossover games like these?