The recap of the college football weekend! Grab your WCE shirts for the season here.
Week 7 was supposed to be a lazy Saturday. ESPN’s College Gameday even went to James Madison for the weekend. With 4 top 10 teams going down to unranked teams, it was anything but a lazy Saturday.
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Let’s start with my Top 10, and move into some other rankings after an unexpectedly interesting Saturday.
My Top 10
- Penn St
- Ohio St
Through 7 weeks, I’ve decided to put an emphasis on the teams that have stayed undefeated thus far. So I’m keeping the 6 Power 5 undefeated teams at the top of the rankings. Alabama handled Arkansas 41-9 after going up 17-0 in the first 7 minutes of the game. Georgia had some trouble early with Missouri throwing deep a lot, but that slowed up, and Georgia scored at will on the Tigers in a 53-28 win in Athens. Penn St had a bye week and hosts Michigan this week at home.
TCU won at Kansas St 26-6 in a game that wasn’t really that close. Miami made late game plays and kicked a game-winning field goal with :04 left against Georgia Tech to win 25-24. Wisconsin didn’t look great but they got a 17-9 home win against Purdue.
Clemson took their first loss of the season on Friday night, 27-24 at Syracuse, but they were without starting QB Kelly Bryant from midway through the 2nd quarter on. With Bryant, I think they’re the best 1 loss team in the country, and I don’t think that he’ll be gone for that long.
Oklahoma got a close 29-24 win over a fired-up Texas team, and I’ve gotta rank them over Ohio St, who got a 56-14 win at hapless Nebraska, because of their head-to-head win in the Horseshoe earlier this year. Ohio St comes in at 9 because, honestly, they’ve just demolished everybody since getting embarrassed at home by the Sooners. But the teams they’ve demolished are cupcakes.
I’m moving Scott Frost and UCF into the top 10. After Memphis’s win over Navy, the win over the Tigers a couple of weeks ago looks even better, and their 38-10 win at Maryland looks great as well. This is a good team on both offense and defense, as they have the highest scoring difference in the FBS, ahead of Alabama, Penn St, Ohio St, etc. UCF’s remaining schedule is @ Navy, Austin Peay, @ SMU, UConn, @ Temple, and South Florida, before the ACC Championship game. They’ll be favored in every game remaining, and should go 11-0 (lost a game to Hurricane Irma) before the conference championship game.
SEC Power Rankings
- Texas A&M
- Miss St
- South Carolina
- Ole Miss
Of course Alabama and Georgia are going to sit at 1 and 2. Texas A&M’s win at Florida tosses them into the top 3 after Auburn’s loss to LSU. I’ve got moving LSU up to #5, and Mississippi St #6. Yes, I understand how weird that looks… Miss St blew out LSU, Auburn blew out Miss St, and LSU beat Auburn yesterday 27-23. Here’s how I look at it… Auburn is better than they played yesterday, and… yes, this sounds crazy… LSU outcoached Auburn. I think LSU / Miss St would be much closer today, now that the Bengals have appeared to have gotten things figured out.
I’m curious to see what Texas A&M vs Auburn, Texas A&M vs Miss St, and Texas A&M vs LSU are going to show us about those teams. Kentucky is sitting at #7 at 5-1 with a win at South Carolina, who I’ve got at #8 after a win at Tennessee. Florida is at #9 after a loss to Texas A&M on a last minute field goal, and the Gator offense was absolutely atrocious again.
Ole Miss moves up to 10 because, hell, why not? They can put up points against suspect defenses, and they rolled on Vanderbilt yesterday. Arkansas is at #11, and Bret Bielema is 10-25 in the SEC, with a probably 10-26 mark coming after their game against Auburn this coming weekend. Tennessee is 12, but I wouldn’t be confident in their ability to beat either Vanderbilt or Missouri, who I have 13 and 14.
Hot Seat Rankings
- It’s only a matter of time before Butch Jones is fired in Knoxville, as it appears not only has the fan base turned on him, but the team looks like they’ve checked out. Well, everyone except RB John Kelly, who is still a beast, and could have won the Florida game by himself, had Jones and his new OC given him the football down near the goal line. AD John Currie is not the kind of guy that prefers to fire coaches in the middle of the season, but nobody is more prepared for a coaching search than Currie, who was AD at Kansas St for years, and was always prepped for replacing Bill Snyder, who is still the oldest coach in Div I football.
- Nebraska fired their AD a few weeks ago, right after the Cornhuskers lost to Northern Illinois. Since then, Mike Riley’s bunch beat Rutgers and Illinois, and then were beaten soundly at home by Wisconsin and Ohio St. Riley is now 18-15 overall at Nebraska, and 11-10 in Big 10 play. Not exactly what Nebraska had in mind. With a 3-4 record so far, a schedule that looks like 5 more losses, a new AD, and the possibility of Mike Leach, Scott Frost, or any number of up and coming coaches that would take the job, Riley appears to be on his way out.
- Bielema is 10-25 in the SEC through the middle of his 5th season, and the wording in his contract shows that his buyout is only a little over $5M instead of $15M, which means that, unless this Razorbacks team can find a way to turn around the current 2-4 record, this may be Bielema’s last season in Fayetteville. So far, Arkansas is 0-3 in the SEC, and 2-1 in their nonconference schedule, with the only wins coming against Florida A&M and New Mexico St. The remaining schedule is Auburn, @ Ole Miss, Coastal Carolina, @ LSU, Miss St, and Missouri. They might be able to find 3 more wins, but that’s not enough to get to a bowl game, which could spell the end of Bielema’s tenure. I don’t think Jeff Long wants to change coaches, but dwindling fan support, and pressure from big money boosters, could make a change necessary, especially with Memphis’ Mike Norvell, who played at Central Arkansas and whose wife is from Fort Smith, being available.
- Odom’s only in his 2nd season, but he’s 5-13 so far, including 1-5 this season, and an overall 2-10 record in the SEC. Odom fired his defensive coordinator early this season, and has already had a press conference explaining that he’s the right man for the job. Missouri has looked better the last two weeks, but they’ve both come in losses on the road to Kentucky and Georgia. The remaining schedule looks manageable, but there’s still no telling how many more wins they can get between Idaho, @ UConn, Florida, Tennessee, @ Vanderbilt, and @ Arkansas. None of those teams are great, but all of them are good enough to beat Missouri. Odom only makes $2.35M per year, and Missouri had trouble finding anybody that wanted to come in and coach the team before, so they may be stuck with him, but if things don’t get better, they may go ahead and move on and give anybody else an opportunity to turn things around in Columbia.
- Mora is 44-27 at UCLA midway through his 6th season, including taking the Bruins to their only appearance in the PAC 12 championship game, but he’s 7-11 in 2016 and 2017, with a 3-8 Pac 12 record in that span. It’s amazing to see how much things have flipped since week 1, when everyone assumed the UCLA comeback win over Texas A&M meant the end for Sumlin and the beginning of a big year for Mora. There are already rumors that Chip Kelly could be heading to Pasadena next season, even with the big buyout for Jim Mora. There don’t appear to be enough wins left on the schedule for a bowl game this season, with the remaining schedule being Oregon, @ Washington, @ Utah, Arizona St, @ USC, and California. Another losing season could be the end of the road.
Kevin Sumlin‘s 6th squad at Texas A&M isn’t all that great, but the rest of the SEC is bad enough that they could end up winning 9 or 10 games and saving his job. Jim McElwain has Florida sitting at 3-3, but they’re 2 plays away from being 1-5, and 2 plays away from being 5-1. The Gators offense is a disaster, which is what he was brought in to fix. There’s no way to know how the administration will look at the fact that he’s lost so many players to injury and suspension, and they could view it as either an excuse, or they could be getting tired of excuses in the middle of his 3rd season. 2 straight SEC East division titles will help him out, but there’s no doubt that the fanbase is tired of seeing their once high-powered offense continue to look so awful. Fun fact… McElwain’s teams are 5-11 when they give up more than just 14 points. That’s incredible.
Hot Coaching Names that could move
- Leach is doing just about everything he can with what he has at Washington St, but he could be looking for a change after this season. He’s losing senior QB Luke Falk after the season, and the new president has already run off athletic director Bill Moos, who was denied a contract extension twice, as the president is looking to cut back on finances, and appears to be the athletic department’s worst enemy. Moos took the AD spot at Nebraska, and Leach could possibly follow him there, or make his way to the SEC, where he was an assistant coach at Kentucky for Hal Mumme back in the day.
- Petrino’s Louisville Cardinals are 4-3 after losing to Boston College this past weekend. This season doesn’t really matter though, after Petrino guided Lamar Jackson to a Heisman Trophy last year and a 9-1 record before being derailed by Houston, Kentucky and LSU to end the season. People know what Petrino did at Arkansas, and he’ll be a hot name for several teams, since his buyout goes down with Jurich being fired as Louisville’s AD.
- Frost was the offensive coordinator for Mark Helfrich at Oregon from 2013-2015, guiding the team to a 33-8 record. Once he left, Oregon went 4-8 in 2016 and Helfrich was fired. Frost took over an 0-12 UCF team, and immediately took them to 6-6 and a bowl appearance. This year, UCF is sitting at 5-0 already. He’ll have any number of opportunities to move on, including to his alma mater (Nebraska) or several SEC schools, or possibly UCLA, etc.
- Norvell played at Central Arkansas, his wife is from Fort Smith, and he’s beaten 3 top 25 teams in his year and a half at Memphis already. He leads a high-octane offense that could be appealing to multiple schools that are having offensive problems. It looks like Arkansas would be a perfect fit for him, if he’s interested in coaching in the SEC, but he would fit in at Ole Miss, Tennessee, or any Pac 12 school, etc. Norvell’s schedule sets up nicely, and they could end up in the AAC Championship game this year. Memphis is currently sitting at #25 in the AP poll with a big game at Houston coming up this Thursday night.
- Morris created the offense that Clemson runs now, and took over an absolutely awful SMU program, taking them to a 2-10 record in his first season, a 5-7 record last year, and they’re sitting at 4-2 already this year, with the 2 losses coming at TCU and at Houston. Morris will have several suitors after leading SMU to their first bowl game in years.
- Yes, Fedora is 1-6 this year, but nobody wants to pay attention to the fact that the Tar Heels have like 15 contributors out with multiple injuries this year. Fedora’s been in Chapel Hill since 2012, and his seasons have looked like this: 8-4, 7-6, 6-7, 11-3, 8-5. He’s made a bowl game every season, but he only makes about $1.8M a year. That’s how much Mike Norvell makes at Memphis. His buyout is cheap, and he was successful at Southern Miss, going 34-19 from 2008-2011, including 12-2 in his last season. I mention this because he could use a change of scenery, and I think Ole Miss might be the perfect landing spot for him. This season hasn’t been great, but Oxford could provide him a chance to rebuild himself, and it would give the Rebels some new blood.
Heisman Top 5
Bryce Love (Stanford)
Saquon Barkley (Penn St)
Baker Mayfield (Oklahoma)
Jalen Hurts (Alabama)
JT Barrett (Ohio St)
Undefeated Power 5 teams
- Penn St
There are only 6 undefeated Power 5 teams left, and some of them are not, in my opinion, the best teams in their conference. I expect Miami to take a loss soon, I don’t know that Wisconsin is as good as Penn St or Ohio St, I don’t think Penn St can win at Ohio St, and TCU still has a game in Norman, OK left on the schedule.
Could this be the year that we get 2 teams from the same conference in the playoff? It’s entirely possible. Alabama and Georgia should each be 12-0 heading to the SEC Championship game in Atlanta, and the loser of that game is still in GREAT position to get to the CFB Playoff.