CFB Week 11: …2! 3! 4!
When you look up synonyms for the phrase “Huh?” you get 27 alternatives to replace that leaden term. Some are funny; some are gloomy; some are way out of context for almost all situations.
So maybe “Huh?” is the best way to go when looking back on this past Saturday. It’s been two days, and I still have absolutely no idea how to describe what happened. I could see one coming — USC toppling Washington — and Clemson has been so painfully bland this year that it was just a matter of time before they flopped.
But to say that I thought the Fighting Ferentz’s of Iowa stood even a modicum of a chance against Michigan would be a flat-out lie. Iowa has been dreadful this season, the complete inverse of their miraculous 2015 season.
Michigan, on the other hand, has been making Geoffrey-holding-Ned-Stark’s-head examples out of opponents: Come at us, we’ll destroy and make a mockery of your soul.
So, naturally, on a frostbitten night along the barren wastelands of Kinnick Stadium, this is where the dream had to die. Where visions of an undefeated Michigan, an undefeated Alabama, and blissful visions of playoff clashes got laid to rest.
Nah, just kidding.
You see, both the best and the worst thing about this asinine playoff committee system is that it literally doesn't matter when you lose a game, so long as you humiliate everyone else on your schedule. And that’s exactly what Michigan has done this year. Because of the system in place, Jimmy H has been forced to unleash his hellians on any opposition foolish enough to think they can hang with them.
So Michigan lost, but they’re fine. If they win out, there’s absolutely no way the committee keeps them out. They’ve been too dominant. So, the questions begs…what does this all mean?
It was the first time since 1985, the birth of yours truly, that the number 2,3 and 4 teams all went down on the same day. And that’s awesome for SportsCenter intros, and made for fun fodder for a day or two; but at the end of the day, if Clemson, Michigan and Washington win out…guess what? They’ll all be in.
In some ways it’s more fun; in some ways it feels as if the soul of the sport is beginning to slip away. The one thing, above all else, that made the college regular season better than the NFL was that come November, a loss was it. You were done. You could lose every game in November in the NFL and be fine, assuming you had built up enough equity.
But one loss in college, no matter how dominant you had been, more often than not was the end of your season. Finito. All the crap you had accomplished early on was for not.
Now? Three seemingly pre-destined teams all lose in the span of four hours. And all, ostensibly, are fine.
Oh, and Oregon is God-awful. Seriously. As in, they went from a decade-long run of top-15, a six year run of top-5, to being on the verge of losing to Oregon State. If that isn’t a drop, nothing is.
Screw it, let’s break down the three biggest stories of the week.
Pitt 43, #2 Clemson 42
Let’s make one thing perfectly clear: this was a looooooong time coming. Clemson has been far and away the worst team in the top-10 all season. Even in their lone impressive win, against Louisville, they did not play well, and were saved by the inexperience of the Cardinals’ offense.
Deshaun Watson has regressed. Yes, he threw for 580 yards and three touchdowns (that’s not a misprint). Yes, he still has all of the physical tools at his disposal that made him the seemingly clear-cut number one pick in the upcoming draft. But quarterbacks need to have one intangible above all else, and that’s the ability to hoist the rest of the team on his back and carry them when the chips are down.
He doesn’t have that. He’s a hollow, stat-wielding microcosm of Dabo Sweeney’s side-show. If there’s any justice in the world, this team will lose again, and Louisville will get their shot.
Iowa 14, #3 Michigan 13
I have no f***ing idea. Let’s just move on.
#20 USC 26, #4 Washington 13
I don’t want to say I called this. Just kidding - I do. This was the most obvious upset pick of the week, if you’re into that sort of thing. Look, the bottom line is this: USC has the most talent, top-to-bottom, of every PAC-12 team. They had it when they were dominant. They still had it when they sucked under Kiffin and Jack Daniels.
And guess what? THEY STILL HAVE IT UNDER CLAY HELTON.
All USC ever needed was a coach to crack the whip and get those idiots to buy in. And what’s terrifying is that the administration there, a revolving door of ineptitude, has only had one acceptable coach in 25 years (Carroll). But Claymation is here and they’re a GD freight train right now.
They ain’t losing, folks. And this is just getting started.
Saturday night in Seattle was the coming out party for a program that, if they don’t get in their own way (a HUGE if) could run roughshod over the conference once again. When you open the cupboard and 5* kids fall all over the counter, you simply allow them to do their thing. That’s what Helton will do.
Oh, but as I mentioned: Washington will win out and find their way to the top-4 once again, where they will get absolutely destroyed by Michigan.
“Huck The Fuskies 4 Life.” BOOM.
Week 11 was just nuts. Week 12 will suck, but it’s all good. We’re just a week away from what promises to be one of the wildest final weekends we’ve ever seen. Because lurking in the distance — and beating their opponents in a very Michiganesque way — is Ohio State. And despite both teams having one loss, their matchup in two weeks could be the best one we’ve seen these two play in decades.
Plus, other storylines will play out:
- What happens to teams like Penn State, Oklahoma, Wisconsin, West Virginia and Louisville? All are a notch below the Big Four (although you swap out Louisville for Clemson, in my book), but all have done enough to at least merit consideration to the playoff conversation.
- What coaches get the ax? There’s a few obvious ones (Mark Helfrich, Rich Rodriguez, Charlie Strong), but there are always firings that raise eyebrows. Is Jim Mora safe? Mark Stoops?
- Then, there are the fallouts…who goes to those schools, and LSU? Needless to say, the next six calendar weeks are going to be very, very wild in the world of college football.
If only the playoff committee would get on board.