The Big 12 was able to separate itself from much of the pack last week. Baylor picked up a major win against Texas. Oklahoma State destroyed Kansas. Oklahoma dispatched Texas Tech easily. Two conferences dropped this week. Conferences 5-8 are virtually interchangeable. They might shuffle each week from here on out. Also, you will be shocked where the other switch came. Let’s just say, we weren’t really impressed with one team’s schedule. Aside from one team, who have they really beaten? You’ll find out which team I’m completely unimpressed with below.
1. Big Ten Conference (33-9, 7-0 vs. FCS)
There was absolutely no way the Big Ten was going to relinquish the top spot. Michigan State defeated Michigan 37-33 in what was an excellent game. Every game in the Big Ten Conference was competitive. The conference has three schools in the AP Top 25 Poll. I do wonder why Michigan State is No.5. I would have the Spartans ahead of Oklahoma. Alabama doesn’t deserve the No.3 spot after losing at a two-loss Texas A&M team. By the way, that two-loss Texas A&M team dropped a home game and a neutral site game to teams who are currently unranked. It baffles me how easily some of these SEC teams are overrated. The most important game this week is No.5 Michigan State at Purdue. After such a massive victory at home, the Spartans can easily throw it all down the gutter being distracted on the road. Will Michigan State control their emotions and focus, or will a salivating Purdue team crash the party and kill the dreams?
2. Big 12 Conference (24-6, 9-0 vs. FCS)
Oklahoma and Oklahoma State easily dispatched a pair of horrible opponents. Baylor took care of business against Texas. Kansas State also helped its profile with a win over TCU. Overall, it was a good week for the Big 12 Conference. West Virginia’s victory over Iowa State didn’t hurt the Big 12 Conference all that much. I mean, both schools lost to Big Ten teams in non-conference play. The most important game this week is No.11 Oklahoma State at West Virginia. The conference could certainly use a Cowboys victory here. It would certainly help if No.14 Baylor won its rivalry game at TCU. The Bears can’t afford to overlook this game. Jerry Kill is an excellent coach, and can upend Baylor as an interim coach. Finally, Kansas State could help the cause by taking care of business against rival Kansas. The Wildcats finished non-conference play undefeated. Kansas lost at Coastal Carolina. A Kansas State win here helps the conference’s profile. Texas at Iowa State is, by far, the least important game. However, eight of the conference’s 10 fan bases will be pulling for the Cyclones as it’s no secret that Texas is heading to the SEC. For the conference’s profile, both teams have lost to Power Five schools. Iowa is No.19 in the AP Poll while Iowa State is receiving votes. A win over Texas pushes the Cyclones that much closer to re-entering the AP Top 25.
3. American Athletic Conference (22-18, 9-1 vs. FCS)
You almost have to feel sorry for this conference. Almost. Remember, it is likely the American Athletic Conference tried to destroy the Big 12 Conference. Mike Aresco denies this, but he’s on the same team as ESPN. Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby called out ESPN for its meddling at one point this summer. Aresco is now adding Conference USA’s bottom feeders to make up for his losses. He’s lucky he still has SMU, which should be the next prized possession for a Power Five Conference. The ponies will get tired of being considered on the same level as UTSA, Charlotte and Florida Atlantic (all whom started football programs during the new millennium) after a year or two. Who is Aresco going to add then? Faulkner out of the NAIA? That’ll give UAB an in-state rival.
Anyhow, Cincinnati was completely screwed over in the SEC Playoff Rankings. A one-loss Alabama team is No.2. No.4 is Oregon, who lost to a team currently sporting a losing record in a 3-5 Stanford squad. Ohio State, who lost at home to Oregon is No.5. Then, finally, a team who provided Notre Dame with their only loss is undefeated Cincinnati at No.6. Thankfully, there is a poll with at least enough integrity to have Cincinnati at No.2 in its rankings: The AP Top 25 Poll. The most important game this week is Tulsa at No.2 Cincinnati. It would really help the Bearcats case if they covered the -22.5 spread. It would be even more impressive if they hit the 55 total all by themselves. Cincinnati has not covered the past two weeks, thus they need to leave absolutely no doubt in anyone’s minds. The harsher they punish Tulsa, the louder the case they have. I mean, they already have a strong case, but just for fun, Cincinnati should run up the score on ESPN2. If I’m Luke Fickell, my goal is to win this game 100-0. I want triple digits on the board. It’s not to disrespect Tulsa, despite the fact Tulsa lost to an FCS team this year, but to disrespect ESPN. Can you imagine the punishment the ESPN2 production truck would sit through if this was 56-0 by halftime? The director might resign the next day for cruel and unusual punishment.
Finally, the American moves ahead of the SEC this week. I fully believe that a bottomfeeder like Tulsa could be bowl eligible in the SEC East. You are bowl eligible by scheduling four non-conference games and winning two games against the following three teams: Missouri, South Carolina, Vanderbilt. Bowl eligibility is that simple in the SEC East. Any team in the AAC is capable of doing exactly that.
4. Southeastern Conference (36-7, 9-1 vs. FCS)
Missouri won at Vanderbilt by a measly nine points. Someone please get me ETSU. ETSU vs. Georgia would excite me at this point. ETSU would put up a better fight against Georgia than half the teams in the SEC East. This might be the worst division in college football. Georgia clinched their place in the SEC Championship Game before Halloween. Can you say “BORING”? Because the SEC East is such an awful division, I drop this conference down a spot. Also, why is Georgia No.1 in the nation? Who have they beaten? Kentucky? Please. Mike Leach, in his first full season with Mississippi State, beat Kentucky. I would make the case that Cincinnati is better than Georgia. At least Cincinnati won on the road against Notre Dame. Every team on Georgia’s schedule has at least two losses. Georgia is No.1 because they beat a glorified Clemson team who is still hyped up from its Trevor Lawrence days. When I look at Georgia’s schedule, I drop them below Cincinnati. The Bearcats won on the road against Notre Dame, and did so in impressive fashion. Give me No.1 Cincinnati. The most important game this week is Missouri at No.1 Georgia. Let’s see if the Bulldogs can hit the total by themselves. The total is 59.5 points. Georgia has hit the 60-point mark exactly once, when they won at Vanderbilt 62-0.
5. Atlantic Coast Conference (30-15, 11-1 vs. FCS)
BYU beat Virginia. Notre Dame beat North Carolina. Miami (FL) upset Pitt on the road. It was a horrible week for the ACC. I tell you, this conference is hanging onto the No.5 spot by a thread. If it weren’t for Wake Forest being undefeated, I’d have them drop to the No.8 spot. Wake Forest is likely better than UTSA. The Virginia loss significantly hurts the ACC’s profile. Boise State won at BYU. Virginia lost. Boise State is 4-4 with three home losses. Now, No.10 Wake Forest plays a dangerous North Carolina team on the road. This Tar Heels team is wildly inconsistent. If the Tar Heels pull off the upset, the conference drops. That’s why it’s the most important game for the ACC this week. As you read below, you’ll notice that one conference had a significant drop after losing their final unbeaten team. The Sun Belt dropped last week after losing their final unbeaten. That unbeaten team is important, because it gives your conference a chance to get into the coveted high profile games. For the ACC, they would hope the College Football Playoff. The AP Top 25 says only one ACC team is worthy of a spot in their rankings. Pitt and North Carolina State are receiving votes. The SEC Playoff Rankings know that ESPN owns the ACC Network. That ACC Network, which needs a major boost in marketing, lifts Pitt and North Carolina State into the SEC Playoff Rankings.
6. Conference USA (24-32, 14-0 vs. FCS)
UTSA didn’t lose. That helps Conference USA. On the other hand, UTSA didn’t crack the SEC Playoff Rankings. Seriously? An undefeated team is not in the top 25? The AP Top 25 has the Roadrunners at No.16. The most important game this week is No.16 UTSA at UTEP. If the Roadrunners win, they might crack the top 15. That would be huge for a conference that just found out eight of its members are leaving for other conferences. Meanwhile, Conference USA might be getting the best deal. I mean, when you purge your bottomfeeders for two of the best FCS schools, it tends to work. Just ask the Sun Belt who added Coastal Carolina in 2017 and Appalachian State in 2014. If I’m Conference USA, I might start raiding the Missouri Valley Football Conference.
7. Sun Belt Conference (20-16, 8-1 vs. FCS)
Coastal Carolina, Appalachian State and Louisiana-Lafayette all won this week. It was a good week for the Sun Belt Conference. Additionally, the Sun Belt added new schools to its membership with Marshall, Southern Mississippi and Old Dominion. James Madison is expected to join, but is currently at odds with its current conference. The Colonial Athletic Association is threatening to bar James Madison from competing in its conference championships if the Dukes announce their departure. The Sun Belt has two members in the AP Top 25 and a third receiving votes. Those of us who follow the Big 12 know the AP Top 25 has a lot more credibility than the SEC Playoff Rankings…..wait. Did I really say that? I meant to say the College Football Playoff Rankings. The most important game this week is given to No.21 Coastal Carolina at Georgia Southern. The Chanticleers get the slight edge over Appalachian State and Louisiana-Lafayette because they are the highest ranked team in the AP Top 25. They are looking to get back into the top 20, which would be good for the conference.
8. Mountain West Conference (29-18, 9-2 vs. FCS)
Somehow, some way the Mountain West snuck two teams into the SEC Playoff Rankings. Is this because the SEC wants to humiliate the Pac-12? Fresno State and San Diego State are No.23 and No.24 respectively. The Pac-12’s only team in the SEC Playoff Rankings is….(drumroll please)….No.4 Oregon. This is interesting, because Fresno State only lost at Oregon by seven points. The Bulldogs also lost at Hawai’i. Yet, they get in over an undefeated Conference USA team and three one-loss Sun Belt teams. The Bulldogs knocked the San Diego State Aztecs from the perch of the unbeatens. This leaves the Mountain West Conference with zero unbeatens and two losses to FCS teams. Thus, I’m knocking them down below Conference USA. Hey, UTSA defeated an Illinois team that went to Penn State and scored a victory. That tells me the Roadrunners could, in theory, beat Penn State at Happy Valley. I also knock them below the Sun Belt Conference, because let’s face it: the AP Top 25 is more credible than the SEC Playoff Rankings. Both Sun Belt Conference teams in the AP Top 25 are ranked ahead of the lone Mountain West squad. Also, a third team is receiving votes. So, yes, the Mountain West had a horrible week and they’re getting knocked down. The most important game of the week for the Mountain West is Boise State at No.25 Fresno State. Boise State is fighting for bowl eligibility. Fresno State is fighting for a spot in a New Year’s Six Bowl. If there’s one thing Boise State loves to do, it’s spoiling another team’s hopes and dreams. One of their most memorable victories came when David Carr was the quarterback for a previously undefeated Fresno State team. Boise State defeated the No.8 Fresno State Bulldogs in Fresno 35-30. Not only did Fresno State drop out of the top 10 rankings, but it gave the WAC to Louisiana Tech that year. It placed Boise State on the map after the Big West Conference had dissolved and the Broncos had joined the WAC. It was only the sixth year Boise State had been at the FBS level.
9. Pac 12 (16-19, 7-2 vs. FCS)
Oregon is the only team from this conference that realistically can make it into a New Year’s Six Bowl as an at-large. The fact that Oregon is No.4 in the College Football Playoff rankings is a complete joke, and an awful one at that. It’s as if Amy Schumer ran the rankings. Oregon is the only Pac-12 team in the College Football Playoff Top 25. Somehow they’re fourth. The Ducks allowed 29 points to Colorado in the Autzen Zoo. Only two teams have allowed Colorado to score more this year: Northern Colorado (35) and Arizona (30). By the way, Arizona lost to Northern Arizona. What is the most important game of the week? No.7 Oregon will play at Washington this week. You know who’s already defeated Washington this year? Montana. Is it crazy to think that Montana can beat Oregon? Let’s find out!
10. MAC (21-27, 11-1 vs. FCS)
All games in the MAC this week are over. The conference had such a bad season, it really wasn’t worth it to beat a Tuesday deadline to talk about them. Seriously, no one reading this would care. They aren’t moving up. Bowl season will be the time for the MAC to make some strides. And yes, the MAC is really finished with all of its games this week. Every game was either Tuesday or Wednesday.