18S Top 20 Poll: All Quiet Out There

We found ourselves with a very quiet weekend and as a result not a single team moves inside the 18 Stripes Top 12 rankings. The rest of the rankings, well, they continue to be awfully weird. That’s good because this upcoming weekend is as bereft of traditional big games as any in recent memory. There’s a reason ESPN College GameDay is going to a UCF vs. Cincinnati game this late in the season.

18 Stripes Top 20 Poll

RANK TEAM RECORD LAST WEEK
1 Alabama 10-0 24-0 W vs. Miss State
2 Clemson 10-0 27-7 W vs. Boston College
3 Notre Dame 10-0 42-13 W vs. Florida State
4 Michigan 9-1 42-7 W vs. Rutgers
5 Georgia 9-1 27-10 W vs. Auburn
6 Oklahoma 9-1 48-47 W vs. Oklahoma St.
7 UCF 9-0 35-24 W vs. Navy
8 West Virginia 8-1 47-10 W vs. TCU
9 Washington State 9-1 31-7 W vs. Colorado
10 Ohio State 9-1 26-6 W vs. Michigan State
11 LSU 8-2 24-17 W vs. Arkansas
12 Syracuse 8-2 54-23 W vs. Louisville
13 Utah State (+3) 9-1 62-24 W vs. San Jose State
14 Washington (+3) 7-3 BYE
15 Penn State (+4) 7-3 22-10 W vs. Wisconsin
16 Cincinnati (NR) 9-1 35-23 W vs. USF
17 Iowa State (+3) 6-3 28-14 W vs. Baylor
18 UAB (NR) 9-1 26-23 W vs. Southern Miss
19 Boise State (NR) 8-2 24-17 W vs. Fresno State
20 Buffalo (NR) 9-1 48-14 W vs. Kent State

Out: Boston College, Fresno State, Kentucky, Michigan State

In: Cincinnati, UAB, Boise State, Buffalo

Quite literally, only 3 teams in this new Top 20 played close games last weekend. Led by the Sooners who were almost upset in Bedlam if not for a failed 2-point conversion by the Cowboys. That ended perfectly right before the Notre Dame game but man what a boring week we experienced overall.

In a way, it’s like last week never happened because nothing of consequence changed. Our bowl projections remain constant from a week ago:

Bowl Game Projections

Cotton: Alabama vs. Michigan
Orange: Clemson vs. Notre Dame
Sugar: Georgia vs. Oklahoma
Rose: Ohio State vs. Washington State
Peach: UCF vs. LSU
Fiesta: West Virginia vs. Syracuse

We haven’t really spent much time discussing the G5 team making the major bowl game because it’s largely been assumed to be UCF the whole way. Noted rival USF has now lost 3 straight (Charlie Strong wyd) which weakens the strength of schedule although UCF isn’t out of the weeds by any means. Should the Knights fall to Cincinnati this weekend there would be a 3-way tie in the AAC East division, so that could be fun and throw that major bowl bid into complete chaos.

Here are the current S&P rankings for the top G5 teams lingering in or close to the AP rankings:

UCF – 7
Utah State – 10
Cincinnati – 29
Boise State – 35
Army – 88
UAB – 31
Fresno State – 9
Buffalo – 47

So many highly rated teams seems very unusual in this playoff era which is strange because very few of these teams are close to UCF in terms of hype or prestige. Even a usual suspect like Boise State hasn’t felt like much of a player this year and yet they are sneaking up into position for a possible major bowl.

I’d like to shout out my local UB Bulls who are having a historic season and still remain off the radar somehow. Back in the day, the media were absolutely beside themselves watching Turner Gill with Buffalo and he peaked with a 8-6 season in 2008 and S&P ranking of 68th nationally before falling back to 5-7 and taking the Kansas job in 2010. Not enough people are talking about Lance Leipold and the job he’s done building Buffalo into one of the best G5 teams this year.

Week 12 Games to Watch

USC (-3.5) at UCLA – There’s a possibility, small though it may be, that Clay Helton will be fired after this game. This dude had been undefeated at home as USC coach and has now lost his last two in the Coliseum to Arizona State and California, no less. The Trojans have 5 losses! Man, the Bruins have been fighting hard across town and should be in this game I want to believe they’ll pull off the upset. Bruins win 27-24 OT.

Duke (+28) at Clemson – Duke has had some sneaky decent seasons in the past which is probably why their 7-3 really isn’t moving the needle nationally like it would’ve several years ago. The Blue Devils are pretty solid and this is a lot of points for a Clemson team that can sleepwalk to a win. Tigers win 38-17.

UAB (+16) at Texas A&M – It’s been a pretty blah debut season for Jimbo Fisher in College Station. Now, Bill Clark is coming to town with the media ready to hand him National Coach of the Year honors. This would be the spotlight that could clinch that honor. Too bad A&M is tough to beat at home. Aggies win 23-13.

*Game of the Week* Cincinnati (+7.5) at UCF – This is an interesting matchup in that Cincinnati’s defense has been terrific this year and UCF remains one of the best offenses in college football. This would feel like a big flop for the defending National Champions to end their winning streak with ESPN in town. But, it does feel like at some point they will lose right? Maybe not this weekend. Knights win 30-27.

Iowa State (+3) at Texas – Ok. Cool. Hook Em! Longhorns win 22-20.

Last Week:

5-1 SU, 4-2 ATS

Season:

53-27 SU, 39-41 ATS

By |2018-11-13T08:51:28+00:00November 13th, 2018|Football|38 Comments

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gambit1077
gambit1077

Tier one wins – over teams in the AP or S&P+ top 25. Tier 2 wins – over teams at least .500 and in the S&P+ top 60.

1. Alabama – Four tier one wins (LSU, Texas A&M, Mississippi State, and Missouri), one tier two win (Ole Miss)
2. Clemson – Three tier one wins (Texas A&M, Syracuse, and Boston College), one tier two win (NC State)
3. Notre Dame – Three tier one wins (Michigan, Northwestern, and Stanford), zero tier two wins
4. Georgia – Lost at LSU, four tier one wins (Missouri, Auburn, Kentucky, and Florida), one tier two win (South Carolina)
5. Michigan – Lost at Notre Dame, three tier one wins (Penn State, Northwestern, and Wisconsin), two tier two wins (Maryland and Michigan State)
6. Washington State – Lost at USC, two tier one wins (Stanford and Utah), one tier two win (Oregon)
7. Oklahoma – Lost vs Texas, one tier one win (Iowa State), two tier two wins (Texas Tech and Oklahoma State)
8. West Virginia – Lost at Iowa State, one tier one win (Texas), one tier two win (Texas Tech)
9. UCF – Zero tier one wins, two tier two wins (Memphis and Temple)
10. Ohio State – Lost at Purdue, one tier one win (Penn State), one tier two win (Michigan State)

Ten wins for the top ten this week so not much movement. Three weeks. Three guaranteed games between them, Oklahoma @ West Virginia on 11/23, Michigan @ Ohio State on 11/24, and Georgia vs Alabama on 12/1.

Only three of the remaining teams play a quality opponent this weekend, Clemson, Notre Dame, and UCF. Michigan, Washington State, West Virginia, and Ohio State each play a 5-5 team who could possibly be a dangerous stumbling block if any are caught looking ahead. Alabama plays Citadel.

DrIck
DrIck

Still hard to believe all those SEC teams are Tier One wins (Not questioning your methodology – just the actual numbers. 4 6-4 teams – the circle jerk continues)

gambit1077
gambit1077

S&P+ is in love with the SEC. I keep hoping to see them drop some following mediocre performances, like Mizzou winning by 5 after trailing in the 4th to Vandy, but it doesn’t happen.

DrIck
DrIck

Whoa whoa – Vandy’s a tough win. Ask anyone.

gambit1077
gambit1077

Not to flame too far into S&P+, because the idea of ranking teams based on explosiveness, efficiency, field position, finishing drives, and turnovers/luck is a perfectly good idea and gives generally good results, but the second part of what S&P+ does is takes “all the plays in this game, tossed them up in the air, and had them land in a random order, you’d win this game XX% of the time.”

I’m pretty dubious about the second half of that recipe, which will randomly insert part of your four minute offense to end a game into any given possession because it doesn’t carve it out via garbage time, which requires you to be up by 21.

It’s the second half of the formula that insists that Michigan “akshully” won the game back in September, Michigan was awarded six tenths of a win that game and ND four tenths in the S&P+. The formula took the “four minute offense” that the Irish started with 14:54 left in the fourth quarter and sprinkled those plays randomly among the first quarter play calling and decided that’s not a good way to win a game: ND ran the ball nine times (two kneel downs) and threw once taking 6+ minutes off the clock and icing the game that Notre Dame never trailed in — at least on the field.

Brendan R

There’s just so much parity this year. We were talking about it this morning in the writers’ room, and I went back through the Week 12 AP polls since 2000 to get a benchmark.

There are two 4-loss teams that are ranked in the most recent AP poll – #24 Northwestern and #25 Mississippi State. Barely ranked, sure, but ranked. Do you want to guess how many 4-loss teams *total* were ranked in the Week 12 AP poll from 2000 to 2017?

[Jeopardy music]

Zero. A big fat goose egg. It’s a weird year.

MikeyB
MikeyB

Heh potential CFP Play-in Game for the Big 12 will be on a Friday night. Great scheduling there.

nd09hls12
nd09hls12

There is a very simple disaster scenario for the committee looming, which only requires one upset: Clem/ND/Oklahoma/Michigan/Georgia win out. That would be so much fun.

Sadly, FiveThirtyEight gives that only a 2.1% chance of happening.

DrIck
DrIck

#1 – Clemson
#2/3 ND/Bama
#4 UGA

Not that difficult

IrishTexan
IrishTexan

That is one playoff bracket I would hate to see. If we can stay 2 or 3 and Bama stays #1 (or loses and falls to #4) I like our chances against anyone else in the first round, followed by probably bama for the title. Saban and his staff with a month to prepare is just plain impossible.

DrIck
DrIck

Do you see a better 1 loss (hypothetical) team than 12-1 Bama? I don’t think they deserve anything less than a #3

Scarponi
Scarponi

The argument for Bama at 4 if UGA beats them is the same that has ND ahead of Mich: head to head matters.

Or maybe more fully, if the idea of a playoff is “lets decide it on the field” then what happens on the field (H2H) better be a major factor for deciding who’s in the playoff. Otherwise the selection process for the playoff is cognitively opposed to the playoff itself.

DrIck
DrIck

If both Bama and UGA are getting in – I don’t hold as much weight to H2H. Overall, I’d still argue Bama is better than UGA, barring a massacre in the SECCG by UGA.

Scarponi
Scarponi

So you judge getting in by one standard, and seeding by another? A bit strange, but since we’re just talking our own opinions, have at it.

DrIck
DrIck

“So you judge getting in by one standard, and seeding by another?”
Yes.

Step 1) Determine best 4 teams
Step 2) Determine seeding.

It’s what they do for basketball.

KG
KG

Step 3) ??????
Step 4) Profit!

DrIck
DrIck

Gotta get them underpants

nd09hls12
nd09hls12

As per my other comment, there is no chance – none zero – that Bama would be ranked ahead of UGA in that scenario. The question is whether they’d get in over two other conference champions.

I think the answer is “it depends” – basically on how dominant Michigan looks against Ohio State/Northwestern. If dominant, Michigan gets in. If not, Bama. I think Oklahoma now SOL in that scenario because of the close games they’ve played.

hooks orpik
hooks orpik

“Saban and his staff with a month to prepare is just plain impossible.”

Wasn’t for Ohio State in 2014. Saban’s 10-4 in Bowl games at Bama. While very good that .714% is well under his Bama regular season winning percentage of .877%

Also, Bama and Clemson have the same record in the semis (2-1), each with dominant wins.

Saban in general is just impossible. Whether he has a week or a month, I don’t think it much matters about the end result with the talent and coaching they have. More time I’m sure is helpful and beneficial but it’s not like it’s necessary.

HolyCrossHog
HolyCrossHog

UGA can’t win out without beating ‘Bama twice.

DrIck
DrIck

You might want to recheck your math

HolyCrossHog
HolyCrossHog

What was I thinking…clearly wasn’t

nd09hls12
nd09hls12

There is a zero percent chance UGA will be ranked ahead of Bama after just beating them to win the SEC championship. The ranking in that scenario would be:

1) Clemson
2) Georgia
3) ND
4) ?????? – Committee angers a lot of people

IrishTexan
IrishTexan

Now Georgia is a team I would like to play in the playoff. While of course they’re very good, and would be riding high off of a victory against unbeatable Bama, I feel like we match up against them better than we do against Clemson or Bama

nd09hls12
nd09hls12

100% agree. That’s kind of a best-case plausible scenario for ND.

nd09hls12
nd09hls12

I meant that there’s no chance that UGA would be *behind* Alabama, not ahead of, in that instance. Kind of blew a quasi-double negative there.

hooks orpik
hooks orpik

“which only requires one upset:”

Makes a Bama loss so simple sounding!

gambit1077
gambit1077

I think it should be #1 Clemson, #2 ND, #3 Georgia, #4 Michigan in this case. If you want to win the national title ‘Don’t lose in December’ should be the general rule.

hooks orpik
hooks orpik

What’s the difference in losing in Sept or Dec?

I think there could be a case made for putting Bama in over Michigan if both were 12-1, assuming
A) the SECG is a close win by UGA, less than one score
B) the Alabama 29-0 road win @LSU ends up being more impressive than the @tOSU game is for UM (as in Michigan is generally unimpressive, wins a close one that could have gone either way).

If it plays out like that, and the goal is to choose the best 4 teams then you have to go
–Undefeateds (Clemson and ND)
–SEC champ (UGA becomes a no-brainer by topping Bama by any score)

Down to one 1 of: OU, Michigan, Bama.

Obviously the calculus changes if Michigan beats tOSU 42-7 and UGA wins like 38-21 against Bama, but the odds of both of those things happening (particularly the latter) are very low.

If it plays out like that, any of the 3 have decent cases and resumes, but I think if the committee says “let’s play a hypothetical play-in game with our minds, who wins” to pick the last team, I’d bet it’s Saban. That’s pretty much how he’s gotten in before without winning the division or conference and jumping a Big10 champ.

gambit1077
gambit1077

Right now Alabama is an unbeatable automaton that can’t be stopped from winning the national title. They’re +250 favorites to win against the field (wager $250 to win $100).

If they lose then they’re tautologically no longer unbeatable. If they have a similar resume to a team that lost in September but they lost in December then it seems easy to leave them out — the team that hasn’t lost in three months is playing better.

hooks orpik
hooks orpik

True, but many scenarios exist where Bama and UM can have the same record yet not exactly “similar resumes” if UM doesn’t win impressively.

gambit1077
gambit1077

We’d have to wait and see, but with a lot of chalk you get (Ole Miss is losing another game via chalk so they miss the cut for Bama or consider them if you wish, whatever):

Alabama significant wins: LSU, Auburn, Texas A&M, Mississippi State, and Missouri
Michigan significant wins: Ohio State, Penn State, Northwestern twice, Michigan State, and Wisconsin

Cross out the losses to Georgia and Notre Dame and the wins against LSU and Ohio State. There’s not a ton to choose between in that pile of pretty-good-I-guess wins. So you’ve got three possible tie-breakers that the committee has talked about using in the past: Conference Champion (advantage Michigan), Date of Loss (advantage Michigan), Reputation/Eye Test (advantage Alabama).

We’ve got to see how the last few weeks play out to see by how much that final tiebreaker favors Alabama and then complain whichever way the committee decides, but my instinct is that if Bama loses to Georgia and Michigan wins out the difference between Michigan and Alabama in Reputation/Eye Test at that point shouldn’t outweigh the other considerations.

MikeyB
MikeyB

How about Trevor Lawrence comes down with mono Friday and can’t play against Duke and loses. Then he comes back next week and they win their final 2 games by 50 points each? Let’s really get the chaos going here.

dpet
dpet

I see what you did there! Sneaking in the Tom Herman reply on Twitter to Zach Smith!

gambit1077
gambit1077

Injury note: Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa, broken foot against Michigan, is returning to conditioning shortly and could be available for the postseason, but not USC. That means he’ll gain a redshirt even if he comes back for both playoff games.

IrishArmy90
IrishArmy90

Eric, I’ve got to throw the Homer flag (although you did self-report) about putting Buffalo at #25 ahead of Army, given Army handed Buffalo their only loss, 42-13 @ Buffalo. As a USMA grad, we are starved for a Top 25 showing and need all the help we can get.

KG
KG

BEAT NAVY