One week before the nation selects its next president, College Football Nation starts the process of selecting the four teams for Year Three of the College Football Playoff.
Committee chair and Texas Tech athletic director Kirby Hocutt will be on ESPN Tuesday night tap dancing around the unanswerable questions after the reveal of the CFP committee’s first rankings of this season.
Thanks to some Saturday chaos that reduced the number of undefeated teams, the first four teams are so easy even a political pollster can get them right. Alabama, Clemson, Michigan and Washington are all undefeated and from major conferences.
However, there are five weeks remaining. While the sample size is too small to reveal anything close to a trend, for reference sake here are the comparisons between The Reveal and The Real Deal the last two seasons.
- First Four: 1, Clemson; 2, LSU; 3, Ohio State; 4, Alabama. Final Four: 1 Clemson; 2, Alabama; 3, Michigan State; 4, Oklahoma.
- First Four: 1, Mississippi State; 2, Florida State; 3, Auburn; 4, Ole Miss. Final Four: 1, Alabama; 2, Oregon; 3, Florida State; 4, Ohio State.
The only certainty is that the Big 12 can wait ‘til next year. Baylor and West Virginia both took their first losses of the season; Baylor and West Virginia have yet to play each other so one team is guaranteed at least one more loss. Oklahoma is on top of the standings but has two non-conference losses.
The Sooners are ranked No. 12 in this week’s Associated Press poll, the highest of four Big 12 schools in the rankings. It’s the first time in league history (1996 was its first season) that the calendar has flipped to November and the Big 12 doesn’t have a top-10 team.
The CFP show on ESPN won’t be drawing many viewers from Big 12 Country.
Mr. October, meet Mr. October
Two players will be sad to see the month end. Oklahoma wide receiver Dede Westbrook and Auburn running back Kamryn Pettway can both answer to the nickname “Mr. October” thanks to some outstanding statistics.
Westbrook, a junior receiver, became a big-play threat as the Sooners went 5-0. In five games, he has eight TD passes of 40 or more yards (the previous school record for a season was five). Saturday against Kansas the first punt return of his career was a 71-yard touchdown. Westbrook had a 100-yard kickoff return for a TD reduced to 30 yards because of a holding penalty.
In five games this month, Westbrook had 40 catches for 881 yards, an average of 22 yards per catch.
Auburn’s Pettway, a 6-foot, 240-pound sophomore, played in just three of his team’s four games this month but he set a career rushing record in each game. In the Tigers’ SEC victories over Mississippi State, Arkansas and Ole Miss, Pettway has 599 yards and six touchdowns on 96 carries (6.2 yards per carry).
In Saturday’s victory over Ole Miss, Pettway had seven runs of 10 yards or more, including a long of 56 yards.
“Pettway is a beast,” Auburn center Austin Golson said. “I don’t think anybody can stop him. If we block for him, then I think he can run all day. He’s a very powerful runner and he’s never going to tap out, either.”
Men with helmets, Safety Dance
Men Without Hats, a one-hit wonder group in 1982, was singing “we can dance if we want to, we can leave your friends behind … Cause your friends don’t dance and if they don’t dance … Well they’re no friends of mine.”
The song was called “Safety Dance.” Wyoming upset No. 13 Boise State thanks to the rare game-winning safety, and redshirt freshman Josiah Hall celebrated with the 2016 version of “Safety Dance.”
The Rewind applauds Hall for his creativity but cautions him that if he reaches the NFL … that’s a fine, son.
The Wyoming Safety Dance! pic.twitter.com/RtuhgYn7hZ
— CJ Fogler (@cjzero) October 30, 2016
Elsewhere in Twitter viewing
Apparently the ESPN employee in the production truck for the Tennessee-South Carolina believed that the Vols’ late-game comeback miracles could overcome even a missed, last-gasp, game-tying field goal.
— Awful Announcing (@awfulannouncing) October 30, 2016
Was Wyoming coach Craig Bohls making a pitch for the Texas job with this hand gesture during the post-game interview?
Craig Bohl is ready to party!!!! https://t.co/cwaZzdoPMa
— Andrew HammondAP (@ahammsportsgeek) October 30, 2016
Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy, who now has 100 victories as the coach of his alma mater, is known to do some locker room dancing after big victories. His team’s upset of No. 10 West Virginia called him to Boogie Land.
— Cowboy Football (@CowboyFB) October 29, 2016
Coach, ACC office on line 1
Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher was reprimanded and his school fined $20,000 by the Atlantic Coast Conference office Sunday. Following the Seminoles’ 37-34 loss to Clemson, Fisher fire-bombed the officiating crew.
He was particularly incensed with a penalty that wiped out Dalvin Cook’s long run early in the fourth quarter with Florida State leading 28-26. The officials also called the Seminoles’ bench for an unsportsmanlike penalty for complaining about the call.
“Ridiculous, it’s not a chop, and I tell you what: You hold coaches accountable, players accountable. Hold the damn officials accountable. It’s garbage,” Fisher said.
“And to call another penalty on the sideline is more garbage. It’s cowardly, gutless and wrong. They can take it, fine it, do whatever they want to do with it. That’s a fact. Look at the film. That’s ridiculous. That was a huge call in the game. Still had a chance to win the game after that, but that’s ridiculous. And the guy wasn’t in position make it.
“Clemson won the game. I give them all the credit. That’s not why we lost the game. It’s just a shame you could have seen what happened if you called the game properly. That’s their job. … To make that (sideline penalty) call at that time is ridiculous. After he knew he blew a call. I hope everybody told them his name on TV so he gets his name out there. Everybody was there to see him.”
Fisher went all in. He was not happy with the replay review of two targeting calls.
“Whoever’s in the booth is bad, too,” Fisher said.
Coach, Pac-12 office on line 2
Florida State’s Jimbo Fisher wasn’t the only coach not pleased following a loss. Cal coach Sonny Dykes questioned the Pac-12 Conference office for its scheduling. The Bears lost at USC Thursday, 45-24. Cal was playing its second game in six days and is in the middle of finals. The Trojans were coming off a bye week and hadn’t played in 12 days.
“We looked like a tired beat up football team and we were,” Dykes said. “I’ve said it last week. It’s a travesty whoever scheduled this game to schedule us back to back weekday games on six days rest to play a team on the road on an open date.
“I hope the Pac-12 doesn’t do this again to another school. It’s not right for the kids. It’s not right for the players. They’ve had to miss a bunch of class. Everyone talks about student-athlete welfare and didn’t put their money where their mouth is on that one.”
- Oooook-la-homa, where the points come whistling down the field: The last two weeks, teams from the Sooner State – Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Tulsa – have scored a total of 312 points.
- Where have you gone, Christian McCaffrey? Well, Saturday night he was in Tucson facing Arizona and he returned to making an impact for Stanford. The Cardinal won 34-10 as McCaffrey had scoring runs of 45 and 6 yards, finishing with 169 yards rushing on 21 carries and 225 all-purpose yards.
- Arkansas State has won a school-record 12 consecutive Sun Belt Conference games with Saturday’s 51-10 dismantling of Louisiana-Monroe. The Sun Belt record for consecutive victories is 26 by North Texas.
- Ohio had not defeated Toledo since 1988 but the Bobcats ended that streak with last Thursday’s 31-26 victory at Toledo. The site of the game ended another remarkable record. It was Ohio’s first victory at the Glass Bowl since 1967.
- Antonio Calloway’s 4-yard rushing touchdown in the third quarter against Georgia made Florida history. Calloway became the first Gator to score touchdowns by rushing, receiving, kick return and punt return.
- Missouri won 14 of its first 16 SEC games and captured the East Division in its first two seasons in the conference. Saturday’s loss to Kentucky was the Tigers’ 11th SEC loss in their last 12 games. The attendance of 50,234 was the lowest for a home conference game since 2005.
- Michigan State is 0-5 in Big Ten play for the first time since 1982. Considering the logic of coach Mark Dantonio, it’s questionable if the Spartans can turn it around this season. Michigan State kicked a field goal trailing by 20 points with 10 minutes left. Dantonio said he wanted to make it a two-score game.
- First-year South Carolina and former Florida coach Will Muschamp is 5-0 against Tennessee and 14-19 against the rest of the Southeastern Conference.
- Kansas (1-7) lost at Oklahoma, 56-3. The Jayhawks’ only victory came against FCS Rhode Island (1-8), which lost to James Madison, 84-7. James Madison took a knee four times with a first-and-goal with over nine minutes left in the fourth quarter.
- Army’s victory at Wake Forest was the Black Knights’ first road victory against a school from the “Power Five” in 25 years.
- And for your Halloween, trick or treat, statistic of strange: Auburn is 8-0 when an opposing quarterback passes for more than 400 yards.
You don’t say
Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh quickly corrected himself but had a spelling fumble when asked on the difference between the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat:
“It’s just a fact of business – fact, f-a-c-k, fact.”
Texas coach Charlie Strong, who said the continued rumors and talk about his job security “an embarrassment to everyone,” was defiant after the Longhorns’ 35-34 upset of Baylor:
“It’s not a program that’s in disarray, which many of you think. It’s not a program that’s going backward. It’s a program that’s headed forward. It’s going to be special one of these days when you really watch this program really take off.”
Auburn linebackers coach Travis Williams on the defensive effort against Ole Miss:
“We played a danged good offense, and they are well-coached. You have to have a plan to win in the fourth quarter. We prepared really well. If you continue to saw wood, eventually that tree will fall.”
Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald chose to kick a field goal on fourth-and-goal from the 15. That trimmed Ohio State’s lead to 24-20 with 3:35 to go but the Buckeyes converted two third-downs to preserve their victory:
“I chose to take the points, expecting us to get a stop. We got it to third down twice and didn’t get it done, so it’s my fault. Obviously, we lost the game, so I should have gone for it on 4th-and-15. If I’m writing the article, there’s your quote.”