Ten thoughts touching on the week in College Football

Gordon P Smith Roar Guru

By , Gordon P Smith is a Roar Guru

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    Most US college football teams who haven’t been affected by the massive hurricanes that hit Texas and Florida (and especially the northern Caribbean – our attention is focused on the millions of water-logged people in those regions, rather than the chaos in Washington DC for once) have played a pair of games already. So let’s take a moment to glance at the situation in each of the ten major conferences.

    We’re going to list the top few teams in each, with their starting-point and their current numbers in our exclusive “ELO-Following Football” rating system, described in a previous column of mine, in the hope of finding some movers and fallers, teams making progress and maybe head coaches looking over their shoulders already.

    The ACC
    1. Clemson (2-0, moved from a rating of 15 to 13).
    2. Florida State (0-1, from 14 to 15).
    3. Louisville (2-0, constant at 20).
    4. Miami-FL (1-0, 22 to 23) and Virginia Tech (2-0, 23 to 23).

    On “Tobacco Road”, fortunes look vastly different eight miles apart: while North Carolina dropped its first two games (to Cal and Louisville), Duke has shot past them and many others with huge victories totaling 101-14 over 2016 bowl teams NC A&T and Northwestern. They’ve moved from a start rating of 34 all the way to 28 in two games, the biggest mover in the nation.

    The SEC
    1. Alabama (2-0, still at a rating of 10, best in the nation).
    2. LSU (2-0, moved from 18 down to 16).
    3. Auburn (2-0, steady at 18).
    4. Georgia (2-0, still at 21 with a one-point win at Notre Dame).
    5. Florida (0-2, bumped up to 22 after a loss to Michigan.)

    …And sixth is Mississippi State whose rating has also moved six points to a 23 after two big wins over Conference USA foes, Charlotte and Louisiana Tech. On the other hand, Texas A&M fans are raising money to buy out their coach after a second poor game, this time a near-upset at the hands of a low-level FCS team.

    The Pac-12
    1. USC [Southern Cal] (2-0, moved 15 to 14).
    2. Washington (2-0, moved from 17 to 14).
    3. Stanford (1-1, 20 to 18).
    4. Oregon (2-0, 26 to 23).

    Nike’s pet team was a shocking 4-8 last year, but in 2017 the University of Oregon has registered a big win over a decent team in Southern Utah (77-21), and a decent win over a big team in Nebraska (42-35, but it wasn’t that close). Meanwhile, their rivals at Oregon State have dropped to a rating of 40 after being routed by Minnesota on Saturday.

    The Big Ten
    1. Penn State (2-0, moved from 16 to 14) and Ohio State (1-1, 13 to 14).
    2. Michigan (2-0, 18 to 17).
    3. Wisconsin (2-0, stayed at 19).

    The Ohio State University’s big rating advantage is gone, after they were exposed by Oklahoma last Saturday night 31-16. Meanwhile, Pitt was trounced by Penn State, bringing the Nittany Lions in “lion” with the Buckeyes for the top rating in the conference.

    Keep an eye on Maryland this season, whose rating has already moved from 35 to 30 after two big wins to start their season.

    The Big Twelve
    1. Oklahoma (2-0, 15 to 12).
    2. Oklahoma State (2-0, 19 to 14).
    3. Kansas State (2-0, 24 to 21).
    4. TCU [Texas Christian] (2-0, 26 to 22).
    5. West Virginia and Texas, both (1-1 and 25 to 23).

    As you can tell, the Big 12 is the “moving-in-the-right-direction” conference so far this month, with major victories all over the board: OU over Ohio State, TCU stomping Arkansas, OSU big over Tulsa.

    Amidst all this good news, poor Baylor looks lost, as in “lost” to Group of Five mid-pack UT-San Antonio Saturday, after having “lost” the prior Saturday to FCS school Liberty, a team previously famous only for having the current US President finish a speech there by extolling the virtues of its 2017 schedule (and at 2-0, the Liberty U football team is making hay while the sun shines: they’ve reduced their own rating to 35, one of the best ratings among the “FCS” schools, with a second big victory this weekend).

    The AAC (the “American”)
    1. South Florida [or “USF”] (2-0, but their rating has ‘drifted’ up to 26).
    2. Houston and Central Florida (both 1-0 and a rating of 30).
    3. Memphis (1-0, 32).
    4. Navy and SMU [Southern Methodist] (both 2-0 with a rating of 33).

    There have been quite a few postponed or cancelled games in this Florida-heavy conference, and if anyone was pleased not to play it might have been league favorite USF, which has yet to look decent in its first two wins over inferior opponents (SMU and UCF have looked excellent, however! Both teams have improved four rating points already in their first two weeks!).

    Conference USA and the MAC (the “Mid-American”)
    C-USA:
    1. Western Kentucky (1-1, with a current rating of 34).
    2. Southern Mississippi (1-1, 36).
    3. UT – San Antonio (1-1, 37).
    4. Old Dominion (2-0), Louisiana Tech (1-1), and Middle Tennessee (1-1), all rated at 38.

    MAC:
    1. Toledo (2-0, still at 31).
    2. Western Michigan (0-2, to big-time opponents, so rating’s still 34).
    3. Miami of Ohio and Northern Illinois (both 1-1 and 37).
    4. Ohio (1-1 and 38 rating).

    Not a ton of action (or #MACtion!) in either conference yet, although Louisiana Tech did get some fame this weekend when a shotgun snap went from one end of the field to the other, and they turned a seconnd down and six to go into a third and 93 (they managed to cut it down to fourth and 72, and no, they didn’t convert).

    The Sun Belt
    1. Appalachian State (1-1, rating dropped from 32 to 31).
    2. Troy (1-1, 34).
    3. Arkansas State (0-1, 36).
    4. Georgia Southern (0-2, rising from 41 to 42).

    The Sun Belt is looking like a three-horse race already, with good teams like South Alabama and the U of Idaho each falling back to 45 this week after big losses, which Sun Belt teams are prone to (The Sun Belt is basically the ‘mailroom’ of the college football corporation – teams moving up to the FBS level start here, at the bottom. It does make for a competitively balanced conference, even if they aren’t very competitive with anyone else!).

    The Mountain West
    1. Boise State (1-1, holding still at 29).
    2. San Diego State (2-0, down from 31 to 30).
    3. Colorado State (2-1, down from 34 to 32).
    4. Air Force (1-0) and Wyoming (1-1), both currently rated at 34.

    It should be noted that only one of these five teams are in the Western Division; the other four are in the more powerful Mountain Division. So, how much real competition will SDSU gets during the regular season?

    That may be an issue for and against them. “For” because it will make their path to the conference title game much easier, but “against” since they won’t have the opportunities that the top Mountain teams will have to get “battle tested”, hardened for that all-important title game the first week of December.

    Last week, our published picks only went 8-6, although across all of Division 1 we went 82-23, a 78 pr cent success rate. With the expectation of semantically irritating someone out there, I pray we’re more accurate with these ten picks for the highlight games of Week Three:

    • Illinois at South Florida (Friday) – USF by 13.
    • Clemson at Louisville – FSU by 9.
    • Oklahoma State at Pitt – OSU by 11.
    • Wisconsin at BYU – Wisconsin by 8.
    • Texas at USC – Southern Cal by 12.
    • Tennessee at Florida – Florida by 4.
    • LSU at Mississippi State – LSU by 4.
    • Stanford at San Diego State – Stanford by 9,
    • Louisiana Tech at Western Kentucky – WKU by 7.
    • Delaware State at West Virginia – WVU by 48! (One oddsmaker has the spread at 67 points!)

    Go to my blogsite for our forecasts on every Division 1 game this week.