Halfway home, CFB has its fab five teams … also, um, Notre Dame
Hut, hut, hike, oops, splash. But enough about Notre Dame. Takeaways from Week 6 of the college football season:
1. A majority of teams around the country have now played six games. Where we come from, six is roughly half of 12. So let’s make some midseason observations.
First, there seem to be five teams — Alabama, Ohio State, Clemson, Michigan and Washington — that clearly are better than everybody else. Is it possible these are the only five in play for the national title? Nope, nope, five times nope; we’ve seen too much crazy stuff before. But take these five against the field all day. There almost has to be at least a few eventual playoff participants among them.
Give the Halfway Heisman to Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson. Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson, Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett and Michigan do-it-all guy Jabrill Peppers are right there.
The most surprisingly good team is Washington, with a nod as well to Texas A&M. The most surprisingly bad team is … you know who it is.
2. Speak of the devil: Goodness gracious, Notre Dame. The 10-3 defeat at North Carolina State — the Irish’s fourth loss already — is partially excusable because of the horrible weather conditions in which the teams played. Yet both squads were on the same slip-and-slide, right? The Irish’s ineptitude in big moments is loud and clear. Brian Kelly and his program are a hot mess.
3. Illinois’ overtime defeat against Purdue was its third straight loss to the Boilermakers in Champaign. Reminder: Purdue was clobbered 50-7 at Maryland the week before. Other reminder: Purdue is terrible at football. What we’ve learned about the 1-4 Illini under Lovie Smith: They stink to high heaven and are at the very bottom of the Big Ten.
4. Unless it’s Rutgers that’s at the very bottom of the Big Ten. The Scarlet Knights dropped a nail-biter at home against Michigan by a score of 78-0. Is this the worst team in conference history? We’ll find out Saturday when Illinois visits Piscataway.
5. Here’s Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh in a nutshell: Leading 27-0 over a no-hope foe, he had his kicking team fake a PAT; the holder ran it in for a two-point conversion. Why go for two in that situation? Presumably, because Jimmy Football couldn’t go for three.
6. Washington destroyed Oregon 70-21 in Eugene. That brings the Huskies’ combined score to 114-27 over Stanford and Oregon the last two weekends. It’s shocking that the Cardinal and Ducks are this bad at the same time. Also, it’s a reminder that UDub coach Chris Petersen is as talented as anyone else out there.
7. Sixth-ranked Houston lost at Navy, a terrible outcome for what was (and possibly still is) the non-Power 5 team with the best shot at making the playoff. Outside of the major conferences, Boise State (5-0) and Western Michigan (6-0) now are the only unbeaten teams. Just don’t see the Broncos — either Broncos — winning over the selection committee without any marquee victories. Houston is all but out of the running, too.
8. Penn State’s Saquon Barkley, who rushed for 202 yards in a victory over Maryland, is the best running back in the Big Ten. And it’s not even close.
9. Michigan State — a 31-14 loser to BYU in East Lansing — is 2-3. The Spartans are mere shadows of their typical selves. It’s hard to watch a Mark Dantonio team implode like this.
10. To all the LSU fans who screamed bloody murder because Florida called off its home game against the Tigers in the wake of Hurricane Matthew: Get a grip. The game will be replayed if it ends up being necessary to sort out the SEC madness. Otherwise, have the decency to be mindful of the bigger picture wrought by a natural disaster.
P.S. You’re not that good, LSU. It’s not like the Gators are afraid of you.
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