The College Football Playoff Hope-O-Meter: SMU rides again
Welcome, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, to the unveiling of perhaps the greatest technological innovation of our time: THE COLLEGE FOOTBALL PLAYOFF HOPE-O-METER! Over the course of the 2019 season, we will put our ultra-violet spectrum of college football emotion to the test, processing each weekend's scoreboard—and it's array of hopes, dreams, and delusions—to determine the state of the all-important CFP push. Here's where things stand as of today...
It's halftime, America [Clint Eastwood voice]. It's the top or bottom of college football's emotional rollercoaster, depending on the whims of the fickle football gods, strap in, buckle up, and brace yourself, because you never know when this thing is going to go flying off the rails.
We’ve waxed ad nauseam about Clemson and talked up Ohio State. We given daps to the Dawgs and sung songs about the Sooners. But we haven’t really spent too much time on the stick by which they’re all measured: Mighty freakin’ Alabama. Sure sure, they’re fresh off a bye week, but it’s finally time to talk about Alabama because Alabama’s season begins now. Through five weeks, haven’t played a single ranked team, destroying Duke (minus Danny Dimes), New Mexico State, Southern Miss, Ole Miss, and South Carolina. But this coming Saturday, Alabama face their first “test” of the season, traveling to College Station to take on Jimbo Fisher’s Aggies. The schedule doesn’t exactly get tough after that, especially when compared to the likes of Florida or Ohio State, but a visit from LSU and a trip to Auburn on the final week of the season loom large. Preseason is finally over. Alabama’s chance to show us what they’ve got is here. And if the past twelve years and Tua's golden arm are any indication, we should expect nothing less than dominance.
While Houston were supposed to be Texas’s under-the-radar AAC sleeper, six weeks into the season an entirely different giant-killer has emerged. Ladies and gentleman, let’s talk SMU football. At 6-0 with wins over TCU and South Florida—plus a 41-37 OT thriller vs. Tulsa this weekend—the Mustangs have galloped their way into the top 25 and are poised to shake up the CFP patriarchy just like they did in the 1980s. OK, so maybe not. If they sniff the heady of heights of the self-declared 2017 national champions UCF, who topped out at six in the AP, they’ll be lucky. Still there’s no question that this is the best SMU team since 1986, when NCAA handed down the death penalty for repeated recruiting violations. With games against Temple, still-undefeated Memphis, and that aforementioned Houston team left on the schedule, the Mustangs are poised to claim the Boise State memorial award as this season’s non-Power Five powerhouse.
What’s going with Penn State? The Nittany Lions, in what was supposed to be a transition year for the Franklin regime, are undefeated, and after wobbling early against Buffalo and Pitt, have been gaining steam at an alarming rate, smashing erstwhile Big Ten West dark horse Purdue 35-7 this weekend. And yet, they remain the lowest ranked team of the Power Five contenders. They’ll have a chance to change all that with consecutive games against Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, and yes even big bad undefeated Minnesota in the coming weeks, but for now confidence is low for no other reason than preseason narrative and the lack of a bonafide star. These things shouldn’t matter, but they do, especially when you drop a close one at Ohio State in November, so it’s time for Nittany Lions fans to start beating their Happy Valley drums before it’s too late.
On Saturday, Auburn lost their first game of the season on the road to a better-than-advertised Florida. Ordinarily this wouldn’t be time to sound the funeral bells, but when you look at the Tigers’ upcoming schedule, the prognosis is grim. LSU (A), Georgia (H), and Alabama (H) all remain for the Tigers, who will likely need to win all three to make the SEC Championship and, by proxy, the College Football Playoff. Then there’s the matter of all-time SEC football name Bo Nix, who went 11/27 for 145 yards, one touchdown, and three interceptions against the Gators. Auburn might yet make a New Year’s Day bowl, or they might lose four games. It could go either way, but one thing is certain: The CFP has never seemed so far away.
False Hope of the Week
Last week, we were led to believe that Cincinnati would be playing on turf blacker than Satan's coffee for a Friday face off with UCF. Well, seconds after we published a story on Tuesday, the Cincinnati spin department revealed the whole thing was just a bit of "social media fun." At the time, we thought we would never forgive them, but then they went ahead and trolled the life out of UCF following their 27-24 victory, ultimately making up for the whole ordeal. Still though, the thought of what could have been will sting for a long time.