Hope Hurts the Most

The College Football Playoff Hope-O-Meter: The Folding Irish

October 28, 2019
COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 26 Notre Dame at Michigan
Icon Sportswire

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...

Halloween weekend brought plenty of thrills and chills to the world of college football. Big programs found themselves on the end of the CFP butcher’s knife, while others wielded it, but one thing is certain: Nothing is certain.

Mortal Lock – Ohio State

OK. After nine weeks of college football, it’s officially official: Ohio State are really, really freakin’ good. The knock all along—as they smoked Nebraska 48-7 and hung 76 on Miami (OH)—was that they hadn’t played anybody. Well, now they have, and the result was the same: Total domination. In nasty, windy, wet weather in Columbus on Saturday, Ohio State gave #13 Wisconsin a taste of their own medicine, pounding the football down their throats on offense and dominating the line scrimmage on defense. Chase Young (Jadeveon Clowney with a better motor, for those of you who haven’t had the pleasure), had four sacks, five tackles for a loss, and two forced fumbles, announcing himself to Heisman voters who haven’t voted for a defensive player since the Clinton Administration. After a slow opening quarter, Ohio State walked Wisconsin for 38 points and cemented themselves as the most complete team in the nation. Avoid another Big 10 road collapse (see Iowa in 2017 and Purdue last year) to Maryland next week, and all that’s left for the Buckeyes are their two biggest rivals…and Rutgers. What coud possibly go wrong?

Cautiously Optimistic – Oregon

In an effort to avoid writing about a different variation of the same six teams every week, today we are cautiously optimistic (emphasis on cautiously) about the Oregon Ducks. After a narrow opening-weekend loss to Auburn, the Ducks have taken care of business, besting Washington on the road last week before nailing a walk-off field to take down The Fightin’ Leaches of Washington State on Saturday. Oregon isn't exactly blowing teams out—as evidenced by said field goal and a 17-7 win over Cal early this season. But if CJ Verdell can keep the rock rolling like he did on Saturday—257 yards and three tocuhdowns on 27 carries—and the contenders in other outside-looking-in conferences like the Big 12 keep stumbling, Oregon could have a legit shot at this thing come December. And remember, only losses within the last three weeks count to the CFP committee, so the Ducks could be flying yet.

Suddenly Pessimistic – Oklahoma

America wants to know: Is the Hope-O-Meter curse real? Only time will tell, but one week after anointing Oklahoma a Mortal Lock, the Sooners got overrun in Manhattan, giving up 48 points to Kansas State in a Big 12 loss that would have been even uglier if it weren’t for a late fourth-quarter flurry. As has always been the case with Lincoln Riley’s teams, the Achilles heel was the defense, but this time the Jalen Hurts-led offense took 50 minutes to show up, at which point it was too late. Texas also lost by 10 on the road at TCU, making Oklahoma’s most impressive win suddenly look a lot less impressive. Another tricky trip to undefeated Baylor—who are long overdue for a mention here—awaits in mid-November and will likely define the Sooners’ season, but whichever way you slice it, Saturday took Oklahoma’s fate out of their own hands.

Fugghedaboutit – Notre Dame

The fact that Brian Kelly’s Notre Dame getting waxed 45-10 under the lights against a struggling Michigan team on Saturday night surprised no one says about all you need to know about the Fighting Irish. Saturday’s embarrassing, rain-soaked loss dropped Kelly to 4-12 in top-25 road games during his decade at the helm of Notre Dame football, and somehow managed to make Jim Harbaugh look clutch. Suddenly that one-point loss at Georgia in Week 4 no longer felt like the moral victory everyone claimed, but just another loss. Oh, and the Fighting Irish now have two of those, so even if they had a conference championship game (which they don’t), they’d still be cooked like a Thanksgiving turkey. On the bright side, another Pinstripe Bowl wouldn’t be the end of the world. We hear the holidays are a great time to visit New York City...

RELATED: The Michigan lineman who went full 'Blind Side' on a Notre Dame player is our college football star of the week

Let’s hear it for the little guys...

Listen, there’s no way SMU or Appalachian State are even getting a sniff from the champagne-sipping aristocrats at the CFP’s ivory tower HQ. If you want an underdog story, go watch Rudy. But no matter what, these two programs (remember Appalachian State were in the FCS as recently as 2013) have won the CFP in our hearts, and in the end, that's what really counts.

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