The Loop

The College Football Playoff Hope-O-Meter: The high-ankle sprain heard round the world

October 21, 2019

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...

Wagon wrecks, sprained ankles, dropped touchdowns, a field storming, and one pearlescent butt. Needless to say, it was a hell of weekend in college football, and your nerves are probably shot. But don't worry, according to our handy, dandy College Football Playoff Hope-O-Meter, you aren't the only one.


Mortal Lock – Oklahoma

Oklahoma’s week got off to an auspicious start when the ol' Sooner Schooner took a corner too tight, sending the pep squad skittering across the Norman turf. After that, it was smooth wagoneering for the Sooners, however, who toppled West Virginia, 52-14, in a Big 12 brouhaha that wasn’t. Oklahoma has now cleared its biggest regular-season hurdle in Texas and is steaming toward a November matchup with undefeated Baylor, where they’ll be heavily favored. Jalen Hurts chipped in another five touchdowns and, thanks in part to Tua’s ankle injury (more on that in a bit), took a vice grip on the Heisman race. Add that to a resounding Dallas Cowboys dubya on Sunday that should keep Jerry Jones from kicking Lincoln Riley's tires for another couple of weeks, and you have a pretty good weekend in Sooner-land.

Cautiously Optimistic – Penn State

OK, OK, so Penn State needed the drop to end all drops to escape besieged Michigan on Saturday night. But a win against a top-20 conference rival under the lights is still a win (which, it should also be noted, is all Penn State has done this year.) Are the Nittany Lions the team that showed up in the first half on Saturday, running out to a 21-0 lead, or the team that went stone cold in the second half? James Franklin probably doesn't even know, but an impending trio of road trips to Michigan State, undefeated Minnesota, and Ohio State over the course of the next four weeks should tell us which Slim Shady Penn State is the real Slim Shady Penn State.

Suddenly Pessimistic – Alabama

Boy the difference an ankle makes. Alabama was 6-0 and cruising (against Tennessee, but still), and then presumptive Miami Dolphin Tua Tagovaiola went down with a high-ankle sprain, and suddenly the entire complexion of the college football season changed. Well, potentially at least. Tua is already out for Arkansas and the next week Alabama is off in preparation for an 11/9 showdown against second-ranked LSU. If Tua—who underwent Knotless Syndesmosis TightRope surgery on Sunday in hopes of a rapid recovery—is 90 percent for that one, no harm, no foul, but high-ankle sprains are fickle beasts, and Crimson Tide fans are already pledging their ligaments to the cause. Call us Nervous Nellys, but we don't think Jethro from Tuscaloosa's gout-swollen pegs are the medical solution Alabama needs right now...

Fugghedaboutit - Wisconsin

They told us Illinois was too bad to be a trap game. They told us next weekend’s showdown with Ohio State would be a battle of unbeatens. They told us to trust Wisconsin. They were wrong. In the shock of Saturday—and perhaps the college football season as a whole—Wisconsin fell to a game-winning field goal by Illinois’ James McCourt as time expired. The Badgers had been up nine with six minutes to play. They were there! They were home free! And then, suddenly, they weren’t. The result sucks for college football fans everywhere. An undefeated Ohio State versus an undefeated Wisconsin at the Horseshoe for a Big Noon Kickoff™ was poised to be must-see TV before this capitulation stripped the much-hyped matchup of its luster. It’s even worse for Wisconsin fans, however, who exist in the always-good, never-great graveyard that the four-team playoff system has slowly filled since its inception. This year looked like it could be the year to change all that, but alas, Lovie Smith and his Survivalist Santa beard got the last laugh.

Heisman Moment of the Week – Joe Burrow

Joe Burrow out here shaking his money maker for the voters. Let’s see Jonathan Taylor do that.