The white flag is being warmed up. The last couple of weeks are going to toss the college football playoff picture around like shake & bake chicken. Before we get to those games, and the Florida Gators game against FAU, however let’s check out a game between two teams who were shoe-ins for the playoffs a few weeks ago and are now just beaten soles.
Puns don’t really work in print.
#15 LSU at #22 Ole Miss (3:30 pm, CBS)
This game is where the Gators’ strength of schedule goes to die. The season hopes for both the participants has already died. Alabama killed LSU’s season, then a week later Arkansas relieved itself on its grave. Ole Miss made its season with a win over Bama, and threw committed suicide against Memphis (and then Arkansas relieved itself on their grave as well). And these two sad sacks still represent Florida’s biggest win and quality loss. Quality. If LSU loses its third-straight game Saturday, Florida’s going to have to fire its quality control manager. When Florida beat the Bears, they were #3 in the nation; if they lose Saturday they’ll be #3 in Mississippi.
Ole Missing the Playoffs: 23
Miles from Recovery: 21
#9 Michigan State at #3 Ohio State (3:30 pm, ABC)
At #9, Sparty is still clinging to the outside chance of making a playoff spot. This because they still play #3 Ohio State, and if they win that one, #5 Iowa. With the right losses ahead of them, those two wins could give them the juice to grab that #4 spot. Meanwhile, Ohio State is showing everyone why Urban Meyer was so anxious to pilot a Big 10 school instead of an SEC school. Here we are in Week 12 and they have played – count them – ZERO teams currently ranked in the playoff poll. There is only one other team in the top 25 that has not played another team in the top 25, and that’s North Carolina way down at #17. Of course they play in the ACC, the league where Bobby Bowden and FSU pioneered the concept of hiding from competition and taking the easy path to a national title game. But the Buckeyes’ punishment for this cowardice is apparently a 3-game season-ending gauntlet of #9 Michigan State, #12 Michigan and #5 Iowa if they get that far. That sound you hear in Columbus is esophageal spasms, and that smell you detect in the basement tunnel of the Big Horseshoe is a mixture of fried golf cart battery and soggy Papa John’s.
Happy Sparty: 27
Pizza Party: 23
#18 TCU at #7 Oklahoma (8:00 pm, ABC)
This game should be called The Playoff Selection Committee Hypocrisy Bowl. The Committee showed the world last year that the playoff selection process has nothing to with ensuring that only blue blood programs and top drawer revenue producing programs fill the playoff bracket. The omission of the far more deserving Baylor and TCU from last year’s playoff field while vaulting Ohio State with their terrible loss to VPI over them and into the bracket was all about how little respect they had for the Big 12 and the fact that the league is handicapped in the voting by not having a championship game. Suggestions by fans and media that blue blood Big 12 programs like Oklahoma and Texas would never have been dropped out of the top 4 while winning at the end of the season were brushed aside by the invisible integrity of the committee. Well this year, after just one loss TCU was dropped so far out of playoff picture that it wasn’t even on the next roll of film. They even dropped 3 spots last week after winning – just because they are a Big 12 team with 1 loss. This week small market conference mate Baylor was likewise drop-kicked from the playoff inside track to a double digit ranking for the egregious offense of suffering a single loss. TCU sits at #18 for the crime of losing to the current #6 team, while Baylor sits at #10 for making the terrible mistake of losing to the current #7 team. Meanwhile, Oklahoma has been vaulted up into that #7 spot and getting among the most national media chatter about being the best team in the country, and their one loss was to…let’s see, it HAS to be to a much better team than the #7 or #6 teams that made Baylor and TCU part of the outgoing trash….it was…oh here it is, yes they lost to…Texas. Unranked Texas. Four-win, six-loss Texas. Losing Big 12 record Texas. Only one win against a team with a winning record Texas…and that one team was…Oklahoma.
So yes, you read that right: the INVISIBLE integrity of the playoff committee.
Big Game Frogs: 41
Small Game bob: 38
#10 Baylor at #6 Oklahoma State (7:30 pm, FOX)
The Cowboys are the other Big 12 team still in contention for the playoffs but that is only because they are still undefeated. It is highly unlikely that they stay that way, but if they do, they will not move two more spots up, no matter what teams around them lose. A 1-loss SEC champion will get in ahead of them. So will a 1-loss Notre Dame (1-loss Alabama and 1-loss Notre Dame are already ahead of them). So will a 1-loss Big 10 champ. The only 1-loss team that they might pass is Clemson, but if they drop the ACC title game close to a 1-loss North Carolina after being the #1 team in all the playoff polls, I’d say it’s at least even money the Cow Pokes are left out in the cold. But Clemson is probably not losing in this year’s regular season. As for Baylor, forget about it.
Da Bears!: 52
Who Cares?: 47
Purdue at #5 Iowa (12:00 pm, ESPN2)
Iowa is the absolute worst #5 team in the history of the playoff poll. Of course the poll is only two years old and there will be plenty of chances for FSU to take that honor away. And they will. Imagine everything people are saying about Florida not being that good but just taking advantage of a weak Eastern division, and then add a Big 10 West factor of 10. Their claim to fame is beating fellow West teams Wisconsin (who lost to the only two good teams they have played), and Northwestern (who lost to two of the only three good teams they have played). But Hawkeye fans still think Iowa is going to win the conference and make big noise in the playoffs. Which is exactly why IOWA stands for Idiots Out Wandering Around.
The Fighting Alan Aldas: 24
What Hawkeye Used to Make in His Tent Still at the 4-0-7-7th: 17
Florida Atlantic at #8 Florida (12:00 pm, SEC Network)
Balance was restored to the SEC East two weeks ago when Florida clinched their first division crown since 2009. Balance was restored the following week to the uniform gods when the Gators faced South Carolina. The Gators have been playing uniform games all year and have made them all work really well – Until Vandy. They did this mostly by using the same color jerseys and pants, something that had been almost never done in the previous gubillion games. Entering the season, this would have seemed impossible but the Georgia game was the first contest of the year where the Gators did not wear a monochromatic color scheme. It was the first time all season that the uniform color was not uniform. They wore the traditional blue tops and white pants and the result was the second-biggest SEC blowout of the year. So the team figured they may be onto something, so they decided against Vandy to repeat the choice of white pants and dark shirts. What could go wrong? Oh yeah…the HELMETS!
They rolled out special white helmets for this Homecoming game. The helmets themselves were actually pretty tight, with the Gators script on one side and the Florida “F” on the other, harkening to the classic iconic Pittsburgh Steelers helmets by having a different appearance on the two sides.
But here was the problem: they didn’t pair them with the regular blue shirts. This would have given the ensemble the classic throwback appearance they used against Alabama in 2006 – one of the greatest Gator uniform combos of all time. But no, they didn’t use the classic blue. They used the Clemson orange. Only with the white helmets, they were the horror of horrors: the Miami Hurricane orange. And they team – well, at least the offense – played like it. They played like this year’s offense at Duh Ewe. It’s what Charles Barkley would call ‘tuurrruble’. The football and the fashion. In this horrible Miami garb, they just could not get the car moving…and when a carload of Miami players go by, you know who is driving the car. That’s right: the cop. This is the kind of uniform combo that if Florida had a water polo team, the horses would drown. So against South Carolina, the team wised up to the mistake and went back to the monolithic palette of white on white with the standard orange lids. And the result was another comfortable win, like the Gators had enjoyed in four of their last five victories.
I don’t know what color scheme the players have chosen for the FAU game but who cares? It’s FAU. The Gators could come out wearing Underoo alligator jammies with fuzzy footies and a buttoned escape hatch in the seat, and they would still roll the Owls like butt-whipping towels. Woodsy says to the Gators, “Only YOU can prevent scoreboard fires!”