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The Real Top 16: The Buckeyes Are Simply The Best

curty-baby

By: Adam Bross

Welcome back inside the war room and our weekly unveiling of the true top 16 in college football.  This week we share 15 teams with the Associated Press poll and 11 with ESPN’s phony Football Power Index.  Unfortunately, there are some we have lost this week, but that means there are new faces into the fray. We also have a new guidance rule AND we have a special announcement. Rules first:

The Transitive Avowal: In math, the transitive property tells us that if a=b and b=c then a=b; furthermore, we occasionally use this in sports to decide that if TEAM A beat TEAM B and TEAM B beat TEAM C then TEAM A would beat TEAM C and so it goes; however, the braintrust likes to utilize a different theory on the transitive property in this avowal, that is that if two teams share a common opponent say….Georgia or…..Florida State, then the performance of these two teams, let’s say…..North Carolina and…….Ole Miss, will be taken into account to try and decide the placement of ranking these two teams.  It’s a reason why OSU’s dominating effort against Oklahoma is more heavily weighted than Houston’s win.  And so it goes.

I promised you an interesting fact, so here it is!  Currently we have 6 conferences represented in the Real Top 16.  Fun Fact!  One of them is not the Big 12.  The more interesting look is that we currently have 4 teams from the ACC, SEC, and Big Ten represented; furthermore, each of those conferences have two teams inside the top 7.  The ACC has two teams in the REAL PLAYOFF at this point with Clemson and Louisville ranked inside the top 4.  with those fun little tidbits. let’s begin.

↓(8) #16 Stanford Cardinal, 3-1 (2-1, Pac-12)

Lost @ #15 Washington 44-6

Image result for stanford cardinal logo blank backgroundWe could start talking about all the cliche’s which doomed Stanford in its game against Washington: “dominated up front”, “couldn’t get Christian McCaffrey into space”, “lack of explosiveness outside”, “injury to two starting cornerbacks”, and “blabb-eddy-bleh”; however, we’re embracing a different philosophy which is that Washington was just a helluva a lot better than Stanford.  It’s okay to admit and all these things we spoke about are either A) true because Washington is better or B) an excuse Stanford fans and “analysts” will use to avoid the obvious.  The Huskies owned ever facet of a four quarter game where even Stanford’s best quarter was a losing one.  Why could McCaffrey not find open space?  Because Washington’s front seven was stronger on the first level and faster on the second level than the Stanford players blocking for him.  Why was Stanford’s injury-riddled secondary taken advantage of?  Because Washington has skilled, fast receivers who ran great routes and a quarterback capable of fitting the ball into available windows and confident to not make mistakes.  Does it help this game was played in Seattle?  Indubitably, but no team gets 12 home games.  Stanford won tough road contests last season and just downed UCLA in the Rose Bowl . It is time to face the facts, Stanford isn’t the best team in the north anymore.

↓(12) #15 North Dakota State Bison, 4-0 (1-0 MVFC)

Def. Illinois State 31-10

Image result for North Dakota State Bison logo blank backgroundThe Bison upped their FCS resume with a win against Illinois State, and my FCS little birds whispered about the Red Birds being the 18th ranked team in FCS.  Is #1 beating #18 a great win?  No, but it is enough to keep the Bison ranked here, after all, their best win is still better than many FBS clubs out there.  A top-15 win on the road?  While the braintrust had zero confidence in Iowa this season, the rest of the college football world seemed to think 2015 wasn’t a mirage…they learned.  The Bison next travel to the Show Me State to take on the Missouri State Bears…are there bears in Missouri?  I have to admit, I’m a little confused at the choice of nickname on this one.  I mean, the North Dakota State Bison I understand, but the Missouri State Bears?  It seems like a stretch to me, surely they could’ve went with the Missouri State Mules instead?

↑(NR) #14 Miami Hurricanes, 4-0 (1-0, ACC)

Def. @ Georgia Tech 35-21

Image result for miami hurricanes logo blank backgroundThe Hurricanes turned the Yellow Jackets over three times and Brad Kaaya was simply solid, the rushing attack was what it needed to be and the defense was the best offense Maimi could have wished for.  Now, obviously defensive scores cut down on offensive opportunity, but Miami barely moved the ball up and down the field in most situations outside of three drives for 260 yards.  How many drives did they have?  Well, enough to have another 6 punts.  I’ll never count “End of Half” or “End of Game” as a drive, but Miami will need a little more offense against a Florida State team which made very few mistakes against North Carolina last week (i.e. no turnovers) which Miami needed two of them or else…you know….losing to Georgia Tech.

↑(NR) #13 North Carolina Tar Heels, 4-1 (2-0, ACC)

Def. @ Florida State 37-35

North Carolina placed a new face back in the race of the Atlantic Coast Conference with an upset of Florida State in the Doak.  The Seminoles are now entrenched in the bottom of the Atlantic Division standings with an 0-2 record while the Tar Heels already defeated one of the bigger tests in the Coastal (Pittsburgh) with only an over-touted Virginia Tech and a road trip to Miami looking like dirty tasks left on the ACC schedule.  Mitch Trubisky is yet to throw an interception this season and appears poised to trouble DeShaun Watson and Lamar Jackson for ACC Player of the Year….what’s that?  You just groaned?  Trubinsky is not getting the hype or press Jackson or Watson are, but he is out-passing {T,J,W} (1711, 1625, and 1302), far out-completing (76%, 59.4%, and 60.8%), and in the same breath of touchdowns (13, 14, 14) on very similar attempts (175, 170, 181) AND ALL OF THIS IS WITHOUT A SINGLE INTERCEPTION!  Additionally, Trubinsky has played a schedule with one cupcake; while the other two have an extra cupcake on the schedule.  Will he even be mentioned in the same breath as the Heisman?  No, but maybe he should be.

↑(NR) #12 Ole Miss Rebels 3-2 (1-1, SEX-iest)

Def. Memphis 48-28

Image result for Ole Miss logo blank backgroundThe Hotty Toddies have looked the part of a top tier team, but they looked rough in the second half of games.  Ole Miss COULD be 5-0.  They COULD have beaten Alabama for the third straight season.  They COULD have downed Florida State in a Labor Day primetime game…but they didn’t.  They have a mistake prone quarterback who has been limited outside of the red zone and inside his own thirty.  Once Kelly has to be opened up, we might see the return of mistake prone Ole Miss and the return of the bad second halves.  Ole Miss passes every eye test every week and are finally eligible of the RT16.  With the Bye Week here, it might take too much for the Admiral Ackbars to be dropped from the RT16 next week.  Welcome to the real world, Ole Miss.

↓(7) #11 Nebraska Cornhuskers, 5-0 (2-0, Big Fourteen)

Def. Illinois 31-16

Image result for Nebraska Huskers logo blank backgroundThe Huskers haven’t picked up the quality win most of these teams have, but they have played consistently well throughout the season and they won two very good games against Oregon and Northwestern before beating Illinois at home this past week.  Now the Huskers are undefeated with one of the nation’s more dangerous duel-threat quarterbacks in the conference; furthermore, he’s one of the more dangerous duel-threats in the country.  Nebraska welcomes the BYE week, but its standing in the Big Ten is far from decided with visits to Wisconsin and Ohio State still coming on the schedule.  If they win even one of those games, Nebraska is in the West’s driver seat with Wisconsin still having to survive Ohio State, Iowa, and Northwestern (the latter two being on the road).

↑(11) #10 Tennessee Volunteers, 5-0 (2-0, SEX-iest)

Def. @ Georgia 34-31

Image result for Tennessee Volunteers logo blank backgroundTennessee is here on the backs of a comeback and a miracle.  It’s been a disappointing spread season, but that doesn’t mean it’s been a disappointing season as the Volunteers are 5-0 and look on the fast track to an SEC East title; although, we’ll keep in mind that the Vols play Texas A&M and Alabama in the next coming weeks.where they’ll be massive underdogs.  Josh Dobbs went mad in the second half against Florida and helped the Vols into the driver’s seat.  Next, Tennessee played down to a Georgia team which recently suffered a 45-14 defeat to Ole Miss in one of the ugliest games I’ve had the misfortune of watching this autumn.  In the future the Vols are going to need to find a way to match the second half effort against Florida for a full 60 minutes, or else they’ll never survive Kyle Field (College Station) and a visit from the AP #1 team in the country.

↓(5) #9 Wisconsin Badgers, 4-1 (1-1, Big Fourteen)

Lost @ #9 Michigan 7-14

Image result for wisconsin badgers logo blank backgroundWith wins against LSU and Michigan State, the Badgers were sitting pretty, but there is nothing like a four game gauntlet to really test the mettle of a team.  Wisconsin plays on lack of ability and an overload of heart and they have done it with physicality since the day I first watched John Clay trampled opposing defenses.  Hard as it is to admit for any Badger fan, you cannot out-physical people for an entire season when you have to match up with three teams who are simply more athletically gifted than you are.  Michigan State, Michigan, and Ohio State are teams who can be beat with a beat down.  Michigan State proved that in the swampy rain of Columbus, Ohio only a season ago against arguably the most talented team in the nation.  With a home-field advantage, a bye week, and the undeniable magic of Wisconsin farm boys the Badgers are looking up at a big game against the Buckeyes on October 15th.

↓(6) #8 Houston Cougars, 5-0 (2-0, AAC)

Def. UConn 42-14

Image result for HOuston Cougars logo blank backgroundHouston, it’s not me, it’s you.  You’ve done every little thing that could be asked of you.  You beat a preseason #3 team, have dominated every other team, and yet you find yourself wallowing in the downward spiral of dropping down the RT16.  It is not your fault, you just beat the only team you lost to a season ago by 28 in the way you always imagined.  You still have Tom Herman, which is a little amazing considering a top 7 job open in Baton Rouge and Greg Ward is still healthy.  The only thing which appears to stand in your way is Louisville in November and no trip to Annapolis is going to ruin that…Navy?  Bad Navy who has barely beaten Connecticut and Tulane?  Bad Navy who lost to Air Force by 14 just one week ago?  Navy couldn’t possibly ruin a perfect season and ruin an underdog dream of a Group of 5.

↓(4) #7 Alabama Crimson Tide, 5-0 (2-0, SEX-iest)

Def. Kentucky 34-6

Image result for Alabama Crimson Tide logo blank backgroundAlabama finds itself in the awkward situation it seems to find itself every year where it has beaten every team but has not looked a dominant number one against Ole Miss, USC has recovered but is a 2-3 team and the SEX-iest Amendment in America tells us that is exactly what it has to be.  They aren’t some sort of super power who magically got blown out by Buhmuh.  The rest of the schedule is Western Kentucky, Kent State, and Kentucky which leaves me needing a little more.  What’s the good news?  Even though Alabama was outplayed week 3 and hasn’t faced the toughest schedule, they get to do that in the coming weeks with at Ar-Kansas, at Tennessee, Texas A&M, BYE, and at Louisiana State.  Alabama being at number seven likely will give the SEX-iest fans in America some sleepless nights, but this isn’t the end of the playoff run or anything….duh.

↑(9) #6 Michigan Wolverines, 5-0 (2-0, Big Fourteen)

Def. #5 Wisconsin 14-7

Image result for Michigan Wolverines logo blank backgroundThe Machine Gun-Wielding Worms crashed Wisconsin’s four week party with a victory over the Badgers in Ann Arbor using something the Wolverines haven’t had to exhibit all season: defense.  Have they exhibited defense?  Of course, this is a team which was known for defense only a season ago, but only Penn State looked like a convincing defensive showing and that is a team which is as one dimensional as Wisconsin.  Michigan’s offense, for the first time, looked beaten down which is no surprise given the Badgers’ own defensive reputation, but it doesn’t bode well going into game later this season against Michigan State and Ohio State and both of those games are on the road.  This week, the Wolverines take its first trip onto the road with the first five games happening in Ann Arbor when it travels to Piscataway, New Jersey to take on the mighty Rutgers Scarlet nights.

↑(15) #5 Washington Huskies, 5-0 (2-0, Pac-12)

Def. Stanford 44-6

Image result for washington Huskies logo blank backgroundHow perfect did the Huskies play against Stanford?  I’d put it into words, but there honestly is nothing I can say to make it clear without you having to watch the entire game.  Jake Browning owned a defense which allowed only 12 points per game entering the past weekend.  The defensive line made Stanford’s usual dominant hogs look overmatched throughout the game and each and every third down seemed to end with a sack of whatever quarterback the Cardinal seemed fit to have on the field at the time.  When two quarterbacks rush for negative yardage in the same game, its a problem.  Eight sacks sounds like a pretty good stretch for a defensive front and less than a yard per carry sounds like something David Shaw faced in his most recent nightmare.  Washington owned each and every down, each and every series, each and every drive, each and every game against Washington this season.  It’ll be interesting to see if Washington wins out.  Any loss might eliminate the Huskies from the playoff after playing just a horrid non-conference schedule.

↓(1) #4 Louisville Cardinals, 4-1 (2-1, ACC)

Lost @ Clemson 36-42

Image result for Louisville logo blank backgroundThe Cardinals owned the first four games of the season and the headlines the last two weeks ever since they dominated Florida State in Papa Johns’ Cardinal Stadium a few weeks ago, but everyone knew the season had not been completed until the Cards survived a trip to Clemson and a visit from Houston.  Well, consider the season incomplete, but not lost.  Louisville proved itself a viable playoff contender with its performance against the Tigers; however, many find this to be anti-intuitive as how could a team which just loss actually help its playoff cause…because the Cardinals just played an immaculate game in Tiger Stadium (THE REAL DEATH VALLEY) and came a yard away from a first down which offered another chance at a win.  Lamar Jackson?  Certainly the nation-wide Heisman favorite having an unparalleled year.  Bobby Petrino?  Still talented coach, but a shitty person nonetheless.  Louisville is alive as long as it has only a single loss on the ledger OR Clemson takes a couple of conference losses.

↑(13) #3 Clemson Tigers, 5-0 (2-0, ACC)

Def. #1 Louisville 42-36

Image result for Clemson logo blank backgroundEverything I said about the Clemson-Louisville game only one entry ago holds true for the Tigers, but from the opposite viewpoint: the viewpoint of the winner.  DeShaun Watson played his finest game of the season and that is taken to scale.  After a few weeks of either underplaying or being held back, the Tiger’s Heisman candidate quarterback tossed five tuddies and ran 91 yards.  The 3 interceptions were awful and opened the door for the Cardinals throughout the game and those are the types of mistakes Clemson cannot afford through the rest of the season.  Louisville is likely the most talented teams Clemson will play, but teams are not always going to lose the most talented team they play.  Clemson will need to cut down on mistakes; after all, its not always as easy to win on the road when you aren’t hyped for a top 5 game.  Expect Watson to be scaled back for the next few games before playing in the Doak against Florida State and released again like a kraken.

↑(3) #2 Texas A&M Eggies, 5-0 (3-0, SEX-iest)

Def. @ South Carolina 24-13 
Image result for TEXAS A&M logo blank backgroundTexas A&M did not play its best game against South Carolina in Columbia this last weekend, but the season is not lost like other teams who have faced such play.  South Carolina was not talented enough to beat Texas A&M, but Tennessee is.  Trevor Knight has been running and throwing all over the place in his role of savior of Texas A&M’s season and Tennessee’s defense has done little in its play this season to inspire confidence in stopping Knight and company.  Tennessee’s failures the last few seasons have come against the West (they haven’t won a game against the conference’s other division since 2010), but this is a different Tennessee team than we’ve watched flail through conference play in recent years.  The Vols are the legitimate favorites in the East and once Florida loses a second game, they’ll have an open track with only losses to A&M and Alabama visible on the horizon.

↑(2) #1 Ohio State Buckeyes, 4-0 (1-0, Big Fourteen)

Def. Rutgers 58-0

Image result for Ohio State logo blank backgroundAnother week and another opponent goes down big to Ohio State.  Aside from Oklahoma, we’re looking at solely Bielema wins on the docket, but the wins have been so convincing that ESPN’s mystical and idiotic Football Power Index has the Buckeyes with the best chance to go undefeated throughout the rest of the season.  What does this tell me?  My Alma Mater is doomed because I’ve never really seen the FPI workout in the favor of teams projected to be the one who goes undefeated.  Ohio State will likely throttle Indiana this weekend, but don’t get on the hype train too quickly.  The Hoosiers just downed the team I’m most afraid of year-in-and-year-out (Michigan State) and have beaten the spread against Ohio State the last five times these eastern division foes have played.  The Bucks are big favorites in Columbus, they are favorites to go undefeated the rest of the regular season, and have all the talent and future a fan could dream of….for the next few seasons. No one wants to say its the Buckeyes year, but they are deserving of #1 status at this moment.

 

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