We’re one week away from one of the biggest weekends in college football, and last Saturday told us what we need to know for this Saturday.
Georgia Isn’t Done Yet
In what would likely be a do-or-die game for the Bulldogs, Kirby Smart and crew had a dominant second half to defeat the Florida Gators 36-17. The Georgia defense forced three turnovers, and the offense never gave it up as the Bulldogs moved to 7-1 on the season. There have been rumors of Justin Fields taking over his job, but Jake Fromm made his game known on Saturday with an efficient 17-24, 240 yards, and three touchdown stat line. After getting crushed by LSU on the road two weeks ago, the Bulldogs took the bye week and responded in a big way, and, for now, their playoff aspirations are saved. That is, until Saturday.
The SEC East Showdown
With just two games left in their SEC schedule, Georgia will decide the SEC East next week on the road against Kentucky. Georgia took care of business against Florida, and Kentucky won by the skin of their teeth on the road at Missouri. After trailing 14-3 late in the fourth quarter, the Wildcats came storming back and with no time left on the clock. Quarterback Terry Wilson threw a two-yard touchdown to steal the game in Columbia.
Now, both the Bulldogs and Wildcats are both 7-1 overall and 5-1 in the SEC heading into their matchup. The winner will likely get the hardest matchup in the nation in Alabama. But the winner will get a month to prepare ahead of that game. With just one loss each, the winner will very much be in line for a playoff spot should they win out before the SEC title game. Kentucky would need some help, but wins over Alabama and Georgia would almost certainly elevate them there should they win out.
The Big 12 Is In Even Bigger Trouble
The Big 12 had a pretty bad week, and that’s putting it nicely. To sum it up in one game, TCU lost to Kansas. Oklahoma winning 51-14 over Kansas State was the lone bright spot. Besides Oklahoma, Texas was the Big 12’s only other playoff hope. But now, that’s likely out the window. The Longhorns went to Stillwater and fell 38-35 to Oklahoma State, which was a hard-fought game. But with two losses, including the opener versus Maryland, the Longhorns will need a lot of help making the playoff. West Virginia and Oklahoma are both at one loss, and the conference will need both to remain that way until their Nov. 23 matchup in Morgantown.
No ACC Team Can Compete With Clemson
Is Clemson just that good this year or is the rest of conference just down? I think the latter is more likely.
Week after week, Clemson is separating itself from the rest of the ACC with consistent blowouts. Trevor Lawrence is putting up gaudy numbers with 1,490 yards and 16 touchdowns through eight games. They’re almost like the Alabama of the conference except there’s no Georgia in the Coastal Division to put up a fight in December.
Last year, that team was thought to be Miami. But ever since losing to Pittsburgh last year, the Hurricanes haven’t been the same. The U is fourth in the Coastal Division behind leader Virginia. The Tigers will likely face a tough test on Nov. 10 at Boston College, which has proven to have a great running game that has propelled them to a 6-2 record. But for now, nobody’s competing with Clemson, and the Tigers will run all the way unscathed to a playoff berth.
Washington State Is The PAC-12’s Last Playoff Hope
At 7-1, the Washington State Cougars have low-key made their way to the top of the Pac-12 North with the best record in the conference. The only loss on the schedule so far is a three-point Friday-night loss to USC on the road. A playoff berth isn’t far-fetched, but it won’t be easy by any means.
The primary obstacle on the schedule will be the season finale against rival Washington at home on Nov. 23. A road trip to Colorado in two weeks won’t be a cakewalk either. But Mike Leach has something brewing in Pullman, and it could land the Cougars in the playoffs. Quarterback Gardner Minshew already has 26 touchdowns on the season, including three against Stanford last Saturday in an important road win. The defense gives up points, but Leach’s offense has made up for the defense with an effective air-raid scheme.