An action-packed college football Saturday provided plenty of events worthy of reaction – and naturally, overreaction.
We, of course, are here for the latter, to make note of what caused the most extreme of the quick conclusions. As one might expect, the game for the ages in Knoxville was the source for some, but there were plenty of others that generated their share of discussion points.
Again, some of these might ultimately prove correct, but we’re here simply to offer perspective on why they might be a tad premature. Without further ado then, here are the top five overreactions this week.
Alabama’s playoff chances are toast
Well, no, but they are damaged. The good news for the Crimson Tide is Tennessee is in the opposite division, so they still control their own destiny in the West. Should Alabama run the table from here, thus earning a return trip to the conference championship game, then subsequently win a showdown with Georgia or a rematch with the Vols, its playoff hopes would remain intact.That, however, is now a big if. Several more high-powered attacks capable of exploiting the Tide’s uncharacteristically leaky pass defense, like a couple of schools from the state of Mississippi, remain on Alabama’s schedule. The Tide are capable of outscoring a lot of teams, especially with a healthy Bryce Young, but they can’t just show up and win.
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Hendon Hooker just stole Bryce Young’s Heisman
Speaking of Bryce Young…
Let’s make one thing abundantly clear from the beginning on this item – Young was magnificent. He was in fact the only reason the Tide had a chance to prevail in the hostile environs of Knoxville thanks to his natural instincts and improvisational ability. But Hooker was sensational with much of the nation watching, and there is certainly precedent for a defining performance against Alabama leading to preparing an acceptance speech in New York.
If the season ended today, Hooker would likely be the top choice for most voters. There remains an entire half of the 2022 campaign, of course, and other candidates will have their opportunities to shine on the big stage including Young himself, Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud, or even a dark-horse contender like UCLA’s Dorian Thompson-Robinson or TCU’s Max Duggan. You can consider Hooker the favorite at the midpoint without much dispute, but don’t make the final determination just yet.
The Big Ten will get two teams into the playoff
This ties into the first one a bit if Alabama should indeed fall out of the picture. If Ohio State and Michigan are 11-0 at the time of their season-ending showdown in Columbus, the loser of that game – assuming it’s not a complete blowout – would get strong consideration from the committee, if the winner goes on to take care of business against whichever team ends up representing the West Division in the conference title tilt.
Consideration, yes, but it’s anything but a guarantee at this date. It’s just one of many scenarios that could unfold. The loser of Georgia and Tennessee would also be in that discussion, assuming the Bulldogs or Volunteers also finish 11-1. Clemson will be favored – heavily in most cases – in the rest of its games and might have a lock on one of the four spots already. The Pac-12 or Big 12 could have a one-loss champion. A Big Ten twosome is a possibility but anything but a stone-cold certainty.
The Big 12 race finally has some clarity
TCU and Kansas State sit alone atop the league standings, with their head-to-head meeting in Fort Worth on tap next week. That will put the winner firmly in the driver’s seat for the remainder of the season, right?
Not hardly. There’s simply no such thing as a sure win in the conference. The Horned Frogs are 3-0 in the conference, but their average victory margin in those three games is 13.7 points, which includes a 31-point defeat of Oklahoma. K-State’s margin in its three league wins? 5.7. If you remove the extreme outlier of the 49-0 result in the Red River showdown, the point differential for most teams in conference play is less than a touchdown a game. Iowa State is 0-4 alone in last place, but the Cyclones’ four losses have been by a total of 14 points. There’s a long way to go and this league is incredibly balanced, creating the opportunity for upsets on any weekend.
Southern California can’t win the Pac-12
The Pac-12, remember, has ditched its division format this year, so the Trojans aren’t just concerned with winning the South as we used to know it but must land in the top two of the entire league to make the title game. As things stand, there are four fairly clear contenders for those top two spots. UCLA and Oregon square off next week, with the winner gaining a huge leg up in the race. Utah must also visit Oregon on Nov 19, the same day USC gets its own crack at the Bruins.
The Trojans, however, don’t play the Ducks in the regular season. That could turn out to be an advantage if Oregon can take down both UCLA and the Utes in Eugene. But give the complex conference tiebreakers, it also means the Trojans might not be able to win their own way into the top two even if they should beat UCLA,. In short, the Trojans and their fans should be enthusiastic Ducks’ supporters next Saturday during their own off week – not that they need any added incentive to root against their archrivals. And they’ll also be hoping the Ducks can knock off Utah, which faces a manageable schedule beyond that road trip.