By Bill Ellis

Okay, it’s been a while between columns. That was more out of necessity than desire. Anyway, let’s get to it!

We aren’t quite at the point of isolating the pretenders from the contenders, but we’re a hell of a lot closer. Taking a quick look at the teams, I believe maybe 50 teams still have a realistic shot at making the playoffs. Many of these teams will play each other, so I’m not saying the chances are equal for all of them. The 50 include 24 unbeatens, 25 1-loss teams, and West Virginia. l don’t think three of the unbeatens (Nebraska, Marshall and Georgia Tech) will remain so for very long.

A lot of the one-loss teams suffered pretty bad losses, but Georgia showed us in 2012 that a really bad loss early in the season does not derail a team’s chances to get a shot to play for it all. Some others (Missouri) just won’t recover from their first loss.

Who will make the playoffs? First, the SEC champion will be unless that team has 2 losses, and there are a slew of good-looking undefeateds and one-losses out there. Same for the Pac-12 Champion. If Penn State or Nebraska goes undefeated, they’ll have a very good shot of getting there. The Big 12 and the ACC champions could and should both make it if the Big 10 champion isn’t undefeated. Notre Dame, BYU, Boise State and ECU are also in the conversation.

How about two teams from the same conference? Without knowing the formula used by the playoff committee, anything is possible. Right now, I wouldn’t think it would happen unless three of the conference champions either have 2 losses, or a loss worse to either of the two teams from the stud conference that was worse than the game between the two stud teams.

In simpler terms, I could see the SEC or Pac 12 getting a second team in if Notre Dame, BYU, ECU, Penn State, and Nebraska lose and West Virginia wins the Big 12. The second team could be the team that lost in a very close conference championship game or lost to the conference champion in a tight game and still finished in the top 5.

Honestly, there are a few teams that I know almost nothing about that are surprisingly still on this list. The biggest for me is Boston College with its USC skin hanging on the wall. I don’t know why I don’t know much about them. After all, they are a southern team—playing in the ACC and everything. Anyway, they just haven’t seemed to be very good since Matt Ryan was QB, but they may be pretty good this season.

There are still way too many games to play to count any of these teams out, and a few of you fans need to calm down—especially you LSU and Georgia fans yelling to Finebaum and on your forums to fire your coaches.

So, what’s wrong with these two schools? I think a large part of it could have been the coaches and players listening to everybody tell them how great they were instead of focusing on the teams in front of them at the time, Mississippi State and South Carolina. Same can be said about Ohio State with Virginia Tech. Besides this, all three of these teams had their defensive deficiencies exposed, and there’s a lot of work that needs to be done quickly for them to make this a great year. LSU could possibly turn things around by starting Brandon Harris at QB, but Miles has always shown reluctance to pull the starting QB.

THE SEC—Alabama may be really good. Their offense is clicking, and their defense seems to be doing enough, which is strange to say since Saban’s second year. I’ll say this, if Florida had a better QB, they could have beaten Bama on Saturday. If their defense really isn’t as good as in the past, they could give up a lot of points to Texas A&M, Auburn, Ole Miss, and possibly Arkansas and LSU. Giving up a lot of points could mean two to three losses. Mississippi State could also give them problems since mobile QBs improvisations screw up Saban’s computations.

Auburn/Texas A&M—Hell of an offense, and the defense looks just like what we saw last year. Too early to get a good feel for them, but Auburn continued its incredible lucky streak in close games. If I were Bill Snyder, I’d be really old. I’d also cut the kicker and cut off the access to the dance team for the kid who tipped the ball to Auburn in the end zone.

Ole Miss may be the most complete team in the conference, but it’s too hard to judge this after games with Boise State, LA-Lafayette and Vanderbilt. This week’s game with Memphis shouldn’t tell us much, but I’d consider this a trap game since they gave UCLA a whole lot more than they expected.

LSU/Arkansas—these two have looked really bad while losing and pretty good winning. Arkansas looks like they can run the ball against anyone, but they may not be able to throw it against anyone. LSU’s linemen on both sides of the ball are getting whipped. On offense, they had a starter injured, and without him, they’re just bad. Defensively, the exodus of young talent to the NFL may have caught up with them. They were getting beat by State’s and ULM’s offensive lines which may have had two guys between them that would start at LSU. Why, because these offensive lines have guys that are physically mature (not emotionally, right Dillon Day?) who have gelled as units over the past few seasons. It’s been several years since LSU has returned three starters on the D-line. Brandon Harris looks like the perfect combination of Herb Tyler’s foot speed and Rohan Davie’s arm strength, but I’m making this judgment after watching him play three series. Miles isn’t comfortable starting him yet, but I hope he finds his comfort level soon. Besides all of this, State was LSU’s buzzsaw.

Mississippi State—State is a hell of a lot better than I thought. This being said, I wouldn’t be shocked if they don’t win another SEC West game. They could also win them all. Why the variance? The rest of the conference took notice when they beat LSU, and they won’t be sneaking up on any other team again. If they can stop the run, they could beat Arkansas and slow down Ole Miss, Auburn and Alabama a little. If they can defend the pass, they may have a chance to beat A&M, Ole Miss, Auburn and Alabama. If they can do both, they could end up playing for it all.

Dillon Day is a son of a bitch who could have seriously injured those players he stomped while they were already on the ground. To you State fans who defended him, please stop reading now and never come back to my site. There’s a hell of a difference between stomping on a player and stepping on someone while engaged in blocking. His suspension against Auburn may be enough for State to lose, but he needs to be expelled from the team.

The SEC East—I was kind of, sort of pulling for Kurt Roper to correct Florida’s offense, but it still looks bad. Charlie Weiss bad. This doesn’t mean that Florida can’t win the East, but they’ll have to play great to do it, and I don’t think it will happen. I actually believed that Florida would have a Missouri-like bounce back, but it looks more likely that Muschamp and staff will be looking for new jobs.

With Missouri losing to Indiana, you better hope they don’t win the East, because the entire SEC will suffer for it. They’ll probably be the wildcard between Georgia and South Carolina for the East title.

Around the country—How bad is Ohio State? They may not be bad at all with VA TECH being their buzzsaw. But Tech losing their next two continues to hurt the big O. The only way Ohio State factors nationally this year is in recruiting battles.

Michigan State may still be pretty good, and no one will notice, especially if they lose another game. I guess they could be a factor at the end of the season if the Big 12 and the ACC champions have two losses.

Michigan looks like they’re firing Hoke.

Pay attention to Penn State and Nebraska in case either goes undefeated, though narrowly beating McNeese State isn’t helping Nebraska.

The only thing that has really changed between the Big 12, PAC 12 and the ACC is that West Virginia may have re-emerged and Charlie Strong has found a new method for extending his honeymoon by ejecting starters from the team. And Jameis.

Jameis—How is it that you’re described as being so smart while continuing to do so many things that are so stupid? I heard somebody say on the radio that Florida State now knows that they can beat good teams without you, but that’s not what I saw. I saw Clemson choke, and I don’t think Clemson is any better than an average team this year. They could end up being pretty bad. Grow up, or go pro. As talented as you are, I’m tired of you reminding us how Florida State historically treats its stars and how you are making a mockery of this game I love.

One more thing before moving on. Washington State could have and possibly should have beaten Oregon. I don’t know if this is because Oregon is coming back to the pack or whether Mike Leach is starting to put the pieces together. Maybe a combination of the two. Either way, keep an eye on both teams plus a few others out west. No team is winning ugly right now like UCLA.

The rankings—I don’t know if Michigan is any good this season, but Utah’s whipping them in the Big House looks really good right now. This, along with Mississippi State’s, may be the most impressive wins last weekend. Also, we should tip our hat to Louisiana Tech for their impressive win over Northwestern State—check that, NW State beat LA Tech. Never mind.

Here’s a few games you may want to pay attention to this weekend: Georgia and Tennessee, one of these teams may be for real. Arkansas and Texas A&M—diametrically opposed offensively while both seem opposed to playing defense. Could Illinois upset Nebraska? I doubt it, but, if so, Pellini may get his wish to get fired. If Florida State is still dealing with internal turmoil over Jameis, they could have their hands full with NC State. USC and Oregon State should be a dandy.

Here’s the top 20:

1 OKLAHOMA 152.1238 4 0 1
2 ALABAMA 138.0787 4 0 5
3 BYU 136.4924 4 0 18
4 SOUTH CAROLINA 128.2822 3 1 2
5 MISSISSIPPI ST 126.1461 4 0 28
6 NEBRASKA 121.2539 4 0 22
7 AUBURN 117.0741 3 0 25
8 ARIZONA 115.1735 4 0 10
9 TEXAS AM 114.0721 4 0 4
10 WEST VIRGINIA 108.5067 2 2 19
11 OREGON 106.4652 4 0 13
12 UCLA 105.8189 3 0 3
13 NC STATE 105.074 4 0 35
14 EAST CAROLINA 102.2955 3 1 14
15 ARKANSAS 97.3657 3 1 48
16 PENN ST 96.878 4 0 8
17 GA TECH 88.7624 4 0 44
18 LSU 88.1676 3 1 24
19 VIRGINIA 87.4572 2 2 7
20 WASHINGTON 87.4185 4 0 6


Teams are still bouncing around as they find their places in the rankings. For those asking, Florida State is 21st. For the full ranking, go to the current rankings page.

If the model’s predictions are correct for this week, my top 10 should look something like this. This is contingent upon NC State beating Florida State and Washington beating Stanford.


1 TEXAS AM 177.3223 5 0 9
2 SOUTH CAROLINA 173.6819 4 1 4
3 NEBRASKA 166.891 5 0 6
4 NC STATE 154.004 5 0 13
5 OKLAHOMA 149.7809 4 0 1
6 AUBURN 132.1808 4 0 7
7 WASHINGTON 128.0869 5 0 20
8 ALABAMA 126.8154 4 0 2
9 PENN ST 121.4239 5 0 16
10 UCLA 120.8762 4 0 12


Lastly, this model and site take up a tremendous amount of time, and I can’t keep giving this stuff away for much longer. Please go to my donate page and help a man out, so he can continue doing what he loves.I’m having problems formatting the page where I’d show how each team has gotten to its current ranking, but I’ll email the information for any specific team to you if you’d like. Just leave me a comment.

Peace out,


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