Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Undefeated After Week 12 and a Bucket To Boot

I once again find myself in a position of having to apologize for not posting a Tuesday Top Ten.  Between celebrating the Hoosiers' come-from-behind victory over Maryland on Saturday, work, terrifying my kids with stories about Krampus, and pretending to do like a thousand pushups -- which I do every Tuesday night each November –- I just didn't have enough time.

Now about those Hoosiers.  What a win.  After finding themselves in a 21-3 hole in the first quarter to a horrible Maryland team, the Hoosiers flipped a switch, outscoring the Terps 44-7 the rest of the game, for a 47-28 win.  This brings IU's record to 5-6.  With another win, the Hoosiers will be bowl-eligible for the first time since the 2007 season.  The only thing standing in their way is that glorified two-year technical college in West Lafayette, Indiana. 

A win would mean IU would keep the Old Oaken Bucket –- which I believe is physically the oldest trophy in major college football, as the bucket itself dates back to the 1840s –- for a third year in a row for the first time since the 1940s.  Yes, that's how bad IU football has been over the past seven decades.

Given what's on the line, I am likely going to be heading down to that chum bucket called Ross-Aide Stadium for the first time since IU beat Purdue 33-14 in 1996 in Bill Mallory's last game as IU's head coach.  A small contingent of IU fans, including me, rushed the field after the game, in order to celebrate with the team.  I was knocked to the ground by a Purdue linebacker.  "Calm down, I'm not trying to steal your cowpie collection, you fucking ingrate" is what I would have said if he wasn't six inches taller and fifty pounds heavier than me and wasn't wearing football pads and a helmet. 

Sure, the stench on Saturday will be nearly unbearable, but plugging my nose and having to spend three and a half hours among overfed, mouth-breathing humanoids who haven't mastered toilet paper will be worth it if I can see the Hoosiers hoist that Bucket when the clock hits zero.

There were also football contests between other NCAA teams this past weekend.  In fact, three of the five remaining unbeaten teams suffered their first losses of the season.  The Big Ten's wicked witch, #3 Ohio State, ended its 23-game winning streak with a 17-14 loss to #9 Michigan State at the Horseshoe.  Everyone outside the State of Ohio rejoiced.  #6 Oklahoma State lost at home to #10 Baylor.  The underdogs' only hope, #19 Houston shit the bed on the road at UConn.  That leaves only Clemson and Iowa as the remaining two unbeatens in the FBS.

The following teams are the top four in this week's College Football Playoff rankings (along with each team's best win and worst loss, where applicable):
1.  Clemson (9-0)
Best win:  #6 Notre Dame (10/3; 24-22)
Worst loss:  N/A
2.  Alabama (8-1)
Best win:  #21 Mississippi State (11/14; 31-6)
Worst loss:  Ole Miss (9/19; 43-37)
3.  Oklahoma (10-1)
Best win:  at #7 Baylor (11/14; 44-34)
Worst loss: at Texas (10/17; 24-17)
4.  Iowa (11-0)
Best win:  at #16 Northwestern (10/17; 40-10)
Worst loss:  N/A

Needless to say, I was overjoyed to see Ohio State and Notre Dame drop out of the top four.  Oklahoma's rise to the top four is not too surprising, as they have been playing great lately, winning at Baylor and beating TCU at home the past two weeks.  This weekend's game against #11 Oklahoma State in Stillwater will be one of the biggest Bedlam games in recent memory, with the winner having a pretty good shot at getting into the playoff, although the Cowboys may get edged out of the playoff even if they win, depending on whether Baylor wins out, since Baylor beat Oklahoma State. 

Meanwhile, Iowa has kept on winning to run their record to 11-0.  Unless and until they lose, the Hawkeyes are in the playoff. This weekend, they play an up-and-down 5-6 Nebraska team, who needs a win to be bowl-eligible.  The Hawkeyes are only one-point favorites in Lincoln, which should make some betting types salivate.  The question looming large is whether the Nebraska team that shows up is the one who lost to Purdue (giving the Boilers their only Big Ten win) or the one who handed Michigan State is only loss of the season (albeit controversially).

Iowa's opponent in the Big Ten title game is still up in the air, as the Big Ten East has not crowned a champion.  If Michigan State beats Penn State this weekend, the Spartans will go to the Big Ten title game.  If Michigan State loses, and Ohio State beats Michigan, then Ohio State would go to the title game.  If Michigan State loses, and Michigan beats Ohio State, then Michigan would go to the title game.

Here is a breakdown of the undefeated teams and each team's remaining games and best win (rankings are CFB Playoff Committee rankings):

#1 Clemson 11-0
11/28 – at South Carolina (3-8)
12/5 – #14 North Carolina (10-1) (ACC championship game in Charlotte)

Remaining opponents' combined record:  13-9 (.591)
Best win:  #6 Notre Dame (10/3; 24-22)

#5 Iowa 11-0
11/27 – at Nebraska (5-6)
12/5 – Big Ten championship game (Indianapolis) - TBD

Remaining opponents' combined record:  5-6 (.455)

Best win:  at #16 Northwestern (10/17; 40-10)

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