5 Things I Think
1. Hard to focus on football today, especially with the Rangers 1-game elimination tour continuing. They had to win all 7 games of their final homestand just to get to the 1-game playoff to try and advance to the 1-game wild-card. That is pretty much 9 win or go home games for the Rangers in a row just to advance to the actual real playoffs ( I do not count the wild-card play-in game as the real playoffs). With the Tampa Bay Rays coming into town now, the Rangers have just 2 more wins to go until they reach what they should have gotten to the past two seasons, if not for the surging A's in 2012 and a huge collapse in early September 2013. I think the Rangers get this one, mainly due to their utter dominance of the Rays over the past few years in the playoffs.
2. But it is still football season and that is what dominated by television this weekend. The big game for the Big 12 was the Oklahoma / Notre Dame. Honestly, I was finishing up some other stuff before I had a chance to flip over and by the time that happened, it was already 14-0 Sooners. Two big-time interceptions early doomed Notre Dame. That OU defense is looking much better this year.
3. I think that it is awesome that Sagarin has the Baylor Bears ranked third overall right behind Alabama and Oregon. But man, that feels high to me. You have to keep in mind that with the small sample size, weird things can happen in these analytical methods. The more data that anyone has, the better predictor they will come up with. Honestly, even if the Bears go 7-0, they probably won't be #3 in any voting poll, and I can't really complain too much. Even Sagarin's predictor says we will finish 16th, which might be as low as 3rd it too high.
4. What Peyton Manning is doing as a 37 year old is amazing. He is 2 years older than Terry Bradshaw is when he retired. And yet, Manning might be playing the best football of his life. Another 4 touchdown performance against Philadelphia and another dominating win for the Broncos. They were a terrible play by a safety away from beating the Super Bowl champion Ravens in the playoff last year. Who knows what happens if they don't lose that game and advance. Right now, they are the best team in the NFL by far.
5. As easy as it is to pick the best team, it is probably easier to pick the worst team in the NFL. It is the Jaguars, and it isn't even close. They are just dreadful. The Blaine Gabbert era has been a colossal failure. His QBR rating was 1.7. That is just atrocious. They will get the first pick in the draft, especially with the other worst team contender, Cleveland, winning its last two games after getting rid of their star running back in Trent Richardson. The Jaguars need everything, from a new quarterback, help along the lines, to a new stadium and probably even a new city to play in. That is just one big mess there.
5 Things I Want
1. I still have no idea what TCU is. They looked absolutely atrocious against SMU in the first half, trailing 10-7 at halftime at home. But then the fourth quarter started, and the Frogs ran away with it. They scored 31 points in that final stanza en route to a 48-17 win. They got a kickoff return from Ladarius Brown and an interception return from Sam Carter for their last two touchdowns. This is still a team that is dangerous, but they have to find some semblance of a consistent rushing attack. They averaged just 3 yards per carry against the Mustangs.
2. With the news of Lane Kiffin being fired, the coaching carousel will be in full spin a little earlier this year. That is a marquee program, but is it a great job? Kiffin has not done well developing offensive talent since he arrived in LA, but you have to think with all of their 4 and 5-star players that there is some talent there. Look for a bunch of names to be lobbed back and forth for this one, though I doubt Art Briles will be a candidate for that. Keep an eye on Jack Del Rio (Former NFL coach) and James Franklin of Vanderbilt. Del Rio is obviously a hope that another retread failed NFL head coach can save a football program in Los Angeles (See Pete Carroll at USC and currently Jim Mora at UCLA). He is who I would pick, but Franklin is a fine coach, and it would be interesting to see how an African-American coach would do in Los Angeles.
3. Finally, more and more people are starting to notice that the SEC "defense" is not really that great anymore. Look at the LSU/Georgia game. 85 points between the two teams. You want to know what that score looks like? A Big-12 game. Yet, some people are going to say that the SEC is EVEN BETTER because they have found offense to go along with their premier defense. No, they just got some good quarterbacks and most of the defenses took a big step back due to graduation and losses to the NFL.
4. All of that being said, I still think the two best teams are Alabama and Oregon. The Tide defense is not nearly what it was the past few years, but it is still pretty good. That is the matchup I want to see, with a great offense going against a good defense. I do believe that the Alabama offense is as good as it has been over the past 3 season, mainly due to the development of A.J. McCarron. It all comes back to the quarterback.
5. When will Ohio State be recognized as not nearly as good as we thought? They beat Wisconsin 31-24, but it was an ugly win. Yes, Braxton Miller is still recovering from injury, but he just doesn't seem as explosive this year as he did last year. But who should pass them in the rankings? Stanford looked pretty average against Army and San Jose State earlier in the year but are coming off of two real good performances against Arizona State and Washington State. Georgia might be a better team, but their loss to Clemson to open the year pushes them down. Louisville has looked incredible, but they face the same ranking restrictions that is hurting the Bears…they haven't played tough enough opposition. I would probably choose Stanford over Ohio State, but it isn't as easy as I thought.
5 Things I Know
1. I know that Oklahoma State will be kicking itself for pretty much losing serve on a Big 12 title. Everything broke perfectly in terms of schedule, with Baylor and OU coming to Stillwater. But having the first bad loss of the top teams put them behind the 8-ball. However, if they take care of business and win out, including beating the Bears and Sooners at home, they will still be in position to win the Big 12. Don't forget about the Cowboys just because they lost a game in late September.
2. The Sooner victory over Notre Dame in such a convincing fashion is by far the best win out of conference for the Big 12, and it isn't even close. This is a really good thing for the conference. If the Sooners lost to Notre Dame and then swept the table in the Big 12, they probably would not have gone to the BCS championship game. The Big 12 has to be perfect this year to try and end the SEC's dominance, and the OU win kept one big piece on the table for the Big 12. Plus, that makes the Sooners a higher profile opponent as well if someone were to beat them.
3. During the TCU/SMU game, the broadcaster said that "Garrett Gilbert was really struggling with his decisions in the pocket today." I found that hilarious, simply because of the last word. Isn't that all of the time for one of the best quarterbacks in Texas High School history. Gilbert is a walking billboard for the coach/scheme having to fit a quarterback to bring out his best.
4. With the Cowboys losing on the road, they are no longer in the driver seat of the Big 12 championship race. Yes, as mentioned above, they have the two home game against Baylor and OU. They might not be in the driver seat, but they are still in the car. That being said, I think Oklahoma might be a better team than the Bears, but with the Sooners having to travel to Waco for their matchup with the Bears, I have to give the edge to Baylor (just like Oklahoma State in previous weeks). After that, it really is just a 3 or 4 horse race, depending on how legitimate you think Texas Tech is. West Virginia, Texas, TCU and Kansas State are pretty much spoilers at this point, with Iowa State and Kansas just hoping to get through the season.
5. Big 12 rankings post Week 5
1. Baylor (3-0)
2. Oklahoma (4-0, 1-0)
3. Oklahoma State (3-1, 0-1)
4. Texas Tech (4-0, 1-0)
5. TCU (2-2, 0-1)
6. West Virginia (3-2, 1-1)
7. Texas (2-2, 1-0)
8. Kansas State (2-2, 0-1)
9. Iowa State (1-2)
10. Kansas (2-1)