Cavalcade Of Whimsy: Return Of The Big Guys

Cavalcade Of Whimsy: Return Of The Big Guys. All of a sudden, three power programs are about to be a big deal again.

Cavalcade of Whimsy

Nov. 11

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- 2013 Cavalcades 
- Aug 26 Josh Shaw, playoff talk, and there's a new network?  
- Sept 2 College Football's big new problem  
- Sept 9 The impossible: defending the Big Ten 
- Sept. 16 More Big Ten issues, UCLA Jerry & More 
- Sept. 23 Read it right in the ...  
- Sept. 30 No, Florida State isn't No. 1 
- Oct. 7 Trevor, Katy & Ole Miss
- Oct. 14 Gurley, Jameis & Autographs 
- Oct. 21 The Play, and is Florida State that good?
- Oct. 28 What matters in the rankings
- Nov. 4 The Playoff Doomsday Scenario 

November 11th
- Part 2 The Ten Playoff Contenders 

Sorry if this column sucks, it’s not my fault … I threw for 446 yards and two touchdowns, but my second-leading receiver turned out to be Arizona State Sun Devils.

COW Life Lesson No. 329: Don’t try that hard … Let Virginia Tech and Oregon be a lesson to Ohio State and Michigan State, respectively, and all Power 5 teams outside of the Big 12 … DON’T … PLAY … A … TOUGH … NON-CONFERENCE GAME. Think about it. If Michigan State and Ohio State played SMU instead of their two nasty non-conference games, Ohio State would be unbeaten right now and No. 3 at worst in the rankings, while Michigan State would have one loss and would still be alive with a Buckeye collapse. If you’re a Power 5 team that plays a championship game – as in, not the Big 12 - go 12-1 and you’re probably in, go 13-0 and you’re a lock no matter what your non-conference slate was like.

The crazy part is that this doesn’t work the other way for Nebraska, who at 12-1 would have wins over Miami, Wisconsin, and Ohio State … Okay, Ohio State. Make your case.

No, Buckeye fans, I don’t want to hear anything about how the team improved. Your OSU team got to fatten up against a slew of bad Big Ten teams – THE BIG TEN LOST SEPTEMBER!, lowlighted by Ohio State’s loss to Virginia Tech – so this really is a case of looking good by hanging out with ugly people.

Come only armed with the facts, because that’s what the CFP committee will do.

Why should Ohio State be in the College Football Playoff if the other four Power 5 conferences have a one-loss or better champion?

You can’t put in Ohio State over a one-loss ACC champion. If Duke ends up shocking the world and pulling it off, it’ll have beaten Virginia Tech along the way, and if Florida State is 12-1 with an ACC title, whatever loss it’ll be against Miami, Boston College or Florida will be more acceptable than the Hokie blasting of the Buckeyes.

You can’t put in Ohio State over a one-loss SEC champ, or even a two-loss champion. Don’t even start. It demeans us both.

You can’t put in Ohio State over a one-loss Pac-12 champion. Oregon also has a win over Michigan State, and wins over UCLA on the road, Utah, and possibly Arizona State would be more impressive than anything the Buckeyes can claim. ASU, to do it, will have to beat Oregon, to go along with wins over USC, Arizona and Notre Dame.

You can’t put in Ohio State over a one-loss Big 12 champion … wait. As mediocre as OSU’s non-conference resume is, it’s far better than the Baylor disaster before the Big 12 slate. I’m all for putting in Ohio State over Baylor, but TCU? As crazy as it might sound, it depends on OSU’s game against Minnesota this weekend, because the committee will notice TCU’s 30-7 win over the Gophers to whatever Ohio State does. So go ahead, Urban. Pour it on, because this weekend, margin of victory really does matter.

Please keep your comments using words like monkeys and flying and butt to yourself … Last week I ranted about how and why the SEC ruled the world thanks to years and years and years and years of top-shelf recruiting. I also put Ohio State and Florida State in the mix as examples of programs that bring in elite of the elite talent on a regular basis, and, of course, it’s coming through with the Seminoles still unbeaten and the Buckeyes blowing up on Michigan State to take full control of the Big Ten championship chase.

Using Michigan, Texas and Florida as examples, I also threw out the idea that recruiting at a high level isn’t always an exact science, and on-field success isn’t always guaranteed just because you’re always ranked among the top 15 or so teams on various recruiting lists. However, I might take that back – at least partially – in terms of my big, giant, colossal call for the final month of the season.

Between Michigan, Texas and Florida, at least two of those three teams are going bust out everyone’s College Football Playoff bracket.

In a “weird things always sort of happen” sort of way in the rivalry, whether it was the 24-12 stunner in 1969 over a juggernaut, or Tim Biakabatuka in 1995, or the 13-9 slugfest in 1996, Chris Perry running wild in a 35-21 win in 2003, or even Devin Gardner’s performance in last year’s near miss, inferior Michigan teams have been able to find ways to rip Ohio State’s heart when no one expected it. This year’s Wolverine squad doesn’t have an offense, but it has a defense, and if it can do what Penn State was able to pull off, and if Gardner is half the player he was in last year’s shootout, there’s a chance. The Wolverines have won three of their last four games – they didn’t quit on the season, even when everyone else did.

Also not giving up, Florida is still deep in the heart of the SEC title chase, and if Missouri gacks, and Georgia loses to Auburn – both things extremely likely – a win over South Carolina gets Will Muschamp into the title game with a chance to wreck the SEC West champs’ CFP dream. However, if that doesn’t happen, if Florida plays like it did against Georgia, could it put a stop to Florida State’s playoff run? The yearly showdown is on the same day as Michigan-Ohio State, while two days earlier, Texas could throw the world a big curveball.

Winners of three their last four, the Longhorns stunned a strong West Virginia team to put bowl eligibility back on the table. If they beat Oklahoma State, they’ll get a 13th game, but even bigger will be the Thanksgiving night showdown with TCU. It’s a basic assumption at this point that the Horned Frogs are going 11-1, and while Kansas and Iowa State might be pushovers, could Texas really and truly kickstart the Charlie Strong era with a national landscape-changing home win?

The talent is there for the three struggling power programs. Now the big, big, big wins might finally follow.

”Oh I ain't saying you did or you didn't. All I'm saying is that you could have robbed banks, sold dope or stole your grandmother's pension checks and none of us would have minded. But shaving points off of a football game, man that's un-American.” … What else could Jameis Winston possibly be accused of? Sexual assault? Check. Taking money for signing autographs? Check. Stealing? Check. Point shaving? Check. Chopping heads off of journalists? Infecting the world with a pandemic disaster? Running the Democratic National Committee in the mid-term elections? Leaving the toilet seat up? Just wait, it’s all coming.

And out of all the allegations and all of the controversies, what is he actually nailed for in terms of time spent off the football field? Screaming something silly and obscene from the top of a table, and even then he was only given a full game suspension because he did it just as the NFL was melting down in a firestorm.

Now, very predictably, Winston’s lawyers would like to delay the student code of conduct hearing on the sexual assault allegations. Scheduled for November 17th, when should it be moved to? Hmmmmm, maybe January 13th?

Of course the sexual assault allegations are the most serious and important of the concerns, but in an apples and oranges sort of way, the point shaving issue – as murky as it all might be, even though TMZ has been stunningly reliable when it comes to scandals – hits to one of the biggest potential problems to college athletics as a whole.

I’m not saying Jameis did it, and I’m not saying it’s okay in any way for anyone who does, but when there’s a mix of young players who are put in positions of extreme influence and pressure, and they aren’t getting paid, and have no way of generating revenue for what they do, it’s easy to be concerned about scalping problems. There are always rumors and there’s always speculation, but it never goes beyond that unless someone royally screws up.

What’s the next big, giant problem for college football? While concussion protocol is front and center, just wait. Performance enhancing drugs and gambling on campus are the two lurking powder kegs that’ll eventually blow up.

”Oh! Oh, Cole! This is perplexing. What an intriguing offer you've made. Guys, what should I do? Should I take the car, or should I take Debbie? What a decision I have to make here.” … I honestly don’t know which lane to pick if TCU and Baylor end up 11-1. Really, TCU belongs in the playoff because it played Minnesota and Baylor played Buffalo? Yeah, maybe, but Baylor actually beat TCU and, along with the win over Oklahoma, has annihilated everyone but the Horned Frogs and West Virginia. Granted, TCU had one really, really bad quarter against the Bears, but it beat the West Virginia team that beat Baylor rather easily, but Baylor actually beat TCU. The Horned Frogs might destroy Kansas, Texas and Iowa State, and they really might be the Big 12’s best, but … Baylor actually beat TCU.

And next year, Duke has to beat Kentucky in an epic overtime game ending in a Hail Mary to earn a spot in the playoff … Totally realizing that 2014 Duke football doesn’t have any comparative Christian Laettner/Grant Hill/Bobby Hurley-like talents, if the Blue Devils get to the ACC championship at 11-1 against a 12-0 Florida State, I’ll go veer way off the road and say this might be just a wee bit like the Duke-UNLV Final Four matchup of 1991.

Realizing that a good portion of you reading this weren’t born yet and have no earthly clue what I’m talking about, and again, obviously there’s the big difference in relative talent – the 1991 Blue Devils were No. 2 in the nation – but Florida State is 1991 UNLV-like in terms of prototype talent and skill, and it’s also coming off a national championship season. Also like Duke-UNLV, it would be a rematch of a blowout, with the Runnin’ Rebels destroying the Blue Devils in the 1990 national championship, and FSU rocking and rolling in last year’s ACC championship game.

Or maybe I just want it to feel like that so I can be 21 again.

Okay, fine. If you couldn’t beat two ACC teams you don’t belong, but … … It’ll be fun to see what Marshall can do on a big stage in a giant bowl game if it goes 12-0, even if its best win of the year will be over Rice – assuming the Herd comes up with the win over the Owls this weekend. If Boise State loses and Colorado State ends up taking the Mountain West title going 12-1, it could be a fight to see which Group of 5 team gets in, but no matter who it is, it’ll likely make for an interesting storyline. However, I have a proposal that will solve several problems.

It always seems to work out, but with more bowl games and more slots than ever this year, and looking ahead at the remaining schedules, it’s going to take a few upsets and a few curveballs to have enough bowl eligible teams. But that’s a plus, because if there aren’t enough teams available, then Georgia Southern – the Sun Belt’s best team – might be able to get in on a petition. At the moment, GSU isn’t allowed to go bowling until 2015, since this is its first year in the FBS, so purely as a fan, I propose that it gets the automatic Group of 5 spot in one of the New Year’s Day bowls if it wins out.

The two losses came at NC State 24-23 and to a strong Georgia Tech team 42-38 – each loss better than any Marshall win this season. While rolling through the Sun Belt isn’t that big a deal, and Texas State’s D did a great job in a 28-25 loss last weekend, the Panthers are No. 1 in the nation in rushing by a huge margin, averaging 385 yards per game while No. 2 Navy averages 351 and No. 3 Georgia Tech averages 336.

Remember, this is the program that tore up Florida for 429 yards and four touchdowns in a shocking win last year. Whenever you’re looking up any recent historical info on Alabama’s great run defense, the 302 yards GSU came up with in the 2011 loss to the eventual national champ is the one massive anomaly – only two teams ran for more than 100 yards that year, with Penn State cranking out 107 and the epic LSU team coming up with 148.

I want to see one of the top ten big boys have to try dealing with the team with the running game no one wants to face. It might not be a Group of 5 win, but it would be a whole bunch of fun.

Because, by now, I haven’t received enough venom from Ohio State fans … No, Auburn didn’t get eliminated, and Georgia isn’t eliminated, either. I’ll 99.99% guarantee that a two-loss SEC champion would find its way into the College Football Playoff, so if the Bulldogs win out and get a little help from Missouri losses, it’s in. If Auburn wins out and, somehow, there’s a four-way tie between Ole Miss, Alabama, Mississippi State and Auburn, if it plays out with all ending up 10-2, the tie-breakers would come down to SEC East opponents. Ole Miss and Mississippi State played Vanderbilt – killer. It would then come down to Auburn vs. Alabama head-to-head.

”What is this Knute Rockne, pull yourself up by the bootstraps bull(bleep)? Back in prison, guy like you, place like that, you were ice cream for freaks. You were a (bleep) dumpling. Maurice and a dozen other guys coulda bled you till you had nothing. Till you were nothing. I saved your ass. So you'll pardon me if I don't wanna sit on a (bleep)ing stool all day saying "sign in here please" or ‘hey, pal, you can't park there.’ Okay, Dick? I can't do it.” … All snark aside, nice move, Steve Spurrier, offering Marcus Lattimore a job and a place at South Carolina. It’s not going to repay the $20 million he lost – along with his NFL dream - by unnecessarily playing more college football than he had to, but it’s still a nice move.

Part One would’ve been better … but I celebrated three yards short of finishing it, and Oregon returned it for a momentum-shifting touchdown.

- Part 2 The Ten Playoff Contenders 

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