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» Seventh Day Adventure: Week 13

The biggest game this week is the Iron Bowl, where the playoff hopes of Alabama, Auburn, and Georgia hang in the balance.

17 Nov 2014

OFI: Only One Remains

by Chad Peltier

You know it is a weird week in college football when the top-ranked team in the country loses and it isn't considered an upset (Alabama was favored in the F/+ projections by nine points). But this weekend also saw Notre Dame lose to 4-6 Northwestern after coach Brian Kelly inexplicably went for two when up by 11 points; yet another Florida State second-half comeback win; Melvin Gordon break the single-game rushing record; Gus Malzhan's offense held to less than ten points for the first time in his head coaching career; Bret Bielema finally notch his first SEC win at Arkansas over the LSU Tigers; and the supposedly inferior SEC East steal two wins from the SEC West.

Nevertheless, the Playoff picture isn't any clearer, as the top five teams likely just reshuffled but the group overall will remain unchanged. Instead, the pool of first-out teams contracted with Arizona State's surprising loss to Oregon State, leaving Baylor, Ohio State, and potentially Georgia still in line for a Playoff spot if any of the top four slip up. Assuming Alabama enters the top four for the Selection Committee this week, you have to think TCU is the most vulnerable to be the first out. However, while the debate rages on between pundits and fans over who is more deserving between Ohio State, TCU, and Baylor (and/or Ole Miss or Georgia), the F/+ rankings are fairly clear in favoring the Buckeyes, putting Ohio State third (followed by TCU at six and Baylor at nine).

TOEDRAGS

  • The Georgia Bulldogs have won this season based on a combination of an elite rushing offense, few turnovers, winning the field position and special teams battles, and a defense that can turn in randomly stellar performances. So how did we not predict defensive coordinator Jeremey Pruitt's defensive masterpiece against the Auburn Tigers? In a weird game that saw Todd Gurley's first touch go for a 105-yard kickoff return touchdown only to get called back, Georgia's early bad luck wore off as the defense became the epitome of bend-but-don't-break. The Tigers offense scored easily on their first possession and fans braced for the expected shootout, but it never came thanks to a drive chart that looked like this: touchdown, punt, punt, punt, end of half, punt, downs, interception, fumble. The Georgia defense allowed just 4.6 yards per play, but an even better 0.78 points per possession as the Tigers either turned the ball over or just stalled out after a single first down. The Dawgs held Auburn to just 49 percent efficiency running the ball and limited Nick Marshall to a 48 percent completion rate on just 4.9 yards per attempt. The Bulldogs' game plan was masterfully executed, as offensive coordinator Mike Bobo listened to fan calls to "Run the damn ball, Bobo!" and the offense controlled the clock and limited Auburn's total number of possessions. Bobo also betted on his offensive line being able to open holes in an Auburn defense that was ranked tenth in Rushing S&P+. This kind of game makes the Florida and South Carolina losses even more inexplicable -- especially the Florida loss, where the Dawgs had no answer for the Florida run game.
  • Florida State's history of second half comebacks this season is insane. The Seminoles have been down by at least 15 points already twice this year, but neither the offense nor the defense ever looks phased by a deficit. The story has been about how Jameis Winston is the best second-half or comeback quarterback in college football, but at least against Miami, the defense -- and Miami's offense -- deserves even more credit. The Noles began the game with three three-and-outs, but caught on in the early second quarter for consecutive scores. But the big difference was in the way the defense played after allowing three first-half touchdowns and a field goal. From the beginning of the third quarter, Miami's drive summary was: punt, fumble, fumble, field goal, punt, interception. The Hurricanes averaged only 26 yards per possession and 4.3 yards per play in the second half after averaging 53 yards per possession and 7.9 yards per play in the first.
  • Melvin Gordon obviously had a heck of a game, and his highlight yards are the bulk of his 408 rushing yards on Saturday, but you've got to hand it to the Wisconsin offensive line. The line had an Opportunity Rate of 64 percent against the 48th-best Rushing S&P+ defense.
  • Texas gained bowl eligibility and continued its strong three-game streak with a win over mediocre Oklahoma State on Saturday. Charlie Strong knew he would have a tough year ahead of him, but it looks like the Longhorns are rounding into form with a lot of momentum to end the season. Next week's opponent -- TCU -- should be on the lookout. Tyrone Swoopes has matured and passed for an efficient 24-of-33 at 9.2 yards per attempt. However, the offensive line issues continued, with running back Malcom Brown averaging just 2.1 yards per carry. If the Longhorns could improve their standard down efficiency -- they averaged 7.7 yards to go on third down -- then the offense would be in good shape.

TOP 25

1. Alabama
2. Florida State
3. Oregon
4. Mississippi State
5. TCU
6. Ohio State
7. Baylor
8. Georgia
9. Ole Miss
10. Michigan State
11. Auburn
12. Arizona State
13. Kansas State
14. UCLA
15. Marshall
16. Georgia Tech
17. Utah
18. Wisconsin
19. Arizona
20. LSU
21. Oklahoma
22. Clemson
23. Miami
24. USC
25. Nebraska

Whoever I put in the top spot is destined to lose. First it was Auburn falling to Texas A&M, then it was Mississippi State coming up short against the Crimson Tide. Alabama is likely safe next week against Western Carolina, but if they're still No. 1 against Auburn, then I'd watch out. The Tide and Seminoles get a jump over the Ducks this week because of wins against quality opponents, not because I am penalizing the Ducks in their off week. TCU and Ohio State are still knocking on the door for playoff consideration right now, and Georgia and Baylor also have shots.

HONOR ROLL

  • Melvin Gordon, RB, Wisconsin. If everyone else in the Honor Roll gets a helmet sticker, then Gordon gets a Fathead this week. Gordon broke LaDainian Tomlinson's single-game rushing record with 408 yards (and 64 percent efficiency) against the Nebraska defense. That defense ranked 48th in Defensive Rushing S&P+ before the game, but they just had no answer for Gordon's speed and the Badgers' offensive linemen.
  • Tevin Coleman, RB, Indiana. It's not often that someone's 307-yard rushing performance is overshadowed by another running back, let alone a running back in the same conference. Coleman ran 32 times with 59 percent efficiency in the Hoosiers' loss to Rutgers. Unfortunately for Coleman and Indiana, the loss took them out of bowl game eligibility.
  • J.T. Barrett, QB, Ohio State. Yet another running performance in the Big Ten, this time from a quarterback. Barrett had 189 rushing yards in addition to his 200 passing yards and three passing touchdowns. Barrett broke the Ohio State single season touchdown record with his total of 38 on the year.
  • Nick Chubb, RB, Georgia. Nick Chubb stepped up for Georgia in Todd Gurley's absence, and then led the team again even when he returned. Chubb rushed for 144 yards and caught two passes for 48 yards and will be forced to carry the load now that Gurley's career at Georgia is done.

DEMERITS

  • Injuries to star players. This week featured triumphant returns for Deshaun Watson and Todd Gurley, but neither one made it through the entire game. Both Watson and Gurley suffered non-contact knee injuries, but Gurley's came out as an ACL tear, almost surely ending his career with the red and black. Watson's status was much better, as the quarterback was diagnosed with a sprained LCL and bone bruise and he could return against South Carolina.
  • Going for two, up 11. Notre Dame's Brian Kelly decided to go for two after a touchdown putting the Irish ahead 40-29 with 10:34 left to go. The attempt failed and Northwestern was later able to tie the game with 19 seconds left (ultimately sending the game into overtime, where the Wildcats upset the spiraling Irish). After the game, Kelly sheepishly acknowledged that there wasn't any good reason for the two-point attempt -- the Wildcats would have to get two scores regardless.

LOWSMAN WATCH

  • Henry Anderson, DL, Stanford. The redshirt senior saved his best game for his final career home game: a three-sack, 5.5-tackle for loss performance against the Utes. If only Anderson could have played offense, then maybe the Cardinal would have pulled out the double-overtime win.
  • Nate Orchard, DL, Utah. Orchard, who is now tied for the national lead in sacks this season and fourth in tackles for loss, was a big reason why the Cardinal struggled as much as they did on offense. Anderson and Orchard got into a defensive linemen showdown for most impressive stat line, as the senior added ten tackles and 3.5 sacks.
  • Jalen Ramsey, DB, Florida State. Ramsey did it all for the Seminoles in their comeback win (what game isn't a comeback win for the Noles?) over Miami, totaling a forced fumble, four pass break-ups, a quarterback hurry, a blocked kick, and a late interception. That's just about everything you could hope to do in a single game as a defensive back.

Posted by: Chad Peltier on 17 Nov 2014

5 comments, Last at 18 Nov 2014, 10:10am by Tomlin_Is_Infallible

Comments

1
by big10freak :: Mon, 11/17/2014 - 2:45pm

How Gordon kept getting the corner on the same play is just baffling?

I can only guess it's a combination of fantastic execution and Gordon's abilities. But really, the same play goes for what seemed 300ish of the yards?

2
by Tomlin_Is_Infallible :: Mon, 11/17/2014 - 3:37pm

"Nevertheless, the Playoff picture isn't any clearer, as the top four teams likely just reshuffled but the group overall will remain unchanged. Instead, the pool of first-out teams contracted with Arizona State's surprising loss to Oregon State, leaving TCU, Baylor, Ohio State, and potentially Georgia still in line for a Playoff spot if any of the top four slip up."

Wasn't TCU *in* the top 4 going into the weekend?

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The standard is the standard!

3
by RickD :: Mon, 11/17/2014 - 4:23pm

Yes, last week Alabama was on the outside looking in.

5
by Tomlin_Is_Infallible :: Tue, 11/18/2014 - 10:10am

ahhh yes,

and i see now it was edited without comment or notation

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The standard is the standard!

4
by gmoney_714 :: Mon, 11/17/2014 - 4:28pm

FSU started a Freshman at LT, and moved the LT to Center. This substantially improved pass protection for Winston and will be the difference in the CFBP.