Rivalry Week > NFL
I don’t think I even need to defend the title. It is pretty obvious which brand is better. The NFL still stands for the No Fun League and College Football has dominated the storylines all year. Before you argue, take a trip to a school with a pulse. I have been to an Oilers game, Texans game, and a Panthers game. Nothing has even come close to the atmosphere surrounding College Football.
I had a chance to attend the Tigers vs. Gamecocks in Columbia, South Carolina this past week. Even being a visiting fan, I enjoyed every minute of it. There is just nothing like tailgating in the midst of the enemy. You can’t get that in the NFL and if you do, it is so few and far between. The game started at 7:30PM and people started their tailgate parties before 8:00AM.
Then there was SEC Nation. While I am not a fan of the SEC and their “tradition and history”, I can tell you, they were ready for the game. I went to SEC Nation to Tim Tebow, while the crowd cheered the loudest for Laura Rutledge. There were cheerleaders and vendors. Everywhere you looked, there were clever signs and even a Washington State Cougars flag made an appearance. Apparently, the fans from Washington don’t enjoy their own brand of football. They do play in the Pac12, so that is understandable.
Cocky, the Gamecock’s mascot, was there for the entire show and showed me a lot of attention. I was indeed wearing my #10 Clemson jersey. The man behind the mascot decided that he would engulf my head in his beak. Little did he know, that was all the Tiger the chickens would be eating that day.
Most people say they have terrible experiences when visiting opponent stadiums. While this can be true for some, I absolutely enjoyed my time. I was in the midst of several Gamecock tailgates and was welcomed with food and drinks. It wasn’t all sunshine and roses, but it wasn’t nearly as bad as most had made it out to be.
During the game I realized something, if you have been there, you understand. Defeat brings on misery. Miserable people voice their displeasure. So, while it is all in fun, some people just get their feelings hurt too easy. As a Clemson fan, I can say this, “Talk little when you lose and even less when you win”. I’m not sure who said it first, but I heard it at the game and it resonated within.
Now, onto some football. I have a plethora of stats to throw at you. You’re welcome by the way!
The Why behind Auburn’s defeat of Alabama.
I have been telling you guys for weeks, Auburn is the best team in College Football right now. Yes, the Tigers from the Plains are better than my Tigers from the Hills. Auburn took the Crimson Tide to the woodshed Saturday. It wasn’t close, regardless of the score.
So, how did the Tigers dominate their second #1 opponent so easily? It is simple. I took all the FBS opponents for each Top25 squad, added their rankings (FPI and Composite) and divided it by the total number. I also averaged the two rankings to get a more accurate representation. The Tigers have played the fourth toughest schedule (42.2/47.5/44.8) of anyone in the Top25. They were prepared for a team like Alabama. They had already played teams like Georgia, LSU, Clemson and Mississippi State. While losing two of those games, the Tigers garnered an understanding for why they lost. Those two losses helped Auburn become the team everyone should fear.
Auburn hasn’t just played a tougher schedule than Alabama. They have been more balanced than the Crimson Tide since week 3. Auburn ranks 7th in Pass Efficiency Offense and 20th in Rushing Offense. When the Tigers have had to throw the ball, they have done so with success. Alabama is right there with them though. The Tide are currently 8th in Pass Efficiency Offense and 11th in Rushing Offense. The gap comes on Third Down Offense and Red Zone Offense. The Tigers are currently 14th and 23rd respectively, while the Tide are 54th and 39th.
In the Iron Bowl, Auburn converted 50% of its 3rd down opportunities (9-18) and the Crimson Tide finished with a conversion rate of 27%. The Tigers were also able to sustain drives, running up a time of possession difference of 12 minutes. Alabama is used to pushing people around, but Auburn wasn’t having it.
The Georgia Bulldogs should be very scared on Saturday. They were blown out three weeks ago and the opportunity to repeat that fate is drawing near. I will preview this game on Saturday morning.
Nobody likes burnt chicken
Except for Clemson fans. Just because the fans were fired up for this game, doesn’t mean the Gamecocks were. Clemson dominated both lines of scrimmage from the opening snap. Kirk Herbstreit said, “To their credit, if they kept their foot on the accelerator, it would have been fifty-something to nothing.”
How was this game so vastly different than most people predicted? What happened to the Gamecocks Defense? Is Clemson really that good, or is South Carolina really that bad.
Like most, I expected this game to be rather close. Standing in line for concessions (best stadium dog I have ever eaten), I met a student from USC. Him and I were talking about the keys to the game and I left him with this, “If USC can force Kelly Bryant to beat him with his arm, you have a shot. If Clemson does the same thing and forces Bentley to beat them through the air, it will be a long night.” But to answer the first question, the ACC is that much better than the SEC from top to bottom right now.
Clemson has played the second toughest schedule behind only Notre Dame. The Tigers schedule (37.5/40.4/38.9) is by far the toughest of the Top10. Clemson has been tested on numerous occasions, both at home and on the road. Clemson beat NCST, Louisville and Virginia Tech away from Death Valley. They were prepared for the atmosphere, the noise and the ridicule.
South Carolina had done well (8-4) against the SEC teams they faced, apart from two games. Against Texas A&M and Kentucky, the Gamecocks converted on only 5 of 25 third down opportunities. Clemson ranks 6th in Third Down Defense while South Carolina ranks just 66th in Third Down Offense. The Gamecocks faired slightly better against Clemson on third down (6-16) but managed just one third down conversion after Clemson went up 14-0.
Where South Carolina should have had the edge against Clemson, the Gamecocks couldn’t seem to find the ball. Several punts bounced inside the 5 yard-line, but the gunners couldn’t locate the ball to pin the Tigers deep. Facing an offense that ranks 24th on First Down and 10th on Third Down, the special teams didn’t do USC any favors.
I don’t think the Gamecocks are terrible. USC just ran into a program that is more developed and better coached. They have a decent future ahead of them but 8-4 or 9-3 may end up as their best record for the next 5 years. When healthy, the Tigers are that good and just a tick behind Auburn.
Ohio State, you are the weakest link!
In a rivalry game, you expect to be tested. Even if your opponent is having a down year, you will get their best shot. For Ohio State though, it shouldn’t have been in doubt. Michigan is a far cry from the team they were a year ago. Wolverine fans, take a hint. Your coach doesn’t know how to recruit or even coach. You are seeing it now and you will see it as long as he is there.
The final score of the game in Ann Arbor, was less about what the Buckeyes did to win the game, than it was about what Michigan did to lose. The Wolverines came out and punched the Buckeyes in the mouth. They were playing dominant defense and controlled the game when they were on offense. Then “Harbaugh Football” took over. When something is working, change it completely and do everything you can to impede your team’s progress.
Ohio State ranks right up there with Alabama when it comes to “Brand” recognition. While that isn’t a terrible thing, these schools are given too much credit for being slightly better than good. While I believe the Tide are leaps and bounds ahead of Ohio State, they both feel entitled to a playoff spot. But why? Nick Saban said, “I think this team deserves the opportunity to get in the playoff by what they’ve been able to accomplish and what they’ve been able to do,”.
While Urban Meyer has been a bit more quiet this year about the playoffs, you have got to believe he will start petitioning the Committee if the Buckeyes defeat Wisconsin on Saturday. Again, do you remember the whipping you received last season?
The Buckeyes do own the 11th toughest schedule in the Top25 (46/55.2/50.6) but that’s a far cry from Clemson, Auburn, and Miami (40.5/47.8/44.2). Of the teams that Ohio State has beaten this season, only Penn State and Michigan State are in the Top25. Couple that with mind-blowing beatdown they suffered at the hands of the Iowa Hawkeyes and the double-digit loss to Oklahoma at home and you are left scratching your head. The Buckeyes are the only team other than Notre Dame in the Top15 with two double digit losses this season. Sorry Mr. Meyer but you don’t get a playoff spot this year (unless all hell breaks loose on Saturday).
What is the CFP Committee thinking right now?
Earlier this season, the Committee stated that head-head matchups were important. They also cited common opponents as a figure for getting into the playoffs. Since Clemson beat Auburn, the SEC can’t be in the #1 spot. Oklahoma has wins over TCU and Oklahoma State but their loss to an unranked Iowa State team might find them at the number 3 spot. Then there’s Wisconsin. They are the only Power 5 team still unbeaten. Unfortunately for them, their best win so far is against Northwestern at #22. The Badgers will be in the Top4 but just barely ahead of Alabama.
#7. Ohio State
#9. Penn State
Guide Through The Chaos (College Football)
Latest posts by Stephen R (see all)
- Your Guide Through The Chaos – Lose and Chaos Ensues - December 1, 2017
- Your Guide Through The Chaos – Rivalry Week Better Than NFL - November 28, 2017
- Your Guide Through The Chaos – FBS Playoff Projections - November 17, 2017