For All the Marbles. Last weekend wasn’t as dramatic as I had hoped. A couple of nice upsets by Florida State and Oklahoma State, which kept me from having a disastrous set of picks. Otherwise, it was another day of chalk. Hopefully we’ll have a little more drama this weekend. And, I’m not referring to that jackwagon brother-in-law, who can’t help himself but to take the last piece of pumpkin pie as he spews forth some political diatribe at the table. I’m hoping for some all out chaos in college football.
In 2017, the Week 12 rankings had ‘Bama #1, Miami #2, Clemson #3, Oklahoma #4, Wisconsin #5 and 2-loss Auburn #6. Ohio State was #9. ‘Bama, Miami and Wisconsin were all undefeated; they would all finish the regular season with one loss. The next Saturday, Bama and Miami lost and fell out of the top four; Clemson, Auburn OU and Wisconsin moved into the Top 4. OSU beat the Rival and moved up to #8. Then Championship Weekend rolled around. Auburn and Wisconsin lost and dropped out of the Top 4. The Buckeyes only made it back to #5.
Sitting at #10 this season, the Buckeyes have farther to go than in 2017 to make the playoffs. They’re going to need some help, but if they can beat That Team Up North this Saturday, they should be able to make a big jump toward the College Football Playoff. Bring on chaos.
Week 12 F/+ Top 40
Week 12 Observations
F/+ Top 10: The Top 10 has been remarkably stable this season. No changes this week in 1-9. LSU jumped back in at #10 pushing Fresno State out. What’s more interesting is how close these teams are in the F/+ percentage. In season’s past, the top two or three teams have clearly separated themselves from the rest in their actual raw percentage. This year we have seven teams densely packed between a high of 53% (‘Bama) and a low of 48.1% (UCF). That’s an indication of parity at the top, which could mean a higher likelihood of some of those teams falling in the next two weeks.
Overrated: The song remains the same. The ACC is a hot mess, and the Big 12 isn’t far behind.
Syracuse (CFP #20) got thumped by ND and dropped an equal number of spots in the CFP and F/+. The Orange are still 29 places too high in the rankings with an F/+ at #49. And they’re heading to BC this weekend.
Northwestern (CFP #19) moved up slightly in F/+ with their win at Minnesota, but still sit 26 spots lower at #46.
Pitt (CFP #24) snuck into the CFP rankings because they’ve won the ACC Coastal. Their F/+ rating has them 21 spots lower at #45, and the Panthers underdogs this week to Miami (6-5). That’s how bad that division is.
Kentucky (CFP #15) climbed slightly in F/+ this week to #33, which is still 18 places below their CFP ranking at #15.
Texas (CFP #14) now has two wins over teams above .500: OU (CFP #6) and ISU (CFP #25). The Longhorns are dead last in the top 25 of F/+ (behind Boise State and Utah State), sitting 11 spots lower than their CFP ranking.
Iowa State (CFP #25) has a nice win over WVU (overrated), but Iowa held them to three points and they lost to TCU. They’re F/+ has the Cyclones at #34, nine places lower than the committee and 14 places below unranked Iowa.
Underrated: The #16 ranked Washington Huskies have been on this list for awhile, and this week they jump back into the national conversation with a much anticipated trip to Pullman to face #7 Washington State. With an F/+ rating that ranks them #9, the Huskies are poised to bring some chaos to the CFP race.
The rest of this group is made up of unranked teams. Fresno State, a 2-loss Mountain West team, will win their division and play the winner of Boise State-Utah State for the conference championship. Their F/+ has them at #11, so I predict them moving back into the Top 25 after Championship Weekend. Missouri, Auburn and Iowa are all four-loss teams that show up in the F/+ Top 20. Theoretically, that puts them above Texas, Kentucky, Iowa State, Pitt, Northwestern, and Syracuse.
Lastly, and this surprised me, who is the highest-rated 5-loss team in America? The mighty Spartans of Michigan State. This spot is usually reserved for an SEC West team. But Sparty checks in to the F/+ ratings at #22.
Group of Five Watch: UCF appears to have a firm hold on at least a NY6 bowl game among the Group of Five. At 10-0, the Knights sit at #7 in F/+, but they don’t have any remaining opportunities to strengthen their record with USF (F/+ #74) and Houston (F/+ #44) on the horizon. All they can do is lose and screw themselves.
The game of the week will be Utah State at Boise State. Both are ranked in the CFP Top 25 very closely to their F/+ ratings. This will decide who faces Fresno State next weekend. The game is at 10:15 pm, so many won’t see it, but it should be a fun one with a 2.5-point spread.
In order: ‘Bama, Clemson, Notre Dame and OSU. This is the first week I’ve changed my prediction. Barring some unforeseen miracle, Notre Dame is a lock to get in at 12-0. Go Trojans! (I just threw up in my mouth.)
Week 13 CFP “Top 25” Match-ups
Picking six underdogs is not recommended. I suffered my first losing weekend this season, but thanks to Florida State and Oklahoma State, two of my dogs came through to keep it from being a complete disaster. I went 3-4, bringing my season total to 40-18.
This should be another good weekend of football, with playoff implications in the B1G, Big XII and the PAC 12.
#6 Oklahoma @ #13 West Virginia (Fri, 8 pm) – The over/under for this basketball game is 84.5. Based on their defenses, I’m inclined to take the over. OU is a 3-point favorite in Morgantown. S&P+ has it at 10 points, but Morgantown has a strange effect on teams. I still like the Sooners to win by a FG.
#16 Washington @ #8 Washington State – The Apple Cup should be fun one. WSU is a 2.5-point favorite at home. And why not? UW is a 2-point favorite in S&P+ and the game is in Pullman. I actually believe the Huskies match up better than anyone else in the PAC 12 against WSU. Huskies win this with defense.
#4 TTUN @ #10 Ohio State – The Rival is favored in Vegas by 4.5 points. S&P+ has the Wolverines by a TD on a neutral field. But TTUN hasn’t played well on the road, losing to ND and coming within a FG of losing to Northwestern. Against three road opponents not named Rutgers, TTUN scored 17, 17 and 21 points. OSU just needs to hold them to less than 30. Buckeyes win straight up.
#20 Syracuse @ Boston College – (See also Overrated) BC is 6.5-point favorite at home. A loss should knock Syracuse out of the Top 25; the Orange would have a single win over a Power Five team with a winning record. I think Steve Adazio and company get it done. BC wins straight up.
#24 Pittsburgh @ Miami –The Panthers are going to the CCG regardless of this game’s outcome. But a win keeps Miami above .500. Turns out the ‘Canes are favored by five points in Vegas. S&P+ has this spread closer to eight, and the game is in Miami. I like the ‘Canes to win by a TD. Suck it, Mark May.
#7 LSU @ #22 Texas A&M – The Aggies are tough at home, just ask Clemson. Texas A&M is a 3-point favorite according to Vegas, which isn’t all that surprising. S&P+ has the difference as less than one point on a neutral field. The Twelfth Man makes the difference, and the Aggies “upset” the higher ranked Tigers. Good news, OSU can finally move above LSU. Bad news, A&M gets a "Top 25 win" and moves into the Top 20.
#21 Utah State @ #23 Boise State – I mentioned this game in the Group of Five watch. The winner gets to face a very good Fresno State team in the Mountain West championship game. Utah State is scoring points by the dozens, hanging half a hundred on just about every opponent. Boise is a 2.5-point favorite according to the bookies. S&P+ has USU favored, but only by 4 points at a neutral site. Playing on the Smurf Turf is probably worth a TD swing in favor of the Broncos. I’ll take Boise by a FG.
Another big week with seven picks, and I’m riding four lower-ranked teams to win. At least this week they’re all playing at home.
Happy Thanksgiving, all. Go Bucks! Beat _ichigan!
[Note to BuckeyeCrusader - Thanks for sending me some awesome data. Unfortunately, with Thanksgiving and everything, I couldn't find a way to incorporate it into the spreadsheet easily. I'll take it under consideration and see if there's a good way, without over-complicating and already large graphic.]