Another week, and some teams were eliminated from the playoffs, some saw their chances dwindle, and others maintained their dominance and control over their playoff lives. Here are the five things we learned from week seven.
1) Playoff Bound
At this point, Ohio State and USC are the only two teams to have officially punched their tickets to the playoffs. That in and of itself is crazy, but it’s true. The third seed in the Big Ten is up for grabs, and the SEC picture is totally up in the air with a four team race. Ohio State is also one win away from being perfect in-conference for their second straight season. They’ve already crowned themselves as the Big Ten Champions and have clinched their number one seed and first round bye. USC has got that number two seed. There are four playoff seeds to be resolved in week eight, and if that doesn’t excite you, you need to get your pulse checked.
2) DIFFERENT SEASON, SAME MICHIGAN
Okay, let me explain. This song and dance for Michigan has been going on for the past couple seasons, the situation has just changed. Michigan starts slow and then turns it on late to be able to have a shot at the Orange Bowl, that was before the playoffs. Now, for two straight seasons, Michigan gets a slow start, and then turns it on late to find themselves in the playoff race. The reason? The story of Dewey Ainge. Ainge has put up major numbers over the last couple of weeks, and puts his team in a position late in the season to get the wins necessary to make the playoffs. If Michigan can ever get out to a hot start, they might be a force to reckon with in the Big Ten.
3) THE BLOODY SEC
It’s a four team race, but even then, every single team still has some semblance of a shot at making the playoffs. The top two teams sit at 3-1, and the next two sit at 2-2 all in-conference. But nobody has really punched their ticket to the playoffs. Why? Well, because they’ve all kind of beat each other, and then they still have yet to play each other. We would surmise that Alabama and Texas both have made the playoffs, but either one of them could miss out. Auburn and Clemson are sitting at .500 in-conference. A loss for either this week puts them in a tough spot, and could potentially knock them out of the playoffs altogether. If you want this cleared up, I recommend you check out The Inside Blitz Podcast on Monday for clarification, because there’s still a possible path for either Miami or Florida depending on the victor of that game.
4) IT’S NOT A PASSING LEAGUE….RIGHT?
The dominance of the running game this season has been impressive. Since the departure of quarterback Ray Tatum, the most dominant passer is Michigan’s Dewey Ainge? Nebraska’s James Kovach? They’re the ones who have put up major passing yards, but quarterbacks like Balion Siege and Walker Mills have been effective. Instead, over the last few weeks, we’ve seen some truly dominant performances on the ground. Whether it’s Oregon’s tailback Jimmy Tickle running for four touchdowns, or guys like Ohio State’s Frost Carlson and Notre Dame’s Vidar Lund rushing for over 150 yards in a couple games. Maybe it’s because of the cold, but lately it seems like the running game has been taking off. Of the top five quarterbacks based on rating, only one has truly clinched a playoff spot, with two others likely to be in the dance. Teams with a top 10 rusher? Two teams have a clinched playoff spot, with a total of four teams that could be in the dance after this week. Of those four, two of them have a top five quarterback. So…it’s not a passing league. Right?
5) rivalry week is elimination week
How much more drama can we pack into week eight? Well, how about four playoff seeds that need figured out. That’s not enough? Okay, about there’s four playoff seeds at stake, but eight teams have a potential shot at one of those seeds. Still not intrigued? Then try this on. In order to resolve the playoff seeding, teams have to beat their long standing rivals to get in, and need some help. Such as Michigan beating Ohio State, Auburn beating Alabama, Clemson beating Texas, Miami beating Florida, Oregon beating Nebraska. Of those matchups, you could invert the last four, and everything I said in the build up remains true. Week eight, is the week where every game matters, even if it’s a team I didn’t mention, because those teams? They want some momentum heading into the off-season, which will be a major help to keeping guys on roster, and will help them with their recruiting pitches. Week eight, is the one week where you should want to tune in for EVERY. SINGLE. GAME. Because it’s plays like this that make all the difference between your team being in, and watching from home: