Hopefully, like me, you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday filled with friends, family, lots of food and a fantastic weekend of college football.
Moving past Turkey Day is exciting because we’re on the cusp of mayhem heading into Championship Week, but it’s also sad that arguably the greatest regular season in sports is nearing its end.
I’m barely holding it together as my North Carolina futures bet inches closer and closer to having a legit shot at cashing. If the Tar Heels beat Clemson and make the playoff I’m going to be an emotional wreck in the best way possible.
But let’s move on to the goods or something I’m going to call “Breakdown Week.” We’ll use this last week of the college football season to break down the CFP playoff race, the Heisman Trophy race, and the perpetual head coaching carousel.
The college football playoff race is literally teetering on the brink of anarchy, with only one team truly safe from the storm: Oklahoma.
The Sooners are firmly entrenched into one of the coveted four playoff spots after embarrassing Oklahoma State in the de facto Big 12 championship game. One spot down, three to go.
You would assume that Alabama houses Florida in the SEC Championship (they’re 17.5-point favorites) and they then would take the second slot. If they don’t, anarchy ensues but I’ll to that later.
From that point, you’re realistically looking at six teams fighting for two spots — with four of them playing in conference title games against each other on Saturday.
Here’s how this bumblefuck would break down.
As of this writing, No. 1 Clemson and No. 4 Iowa are currently in the playoff. The former takes on 11-1 North Carolina in the ACC Championship, the latter takes on Michigan State in the Big Ten Championship. For reasons that are dumb, those two games kick off at the same time.
Anyway, the third spot is cake — whoever wins Iowa-Michigan State is going to the CFP. In other words, Michigan State.
I’ll stand by this only because I’m so far down the rabbit hole the only way out is to keep digging, but Iowa still sucks.
The fourth playoff spot is where it gets really ugly. It’s completely up for grabs between No. 1 Clemson, Ohio State, North Carolina, and Stanford.
Stanford has the longest shot despite their thrilling win over Notre Dame. They’re the only team left with two losses (assuming they beat USC of course), and it would be tough for the committee to take a two-loss Pac-12 team over an undefeated/one-loss ACC champion or the defending National Champion Buckeyes at 11-1.
Ohio State would then be hoping their decisive win over Michigan last Saturday was enough to convince the committee. It was their best win of the year, and it came at the perfect time. The only problem is…
If North Carolina beats Clemson on Saturday they too will have their best win of the season come at the most opportune time. Not to mention, Clemson will likely retain the top spot in the CFP rankings Tuesday night – and beating the No. 1 team in the nation will always carry more weight than OSU’s rivalry beatdown.
If Clemson wins, they’re in. Things only get dicey if Carolina beats Clemson. Or, if Bama somehow loses to Florida. Then we’re really going to have chaos.
If Bama does somehow lose to the Gators, the door becomes wide open for North Carolina (if it wins), Ohio State, Stanford (if it wins), and get this, even Clemson if they lose to the Heels to shut the SEC out of the college football playoff.
No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 4 North Carolina (Orange Bowl)
No. 2 Oklahoma vs. No. 3 Michigan State (Cotton Bowl)
Derrick Henry, Baker Mayfield, DeShaun Watson. That’s the extent of my Heisman ballot. If your Heisman race looks different you have the wrong Heisman race.
Had he put on an insane performance against ND, Stanford’s yardage monster Christian McCaffrey might have snuck in as well, but that’s about it.
Derrick Henry is going to win it, too. Actually he’s already won it. He won it when he ran for 271 yards and a touchdown on 46 (46!) carries in the Iron Bowl.
Blen’s Pick: Derrick “The Horse” Henry
Sorting Out The Head Coaching Race
It’s been one of the wilder seasons in head coach vacancies that I can remember. At one point, you also could have included Virginia Tech, USC, Illinois, Iowa State, and Minnesota on the below list, but they already filled their vacancies.
Frank Beamer retired Virginia Tech so they nabbed Memphis superstar Justin Fuente. USC fired Steve “Tequila” Sarkisian and promoted interim head coach Clay Helton to the position full time. Illinois did the same thing with Bill Cubit. And Iowa State went MAC fishing and stole up-and-comer Matt Campbell from Toledo.
So as I write this, these are the 14 schools who have job openings:
Each of these schools brings a certain sense of intrigue for potential candidates. Maryland and Miami are recruiting heavens because of the Canes’ talent pipeline and Maryland’s ties to Under Armour.
Georgia and South Carolina have tradition, and a new coach is essentially following in the footsteps of bedrock coaches. Job security is ingrained in these two hires.
Toledo is a classic stepping stone program for an up-and-coming candidate seeing as its last two coaches have needed less than four years to move onto Power Five coaching gigs.
UCF, Memphis, and Tulane have to deal with the rigors of the AAC conference but the Golden Knights get the Florida recruiting pipeline and they’re only two years removed from a BCS bowl game.
‘Cuse and Rutgers are kind of the ugly stepchildren lost in modern day football. Aside from ULM and North Texas they’re probably the two worst jobs on here in terms of juggling scrutiny and the ability to execute your process.
That leaves us with my alma mater, Missouri.
And of all the above schools, the University of Missouri (LINK: Mizzou Hot Take) finds themselves in the most awkward situation. Gary Pinkel has coached his final game, and their top three candidates (Justin Fuente, Matt Campbell, and Tom Herman) have been locked into deals within the past 24 hours.
They have an in-house option with defensive coordinator Barry Odom, but he’s rumored to be heading back to Memphis for the big job after being the DC under Fuente for many years. Missouri would be wise to jump on Odom.
If they can’t, that would leave former Georgia coach Mark Richt or Temple head man Matt Rhule as the next likely candidates.
Blen’s Pick: Who The F*ck Knows
However the dominos fall across all three aspects of the college game the next two weeks, it’s going to be madness and depending who you root for – it’s going to be fun.
Make sure you have enough beer.