A Jersey Guy: "Best" or "Most Deserving" Debate Set to Begin

Mark Blaudschun

(A weekly look at the wacky world of college football and beyond)

The Final Four Argument

On Tuesday, the College Football Playoff Selection Committee will announce its first weekly rankings.

Barring any stunning upsets this weekend, (In alphabetical order for now), they should be Alabama, Clemson, LSU and Ohio State.  Penn State should be a solid fifth.

Now that is obviously going to change because LSU faces Alabama next week, and Ohio State must deal with both Michigan and Penn State during the regular season. Only Clemson would appear to have a clear path towards the Final Four.

But then we get (as we always do) dive into the "What if'' scenario.

 Once again, the most likely scenarios involve a once beaten (non champion) SEC at-large team as well as the SEC champion.

In this year's model, the LSU-Alabama loser looks like the leading contender, although a Georgia team which lost a close encounter in the SEC title game for its only loss would have some support. 

. If that happens, which other of the five conference champions is excluded?

Unbeaten and defending national champion Clemson, which has already been penalized in the polls for playing an inferior schedule (this is the weakest the Atlantic Coast Conference has been in 20 years?

Try selling that in  Tiger Paw country. Not going to happen.

An unbeaten Big Ten Champion, either Ohio State or Penn State, is a lock.

 But a once or even twice beaten Big Ten champ? 

 Either Alabama or LSU would probably win that debate, but the vote count might be a different matter.

A once beaten Oklahoma as the Big 12 champion or an unbeaten Baylor?

 SEC gets the nod again.

A once beaten Oregon or Utah as the Pac-12 champion? 

SEC wins in the four best vs. four most deserving argument, but... 

Any controversy is likely to rekindle the expand to 8 team playoff system chatter. Here's one way to  guarantee it. Somehow, either a once-beaten Big Ten champion Ohio State or Penn State does not make the playoff.

If that happens, it will be the third consecutive year the Big Ten has not had a Final Four rep, which will guarantee the playoff expansion talk be put on a fast track.

Right now, the most interesting, best national championship game would be between an unbeaten Ohio State and an unbeaten LSU (in the Superdome. 

That would be a geographical match up which would silence the Alabama-Clemson whiners about too regional a party. And it would be a television blockbuster for a variety of reasons, including former Ohio State QB (and possible Heisman winner) Joe Burrow taking on his old team.

Let's see what happens.

Most Overrated, Underrated Teams Thus Far

Overrated

  1. Texas--Longhorns were No. 10 in pre-season polls are a pedantic 5-3. Even if the Longhorns sweep their final Four games, year 3 of Tom Herman's reign at UT is going to be regarded as a disappointment.

  2. Michigan--Until the win over Notre Dame, Jim Harbaugh's Wolverines (No.7 in pre-season polls) were the front runner for flop of the year again. That could change if Copach Khaki pants' team runs the table for a 10-2 record, which probably would not get them in the Big Ten title game, but would get them in Power 5 Major Bowl Game.

3, Texas A&M--Breakthrough year for the Aggies for coach Jimbo Fisher and his 75-million dollar contrac?.  Not for a team which has nearly 5 losses a year for the last 5 seasons and plays in the SEC West. The Aggies were a fringe Top 10 team in pre season, have posted a 5-3 record with games vs. Georgia and LSU remaining. Sounds like another 5 loss season to us.

Underrated

  1. The American Athletic Conference- Let's start with SMU. The Mustangs are unbeaten and nationally ranked for the first time in more than 30 years. It could end on Saturday at Memphis or against Navy in two weeks or against a team like Cincinnati in the American Athletic Conference championship game.

Then there is indeed Navy, which tumbled to 3-10 last season, but has bounced back with a solid 6-1 start this season. Or once beaten Memphis or Cincinnati, whose only loss was to Ohio State in September and has already knocked off defending champion UCF. In fact, the AAC looks a whole lot better than the ACC (excluding Clemson).

  1. Wake Forest--The Deacons were 7-6 last season, but picked to finish 6th in the ACC Atlantic.  Thus far they are 6-1 and could finish with a 10-2 record which would put them in the Orange Bowl. Of course, this is the ACC, where other than Clemson it's jump ball among contenders. 

  2. Louisville--The Cardinals looked like road kill a year ago in the wake of Bobby Petrino's messy exit, which left the program in shambles. But new coach Scott Satterfield has produced 5 wins in  Louisville's first eight games, which has doubled last season's 2 win total. The Cards are one victory away from being bowl eligible, which would be a major achievement for a team picked to finish last  in the ACC Atlantic.

A Celebration involving Rutgers football?

The 150th birthday party for college football is on Nov. 6, which involved Rutgers (a 6-4 winner over Princeton) in the first game. 

That will be duly noted

.We are talking about an announcement that former Rutgers coach Greg Schiano (who actually had a winning record coaching the Scarlet Knights) comes back for a second act.

Schiano's return is the only news that will move the interest level in Rutgers fans. But he might be smart enough to say No to a job which has become the Black Hole of Power 5 college football.

In fact, the entire athletic program has been an accident zone for years, with another scandal involving alleged mistreatment of members of the RU soft ball team making headlines this week.

.And then again, it's Rutgers  and the anniversary events would be a a good time to start moving in the right direction. . 

Next week would be a good chance to give RU fans some happy news, especially with games remaining against Ohio State and Penn State, where scoring a point might be an achievement.

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Mark Blaudschun

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