It’s easy to get too high or too low after each week’s results in college football. Such is the nature of the sport that breeds emotional responses based on what happens positively or negatively every Saturday.
That’s why we’re here. A step back from the action can provide perspective that rightfully will temper some of the misplaced enthusiasm from positive performances and lift up those feeling down in the dumps after negative results from the weekend.
Week 9 had plenty of examples on both sides of the coin. Here are the five biggest overreactions from the action on the field.
Cincinnati is going to be No. 2 in the playoff rankings
It’s time to start getting real about the situation for the Bearcats. Yes, they’re No. 2 in the polls and that’s important to remember. Besides a win at Notre Dame, there isn’t much to the resume, however.
Given the situation, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see any combination of Alabama, Michigan State and Ohio State ahead of Cincinnati in Tuesday’s first reveal. You could even make the argument that Oklahoma since the move to Caleb Williams at quarterback has been more impressive than the Bearcats in October.
Should the committee not mirror the polls, the easy argument is going to be that it is biased against Group of Five teams. That’s too simplistic. There’s a lot working against Cincinnati. It has faced two teams with winning records and play in a conference significantly weaker than its competitors. Its last two wins against Navy and Tulane, who have combined for three victories, have been unimpressive. That’s all going to be factored by the committee and the result is probably not going to be in its favor.
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Georgia should stick with Stetson Bennett
The former walk-on quarterback Stetson Bennett has started the past four games – all against quality opponents – and the Bulldogs have won comfortably every time. But it’s worth noting that Arkansas, Auburn, Kentucky and Florida all don’t have offenses capable of threatening Georgia’s dominant defense. So it’s easy for Bennett to pick his spots and rely on the running game to carry the offense.
That’s a formula for winning almost every game. The problem for the Bulldogs is that the games that really matter will require more offense. When they face Alabama or Ohio State or someone else that can score against them, the quarterback is going to have to be able to answer. The best option would be going back to JT Daniels when he is healthy, even if the initial reflex of Kirby Smart is not trying to fix what isn’t broken. Daniels has the better arm and experience to deal with big games. There’s no need to rush him back from his lat injury, but there’s also no need to hold him back with the idea that Bennett is the answer. That’s asking for trouble in the SEC title game or playoff.
The ACC Coastal makes any sense
It looked like Pittsburgh was going to run away with the division title after its defeat of Clemson last week. But then the Panthers were stunned at home by Miami, dealing them their first league loss. Just two weeks ago, the Hurricanes were winless in the conference before beating North Carolina State and Pittsburgh in succession. Now they are potentially major players with an easy closing run that doesn’t include an opponent with a winning record.
One of those teams ahead for Miami is Virginia Tech, which was also given up for dead in the ACC race after losses to Pittsburgh and Syracuse. The Hokies went on the road and beat Georgia Tech, leaving them one game behind the Panthers.
Also with two losses in the conference is Virginia. The Cavaliers control their own destiny with a 4-2 league record and games against the Hokies and Panthers left on the schedule. They already hold a win against Miami, too, so much is in their favor.
How this goes is anybody’s guess, given the unpredictability of the first two months for all these teams. The Virginia-Pittsburgh matchup on Nov. 20 will be significant, though any loss by the Panthers potentially opens the door for others besides the Cavaliers. Should be a fun and wild finish.
A quarterback is going to win the Heisman
After the performance by Kenneth Walker in Michigan State’s defeat of Michigan, there’s going to be a running back in the mix when the ballots go out at the end of the season. That’s what happens when someone runs for five touchdowns, including the game-winner, in a battle of unbeatens in the top 10.
Walker has two more opportunities against big opponents – Ohio State and Penn State – and big games could put him in the driver’s seat without an obvious front-runner out there.
Bryce Young has put up big numbers with Alabama, yet he’s struggled at times in big games. Matt Corral of Mississippi is banged-up and was off his game in a loss to Auburn this week. Kenny Pickett played well, but Pittsburgh fell. It’s anybody’s race right now and Walker has the momentum. You have to like his chances if he keeps running the way he has in the first two months.
Notre Dame is out of playoff contention
It was another ho-hum Saturday for the Fighting Irish. They slogged through another up-and-down game and eventually made enough plays to defeat an opponent that should probably been put away much sooner. Now 7-1 and with four games left where it will be significantly favored, Notre Dame have cracked the top 10 and should move higher as the College Football Playoff selections get closer.
How high can the Irish get? You’d think it wouldn’t be into the semifinals, yet there is a path. The biggest issue is going to be Cincinnati, which dealt Notre Dame its only loss. So many of the possibilities have to include the Bearcats already in the field because it doesn’t look like they’ll lose twice.
Let’s assume Alabama loses in the SEC title game. Let’s also assume Oregon loses at some point. And also assume the champion from the ACC has two losses and Oklahoma loses in the Big 12 title game. None of those scenarios are far-fetched. That would put Georgia, the Big Ten champion and Cincinnati in the field. Notre Dame would be right there in the mix with the rest of the contenders. Maybe not the greatest of chances, but not impossible to get there.