Top 5 College Football Playoff Storylines Heading Into Week 9

Penn State College Football Top 10 Rankings

Am I a jinx? In my Week 7 column, I wrote about Boise State and how we need to keep an eye on them going forward. Last week, I added SMU to the mix and said the race is on between Boise State and SMU for the right to play in a New Year’s Six bowl game. For Boise State, that dream was derailed after a 28-25 loss to BYU. Apologies to all of my Bronco fans. Ahead of Week 9, my College Football Playoff includes:

  1. LSU
  2. Alabama
  3. Ohio State
  4. Oklahoma

No changes to the top four. Without a doubt, these are the four best teams in the country right now. You can make an argument for each team to be number one and I wouldn’t disagree with your rationale.

Week 9 is highlighted by two Top-15 matchups: No. 13 Wisconsin vs. No. 3 Ohio State and No. 9 Auburn vs. No. 2 LSU. Here are the Top 5 CFP storylines heading into Week 9.

Wisconsin vs. Ohio State In Potential Big Ten Championship Preview

Wisconsin, you blew it! Wisconsin suffered an inexcusable loss to Illinois, 24-23, which could be their nail in the coffin in terms of making the College Football Playoff. However, the Badgers have a gigantic opportunity to make up for their loss when they travel to Columbus on Saturday to take on the undefeated Ohio State Buckeyes. Both offenses are led by Heisman hopefuls Jonathan Taylor, who leads the nation in touchdowns with 19, and Justin Fields, who is tied for second in points responsible for with 180. However, the offensive fireworks may be hindered because Wisconsin and Ohio State have the number one and number two defenses in the country respectively. No matter what happens in this game, these two teams could meet again in the Big 10 Championship.

LSU Faces Another Top 10 Opponent

Find me a team with a better resume than LSU. The Tigers defeated Texas in Austin and Florida in Baton Rouge when both opponents were ranked in the top ten. Now, the Tigers will once again have a top 10 opponent when Auburn comes to Death Valley on Saturday afternoon. If Coach O, Joe Burrow, and the boys defeat Auburn, they will be the number one ranked team in the country.

Penn State Continues To Shine Despite Brutal Schedule

Two down, three more tough games to go. Penn State survived a late comeback against Michigan to hold on 28-21, improving to 7-0. The schedule does not get any easier for the No. 6 ranked Nittany Lions. Penn State heads to East Lansing to take on Michigan State, who is coming off back-to-back blowout losses against Ohio State and Wisconsin. Their Big Ten title hopes are dead, but they would love to play spoiler against Penn State for the third straight year. The Spartans own this rivalry as of late, having beaten the Nittany Lions in five of the last six years.

Alabama’s Season Rests Upon Tua’s Ankle

Alabama will beat Arkansas this weekend no matter who lines up under center. Mac Jones will start this weekend and Taulia Tagovailoa, Tua’s little brother, will serve as his backup. Frankly, a third-string offensive lineman could play quarterback and the Tide would still win by double digits. That being said, the future of Alabama’s season will come down to Tua Tagovailoa’s ankle. The superstar quarterback will miss at least one game with a right ankle sprain. Remember that Tua sprained his left ankle last season and it affected his mobility at times. High ankle sprains are no laughing matter. Thankfully for Tide fans, Alabama has a bye week after this game before the LSU Tigers stroll into Tuscaloosa for the SEC Game of the Year. If Tua’s not healthy for the LSU game, it will be tough for the Tide to roll.

It’s Do-or-Die For Jim Harbaugh

Is this Jim Harbaugh’s last stand? After the Wolverines suffered their second loss of the season to Penn State, NFL rumors circulated, stating that Harbaugh has an exit strategy in place to leave Michigan. Harbaugh quickly denied the rumor, but can we really trust college coaches in general? Most of them are snake oil salesmen who would leave at a moment’s notice if a better job came calling, leaving the players to suffer. So if you’re asking if I believe these NFL rumors, then I would say I do. Michigan will have to look past these distractions and worry about No. 8 Notre Dame coming to the Big House for a Saturday night showdown. If Michigan loses, it could be the final nail in the coffin for Harbaugh.

What are your top College Football Playoff storylines for Week 9? Leave your thoughts in the comments or tweet us, @unafraidshow.

CFB Preseason Polls are Worthless and Mess Up the Playoff Rankings

Preseason Polls hurt the ranking throughout the season SEC, Big 10, Big 12, SEC, Pac-12

Polls judge everything in college football. Teams are ranked from the preseason till after the national championship.

We all love to discuss the and debate when the College Football Preseason Polls come out. I even do them for Unafraid Show. However, I have come to find a major flaw in the polling system that ultimately affects the CFB Playoff. We all want the four (or eight in a perfect world) best teams playing for the championship. College Football Preseason polls make that nearly impossible to achieve because they distort the rankings and data for the rest of the season. Eleven of the top 25 teams in the 2018-19 Preseason AP Poll didn’t even finish ranked. In 2017, nine didn’t finish ranked. In 2016, 13 didn’t finish ranked. Commonly, those early season matchups that were so hyped up turned out to be nothing burgers, but they did affect the CFB Playoff committee rankings.

What is the purpose of preseason polls if they are so incredibly wrong. The goal is to find the four best teams in the nation and let them fight it out for the national championship. However, that is nearly impossible to get right because the preseason polls give miss information that only further convolutes the process of determining who the best four teams are for the College Football Playoff. If you are not convinced yet, I have proof.

This will be a journey down the rabbit hole so please hang on tight and keep and an open mind. The polls regularly reflect the voters desire to be right about their preseason selections rather than looking at the data objectively. Here are a few glaring examples of the head-scratchers:

The College Football Preseason Poll Proof

1. Wisconsin went into the 2018-19 season ranked #4. In the week four poll, Wisconsin was 2-1 and ranked #18 with wins over New Mexico and Western Kentucky. The team they lost to, BYU (2-1) was ranked #24. And the team that beat BYU was Cal (3-0), who was unranked. How on earth does that make sense?

2. Texas trashed Georgia in their bowl game yet Georgia finished above Texas in the final AP poll. Georgia is talented and was a sexy pick for the College Football Playoff after started #3 in the preseason? They both finished the season with the exact same amount of wins (2) over top 25 teams, and they have a head to head matchup.

3. Northwestern finished 8-1 in the Big Ten and only got 13 votes in the preseason poll.

4. Stanford came into the season ranked #13. They won their bowl game to finish the season 9-4. So how did the Cardinal finish unranked while seven other teams with at least four losses were ranked? Stanford’s only losses were to top 25 teams: Notre Dame, Utah, Washington, and Washington State. Three of those teams finished in the top 14.

SEC Preseason AP Poll Magic

5. Early in the season that LSU had two top 10 wins (Miami, Auburn). Those wins propelled LSU from #25 in the AP Poll to #5. Neither Miami or Auburn finished ranked. So, those two wins weren’t nearly as good as they were portrayed publicly. That eventually set up an “epic top 5 showdown” between Alabama and LSU. Alabama won the game 29-0, and LSU got a quality loss. The Football Playoff Committee then still had the Tigers ranked #7.

6. Now let us look at Florida. They came into the season unranked. At the end of the regular season, the Gators finished #10 in the country but only beat one team that finished in the top 25. In week six they beat the “#5 team” in the nation LSU which we just learned about. The next week they beat 3-4 Vanderbilt and were¬†ranked #9. That set up a top 10 showdown with #7 Georgia. Georgia won, so adding that to their preseason hype only magnifies the SEC table thumping.

7. Kentucky finished the regular season at #10 in the nation despite only beating one team (Florida) that finished the season in the top 25

There were so many more examples, but you get the point. This is not a knock on LSU, Georgia, Kentucky, or Florida. All are talented teams that had great seasons. However, they are just prime examples in 2018 of how preseason polls manipulate the rankings and end up leaving the SEC overhyped. They ultimately only ended up judged from games they played against themselves.

Fans Deserve Better: A Great Solution

Imagine a world where there are no preseason rankings, and polls start after week four. There would have been information on teams that came into the season with so much hype. We would have already known Miami, FSU, USC, TCU, Auburn, and Wisconsin weren’t as good as advertised. Teams that beat them would get credit, but wouldn’t falsely rise so far in the polls. Starting the rankings after four weeks would create a much more accurate representation of schedule strength and conference strength. Right now we rank teams before they have played a down of football. We have seen time and time again that a top 5 talented team doesn’t make them a top 5 team.

Also, if the preseason polls were eliminated, college football fans would get much more of what they really want and deserve; great games. Teams would no longer have the luxury of preseason top 5 rankings while playing a cupcake non-conference schedule. You would see many more teams trying to put big names on their schedules early in the season to propel them to the playoffs. Fans would respond to that by eliminating the attendance problems many schools are facing. And viewership who certainly increase. All of which leads to more money for everyone except the student-athletes who are actually generating the money, but I digress.

Get rid of preseason polls and Make College Football Greater.