The Separation Sequence hath begun! What is that, you ask? In each and every college football season, there is one weekend when we go from several national championship contenders to a handful of contenders. History shall recognize the final weekend of October 2016 as the weekend of the Separation Sequence.
Who’s (Still) In?
Alabama, Michigan, Clemson and Washington (you heard me). They are, for now, the only undefeated teams from the Power 5 conferences. They are also the best four teams out of their respective conferences (until someone says otherwise on the field).
The Big XII. West Virginia and Baylor both lost this weekend to lesser opponents, which isn’t terribly surprising. I’m pretty certain neither are even the best team in their conference.
The Nebraska Cornhuskers also fell to Wisconsin over the weekend, but we should consider them “down, but not out.” They could still win their division and the B1G conference. Would that be enough to power them into the College Football Playoff? All things remaining constant, I say yes. But that’s more than a month away…and the Huskers still have to go to Ohio State.
My Top Ten
1. Alabama (8-0)
Is there any real question? Even during a bye week, the Tide could beat someone.
2. Michigan (8-0)
There were no miracles for Sparty this year in the rivalry game. Also no surprises on the outcome.
3. Clemson (8-0)
Five of Clemson’s eight victories were one-score margins. The Tigers flirt with disaster. And disaster loses.
4. Washington (8-0)
The Huskies have quietly taken advantage of a weaker-than-predicted PAC-12. Still, beating Utah and Stanford is nothing to sneeze at.
5. Texas A&M (7-1)
The ‘Bama loss will haunt this team. HAUNT.
6. Ohio State (7-1)
The Penn State loss seems to have upset Urban Meyer’s apple cart a bit. His Buckeyes did not dominate Northwestern last weekend. We’ll see if there’s still a hangover come Saturday.
7. Florida (6-1)
Don’t look now, but the Gators are quietly creeping up on Alabama. But first, they have to beat Arkansas (they will, because Arkansas is always overrated).
8. Louisville (7-1)
A high-scoring team that will dismantle Boston College this weekend.
9. Nebraska (7-1)
Losing to Wiscy hurts their post-season chances. A road win over Ohio State would reverberate throughout college football.
10. Baylor (6-1)
I flipped a coin between Baylor and West Virginia. Both are good programs; just haven’t played a very strong schedule. Two-loss Okie St. is better than Baylor, if you ask me.
Games of Ultimate Consequence
Buoyed by my 2-0 performance last week, I am confident I will go 3-0 this week. Of course, I screwed up and thought Alabama-LSU was being played last Saturday. Apparently, reading schedules is not my forte. Anyway, I’m going to lead with that game. Here are my predictions:
Western Michigan (8-0) at Ball State (4-4)—This is a weird, Tuesday night game between a pair of vaunted rivals in the Mid-American Conference. Not quite Power 5, but this should be an entertaining game. The Broncos (that’s Western Michigan, kids) average 44 points per game. Head Coach P.J. Fleck and his Flecktones are poised to light it up in Muncie Tuesday night. David Letterman’s alma mater does not stand a chance in this one.
Prediction: Western Michigan
Alabama (8-0) at LSU (5-2)—I’ve only watched a little bit of Alabama football this season, but they’ve been absolutely dominant. I was most impressed with its defense; the fourth-best in the nation. What frightens me the most about the Tide? Their freshman QB, Jalen Hurts. He’s a versatile kid, running one the most explosive offenses in the country. And he’s only a freshman!
But don’t get caught napping on LSU. Just because they fired Les Miles doesn’t mean this is a bad team; quite the contrary. Leonard Fournette can still run circles around defenses. He may not be a Heisman candidate anymore, but he can be a killer for defenses. Speaking of which, LSU’s defense is just behind Alabama, nationally. Being a road game in a hostile environment, this could be the toughest test of Alabama’s season, but LSU won’t have enough for the upset. Expect a competitive, close game for three quarters.
Nebraska (7-1) at Ohio State (7-1)—A HUGE game for both teams. The Huskers are coming off a tough road loss to Wisconsin. The once-dominant—considered to be a national title contender—Ohio State barely got past Northwestern. But both teams are still in the hunt for the conference championship. Give Ohio State the edge, since the game is in Columbus, but I see this as being another close game. Ultimately, Ohio State should come out on top.
Prediction: Ohio State