Two potential College Football Playoff teams were on the brink of losing on Saturday, but each did what great teams typically do: they found a way to prevail.
One of those squads, Ohio State, still sits at No. 2 in the Week 8 AP Poll. The other, Clemson, dropped from No. 3 to No. 4 after barely surviving against North Carolina State at home.
RANKINGS: Week 8 AP Poll
Dropping in the polls after a win certainly isn’t ideal, but zoom out for a second, and falling one spot is a minor fork in the road at worst and a non story at best. What is concerning, however, is Clemson’s inconsistent play this season. The Tigers are unblemished thus far, but it’s fair to wonder how much longer they can balance the on tight rope they’re currently walking. Deshaun Watson has been good, but he hasn’t been DESHAUN WATSON. *All-caps Watson was the guy we saw in national title game against Alabama, for those wondering.* Here’s a look at his numbers in comparison to last season:
|Year||Yards Per Attempt||TD:INT Ratio||Completion Percentage||Interception Rate|
Clemson is going to need 2015 Watson to return if it wants to vie for the national championship.
Elsewhere in this week’s AP Poll, we learned that there is a tangible difference between a good loss and a bad loss. Case in point: Wisconsin nearly upended Ohio State at home on Saturday night before falling to the Buckeyes in an overtime thriller. The Badgers fell from No. 8 to No. 10 in the poll.
On the flip side, Tennessee got blown out at home by No. 1 Alabama by a score of 49-10. The Volunteers fell nine spots in this week’s rankings. Optics matter. The Badgers are the only two-loss team in the top 10, but their two hiccups are against Ohio State and Michigan. There’s no shame in that.
The Big 12 has been an afterthought as it pertains to the College Football Playoff picture this season, but it has two unbeaten teams in Baylor and West Virginia. The Bears are ranked No. 9 in this week’s poll; the Mountaineers are ranked No. 12. There is plenty of football left to play, but if one of these teams goes undefeated, it will be interesting to see what the committee does.Here’s a scenario that’s not terribly far fetched: The winner of Ohio State-Michigan finishes the season undefeated, but the Buckeyes and Wolverines battle in a close game. Meanwhile, Baylor or West Virginia goes unbeaten. Who’s the committee choosing?
West Virginia turned heads in Week 7 when it manhandled the Texas Tech offense, holding Patrick Mahomes and company to 17 points. The Red Raiders can sleepwalk to 35 points against most Big 12 schools. The Mountaineers have a reasonable chance to run the table; their best remaining opponent is Baylor, and they get Oklahoma at home on Nov. 19. But at the moment, their strength of schedule pales in comparison to Ohio State’s or Michigan’s. So it’s tough to see the Big 12 making it into the College Football Playoff regardless of what happens at the top; right now, No. 5 Washington is still on the outside looking in, and the Huskies have been nothing short of incredible this season. The Big 12 is going to be rooting hard for upsets in the top five.
RELATED: 11 undefeated teams remain
Lastly, here’s a Group of Five update: Houston is No. 11; Boise State is No. 14; Western Michigan is No. 20 and Navy is No. 24. If the Broncos continue to take care of business, how high can they rise in the rankings by the end of the season? P.J. Fleck has Western Michigan playing outstanding football and no team is going to want to face them come bowl season.