According to Greek mythology, in the beginning there was only Chaos. Chaos was, according to Ovid in his Metamorpheses, "rather a crude and indigested mass, a lifeless lump, unfashioned and unframed, of jarring seeds and justly Chaos named". Chaos was the great void of nothingness out of which everything else came. From Chaos came the primordial gods and goddesses, such as Gaia (the earth), Tartarus (the underworld), and Eros (desire). However, missing from all of the ancient Greek texts is one more thing which MUST have come directly from Chaos...
If you watched any football this weekend, you know what I'm talking about. The entire Pac-12 has essentially been eliminated from the Playoffs. Houston is the only undefeated team in Texas. The SEC right now is reeling, except for Alabama (not even Chaos can disrupt them right now). The hottest team in the country might be... North Carolina? What is this, basketball season?
Let's take a look at this week's rankings. There's some HOT takes in the Sterritt Score these days. Drum roll, please...
Here's the full rankings if you want to get down and dirty in the numbers.
Things are looking pretty good at the top. As expected, Clemson is still #1, even after a surprising test by #101 Syracuse. The gap between the Tigers and the rest of the country has shrunk, though. Alabama, coming off of a 31-6 slaughter of #21 Mississippi State, is now just 0.51 behind Clemson in the Sterritt Score, after being 4.5 points behind just last week. Oklahoma got a nice bump after a big win over the old #3, previously undefeated Baylor. Even with a bad loss to #82 Texas on their resume, the Sooners have been as strong as anyone in the country this year. With just #25 TCU and #14 Oklahoma State left on the schedule, if the Sooners win out, it will be really hard to keep them out of the Playoffs. The big surprise here is at #4. Somehow, someway, Navy has grabbed the last playoff berth right now. They really are a strange case. Their only loss has come to #6 Notre Dame, and they have beaten all other opponents by double digits. Their signature win is against #26 Memphis, who they throttled by 25 and knocked out in the middle of the third quarter. With a 41 point win against a bad SMU team this week, the Midshipmen have four 20+ point wins and five first-half knockouts. That's right up there with the best in the country, albeit against an easier schedule. Do I honestly think Navy is a top 4 team? Of course not. But they've played better than any Academy has in half a century, and they're a heck of a story that I can't wait to watch come bowl season. If they can knock off Houston over Thanksgiving weekend, they automatically become the favorite for a New Year's Six at-large bid. Oh, and update: Keenan Reynolds, the Navy QB, broke the NCAA record for career rushing touchdowns last week, which now stands at 81. That's right. Quarterback. Rushing touchdowns. 81. What a player.
Just outside the top 4 this week are #5 Ohio State and #6 Notre Dame. Both teams had good wins against mediocre teams, which left them behind with all of the successes (and failures) of the rest of the top teams last week. However, they both have strong enough schedules remaining that one or both of them will be in the Playoffs if they win out. Ohio State, still undefeated mind you, has games against #19 Michigan State, #13 Michigan, and, if they win the first two, undefeated #12 Iowa. Regardless of how they play in these games, I would have to think as long as they win, they're in. Notre Dame isn't quite as much of a lock. They play a respectable but manageable #105 Boston College before wrapping up with Pac-12 leader #12 Stanford. They'll need to look really good, especially against Stanford in a few weeks, if they want to wrap up that last playoff spot. As I said before, though... chaos reigns in college football!
A Few Discrepancies...
Obviously, we already talked about Navy. But there are several other teams that probably aren't ranked where they should be. #8 UNC and #9 Houston both snuck into the top 10, mainly because of them absolutely dominating relatively weak schedules recently. The Sterritt Score has kept #12 Iowa and #14 Oklahoma State out of the Top 10 all year. They have weak schedules so far, but unlike Houston and UNC, they haven't really dominated those teams. Iowa has a matchup with some highly ranked team from the Big 10 East in the conference championship, and Oklahoma State has two huge games to finish up the year against #7 Baylor and #3 Oklahoma. The point is, if either of those two teams win out, they're in. There's no way the Committee keeps out an undefeated Power 5 Conference winner, regardless of what the stats say.
There's still nothing new at the top, despite the SEC only having 3 top 25 teams now. The SEC is displaying its depth at the moment, with 9 of its 14 teams in the top 50. The Big 10 and Pac 12 are in virtual deadlock as the second and third best conferences, and with the Big 12 solidly in 4th. Interestingly enough, the Pac 12 only has two top 25 teams, but just about everyone in the conference has played well enough to have a middling rating. The only really bad team in the conference is #117 Oregon State, but on the flip side, the Pac 12 more or less lost any opportunity to make it into the Playoff with each of their top 3 teams taking a loss. In our weekly look at the AAC vs the ACC. The American is averaging just a tenth of a spot lower in the average team rankings. It's crazy how many things have gone well for the American this year. Houston hit a home run in hiring Tom Herman away from Ohio State. Navy's transition into a conference for the first time in its existence couldn't have gone better, and Memphis's and Temple's rise from absolute rock bottom a few years back has culminated this year into some big wins over Ole Miss and Penn State, respectively. Cincinnati has been respectable, and UConn, USF, and Tulane all look to become bowl eligible in these last two weeks. There are a few sore spots in the AAC, but as a whole, they look more like a Power 5 conference than a Group of 5 one. Also of note is that the C-USA, despite having having an average ranking of #77.9, has three top 25 teams. #18 Marshall leads the way, along with #23 WKU and #24 Louisiana Tech. I don't expect this to remain the case, but it certainly caught my eye with so many upsets last week.
Games of the Week
For many of us, pre-rivalry weekend means we either take a bye or indulge ourselves in a cupcake. The ACC has a bunch of conference games, but that doesn't exactly excite anyone this year. #26 Memphis goes to #41 Temple in a game that looked a lot better a few weeks back. The Big 10 has two big time games, with #13 Michigan travels to Happy Valley to play #38 Penn State, and in a game which has major Playoff implications, #19 Michigan State tries to end #5 Ohio State's 23 game winning streak. Likewise, the Big 12 continues it's own unofficial playoff in November with #7 Baylor at #14 Oklahoma State, and #25 TCU traveling to the #3 Sooners. In the primetime 2:30 spot, resurgent #45 Oregon fights to keep its Pac 12 North chances alive against #15 USC, who is trying to clinch their own division. Clay Helton has done quite a job with the Trojans, and one has to wonder if he's worked his way into an opportunity to win the head coaching position after this year. The SEC also has a handful of conference games, but the games I'll have my eyes on are the #49 TAMU at #88 Vandy and #30 Georgia Southern at #39 UGA matchups. If either the Aggies or Bulldogs lose those games, which is extremely probable that it could happen, then you've got to imagine that the respective fan bases would be ready to run their coaches out of town. Plus, as I mentioned last week, its always fun when UGA loses.
Tracking the Tigers
Despite yet another heartbreaking loss in what was, let's face it, and UGLY game, Auburn continues to sit in the low 60s, this week at #61. Unfortunately, we're in last place in the SEC West. To exemplify how much stronger the West is than the East, though, this Auburn team would rank 4th in the East, behind #10 Florida, #36 Tennessee, and #39 UGA, Funnily enough, Auburn ranks just one spot behind Northwestern, who is somehow still ranked in the CFP Rankings, and two spots behind Louisville, who we beat in week one. It's been a long three months since that game in the Georgia Dome.
Let's go beat #114 Idaho this week, make a bowl game (even if it's at Legion Field), and THEN we can talk about that other team in the state. Who knows, maybe #TeamChaos will finally be in our favor next week. War Eagle, y'all!
Questions? Comments? Let me know below or on Twitter @SterrittScore!