Confirmation bias is defined as the tendency to interpret new evidence as confirmation of one’s existing beliefs or theories. This becomes apparent when Team A—let’s call them them the Normans because that’s a funny name—gives up 40 points to a team that has won six games in the last four years, and only has one win over a ranked team on the entire season. Meanwhile Team B—let’s call this team the Bayous because that’s also funny—has one really good win, but also two losses and a win over a side dish. But both of those are ahead of Team C—let’s call them the #6 team in the country because that’s where they should be ranked if the College Football Playoff committee actually followed the tenets it purported to I’M NOT BITTER YOU’RE BITTER NO YOU’RE YELLING—who played an actual college football team and thoroughly dismantled them.
But I digress.
Before we break down the games of significance this week, and with apologies to TV Guide, let’s take a look back to this Saturday past.
- Oklahoma State. They did redeem themselves! A little unfortunate that it knocks out the second funnest team in college football, but it was a result that was good for us, so we’ll take it.
- Maryland. I loved the decision, I loved the play call and play design, but I did not love the execution. However, the result of the play doesn’t change the fact that it was the right call at the right time. Well done. If Maryland doesn’t take the interim tag off Matt Canada, they’re making a huge mistake.
- The Citadel. Frank Underwood’s alma mater’s real life analogue did what ten FBS schools could not, and made Alabama look mortal, if only for thirty minutes.
- Duke, Syracuse, Indiana, and Kansas. All of them were facing historically long odds, so each of these games had an air of inevitability to them, especially for Syracuse after Eric Dungey went down. All three of the others had leads in the second quarter, and Indiana even took a lead into the locker room at halftime. And then history caught up to them. So they’re all dead to me. Unless we need them to win this week.
As always, I’ll be using 538’s predictive model for the percentages you see referenced. Our chances improved slightly, largely a function of West Virginia being removed from the equation. We’re at 14% to make the playoff, and up to a 31% chance of winning out. We’re down to a 46% chance of getting in just by way of winning out (THANKS FOR NOTHING, CFP COMMITTEE). If we put the top four through (Alabama, Clemson, Notre Dame, and Michigan) our chances of making the CFP are at 32%. So we need some help. But that’s not anything new.
Well....we know they are better than ACC #2 Miami right? Which I guess feeds even more into your point.— Andrew Percival (@PDawg206) November 18, 2018
I'm still struggling to picture the Washington State Cougars in the CFP. Were that to happen, I'd start to get really worried that the world was coming to an end. #CFBPrepper
GIVE ME THE APOCALYPSE OR GIVE ME DEA-... death? That seems redundant. Whatever, let’s ride. YOU WILL NOT BE SPARED HUSKY FAN THERE IS NO ZIMA IN HELL.
FRIDAY GAME THAT IS NOT THE APPLE CUP
#6 Oklahoma @ #13 West Virginia
WHO 538’S PREDICTIVE MODEL SAYS YOU SHOULD ROOT FOR: West Virginia winning pops our chances up to a healthy 34%, and if we advance Alabama and Clemson, we’re at 60% long term with a WVU win.
WHO YOU WANT TO ROOT FOR: West Virginia. Despite the loss, West Virginia is wild and wonderful. There’s also some chatter that Dana Holgorsen could be a candidate for the soon-to-be vacant Colorado job. A Leach disciple on the other side of the conference could be a fun thing, and it could also be terrifying. If he can win at a place like WVU, Holgorsen could probably win in Boulder as well. Maybe a Big XII title keeps him in Morgantown?
WHO YOU ACTUALLY SHOULD ROOT FOR: West Virginia. Unless you think that Texas has a better chance of beating Oklahoma. Assuming Texas handles the Fightin’ Peyton Benders next week, West Virginia has to win to make it to the Big XII title game the following week as Texas holds the tiebreaker. If West Virginia and Texas win, they will both be in the title game.
WATCHABILITY: 10/10 for the first half hour because these are the Big XIIiest of Big XII teams, then 0/10 after 8:30 p.m. BECAUSE APPLE CUP.
#4 Michigan @ #10 Ohio State
538 SAYS: Ohio State. In the long term, it’s relatively marginal. An Ohio State win puts us at 49%, and a Michigan win at 44%. Short term is a little less significant, with 27% and 24% respectively. Which makes us all really big fans of the Northwestern Wildcats next week.
WHO YOU WANT: Ohio State, I guess. I don’t know. Maybe they’ll bring ties back to college football for a day. That would be good.
WHO YOU ACTUALLY SHOULD ROOT FOR: It really doesn’t matter, other than for which team is the better match-up for Northwestern. I think Michigan is the safer bet. Northwestern can keep that game close for three and a half quarters, then steal a win at the end. Ohio State has the potential to string together some scores in the first half and run away from the Wildcats. But then, of course, OSU’s defense is pretty bad. Ohio State gives us a little more chaos, which is probably good, maybe? I don’t know.
WATCHABILITY: 8/10. The brand of football may not be the most aesthetically pleasing, but this is still one of the best rivalries in all of sports. And it’s an elimination game, both for the B1G East Division and for the CFP. Can’t get much bigger than that.
Auburn @ #1 Alabama
538 SAYS: Honey Badger. 538 don’t care. An Alabama win puts us at 26%, which is where we are just by winning the Apple Cup. An Auburn win actually drops us to 25%, probably due to bringing Georgia a little bit more into the picture.
WHO YOU WANT: Auburn. It’s going to take a miracle for them to pull it off, but it’s not like this series hasn’t seen its fair share of miraculous endings. Tough to see it taking place with the relative struggle that Alabama had with The Citadel last week, but Saban vs. Malzahn has generally been a pretty good contest.
WHO YOU ACTUALLY SHOULD ROOT FOR: Auburn. I mean, why not? Alabama’s in with one loss anyway. Go nuts.
WATCHABILITY: 8/10. Tuscaloosa is a hell of a setting for a big time college football game, and the Iron Bowl always seems to bring the sauce.
South Carolina @ #2 Clemson
538 SAYS: South Carolina. A Clemson win doesn’t affect our chances, which makes sense because there’s not much we can do about it if they keep winning. A win by USC east, however, does bump us up to 31%. I’m still pretty convinced we don’t want to be fighting for scraps with Clemson, but I will note that Clemson’s strength of schedule is in the same neighborhood as ours, around 80-ish.
WHO YOU WANT: South Carolina. Personal note: I hate Clemson. Well, hate is probably a strong word, but they leave a general distaste in my mouth. Particularly in this game. So I’ve flown Ol’ Crimson a handful of times, particularly back in the early days of the streak. Being in the Carolinas, I’ve done CFBGD at South Carolina a few times, and Clemson once. The Clemson experience was not great. My then girlfriend, now wife came with my buddy and I, and there were some altercations that nearly became physical. There was a dude that put a bunch of poles together to try and grab our pole and yank it to the ground. Credit to my wife, she actually reached up and snapped the pole in half. I proposed on the spot. Contrast that to South Carolina, whose fans have always been spectacular to me/us at CFBGD. And there were a couple of Gamecock fans who actually ran interference for us as the Clemson situation devolved. GameDay actually went from Clemson to Columbia the very next week, so I was baptized in that rivalry somewhat. “From Agriculture to Culture” is still one of the better GameDay signs I’ve ever seen.
TL;DR GO COCKS.
WHO YOU ACTUALLY SHOULD ROOT FOR: South Carolina. Similar to the Iron Bowl, I don’t think this one particularly matters.
WATCHABILITY: 7/10. This is a sneaky good rivalry, but it also tends to be very streaky. Before Clemson won the last four, South Carolina ran off five in a row. So maybe the Gamecocks are due? I don’t know that they’ll have the horses to run with Clemson and my god that Clemson defensive line is the stuff of offensive coordinators’ nightmares.
USC @ #3 Notre Dame
538 SAYS: USC. By a lot. If we win out, and Notre Dame drops this last game, we are 66% to make the CFP. We would still need help from either Northwestern or WVU/Texas, but a win from our conference pals would really be a shot in the arm for the Cougs.
WHO YOU WANT: USC. Clay Helton might be coaching for his job. Or it might not matter. But I think we’re all really rooting for Clay Helton to continue to be the head coach at USC. Plus it gets them bowl eligible, which is better for the conference. And it makes our loss to them a little less terrible.
WHO YOU ACTUALLY SHOULD ROOT FOR: USC. It’s pretty much a no brainer for all the reasons listed above, in addition to the whole CFP deal.
WATCHABILITY: 6/10. The pomp and circumstance around this game has been better than the actual game itself for the last several years. But it’s still a big time game. And USC has been a thorn in the side of some pretty good Notre Dame teams over the years, keeping them from potential national championships. Here’s hoping it’ll happen again.
OTHER GAMES ON WHICH TO KEEP AN EYE
USF @ #9 UCF - The War on I-4 probably won’t be as wild as it was last year, a 49-42 UCF victory. But UCF needs to keep winning for a shot at a NY6 bowl, because Utah State is lurking back there in the 20s. (ALSO LET THEM PLAYOFF NEXT YEAR MAYBE)
Georgia Tech @ #5 Georgia - Clean, Old Fashioned Hate. Gotta love it. The two schools share very little in common except for an outright dislike for one another. This excerpt from Georgia Tech’s website gives a window: “Georgia and Tech hate each other so much that the fans of both schools actually have incorporated it into their respective fight songs. Georgia fans sing, ‘Glory, Glory to ‘ole Georgia and to Hell with Georgia Tech!’ while Tech fans sing, ‘If I had a son sir, I’ll tell you what he’d do, he would yell To Hell with Georgia! Like his daddy used to do!’”
And this, from ESPN.com’s Hater’s Guide: “Georgia and Georgia Tech were charter members of the SEC, but the Yellow Jackets left the league in 1964 because of coach Bobby Dodd’s concerns about scholarship limits and player mistreatment. Tech tried to re-enter the league in 1975 with Bear Bryant’s help, but the Bulldogs led the charge to block membership.”
#16 Washington @ #8 Washington State - GARDNER MINSHEW IS JON SNOW CHANGE MY MIND.