Welcome back! I still get to write this article! Before we break down Week 11’s games of significance, let’s recap how last week went for the Washington State Cougars’ chances of making the College Football Playoff. With apologies to TV Guide, and without further ado:
- Alabama, for taking care of business and remaining the mortalest of locks, while simultaneously making it virtually impossible for LSU to make the CFP.
- Clemson. You... you can stop scoring now. Louisville’s been dead for months.
- Nebraska, for making Ohio State look incredibly vulnerable. If the Buckeyes can find a second loss and then knock off Michigan, it might be enough to make me like them for 10 minutes ok probably not.
- UCF. LET. THEM. PLAY(OFF). LET. THEM. PLAY(OFF). Except not this year because then we probably won’t make it.
- Mizzou, for getting Florida all the way out of here.
- West Virginia, for showing STONES and going for two. Look, it would have been better for us if Texas won that game, but I can’t even be mad about it. Cojones.
- Kentucky, Northwestern, Penn State, and Texas Tech. You’re all dead to me. Unless we need you to win again this week.
- Whoever the moron was that said that Michigan wasn’t really a Top 5 team. What an idiot.
As always, I’ll be using 538’s predictive model for the percentages you see referenced. Our chances dipped a little bit, as some of the losses we needed that were most likely to happen did not, in fact, happen. So we’re down to 13%, but with a 19% chance of winning out, which puts us at a 63% chance to get in. If the top four (Alabama, Clemson, Notre Dame, and Oklahoma, which has a slightly higher chance than Michigan) win out, we’re at 23%.
I'm praying for a Washington State vs Alabama CFP game. Leach scheming against Alabama's D and holy shit the amount of offense in that game will destroy box scores— UK is trash and so is Kentucky. Go USA Go Vols (@yaboydoc) November 4, 2018
INJECT THIS DIRECTLY INTO MY VEINS PLEASE. (Also he’s wrong we will lose by 60 but we will forgive this oversight.)
12:00 EST SLATE
#10 Ohio State @ #18 Michigan State
WHO 538’S PREDICTIVE MODEL SAYS YOU SHOULD ROOT FOR: Michigan State. The Buckeyes nearly slipped up against the Cornhuskers last week, but managed to right the ship just enough to squeak by. If they come out as flat as they did last week, Michigan State should be able to finish the job.
WHO YOU WANT TO ROOT FOR: Michigan State. The Holiday Bowl will be forgiven if you do us this favor, Sparty.
WHO YOU ACTUALLY SHOULD ROOT FOR: Michigan State. We’re still living in a world where we want both Michigan and Ohio State to have two losses. It doesn’t look very likely that Michigan will have a second loss before the Big Game, so Ohio State losing one and then beating Michigan is probably our best hope.
WATCHABILITY: 6/10. There’s a quarterback controversy brewing in East Lansing. No such issues in Columbus. Michigan State is always a testy out for the big guns in the B1G, and this should be no exception.
TCU @ #9 West Virginia
538 SAYS: TCU. That would effectively knock West Virginia out of the playoff picture, and raise our chances up to 69%, which is nice.
WHO YOU WANT TO ROOT FOR: West Virginia. Right now, they are everything that is good and fun about college football. Flashy quarterback, gaudy offensive numbers, a coach with the cojones to go for two for the win. If you don’t like WVU right now, you’re letting the terrorists win. (Unless you’re a Pitt or Marshall fan. That I understand.)
WHO YOU ACTUALLY SHOULD ROOT FOR: TCU. The Big XII is still going to beat up on itself, with WVU and Oklahoma probably going to play each other twice in consecutive weeks. Those two splitting a pair of games at the end of the year to keep each other out of the playoffs would be very on brand for the Big XII, but I’ll take a loss before that as well. Also Iowa State in the Big XII title game Go Cyclones.
WATCHABILITY: 8/10. WVU is fun, and despite their relative struggles this year, Gary Patterson is a helluva defensive mind.
3:30 EST SLATE
#16 Mississippi State @ #1 Alabama
538 SAYS: Alabama. An Alabama win raises our number to 64% over the long term, while a loss drops us to 59%. There is also a little bit of a dip in the short term, as an Alabama win takes us down a tick to 17%. Because math.
WHO YOU WANT: CLANGA. CLANGA CLANGA CLANGA.
WHO YOU ACTUALLY SHOULD ROOT FOR: Alabama. Free and clear. Roll Tide.
WATCHABILITY: 5/10. This has a chance to be a testy one for the Crimson Tide. They’re going to outclass Mississippi State all over the field, but the Bulldogs’ defense is pretty darn good. The problem is that MSU’s offense is bad. Single digit outputs in three conference games bad. So it will take a glorious convergence of circumstances for State to make this close in the 4th. But the possibility is there.
#4 Michigan @ Rutgers
538 SAYS: Rutgers. There isn’t a single game on the schedule that can boost our playoff chances more than Rutgers beating Michigan—22% immediately, 83% with us winning out. There also isn’t a single game on the schedule that is less likely to have that particular outcome. It’s been a rough few years on the banks.
WHO YOU WANT: Rutgers. Straight up underdogs in the truest sense of the word.
WHO YOU ACTUALLY SHOULD ROOT FOR: Rutgers. I mean it’s not going to happen, but it’s fun to dream.
WATCHABILITY: 0/10. This is roughly equivalent to the SEC extra bye week FCS games. Plus, Rutgers hasn’t scored more than 17 points in a game since September 1st. They might score negative points against Michigan’s defense.
Oklahoma State @ #6 Oklahoma
538 SAYS: Oklahoma State. It’s not quite as good a result as Rutgers, but it’s up there. 21% immediately and 76% winning out.
WHO YOU WANT: This is your semi-occasional reminder that there are very few in-state rivalries more lopsided than the Apple Cup, and one is Bedlam. Oklahoma State has only beaten Oklahoma eighteen times in 112 contests. They have won the game almost 100 times less than they have not won the game. From 1946 to 1994, Oklahoma State won three times. THREE TIMES IN FIFTY YEARS. That’s..... woof. Go Pokes.
WHO YOU ACTUALLY SHOULD ROOT FOR: Oklahoma State. Two losses for Oklahoma is great, and it pushes the Big XII closer down the path of eliminating itself from the CFP discussion. It’d be nice to see another conference cannibalize itself for once.
WATCHABILITY: 9/10. This game should be competitive. Okie State has been really close in this game for the last few years, including an overtime win in 2014. Plus it’s a Big XII game which means defense is a theoretical construct.
#24 Auburn @ #5 Georgia
538 SAYS: Auburn. It doesn’t move the meter much in the short term—1% in either direction. But an Auburn win between the hedges is exactly as nice as a TCU win in the long term.
WHO YOU WANT: Auburn. Georgia has locked up the SEC East, so maybe they slip here? It does feel like Kirby Smart is Nick Saban, Jr. though. UGA hasn’t had many “letdown” games since he took over. The Process is in motion.
WHO YOU ACTUALLY SHOULD ROOT FOR: Auburn. Georgia controls their own playoff destiny, as a second SEC Championship would give them a really good win over Alabama. Just like last year. There is an argument to be made that, with some chaos, a 2-loss SEC Champion Georgia would still get in the playoff. Regardless, UGA losing here is super good for us.
WATCHABILITY: 8/10. The Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry has been lopsided recently, with Auburn only winning three times since 2006. And one of those required divine intervention. The series overall, however, has been very close, with Georgia holding a two-win lead in the overall record, and the teams split a pair of 20-plus-point wins over each other last year. So this could end up going in just about any direction.
Florida State @ #3 Notre Dame
538 SAYS: Florida State, unsurprisingly. A loss to the foundering Seminoles is probably enough to eliminate the Irish from CFP contention, and also increases our chances to a healthy 75%. Even with the other big four winning out, our odds are still at 58%. So we’re all Florida State fans this week.
WHO YOU WANT: [Yelling in Tomahawk]
WHO YOU ACTUALLY SHOULD ROOT FOR: Florida State. It’s going to be tough though. Willie Taggart has ceded play-calling duties to his offensive coordinator,* largely due to the ineptitude of the Florida State offense. The Seminoles have scored 28 points or less, including two games in single digits, against every FBS opponent this season. And with ND, BC, and Florida left on the schedule, that might not get any better.
*This is always weird to me. Why do you have an offensive coordinator if you, as the head coach, coordinate the offense? It’s not like you lose an assistant position if you don’t give somebody the title. I dunno.
WATCHABILITY: 6/10. Florida State still has talent at the skill positions, they’ve just struggled getting them the ball. Notre Dame’s defense is good, but not great, so the ‘Noles will have their chances to move the ball. Ian Book is fun to watch as well.** Oh what could have been.
**With Ian Book reportedly out this Saturday, that gives Florida State a little bit better chance of winning. The Notre Dame offense was not exactly a well-oiled machine with Brandon Wimbush behind center, averaging about 23 points across the first three games. It’s probably going to be a knock-down drag-out affair, with the winner hovering around 20 points. If Florida State can hang around, they might have a chance to win it at the end. Watchability goes down because Ian Book isn’t playing, but goes back up because of the increased potential for an upset.
#2 Clemson @ #17 Boston College
538 SAYS: Boston College. It’s a slight dip if Clemson wins, and a decent bump if BC wins, up to 71%. But math is for nerds.
WHO YOU WANT: Boston College. Ol’ Crimson is going to be there, bringing College GameDay along with it, for the first time since 2009. And BC has been lurking just below the surface of being good for a bit now, and this is their first chance to really show out and get into the national spotlight. Plus it’s for the inside track to the ACC Atlantic division title—a win in Chestnut Hill would clinch it for Clemson. It would be a big win for Doug Flutie’s alma mater, and that atmosphere is going to be HYPE.
WHO YOU ACTUALLY SHOULD ROOT FOR: Clemson. We don’t want them dropping to that 1-loss tier where we have to fight them for table scraps. We won’t win that dogfight. So, like Alabama, we need Clemson head-and-shoulders above everybody else.
WATCHABILITY: 7/10. BC is an old school, keep it close, grind you down, give themselves a shot in the 4th quarter type of team, and AJ Dillon is worth the price of admission. Clemson is doing Clemson things for the fourth consecutive year. Maybe BC gets the GameDay adrenaline going and makes this interesting?
OTHER GAMES ON WHICH TO KEEP AN EYE:
Navy @ #12 UCF - The champs stay the champs.
#7 LSU @ Arkansas - LSU is basically done. Maybe if Alabama loses the Iron Bowl and loses to Georgia in the SEC title game, they might jump back in the conversation? But that seems like a tough sell, outside of Alabama losing back-to-back games which is surely a sign of the end times. They are ahead of WSU though, so they need to lose. But it won’t happen this week, or next week against the Fightin’ Staple Crops.
#8 Washington State @ Colorado - Last true road game! A win here bumps us to 17% on its own. The path to the CFP is narrowing, but its still visible at this point. We need some help, and of course we need to take care of business in Boulder. Colorado is falling hard and fast, but gets a boost with the probable return of Laviska Shenault. We survived Cal things, let’s go get 9-1.