College Football Playoff: Contenders, Pretenders Week 6
The BCS is officially in the rearview mirror and the new College Football Playoff is just down the road. Statements were made by several teams this past weekend, but which teams are for real? Here’s the contenders and pretenders after the sixth week of games.
Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Week 6 result: Defeated Stanford, 17-14
You have to give Notre Dame some credit. They keep winning tough football games. Facing one of the nation’s best defenses, the Fighting Irish squeaked out a win at home on a game-winning touchdown pass from Everett Golson in the remaining seconds of the game. Golson is an incredibly improved quarterback since his days in 2012 and he looks like a real leader for this team. They are solid in all phases of the game and look poised to make a run here in the latter half of the season. On their schedule still lingers a road game at Florida State and a road game at Arizona State, their only two ranked opponents left. Both games will be incredibly challenging, but with a likely prime-time, national matchup against the Seminoles in two weeks, if Notre Dame can clear them, you’ll be seeing the Fighting Irish at the top of the list for College Football Playoff contenders.
Mississippi State Bulldogs
Week 6 result: Defeated Texas A&M, 48-31
Of course as the No. 3 team in the nation, you would hope Mississippi State would be College Football Playoff contenders. However, I look at it as one Mississippi team or the other and right now I believe it’s the Bulldogs who are the more likely contender by the end of the season. When you look at this Mississippi State team, obviously quarterback Dak Prescott stands out as the most outstanding player, but the Bulldogs are so much more than just Prescott. Josh Robinson and Jameon Lewis are ultra-talented at the skill positions and most importantly, Mississippi State has a stout front seven and an improving secondary. Taking down both LSU and Texas A&M – two top-10 ranked teams – speaks volumes.
Michigan State Spartans
Week 6 result: Defeated Nebraska, 27-22
Another week, another quality performance from the Michigan State Spartans. After suffering a loss to Oregon, it looked as if the Spartans may be out of the CFP picture, but they are still very much in the thick of it. Now that they’ve hurdled Nebraska, the rest of the schedule shouldn’t be too challenge for Michigan State. A matchup with Ohio State is in East Lansing this season and it looks to be the only game that could go against the Spartans for the rest of the season. If they win out, they’ll more than likely be in the CFP discussion anyway, but an inevitable shakeup of the top teams only increases the Spartans’ chances of being in the final four teams.
TCU Horned Frogs
Week 6 result: Defeated Oklahoma, 37-33
There’s no doubt that TCU’s win over a top-ranked Oklahoma team was one of the most impressive victories of the weekend. That’s why the Horned Frogs moved all the way up from No. 25 to No. 9 in the latest polls. Led by dual-threat quarterback Trevone Boykin, TCU’s offense is one of the tops in the nation, while its defense only allows 13.5 points a game. Unfortunately for TCU, I think their days in top 10 will be short-lived. The Horned Frogs travel to No. 5 Baylor next week and then a home game against Oklahoma State the following week. I don’t believe TCU can make it through both those games unscathed and a loss should remove TCU altogether from the CFP picture.
Florida State Seminoles
Week 6 result: Defeated Wake Forest, 43-3
The Seminoles dismantled Wake Forest this past weekend, as expected, however, you get the feeling that after an overtime win against Clemson and a big scare against NC State, the Seminoles are teetering on the edge of suffering their first defeat since 2012. FSU’s defense isn’t as strong as the year before and with the distractions from Jameis Winston off-the-field, one must wonder if this is a team that can survive through the season. While they currently have just one ranked opponent left on the schedule in Notre Dame, FSU faces a number of interesting matchups including a Thursday night road game against Louisville. The overall talent in the ACC may be down this season, but the Seminoles will be tested by several opponents by the end of the season, including in-state rival Florida. Can they survive? Right now, I would say no.