Who SEC fans should root against: Week 5
SEC ROOTING GUIDE
In which we tell you which teams you should root against in the upcoming week.
Ah, conference play.
The SEC, Big 12 and Pac-12, concurrently account for 17 of the nation’s 25 best teams, according to the Associated Press. But the process of separating the pretenders from the contenders is about to enter overdrive.
We saw this take place in the Pac-12 last week, as Arizona, Arizona State and Oregon all lost pivotal games. This week, the Big 12 gets the spotlight with a number of potential tumbles for high-profile teams.
It’s a reality that at least one of the so-called power conferences will not make this year’s College Football Playoff. But, because of the absence of predictably-dominant teams beyond Ohio State, it’s difficult to project which conference will get left out.
Right now, it seems unlikely that the Big 12 will be excluded for a second consecutive season. TCU, Baylor and Oklahoma all look like contenders, and Oklahoma State is a wild card. This week could make the Big 12 outlook markedly worse, though. That would be a sweet side bonus for SEC fans this weekend.
Here are the Week 5 teams that SEC fans should root against.
Texas at TCU (noon ET, Saturday): Sure, Texas is 1-3, with Charlie Strong in the crosshairs of the fan base and perhaps some of the regents. But the Longhorns lost to No. 20 Oklahoma State and No. 24 Cal by a combined four points the last two weeks. Texas is a team playing with nothing to lose. Meanwhile, TCU’s defense gave up 52 points to Texas Tech last week in a narrow escape. Granted, the Horned Frogs look darn near unstoppable on offense. But this game is far from a lock, especially if Texas can get some offense going early.
West Virginia at Oklahoma (noon ET, Saturday): No SEC team is under the illusion that West Virginia, a team that Texas A&M handled during bowl season, is a threat to steal a College Football Playoff spot. Oklahoma, though, already has knocked off Tennessee on the road and is making a push to join Baylor and TCU at the top of the Big 12. A win here by the Sooners inches the conference closer to securing the playoff bid that eluded it last season. The SEC, though, would love to see coach Bob Stoops suffer a “fool’s gold” loss to the Mountaineers, and break up that growing momentum.
Kansas State at Oklahoma State (4 p.m. ET, Saturday): Like we said, it’s a big week for the Big 12. If there’s to be a fourth team that enters the College Football Playoff discussion from that league, it’ll be Oklahoma State. The Cowboys lead the Big 12 in total defense and should be able to stifle a Kansas State team without a certifiable star on offense. But the Wildcats are a feisty bunch, and never make things easy even when the opposing team features superior personnel. Oklahoma State doesn’t face TCU, Baylor or Oklahoma until November, so it’s possible it becomes a top 15 program this month — unless a team like Kansas State can cause it to trip.
Notre Dame at Clemson (8 p.m. ET, Saturday): Both of these teams are certifiable College Football Playoff contenders at the moment. The ACC has turned into a two-team conference — Florida State and Clemson. This would represent a tremendous non-conference win for the Tigers (3-0), but even if the team earned an ACC championship with one loss, a College Football Playoff spot is far from guaranteed. What’s more, the FSU-Clemson winner could spoil the conference’s bid just by losing in the ACC title game. Notre Dame, besides being an easy target for most SEC fans in terms of a team to hate, plays a tough enough schedule that it likely will require two losses to knock it out of the playoff discussion. Thus, it’s better for the SEC if the Irish lose this game. The good news? One of these teams definitely will lose.