What We Learned: Week 9

c01-sline-logo-30_001-4_3The ACC Doesn’t Have Anything for Clemson.  Saturday was the last chance for the Tigers to stub their toes.  Florida State is the only team in the ACC who has the talent to play 60 minutes with Clemson.  The Seminoles aren’t as good of a team, and it showed on Saturday.

We know Florida State is the best the ACC has to challenge the Tigers.  We also know that FSU isn’t all that good.  They are a fringe Top 25 team who has taken advantage of their schedule.  Given that, what do we know about the Tigers?  We don’t know that much.  Clemson will be undefeated and in the playoff, but they will be untested and unknown.

Don’t Get Tackled on the Last Play.  If Miami didn’t make it clear two weeks ago, Arkansas showed why you don’t want to get tackled on the last play.  On almost every play of a game turning the ball over is one of the worst things you can do.  Players are conditioned to avoid it, and great players who can’t get that part right don’t see the field.  All things being equal you never want to risk a turnover.

On the last play, all things aren’t equal.  That’s the time where the cost of a turnover is zero.  If you have to score on this play or you’ll lose the game, you have to risk everything to score.  If that means throwing the ball over your head and backward as you are going down, so be it.  If that means lateral after lateral after lateral, then do that.  Usually you’re going to throw the ball out of bounds or forward or lose the game anyway.  But sometimes the ball will bounce right to your running back, and you win the game.

The Cowboys Have Awoken.  It looks like someone told Oklahoma State they are supposed to be playing like a Top 5 team, and they listened.  Most of the season the Cowboys stayed undefeated with close and unremarkable wins.  They beat Texas thanks to a fluke punt.  Wins over Kansas State by two and West Virginia in overtime didn’t impress anyone.  You can read what you want into last week’s game against Texas Tech.  You could be impressed with the offense and their 70 points, or you could be unimpressed with the 53 points they gave up.  This week’s result was unequivocal.  Beating TCU by 20 points is impressive.  If OK State can avoid the upset at Iowa State, they come home for a pair season defining match ups against Baylor and Oklahoma.

31VN9nWog2L._SY355_Alabama is going to the Playoff.  The SEC West is deep and talented.  Each season it looks like all the teams are going to beat up on each other.  For most of the division that happens, except it has not happened for Alabama.  The Crimson Tide has only one blemish on their resume.  Five turnovers cost the Tide against Ole Miss, but that game looks more like a fluke in retrospect.

This weekend’s win over LSU is the hardest test Alabama will face until the playoff.  Mississippi State waits this weekend, but there’s no reason to think the Bulldogs are pulling an upset.  The next three games will then be against Charleston Southern, Auburn and Florida.  Any losses would be shocking.  Expect the Crimson Tide to be in the playoffs, and if they avoid five turnover games, expect them to win it.

Goodbye American.  A week after Temple lost its undefeated season to Notre Dame, Memphis lost theirs to Navy.  Only Houston remains undefeated in the American Athletic Conference now.

It was always a long shot for one of these teams to make the playoff, but it appears that is not going to happen at all now.  Houston can still run the table and get into a contract bowl, but they needed everything to break their way to get to the Top 4.  Included in those breaks would be beating an undefeated Memphis team in a high profile game.  The Cougars-Tigers game will still be worth watching, but the stakes have been lowered.

Who is Iowa?  Does anyone have a good read on exactly how good the Hawkeyes are?  They have an undefeated resume filled with incongruent results.  On the impressive side they have a win at Wisconsin, and they destroyed Northwestern.  Then they slipped by Illinois and Indiana, and their three point win over Pitt isn’t aging well.  This weekend against Minnesota they could win by 28 or lose.  Who knows who these guys are?  We’ll know for sure when they face Ohio State for the Big Ten title.

About Billy Koehler

Billy Koehler is the founder of ThirdDownDraw.com and a contributing writer at DixielandSports.com. He has been covering college football since 2006. You can follow him on twitter @billykoehler.
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