11 Takeaways From College Football Week 9

There aren’t enough good candidates to accommodate the myriad job openings

Jim McElwain was the first domino to fall in what will be a chaotic coaching carousel. The SEC alone will have at least five openings (Florida, Ole Miss, Arkansas, Tennessee, Texas A&M) and when you add big-time programs like Nebraska and UCLA – there simply aren’t enough good candidates to fill those vacancies and the hiring and firing process becomes a carousel.

Athletic directors feel pressure from the fan base to make a change, so they make a change for the sake of making a change. This causes them to settle for the fifth or sixth guy on their wish-list because the top guys has more attractive offers. Then, because that guy was never a strong candidate to begin with, he’s on the hot seat within two years and you go through the process all over again.

This is all the Nick Saban effect. It’s the reason Les Miles was fired by LSU and it’s the reason Gus Malzahn is on the hot seat despite an impressive record and a National Championship appearance. Other SEC coaches are meaured against Saban, which is an impossible standard for a mortal.

The reason the Big Ten has shrunken the gap with the SEC is because of the coaching. The SEC has superior talent, facilities, support, and financial backing, but it takes a competent coach to utilize those resources to ensure it translates to success on the field.

Anyone who has Ohio State over Oklahoma is a moron

A head-to-head matchup in September isn’t the be-all-end-all when the final rankings are announced in December. However, if you lose by 15 at home it is.

I don’t care how good Ohio State looks down the stretch, if the Buckeyes and Sooners have the same record, OU gets the nod. The committee is no doubt rooting for Clemson to keep winning, so the Tigers can maintain the No. 4 spot and stave off the Sooner-Buckeye argument as long as possible.

Don’t overreact to the initial committee rankings

Seven of the 12 teams that have appeared in the committee’s initial top-four have gone on to miss the playoffs. That three year sample size is small, but telling. Remember, this is also a television show and the committee tends to put together rankings that create buzz (i.e. Texas A&M at No. 4 last year and three SEC teams in the initial rankings of 2014), so don’t be surprised to see Georgia at No. 1.

This time of year, the commentary surrounding college football concentrates on “dooms day” scenarios for the committee. This brings a lot of clicks, but those scenarios never come to fruition. There are still five weeks left in the college football schedule and the rankings have a way of working themselves out by December.

Iowa State is going from Cinderella Story to legitimate Big XII contender

With their 14-7 win over TCU Saturday, the Cyclones control their own destiny in the Big XII. After recording just one win vs. a top-5 opponent in program history prior to this season, the Cyclones have defeated two top-five teams this year.

The next two weeks will tell the country a lot about Iowa State’s staying power – the Cyclones travel to West Virginia this week before hosting Oklahoma State the following week. If the Cyclones manage to win both of those games, they will be looking at their first football conference title since they won the Missouri Valley Intercollegiate Athletic Association with an overall record of 6-2 and a league record of 2-0 in 1912 (h/t Forde).

Here’s Saquon Barkley’s national rushing rankings.

Total Rushing Yards: 801 (No. 23)
Rushing Yards Per Game: 100.1 (No. 26)
Rushing Yards Per Carry: 5.8 (No. 44)

I wished I loved anything as much as ESPN loves Barkley.

Stanford without Bryce Love…yikes

With Bryce Love sidelined with a bad ankle, Stanford escaped Oregon State by the skin of their teeth with a 15-14 win. The Cardinal looked dreadful and needed a fortuitous Beaver fumble in the closing minutes to pull out the game. The quality of the Stanford offense in Corvallis illustrated how valuable Love is. The Cardinal managed just 222 yards of total offense and just 81 yards on the ground – that’s often one quarter for Love.

Most thought Love’s ankle injury was not serious and he would be available after the Stanford bye week – that was not the case. With big games against Washington State, Washington, and Notre Dame in the coming weeks, the Cardinal need a healthy Love if they want to contend for a PAC 12 North title.

Florida State…yikes

After Florida State’s big loss to Boston College of Friday, comparisons were made to the 2016 Notre Dame team – highly-ranked teams entering the season that fell on their face. On the surface, that comparison is not without merit, but the Irish never quit like FSU did on Friday night. Of Notre Dame’s eight losses in 2016, seven were decided by one possession or less. They lost because of poor coaching and execution, but there was never a question of effort or heart.

Boston College is one of the most improved teams in the country and they had a shot at upsetting FSU (especially on red bandana night which might be the greatest home field advantage in college sports), but the Seminoles should never be utterly dominates by Boston College.

We mentioned a few weeks ago that it was idiotic for anyone to call for Jimbo Fisher’s job, and it still is, but he has clearly lost this team and with his confrontation of a home fan last week, you have to wonder if maybe he doesn’t have his eyes set on the coming openings in the SEC.

Miami…yikes

Miami is undefeated, but those days are numbered. The Hurricanes looked like anything but a top-10 team as they needed a last minute fumble by North Carolina to escape Chapel Hill with a win. UNC has just one win (Old Dominion) and they entered Saturday coming off a 59-7 drubbing at the hands of Virginia Tech. In fact, prior to Saturday, the Tar Heels had lost their previous four games by an average of 27 points. UNC may be the worst team in a power-five conference and the Hurricanes needed every break to get the win.

Virginia Tech and Washington are the dark horses

Ohio State in 2014 and Michigan State in 2015 were two teams that found themselves in the teens of the initial playoff rankings only to play well in November, with their conference, and find themselves in the top-four. While the Hokies do not have a signature win on their resume, they have a pair of opportunities in the latter part of the schedule. Va Tech faces No. 9 Miami Saturday and, if they are able to win and get through their remaining games, the Hokies would presumably play Clemson in the ACC Championship Game. That would give the Va Tech an opportunity to avenge their only loss of the season and, depending on how things break ahead of them, could be a play-in game for the playoff.

The PAC 12 has been dragged through the mud with losses from Washington State and USC, but the Huskies still have an outside chance at the playoff. The have been dominant in their wins with an average margin of victory of 31 points. With games vs. Washington State, at Stanford, and a probable matchup with USC in the PAC Championship Game, UW still has opportunities to bolster their resume.

Do the Huskies control their own destiny? No, but with the Big XII and ACC potentially cannibalizing each other, Washington could finish the season as one of only three one-loss conference champions.

UCF is the best team in the state of Florida and it’s not close

We mentioned Miami and Florida State’s struggles above, but with Florida a 3-4 and USF losing Saturday, UCF is the best team in the Sunshine State. The Golden Knights continued to be as impressive as any team in the country. Granted they played Austin Peay this week, but still put up 73 points. With USF losing, UCF does not have a chance for a marquee win to vault them into the top-ten, but they have a stranglehold on the Group of Five’s birth in a New Year’s Six game. Scott Frost has done a great job in year two and is a hot commodity with future job openings, but it’s hard to find a better situation than UCF.

The school has a huge student population, it’s located in a major metro area with fertile recruiting, and there is strong financial backing of the program. Plus, with the ever-changing landscape of college football, UCF is as coveted of a program by power-five schools if they look to expand. In three years, UCF could easily be in the Big XII. He obviously has connections to Nebraska and has a relationship with Scott Stricklin (Florida Athletic Director), but the grass isn’t always greener.

The Otter Room’s current Heisman ballot

1. Baker Mayfield
2. Josh Adams
3. Khalil Tate
4. Bryce Love
5. Saquon Barkley

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