Finally a week where the Frogs can relax- and not relax because of a week opponent (I'm sure you all remember how that almost went), but with an actual week off ahead of Thursday's Thanksgiving clash with the Texas Longhorns. This gives us the ideal opportunity to gather together and enjoy a good root... for other teams, that is! It's not the most stacked lineup of games, and a lot of the outcomes we want this week would be long shots, but that's part of the fun of college football, right? Sometimes really weird things can happen- and with that in mind, here are the basic rules for choosing who to root for this week.
1.) If a team is ranked ahead of TCU, they need to lose
The number one rule is always the same from week to week- for TCU to have the best shot to make the playoff, they need to be ranked as highly as possible, and as such, any team ranked above the Frogs is in the way of that goal. Unless there's a team in the top 4 you specifically want to see us play (and beat), we want to be assured of our playoff spot and a high seed- I think we'd all dig another trip to the Rose Bowl.
2.) Baylor needs to lose
The Bears get a boost in importance this week, as I'm less concerned about the SEC getting two teams in than most, for reasons I'll lay out in more detail in #4. The chief concern is that Baylor continues to nip at our heels, and like it or not, the head to head argument will sway some voters if the Bears stray too close to us in the rankings. I still like our chances if we both win out, but it's we're all about as much surety as we can get. As such, the easiest way to ensure the Frogs remain in the catbird seat for a playoff spot is for us to root for what we root for anyway- Baylor Delenda Est.
3.) If a State school (Ohio/Mississippi) plays or played someone ranked, root against them (Minnesota excepted).
We're in more of a rankings war with the Big Sisters of the Poor than I had anticipated, but it's not really that surprising- Ohio State has the name recognition to overcome a lot of sensible arguments against them (like the worst loss of a playoff contender). Florida State is removed from this discussion this week, as I believe if they drop any of their remaining 3 games they will absolutely plummet, but stepping into their position as a State school to root against is current #4 Mississippi State, so we want even more of a bloodbath in the SEC than we've already had to keep the pollsters from being silly in the final rankings, you see...
4.) Mississippi State is the Baylor of the SEC- in a good way.
Yes, it would be nice for the Bulldogs or Tide to drop a game and make things easy for us, but there's a very good reason that I don't currently fear the dogs remaining ranked ahead of us- their non-conference schedule is as bad as Baylor's, and is actually possibly worse given that the SEC has four non-conference games compared to the three we work with in the Big 12. The committee has said that they will give a boost to conference champions over non-conference champions, and while TCU will be assured of at least a share of the conference title if we win out, Mississippi State lost control of its destiny when it lost in Tuscaloosa last week. There's also the fact that MSU's wins that got the Bulldogs launched into the stratosphere... don't actually look so impressive anymore. Auburn bit the big one at home against A&M and got trampled by Georgia, LSU got shut out at previously winless-in-the-SEC Arkansas, and Texas A&M has been... Texas A&M. Take away the fact that they were undefeated before last week, and are the Bulldogs actually that impressive? I don't think so, and I don't think the committee will put them in over a conference champion TCU, OSU or Baylor team- but we'll root against them anyway. Again, best off taking no chances.
5.) It's okay Gophers, Michigan State couldn't beat Ohio State either.
We still love the Gophers, because not only did they play Ohio State as close as any team (bar Virginia Tech) they made the Frogs look that much better for dispatching the Gophers with relative ease. Still best buds?
You'd better believe it. There's still a lot of good that the Gophers can do for us this year (though the baffling loss to Illinois means the margin for error is essentially nil) as Minnesota controls its own destiny in the West, and the win over the B1G West (Legendary Leader) champ would go a long way with the committee. So with these five rules in mind, let's have a look at this week's matchups.
Rule 1 games
West Carolina Whatevers @ #1 Alabama Crimson Tide
Every week in the SEC is a playoff, I tell you! It's not going to happen, but 'Bama having a few early struggles would be good for a laugh. Don't waste your rooting energy or even your attention on this one.
Don't laugh, but Colorado is a bit undervalued in this one. Aside from a rough outing at USC they haven't really been blown out this year, and came very close to wins against Cal, Oregon State and UCLA. I'm not saying the Buffs are going to pull this one out, but that 34 point line seems a bit off to me. Still, don't spend too much rooting power on this one, especially when you have such a neat little matchup next...
Coming off of an emotional road win against rival Miami and with archrival Florida looming ahead, this date against a Boston College team that has already pulled one major upset this year (against USC) screams trap game. This is definitely a game to pay attention to this week, and root hard for the Seminoles to lose and/or continue to struggle, as the committee has already shown a willingness to move one loss teams above an undefeated team that has a number of warts.
Vanderbilt Commodores @ #4 Mississippi State Bulldogs
Vandy sure didn't waste time in turning terrible again after James Franklin moved to Penn State, did they? Still, there's a chance for some negative-style points for MSU coming off of a loss to Alabama (that wasn't as close as the final score indicated) if the Commodores stay close, so get a decent root on in this one.
Rule 2 game
Before you write this one off due to OSU not being very good, I've got a little stat for you: 5-1. That's Mike Gundy's record against Art Briles so far, with the one loss being a one touchdown escape by the bears in 2012. For whatever reason, no other team in the conference has had as much consistent success against Baylor as OSU, and for that reason this game could be very interesting- The Bears have have spent two weeks hearing about how good they are, how they deserve to be ranked above TCU and in the playoff, and they're expecting to blow OSU's doors off. I think it'll be close. Root hard for the Cowboys in this one, so much so that this one is your Root of the Week!
Rule 3 games
This is another of those really long shots- Indiana has beaten Ohio State twice in my lifetime, and probaby in your lifetime too (unless you were born before October 20th, 1951) and with the Hoosiers on their third string quarterback, this probably isn't the year they get to #3. Don't waste a lot of energy on this one.
The worse the win over the Spartans looks, the worse the Buckeyes look. Cheer for the Scarlet Knights in this one (I still can't believe frickin' Rutgers is in the B1G), stranger things have happened.
Finally a home team to cheer for, but it's my hated namesake. Still, Wisconsin is in the driver's seat for the B1G West championship, so to ensure that the Buckeyes don't get a quality win in the championship game in case our beloved Gophers can't get it done, root for the Hawkeyes to take the Heartland Trophy.
Ole Miss is somehow still at #8, despite a bad looking loss to LSU, so we'd love the hogs to run wild on the Rebels to take a quality scalp opportunity off the table for the Bulldogs. Arkansas will be fired up after that first SEC win, while the Rebel offense hasn't been the same without Laquon Treadwell- this is a definite game of interest. Woo Pig Sooie?
Rule 5 game
This is a big one for the Gophers, and with both sides coming off losses it will be interesting to see how each team responds. I like Patrick Cobb against a Husker defense that was ripped for an NCAA record yardage total last week though, and a win may well assure the Gophers of a top #25 ranking in the end of year polls even if they can't pull it out against the Badgers in the Axe game. Root hard in this one, Ski-U-Mah.
This is also your open thread to discuss all the days action, so relax and get your root on folks- this week it's everyone else's problem.