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Who should really be #1… LSU or Ohio State?

2019 college football playoff

In what is sure to be the watercooler topic this week, the College Football Playoff committee on Tuesday moved Ohio State to the top spot over LSU despite both teams being 11-0. LSU remains the #1 team in the country on the AP Top 25 and Coaches Poll.

One possible explanation: While the Tigers beat Arkansas 56-20 last weekend, the Buckeyes defeated a ranked opponent, #9 Penn State 28-17, and faces another this weekend, #11 Michigan. Clinching the Big Ten’s East division and ensuring a spot in the Big Ten championship game gives Ohio State’s victory added weight.

Join in the discussion on our Facebook Page to let us know what you think of the CFP committee’s move.

Clemson (11-0) and Georgia (10-1) come in third and fourth on the AP and College Football Playoff rankings.

On the Kickoff Top 25 this week, we kept LSU in the top spot but agreed that Ohio State should immediately follow, moving Clemson to the #3 spot. Last week we had Alabama in the #4 spot, but we moved Georgia ahead, shifting the Crimson Tide to the #5 position. Beating Western Carolina 66-3 couldn’t contend with the Bulldogs’ 19-13 victory over #24 Texas A&M.

This puts Tide fans in an unfamiliar where they must not only beat #15 Auburn with their backup quarterback but will also be rooting for either Texas A&M, Michigan, South Carolina, or Georgia Tech to win an upset to have any hope of securing one of the top 4 playoff spots. Georgia controls its own destiny with regard to its playoff chances.

With Tua out of the picture with his season-ending injury and the Auburn home crowd fired up to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the Iron Bowl coming to Jordan-Hare, Nick Saban and the team may face more pressure to step up than they are accustomed to experiencing. But this team still has enough talent to be lethal if they enter the stadium prepared to play.

A loss to the Tide under these circumstances may put Gus Malzahn squarely in the hot seat with a combined 4-10 record against Georgia and Bama since 2013 — and that Arkansas head coaching job remaining vacant. If Malzahn jumps ship, he would owe Auburn about $7 million, but if fired, Auburn would have to pay him $27 million remaining on his contract. While teams like the 6-5 Tennessee (third place in the SEC East) will be thrilled just to make it to a bowl game, in the brutal SEC West, going 8-4 to finish third behind LSU and Alabama puts a coach at risk of losing his job.

Rutgers and FSU are also looking for quality coaches, with more vacancies sure to happen after Saturday’s games.

Rivalry Week as the 2019 Regular Season comes to a close

It’s rivalry week as we enter the final week of the regular season for most teams. Our Kickoff Games of the Week include Alabama at Auburn, Ohio State at Michigan, and Cincinnati at Memphis.

There were two games played Tuesday night, Ohio vs Akron and WMU vs NIU. Several games are scheduled for Friday as well. Other big rivalries that are always a blast to watch: Texas Tech at Texas, #17 Iowa at Nebraska, Missouri at Arkansas, Washington State at Washington, USF at UCF, #16 Notre Dame at Stanford, Oregon State at Oregon, Northwestern at Illinois, Louisville at Kentucky, FIU at Marshall, and Wake Forest at Syracuse.

In this week’s issue of The Kickoff

In the latest issue, we examine a conference breakdown and show you the math to argue which conference is most dominant. We list Football Bowl Subdivision standings and select Football Championship Series standings, plus News and Notes, the Kickoff Thermostat, a look back to the Kickoff Top 25 on Dec. 1, 1997, the statistically most improved teams of 2019, overall trends through last week, listings of this week’s games with our Power Ratings assigned, Division 1A FBS expanded standings, 2019 average margin of victory leaders, opening over/under odds and our picks, and listings of kickoff times and television schedules for this week, opening consensus odds and our picks, plus more.

After this weekend’s thrilling games, attention will turn to the final bowl picture as teams accept invitations. We still have three new issues remaining before the off-season.

We’ll look back on the 2019 season to review which teams lived up to the hype and which were disappointing.

And the Heisman race and coaching changes will come to the forefront of college football news.

Stay tuned as The Kickoff continues to cover the universe of college football.

Alabama hoping top 4 teams stumble before regular season ends

Alabama remains on the outside looking in, sitting in the #5 spot on the College Football Playoff Rankings, AP Top 25 and Coaches Poll in Week 13 after Georgia beat Auburn. The Tide’s prospects for playing for another national title hinge on either LSU, Ohio State, Clemson, or Georgia stumbling.

Still recovering from the loss to LSU, Bama’s chances of winning another title fell with the heartbreaking season-ending injury of Tua Tagvalioa, playing against Mississippi State. The Heisman contender underwent hip surgery on Monday.

The top three teams in the polls are all undefeated, so Tide fans have to root for the Bulldogs to lose to Texas A&M (7-3) this weekend and rival Georgia Tech (2-8) in the regular season finale on Nov. 30th. LSU also faces Texas A&M after Arkansas (2-8). Ohio State has Penn State (9-1) and Michigan (8-2) left on the schedule while Clemson still has a game left to play against a 4-7 South Carolina team that handed Georgia its sole loss in Week 6. And don’t count out Auburn (7-3), which could upset Alabama in the Iron Bowl on Nov. 30.

Could Tide fans be left watching another team play for the national title for the first time since Ohio State played Oregon in 2015? They would prefer to start the next decade with another trophy in the case in Tuscaloosa.

We’ll eagerly await the latest College Football Playoff rankings tonight to see what Tagvalioa’s absence could mean for Bama’s CFP ranking.

This Week’s Kickoff

In the most recent Kickoff Top 25, we still have Alabama one spot ahead of Georgia, but LSU ahead of both teams by at least four points in our Power Ratings.

Our Games of the Week are Penn State at Georgia, Oregon at Arizona State, and TCU at Oklahoma.

Also in this week’s edition are the Kickoff Top 25, analysis of our top-rated recruits have fared in 2019, a conference breakdown through issue 12, news and notes, the Kickoff Thermostat, On this Date in Kickoff History, Division 1A FBS expanded standings, the 2019 average margin of victory leaders, our Power Ratings for this weekend’s games, opening over/under odds and our picks, opening concensus odds and our picks, Kickoff times and television schedules for this week, plus overall trends against the spread for home and road favorites.

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Are Coaches Being Given Enough Time to Turn Programs Around?

Arkansas gave Chad Morris his pink slip this weekend after only 22 games coaching the Arkansas Razorbacks. The move came just one week after Florida State sent Willie Taggart packing.

While 4-18 is unacceptable for any self-respecting college football program, especially one in the proud Southeastern Conference, the move does come across as a bit aggressive to not even let Morris finish the season, putting tight ends coach/special teams coordinator Barry Lunney Jr in charge in the interim.

Losing 45-19 to Western Kentucky as the latest in a seven-game losing streak hurts.

The Razorbacks have an open weekend before traveling to play an LSU team ranked #1 in the country after taking down #2 Alabama in Tuscaloosa this past weekend.

It was less than two seasons ago when Bret Bielema got kicked to the curb after going 29-34 in five seasons, the school still owing him about $1.9 million. Arkansas owes Morris about 70% of his remaining compensation on a six-year contract. What have boosters gotten for that investment? The Hogs have lost 17 straight SEC games dating back to the end of the 2017 season.

Whenever there’s a coaching change in Fayetteville, Auburn’s Gus Malzahn is mentioned as a favorite to succeed the fired coach. In the past, Malzahn has used this as leverage to increase his salary on the Plains. But as the Tigers have struggled this year (by SEC West standards), message boards have lit up with calls to replace Malzahn.

If Auburn, which put a beating on Arkansas a couple of weeks ago, adds losses to Georgia and Alabama over the next four weeks, the Gus Bus could conceivably pull out of town. Auburn likely won’t get fired unless the team does horribly because Malzahn (back when the Tigers beat Georgia and Alabama in the same season) signed a seven-year, $49 million contract extension – complete with a massive buyout clause that won’t dip below eight figures until 2023. The team’s highly touted backup left the team after Malzahn kept his talented freshman, Bo Nix, in the LSU game despite the young man struggling to produce offense.

The pundits on ESPN’s College GameDay sounded off on Willie Taggart’s mid-season dismissal at Florida State. They asserted that the culture in Tallahassee must be more toxic than first thought if Taggart faced such an uphill battle and wasn’t even given much of a change to recruit his way to an improved program.

The Seminoles view their early entry into the coaching market as an advantage in hiring a replacement who’ll be able to turn the program around dramatically and win national championships sooner rather than later.

Coaching changes always impact recruiting. It will be interesting to see which players change their commitments following these dismissals and who they might get instead.

Even the mighty Alabama Crimson Tide faced turmoil in the 2000s before Nick Saban turned Tuscaloosa back into a natty championship factory. People forget how much they struggled to replace the Legend “Bear” Bryant between 1983-2006 with Ray Perkins, Bill Curry, Gene Stallings, Mike DuBose, Dennis Franchione, Mike Shula, and Joe Kines trading the big seat before Saban came to town. Stallings was the only one who came close to living in Bryant’s shadow with a championship in 1993.

What do you think? Will it make any difference if Arkansas and Florida State get early starts in the competition for new head coaches?
Should they have given Morris and Taggart more time?
Who will be next in line to get fired?

Alabama Falls in AP Poll Following Loss to LSU

The other huge news this weekend was LSU beating Alabama in Tuscaloosa to remain undefeated. In the new AP Poll, fell two spots from #2 to #4. Ohio State was #2, Clemson at #3. They are joined by #7 Minnesota, and #12 Baylor as the only remaining undefeateds in the Top 25.

Auburn, ranked #13, will have a chance to ruin Playoff hopes for #5 Georgia when the two teams play this weekend. That oldest rivalry in college football is one of our games of the week. LSU will play unranked Ole Miss at 6 pm. The Buckeyes play Rutgers at 2:30. Clemson plays #19 Wake Forest at 2:30. The Tide play Mississippi State at 11 am.

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First College Football Playoff Poll Announced

Our Kickoff Games of the Week are #1 LSU at #2 Alabama, #5 Penn State at #13 Minnesota, and #22 Wake Forest at Virginia Tech.

Changes to the AP, Kickoff Top 25 as CFP Poll Announced

On the AP Poll, LSU remains in the top spot, closely followed by Alabama. It’s going to be fun watching these two SEC powerhouses clash this weekend and answer the question of “Who is the best of the West?”

Teams on the rise include #6 Georgia, #8 Utah, #9 Oklahoma, #11 Baylor, #15 Notre Dame, #16 Wisconsin, #18 Iowa, #19 Memphis, #20 Kansas State, #22 Wake Forest, and #24 San Diego State. Florida fell 4 spots to #10 while SMU fell 8 spots to #23. Appalachian State dropped out of the AP Top 25.

Last week’s Kickoff #2, Ohio State, fell to #4 on our poll behind LSU at #2 and Clemson at #3. Florida fell from #6 to #12. To see the other changes, subscribe to get your issues of The Kickoff college football newsletter.

The College Football Playoff Rankings were released Tuesday night. The initial Top 4 teams are #1 Ohio State, #2 LSU, #3 Alabama, and #4 Penn State, with #5 Clemson and #6 Georgia waiting in the wings. Then it is #7 Oregon, #8 Utah, #9 Oklahoma, and #10 Florida filling out the rest of the Top 10. 

 

Six teams on the poll have not played another team on the Top 25, including Alabama, Boise State, Clemson, Minnesota, Utah, and Wake Forest.

Also in this week’s issue, we list the Single Season D1/FBS Rushing Leaders, the Yearly D1/FBS Rushing Leaders, a Conference breakdown, the Kickoff FBS Strength of Schedule through November 2nd, News and Notes, On this Date in 1994, Trivia, the Kickoff Thermostat, Division 1A FBS Expanded Standings, Average Margin of Victory Leaders, Kickoff times and television schedules, opening over/under odds and our picks, the opening consensus odds and picks, October trends, and our Power Ratings for this weekend’s games.

Willie, We Barely Knew You

The Florida State Seminoles fired Head Coach Willie Taggart after Saturday’s embarrassing 27-10 loss to Miami. He got the axe after coaching just 21 games, finishing 9-12. They weren’t bowl eligible last season. Don’t feel too bad for the coach, who will get a buyout in the $18 million range. Former Florida State athletic director Stan Wilcox, who hired Taggart in December 2017, stepped down eight months later to join the NCAA.

What do you think? Was Taggart given enough time to rebuild? Will other coaches be reluctant to come to FSU? Or will firing Taggart before the end of the season give the Seminoles an edge on other schools who are waiting? Former Tennessee and USC Coach Lane Kiffin has reportedly expressed an interest in the job.

Who will we see cut loose next? Clay Helton at USC? Chad Morris at Arkansas? Mike Bloomgren at Rice? Scott Frost at Nebraska? Joe Moorhead at Mississippi State? Barry Odom at Missouri? Pat Fitzgerald at Northwestern? Dana Holgorsen at Houston?

The hot seat is getting very warm as these coaches run out of time to turn things around.

LSU Takes Top Spot in AP Top 25 After Auburn Win

NCAA: College Football Players can Profit From Likeness

Note: As we write this blog, there is breaking news that the NCAA is announcing greater leniency on players receiving compensation for use of their likeness in products like college football video games. And at least one Congressman has Tweeted that if this is the case, the IRS may treat college scholarships as income. We will provide more coverage of this issue as more details are revealed. 

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