A month into the 2016 college football season, the College Football Playoff picture is not quite locked, although it’s clear which teams are most unlikely to play in it.
Some picked LSU pre-season to win the National Championship, yet the Tigers are 2-2 and without Head Coach Les Miles after losing 18-13 to Auburn, despite scoring as time expired just before the snap. Tommy Duff, Editor of The Kickoff, said he wasn’t shocked to see Miles get fired considering the pre-season expectations.
“LSU could’ve waited until the end of the season, but they named Ed Orgeron as interim head coach so they can get a head start on the search for a replacement,” Duff said. “Miles was the second-winningest coach in school history, posting a 114-34 record in 11-plus seasons at LSU. (Auburn Coach) Gus Malzahn saved his job for the time being, but there’s no job security there either. LSU will get their pick of coaches, I expect, and Miles will be one of the first choices anywhere else needing a new coach.”
There’s still a long way to go in the season, but this could be a very long season for Notre Dame, where they lost to Duke 38-35 for a 1-3 start to the year.
“Stoops at Kentucky is also in trouble. Will Muschamp at South Carolina has some time to develop that program but the talent level have severely dropped in Columbia,” Duff said.
Another pre-season favorite, Georgia, has also struggled against North Carolina and Missouri before falling this past weekend to Ole Miss. “Firing Coach Mark Richt made a lot of sense last season when the favorites to win the SEC East lost to Alabama, Florida and Tennessee, but a program had better have a plan in place to keep things up if it makes a decision like that,” Duff said. He thinks new Head Coach Kirby Smart is not exactly on the hot seat, although some Georgia fans may lose patience if the Bulldogs can’t beat a resurgent Tennessee that’s fresh off breaking an 11-year losing streak to the Florida Gators.
Duff thinks Tennessee is better than some polls have them. “Saturday’s game against Florida showed why we’ve ranked them higher than other polls, but there’s a tough schedule ahead with Georgia, Texas A&M, and Alabama. They need to be consistent. I think Tennessee had better be careful this weekend. Georgia is going to be out for blood.”
Alabama still sits atop the Kickoff Top 25 Poll as well as others. “They’re certainly beatable, but you have to beat them on speed,” he said. The Tide faces off against Kentucky after beating Kent State 48-0. The Kickoff has Ohio State at #2, ahead of Louisville and Clemson. The Louisville-Clemson game on Saturday will force some separation between the two.
“That’s going to be a hard one to predict,” Duff said. “You wonder if Florida State is not as good after losing so badly to Louisville or are the Cardinals capable of playing as good as they did in that game against other top teams this year. Clemson still looks solid, but I don’t think they are playing as well as they did last year. How much can you tell by almost losing to Auburn and beating Georgia Tech this year? Deshaun Watson was the Heisman front-runner at the start of the year, but he has been overshadowed by Lamar Jackson after that performance against Florida State.”
The Kickoff’s other Games of the Week are Stanford at Washington, Wisconsin at Michigan, and Texas at Oklahoma State. Find out more about these and other content in this week’s issue, which includes the Kickoff Thermostat, Conference and team standings through week 5, and The Kickoff’s Power Ratings to compare the match-ups.
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