This is proving to be a fascinating year in college football where very few teams have the combination you need to consistently win games. That combination being good defense + a proven leader at QB.
The playoff field
I had Michigan State, Georgia, Boise State, and UCLA as my favorites in the preseason while guessing that QB issues would bring down Bama and "the disease of more" would stop the Buckeyes.
Good chance those latter things still happen but it's becoming clear that Sparty isn't an elite team, Georgia isn't an elite team, Boise didn't find their QB in time, and UCLA has been beat up by injuries.
Michigan State is my only playoff projection that hasn't been beat and there's a good chance they will in one of their big games coming up, like their trip to Ann Arbor or their trip later in the year to Columbus.
Florida State is still surging but they need Dalvin Cook to be healthy to be an elite team. Alabama was never as out as people thought but I'm not sure they can win a playoff with Jacob Coker if he can get them there in the first place.
So much to think through here...we'll just have to take in more information for a while.
Those week 5 Big 12 picks...
As Football Brainiac Jordan Esco was kind enough to point out, I didn't have a great week picking the Big 12 in week 5. Here's what I said and where I've been off. As always, being wrong just means you have new information to learn from:
Kansas +17 at Iowa State
Pick: I don't care.
Result: Checks to see who won...shrugs.
West Virginia +7 at Oklahoma
Pick: West Virginia wins outright.
One team that might actually have the "good defense + leadership at QB=Victory!" formula down is Oklahoma. They still don't look great running the football but Lincoln Riley is just packing the middle with monstrously tall OL and allowing Baker Mayfield to do his thing.
The Sooner passing game is clever and effective and opponents are having a lot of trouble stopping it. Their defense, meanwhile, is thriving playing 3-4 sets with Bond and Striker opposite each other on the edges and Steven Parker playing cover safety over the slot.
I still think Baylor wins the Big 12, and they get OU at home, but the Sooners keep chugging along and gaining momentum. It's possible I was totally off on them, perhaps Lincoln Riley and Kerry Cooks have revitalized the program.
Texas -15 at TCU
Pick: Texas wins close and Baylor fan hates on both.
Result: WRONG! TCU blew out Texas with ease and Baylor fan...well that part was still mostly true.
Gary Patterson is proving he's the best defensive coach in the conference right now by patching ridiculous band-aids on his 4-2-5 and still making it work.
Baylor -17 vs Tech
Pick: Baylor wins, Tech covers.
Result: WRONG! Baylor blew out Tech, largely because they were able to stop the Raider run game. That detail should give much of the Big 12 pause, if Baylor can play good defense this year they're going to be very difficult to beat and they get Oklahoma in Waco this year.
Tech needs D'Vonta Hinton to be ready at LB sooner than later.
Kansas State +7.5 at Oklahoma State
Pick: Kansas State wins a narrow game thanks to turnovers.
Result: This was basically true, but #Big12refs screwed the pooch again by falsely awarding Oklahoma State a 3rd and 24 conversion due to misplacement of the sticks on the sidelines.
Sheesh. Get your act together, Big 12.
Three things really stood out from this game:
1) The Oklahoma State passing game with a healthy Mason Rudolph is very good and difficult to stop.
2) Brilliant job by Snyder and his staff preparing walk-on WR Kody Cook to take over for QB in the event of a Joe Hubener injury. Kid came in and executed their offense very well, accounting for over 200 yards and three touchdowns. Of course now he's hurt, but it's unbelievable what that staff has managed to get done.
3) There need to be some questions asked in Manhattan about why Joe Hubener was allowed to re-enter that game. Did they utilize the concussion protocol with him? Are we to believe that he passed the test?
Dude looked like he was out cold, which basically ensures he had a concussion, yet he was entered back into the game. I know that used to happen in football all the time but we're trying to get that out of the game and it's not okay if K-State ignored modern protocols and exposed him to further head trauma.
Next week in the Big 12 should be interesting as well, tune in for more thoughts on stuff happening around the league.