Hess: 7 Power-5 teams, Notre Dame remain unbeaten (column)
October 7, 2018
The sixth week of the college football season was not supposed to be as exciting as it ended up being.
The Red River Shootout was as advertised as Texas held on, 48-45, over Oklahoma in what was the best game of the college football season.
Oklahoma, a team that had playoff hopes, will go to the back of the line in the race to the postseason. The Sooners aren't out of the Big 12 title hunt, but they will have a long road to go with a game against unbeaten West Virginia to end the regular season.
Oklahoma's Kyler Murray would still be a shoe-in to get invited to New York for the Heisman ceremony if the season ended today, but on Saturday, Oct. 6 he was outshined by the man with the best nickname in the college football, Dicker the Kicker. Cameron Dicker was perfect on two field goals for the Longhorns including the 40-yard game winner.
Notre Dame's 45-23 win over Virginia Tech was the Fighting Irish's last true test of the season. Despite not being in the current top four, Notre Dame has the easiest road to the playoff. The Golden Domes won't need to play a 13th game at the end of the year and there won't be room for two SEC teams in the playoffs this year. The selection committee would not dare to leave such a storied program in the middle of an undefeated season out of the playoffs.
COLORADO remains unbeaten
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Colorado keeps on rolling and Saturday's win was so impressive because it was the first time all season the Buffs were able to win a back-and-forth game against a competitive team. Arizona State was able to run down the field with ease in the first half of the game, but the second half was a different story. The defensive adjustments against the Sun Devils played just as big of a part in the 28-21 win as Laviska Shenault's four touchdowns.
Shenault is not only one of the best receivers in the country, but he has emerged as a legitimate Heisman candidate. On Saturday, he scored a touchdown running between the tackles and one TD running outside. He caught a touchdown on a quick screen at the goal line and another on a deep ball from 30 yards out. The man can do it all.
Colorado's difficult stretch is just getting started as the Buffs will travel to Southern Cal on Saturday, Oct. 13, and then play at Washington the following week.
Southern Cal has had a difficult start to the season, but the loss to Texas is not looking so bad right now. The Trojans still have the best talent in the Pac 12 and there is a reason why they are favored against the Buffs. However, Steven Montez threw for 376 yards against the Trojans last season and 2017 senior Juwann Winfree had 163 yards receiving in a 38-24 loss, so expect Montez and Shenault to be able to have their way with the Trojan's secondary.
If I was a betting man, I'd take the Buffs and the points, but there is a reason I am a ski bum and not a high roller in Las Vegas.
Unbeaten power 5 teams
Colorado is one of seven teams still unbeaten in a Power 5 conference, let's take a look at the other six and their chances to make the playoffs:
Clemson (6-0): As long as quarterback Trevor Lawrence is healthy, the Tigers are not going to be tested in the ACC. Saturday's 63-3 drubbing of Wake Forest showed just how complete of a team Clemson can be when healthy. With the easiest road, Clemson should be a lock for the playoff.
N.C. State (5-0): The Wolfpack have been a great story so far this season, but the clock is going to strike midnight in two weeks. There will only be one unbeaten team in the ACC after N.C. State faces Clemson on Oct. 20. Don't expect that team to be the Wolfpack.
West Virginia (5-0): Quarterback Will Grier has put up some great stats for the Mountaineers and it is surprising he hasn't gotten much publicity yet. The Mountaineers still have to face Texas and Oklahoma, so he will have his chance to make his mark. As long as the Big 12 doesn't cannibalize itself, WVU could play a spoiler in the playoff.
UGA (6-0): Georgia is the real deal, but they are going to have to show it as the Bulldogs will travel to LSU, take a week off, face rival Florida in Jacksonville, travel to Kentucky and then host Auburn. If the Bulldogs go through that stretch of games unscathed, then they will be battle tested for the eventual clash of titans against Alabama.
Alabama (6-0): The Crimson Tide aren't just beating teams, they are annihilating teams. Tua Tagovailoa and the Alabama offense could have scored 100 points a game if they wanted to. Tagovailoa has yet to play in the fourth quarter this season and he might not need to until the SEC Championship in December. With the way the season is shaking out, the playoff will only have room for just one of Georgia and Alabama.
Ohio State (6-0): The Buckeyes will be smooth sailing until The Game against rival Michigan. Ohio State is in a similar boat as Clemson. As long as they win, they are a virtual lock for the College Football Playoff.
Saturday looks to be a good slate of games with Washington facing Oregon and Wisconsin facing Michigan. The Vail Daily's Tricia Swenson will be at the Georgia/LSU game on Saturday and will report back to the office about the tailgating scene.
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