Big 12 expansion
News that the Big 12 President’s could not agree on expansion was not really a surprise given that both Fox and ESPN previously expressed opposition to such a move. In the short term this is probably a smart move for the Big 12 because expanding their television revenue is the primary factor for expansion, which they would not have been able to do. In the long term, however, this essentially solidifies the BIG 12 as the lesser of the 5 power conferences and makes their future far less stable. Eventually the SEC, ACC, PAC-12 and BIG Ten will look to expand again and when they do they will, most certainly, look to the Big 12. The SEC would gladly take Oklahoma and Oklahoma State while the BIG Ten would look at Kansas and Iowa State. Texas Tech and Kansas State would be likely fits for the PAC-12 leaving Texas, Baylor, Texas Christian and West Virginia for the ACC to choose from. It’s not inconceivable that the SEC and BIG Ten will fight over premium properties like Oklahoma and Kansas, while Texas already has established a relationship with the ACC during previous negotiations, and the Conference has already shown a willingness to work with Notre Dame.
Speaking of Notre Dame, it appears as if there was more holding the team back then defensive coordinator Brian Van Gorder. Notre Dame is experiencing the worst season of Brian Kelly’s tenure and the fan base is already calling for him to be replace, which is stupid. Kelly has done a good job at Notre Dame given the school’s stringent academic requirements, from which they rarely waiver, and the less than ideal location of South Bend. These days most good football recruits come from Georgia, Florida, Texas, and Southern California and aren’t used to the midwest weather, not to mention the isolation from their families. Notre Dame could probably get Les Miles, or perhaps Jason Candle or PJ Fleck. There is something to be said for continuity in college football and Notre Dame will probably be better off in the coming years if they stick this season out with Kelly.
As for Western Michigan and PJ Fleck, the Broncos appear to be in a good position to make the playoffs. Toledo is still on the schedule though and the late season MAC matchup could actually have playoff implications. Corey Davis leads the Broncos offense and looks like the best receiver in college football at the moment. Logan Woodside leads the Rockets, and the nation in passing efficiency. The MAC could have two All Americans this year, and two early first round picks in the coming NFL draft.
Currently the playoff favorites are led by Alabama and Ohio State, with Clemson, Washington, West Virginia, Baylor, Michigan, Nebraska, and Texas A&M. Of those teams only Clemson and Washington don’t play at least 1 game against the other undefeated contenders. This could actually hurt both teams. Whoever wins a top 10 matchup between Baylor and West Virginia in late November is going to look a lot better to the committee than a Washington team with no wins versus top 10 ranked opponents. Clemson’s win against Louisville will be ancient history by then and might not look as impressive depending on how the Cardinals finish the season. It’s difficult to imagine an undefeated PAC-12 team not making the playoffs, but it isn’t impossible.
And Another Thing
This week all eyes will be on the Alabama Texas A&M game in Tuscaloosa. Sumlin has caused problems for Alabama in the past and he has the kind of team that should be able to do so again. Alabama has the homefield advantage and a talent surplus. The two teams lead the SEC in sacks per game, tackles for loss per game, and total offense per game. Alabama’s defense is far superior, stat wise, but Myles Garrett is a great equalizer of college football and could cause significant problems for Cam Robinson. Offensively expect Alabama to take away either the run or the pass and force the Aggies to be one dimensional. It’s what Saban always tries to do and if he can’t, then hs usually loses. Trevor Knight will need to have his best game and the team must protect the football if they are going to win at Bryant Denny. Whoever wins this game can make a strong case for being the best team in the country.