There are a number of very good college football games this weekend, beginning with the Big Ten. Ohio State looked as if it might be the BIG’s best bet for the playoff going into last weekend. After getting blown out by Iowa, the Buckeyes' playoff hopes are gone — and maybe the BIG’s as well.
Wisconsin now becomes the Big Ten’s best hope, as the Badgers are still undefeated. This week they will entertain Iowa, which is on a high coming off the Ohio State win. As good as the Badgers are, they are hurt by strength of schedule. The Big Ten West is not strong, and their out-of-conference opponents aren’t strong either. Wisconsin opened with Utah State, Florida Atlantic and BYU. None of those schools are going to help Wisconsin in the rankings.
Wins over Iowa this week and Michigan could be considered quality wins but the fact is both schools currently have two losses and another just lowers their standing. Wisconsin has to remain undefeated and then win the Big Ten Championship in order to any chance of making the playoff.
In the Big Ten East, the top schools all have two losses already. The team that gets to the championship game will most likely be determined this week when the Spartans travel to Ohio State. The problem with that is no team from the East will be ranked high enough to get Wisconsin to the playoff — assuming the Badgers win the title.
In the SEC, the biggest game features No. 1 Georgia playing at Auburn. Georgia has already clinched the SEC East title but if it wants to hold onto the No. 1 seed, it must beat Auburn. If the Bulldogs succeed, they should reach the SEC championship game undefeated and most likely play Alabama.
One of the other top games in the country this week is No. 3 Notre Dame traveling to Miami — which is ranked No. 10 as I write this but will probably be higher when the new rankings come out Tuesday night.
Notre Dame is basically in a playoff situation right now. If they win out, the Irish will be one of the four playoff teams. If they lose they are out because they are an independent team and can’t win a conference championship.
Notre Dame has been a dominant team most of the season, with its only loss coming to No. 1 Georgia by a point early in the season. Except for last week against Wake Forest, the Notre Dame defense has been outstanding and given up little. The offense has controlled games with their ground game, which is right now the most dominant in the country.
Notre Dame has played a difficult schedule and has quality wins over USC, North Carolina State and Michigan State. Notre Dame has won with its defense and run game, and where the Irish could get in trouble is if they have to throw to win. As accomplished as quarterback Brandon Wimbush is as a runner, he is very average as a passer. In the pass game he is for the most part a one-read quarterback. There have been a few times where he goes to a second option but he usually throws to No. 1.
Even though he likes to go to the first option, Wimbush is still slow getting the ball off and usually waits until after his receiver has made his cut. You seldom see him throw with anticipation, as he is not the quick processing type. Add to that the fact that he has very average accuracy — which makes opponents hope he has to throw. What scares opposing defenses is his ability to run when the pass play isn’t there. When he runs he is a threat to take it to the house on any given play. I’ll even venture to say that he is a bigger rushing threat than running back Josh Adams, who just happens to be averaging 8.7 yards per carry.
This Notre Dame Football team is the most physical Notre Dame team we have seen in years. They are young on defense, and make mistakes, but their physicality and hustle help them overcome mistakes. As I said above, if Notre Dame wins out it will be in the playoff, which the Irish will deserve. The question is do they have enough to win a playoff game, and right now I would have to say no.