The Report Card : Week 11 Analysis of the Power 5 Conferences
A Weekly Look at the Power 5 Conferences and Independents
On November 17, 2015 the College Football Playoff Selection Committee will present its third rankings of the season based on strength of schedule, head-to-head results, comparison of results against common opponents, conference championships won and other factors.
Each week, The Rebel Walk’s Jeff Tetrick presents a national report card on the Power 5 conferences and independent schools. The aim is to rank and grade the 5 conferences based on the cumulative results of each league’s teams that weekend.
Jeff will offer a brief weekly summary for each conference and suggest which teams are most likely in the hunt for a playoff berth. The Independent schools will have a section but not be ranked with the conferences. Below are the criteria as well as his rankings for Week 11.
Report Card Criteria:
Good Day: Regardless of the score, a win over a non-Power 5 school is a good day. A team who plays great but loses the game to a Power 5 school can be placed in this category.
Key Losses: A loss to a non-Power 5 team is a key loss. As well, a loss to a non-conference Power 5 school is a key loss because of the missed chance to make the claim that conference A is better than conference B. In conference play, a loss goes into this category unless the losing team played an exceptional, close game.
Week 11 Power 5 Conferences Report Card
1. Big Ten
Key Wins: 6 Ohio State, Iowa, Michigan State, Michigan, Northwestern, Nebraska
Good Day: 0
Key Losses: 6 Illinois, Minnesota, Maryland, Indiana, Purdue, Rutgers
Ohio State used a strong running game and stout defense to cruise past Illinois in Champaign to stay unbeaten. Michigan State rode its defense to a victory over Maryland, while Michigan needed double overtime to sneak past Indiana in Bloomington.
Iowa remains perfect at 10-0 after relying on the running backs and tight ends to beat Minnesota in Iowa City. Northwestern ran past Purdue, and Nebraska won its second consecutive game by downing Rutgers.
Ohio State gets its first test of the season this week when Michigan State visits Columbus. The edge goes to the Buckeyes, but the Spartans are fighting for their playoff lives. Iowa is a heavy favorite over Purdue, and the Hawkeyes can clinch the West Division title with a victory.
In the playoff conversation: #2 Ohio State, #6 Iowa, #9 Michigan State
2. Big 12
Key Wins: 5 Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, TCU, West Virginia, Texas Tech
Good Day: 0
Key Losses: 5 Baylor, Iowa State, Kansas, Texas, Kansas State
Oklahoma made the biggest national headline by thumping previously unbeaten Baylor in Waco, as predicted in this column last week. Oklahoma State is now the only perfect Big 12 team after escaping Ames with a close win over Iowa State. TCU got an ugly victory over winless Kansas. West Virginia routed Texas in Morgantown, and Texas Tech became bowl eligible by taking out Kansas State.
There are 2 big games this weekend that will further shape the Big 12 race. TCU visits Norman for a date with Oklahoma, and Oklahoma State plays host to Baylor. The Sooners should beat the Horned Frogs. The Cowboys possess enough defense to beat the Bears, but the lack of a ground game may allow Baylor to make this game a shootout, which would favor the Bears. If the Sooners and Cowboys win, it would set up a de facto Big 12 championship game in Stillwater the following week.
In the playoff conversation: #4 Oklahoma State, #7 Oklahoma, #10 Baylor, #11 TCU
Key Wins: 5 Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Vanderbilt
Good Day: 3 Tennessee, Texas A&M, Missouri
Key Losses: 5 Mississippi State, LSU, South Carolina, Auburn, Kentucky
Alabama justified its place in the Selection Committee’s top 4 by dominating Mississippi State in Starkville. The Crimson Tide defense allowed the Bulldogs just a pair of field goals. Arkansas became bowl eligible by pulling off a second straight upset, this time trouncing LSU in Baton Rouge. The Tigers are now officially eliminated from playoff consideration.
Once again, SEC East champ Florida was unimpressive on offense but managed to get by South Carolina in Columbia. Georgia defeated Auburn on The Plains, while Tennessee gained bowl eligibility by beating North Texas. Vanderbilt won its second SEC contest of the year by taking down Kentucky.
Alabama and Florida are the only playoff hopefuls for the SEC heading into the last 2 weeks of action. Alabama needs only to beat Auburn in the season finale to win the West, while Florida has won the East already. Alabama is playing as good as anyone in the country and is capable of winning the national title, but Florida has struggled mightily on offense most of the season.
In the playoff conversation: #3 Alabama, #8 Florida
Key Wins: 6 Virginia Tech, Clemson, Florida State, North Carolina, Pitt, Louisville
Good Day: 0
Key Losses: 7 Georgia Tech, Syracuse, NC State, Miami, Duke, Virginia, Wake Forest
Clemson picked up a road win at Syracuse to stay unbeaten. Florida State rallied with a backup quarterback to get past NC State. Virginia Tech won a close battle with Georgia Tech. North Carolina moved a win closer to clinching the Coastal Division crown by trashing Miami, while Pitt kept its slim Coastal hopes alive by routing Duke in Durham. Louisville became bowl eligible by edging Virginia.
Clemson and North Carolina are the playoff hopefuls for the ACC, though #1 Clemson is the heavy favorite. The Tigers are in if they win out. The Tar Heels have been a surprise team at 9-1, but they benefit from playing in a very weak conference and would be a big underdog to Clemson in the ACC championship game.
In the playoff conversation: #1 Clemson, #12 North Carolina
Key Wins: 6 USC, Oregon, Arizona, Washington State, Arizona State, Cal
Good Day: 0
Key Losses: 6 Colorado, Stanford, Utah, UCLA, Washington, Oregon State
The top 3 teams in the league lost over the weekend, ending the hopes of a playoff berth for the PAC-12 at this point. Stanford fell to Oregon at home. Arizona beat Utah in overtime in Tucson, and Washington State upset UCLA at the Rose Bowl. USC survived a close call against Colorado in Boulder. Cal reached bowl eligibility by defeating Oregon State.
The PAC-12 is out of the playoff race, unless all of the top teams suffer 1-2 losses in the final 2 weeks. Stanford remains the top team in the conference, and the Cardinal could still record big wins over Notre Dame and the South Division champ in the PAC-12 title game.
In the playoff conversation: None
Key Wins: 1 Notre Dame
Good Day: 0
Key Losses: 2 Army, BYU
Notre Dame scored an easy win over Wake Forest to keep alive its playoff dreams. The Fighting Irish travel to Palo Alto in 2 weeks to face Stanford in a final chance at boosting its resume for the Selection Committee. At this point, Notre Dame has no signature win. The best win Notre Dame can claim is Navy or Pitt. Instead, the Fighting Irish are given credit for having the best loss to top-ranked Clemson. In my opinion, Notre Dame has to beat Stanford and hope that both Oklahoma and Oklahoma State lose to reach the playoff. Yet, I would be very surprised if the Fighting Irish beat Stanford on the road. Further, the lack of a conference championship could hurt Notre Dame in the end when compared to Oklahoma or Oklahoma State, either of which can win the Big 12 title, in the eyes of the Selection Committee.
In the playoff conversation: #6 Notre Dame
This section is our guess at which teams or conference champions the Selection Committee would choose or leave out based on the body of work up to this point in the season. Please note that this list is not a ranking of the 4 best teams or a projection of who will be the 4 playoff teams in December. Rather, it lists the teams with the top playoff resumes based on who they have played to this point in the season.
Based on week 11, if the College Football Playoff was today, the Selection Committee might go with…..
1- Clemson (ACC) versus 4- Oklahoma State (Big 12)
2- Alabama (SEC) versus 3- Ohio State (Big Ten)
On the outside…..
Top Ten Teams
This section is our view of the top ten teams in the country at this point in the season. This list is not based on the AP poll or exclusively on a team’s record. Thus, a one-loss team may be ranked higher than an undefeated team. This ranking is based on our view of which teams are playing the best football now, who have a good playoff resume, and who are capable of reaching the College Football Playoff.
After 11 weeks of action, the Top Ten Teams are…..
- Ohio State
- Oklahoma State
- Notre Dame
- Michigan State