November is here, the first College Football Playoff rankings have been unveiled, and it’s time to find out which teams are fit to make a push to the College Football Playoff.
Week 10 offers that opportunity with four games featuring teams ranked in those first set of rankings. The 3:30 p.m. ET time slot features three of those games, with No. 13 West Virginia at No. 17 Texas, No. 14 Penn State at No. 5 Michigan and No. 6 Georgia at No. 9 Kentucky. Of course, the main event features No. 1 Alabama at No. 3 LSU at Tiger Stadium for a primetime matchup at 8 p.m.
MORE: Biggest Playoff-deciding games of Week 10
It’s the biggest weekend of the 2018 regular season, and we’re here to cover it.
With that in mind, here’s a look at this week’s Heisman watch, coach on the spot, upset alert and something to think about heading into Week 10.
Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa is the front runner for the Heisman Trophy heading into November, and the sophomore quarterback can distance himself even further from the pack if he leads the Crimson Tide to a victory against LSU on Saturday.
Tagovailoa has 2,066 passing yards with 25 touchdowns and no interceptions this season, and he’s part of an offense averaging 54.1 points per game.
“Tua is a distributor,” ESPN analyst Kirk Herbstreit told Sporting News. “He has the best group of wide receivers that Nick Saban (has) had since he’s been there top to bottom, and it’s four (receivers) deep. He’s got the best group of running backs that they’ve had since he’s been there. They’ve got NFL tight ends and the typical Alabama offensive line.
“When you throw in No. 13 with all that, (offensive coordinator) Mike Locksley is sitting there looking at his play chart like he’s playing a video game. ‘What do I want to call next?’”
Can Tagovailoa have that video-game like performance against the Tigers?
Alabama’s two other Heisman winners made statements against LSU. Mark Ingram had 22 carries for 144 yards in a 24-15 victory in 2009. Derrick Henry had 38 carries for 210 yards and three touchdowns in a 30-16 victory in 201 — the same game in which LSU’s Leonard Fournette had 19 carries for 31 yards.
The difference? Ingram and Henry were at home. Tagovailoa is on the road, and a brilliant performance here wouldn’t just solidify his Heisman campaign. It would give him a chance to break the record for the largest margin of victory in the Heisman Trophy race.
Here is look at the Heisman winners who won by 1,500 or more votes:
MORE: The Power of Tua
Coach on the spot
Is there a two-loss team that could make a miracle run to the College Football Playoff? Let’s submit the case for No. 14 Penn State, which is admittedly thin heading into the game against the Wolverines. It’s a game James Franklin seems is singularly focused on, without a doubt.
Michigan, Michigan, Michigan, Michigan, Michigan, Michigan, Michigan, Michigan, Michigan, Michigan, Michigan, Michigan, Michigan, Michigan, Michigan, Michigam, Michigan, Michigan, Michigan, Michigan, Michigan!
The Nittany Lions have losses to Ohio State and Michigan State — two losses by a combined five points. Penn State would need all kinds of chaos just to get to Indianapolis, but it starts with a gotta-have-it-game against Michigan.
Consider since Jim Harbaugh’s arrival in Ann Arbor, Franklin is 3-8 against the Spartans, Wolverines and Buckeyes. That doesn’t compare well with Meyer (8-2), Dantonio (6-5) or even Harbaugh (4-6), who gets criticized the most for his big-game reputation.
The loser is going to feel that criticism on Saturday.
MORE: Penn State once again looks like litmus test for Michigan
We hit two of four upsets last week, and keep in mind heading into November that it’s not just about those upsets within the top-10. There are three “upsets” we could see this week that could have a chain effect for the middle of the Playoff rankings:
No. 12 West Virginia at No. 15 Texas (-3). This feels more like a toss-up anyway, but we like Will Grier to lead the Mountaineers to a victory in Austin for the third time in their last four visits. West Virginia is the one team outside the top 10 in the rankings that could make that Playoff run.
No. 19 Iowa at Purdue (-3). Both teams need his one if they want to win the Big Ten West. The Boilermakers still play Wisconsin, and the Hawkeyes get Northwestern at home. We like Iowa here, but not by much.
No. 25 Texas A&M at Auburn (-6). We picked Texas A&M last week, too. Somebody has to leave this game with four losses.
WEEK 10 PICKS: Straight up | Against the spread
Think about it
No. 10 Ohio State returns from a bye week to face Nebraska on Saturday, but that is nowhere near the top conversation in Columbus right now. Speculation about the health and future of Urban Meyer is rampant, and the coach tried to dispel those rumors with reporters this week.
“I am fully committed to Ohio State, the football program, as long as I can,” Meyer said, via the Columbus Dispatch.
Meyer also said in his Monday news conference that he plans on returning in 2019. Still, there are some – including ESPN’s Paul Finebaum – who believe this is Meyer’s last season at Ohio State, citing the pattern that led to Meyer’s exit from Florida. Is this, indeed, an exit strategy for Meyer?
Not yet. There has been a lot of drama this season, without a doubt. The fallout from firing former assistant coach Zach Smith led to a three-game suspension for Meyer, and he’s been dealing with headaches and an arachnoid cyst throughout this season. The 49-20 loss to Purdue on Oct. 20 amplified all of that.
What does that mean for Meyer’s future?
Check back after the matchup with No. 5 Michigan on Nov. 24. Meyer is 6-0 against the Wolverines, including 3-0 against Harbaugh. The Buckeyes need The Game to keep their Big Ten championship and Playoff hopes alive, and a victory there would solidify belief that Meyer isn’t going anywhere.
If not, well, then the speculation is bound to continue.
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