The Road Report is College Football America/RoadTripSports.com Publisher Kendall Webb’s weekly review of the college football landscape – from the major colleges of the NCAA’s Football Bowl Subdivision to the small colleges of the NCAA’s Division II and III along with the NAIA and the junior colleges of the NJCAA and CCCAA.
THE COLLEGE FOOTBALL AMERICA SPOTLIGHT
Dear Baker Mayfield,
Alright, Mr. Mayfield, just settle down, will ya? I see you – I mean, how could I not after you threw for an Oklahoma Sooner-record 598 yards last week? Even our Matthew Postins had to boot Saquon Barkley from the top of his latest Heisman rankings to make room for you.
There was a time earlier this season when you were overshadowed by some of college football’s other big names like Barkley, Bryce Love and last year’s Heisman winner Lamar Jackson. But maybe all of us have been looking too hard because, in all reality, you’ve been right there all along for us to admire and appreciate.
I mean, heck, even when Jackson was winning the Heisman last year, you were there in the background quietly setting the all-time NCAA major college record for passing efficiency with a rating of 196.39.
No, wait a second, there I go short-changing you again.
You actually shattered the previous record of 191.78 set by Wisconsin’s Russell Wilson back in 2011. And here you are again a year later sitting at 201.6 poised to shatter the very record you set last year. Statistically, you just might be the best college football quarterback ever.
Okay, there. I said it. And, hey, man … I’m really sorry, too, for waiting so long to acknowledge that.
Kendall Webb, Publisher of the College Football America Yearbook
(P.S. – I promise it had nothing to do with the fact I’m a Longhorn.)
Well, after a week off from the road, I was anxious to get back out there last weekend, and on Friday evening I drove up from Nashville to Owensboro, Kentucky, and took in some high school football playoff action. The Apollo (Owensboro, KY) Eagles hosted the Greenwood (Bowling Green, KY) Gators in a first-round KHSAA Class 5A matchup. The Eagles entered the game 7-3 after a second-place finish in their district, but it was the 4-6 Gators that left town with a 51-31 win and a ticket to the second round.
After the game, I continued up to Terre Haute, Indiana, and on Saturday it was a twin bill starting with Youngstown State at Indiana State where the visiting Penguins pummeled the Sycamores 66-24. Then I headed across the state line to Charleston, Illinois, where I caught the remainder of the Eastern Illinois-Eastern Kentucky game. I was there for the best part as the host Panthers rallied for a game-tying touchdown with just 1.9 seconds remaining. The game went to overtime where the Panthers kicked a field goal and made it stand for a 23-20 come-from-behind win.
Our game/team count to date:
71 High School and College Football Games
NCAA FBS: 45 out of 130 teams
NCAA FCS: 14 out of 124 teams
NCAA D2: 9 out of 169 teams
NCAA D3: 11 out of 249 teams
NAIA: 10 out of 88 teams
Juco’s: 11 out of 135 teams
NCAA FOOTBALL BOWL SUBDIVISION (NCAA FBS)
The MAC is off and running as usual this time of year with its Tuesday and Wednesday night schedule. Miami (OH) beat Akron 24-14 Tuesday night while Buffalo notched a 38-28 win over hapless Bowling Green.
Ohio, meanwhile, pulled a shocker Wednesday night at home against Toledo. Ohio entered the game 7-2 while Toledo was 8-1 so a win by the host Bobcats wasn’t a complete surprise. The 38-10 margin, however, was definitely unexpected, and the two division leaders could meet again in the conference title game less than a month from now.
Also on Wednesday night, Western Michigan beat Kent State 48-20, and Central Michigan held off Eastern Michigan 42-30.
Thursday night will feature another MAC matchup when Ball State visits Northern Illinois, but there’s also some ACC action (North Carolina at Pittsburgh) and a Sun Belt contest (Georgia Southern at Appalachian State).
Friday night’s matchup between Washington and Stanford is the first game of the week with College Football Playoff implications. Washington is a game ahead of Stanford in the Pac-12 North standings, but even more importantly to the conference, they are the only team in the league with one loss. They represent the league’s best chance to nail down a spot in the playoff.
Also on Friday, Temple will visit Cincinnati in the American Athletic Conference and BYU, an independent, will travel to Sin City to face UNLV of the Mountain West.
The real fun begins on Saturday at 12 noon ET when CFP No. 12 Michigan State takes on CFP No. 13 Ohio State in a game that could ultimately decide the Big Ten East Division champion while keeping one of those teams’ dim playoff hopes alive. Then at 3:30 p.m. ET, CFP No. 1 Georgia visits CFP No. 10 Auburn as the top-ranked Bulldogs look to strengthen their resume even further. CFP No. 20 Iowa will also be in action at 3:30 p.m. traveling to Madison to face CFP No. 8 Wisconsin in a matchup that could shake up the Big Ten West Division race where the host Badgers are still undefeated.
Moving into the evening, CFP No. 2 Alabama doesn’t have many obstacles remaining between them and a spot in the SEC Championship Game (and the playoff, for that matter), but their 7 p.m. ET visit to CFP No. 16 Mississippi State is definitely worth paying attention to as the home field could help the Bulldogs even out the odds a bit. An hour after that one kicks off, we’ll have the two biggest games of the day with CFP No. 3 Notre Dame hitting the road to take on undefeated CFP No. 7 Miami (FL) and CFP No. 6 TCU paying a visit to CFP No. 5 Oklahoma.
COLLEGE FOOTBALL PLAYOFF
Last week, we entered the weekend with 14 teams still alive in our College Football Playoff Pool, but it’s down to just 10 now as four of our Group 2 teams suffered their second loss of the season. The two biggest casualties, of course, were Ohio State and Penn State, but Oklahoma State and Virginia Tech were also booted to Group 3 with their second losses.
Group 1 teams
Our four Group 1 teams, on the other hand, all survived another week undefeated. This week, Alabama moves to the top of the pool as the biggest favorite and the team most likely to remain undefeated for another week with their visit to Mississippi State on tap. Wisconsin will host Iowa, and the Badgers are the second biggest favorite of the week. Georgia, meanwhile, comes in at No. 3, and the Bulldogs are favored by just a field goal on the road at Auburn. No. 4 Miami (FL) will try to remain unbeaten with that home game against Notre Dame.
Group 1 Eliminators
There are no more Group 1 eliminators possible for the remainder of the regular season. We’re one step closer this week, however, to a matchup between Alabama and Georgia in which both teams could be undefeated heading into the SEC Championship Game. Georgia has already clinched the East Division title and a spot in that championship game.
Group 2 teams
Even with the loss of those four big names above, Group 2 still has four teams soldiering on with just a single loss. Clemson settles in at No. 5 in our pool this week favored by about 17 points at home against Florida State Saturday. Washington is up next at No. 6 as a solid favorite on the road at Stanford while Oklahoma is in the No. 7 slot in the pool as a touchdown favorite at home against TCU which is in the No. 9 position. Sandwiched between Oklahoma and TCU is No. 8 Notre Dame which, as noted, will play at undefeated Miami (FL).
The Oklahoma-TCU matchup is a Group 2/Playoff Eliminator at this point with the loser likely out of the playoff conversation.
Group 2 Eliminators
- CFP No. 6 TCU at CFP No. 5 Oklahoma
Group 3 teams
As usual, we won’t list any Group 3 teams until it becomes apparent they might receive consideration for the College Football Playoff.
Group 4 teams
With nine Power 5 teams in our Top 2 groups, we still haven’t reached the point where we think any Group 3 teams will be considered, but we do have an unbeaten team in Group 4 that we are still listing. The UCF Knights are trying to remain in the playoff conversation against all odds, and the only thing they can do right now is just keep winning. That shouldn’t be a problem at home Saturday afternoon against UConn.
Other games involving two undefeated teams
These are games between undefeated Group 1 teams and undefeated Group 4 teams. Group 1 losers in this case would fall to Group 2 while Group 4 losers would be eliminated. There will be no more of these matchups in 2017.
Other Playoff Eliminators
This category is for games between Group 2 and Group 4 teams. Any Group 2 losers in these games would move to Group 3 where they would only receive playoff consideration under the most extreme circumstances while the Group 4 losers would be eliminated from playoff contention. These games are essentially playoff eliminators. There will be no more of these matchups in 2017.
FWAA-NFF SUPER 16 POLL
As members of the FWAA, we rely on the FWAA-NFF Super 16 Poll as our official rankings at RoadTripSports.com supplemented by our own College Football America 130 where we rank every team in the FBS (essentially, the Top 16 of our CFA 130 reflects how I would vote if I was voting on the FWAA-NFF Super 16). The Alabama Crimson Tide are still the nation’s No. 1 team. You can read this week’s update on the poll changes here.
Of course, starting last week we also have the College Football Playoff rankings to consider, and these are the rankings that matter the most. The top four teams in the final rankings of this poll following the conference championship games in December will make the playoff. Currently, the Top 4 teams are No. 1 Georgia, No. 2 Alabama, No. 3 Notre Dame and No. 4 Clemson.
FWAA-NFF Super 16 Schedule
- No. 1 Alabama at Mississippi State
- No. 2 Georgia at No. 10 Auburn
- No. 3 Notre Dame at No. 7 Miami (FL)
- Florida State at No. 4 Clemson
- Iowa at No. 5 Wisconsin
- No. 8 TCU at No. 6 Oklahoma
- No. 9 Washington at Stanford
- No. 15 Michigan State at No. 11 Ohio State
- Rutgers at No. 12 Penn State
- No. 13 Oklahoma State at Iowa State
- UConn at No. 14 UCF
- No. 16 USC at Colorado
ROADTRIPSPORTS.COM GAME OF THE WEEK
With three Top 10 matchups on the schedule, this wasn’t an easy pick. CFP No. 1 Georgia’s visit to CFP No. 10 Auburn is huge, of course, and CFP No. 6 TCU at CFP No. 5 Oklahoma is likely an elimination game for the loser.
But whereas Auburn is likely already out of the running for the playoff barring a miracle and TCU-Oklahoma lacks the shiny presence of an undefeated team, CFP No. 3 Notre Dame at CFP No. 7 Miami (FL) really has it all. For one-loss Notre Dame, the game is definitely an elimination game – two losses with no conference championship game to offer them a chance at redemption would be too much even for the Fighting Irish to overcome.
Undefeated Miami, meanwhile, can bolster its resume and reputation with a win over the Irish whose only loss is to Georgia. That was a close game, so a Miami win – regardless of the margin – suddenly puts the Hurricanes on a more even footing with the other undefeated frontrunners. At No. 7, the ‘Canes are ranked behind four one-loss teams in the playoff committee rankings, but this would likely boost them over Notre Dame and the loser of TCU-Oklahoma – and based on Notre Dame’s No. 3 ranking, it may even lift them past the winner of that game. That would put Miami in the Top 4 and in the playoff field for now.
THE BOWL PICTURE
We track the bowl status of all 130 major college teams throughout the season with our Bowl Eligibility List. Currently, 50 teams are eligible for 78 bowl bids, and the Army West Point Black Knights have already accepted one of those. The Cadets will play in the Armed Forces Bowl on Dec. 23 in Fort Worth, Texas, against an opponent to still be determined.
Of the remaining 80 teams in the FBS, 21 have been eliminated from bowl eligibility. That leaves 59 teams competing for the remaining 28 slots.
For the full report on bowl eligibility, check out Chuck Cox’s Bowl Eligibility Report.
NCAA FOOTBALL CHAMPIONSHIP SUBDIVISION (FCS)
It’s still James Madison at No. 1 with a unanimous 26 first-place votes in the latest coaching poll after the Dukes won 38-3 at Rhode Island last weekend. At 9-0, they’ll take on Richmond this weekend back home in Harrisonburg, Virginia, as the season starts to wind down.
No. 2 North Dakota State, however, suffered its first loss of the season in a 33-21 setback at South Dakota State in last week’s FCS Game of the Week. The Bison, who dropped to No. 6, will host No. 10 South Dakota this weekend in our this week’s feature game as they look to get back on the winning track.
NDSU’s loss allowed Jacksonville State, Central Arkansas and Sam Houston State to each move up one spot into the Nos. 2-4 positions in the poll this week. No. 6 South Dakota’s loss at Northern Iowa dropped the Coyotes to the No. 10 position, and their in-state rivals from South Dakota State took advantage of the win over NDSU and the open positions to jump all the way from No. 8 to No. 5.
With NDSU in the No. 6 slot, North Carolina A&T held firm in the No. 7 spot while Wofford and Elon each eased up a spot into the Nos. 8-9 positions ahead of South Dakota.
NCAA FCS Game of the Week: No. 10 South Dakota at No. 6 North Dakota State
SMALL COLLEGE FOOTBALL
NCAA Division II
In their first week as the nation’s No. 1 team in Division II, the Minnesota State Mavericks recorded a 48-27 win over Wayne State (NE). They’ll likely face a stiffer test this weekend when they visit No. 13 Sioux Falls in our D2 Game of the Week.
For the second straight week, the highest-ranked team in D2 to lose was, unbelievably, Northwest Missouri State. Last week, the Bearcats gave up their position as the nation’s No. 1-ranked team falling to No. 8 when the poll was released. This time, they lost to No. 6 Fort Hays State in a 13-12 setback in our D2 Game of the Week. The loss dropped the Bearcats all the way to No. 18 while Fort Hays State traded places with Indianapolis taking over the No. 5 spot and dropping the Greyhounds to No. 6.
The rest of the top seven was unchanged with Shepherd, Indiana (PA) and Midwestern State maintaining the Nos. 2-4 positions while Central Washington held steady at No. 7.
Texas A&M-Commerce and Assumption moved up from the Nos. 9 and 10 slots into a tie at No. 8, and Ashland eased up one spot from No. 11 to round out the Top 10.
NCAA D2 Game of the Week: No. 1 Minnesota State at No. 13 Sioux Falls
NCAA Division III
There were no major changes in Division III last week as the Top 22 teams all maintained their positions with No. 1 Mary Hardin-Baylor at the top of the list. The Cru were 51-20 winners over Louisiana College to maintain the No. 1 position they’ve held all year.
The rest of the Top 10 in order is still Mount Union, Wisconsin-Oshkosh, St. Thomas, Delaware Valley, Hardin-Simmons, Saint John’s, Linfield, Wittenberg and Washington & Jefferson.
In the D3 Game of the Week, No. 12 Brockport defeated unranked Alfred 35-25. This week’s feature game will shine the spotlight on No. 18 Concordia-Moorhead as they visit No. 7 Saint John’s.
NCAA D3 Game of the Week: No. 18 Concordia-Moorhead at No. 7 Saint John’s
No. 1 Saint Francis (IN) didn’t have any problems handling Taylor in a 40-20 win last week to close the regular season, and the Cougars will enjoy a bye week this weekend as they prepare for the first round of the NAIA playoffs.
Baker had been No. 2 all year heading into last weekend’s home finale, but the visitors from Missouri Valley spoiled the Senior Day festivities with a 27-22 win. Baker dropped to No. 7 this week, and they’ll try to get back in the win column at No. 23 Evangel.
Baker’s loss allowed Reinhardt, Morningside and Lindsey Wilson to each move up a spot in the Nos. 2-4 positions. Southern Oregon, meanwhile, jumped up two spots from No. 7 to No. 5 leaving No. 6 Grand View and No. 8 Langston stuck in the same positions sandwiched around Baker.
Saint Xavier, meanwhile, was up a notch to No. 9, and Southeastern jumped two spots from No. 12 to No. 10.
Last week’s NAIA Game of the Week featured No. 5 Lindsey Wilson in a 37-14 romp over the previous No. 9 Georgetown (KY). This week’s game will feature that matchup between No. 7 Baker at No. 23 Evangel in what could prove to be a tough test for the visitors as they try to recover from their first loss of the season.
NAIA Game of the Week: No. 7 Baker at No. 23 Evangel
There was only change in the College Football America Juco Top 30 as our previous No. 4 Bakersfield of the CCCAA took a spill in a 48-38 loss to Ventura. Bakersfield dropped all the way to No. 18 with the loss while Ventura jumped from No. 23 to No. 16.
Other than that, the Top 10 was steady starting with No. 1 Fullerton of the CCCAA, a 66-14 winner over Orange Coast. The Hornets will close out the regular season with a trip to face Golden West this Saturday.
No. 2 Arizona West continues to be the top-ranked NJCAA squad in the Top 30 while No. 3 Riverside is yet another CCCAA squad. Nos. 4-10 are all up one spot this week starting with Snow (NJCAA), American River (CCCAA), Northwest Mississippi (NJCAA), San Mateo (CCCAA), East Mississippi (NJCAA), Laney (CCCAA) and Iowa Western (NJCAA).
Last week’s CCCAA Game of the Week turned out not to be much of a contest as No. 3 Riverside destroyed No. 19 Long Beach City in a 51-14 rout. The NJCAA Game of the Week, on the other hand, was a much closer affair as East Mississippi went on the road to upend Jones County 24-20.
Much of the NJCAA has already moved on to the conference playoffs, and we’ll feature No. 8 East Mississippi again this week at No. 6 Northwest Mississippi in the MACJC Championship Game. East Mississippi’s visit to Northwest earlier this season resulted in the Lions’ only loss in a 61-38 setback, but something says this one could be a lot closer.
Out in California, meanwhile, the CCCAA will wrap up its regular season. No. 3 Riverside at No. 15 Mt. San Antonio is a good way to wrap things up in our CCCAA Game of the Week.
CCCAA Game of the Week: No. 3 Riverside at No. 15 Mt. San Antonio
NJCAA Game of the Week: No. 8 East Mississippi at No. 6 Northwest Mississippi
U Sports (Canada)
U Sports took another step toward the Vanier Cup last weekend as Atlantic University Sports (AUS), Canada West and the RSEQ (Quebec) all joined Ontario University Athletics in the playoffs.
In the AUS, things got a bit strange this week after Saint Mary’s defeated StFX 16-15 to advance to the Loney Bowl to face Acadia which had a bye as the league’s No. 1 seed. Player eligibility issues have dogged Saint Mary’s this year, however, and after complaints were lodged regarding the use of another ineligible player, the AUS canceled the Loney Bowl and awarded its championship to the Acadia Axemen.
Instead of taking the field Saturday, Acadia will advance directly to the Uteck Bowl against the Ontario University Athletics champion on November 18. That game is a national semifinal with the winner advancing to the Vanier Cup, Canada’s national championship game.
Acadia’s opponent in the Uteck Bowl will be the winner of Saturday’s OUA championship in the Yates Cup game. Canada’s Western – ranked No. 1 in our U Sports 27 – will take on No. 6 Laurier. Canada’s other semifinal – the Mitchell Bowl – will feature the winner of Saturday’s RSEQ Finale between No. 4 Montreal and No. 2 Laval against the winner of Canada West’s Hardy Cup game. That contest will feature No. 5 UBC at No. 3 Calgary.
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