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
Last week it was all about the Auburn Tigers and the Miami (FL) Hurricanes who teamed up to take down two of the nation’s top three teams – No. 1 Georgia and No. 3 Notre Dame, respectively.
In doing so, both teams stayed very much alive in the race for the College Football Playoff. As one of only three undefeated teams remaining, the ‘Canes simply have to win out which would include a win over CFP No. 2 Clemson in the ACC Championship Game. The ‘Canes took Notre Dame’s spot at No. 3 in the playoff rankings, and it’s a no-brainer that they’re in if they win out.
Auburn, meanwhile, jumped from No. 10 to No. 6 with a game against No. 1 Alabama still on the schedule so even with two losses, we think the Auburn Tigers control their own destiny, too. If they beat Alabama next weekend, it would be the Crimson Tide’s only loss at 11-1. Auburn would be 10-2, but both teams would finish tied at 7-1 atop the SEC West. Auburn would win the tiebreaker based on the head-to-head result, and the Tigers would then play for the SEC Championship.
Georgia has already clinched the SEC East meaning the Bulldogs would play Auburn again at that point. The Tigers would win the SEC to finish 11-2 if they beat Georgia in a rematch, and it’s almost certain to be the Bulldogs’ only two losses.
Of course, as noted, Alabama would be 11-1, and last year the committee took an 11-1 Ohio State over an 11-2 Penn State that beat the Buckeyes head-to-head and then won the Big Ten Championship Game. Penn State was subsequently left out of the playoff.
But this time, we think even if the committee still rated Alabama ahead of Auburn, they could end up taking two SEC teams. The Pac-12 champion is guaranteed to have two or more losses at this point, meaning there will be, at most, four Power 5 champions that are either undefeated or have a single loss. It’s possible, however, that a two-loss Ohio State could upset Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship Game or, maybe, a two-loss TCU upsets Oklahoma in a Big 12 Championship rematch. If either of those scenarios happens and Auburn’s the SEC champion, then don’t be surprised at all if Auburn and Alabama make the playoff field.
Of course, there’s a lot of football left, and Auburn beating Alabama is still considered a longshot. But the Tigers roared against Georgia serving notice that they aren’t likely to be a pushover in the Iron Bowl either.
I was on hand for Cumberland’s season finale in Lebanon, Tennessee. The Phoenix put the wraps on a solid 7-4 season in a 62-23 win over the Kentucky Christian Knights. It wasn’t enough to get the Phoenix into the NAIA playoffs, but it gets the program one step closer heading into 2018.
Our game/team count to date:
75 High School and College Football Games
NCAA FBS: 48 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: 12 out of 88 teams
Juco’s: 11 out of 135 teams
NCAA FOOTBALL BOWL SUBDIVISION (NCAA FBS)
The MAC got things started on Tuesday night as Central Michigan took down Kent State 42 -23, and Akron upset Ohio 37-34. The league was at it again Wednesday with Eastern Michigan ending Miami (OH)’s postseason dreams in a 27-24 win. Northern Illinois outlasted Western Michigan 35-31 at home, and Toledo bombed Bowling Green 66-37.
Finally, on Thursday night Buffalo took down Ball State 40-24, and USF avoided disaster at home by hanging on to beat Tulsa 27-20.
To be honest, Saturday’s schedule pales in comparison to last week’s high-profile matchups that delivered so much chaos. The best of the best when it comes to possibly affecting the College Football Playoff includes CFP No. 24 Michigan at No. 5 Wisconsin at 12 noon ET followed by 7-3 Kentucky at No. 7 Georgia at 3:30 p.m. ET.
The best of primetime includes No. 11 USC hosting UCLA at 8 p.m. ET while Utah at No. 18 Washington is the premier late matchup.
Yeah. A little anti-climactic after last week’s Top 10 shakeup, but there’s more to come the weekend of November 25. Stay tuned.
COLLEGE FOOTBALL PLAYOFF
Last week, we entered the weekend with 10 teams still alive in our College Football Playoff Pool, but it’s down to just seven now as Notre Dame, TCU and Washington all suffered their second losses of the season to fall to Group 3.
Group 1 teams
And then there were three.
Georgia’s loss at Auburn dropped the Bulldogs to Group 2, leaving just Alabama, Miami (FL) and Wisconsin representing the unbeaten from Power 5 leagues. Alabama has a cakewalk against FCS Mercer Saturday, and Miami (FL) should be safe at home against an improved Virginia team. Wisconsin, however, has a tough matchup at home against Michigan in one of those late-season trap games that could derail a perfect season. The Badgers better be ready.
Group 1 Eliminators
There are no more Group 1 eliminators possible for the remainder of the regular season. Georgia’s loss at Auburn, meanwhile, ended the possibility of two undefeated teams playing for the SEC championship.
Group 2 teams
Georgia’s loss dropped the Bulldogs into Group 2 where they join Clemson and Oklahoma as the only remaining one-loss teams from Power 5 leagues.
Group 2 Eliminators
None of those teams are scheduled to play, however, so there are no Group 2 Eliminators this week.
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. With only six Group 1 and 2 teams remaining, we’re getting close to listing the Group 3 teams that may receiving consideration for the playoff.
Group 4 teams
There’s only one Group of 5 team remaining in our pool – the undefeated UCF Knights who are trying to get into the playoff conversation against all odds. There’s just two many two-loss teams ahead of them at this point in the official College Football Playoff rankings, however, to think it’s possible.
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, we also have the College Football Playoff rankings to consider now, 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 Alabama, No. 2 Clemson, No. 3 Miami (FL) and No. 4 Oklahoma.
FWAA-NFF Super 16 Schedule
- Mercer at No. 1 Alabama
- Virginia at No. 2 Miami
- The Citadel at No. 3 Clemson
- No. 4 Oklahoma at Kansas
- Michigan at No. 5 Wisconsin
- ULM at No. 6 Auburn
- Kentucky at No. 7 Georgia
- Illinois at No. 8 Ohio State
- Navy at No. 9 Notre Dame
- Kansas State at No. 10 Oklahoma State
- UCLA at No. 11 USC
- No. 12 TCU at Texas Tech
- Nebraska at No. 13 Penn State
- No. 14 UCF at Temple
- No. 15 Washington State, Idle
- Utah at No. 16 Washington
ROADTRIPSPORTS.COM GAME OF THE WEEK
It’s pretty simple. Wisconsin controls their own destiny here, and even with a loss to Michigan, they could win out and probably make the playoff.
That is to say, they may have a mulligan even if they lose one just because they can still finish 12-1 and whe the Big Ten. That being said, it would be a bad sign if they do lose, because the game is in Madison, and Michigan has already lost to the likes of Michigan State and Penn State which both remain in the running for the Big Ten East Division title. Not to mention frontrunner Ohio State which controls its own destiny in the East.
The bottom line is, with a schedule that’s been knocked and mocked, this is Wisconsin’s opportunity to start making some big statements. So forget that mulligan – they need a win here.
THE BOWL PICTURE
We track the bowl status of all 130 major college teams throughout the season with our Bowl Eligibility List. Currently, 59 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 71 teams in the FBS, 26 have been eliminated from bowl eligibility. That leaves 45 teams competing for the remaining 19 slots.
For the full report on bowl eligibility, check out Chuck Cox’s Bowl Eligibility Report.
NCAA FOOTBALL CHAMPIONSHIP SUBDIVISION (FCS)
The James Madison Dukes and the North Carolina A&T Aggies are the only undefeated teams remaining in the FCS, and the Dukes are still the nation’s unanimous No. 1. (North Carolina A&T is tied for No. 7.)
The Dukes close the regular season this weekend with a tough matchup at No. 15 Elon, but they’re heavily favored to finish the regular season at 11-0 before taking a first-round bye next week when the FCS playoffs start.
No. 2 Jacksonville State has already wrapped up the regular season with a 36-6 win over Tennessee State Thursday night. No. 3-6 are the same as last week with Central Arkansas, Sam Houston State, South Dakota State and North Dakota State in order.
North Carolina A&T was alone in the No. 7 spot last week, but they are joined in a tie this week by Wofford which was No. 8 a week ago. No. 9 Elon lost 16-6 at New Hampshire last week to drop to No. 15, and No. 10 South Dakota was blown out in our FCS Game of the Week losing to North Dakota State 49-14 and falling to No. 16. Taking over those final two spots in the Top 10 this week are No. 9 Weber State and No. 10 Western Illinois.
NCAA FCS Game of the Week: No. 1 James Madison at No. 15 Elon
SMALL COLLEGE FOOTBALL
NCAA Division II
The No. 1 Minnesota State Mavericks survived a scare at No. 13 Sioux Falls escaping the road with a 27-23 win in our D2 Game of the Week last Saturday.
Then on Sunday, they lost.
Despite being ranked No. 1 in the coaches poll and having three wins over teams ranked in the top eight in their region (no other team has more than a single win over a team in the playoff field), the Mavericks dropped to No. 2 in their regional rankings behind Central Washington.
That means no first-round bye, and the Mavericks instead will open the playoffs at home against the region’s No. 7 seed CSU-Pueblo on Saturday. If they win, they’ll host a second-round game on November 25 against the winner of Sioux Falls at Midwestern State. Central Washington, meanwhile, gets a bye week while waiting for the winner of Texas A&M-Commerce at Winona State – a far less treacherous path to the third round versus the path Minnesota State has to travel. And Central will play host to Minnesota State now if both teams advance to the third round.
It makes little sense, of course, but the Mavericks have no option other than to play the hand they were dealt. They won’t get much sympathy from Shepherd, though, as the Rams are ranked No. 2 in the coaches poll and also got dissed by the regional rankings. They’ll host a first-round playoff game against Findlay while No. 3 Indiana (PA) gets the bye as the No. 1 team in the regional rankings.
The other two region byes went to No. 4 Fort Hays State and West Alabama – ranked a distant No. 17 in the coaches poll. The full NCAA D2 bracket is located here at NCAA.com.
NCAA D2 Game of the Week: No. 8 Texas A&M-Commerce at No. 12 Winona State
NCAA Division III
The Division III regular season ended with no major surprises last Saturday, and the same 25 teams are ranked this week with only a few minor changes in order.
Of course, at the top, it’s still No. 1 Mary Hardin-Baylor as the defending national champs prepare for another playoff run by hosting Chapman in the opening round Saturday.
No. 2 Mount Union is the top team in their corner of the bracket with an opening-round contest on the docket against Washington & Lee. No. 3 Wisconsin-Oshkosh will host Lakeland, and No. 5 Delaware Valley earned the other top seed in the bracket, and they’ll play host to Western New England.
Mary Hardin-Baylor certainly didn’t get any favors from the playoff committee as No. 4 St. Thomas, No. 6 Hardin-Simmons and No. 8 Linfield are all in the Cru’s bracket. Hardin-Simmons and Linfield will play in the first-round just about guaranteeing a second-round matchup against the Cru who shouldn’t have any problems with Chapman. The Hardin-Simmons/Linfield matchup is our D3 Game of the Week.
Mount Union will have to contend with No. 9 Wittenberg and No. 10 Washington & Jefferson in their bracket while Wisconsin-Oshkosh has a likely second-round meeting against No. 7 Saint John’s.
Ironically, Delaware Valley – the lowest-ranked of the four top seeds – may have the clearest path to the semifinals with No. 11 Brockport and No. 13 Wesley being the highest-ranked teams in the bracket. The full NCAA D3 bracket is here.
NCAA D3 Game of the Week: No. 8 Linfield at No. 6 Hardin-Simmons
The NAIA hasn’t seen a repeat champion since 2008-2009 when the Sioux Falls Cougars won back-to-back titles. Another group of Cougars, however, will launch their bid for a second straight title Saturday when the defending champion Saint Francis (IN) Cougars host No. 15 Benedictine (KS).
No. 2 Reinhardt is in just its fifth season after reviving a football program that had laid dormant since 1920. They’re 2-2 in the NAIA playoffs, but they could be primed to make a deep run as the No. 2 seed. They’ll host a No. 14 Concordia-Ann Arbor squad that’s making its playoff debut.
No. 3 Morningside will host No. 16 Sterling, and No. 4 Lindsey Wilson will take on No. 9 Southeastern in our NAIA Game of the Week. The full first-round NAIA pairings are located here.
NAIA Game of the Week: No. 9 Southeastern at No. 4 Lindsey Wilson
The junior college regular season has concluded, and the postseason will get started this weekend in California as the CCCAA playoffs kick off. There’s also a number of postseason bowl games on the schedule.
In Southern California, CFA No. 1 Fullerton will take on No. 12 Saddleback at Whittier College in one regional semifinal while No. 9 Riverside hosts No. 14 Ventura in the other. In Northern California, No. 15 Siskiyous will play at No. 6 San Mateo and No. 7 Laney will hit the road to take on No. 4 American River in our CCCAA Game of the Week.
The NJCAA postseason won’t kick off until the weekend of December 2-3 when nine bowl games are scheduled. That includes the Mississippi Bowl featuring the top two teams in the official NJCAA rankings when East Mississippi takes on Arizona Western for the NJCAA National Championship.
CCCAA Game of the Week: No. 7 Laney at No. 4 American River
U Sports (Canada)
It was a wild week in Canada, but the national semifinals are set in Canada’s U Sports.
The organization had initially declared Acadia the champion of the AUS when it ruled that Saint Mary’s had used an ineligible player last week. A court battle ensued, and Saint Mary’s prevailed meaning the Loney Bowl to decide the AUS champion had to be played before this Saturday’s Uteck Bowl national semifinal.
So on Tuesday, Acadia and Saint Mary’s played the Loney Bowl after all, and it was a doozy with Acadia finally prevailing in double overtime by a score of 45-38.
That left just four days for No. 10 Acadia to get ready for the Uteck Bowl, and they’ll host Canada’s No. 1 team – the Western Mustangs – on Saturday.
There wasn’t near as much drama leading up to the Mitchell Bowl – Canada’s other national semifinal. No. 3 Calgary will play host to No. 2 Laval in that one. The winners of the Uteck and Mitchell bowls will then square off on Saturday, November 25, for Canada’s Vanier Cup – the national championship of Canadian college football.
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