College football is a sport of great tradition and history. The Big Ten conference has been around since its inception in 1896, but the recent success of the Alabama Crimson Tide has many wondering if they are on their way to taking over college football.
The Alabama football schedule is a topic that has been discussed for weeks. Many people believe the Big Ten could crash the inevitable Alabama in this year’s championship game.
We aren’t quite halfway through the 2023 college football season, but it seems like Alabama and Georgia supporters may start making trip plans to Indianapolis, or at the very least Atlanta.
While the Crimson Tide and Georgia Bulldogs seem to be the best chances to make the College Football Playoff right now, there is plenty of uncertainty behind them. According to statistics from ESPN Stats & Information, 34 ranked teams have already fallen in the first five weeks of the season, the most in the history of the AP poll, which goes back to 1936. Through Week 5, eighteen rated teams have fallen to unranked opponents, tying the 1974 and 2007 seasons for the most.
So, before you totally abandon your squad, remember that you are not alone and that there is still plenty more football to be played.
Here are a few more overreactions over the last five weeks:
Cincinnati is a candidate for the College Football Playoff
Desmond Ridder and the Cincinnati Bearcats were 0-2 on the road versus AP Top 10 opponents before last Saturday’s game against Notre Dame. Icon Sportswire/Brian Sloter
Following victories against Indiana and Notre Dame in back-to-back games, there is now a widespread belief that Cincinnati is on the verge of being the first team from a Group of 5 conference to reach the College Football Playoff. To be cautious, the Bearcats should have booked Purdue ahead of time. Another contender team is Penn State Football which has been booked as a favorite in every game.
According to the Allstate Playoff Predictor, the Bearcats now have a 32 percent chance of reaching the CFP after defeating Notre Dame 24-13 at home, snapping the Fighting Irish’s 26-game home winning run. According to ESPN’s FPI, they have a 33 percent probability of going undefeated, the best of any FBS team. Cincinnati’s odds of making the CFP go to 82 percent if it goes undefeated in the regular season and wins the AAC championship game.
Desmond Ridder, the quarterback for the Cincinnati Bearcats, stated Saturday, “It’s still midway.” “There are still a lot more games to be played. It’s an important victory against a Top 10 team. At the end of the year, I believe [Notre Dame] will be in the top ten. We’re going to go out and play our game at the end of the day. Hopefully, we can maintain this momentum heading into Friday’s [versus Temple] game and the weeks after that.”
Take nothing away from Cincinnati’s win against Notre Dame. It’s a game that cements coach Luke Fickell’s club’s status as the top non-Power 5 team in the nation (though BYU may have something to say by season’s end). But, with more than half of the season remaining, let’s not get too excited about Cincinnati’s prospects in the CFP.
By early December, Cincinnati’s wins against Indiana and Notre Dame may not be worth as much as Oregon’s triumphs over UCLA and Washington, or Oklahoma’s victories over Baylor and Oklahoma State. It’s too soon to tell. What we do know is that Indiana is presently 2-3, with defeats to Iowa and Penn State in which they were outscored 58-6. They’re not up to par. In their season opener, the Fighting Irish needed overtime to defeat Florida State, and then a late score to win Toledo at home. Before losing to the Bearcats, the Irish were already playing with fire due to poor offensive line performance.
That isn’t even Cincinnati’s most serious issue. It has eight games left against AAC opponents, seven of whom have already dropped at least two games. The combined records of Navy, Tulane, Tulsa, and South Florida are 4-15. The exception is No. 24 SMU, which will play at Cincinnati’s Nippert Stadium on Nov. 20. Cincinnati’s remaining strength of schedule is 89th in the FBS, according to FPI. Maybe that’s why, with the exception of SMU, the Playoff Predictor gives the Bearcats an 86 percent probability of winning every game (76 percent ). The AAC isn’t as excellent as it was a few years ago. We’re not here to spoil Cincinnati’s party, but the Bearcats will need a lot of things to go to the College Football Playoff.
Georgia is superior than Alabama.
So far this season, Georgia’s defense, led by offensive lineman Broderick Jones, has allowed just 23 points in five games. The only time the Bulldogs allowed fewer points in the AP Poll history was in 1937, when they allowed 14 points in their first five games. Icon Sportswire/Jeffrey Vest
With each passing week, it seems more and more probable that Alabama and Georgia will play in the SEC title game on Dec. 4 and the CFP National Championship on Jan. 10 in Indianapolis.
The Crimson Tide and Bulldogs both have at least an 85% probability of making the CFP (no other SEC team has more than a 3% chance), and the FPI gives them a 24% chance of going into the SEC title game undefeated. Lane Kiffin, the coach of the Ole Miss Rebels, may be getting his popcorn ready for that one.
For the first time since 1980, when they won the national title, the Bulldogs have shut out back-to-back SEC opponents. Georgia is the first team in the last 25 years to allow just one offensive score in its first five games, according to ESPN Stats & Information (it came in garbage time in the fourth quarter against South Carolina). Georgia’s athletic and deep defensive line looks a lot like Alabama’s, and its linebacker corps is just as good as Alabama’s.
Georgia’s attack has been effective enough even without quarterback JT Daniels, who missed the UAB game with an oblique injury and then the Arkansas game with a lat injury. In a 56-7 blowout over the Blazers, backup quarterback Stetson Bennett IV tossed five touchdown passes. In a 37-0 blowout over the Razorbacks, the Bulldogs rushed for 273 yards. Once receiver Kearis Jackson and tight end Darnell Washington return from injuries, the offense could improve even more, particularly if standout receiver George Pickens recovers from a knee injury late in the season.
Over the next month, we’ll find out just how good the Bulldogs are. The Tigers’ journey to No. 18 Auburn on Saturday will be their first real road game — sure, they’ve previously played at Vanderbilt — and they’re coming off their first win at LSU since 1999. Then, on Oct. 16, No. 16 Kentucky, who defeated Florida at home for the first time since 1986, goes to Georgia, followed by a game versus the Gators in Jacksonville, Florida, two weeks later. Regardless of how badly the Gators performed against the Wildcats, they will always give it their all versus the Bulldogs.
Sure, Alabama’s 31-29 win against Florida was a nail-biter. So far, Alabama’s defense hasn’t been as effective as Georgia’s, although part of it may be due to the team’s young. The Tide offense has been improved, and with quarterback Bryce Young, it has the potential to be much better. The basic line is that the Crimson Tide will remain the team to beat in the SEC until Georgia beats Alabama on the field, something it has yet to accomplish under coach Kirby Smart.
The SEC is once again the greatest league in the country
No. 5 Iowa is 5-0 overall going into Saturday’s big game at Kinnick Stadium versus No. 4 Penn State. Icon Sportswire/Tony Quinn
With Alabama and Georgia pulling away from the rest of the field in the College Football Playoff race, it would seem that the SEC is once again the most dominating conference in the sport, right?
Not so fast, my friend.
Despite the fact that the SEC has seven teams ranked in the AP top 25 this week, the Big Ten may be superior after five weeks. No. 3 Iowa, No. 4 Penn State, No. 7 Ohio State, No. 9 Michigan, and No. 11 Michigan State are among the Big Ten teams rated this week. At this point, it might be argued that the Big Ten, like the SEC, is just as worthy of two teams in the CFP if, for example, Iowa and Michigan or Michigan State are undefeated heading into the Big Ten title game.
While Alabama and Georgia have dominated the SEC, the remainder of the conference has problems. The next highest-ranked SEC team is No. 13 Arkansas, who was thrashed by Georgia. No. 16 Kentucky is unbeaten, although it had trouble defeating Missouri and FCS Chattanooga. Florida, LSU, and Texas A&M have all lost their first two games.
Meanwhile, the Big Ten has four undefeated teams (Iowa, Penn State, Michigan, and Michigan State), as well as the Buckeyes, who may be the best one-loss team in the conference if their defense improves. Maryland and Rutgers are both doing better than they have in the past, which isn’t saying much, while Nebraska is showing signs of life after falling down early. Of course, we won’t know whether conference is ultimately superior until the playoffs, and we’ve all seen how the Big Ten has fared in the past.
Manny Diaz’s time in Miami is over
The rumblings about Manny Diaz’s precarious future at Miami grow louder with each passing week. USA TODAY Sports/Reinhold Matay
I’ve always had a special place in my heart for Miami coach Manny Diaz, a former ESPN staffer who entered the coaching profession in an unusual manner. It was a nice narrative when the Hurricanes chose him to replace Mark Richt in 2019 — a former Miami mayor’s son returning home to attempt to bring the U.S. back to Miami.
Diaz had also paid his dues. Diaz had to fight his way back up the coaching ladder after a less-than-stellar stint as Texas’ defensive coordinator from 2011 to 2013. I initially became interested in Diaz during the summer of 2014, when he was preparing for his first and only season at Louisiana Tech.
I took a lighthearted jab at Diaz during the 2014 World Cup semifinals, back when I was still active on Twitter, or the “gutter of mankind,” as I now refer to it. “When did Brazil appoint Manny Diaz as its defensive coordinator?” I tweeted after Germany thrashed Brazil 7-1. My cellphone rang almost immediately. It was a call from an area code in South Florida. Diaz was the one who expressed his displeasure with the tweet. I emphasized that it wasn’t a personal matter and that it was just his turn.
Diaz was promoted to head coach at Miami five years later. Because of his connections to the community, I assumed the marriage would be successful. Coaches in South Florida would adore him, and top prospects in the 305 would flock to Miami once again. It hasn’t occurred for whatever reason.
The Hurricanes are 2-3 this season after finishing 8-3 in 2023. Alabama and Michigan State thrashed them, and they lost their ACC opener against Virginia, 30-28, when freshman kicker Andy Borregales’ 33-yard field goal attempt bounced off the left upright as time expired.
Diaz may or may not be the right man for the job in terms of turning the Hurricanes around. Two and a half seasons, in my opinion, isn’t long enough to find out. The larger issue for me is, if the Hurricanes dismiss Diaz, who will they replace him with that is any better? Miami’s prospects of doing so, based on their track record since Butch Davis departed for the NFL more than two decades ago, seem to be low.
The auburn football schedule is a topic that has been talked about for some time. I believe that the Big Ten could crash the inevitable Alabama.