- Jerry Sandusky passed on the Temple coaching job? The Owls dodged one there.
- The halo over Joe Paterno‘s head on a mural has been removed. Here’s a picture.
- Obviously, the Freeh report has dominated Penn State headlines, but the annual Lift For Life did raise over $100,000 for the Kidney Cancer Association.
- Spencer Hall and SB Nation take on the Big 12. If you need to laugh — and judging by many of the comments over the past 48 hours, I would say that’s an affirmative — I would recommend clicking the link.
- Frank Beamer lost 32 pounds? Good for him.
After a relatively lackluster weekend of college football, a mix of rivalry games and division races crossing the finish line will be among the many highlights this week. The most notable of those races will be the SEC West and the Pac-12 North, as they will play a role in the greater College Football Playoff picture to various degrees. Throw in the possible Big 12 championship game scenarios and we have some good stuff to look forward to this week.
The ACC and Big Ten championship games are already locked in. Clemson will face Miami and the ACC hopes each will avoid an upset this weekend in order to keep this a potential matchup of top four teams at worst. Wisconsin and Ohio State are set to square off in Indianapolis for the Big Ten championship, and that game also figures to play a key role in the College Football Playoff picture.
USC clinched the Pac-12 South and now gets a bye week to prepare for the Pac-12 Championship Game. The Trojans will face either Stanford or Washington State. That opponent will be determined by the Apple Cup between Washington State and Washington. If the Cougars win, they will play USC in the Pac-12 championship game. If Washington State loses to Washington, then it will be Bryce Love and Stanford going against Sam Darnold and the Trojans.
The Iron Bowl between Alabama and Auburn will determine the SEC West Division champion, with the winner advancing to Atlanta for the SEC Championship Game to face East Division champion Georgia.
The Big 12 championship game is also still to be determined. Oklahoma will play either TCU or Iowa State, although it is most likely to be the Horned Frogs who will face the Sooners. Iowa State would need a win and TCU to lose to Baylor in addition to a combination of two losses from Texas, West Virginia and Oklahoma State. If TCU beats Baylor, TCU will be in.
The Group of Five puzzle still has a few pieces to figure out as well. Fresno State and Boise State must still learn where their Mountain West Conference championship game will be played. Memphis will play the winner of this week’s UCF vs. USF game, with the location to be determined. Conference USA has FAU vs. North Texas ready to go, but the MAC will have both divisions settled this week. Akron will clinch the East with a win on Tuesday, otherwise, the door will be open for Ohio to grab the division on Friday with a win. Toledo will clinch the West with a win or an NIU loss, while NIU can clinch the division with a win and a Toledo loss.
While it does not play a conference championship game this season, the Sun Belt Conference crown is also up for grabs. Troy, Arkansas State, Georgia State, and Appalachian State are all 5-1 in conference play going into this week, leaving the door open for an interesting conference championship situation. Troy will play at Arkansas State, so the winner of that game will finish in no worse than a tie for first place. Georgia State has two games remaining, including this week’s game against Appalachian State. Again, the winner here will be in a tie for first place. Georgia State and Arkansas State do not play this season, so the two could finish with a true split conference championship. Troy and Appalachian State also do not play, presenting another potential scenario for a true split conference championship. But if Troy and Georgia State end the season with the same conference record, then Troy would own the head-to-head tiebreaker for bragging rights. Let’s just get through this week first and then re-evaluate the Sun Belt championship picture with one week of games still to play.
Got all that?
UCLA has announced it has relieved head coach Jim Mora of his coaching duties effective immediately. Offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch will take over as the team’s interim coach for the remainder of the season.
“Making a coaching change is never easy, but it’s an especially difficult decision when you know that a coach has given his all to our University,” UCLA athletics director Dan Guerrero in a released statement. “Jim helped reestablish our football program, and was instrumental in so many ways in moving the program forward. While his first four seasons at UCLA were very successful, the past two seasons have not met expectations. We thank Jim and his family for his service to our school and his unquestionable commitment to our student-athletes.”
Mora was in his sixth season as the head coach of the Bruins and it was largely a run that had some promise at times but never fully took advantage of a division that included a USC program held back by NCAA sanctions. Mora coached UCLA to two 10-win seasons in 2013 and 2014 and has seen his win totals hit 8, 4 and 5 wins in the three seasons since. What makes the Mora legacy so frustrating is he had talent to work with. Among solid recruiting classes during his time at UCLA, Mora coached two NFL quarterbacks in Brett Hundley and Josh Rosen as well as one of the top defensive players in recent years (Myles Jack) still failed to deliver a Pac-12 championship. Mora was 46-30 as UCLA’s head coach, but the trends were heading in the wrong direction at a time when crosstown rival USC continues to be rising, thus increasing the pressure for UCLA to keep up.
UCLA’s loss on Saturday night to the Trojans dropped UCLA to 5-6 on the season, leaving the Bruins in need of a win this week against Cal in order to become bowl eligible (without hoping for vacancies needing to be filled by 5-win teams). USC will play for the Pac-12 championship a year after going winning the Rose Bowl in the stadium UCLA calls home.
The UCLA job is one that should be expected to draw some interesting names to the rumor mill. Among them could end up being Chip Kelly, who doesn’t feel like a great fit in the SEC and has past success in the Pac-12 while at Oregon. UCLA’s release confirms the school will begin a national search for a new head coach.
Like the coaches poll, the AP Top 25 saw few changes to its look this week after a fairly straight-forward weekend of college football for the nation’s top-ranked teams. No. 1 Alabama remains the clear favorite among the AP voters, with 58 first-place votes to stay ahead of the field.
The top nine teams remain unchanged from last week with Miami falling in at second behind Alabama, with Oklahoma, Clemson, Wisconsin, Auburn, Georgia, Ohio State, and Notre Dame next in line. No. 10 TCU is the newest member of the top 10 in the AP poll after moving up one spot this week, followed by USC and Penn State with similar moves up. All three were bumped up after former No. 10 Oklahoma State fell to No. 18 this week following a home loss to Kansas State. No. 13 UCF, No. 14 Washington State, No. 15 Washington, No. 16 Mississippi State, and No. 17 Memphis all moved up a spot at the expense of the drop by the Cowboys.
Three new teams appear in the top 25 this week at the bottom of the poll. No. 23 Northwestern, No. 24 Virginia Tech, and No. 25 Boise State fill out this week’s poll.
Here is this week’s AP Top 25:
- Alabama (58 first-place votes)
- Miami (3)
- Ohio State
- Notre Dame
- Penn State
- Washington State
- Mississippi State
- Oklahoma State
- Michigan State
- Virginia Tech
- Boise State
Sad as it is to say but we’ve got only one week left in the regular season for nearly everybody in the Power Five conferences and are just two weeks out from the all important Selection Sunday. The College Football Playoff race has turned into a modified eight team playoff with all of the conference title games going on and the continued jockeying for a New Year’s Six bid and other major bowl berths is filtering down to teams far and wide.
With all that in mind, CFTalk decided to peer into our crystal ball and take a look at the postseason picture — figuring out which teams wind up in certain bowl games prior to the official announcement. Running through all the scenarios, here’s how the bowl picture could play out from the final four to the very first one on December 16th:
College Football Playoff
|Rose Bowl||No. 2 Clemson||No. 3 Oklahoma|
|Sugar Bowl||No. 1 Alabama||No. 4 Ohio State|
New Year’s Six
|Cotton Bowl||Notre Dame||Penn State|
2016 FBS Bowl Games
|New Mexico Bowl||Colorado State||North Texas|
|Las Vegas Bowl||Oregon||Boise State|
|Cure Bowl||UTSA||Georgia State|
|Camellia Bowl||Arkansas State||Akron|
|New Orleans Bowl||Southern Miss||Troy|
|Boca Raton Bowl||Temple||Marshall|
|Frisco Bowl||Houston||Central Michigan|
|Gasparilla Bowl||USF||Florida Atlantic|
|Bahamas Bowl||Florida International||Northern Illinois|
|Famous Idaho Potato Bowl||Wyoming||Ohio|
|Birmingham Bowl||La. Tech||Memphis|
|Armed Forces Bowl||Army*||UAB|
|Dollar General Bowl||Toledo||App. State|
|Hawaii Bowl||Fresno State||SMU|
|Cactus Bowl||Kansas State||Utah|
|Quick Lane Bowl||Western Michigan||UNLV|
|Heart of Dallas Bowl||Western Kentucky||UCLA|
|Independence Bowl||Florida State||Arizona State|
|Pinstripe Bowl||Boston College||Purdue|
|Texas Bowl||Iowa State||Missouri|
|Foster Farms Bowl||Stanford||Iowa|
|Camping World Bowl||Virginia Tech||Oklahoma State|
|Alamo Bowl||Texas||Washington State|
|Holiday Bowl||Washington||San Diego State|
|Belk Bowl||Wake Forest||South Carolina|
|Music City Bowl||Kentucky||Northwestern|
|TaxSlayer Bowl||N.C. State||LSU|
|Liberty Bowl||West Virginia||Texas A&M|
|Arizona Bowl||Utah State||N.M. State|
|Outback Bowl||Mississippi State||Michigan|
|Citrus Bowl||Michigan State||Auburn|
*Accepted bowl invite