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Let the College Football Playoff chaos commence after Week 11’s shakeup

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On a day that saw two of the top three teams lose and one more top 10 team go down in defeat in mid-November, the College Football Playoff race may as well have thrown up the caution flag coming down the final stretch. But how much has really changed in the latest College Football Playoff outlook? Losses in mid-November are not quite as catastrophic as they used to be under previous championship models, but the path to the playoff has clearly become more treacherous for schools like Notre Dame and TCU, while the path has become more clear for schools like Miami and Wisconsin. And there may even be a small handful of two-loss teams to keep a close eye on these next few weeks, beginning with Auburn.

Auburn’s victory over Georgia was the loudest statement made on Saturday. No team has managed to get into the four-team College Football Playoff in the brief history of the system, but Auburn is hoping they can become the first after routing the committee’s top-ranked team the past two weeks. We’ll find out how much stock the committee will put in that blowout win on Tuesday night when the new rankings come out. The committee will have some very interesting decisions to make regarding Auburn. For starters, where will a two-loss Auburn rank compare to an undefeated Wisconsin? The Badgers have struggled to win over the committee so far, but a defensive exhibition of excellence of their own against Iowa on Saturday is not to be overlooked. The committee had the Big Ten’s last undefeated team just two spots ahead of two-loss Auburn last week, and Auburn’s win over Georgia was arguably more impressive than Wisconsin’s. Pay close attention to the gap between those two this week.

What will be uncontested is who will be No. 1. After being ranked No. 2 the past two weeks and getting out of Mississippi State with a win, the committee will more than likely place Alabama atop their ranking this week, setting the stage for a mammoth Iron Bowl in two weeks after the SEC’s cupcake week in Week 12. But how high is Miami about to move up following their win against Notre Dame? Ranked seventh coming into their big showdown with No. 3 Notre Dame, and the Hurricanes annihilated the Fighting Irish. Miami feels like a lock to be added to the top four this week, joining Alabama, Oklahoma, and Clemson in some order.

That leaves out the Big Ten for now, and the Pac-12 is in some trouble as well after Washington was taken down by Stanford Friday night. But the Big Ten and Pac-12 also have some interesting two-loss conference champions scenarios to have fun with. If Ohio State and USC win their conferences with two losses, how close could either come to a playoff spot? And where would each rank against a two-loss Notre Dame?

WHO IS STILL REALISTICALLY IN THE RUNNING?

Alabama – The Crimson Tide are undefeated in the SEC after getting out of Starkville with a gritty win.

Georgia – That was a tough loss to take, but the possibility of a 12-1 season with the SEC championship means Georgia is not down and out by a long shot yet.

Auburn – Auburn will remain in the running until they lose another game. Simple as that.

Miami – The U is back! Heading to their first ACC Championship Game and facing the Clemson Tigers should be fun.

Clemson – Playoff committee has given the defending national champs the upper hand on a bunch of teams, but some argue they should be passed over by some others. Regardless of how you feel, one-loss Tigers are absolutely in the running and a 12-1 ACC champ is hard to reject.

Oklahoma – Your Big 12 team to beat, led by the Heisman Trophy frontrunner. Oklahoma is likely the only Big 12 team with a realistic shot at the playoff at this point.

Wisconsin – Just win, and they’ll very likely be in.

Ohio State – Wins against Penn State and Michigan State help soften the blow of two losses, as bad as those losses were. Take down improving Michigan on the road and unbeaten Wisconsin in the Big Ten championship game, and Ohio State would have an interesting case to make.

Notre Dame – The Irish picked a rough day to get blown out, with the only other team to beat them also getting clobbered. We’ll see how far the Irish fall. For now, we’ll keep them on the edge of the radar just to be safe, but it does not look promising for the Irish.

USC – Remember the Trojans? Like Ohio State, USC is sort of lingering around on the edge of the playoff radar with two losses, but if the Trojans end the year with two losses they could benefit from a few teams ahead of them going down. Avenging a loss to Stanford in the Pac-12 championship game would help their chances some, but USC would need a decisive blowout to help make the final push with two losses.

WHAT ABOUT UCF?

At No. 18 in the playoff rankings last week, the Knights appear to continue be quite the long shot even if they go 13-0. UCF is still the team to beat for the Group of Five’s New Years Six spot, just as Western Michigan was a year ago. UCF fans shouldn’t hold their breath waiting for the playoff.

BIGGEST WINNER OF THE WEEK

Wisconsin – Say what you will about Auburn, but the Tigers taking down Georgia may have been more beneficial for Wisconsin. If the Badgers manage to go 13-0 with the Big Ten championship, their argument at the end of the season would gain some strength. And the possibility of two SEC teams making the College Football Playoff took a hit (although not entirely eliminated), and Notre Dame taking a second loss could open up a spot in the playoff. If Wisconsin takes care of their business, they’ll stand an excellent chance of getting in.

BIGGEST LOSER OF THE WEEK

Notre Dame – Without a conference championship game to play in, the Irish can go no better than 10-2 this season. Given the heavy competition for four spots, that could be difficult for the Irish to reach the playoff. The best-case scenario for Notre Dame would be to end the season 10-2 and have the fourth spot come down to them or the Pac-12 champion, which could end up being a USC team they trounced in South Bend or a Stanford team they beat at the end of the regular season. They won’t win head-to-head debates with a number of other teams in the mix now.

Florida reportedly moving on from Chip Kelly, who may be headed to UCLA

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Over the past several days, it appeared that Florida had zeroed in on Chip Kelly as its next head coach.  On Black Friday, that appears to no longer be the case.

Earlier this afternoon, FootballScoop.com reported that coaches they’ve spoken to expect Kelly to choose UCLA as his destination for a return to college football.  Not long after, Pat Forde of Yahoo! Sports reported that “Florida has moved on from Kelly” as its potential head coach and will move on to other, unnamed candidates.  Forde adds that “UCLA is the increasingly likely new destination for the former coach of the Oregon Ducks.”

Whether Florida moved on because Kelly informed them he was headed to UCLA or because they simply couldn’t reach an agreement is unknown at this time.

These reports come a couple of days after it was reported that UF was prepared to move on from Kelly if he didn’t make a decision in short order.

With Kelly apparently out of the picture in Gainesville, the Gators will very likely turn their attention to UCF’s Scott Frost and Mississippi State’s Dan Mullen.

If Frost is the target, UF will likely have some competition in the form of Frost’s alma mater Nebraska, which is expected to part ways with Mike Riley after the Cornhuskers’ regular-season finale.  MSU, meanwhile, is prepared to “go all in” to retain Mullen.

Report: Mississippi State set to go all in in effort to retain Dan Mullen

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The rumor mill is set to make yet another coach a much richer man.  Again.

While it appears that, at least for the moment, Florida is focused on Chip Kelly as its next head football coach, Dan Mullen‘s name has been mentioned as another realistic possibility to replace the dismissed Jim McElwain.  The connection makes sense as Mullen spent four seasons as UF’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach under Urban Meyer before leaving for Mississippi State, where he’s spent the past nine seasons as head coach.  Also, UF’s athletic director, Scott Stricklin, served in the same role in Starkville during a portion of Mullen’s time with the Bulldogs.

In addition to Florida, Tennessee is believed to maintain an interest in prying Mullen away as well.

In that vein, Bruce Feldman of SI.com is reporting that MSU is prepared to “go all in” in an attempt to keep Mullen.  How all in is the university? “The 45-year-old Mullen is already getting paid $4.5 million, but word is the school is willing to bump him up to around $6 million and also making an even stronger financial commitment to his staff,” Feldman wrote.

In his nine seasons, Mullen has guided the Bulldogs to a record of 69-46 overall and 33-39 in SEC play.  With the exception of 2014 (second), they’ve finished either fourth (2009, 2012) or fifth (2010, 2011, 2013, 2015, 2016) in the SEC West the last eight seasons; at 4-4, the best they’ll finish this season is tied for fourth.

Feldman’s report comes less than 24 hours after MSU, thanks in very large part to a gruesome first-half injury to its starting quarterback, lost its annual Egg Bowl matchup to Ole Miss.  That loss dropped Mullen’s record in that rivalry game to 5-4.  Prior to Mullen’s arrival in 2009, though, the Rebels had won five of the previous seven meetings in the series.

No. 2 Miami facing another halftime deficit, this time to Pitt

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For Miami, it’s deja vu all over again.

For the first quarter and half Black Friday afternoon, it was looking as if unbeaten and second-ranked Miami would be facing its fifth halftime deficit of the season as 4-7 Pitt was leading the Hurricanes 3-0 midway through the second quarter.  However, a 23-yard touchdown pass from Malik Rosier to Ahmmon Richards, which featured some nifty footwork from the latter to get into the end zone, gave the ‘Canes their first lead of the game with just over eight minutes remaining in the half.

However, a late Pitt touchdown at the end of freshman quarterback Kenny Pickett‘s six-yard scamper gave the Panthers a 10-7 lead heading into the halftime locker room.  Four times previously, UM has trailed at the half — Toledo (16-10), Florida State (3-0), Georgia Tech 14-13) and Virginia (21-14); each time, the Hurricanes came from behind to win.

As the score hints at, neither offense could muster much production, with the Panthers holding a 175-108 edge in yards.  The U’s much-discussed and mega-hyped turnover chain made a pair of appearances, but the Hurricanes couldn’t convert either turnover into points; in fact, the Pitt defense forced three-and-outs on each occasion.

If the Hurricanes can come from behind yet again, they will finish off a perfect 12-0 regular season for the first time since 2002.  That team made it to the BCS title game but lost to Ohio State.

Miami will get the ball to start the second half.

Starting Iowa State corner Brian Peavy arrested for criminal mischief

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The Thanksgiving holiday wasn’t an especially positive one for one member of the Iowa State football program.

According to the Des Moines Register, Brian Peavy was arrested Thursday evening on one count of fourth-degree criminal mischief.  The starting cornerback was subsequently released from the county jail a short time later after posting an unspecified bond.

From the Register‘s report:

Ames Police Department Sgt. Christine Crippen said police responded to a call around 5:06 p.m. regarding possible vandalism taking place in a skate park in Ames.

Police discovered Peavy and another male spray-painting underneath a bridge near the park. Peavy and the other male ran when approached by police. Peavy was caught while the other male escaped.

WHO-TV reports that an ISU spokesperson confirmed that Peavy remains in good standing with the team and will play in Saturday’s game against Kansas State.  ISU heads into the weekend with an outside shot at clinching a berth in the Big 12 championship game, pending the result of today’s Baylor-TCU game.

Peavy currently leads the Cyclones in pass breakups with seven; is tied for second in interceptions with two, and is third in tackles with 75.  The redshirt junior has been an honorable mention All-Big 12 selection each of the past two seasons.