College Football Playoff Rankings: Oregon moves past Florida State for No. 2, TCU in

64 Comments

Despite continuing to win games, Florida State could not hold on to the second spot in this week’s College Football Playoff rankings. The Oregon Ducks moved into the second spot in the rankings ahead of undefeated Florida State following a road win at Utah. Mississippi State remains atop the ranking this week for the third straight week.

TCU also moved into the top four to round out the top four spots in the College Football Playoff ranking. Alabama and Arizona State are this week’s first two teams out.

Here is this week’s ranking, according to the College Football Playoff selection committee.

Screen Shot 2014-11-11 at 10.36.37 PM

Some quick observations and thoughts…

Once again, a reminder this is not a finished product and there will still be some scores settled on the field before we can take these rankings as a faithful projection of which four teams will play in the first College Football Playoff. So when you see Mississippi State and Alabama both appearing in the top five, keep in mind this is very likely to change this week after Alabama and Mississippi State play. The question that may be worth asking is how far Mississippi State would fall if they lose at Alabama. Alabama would be a lock to appear in the top four with a win, but could Mississippi State all of a sudden fall out fo the top four with one loss, on the road, against a top-four Alabama?

Oregon over Florida State?

This is what happens when the selection committee respects one conference more than the other. There is not much other way to explain why a one-loss Oregon would have passed an undefeated Florida State. The Seminoles may have been lacking in consistent dominance, but they have managed to respond under a variety of situations this season to keep their perfect record going. Oregon’s lone loss was at home to Arizona, but the Pac-12 is clearly a more respected conference right now than the ACC. In addition to a handful of quality Pac-12 wins, Oregon also has a victory over Michigan State, which still carries more weight than Florida State’s neutral site victory over Oklahoma State and home win against Notre Dame.

So, about TCU and Baylor…

Clearly the selection committee is still favoring TCU after getting through the toughest spots on its schedule to this point with one loss. Of course, that lone loss came against Baylor. Baylor’s last few games likely present a tougher stretch than what TCU will play, so there could still be a chance to see the feeling about the Big 12 leaders change.

Is there time for Ohio State or Nebraska?

With the way this week’s rankings played out, absolutely. Of course, neither team can afford another loss. Ohio State moved into striking distance and now gets a game against another top 25 team according to the committee. Minnesota checking in at No. 25 gives Ohio State one more respected opponent. As long as Ohio State continues to win, they will have wins on the road against Michigan State, Minnesota and could add another against a ranked Nebraska or Wisconsin in the Big Ten championship. The Buckeyes may still need a little help from around the country though, but the path to a playoff spot is realistic enough to discuss.

The same holds true for Nebraska, although the Cornhuskers may need just a slight bit more help.

The committee loves UCLA

UCLA has been one of the shakiest two-loss teams this season, but that 62-point outburst at Arizona State sure looks better and better as Arizona State continues to climb the rankings. Ona  related note, Utah is still in the top 25 in the eyes of the committee despite losing two straight games (to Arizona State and Oregon)

Still no Group of Five

Another week, still no Marshall. Where the selection committee ranks teams like Marshall and Colorado State and Boise State and East Carolina remains a mystery to the public. This is a bit frustrating for fans of these schools, not knowing where their team stands in the race for an access bowl spot. Eventually, the committee will have to make this insight available, but there is no rush to do that just yet. We only need an official update for the final rankings to determine which Group of Five conference champion is going to a big bowl game.

Miami WR Brian Hightower tweets move to the portal

Getty Images
Leave a comment

All of a sudden, there’s a bit of upheaval in Miami’s receiving corps.

Earlier today, we noted the long-running, ongoing drama that is the Jeff Thomas Experience at The U. Monday evening, Brian Hightower added to the collective positional brouhaha by announcing on Twitter that, “[a]fter careful consideration and discussion with my family, and THE University of Miami coaching staff, I am entering my name into the transfer portal to openly explore the best opportunities to utilize my remaining eligibility and pursue my education.”

A four-star member of Miami’s 2018 recruiting class, Hightower was rated as the No. 27 receiver in the country.  Mark Pope was the only receiver in The U’s class that year rated higher than Hightower.

Hightower played in 17 games during his time with the Hurricanes — 10 as a true freshman, all seven this season.  He totaled 148 yards and one touchdown on 12 receptions, with eight of those catches and 88 of the yards coming in 2019.

Iowa could be without leading receiver, top tackler for Northwestern

Getty Images
Leave a comment

When Iowa kicks off its Week 9 matchup with Northwestern, the Hawkeyes could very well be at less than full strength on both sides of the football.

The Hawkeyes released its depth chart Monday for this Saturday’s game against the Wildcats, and neither wide receiver Brandon Smith nor middle linebacker Kristian Welch weren’t listed.  Smith suffered an injury to his lower right leg in the win over Purdue this past Saturday, while Welch suffered an undisclosed injury during the loss the week before to Penn State and didn’t see the field against Purdue.

Official word on the pair’s status for Week 9 probably won’t come until later on in the week.

Smith currently leads the Hawkeyes with 33 receptions and four receiving touchdowns.  His 407 yards receiving are good for second on the team.

Welch’s 47 tackles are nine more than the Hawkeyes’ second-leading tackler, Jack Koerner.  With three tackles for loss, he’s second only to Chauncey Golston‘s five.

Updated coaches salaries database released, with Dabo Swinney leading the way

Getty Images
1 Comment

You might want to sit down for this: college football head coaches continue to make a spitload of money.

As it does around this time every year, USA Today Tuesday released an updated version of its FBS coaches salaries database.  The highest-paid?  Clemson’s Dabo Swinney and his $9.32 million in total pay, overtaking Alabama’s Nick Saban, who was tops at $8.3 million in 2018 and now sits at No. 2 at $8.86 million.

At the opposite end of the financial spectrum is Coastal Carolina’s Jamey Chadwell, whose $360,000 in total compensation is the lowest salary of those obtained by USA Today.  Compensation for coaches at eight universities — Air Force, Army, BYU, Liberty, Miami, Rice, SMU, Temple — wasn’t available.

Arguably the most improbable name in the Top 10 in compensation?  Jeff Brohm at $6.6 million, ahead of the likes of Lincoln Riley of Oklahoma ($6.4 million), James Franklin of Penn State ($5.6 million) and David Shaw of Stanford ($4.6 million).  Brohm, whose wooing by Louisville led to a hefty new contract, is 2-5 this season after going 13-13 his first two seasons with the Boilermakers.

Below are the highest-paid Power Five coaches, per conference:

  • ACC — Swinney, $9.32 million
  • Big 12 — Texas’ Tom Herman, $6.75 million
  • Big Ten — Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh, $7.5 million
  • Pac-12 — Washington’s Chris Petersen, $4.63 million
  • SEC — Saban, $8.86 million

Conversely, these are the lowest-paid Power Five coaches for each league:

  • ACC — Wake Forest’s Dave Clawson, $2.19 million
  • Big 12 — Kansas State’s Chris Klieman, $2.3 million
  • Big Ten — Indiana’s Tom Allen, $1.8 million
  • Pac-12 — Arizona’s Kevin Sumlin, $2 million
  • SEC — Mississippi State’s Joe Moorhead, $3 million

At $5 million, USF’s Charlie Strong‘s total compensation is far and away the highest for a Group of Five coaches, with Houston’s Dana Holgorsen‘s $3.7 million the next closest.

Of the other four G5 leagues, North Texas’ Seth Littrell of Conference USA ($1.9 million), Toledo’s Jason Candle of the MAC ($1.2 million), Wyoming’s Craig Bohl of the Mountain West ($2.1 million) and Louisiana’s Billy Napier of the Sun Belt ($875,000) are the highest-paid for their respective conferences.

One final tidbit: The combined salaries of the coaches in the Sun Belt Conference ($6.5 million) is less than the compensation of eight individual head coaches — Swinney, Saban, Harbaugh, Texas A&M’s Jimbo Fisher ($7.5 million), Georgia’s Kirby Smart ($6.9 million), Auburn’s Gus Malzahn ($6.8 million), Herman and Brohm.  Swinney and Saban also make more individually than the MAC does combined ($7.8 million).

WR Terrace Marshall ‘should be ready to play’ for LSU vs. Auburn

Getty Images
Leave a comment

It may not be fair, but one of the most explosive offenses in college football is on the verge of getting back one of its most explosive playmakers.

When Terrace Marshall went down with a foot injury in the Week 4 win over Vanderbilt, it was initially reported that the LSU wide receiver was expected to be sidelined for as long as a month. That timeline was subsequently extended out, with Ed Orgeron stating that Marshall could return toward the “latter part” of the regular season.

On his radio show three weeks ago, however, Orgeron indicated that the wide receiver was ahead of schedule; that, though, gave way to Marshall missing each of the past three games.

With No. 9 Auburn on tap this weekend, the head coach is now indicating that Marshall “should be ready to play” for second-ranked LSU.

“We plan on easing him along, see how much he can do,” Orgeron said. “He’s going to want to do everything and be ready to go. We feel that by game time, he should be ready to play.”

Following the Auburn game, and coming off a bye, LSU will travel to Tuscaloosa to take on top-ranked Alabama in arguably the biggest game of the regular season — provided both teams hold serve this coming Saturday, of course.

At the time of his injury, Marshall’s six touchdown receptions this season were tied for second at the FBS level. He was also tied for second on the Tigers with 20 catches while his 304 receiving yards were good for third on the team.