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Top 25 takeaways: With the first CFP rankings released, can history tell us anything?


Allow me to answer the headline question first: not really.

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That said, the first five years of the College Football Playoff can at least provide a bit of a road map as to where the 2019 model of the CFP may be headed.

As you may have heard by now, the CFP selection committee released its initial playoff rankings of the 2019 college football season Tuesday night. For the first time in what’s now the six-year history of the CFP, Ohio State earned the top spot in the debut Top 25, followed by No. 2 LSU (third time making the initial rankings, second time at No. 2), No. 3 Alabama (fifth straight year they’ve been in the Top Four in the first poll) and No. 4 Penn State (highest-ever CFP ranking).

Just outside of that Top Four are No. 5 Clemson, the reigning national champions and owners of the nation’s longest winning streak, and No. 6 Georgia, the highest-ranked one-loss team.

All six of those aforementioned teams also happen to be the only teams that truly control their own destiny in the sense that, if they win out, they’re in as one of the four semifinalists. There will, though, be some Top Six cannibalism as the remainder of the regular season plays itself out…

… while Ohio State (No. 14 Michigan), Alabama (No. 11 Auburn), Penn State (No. 17 Minnesota), Clemson (No. 19 Wake Forest) and Georgia (No. 11 Auburn) all have games left against current CFP Top 25 teams as well.

On the outside of that elite six, No. 7 Oregon, No. 8 Utah, No. 9 Oklahoma and a pair of unbeatens — No. 12 Baylor, No. 17 Minnesota — all will need some level of help in the form of chaos above them in order to have a shot at a semifinal slot, especially the teams, oddly enough, without a loss thanks in very large part to their lackluster strength of schedule (thus far).

Right now, though, these rankings mean next to nothing. In the first year of the CFP, Ohio State was ranked No. 14 in the initial Top 25; the Buckeyes went on to win the 2014 national championship as the No. 4 seed.

While this Top 25 is essentially meaningless, the past five years show some interesting little trends that could be disturbing to some and encouraging to others.

Yes, that’s right, no team that has been ranked No. 3 in the initial Top 25 has gone on to qualify for the playoffs let alone win a title. Let’s take a walk down that particular memory lane:

  • 2014 — Auburn (finished regular season No. 19)
  • 2015 — Ohio State (No. 7)
  • 2016 — Michigan (No. 6)
  • 2017 — Notre Dame (No. 14)
  • 2018 — LSU (No. 11)

That’s good news/bad news for OSU fans. On the one hand, they are better positioned than ever to make the playoffs. On the other, no No. 1 team in the initial CFP Top 25 has gone on to win a national title.

Clemson (2016), Alabama (2017) and Clemson (2018) were all No. 2 when the first CFP rankings were unveiled those respective years, then went on to win the College Football Playoff championship. Can LSU extend history and join that No. 2 club?

The next five weekends will, of course, determine that — beginning first and foremost with LSU’s biggest test of the year as the Tigers travel to Tuscaloosa to tangle with the Tide in a No. 2 vs. No. 3 matchup this coming weekend.

Dave Doeren not impressed with Xavier Lyas’ decision to transfer from NC State

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We didn’t start the day with a portal post, but you knew the odds were favorable that we’d get one in sooner rather than later.

On his personal Twitter account over the weekend, North Carolina State’s Xavier Lyas announced that he has “decided to enter the transfer portal in order for me to reach my full potential both academically and football.”

The defensive end’s head coach, though, didn’t seem very impressed with Lyas’ decision. From Dave Doeren‘s Monday press conference, via

When did you find out about Xavier Lyas and what does his departure kind of do to depth?

“He came in and see me saw me on Sunday. Wish him luck, rather talk about the guys that are here. Somebody put a great screenshot out today, though, that their girlfriend was in the portal, I thought that was pretty funny. It’s life, some of these kids don’t play as much as they want and how it goes.

“So as far as our depth will be fine. We got enough defensive ends we’ll be good.

Lyas was a three-star member of the Wolfpack’s 2017 recruiting class.  This season, Lyas is currently third in sacks with four and tied for third in tackles for loss 4½.  Additionally, his two forced fumbles are tops on the team.

Three Power Five WRs added to Biletnikoff watch list

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For the fourth time in a little over a month, a major college football honor is adding to its watch list.

This week, the Biletnikoff Award announced that it has added five wide receivers to its watch list, including three from Power Five schools and two from Group of Five programs.  Those included this go-around are Louisville’s Chatarius Atwell, Western Kentucky’s Lucky Jackson, Syracuse’s Trishton Jackson, Tennessee’s Jauan Jennings and San Jose State’s Tre Walker (pictured).

Below are each players’ statistical particulars for the 2019 season:

  • Atwell: 46 receptions for 810 yards, eight touchdowns
  • L. Jackson: 62-839-2
  • T. Jackson: 51-780-8
  • Jennings: 50-771-7
  • Walker: 59-896-1

Walker is currently 13th in the nation in receiving yards, Lucky Jackson 17th. The latter is also tied for 25th in receptions per game.

The Biletnikoff Award is handed out annually to the nation’s most outstanding FBS receiver. The Tallahassee Quarterback Club Foundation, which oversees the honor, stresses that “[a]ny player, regardless of position (wide receiver, tight end, slot back and running back) who catches a pass is eligible for the award.”

Alabama’s Jerry Jeudy was the 2018 winner of the award.  A wide receiver has won the award every year since it was first handed out in 1994, and all of the players added this week are listed as receivers.

Texas Tech intends to redshirt QBs Alan Bowman and Maverick McIvor

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A season that was derailed early on by injury concerns will now end with Alan Bowman redshirting the 2019 season. Texas Tech head coach Matt Wells confirmed on Monday Bowman will redshirt the remainder of the 2019 season to preserve a year of eligibility. The decision is not much of a surprise given the current status of the Red Raiders offense and Bowman’s injury history. Maverick McIvor, who has not appeared in a game this season due to an offseason foot injury, will also redshirt the remainder of the season.

In mid-September, Bowman was said to miss “several weeks” due to a shoulder injury. Although Bowman has now been medically cleared to play for the Red Raiders, the situation in Lubbock appears to be a good opportunity to protect the shoulder a little more unless absolutely needed. The decision to redshirt was Bowman’s, according to multiple reports, and Wells agreed that was in the best interest of all involved.

Bowman appeared in three games this season for the Red Raiders, leaving him one more game to play without jeopardizing a year of eligibility. Texas Tech could still play Bowman in one more game and not have this season count against his redshirt year under the NCAA’s revised redshirt rules from a year ago.

In his three games played, Bowman has completed 101 of 154 attempts for 1,020 yards and six touchdowns with three interceptions. Jett Duffey has led the offense in Bowman’s absence, and he has performed admirably with 1,774 yards and 10 touchdowns to just two interceptions over seven games.

McIvor is a freshman, so he will still have four years of eligibility beginning with the 2020 season.

Houston cornerback Ka’Darian Smith charged with aggravated assault

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Houston cornerback Ka’Darian Smith has been suspended by the football program after he was charged for aggravated assault for an incident occurring last week. Smith admitted to the assault to police and was released from jail after posting bond.

“We are aware of the serious allegations regarding Ka’Darian Smith,” a UH Athletics spokesperson said, according to The Daily Cougar. “He has been suspended indefinitely from the Houston football program. We will have no further comment at this time.”

According to police records, the incident leading to the charge occurred last Wednesday, Nov. 6. The alleged victim was taken to a nearby hospital and treated for injuries to the upper body and the head.

Smith responded to a tweet from Houston Chronicle reporter Joseph Duarte, there was more to the story about the alleged victim. According to Smith, the man broke into his room and was stealing from Smith.

How long Smith remains suspended may depend on how long the legal process takes to play out, which is fairly standard for incidents like these.