Top Teams Tumble As Wild Weekend Concludes
Four heavily favored Top 25 teams, Clemson, Washington, Washington State and San Diego State all fell from the ranks of the undefeated over the weekend while SEC heavy weights Alabama and Georgia continued on in their quest for an unbeaten match in the conference championship game. Around the nation: Miami (Fla.) squeaked by Georgia Tech 25-24, Ohio State blasted Nebraska 56-14, Oklahoma outlasted Texas 29-24 in one of the most physical contests in Red River history, USC stopped Utah on a two point conversion try and prevailed 28-27, and LSU shocked the nation for the second weekend in a row by storming back to beat Auburn 27-23. LSU defeated Florida in the Swamp last week. Billingsley Projections for Week # 9 will post Monday.
Defensive Woes Doom Sooner's Season
We should have seen it coming, this shocking Sooner loss, but we were all blinded by the spectacular defensive performance over Ohio State earlier in the season. Barely escaping a loss to Baylor two weeks ago showed the chink in the Sooner's Armour and Iowa State took notice. The Cyclones exploited a very weak Oklahoma defense to upend the Sooners 38-31 in Norman. Oklahoma was not looking ahead to Texas.....they played well enough on offense to win the game, but a very porous Sooner defense could not stop an Iowa State offense that was clicking on all cylinders. The Cyclone defensive secondary played a tremendous game. Baker Mayfield had all day to throw the ball, but he just could not find open receivers. The game is being hailed as the greatest win in Iowa State football history.....congrats to the Cyclones and head coach Matt Campbell, it's been a longtime coming. Around the Nation, Miami (Fla.) topped Florida State 24-20 in Tallahassee, Michigan State surprised Michigan 14-10 in the Big House, TCU took control of the Big 12 by surviving West Virginia 31-24 in Fort Worth, Texas topped Kansas State 40-24 in the Longhorn's second double overtime thriller on the season, and Washington State continued to look like the cream of the Pac 12 by traveling to Oregon and handling the Ducks 33-10. Billingsley Projections for Week # 8 will be posted Monday.
Georgia Demolishes Tennessee 41-0
All of a sudden Georgia is looking like more than just the SEC East Division front runner. It appears the Dawgs have their sites set on a National Championship after rolling into Rocky Top and humiliating the Volunteers 41-0. It was the worst home loss for Tennessee since October 21, 1905 when Vanderbilt whipped the Vols 45-0. In other SEC action, Sun Belt favorite Troy stunned LSU in Death Valley 24-21, and Auburn, whose only loss on the season came to #1 Clemson, blasted Mississippi State 49-10. In other games around the nation, Clemson continues to look unstoppable after beating Virginia Tech 31-17, and Miami (Fla.) remained unbeaten after handling Duke 31-6. Oklahoma State outlasted Texas Tech 41-34 in Lubbock, and Washington State surprised the Trojans 30-27. In Group of Five action, Central Florida posted a huge win over Memphis, beating the Tigers 40-13. UCF and South Florida are both in contention for the automatic New Year's Day Bowl Slot along with the Mountain West's San Diego State who remained unbeaten with a 34-28 won over Northern Illinois.
Baylor puts a Scare into Sooners In 49-41 Waco Shootout
We have heard the expression millions of times....."on any given day", and the Baylor Bears almost proved it to be true Saturday night in Waco as heavily favored Oklahoma barely escaped a huge upset loss. Oklahoma's defense, that two short weeks ago stifled Ohio State, struggled to stop Baylor on third downs all night long. Only a Baylor fumble with less than a minute to go, with Baylor driving for a potential tying score, saved the Sooners. Near upsets must have been in the air Saturday as Michigan struggled with Purdue, South Carolina escaped Louisiana Tech, and Tennessee barely edged Massachusetts. But Penn State, TCU, Georgia and Washington came up with big wins over stiff competition to solidify their Top Ten rankings and give serious rise to conversation of National Title discussion. Weekly Projections for Week 6 will be posted Tuesday.
Trojans outlast Longhorns in 27-24 Overtime Thriller
Texas had a chance to win it all in regulation, but heroics from a freshman kicker saved the day for USC, not once, but twice. Trailing 17-14 with time expiring, walk on kicker Chase McGrath kicked a field goal to tie the game 17-17 and force overtime. But he wasn't done. In the second overtime McGrath kicked a game winning 43 yard field goal to lift the Trojans to a 27-24 win. Obviously this is not the same Texas team that lost to Maryland on their home field two short weeks ago. The win saves an opportunity for USC to continue on in their quest for a National Title. Even in a loss, the Longhorns serve notice to the Big 12 that Texas is not a team to overlook. Around the nation, Clemson looked sharp and took a huge leap in the rankings to #1 by going on the road and slamming Louisville 47-21. Northern Illinois shocked Nebraska in Lincoln 21-17, an overwhelming Vanderbilt defense shutdown Kansas State 14-7, San Diego State established themselves as the Group of Five team to beat with a 20-17 win over Stanford, Memphis is not far behind after a thrilling 48-45 upset win over UCLA, Mississippi State absolutely demolished LSU 37-7, and Kentucky went on the road and surprised South Carolina 23-13. Stayed tuned for this weeks projections later in the week.
Oklahoma Dominance of Ohio State Propels Sooners to # 1
A near flawless Baker Mayfield led Oklahoma to a stunning 31-16 upset of Ohio State Saturday night in Columbus. It was a magical night for the Sooners offensively and defensively, as Oklahoma dominated both sides on the line of scrimmage against the previously # 2 ranked Buckeyes. The win on the road, coupled with a #7 strength of schedule on the young season jumped the Sooners all the way to the top spot in the Billingsley Report. Around the nation, Clemson topped Auburn 14-6, TCU surprised Arkansas 28-7, Georgia squeaked by Notre Dame 20-19, Washington State outlasted Boise State 47-44 in a 3OT thriller, USC pounded Stanford 42-24, and Utah won the Holy War 19-13 over BYU.
Aggie Meltdown or Destiny for Rosen?
There are plenty of headlines coming from the Labor Day weekend games, with Tennessee/Georgia Tech still to come, but perhaps none greater than the amazing comeback staged by UCLA on Sunday night. In many circles it will be recounted as a Texas A&M meltdown, in others, a game of destiny for Josh Rosen, either way, it's recorded in the history books as a 45-44 win for the Bruins, in one of the greatest comebacks in college football history. Not since 1957, with the arrival of Darrell Royal, had I seen such excitement within the Texas football program.....but Maryland put a shocking halt to that with a stunning 51-41 upset win, in Austin no less. #1 Alabama played like, well, Alabama in defeating #3 Florida State 24-7. The only thing I saw differently was an even more dominant special teams display by the Tide. Not good news for future opponents. Speaking of future opponents for the Tide, LSU played a great game in beating a solid BYU team 27-0. Several Top 10 teams struggled early on but finished strong in the second half to secure their high rankings, notably Ohio State, Washington and Southern Cal . Oklahoma, Clemson and Auburn all came out of the gate strong and rolled from the first possession on. The nation awaits the Sooners visit to Columbus this coming Saturday night. Billingsley Rankings will be posted Tuesday afternoon pending tonight's Tennessee/Georgia Tech game.
Opening Weekend Will Speak Loudly In December
Well, truth is, we know it's not really opening weekend. 5 games have already been played. But still, it has the feel of opening weekend. August 26 was just a technical appetizer. The games of Labor Day weekend will have a long lasting effect on the 2017 season for sure. With Alabama/Florida State, Michigan/Florida, BYU/LSU, Virginia Tech/West Virginia, Texas A&M/UCLA and Tennessee/Georgia Tech, the Top 25 will certainly be in store for a shake up. Some are calling it the greatest opening weekend in college football history. Possibly so. Losing these opening games may not be and end all to the season either. There is plenty of time to rebound, and they are all non-conference games. Winning a Power Five conference and losing one game to another Top 25 team doesn't look so bad on a season long resume. Billingsley projections for Week 2 games are now online!
Colorado State Steam Rolls Oregon State 58-27
Colorado State christened their new stadium in style Saturday as the Rams ran over the Pac 12's Beavers 58-27. The first half was a back and forth tug of war, but Colorado State took control in the third quarter and never looked back. The Rams head to Denver Friday night to battle arch rival Colorado. Across the country, Charlie Strong opened with a win in his coaching debut for South Florida, although the Bulls looked embarrassingly sluggish in the first quarter, falling to a 16-0 deficit to hosting San Jose State. But once the defense stiffened and created two key turnovers, South Florida's offense finally got untracked. The Bulls went on to a 42-22 victory. Brigham Young had a tough time with a very good Portland State team, winning 20-6. The Cougars face LSU in Houston next Saturday. Hawaii scored a stunning touchdown in the final seconds of the game to top Massachusetts 38-35 and Rice traded a home game to travel half way around the world to Sydney, Australia only to get blasted by Stanford 62-7. Watch for Billingsley's Projections on Week #2 games coming mid-week. Article photo By Andy Cross - Denver Post
College Football Gets Early Start
Hold on to your hats folks.....It's almost here! College Football season opens in a mere 12 days. Although Labor Day Weekend holds the spotlight for big games, the actual 2017 season opens Saturday August 26th with 5 games on tap, including a pivotal non-conference match between hosting Colorado State of the Mountain West Conference and visiting Oregon State from the Pac 12. The Rams will be dedicating a new state of the art, on campus stadium with a seating capacity of 41,200. Half way around the world Stanford and Rice will be tossing around the pigskin in Sydney, Australia. Charlie Strong makes his much anticipated debut for South Florida by traveling to San Jose State. The Bulls are a projected pre-season favorite to win the American Conference title. Brigham Young, once again playing one of the most difficult schedules in the nation, opens 2017 with Portland State before heading to Houston to take on LSU Labor Day weekend. Hawaii travels all the way to the East Coast to visit Massachusetts. As a new weekly feature this year, Billingsley's Projections for each week will be posted mid-week prior to each weekend's games.
Will the SEC Maintain Conference Dominance?
For the greater part of the last decade the Southeastern Football Conference has dominated college football. In 2016, both the ACC, spearheaded by Clemson's National Championship, and the Big 10, supported by Ohio State and a resurgent Michigan, gave the SEC a run for their money. But in the end, college fans saw a continuation of a familiar pattern.....the good ole SEC atop the standings. It was not a runaway by any means, on average rating the SEC scored 267.536 and the ACC and Big 10 were basically tied at 265, although the ACC's 265.631 to the Big 10's 265.622 technically gave the Atlantic Coast Conference the #2 spot. The Pac 12 followed at #4 with 261 points, and the Big 12 came in at # 5, a very disappointing 253 points, last place among the Power 5 conferences. The AAC was the top rated Group of 5 conference at 234, followed by the MWC 228, Sun Belt 223, MAC 223, and Conference USA 218. The Big 12 Conference will resume a conference title game this fall, which should help boost their rating, and their chances for a playoff bid, but not necessarily. They still play a round robin schedule, and if parity prevails, even an undefeated regular season champion could find themselves facing a 3 or 4 loss team in a championship game which will not create a big boost in rating. The best case scenario for the Big 12 is to have an undefeated participant playing a one loss opponent and beating them the second time. That would create quite a bump in rating. The outstanding question for 2017 is whether any conference can get over the hump and average greater in overall conference membership than the mighty SEC, and these few early season games will go a long way towards answering that question. September 2: Alabama/Florida State in Atlanta. The new Mercedes Benz stadium hosts one of the biggest games of the year, right out of the box. Both teams are sure to be Top 5 teams and the winner will not only have a leg up on the National Title race, but boost the strength of their conference greatly. September 2: Florida/Michigan in Arlington. Another huge matchup for the SEC. If Michigan prevails, the Big 10 is going to look mighty strong to start the season. If the SEC sweeps Atlanta and Arlington.....it's going to be hard to dethrone the King. September 3: Virginia Tech/West Virginia in Landover. If Virginia Tech and Florida State sweep opening weekend for the ACC, watch out. September 3: Texas A&M at UCLA - The pattern has been for several years that the Aggies start like a house afire, then fizzle. Tough assignment for the blaze to even get started this year. The PAC 12 needs this one bad to even get in the discussion of conference supremacy. September 9: Oklahoma at Ohio State - The Big 12 has a great opportunity to reassert itself on a national stage, but this is a tough assignment, especially for a new coach in Lincoln Riley. September 9: Auburn at Clemson - A win here would go a long way towards Auburn establishing momentum for SEC play, and Clemson is without Deshaun Watson.....but can Auburn win in Death Valley? September 9: Georgia at Notre Dame - Two storied programs who have only played once in 149 years of college football.....a 17-10 Sugar Bowl win for Georgia that won the Bulldogs a National Title. September 16: Texas at USC - The Trojans start with two very tough physical games in Western Michigan and Stanford, then host a Longhorn team with a new, young, energetic head coach, a ton of talent and a lot of momentum. Imagine how the Big 12 would look if West Virginia, Oklahoma and Texas all win big non-conference games to start the first 3 weeks of the 2017 season. Stay tuned for the release of Billingsley's Pre-Season rankings coming in mid August.
Pre-Season Magazines Give Washington Proper Due
It's June, and in College Football that means the Pre-Season magazines have hit the stands and excitement begins to build as the 2017 season opening weekend draws near. Athlon, Street & Smith, and Lindy's are already secure in my office collection with more to come. As expected, Alabama and Ohio State are at or near the top in every projection, with Florida State not far behind. Also joining the ranks of the projected coveted Top Four teams is Washington. With QB Jake Browning returning and a very favorable schedule on hand, the Huskies appear headed towards a National Championship run. Pac 12 South favorite USC is not on the regular season schedule and all the North contenders visit Seattle except Stanford. The Washington/Stanford tilt on November 10 appears to be the Husky's greatest potential stumbling block. Billingsley's Pre-Season Rankings will be posted August 15.
Alabama Maintains Healthy Lead Over Irish In All Time Rankings
The results for Billingsley's All Time Rankings of the Top 106 College Football Programs has been updated. The Crimson Tide continued their quest to outdistance Notre Dame for the second year in a row. After taking the lead in 2014, Alabama has steadily pulled away, spearheaded by a National Championship in 2015 and a second place finish in 2016. The Irish continue to struggle, having finished #79 in 2016. In other notable moves, Clemson's National Championship enabled one Tiger to jump another as Clemson leaped over Missouri to take the 34th spot. Texas is hanging on by a thread over Nebraska for the number 6 ranking. The Longhorns lead the Cornhuskers by a mere .002. Stay tuned for the All Time Score Section to be completed in the next few weeks.
Seminoles Clash With Tide to Open 2017 Season
Florida State and Alabama, both projected to be consensus Top 5 teams will open their 2017 season with a much anticipated game in the Chick-fil-A kickoff September 2, 2017. The Crimson Tide, coming off a stunning loss to Clemson in the 2016 National Championship Game will be looking for revenge against another highly rated ACC team in Florida State. The Seminoles are poised for a run at the ACC title and berth in the College Football Playoff. 2016 updates to the Billingsley Encyclopedia are in progress and will be uploaded in April.