BYU De-rails Wisconsin's Playoff Dreams with 24-21 Upset in Madison
It was difficult to analyze BYU's opening win over Arizona. Was it a fluke or had the Cougars managed to pull together an improved squad for 2018? Last week's 21-18 home loss to California only muddled the question. But the waters have cleared in week four......Cal is looking mighty good sitting at 3-0, and BYU has indeed improved...DRAMATICALLY. The Cougars didn't let the loss to the Bears last week take them away from their focus as they promptly took their show on the road to Big 10 country and defeated CFP hopeful Wisconsin 24-21. It was the biggest win in BYU history since the Cougars defeated #3 Oklahoma in Arlington to open the 2009 campaign. Around the Nation: Speaking of improved teams, how about the Big Orange! Syracuse is 3-0 after surprising Florida State 30-7. Down in Texas Ohio State pulled away from a determined TCU squad to cap a hard fought 40-28 win in Arlington. Nebraska is 0-2 for the first time since 1957 as the Cornhuskers fought hard but came up short 24-19 to Troy. Oklahoma avenged the 2017 loss to Iowa State, but it wasn't easy. The Cyclones kept the game in doubt until late in the 4th quarter. The Sooners came away with a 37-27 win. Much to the delight of 103,507 fans, a record crowd at Darrell K. Royal Memorial stadium, Texas finally woke up in the second half and soundly defeated Southern California 37-14. Oklahoma State improved their national image tremendously by dominating a very good Boise State team 44-21. Washington posted a major conference win with a 21-7 defeat of Utah in Salt Lake City. In perhaps the biggest game of the day, certainly in terms of poll implications, LSU's Cole Tracy kicked a 42 yard field goal on the last play of the game to upset Auburn 22-21. And I would certainly be remiss if I did not give a shout out to North Texas, now 3-0 on the young season with a shocking 44-17 win over Arkansas in Fayetteville. QB Mason Fine is putting on quite a show for the fans of the Mean Green and Coach Seth Littrell's North Texas team is certainly raising eyebrows among fellow Conference USA members. The Billingsley Reports will be posted later this morning.
Colorado Freezes Frost's Debut at Nebraska with 33-28 Come From Behind Win.
In a game very reminiscent of the glory days from the old Big 8, Colorado and Nebraska literally battled to the bitter end. The Buffaloes, seasoned from an opening wallop of Colorado State last week jumped out to a 14-0 lead thanks to Cornhusker mistakes. Nebraska initially looked overwhelmed after not having played their opening game last week against Akron, which was canceled due to severe weather. The Cornhuskers settled down and took control of the game in the second quarter, rebounding to a 21-17 halftime lead, but a 4th quarter touchdown pushed Colorado ahead 33-28 and the Buffaloes held off a late attempt by Nebraska to secure the win. It was a sweet victory for Colorado, the first since November 23, 2007 when the Buffaloes prevailed in Boulder 65-51. The two teams had not met since they both left the Big 12 after the 2010 season. Around the nation: Clemson had all they could handle in College Station as the Aggies failed on a two point try that would have taken the game into overtime. The Tigers walked away, breathlessly, with a hard fought 28-26 win. Three Big 10 powerhouses prevailed as expected, Penn State beat Pittsburgh 51-6, Ohio State beat Rutgers 52-3 and Wisconsin beat New Mexico 45-14.....but Michigan State was not so lucky. The Spartans traveled to the desert to take on Arizona State in a late night game and were ambushed by the Sun Devils 16-13. In the Big 12, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, West Virginia and TCU all remained unbeaten, rolling heavily over their competition. Texas struggled with Tulsa coming away with a 28-21 win. Notre Dame, fresh off the big win over Big Blue, struggled mightily with lowly Ball State in South Bend only winning 24-16. Hawaii is off to a surprising 3-0 start after beating Rice 43-29 on the Big Island. Up on the Farm Stanford completely shut down the Trojans 17-3. Washington rebounded from the tough loss to Auburn with a resounding 45-3 win over North Dakota. In one of the more impressive wins of the day, Georgia traveled to Death Valley and dominated South Carolina 41-17 propelling the Bulldogs to #1 in the latest Billingsley Report. And last but certainly not least....Kentucky went to the Swamp and spanked the Gators 27-16 breaking a 31 game losing streak. The Wildcats had not beaten Florida since a 10-3 win in Lexington in 1986. The last time Kentucky had won in Gainesville was way back on November 17, 1979 with a decisive 31-3 victory.
Longhorns reeling after stunning 34-29 loss to Maryland
The much anticipated, highly hyped second season for Tom Herman at the helm of the Longhorn program started with a thud Saturday as the Terps Surprised Texas 34-29 in Landover, Maryland. It was the second consecutive win for Maryland over Texas following last year's stunning upset in Austin in Herman's debut game. The Longhorn faithful are in shock, with many beginning to grumble out loud about the direction the program is headed. Meanwhile, Big 12 favorite Oklahoma crushed Conference USA league leader Florida Atlantic 63-14. Kyler Murray was near flawless in his replacement of Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield, passing for 9/11 for 209 yards and two touchdowns. Rodney Anderson added 100 yards rushing and two touchdowns for the Sooners, completing one of the best performances in an opening game in Oklahoma football history. In another important Big 12 non-conference game, West Virginia routed Tennessee 40-14. Around the nation Notre Dame held off Michigan 24-17 in a renewal of one of the nation's most classic rivalries. Brigham Young scored a 28-23 opening upset win over Arizona, Penn State survived an upset bid by Appalachian State, winning 45-38 in overtime, Auburn took a huge step forward in their march toward a playoff bid by holding off Pac 12 leader Washington 21-16, and Group of Five leading team Boise State traveled into the deep South and shellacked Sun Belt leader Troy 56-20. The weather played havoc across the nation with several long delays being experienced from the Great Plains to the East Coast. Two games, Nebraska/Akron and Iowa State/South Dakota were canceled altogether due to fierce lightning, 80mph winds and torrential rain. National Title contenders Clemson, Georgia, Ohio State, Wisconsin, TCU, and Southern Cal all rolled over lesser competition as expected. The Billingsley Report will be posted Tuesday afternoon following the completion of Sunday and Monday night games.
Hawaii Stuns Colorado State 43-34
College Football didn't have to wait long for it's first major upset of the 2018 season. The 17 point underdog Rainbow Warriors traveled from rain soaked, flooded Hawaii to Fort Collins, Colorado and shocked the Rams 43-34. For three quarters it was all Hawaii with the Warriors leading 37-7 at one point. Colorado State caught fire in the 4th quarter and narrowed the gap to 40-34, but it was too little too late as Hawaii scored a late field goal to secure the victory. Hawaii QB Cole McDonald played an amazing game, certainly opening the eyes of fellow MWC foes. It was a limited slate to start the season. In other games, Wyoming manhandled New Mexico State 29-7, Rice kicked a field goal as time expired to escape an embarrassing loss to Prairie View, winning 31-28 and Massachusetts destroyed Duquesne 63-15.
Billingsley Releases 2018 Pre-Season Rankings
To no one's surprise 2017 National Champion Alabama starts on top of 2018's Pre-Season rankings. Georgia, Clemson and Ohio State round out the Top Four. Highlights from the just released Billingsley Report finds the Big 10 projected for another strong season with four teams, #5 Wisconsin, #6 Penn State, #11 Michigan State and #13 Michigan joining Ohio State to bring a total of 5 teams ranked among the nation's Top 13 teams. The Big 12 is projected to be a very tight race with #7 Oklahoma getting a slight nod for the conference championship and #22 Texas, #24 West Virginia, #25 TCU and #26 Oklahoma State all fighting for second place. As usual the SEC garnered the highest number of Top 25 teams. In addition to #1 Alabama and #2 Georgia, Auburn starts at #8, Mississippi State at #16, South Carolina #18, LSU #19 and Florida at #20. The ACC and Pac 12 placed three teams each in the initial elite 25 with # 3 Clemson and #9 Washington projected as potential playoff contenders. #10 Miami (Fla.) and #21 Virginia Tech follow Clemson in the ACC and #14 USC and #15 Stanford follow Washington from the Pac 12. The two highest rated Group of Five teams are Boise State at #17 and Florida Atlantic at #23. The season gets underway with a limited slate on August 25 and starts in earnest the next week with games from Thursday August 30 through Labor Day night, Monday September 3. Projections for the first week's games will be posted shortly.
Opening Weekend Schedule for 2018 Reveals Gems
As has been the custom for several years now, College Football opening weekend starts out with a bang. The first weekend of play will be Saturday August 25 with 4 games slated, but the "official" opening weekend is a 5 day Labor Day Weekend Marathon beginning Thursday August 30 and moving through Friday August 31, Saturday September 1, Sunday September 2 and Monday September 3. Several neutral site games highlight the Labor Day weekend with the rivalry game between Colorado and Colorado State in Denver starting things off on Friday night. Saturday features Auburn VS Washington in Atlanta, Alabama VS Louisville in Orlando, Ole Miss VS Texas Tech in Houston, and Tennessee VS West Virginia in Charlotte. The Wolverines and the Fighting Irish renew their rivalry as Michigan travels to South Bend Saturday night. Sunday finds LSU and Miami (Fla.) dueling in prime time from Dallas and Virginia Tech travels to Tallahassee to tangle with Florida State to cap off the holiday extravaganza on Monday night. Billingsley's Pre-Season rankings, being evaluated now and throughout the early summer, will be posted along with Week 1 projections in mid August.
SEC Still Reigns in Conference Comparison; Alabama Remains All-Time Top Program.
The Southeastern Football Conference topped the list of Billingsley's Conference Comparison for the 11th consecutive year. The SEC has been on top since the now disbanded Big East took the top spot in 2006. Alabama widened it's lead over Notre Dame as the nation's top rated program fueled by yet another National Championship in 2017. Check out all the results in Billingsley's Encyclopedia. The All-Time Scores are in the process of being updated now, beginning with the SEC followed by the Independents, the ACC, Big 12, Big 10, Pac 12 and the Group of Five teams. The rest of the sections are already updated.
Second Half Turn of Tide Dooms Dawgs 26-23 in Overtime
After leading Alabama 13-0 at the half, it appeared Georgia was headed for their first National Title since the Dooley led Dawgs won it all in 1980. But in a bold move Alabama turned their fortune over to a Freshman QB who rallied the Tide to a dramatic 26-23 overtime win. It is the 5th National Championship for Alabama in the last 9 seasons, truly one of the greatest dynasties in college football history. The final 2017 Billingsley Reports will be posted this afternoon. Stay tuned over the next several weeks as the Billingsley College Football Encyclopedia will be updated!
It's an all SEC National Championship as Alabama and Georgia Vie For Title
The Georgia Bulldogs, fueled by a powerful running game, outlasted the Oklahoma Sooners 54-48 in a thrilling instant classic double overtime game in the Rose Bowl. In the nations second semi-final game played later last night, Alabama blasted Clemson 24-6 in the Sugar Bowl. The two teams now advance to the National Championship game on January 8 in Atlanta. The Final Regular Season rankings and the projection for the Title Game will be posted around 6PM CT.
National Semi-Finals Highlight Bowl Game Schedule
Army defeated Navy 14-13 to capture the Commander-in-Chief Trophy, closing out the college football regular season in dramatic fashion. It was the second victory in a row for the Black Knights of West Point. 39 Bowl Games begin to unfold beginning next Saturday, December 16. New Year's Day features playoff semi-finals in the Rose Bowl between Oklahoma and Georgia, and the Sugar Bowl between Alabama and Clemson. It will be the third consecutive meeting in the playoffs for the Tide and the Tigers while the Sooners and Bulldogs will be meeting for the very first time in football history. Amazing given the long storied history of both programs. A full set of projections for the Bowl Games will be posted Monday.
Buckeye Win Leaves Committee With Tough Decision
Alabama sat idle Saturday, hoping for upsets in Conference Championship games that would open the door for the Tide to sneak into the playoff. Unfortunately, the way things played out, the door is open but only by a tiny crack. If Auburn and Fresno State had won, the Tide's resume would have looked slightly better in the Committee's eyes. But Auburn fell to Georgia and Fresno State fell to Boise State. The Committee is now left weighing a one loss Alabama who did not even win their division, with a two loss Ohio State who won the Big 10, but suffered a stunning lopsided loss to Iowa in November. Billingsley's Reports are split. The Billingsley+ Report that uses margin of victory supports Ohio State at #4, the regular report, which was used by the BCS, has Alabama at #4. A strong case can be made for both teams. The College Football Playoff Rankings will be released in a matter of hours at 11AM CT. It's a no win situation for the CFP Committee which is bound to take a lot of heat for their decision with two fan bases and the entire college football nation split in their believe of who deserves the final slot in the playoff. Personally, I believe Alabama deserves the #4 ranking. The Crimson Tide went through the entire season undefeated until the last game and lost on the road to arch rival and highly ranked Auburn. The Buckeyes won a conference title, but two losses, and one of those a 55-24 loss to Iowa is just too much to overcome in my eyes. It will be interesting to see how the Committee handles this very tough decision.
Wild Scramble for Top 4. Playoff Participants Still Up For Grabs
Auburn's upset over previously undefeated Alabama, coupled with Pittsburgh's stunning win over Miami (Fla.), left the door wide open for a wild final weekend of College Football on Championship Saturday December 2. With all Power Five Championship Games now set, the big question remains.....which conference will be left out. The winner of the SEC, either Georgia or Auburn and the winner of the ACC, either Clemson or Miami (Fla.) are the only sure bets. If Oklahoma beats TCU, they are in, but if TCU wins the Horned Frogs could be edged out. If Wisconsin beats Ohio State, I believe the Badgers are in. If Ohio State wins, most likely the Buckeyes are in, but it's not a sure thing. It will be interesting to see where Alabama falls in this coming Tuesday's Rankings. The only hope the PAC 12 has is that Southern Cal beats Stanford, TCU beats Oklahoma, Ohio State beats Wisconsin.....and the Committee is left with giving the last two remaining seeds to a two loss conference champion from a choice of Southern Cal, TCU and Ohio State, and a one loss Alabama and Wisconsin who did not win their conference. If total chaos ensues and Central Florida beats a highly ranked Memphis to finish 12-0, I would not be shocked if the Golden Knights receive some consideration for the final spot. My personal prediction for the Final Playoff Rankings after Championship Saturday: #1 Clemson #2 Oklahoma #3 Georgia #4 Wisconsin
Nation Awaits Rivalry Weekend as Playoff Remains Up For Grabs
College Football's top teams rolled over lesser opponents Saturday with all eyes now looking forward to next week's rivalry games. The nation will be focused on the Iron Bowl where # 1 Alabama travels to the Plains to take on what many believe is the hottest team in the nation, the Auburn Tigers. The coveted Top Four places in College Football Playoff are still in doubt with Alabama, Georgia, Auburn, Miami (Fla.), Clemson, Wisconsin, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Southern Cal, Washington State and Notre Dame still having a realistic chance. Should complete chaos ensue in the next two weeks it's even possible undefeated Central Florida could receive consideration. Billingsley Projections will be posted Monday.
Alabama Escapes, Georgia Falls To Auburn, Miami and Oklahoma Roll
The Crimson Tide barely escaped Starkville with a 31-24 win Saturday night as a well prepared Mississippi State gave Alabama a complete game from start to finish. Georgia was not so lucky. The Bulldogs ran into an Auburn machine that was clicking on all cylinders and Georgia lost their first game of the season to War Eagle by a whopping 40-17 score. Miami (Fla.) removed all doubt about their elite status as the Hurricane rocked visiting Notre Dame 41-8. The Oklahoma defense finally put together a note worthy performance and Baker Mayfield continued to impress Heisman voters as the Sooners topped TCU 38-20. In other action around the country, Central Florida remained unbeaten and the top ranked Group of Five team at 9-0 with a 49-24 win over Connecticut. Wisconsin moved to 10-0 for the first time in the long storied history of the Badger program with a solid 38-14 win over Iowa. Ohio State rebounded by thumping Michigan State 48-3. Stanford turned the Pac 12 North upside down with a 30-22 win over Washington and an average Missouri team destroyed hapless Tennessee 50-17. The Volunteer Nation is restless to say the least. The Billingsley Projections for Week #13 will be posted Monday. The Billingsley+ (MOV) projections have been tied for #1 in the nation for the last two weeks in a row.