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College Football Playoff Threat Watch, Week 3: The only way to lose is to play

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Every time you send your football team onto the field, you run the risk of looking bad. If you look bad, you probably aren't going to make the Playoff. Therefore, you should never send your team onto the field.

An instantaneous survey of five teams in the best position for the College Football Playoff's four spots at this very moment, plus the biggest threats looming for each. Be advised: these have nothing to do with the Top 25 polls. If you get mad about this, you will be pointed to the previous sentence.


Oregon stupidly decided to play a game this week, but don't hold that against them. Someone had to taste the flamethrower, and that someone was Wyoming. That's soon-too-be-respectable Wyoming, who led for one glorious, tense quarter until Oregon turned, burned, and put up 48 points on the Cowboys.

That result may seem like just another opportunity for stat-padding against weak competition. Counterargument: USC lost to Boston College. Like, badly. Like, Boston College had 16 tackles for loss badly. The board says win, and blowout kings Oregon are still through to the Playoff after Week 3.

Threats: Seemingly fewer every week, when you watch the Pac-12 blow engines in mid-September. There is one defense in the Pac-12 in Stanford, which is currently playing Blackjack Football: they stand on 17 and dare you to get more. Oregon can score way, way more than that, and in a hurry against good competition.

Dropping a shootout seems like the only other way they can lose a conference game, and the only teams with any demonstrable ability to keep up with the Ducks are Washington and Cal. Both have several traffic cones on scholarship on defense. These are straws, and we are grasping at them really hard right now.


Another team foolishly deciding to play football this week against a team. Southern Miss is just a happy jackrabbit crossing a highway, and Alabama is the F-350 that turned it into a fine red vapor. But there are some fine and important points to take away from this game. Even while running a limited playbook, giving eight different ball carriers touches in the run game, and playing both quarterbacks, Alabama gained over 500 yards of offense again.

That's the third straight game over 500 yards for Lane Kiffin's new offense. You know who else had over 500 yards of offense in Week 3, and yet almost lost to Kentucky? Florida. IT'S A WIN, ALABAMA. SOME TEAMS DON'T GET THOSE EASILY. It counts, and you'll likely scatter Florida's limbs to the four corners of the nation next week in Tuscaloosa.

Threats: Same as last week: the SEC West Artillery brigade of Auburn and Texas A&M, and whatever LSU is. One adjustment from last week: Florida won't beat them and is removed from the threat list.


Filed the strongest performance of the week by any of the major-conference powers by playing no one. Brilliant move, Jimbo Fisher. No one wins in Week 3 except for Bret Bielema and Steve Spurrier, meaning it's the week for accidents and classic backstabbing comebacks plotted by snickering old dudes who know all the worst tricks. You avoided both, and for that, you're still in the Playoff.


Threats: Virginia, who just beat Louisville? Louisville, who just lost to UVA? It's the ACC. The threat is basically existential, in the sense that being an ACC team is a hazardous, inconsistent thing to be. FSU continues to be the rich, together kid who escaped its surroundings, yet the Noles could innocently loan conference sibling school NC State its car one night, then come back to find it's been implicated in a bank robbery. That could happen any day, because the ACC's bucket is deep and filled with only the most hater-ish crabs grabbing any aspiring escapees.

Texas A&M

Only scored 38 against Rice, but did manage to do this with an open and presumably active hellmouth midfield at Kyle Field.

The downside of being a points-giddy offensive juggernaut: when your star QB "only" throws for four touchdowns and 300 yards, it feels a bit underwhelming, as does being outgained by Rice for the game (481 to 477). The Aggies pulled up and fell into a gentle, game-managing trot some time in the third quarter.

The upside is the ability to score points, win games, and not be Georgia, who was on this list last week and is not because they lost a game to South Carolina, a team Texas A&M burned to the ground in Week 1. Transitive property championships are all you have in Week 3, and you'll just have to enjoy the Burger King paper crown you wear for winning one this week, Aggies.

Threats: LSU, first and foremost, because even in down years the Tigers make for a bad, sloppy fight for the Aggies. Alabama and Auburn lurk, as well. But that Arkansas game on Sept. 27 looks a lot harder after watching the Hogs pulverize A&M's air raid brethren, Texas Tech.


Reeked on third down conversions, going 3-of-12 on the night overall. Had more penalties than Tennessee and turned the ball over twice. Only rushed for 146 yards, a worrisome number for an offense working against a group of players too young to drink legally in any state and making their first big road trip as college football players.

Still won by 24 points and beat poor Justin Worley up like he was an Alabama quarterback or something. So there is something to be said for allowing Tennessee to put on a valiant, respectable performance, but also show that your team can win on an off day.

Oklahoma, see previous theme: "You won in Week 3 and did not embarrass yourself, so just think about how much you won't remember this game in two months."

Threats: West Virginia next week. The Mountaineers are desperate, erratic, crazy, and capable of anything, especially in Morgantown. Baylor and K-State are down the road a bit, but still dangerous.


UCLA, looking dodgier by the week even in victories, and now potentially playing with an injured Brett Hundley after beating Texas.

LSU, because we have no idea what they are other than the usual Les Miles Mystery Football Team Created By Pouring All The Football Liquors Left In The Barmats Into One Glass At The End Of The Night.


Georgia, out of the running (for now), run over by mean old man in golf cart.


Baylor, who has played no one.

Mizzou, who is basically Baylor with a stronger schedule. (Have you seen Maty Mauk play? That's something you should probably do soon, preferably against South Carolina in a huge SEC East game).

BYU is a slambangy bunch of dudes with a fantastic offensive threat in Taysom Hill and is currently undefeated.

Arizona State is undefeated, but may have just lost QB Taylor Kelly to injury for a spell.

Undefeated Notre Dame? Sure, Purdue counts as football in at least four states.

Auburn, prepping for a dicey Thursday night game against Kansas State in Manhattan this week.