Oregon gained 777 yards in a 44-28 win over Cal on Saturday. Vernon Adams Jr. threw for 300 yards and four touchdowns, and the foursome of Royce Freeman, Tony Brooks-James, Kani Benoit and Taj Griffin still had time to combine for 52 carries and 434 yards.
Remember that whole "Cal could win a lot of games if the defense is merely mediocre" thing? The returns are diminishing.
This week's F/+ rankings feature a rather predictable top 10. Clemson and Alabama remained in the top two spots after strong performances, Notre Dame moved ahead of Michigan, Oklahoma moved up a bit more, LSU fell, Baylor fell a bit ... it all makes sense. And while you might have qualms with Michigan and USC being in the top 10, it's not a new development.
But then there's No. 12: Navy. The Midshipmen surged from 24th -- ahead of TCU, Oklahoma State, Mississippi State, Utah, Iowa, Michigan State, etc. -- with a dominant win over Memphis.
Crazy, right? It is until you look at Navy's statistical resume. The Middies have lost only to Notre Dame (now third in F/+), and while the final was 41-24, it was 24-21 at halftime. Beyond that, they have treated bad teams like bad teams. They beat Colgate, East Carolina, UConn, Air Force, Tulane and USF (all ranked 67th or worse in F/+) by an average of 36-15, and they ran Memphis out of its own building on Saturday, rushing for 374 yards and scoring the game's final 21 points.
This is a really good team, as efficient as ever on offense, a bit more aggressive in its bend-don't-break defense and dominant at field position and finishing drives. Having wrecked Memphis' season, Navy will also have a chance of wrecking Houston's on Black Friday. Do that, and the Midshipmen have a strong chance at their first major bowl since the 1963 season, a No. 1 vs. No. 2 battle vs. Texas in the Cotton.
(And here's your reminder that if the Midshipmen win the American Athletic Conference and are in contention for a committee-crafted New Year's bowl, the committee's going to delay at least a portion of its bowl matchups by a week because of Army-Navy.)
Navy's coach explains his work week
The new Bovada national title odds are out, and there are some interesting contrasts between these odds and general win probability.
Both Alabama and Ohio State boast 5/2 odds, with Clemson in third at 9/2 and four teams at 16/1. Since odds are designed to get people betting, it makes sense that the two generally best-regarded programs at the moment are at the top.
But if you're placing bets, you might want to avoid the favorites. Here are your title favorites listed with their odds of winning out (using S&P+ win probability). I'm including hypothetical conference title games vs. the most likely opponent.
|(Current record)||Title odds||Chance of
winning out before bowls
|Alabama (8-1)||5/2||35%||at Miss. St. (65%), Charleston S'ern (100%), at Auburn (84%), vs. Florida (65%)|
|Ohio State (9-0)||5/2||14%||at Illinois (71%), Mich. St. (78%), at Michigan (37%), vs. Iowa (66%)|
|Clemson (9-0)||9/2||76%||at Syracuse (95%), Wake (99%), at S. Carolina (95%), vs. UNC (85%)|
|Baylor (8-0)||16/1||13%||Oklahoma (55%), at OSU (52%), at TCU (50%), Texas (92%)|
|Florida (8-1)||16/1||16%||at S. Carolina (83%), FAU (91%), Florida St. (59%), vs. Alabama (35%)|
|Notre Dame (8-1)||16/1||39%||Wake (96%), vs. BC (79%), at Stanford (51%)|
|Stanford (8-1)||16/1||15%||Oregon (77%), California (74%), Notre Dame (49%), vs. Utah (55%)*|
* Utah is the Pac-12 South leader at the moment, though UCLA (against which Stanford would have a 52 percent chance of winning) and USC (47 percent) would alter the probabilities slightly.
Three of the seven favorites (per the odds) are still undefeated and might have a little more Playoff wiggle room. And once you reach the Playoff, you still have to win it. But only one of the teams here has win-out odds better than 39 percent, and that team is at almost double that.
Plus, Clemson might actually have some room to fall, since the Tigers are undefeated (though a loss to any of the remaining opponents besides UNC would be harshly judged, and that loss would deprive Clemson of the committee's nebulous conference championship boost). Seems like the long-lost aura of "Clemsoning" might be affecting the title odds.
Heading into Tuesday's MACtion against NIU, Toledo ranked 29th in the F/+ rankings and stood at 7-0. The Rockets weren't incredibly well-positioned to score the Group of 5's major bowl bid, but they were going to remain in the conversation as long as they kept winning.
Unfortunately, Toledo had to play NIU. The Huskies ranked only 62nd, having suffered a three-game losing streak, complete with a loss to Central Michigan. Toledo was the host and obvious favorite ... but Toledo doesn't beat NIU. It's one of football's facts of life at this point. Following a 32-27 win in the Glass Bowl, NIU has now won six straight (and seven of eight) against the Rockets and is now positioned to win its sixth straight MAC West title.
Sure, the Huskies have to win at Buffalo and beat a smoking-hot WMU. (The Broncos have won five straight, the last four by an average of 49-16.) And sure, at 4-1 in conference play, CMU still has a chance to spoil the Huskies' party.
But NIU just cleared its biggest hurdle, as it always does. It would probably be silly to bet against the Huskies until they prove such a bet will actually pay off at some point.
You want to face Mike Gundy teams before November, the 11th month. Since 2011's run at the BCS title game, Gundy's Oklahoma State Cowboys have made a habit of playing shaky early and surging late.
- In 2012, the 'Pokes were just 5-3 after a loss to Kansas State. But they crushed bowl teams West Virginia and Texas Tech by a combined 114-55, took 10-win Oklahoma to the wire in Norman, took Baylor to the wire in Waco and walloped an overmatched Purdue in a bowl.
- In 2013, OSU lost to 4-8 West Virginia and eased past 4-8 TCU, 3-9 Iowa State, etc. Then came November: 52-34 at Texas Tech, 42-6 over Kansas, 38-13 at Texas, 49-17 vs. Baylor. In a month, they surged to sixth in the polls before a narrow loss to Oklahoma knocked them out of BCS bowl contention.
- In 2014, a major rebuild and injuries left OSU wobbly with a five-game losing streak. But the 'Pokes found life with a quarterback change in a loss at Baylor, then went to Norman and upset No. 18 Oklahoma. That qualified them for a bowl, where they beat Washington.
This year is similar, but one thing's different: OSU didn't lose during its slow start.
The Cowboys limped past Central Michigan and needed serious luck to beat Texas. They beat Kansas State and WVU by a combined nine. But now they're looking like the November 'Pokes. They put up 58 on Kansas. They absorbed a series of early blows at Texas Tech, then hit the gas in a 70-53 win. And on Saturday, they dominated TCU.
This is a clearly flawed TCU, but the Frogs appeared to be putting the pieces together. OSU dismantled them, averaging 8.6 yards per play and needing only 53 snaps and a late pick-six to put up 49 points. They scored on passes of 48, 50, 82 and 74 yards. James Washington caught five for 184 yards and three scores.
The defense corralled Trevone Boykin and dominated in the trenches. In 61 pass attempts, Boykin was sacked three times and picked off four times and averaged 7.1 yards per pass attempt -- solid for a lot of quarterbacks, but not for Boykin. Aaron Green averaged only four yards per carry.
Every time you don't lose, you keep your goals on the table. You give yourself another week to figure everything out. OSU's early survival put the 'Pokes on a path. And after a trip to Ames, they'll welcome Baylor and Oklahoma to Stillwater. I really don't think an improved OSU goes 3-0 in the coming weeks, but I didn't think it would make it to 9-0 either.
Against New Mexico, Utah State created seven scoring opportunities to the Lobos' three and generated a significant 12.4-yard (per possession) field position advantage. That, combined with the fact that 36 percent of UNM's yardage came on one single play (an 86-yard pass in the second quarter), meant USU's win expectancy was 90 percent.
New Mexico won, 14-13. The Lobos scored two touchdowns on three chances, while USU turned the ball over on downs at the 2 and 29, lost a fumble at the 22 and settled for three field goals, missing one with under a minute left. Throw in a lost fumble at your own 3, and that's how you lose a game you had almost no excuse for losing.
That's also how you cede control of the MWC Mountain. USU is 4-2 in conference play, while Boise State and Air Force are 4-1.
Not including the four-point game they played against each other earlier this year, Arkansas and Tennessee were a combined 4-12 in one-possession games going back to the start of the 2014 season. That's a robust win percentage of .250. So it was a little bit jarring when both won wild affairs on Saturday.
In the tamer of the two, Tennessee pulled off its patented "blow a double-digit lead" act but did so more quickly than normal. Up 17-3 over South Carolina at halftime, the Vols gave up two touchdowns in 41 seconds.
They went up again, 27-24, but went three-and-out twice to give South Carolina one last chance to win the game. (That's the story of Tennessee's season.) But with 32 seconds left, as Perry Orth hit tight end Jerell Adams for a big gain down to the UT 18, Malik Foreman stripped the ball away, and Jalen Reeves-Maybin recovered. Ballgame.
It was wilder in Oxford. A 14-0 burst gave Arkansas a 38-31 lead with 12:20 left, Ole Miss scored twice to surge ahead, and Brandon Allen hit Dominique Reed for a 17-yard score with 53 seconds left to send the game toward overtime.
In overtime, Ole Miss seized control. It took the Rebels just three plays to go ahead, 52-45, on an 8-yard Chad Kelly run. And after a penalty, two incompletions and a big sack, Arkansas faced a fourth-and-25 with the game on the line.
Two plays later, Arkansas scored. Then Allen plunged in on a two-point conversion to steal the win.
Tennessee and Arkansas both making wild plays to WIN. Put on your helmet. That's a sure sign that frogs will soon rain from the sky.