What a nice way to end the month of October. The first college football playoff rankings come out Tuesday, Halloween falls on Friday, and clocks get set back on Saturday. So we will have ample time to talk college football before, after, and during our candy gorging. Hopefully your team has provided you plenty of treats and very few tricks this season.
This week we get into the spirit of the season by passing out a trick (bad) or treat (good) to a few college football notables.
Treat to the SEC West. The nation’s most dominant division included four of the top five teams in the nation last week, before Ole Miss lost a thriller to LSU in Baton Rouge. From a pure football standpoint, a playoff amongst the top four teams that emerge at the end of the season from Alabama, Auburn, LSU, Mississippi State, and LSU would probably provide fans the best teams and entertainment. But we are getting that in the regular season, so enjoy. Never has one division been so far superior to the rest of the nation.
Trick to Jimbo Fisher and Florida State. This rotten egg is not because the Seminoles have played poorly (they are unbeaten and unlikely to lose in the listless ACC); instead it is because the defending champs have coddled their star quarterback. Jameis Winston is a great talent, and stays unruffled on the field, but he is a bonehead off it. Where there is smoke there is fire, except in Tallahassee. Fisher and FSU will keep Winston on the field regardless of his behavior.
Treat to Brad Nessler and Todd Blackledge. For my money, this is the most professional and informative broadcasting duo in college football. Nessler is smooth without condescension; Blackledge is knowledgeable without arrogance. They are terrific.
Trick to Verne Lundquist and Gary Danielson. This pair gets great SEC games every week, but they add little to the drama. My mute button is more popular than Nick Saban masks in Tuscaloosa at 3:30 ET on Saturdays.
Treat to the Pac-12 and Big 12. The league scheduling for these two is sweeter than the Twix bars I’ll pass out Friday. Both play nine conference games, meaning outstanding matchups each week and truer championship races.
Trick to the Big Ten. Michigan State is head and shoulders above everybody else in the heartland, and should the Spartans get past Ohio State in early November, they remain in contention for a playoff spot.
Treat to Ameer Abdullah. The Nebraska tailback should receive significant Heisman attention and is only 825 yards behind Ron Dayne on the Big Ten’s career all-purpose yards list.
Around the Nation
Halloween weekend features some frightful challenges for several of the nation’s best squads.
Florida State travels to Louisville in a key Thursday night game. This is probably the toughest regular season game left on the FSU schedule. In the SEC, Will Muschamp may be coaching his last Cocktail Party game when Florida faces Georgia. Ole Miss plays at Auburn in what may well be a national championship elimination game.
The top Big 12 game of the week takes place in Morgantown when TCU travels to West Virginia. Keep the scoreboard lights ready in that one because they will be blinking.
In the Pac-12, Arizona takes on UCLA in a South Division battle, and up north Stanford travels to Oregon. The Ducks typically struggle mightily with the Cardinal as contrasting styles make this an interesting matchup.
Note – this column originally appeared in The Blitz (Volume 4 Issue 10; Oct 28-Nov 1 2014)