AP Top 25 Takeaways: A Playoff Without ‘Bama? Very Possible
Even before a game kicked off Saturday, it was huge news day in college football.
After UCLA announced it hired Chip Kelly to coach the Bruins and Nebraska fired Mike Riley, the rivalry games began. As the day drew to an end, Auburn had once again given the College Football Playoff race a seismic shake.
Thoughts, takedowns and takeaways from the 13th week of the season; there are only two undefeated teams left and neither is Alabama.
1. A College Football Playoff without Alabama? Very possible, even likely. At 11-1 and with no chance to win a conference championship after losing to Auburn, Alabama is going to need help.
2. The Tide always does well with the eye test, but the resume is light compared to what Ohio State did to reach the playoff without playing in its conference title game last season. Those Buckeyes reached selection Sunday with three wins against top-10 teams, two on the road. Alabama's best victories will be against LSU and Mississippi State.
3. The SEC champion is in. The ACC champion is likely in, even with Miami's loss at Pitt. Oklahoma is in if it wins the Big 12. Unbeaten Wisconsin seems like a lock with a Big Ten title. There would be no room for the Tide.
4. What does Alabama need to happen? Ohio State (10-2) beating unbeaten Wisconsin in the Big Ten championship game probably is a good place to start,. TCU (10-2) beating Oklahoma could work, too.
5. It could be an interesting test for the selection committee, seeing how comfortable it is having two teams from one conference in the final four. The selections could provide insight on how much the committee simply differs to the digit in the loss column and what is the value of a conference championship.
6. So who's No. 1 now? The Tide has been on top of the AP rankings since the preseason. Miami was No. 2. Hello, No. 3 Oklahoma!
7. The last time the Sooners was No. 1 in November was 2003.
8. The winner of the Iron Bowl might have been No. 7 Georgia. The Tide and Tigers pounded each other and Auburn running back Kerryon Johnson left the game early with what coach Gus Malzahn said was "a shoulder issue."
9. The Bulldogs easily took care of business against Georgia Tech and will show up at Mercedes-Benz Stadium the fresher of team, looking to avenge its only loss of the season.
10. Most impressive about Auburn's second victory in three weeks against the team holding the CFP No. 1 ranking: Nothing fluky about the victories. The Tigers clearly outplayed the Tide, a rarity in the Nick Saban era.
11. So far the Jim Harbaugh era at Michigan has been far more interesting in the offseason than it has from September to January.
12. Harbaugh is now 0-3 against Ohio State, and surely there are some Wolverines fans losing patience. Though probably just some. The program is in far better shape than it has been since the 1990s.
13. Still, Michigan's 8-4 record this season is not shocking, but still pretty empty, with no victories against winning teams. Next season Harbaugh returns a mountain of talent and it will be on him to develop Brandon Peters or Dylan McCaffrey into a top-tier quarterback. No more excuses.
14. Ohio State coach Urban Meyer is now 27-3 in rivalry games, dating back to when he went 1-1 coaching Bowling Green against Toledo. It's an impressive number in a Hall of Fame career and speaks to how well Meyer taps into the emotions of his players.
15. While it is understandable that Meyer would be upset about his quarterback being injured on a crowded sideline during pregame warm up, the coach's reaction to J.T. Barrett's injury seemed a bit melodramatic.
16. Barrett said he will be good to go next week, though backup Dwayne Haskins played well against Michigan. The last time Barrett was hurt against Michigan and Ohio State's backup quarterback had to play Wisconsin in the Big Ten title game, the world was introduced to Cardale Jones. That worked out OK for the Buckeyes.
17. Baker Mayfield's punishment for being knucklehead last week against Kansas tuned out to be two plays. That's how long it took the Sooners to score on their first possession against West Virginia. Mayfield then took over and went 14 of 17 for 281 yards and three touchdowns. The Heisman Trophy is still all his, barring some sort of five-interception meltdown in the Big 12 title game next week.
18. Good thing the Big 12 brought back its championship game to have a better chance of getting into the playoff, huh?
19. It was a little weird to hear Nebraska athletic director Bill Moos say that he would consider UCF coach and former Cornhuskers quarterback Scott Frost, whose teams is unbeaten, among the candidates to be the Huskers next coach. Athletic directors almost never name names, but it is so obvious that Nebraska would be interested in Frost there is no good reason to hide it.
20. Texas Tech's Kliff Kingsbury seemed to save his job on Friday night by beating Texas. Time will tell whether Arizona State's Todd Graham did the same by winning the Territorial Cup against Arizona.
21. Big difference between those two situations. Tech has always wanted Kingsbury to succeed at his alma mater and always seemed willing to cut him some extra slack. Arizona State seems to be looking for a reason to move on from Graham.
22. Kansas is sticking with David Beaty, who is 3-33 in three seasons. It's complicated, but basically Kansas doesn't want to fire its athletic director but doesn't seem to have confidence in Sheaon Zenger to hire another coach.
23. On Saturday, Florida fans watched their Gators (4-7) lose to Florida State for the fifth straight year and found out Chip Kelly was not going to be their next coach. That's a bad day.
24. There will be no 5-7 teams in bowl teams this season. In fact, there's a chance there will be more teams with six wins than there are spots in 39 bowl games.
25. Florida State will play Louisiana-Monroe next week to get bowl eligible for a 36th straight season. The Seminoles will definitely play in the postseason with six victories. A team like Buffalo, which qualified for the postseason, might get shut out. That seems wrong.
Follow Ralph D. Russo at www.Twitter.com/ralphDrussoAP
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