By Brad Carroll
The sudden love for Mississippi State as the No. 1 team in the nation is perfectly understandable. The Bulldogs have gone from unranked to the top spot in just five weeks, the quickest leap in the history of the AP poll. They have beaten three top 10 teams in consecutive weeks, just the fifth team in history to accomplish that feat.
The Bulldogs didn't just beat LSU, Texas A&M and Auburn, they won going away. So, there's no doubt Mississippi State deserves all the good print they are getting around the country.
But, and you knew there would be a but, there is another team I believe is more deserving right now of being the No. 1 team in the nation - Ole Miss. To clarify, this isn't an anti-Mississippi State column, as I have a ton of praise for the Bulldogs and have them at No. 2 in my poll, one spot ahead of Florida State. This is pro-Ole Miss, which hasn't gotten the publicity its conference rival has so far.
Ole Miss doesn't have three wins over top 10 schools on its resume, but it does own the most impressive win between it and Mississippi State, although very close, beating Alabama at home two weeks ago. The Bulldogs' easy win over Auburn last week at home rivals the Ole Miss victory over Bama without a doubt, though. The Running Rebels followed that win by routing Texas A&M Saturday on the road. The Rebels were more impressive in beating the Aggies, and did so on the road, than what the Bulldogs did at home in beating the same team two weeks ago.
In that case, Ole Miss has had the better overall resume and should be one spot ahead of the Bulldogs this week. And, remember, one of Mississippi State's top 10 wins was against LSU, which is nowhere near being one of the best teams in the land, and in fact, isn't ranked at all right now.
With all that, being No. 1 or No. 3, which is what Ole Miss is ranked currently, doesn't mean a whole lot right now. If both teams continue to win, we will all get our answer as to who the better team is, when the rivals play each other at Ole Miss on Nov. 29.
To get there, Mississippi State has one more game against a ranked opponent, at Alabama. Ole Miss has one game remaining against a ranked team as well, home to Auburn.
Let's all hope that happens (not counting Alabama or Auburn fans, of course).
As for my four weekly selections in the College Football Playoff, there is one change from last week, as Auburn will go from my two-seed to out of the bracket. My top three are rather obvious, with Ole Miss at the top, followed by No. 2 Mississippi State and No. 3 Florida State.
The final spot comes down to Baylor, which had an epic comeback victory over TCU Saturday, and Notre Dame, which scored 50 against North Carolina but still were in position to lose the game late. As I wrote last week, Notre Dame will get its chance to crack the top four if it can beat Florida State this coming Saturday night on the road. If it does, Notre Dame jumps to No. 3. For right now, however, the fourth and final spot belongs to the Bears, even though they gave up a whopping 58 points to the Horned Frogs Saturday night.
The best part about the five teams being considered for the College Football Playoff right now are four of them wouldn't have been considered serious contenders before the season. That's a huge plus for college football as a whole, which needs some new blood at the top of the rankings.
For those wondering, I had Florida State, Alabama, Oregon and Oklahoma as my preseason College Football Playoff selections. All four are still alive. Glenn had Florida State, Alabama, Oregon and Michigan State for his preseason picks, and all four are still alive as well. Craig picked Florida State, Alabama, UCLA and Wisconsin to make it. Two of those teams are done already, the Bruins and Badgers, so his picks have taken a big hit after just seven weeks.
Here's our final look back at what became another big week for upsets and great games, with our College GameDay Rewind breakdown of the biggest games from Week 7.
No. 13 Georgia (-3) 34, No. 23 Missouri 0
Losers: All of us, including Missouri, which has been eliminated from my bandwagon list for good, and don't forget autograph dealers (don't buy their stuff!)
Here was Glenn's manifesto (or diary from a mad man) leading into Saturday's slate of 11 games: "You guys should just stop picking since you have no shot to match me. I am the best there is, the best there was, and the best there ever will be. You will never have an upset pick week like I did. Dominant!" Glenn channeled his inner Bret "Hitman" Hart for his smack-talk this week, as he was still riding high from picking Ole Miss, TCU and Notre Dame all to pull the upset last week, probably one of the few, if only expert, to do so in the country. But maybe he's starting to read his own press clippings and forgot about winning the game with correct picks, not talking trash. We will wait and see how it all plays out. To start Saturday's slate of games, all four of our college football experts, me included, lost on Missouri. Three of us picked the outright upset, which seems embarrassing now to even think about with how this game played out. Worse yet, Georgia beat down the Tigers without star running back Todd Gurley, who was suspended just a few days before the game. Missouri quarterback Maty Mauk threw four picks and the Bulldogs shut out the Tigers on the road. Missouri, which I was on the bandwagon with as a team to root for, has now been banished from that list, probably forever. "Mizzou sucks," Craig simply texted during the rout. It's hard to argue with that analysis.
No. 1 Florida State (-24) 38, Syracuse 20
Losers: The rest of us
I believed this would be the game where Florida State would put together a complete performance and end up routing the overmatched Orange on the road. I was wrong again, even though Jameis Winston had perhaps his best game of the season, throwing for three touchdowns and no interceptions. Again, the Seminoles weren't overly impressive, but they got the victory, which if they continue doing, will have them playing for a championship at year's end. But the AP poll voters have already had enough, dropping FSU to No. 2 in the rankings, behind Mississippi State. If you read the top of the column, you know I would drop the Seminoles to No. 3, behind Ole Miss and Mississippi State. Florida State did lead the game by 25 early in the fourth quarter, but Syracuse scored on a 35-yard touchdown pass with 10:37 to go to break most of our hearts. Florida State did not score again, which made Syracuse and Matt the winners plus the points.
No. 11 Oklahoma (-15) 31, Texas 26
Winners: Brad, Craig, Matt, College Football Fans who got at least one game to watch among the noon clunkers
Losers: Craig, which drops him to 0-3 after the early games
"Remember, rivalry games typically favor the underdog, especially getting more than two touchdowns," is what I wrote in our picks column leading into the game, and I couldn't be more right (stands up, takes bow ... sits down, hangs head for actually doing it). Texas actually was the better team in the first half, and deserved to be winning instead of down 17-13. The Longhorns held Oklahoma to just 29 yards of total offense at halftime. But that didn't translate to the scoreboard. The Sooners did increase their lead to 18 early in the fourth quarter, but Texas scored two straight touchdowns to cut the deficit to five, and had a last-ditch effort to win the game, but couldn't. Texas, even though just 2-4, actually looked like a team that is on the cusp of returning to contender status. Or the Longhorns just played above their heads because they were staring across from a huge rival. Either way, it counts as a victory for all of us except Craig. "Craig thought Oklahoma would help him gain ground, haha," was Glenn's way of rubbing the loss in.
No. 12 Oregon (-2.5) 42, No. 18 UCLA 20
Winners: Brad, Glenn, Matt
Losers: Craig, Craig's National Championship Pick, Craig's Ego
We all should have known Craig was going to pick UCLA to upset Oregon in this game. After all, UCLA was his national championship pick, and if the Bruins lost at home to the Ducks, their season, and Craig's selection, would be toast. Well, consider both toast, burnt toast. Oregon routed the Bruins, just as myself, Glenn and Matt thought it would. The Ducks might not be good enough to get into the College Football Playoff, with a bad loss to Arizona on its resume already, but they were a step above the Bruins in this one. UCLA had a ton of hype coming into the season, but after losing two straight games, all of that is merely whimpers now.
No. 8 Michigan State (-21.5) 45, Purdue 31
Winners: Just Brad, Yay Me!
Losers: Everybody else
Contrary to what many people might say about me, I do learn from my mistakes. Last week, I picked Michigan State to cover against Nebraska, and it looked great for most of the game, with the Spartans leading 27-3 in the fourth quarter. But the Cornhuskers scored 19 straight points to hand me one of the most frustrating losses in my decade-long career. So this week, I wasn't going to fall into the same trap with the Spartans, and I took the load of points and banked on Purdue keeping the game close. And I was rewarded, as Purdue not only kept the game close, but had a chance to tie late. The Spartans have let big leads get away from them in two straight games now, losing both against the spread. "Michigan State has no idea how to shut the door," Glenn texted late in the game. I may have been fooled once, but I was ready for the blindside this time around. Craig, Glenn and Matt weren't nearly as prepared, and all get tagged with losses.
No. 6 Notre Dame (-17) 50, North Carolina 43
Winners: Nobody on this night, not even the Irish
Losers: All of America for watching this
Notre Dame was not impressive at all in this game, allowing not only a horrible North Carolina team (one which allowed over 50 points per game to their previous three opponents, all unranked), to stay within one touchdown late in the game, but to actually have a fourth-quarter lead. Granted, all teams will put together a rotten performance every now and again in a season, and winning is all that matters, but this game by the Fighting Irish isn't what anybody wants to see leading into the mega-matchup against Florida State this coming Saturday. The Irish offense reached 50 points in the game, which should have been a recipe for victory considering the 17-point spread, but the defense let the Tar Heels put up 43. I'm still shaking my head in disbelief that Notre Dame would lose this game with the points, even though it scored half-a-hundred at home. All of us were duped into an Irish cover, which should give us some Irish luck in the future. That's how the saying goes, right?
No. 5 Baylor (-8) 61, No. 9 TCU 58
Winners: Brad, Matt, Anybody who loves crazy comebacks and way too much offense
Losers: Craig, Glenn, Craig's record, Craig's poor, poor record
This game lasted nearly four and a half hours, and it was worth watching. Baylor and TCU combined for 119 points, including 38 in the fourth quarter alone. The Bears trailed by 21 with under 11 minutes to go before scoring 24 unanswered to win and keep their undefeated season alive. TCU coach Gary Patterson ultimately made a bad (I won't call it horrible) decision in the waning moments that cost his team the game. Facing a fourth and three from the Baylor 45 with 1:17 to go, Patterson decided to go for the first down instead of punting. The smart call in that situation would have been to punt and make Baylor go the longer distance to win the game. Patterson needed to trust his defense would get the game to overtime. But TCU went for it and threw incomplete on a play that could have been pass interference. On the Baylor side, the referees made their presence felt as well, this time calling pass interference on TCU on an incomplete pass on third and 10 from the TCU 43. The play in question was nearly identical to the fourth down play TCU ran unsuccessfully, with the same amount of contact. Baylor got the call and TCU didn't, and the Bears were set up for what would be a game-winning, 28-yard field goal by Chris Callahan, who was 4-for-9 this season. "Bad kicker," I sent out as Baylor was readying for the snap. "Bad kickers always make it at the end," Glenn retorted. He was right, Callahan made it and Baylor remains undefeated.
We interrupt our regular game breakdowns for a look at the standings with three games to play. Brad is 5-3, Glenn is 2-6, Matt is 4-4 and Craig is ... wait for it ... seriously, it's worth it ... 0 and 8. Craig hasn't won a game yet on this Saturday, eclipsing the previous worst start for us here over the past decade of 0-7, done by yours truly several years ago. Craig had a sense things weren't going his way, texted he, "might concede season. Oklahoma sucks. Florida State sucks. Everyone sucks," at 5:18 p.m. "Could be an early concession if I go 0-11," was sent at 8:51 p.m. To which I replied what everyone had to be thinking: "Don't be a baby." We now return you to our regularly scheduled game breakdown coverage.
No. 7 Alabama (-10.5) 14, Arkansas 13
Winners: Glenn, Those of us that didn't have to watch the first two hours of this borefest because the TCU-Baylor game ended a little past 8 p.m. (Thanks!)
Losers: Brad, Craig (0-9), Matt
The end could be here for Alabama football. The Crimson Tide scored just two touchdowns against Arkansas, which came a week after scoring just one offensive touchdown in a loss to Ole Miss. Against Arkansas, Alabama didn't score its second touchdown until there was 12:36 to go in the fourth quarter, which put the Tide up by one point. This is against an Arkansas team that hasn't won an SEC game in what seems like forever, 15 games to be exact. Alabama was outgained by more than 100 yards and fumbled four times on special teams, looking more like Vanderbilt than the consistent national title contenders. Glenn was the only one smart enough to go against the fading Tide. It will be interesting to see how everyone picks this week as Alabama hosts Texas A&M. Could we see a game where nobody picks the Crimson Tide? I know I'm leaning that way already.
No. 3 Ole Miss (+2) 35, No. 14 Texas A&M 20
Winners: Brad, Craig, who both had the upset pick with the Rebels. Plus, everyone who looks forward to Craig's picks, as he avoids concession by not going 0-for-11.
Losers: Glenn, Matt
Ole Miss forced three turnovers and had a 35-7 lead 12 seconds into the fourth quarter against Texas A&M. The Running Rebels looked like true national title contenders in routing the favored Aggies. Yes, Texas A&M was the favorite at home in this game. "[Texas] A&M is overrated, while Ole Miss might still be underrated, believe it or not. That will change this week, as the Running Rebels get the win and the upset." That's what I wrote in the preview, and I was right again (no standing this time). Ole Miss should be the No. 1 team in the country right now, but the Rebels will get their opportunity to prove it as the season unfolds.
USC (-3) 28, No. 10 Arizona 26
Winners: Brad, Craig (hey, a winning streak for Craig! "I've hit rock bottom, so only one way to go from here," was Craig's words of wisdom for his followers.
Losers: Glenn, Matt
Arizona was so close to giving myself three upset winners this week, with Mississippi State, Ole Miss and the Wildcats finishing it out in the late game. After falling behind by 15 points, Arizona scored two touchdowns in the fourth to pull within two points, after failing on the two-point conversion try on the latter. The Wildcats then recovered the onside kick and drove all the way to the USC 19 with a chance to win on a field goal. Casey Skowron made his first attempt, but USC called the dreaded last-second timeout. On the second try, Skowron wasn't as lucky, missing the short field goal and ruining the Arizona potential victory and my upset pick. Still, the miss hurt less for myself and Craig, who win the game plus the three points. At least USC avoids what would have been a second straight unfathomable loss. Eh, who are we kidding, that would have been great. I finish the week with a big 7-4 record, which allows me to jump into second place in the overall standings. Matt was next with a 4-7 record, followed by Glenn with a 3-8 record and then Craig at 2-9. Glenn leads the overall standings by three games over myself, five games over Matt and nine games over Craig. As always, follow us on Twitter for all of our picks right here. We'll be back at the end of the week with our latest picks column right here. See you then.
Brad Last Week: 7-4 (spread), 9-2 (straight-up), 2-2 (upset picks)
Brad Season: 43-40 (spread), 61-22 (straight-up), 5-5 (upsets)
Craig Last Week: 2-9 (spread), 7-4 (straight-up), 1-3 (upset picks)
Craig Season: 37-46 (spread), 58-25 (straight-up), 5-8 (upsets)
Glenn Last Week: 3-8 (spread), 8-3 (straight-up), 0-1 (upset picks)
Glenn Season: 46-37 (spread), 64-19 (straight-up), 6-3 (upsets)
Matt Last Week: 4-7 (spread), 9-2 (straight-up), 0-0 (upset picks)
Matt Season: 41-42 (spread), 61-22 (straight-up), 3-4 (upsets)