By Brad Carroll
It shouldn't come as a surprise the amount of anger that accompanied Florida State's dramatic victory over Notre Dame Saturday night. Notre Dame is the most popular college football team in the world, so anything controversial that goes against the Fighting Irish is going to draw the ire of their rabid fan base.
This moment of anger came from an offensive pass interference penalty that was called on what was a two-yard touchdown pass from Everett Golson to seemingly win the game for the Irish against top-ranked Florida State. But the flag nullified the play, and Notre Dame was intercepted on the next and final pass of the game, giving the Seminoles the victory.
Thanks to social media, Notre Dame backers were able to point the finger at a seemingly bogus call in a controversial end to a fantastic game. Fans called foul not on the penalty call, but the referees for throwing the flag in the first place. Even Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said it shouldn't have been a flag that night and has kept that stance in the following days as well. That only fed the furor of the Irish faithful.
The only problem with the controversy is there shouldn't be any. Notre Dame didn't just commit one offensive pass interference penalty on the touchdown play, but two. Both outside receivers pushed their Florida State defender backward, clearing space for a wide-open Corey Robertson to catch a pass for the touchdown.
"We execute that play every day," Kelly said after the game. "And we do it legally and that's the way we coach it. We don't coach illegal plays."
There's no question the Irish don't coach illegal plays, but in this case, Kelly isn't seeing the big picture. Notre Dame did commit a penalty, or penalties, and now needs to move on, mainly because the season is far from over.
Notre Dame dropped just two spots in the AP poll, to No. 7, meaning there is a great chance the Irish can get back into the top four and make the College Football Playoff if they win out.
Florida State isn't likely to lose this season, therefore taking up one spot, but the others should be up for grabs. There is a great chance Auburn and Alabama will lose again, and either Mississippi State or Ole Miss will definitely have a loss by the time the season ends, as the two teams play each other in the regular season finale. Oregon and Michigan State could lose a game down the line as well, and even if neither doesn't, Notre Dame might get the nod over them anyway. It all means the Irish are very close to a playoff spot, even after the loss.
So, don't get so angry, Notre Dame fans, as the luck of the Irish may be on your side just yet.
As for my weekly College Football Playoff selections, one team drops from last week, as Baylor has been eliminated from contention. My other three teams remain the same, with Ole Miss, Florida State and Mississippi State at the top. The new No. 4 team is extremely tough to chose from the group of Alabama, Auburn, Michigan State and Oregon. But after the whopping the Crimson Tide put on Texas A&M Saturday, the decision has to be Alabama.
There are certain to be more changes down the line.
Before we delve too far into the future, let's take a final look back atWeek 8 with our College GameDay Rewind column, breaking down our picks from the Saturday that was with some analysis, humor and all college football.
West Virginia (+8.5) 41, No. 4 Baylor 27
Winners: Clint Trickett's soap opera hair, which can be turned into future work if this whole football thing doesn't work out
Losers: All of us, plus Baylor, which has no shot at the College Football Playoff now
Baylor receives an "A" for mastering the class "How To Ruin Your Playoff Hopes: 101" at West Virginia University. The fact the course was offered in Morgantown should have tipped the Bears off a bit, so for "Common Sense: 101" they receive an "F." Baylor must have still been thinking about its dramatic victory over TCU the week prior, when it scored 24 straight points in the fourth quarter to win 61-58, because this version wasn't the same one we've seen on the field all year long. Baylor mustered just 27 points, including a single touchdown in the second half. The Bears were averaging nearly double that on the season. West Virginia picked the perfect opportunity to play the best game of its season, dominating in the second half to win by two touchdowns. The Mountaineers, who have lost just twice this season, to then-No. 2 Alabama and then-No. 4 Oklahoma, slipped into the Top 25 after the victory. Meanwhile, Baylor dropped to No. 12 and won't sniff the playoff this season. It's just too bad Baylor didn't pick last week to lose, as TCU would have been America's team if it could have held on and qualified for the playoff. Oh well.
No. 14 Kansas State (+7.5) 31, No. 12 Oklahoma 30
Winners: Matt and his new favorite team
Losers: The rest of us
I don't know what I saw in Oklahoma to believe it was one of the best teams in the nation just a few weeks ago. Everything has fallen apart for the Sooners, as they lost to TCU, barely beat a bad Texas team, and lost at home to Kansas State Saturday. Much like Baylor, the Sooners have no shot now at making the College Football Playoff, knocking one of my preseason selections out of the race. I also had Oklahoma winning the Big 12, which is very unlikely now. Oklahoma can thank kicker Michael Hunnicutt for the turn of events, as he had an extra point blocked that would have tied the game in the fourth quarter and then missed the chip shot of all chip shots, a 19-yard field goal with over five minutes to play that would have given the Sooners the lead. Kansas State never gave the ball back and won in an upset. The Wildcats, from out of nowhere, is the only perfect team in the Big 12 and has just one loss overall. But that loss was to Auburn at home, so nobody should jump on the Wildcats bandwagon of getting into the playoff just yet. Kansas State jumped three spots to No. 11, which sounds about right. Matt wins for the second straight time as the only one of our four college football experts on Kansas State. So, yes, Matt, your new favorite team is Kansas State.
No. 7 Alabama (-11.5) 59, No. 21 Texas A&M 0
Winners: Matt, the only one to go with Bama
Losers: The rest of us, plus Texas A&M for being the ultimate title contending poser
I don't even know where to start with this game, as Alabama's slumbering offense woke up in a big way, scoring 35 points in the second quarter alone, and humiliating the Aggies. Things were so bad in this game, people are calling for Texas A&M to bench quarterback Kenny Hill, who was the star of the team's early-season victories. This was a downright embarrassing performance by the Aggies. Johnny Football, where have you gone? Alabama, much to the chagrin of those that don't want to see it in position to win a national title again, and that includes me, are right back in the top four of the College Football Playoff. Now, with that written, I will point out I picked the Crimson Tide to win the national championship this season, so I'm not a total hater. Matt makes up his second game on the rest of us with the Alabama selection, and is off to a solid start in what is a rather boring 3:30 window of college football games. "I know it's early, but it feels so nice not to be fearing an 0-5 start for a change," Matt says. "These days if I rooted for gravity, we'd all be floating." Matt Straub: Coming to a comedy club near you soon!
No. 8 Michigan State (-16.5) 56, Indiana 17
Winners: Brad, Craig, Glenn, Mariano Rivera, as in Michigan State finally closed a game strong
Losers: Matt, who fails to go 3-for-3 as the only one of four to pick a winner
Michigan State ended its two-game run of losing big leads in the fourth quarter and having to come up with a defensive stand just to win each in the final possession. This time, Michigan State outscored Indiana 21-0 in the fourth quarter, making for an easy victory for myself, Craig and Glenn. Matt was the only one to take a loss on the Hoosiers. which was a surprising selection in the first place, considering he doesn't even like the movie Hoosiers. He especially hates the movie Field of Dreams, which I admittedly have never seen. He also hates the hockey movie Slap Shot, which I do like. Matt claims to have seen only 10 movies in his life, but anytime we play trivia, he gets all the movie answers right, so he's basically a movie trivia hustler, the only one of his kind.
No. 13 Ohio State (-19.5) 56, Rutgers 17
Winners: Brad, Matt
Losers: Craig, Glenn
Another 3:30 game start, another blowout, as Ohio State scored 42 points combined in the second and third quarters to blow out the Scarlet Knights. Ohio State took a major hit to its playoff chances with its home loss to Virginia Tech early in the season, but has quietly crept back into contention. The Buckeyes' only chance to complete a playoff run is beat Michigan State convincingly, and obviously that is going to be a monumental task. But if I'm going to eliminate Kansas State for losing a home game, then I have to do the same with Ohio State, which lost to a worse team than the Wildcats. Either way, Ohio State needs to win out and get some help along the way.
No. 10 Georgia (-3.5) 45, Arkansas 32
Winners: Craig, Glenn, Matt
Losers: Me, plus anyone who believes Arkansas will ever win an SEC game again
Georgia was pretty much written off after losing at South Carolina and then holding on for a three-point win at home against Tennessee the following week, but the Bulldogs have moved to No. 9 in the rankings after blowing out Missouri and beating Arkansas easily Saturday. Georgia has just one game remaining against a ranked team, home to No. 5 Auburn, so it could find itself in the College Football Playoff if things bounce its way over the next six or so weeks. The Bulldogs are likely to play in the SEC championship game as well, which will give them a resume-building victory that could carry them all the way to the playoff. Georgia, which typically loses in a big spot, has rallied around the loss of Todd Gurley to suspension and made a winner out of Craig, Glenn and Matt. I thought for sure Arkansas would come to play in this spot, ultimately losing a close game. Boy was I wrong again. The Hogs lost their 16th straight SEC game. Sooie!
No. 12 TCU (-8) 42, No. 15 Oklahoma State 9
Winners: Craig, Glenn, Matt
Losers: Me, again
Did I pick the wrong underdogs to back this week or what? First, I swung and missed badly on Arkansas covering the spread, then I completely whiffed on Oklahoma State plus the points. The Mendoza line might have to be renamed in my honor. TCU bounced back from its first loss of the season last week to Baylor to rout the Cowboys at home. It really would have been great if the Horned Frogs beat Baylor last week, as it could have jumped into the top four after this win. But that's all wishful thinking now. If TCU wins at West Virginia in two weeks and then home to Kansas State after that, maybe, just maybe, the Horned Frogs can pull off the unthinkable and get into the College Football Playoff. They likely need six teams ahead of them in the rankings currently to lose, however. At the end of the afternoon games, Matt leads the way with a 5-2 record, followed by Craig and Glenn with identical 3-4 records, as they both had the same exact picks for all 11 games this week, and yours truly brings up the rear, as in the jackass of all experts so far, with a 2-5 mark.
No. 3 Ole Miss (-16.5) 34, Tennessee 3
Winners: All of us, plus the Running Rebels
Losers: Nobody to start the night games
I still believe Ole Miss is being given little to no credit this season as a national title contender. I put the Running Rebels at No. 1 in my rankings last week and it doesn't change a week later. Ole Miss has been the most impressive team in the nation this season, not Mississippi State and not Florida State. But the Rebels sit at No. 3 despite routing the Volunteers at home Saturday night. But my opinion or yours won't mean a thing now if Ole Miss wins the rest of the games on its schedule, because if it does, the Rebels will hold the No. 1 ranking. Ole Miss is at No. 24 LSU next week, home to No. 5 Auburn after that, and then finishes later at home against current No. 1 Mississippi State. We all win on Ole Miss, which might become a trend going forward this season.
No. 9 Oregon (-20.5) 45, Washington 20
Winners: A second straight sweep for our experts
Losers: Nobody again
This game scared the bejesus out of me, as I was even keeping track of the score on my phone while walking the greatest dog ever, Gholston, around my neighborhood. Luckily, I had nothing to worry about, as Oregon kept the ball long enough after a Washington touchdown with about five minutes to go cut the Ducks lead to 22, just a point safe from a loss. Oregon went downfield, kicked a field goal, and gave the Huskies just 1:20 to score. Washington couldn't, and all four of us are victors. Right now, Oregon is ranked sixth in the AP poll, behind fellow one-loss teams Alabama and Auburn and ahead of Notre Dame and Michigan State. Oregon's terrible loss to Arizona likely will come back to bite it, but the loss came so early, it might not matter if Alabama and Auburn lose again.
No. 2 Florida State (-8) 31, No. 5 Notre Dame 27
Winners: Craig, Glenn, Florida State and Notre Dame, Fans of great college football games
Losers: Brad, Matt
No matter what has happened over the last two years, Florida State has always answered with a victory. Even in this game, when it appeared Notre Dame had the game won, Florida State survived on an offensive pass interference penalty that wiped out an Irish touchdown and a defensive stop one play later. The Seminoles just keep on winning, and there's a lot to be said for that, even if they aren't the most impressive team in the nation, or close to it. Notre Dame, on the other side, came out looking like winners as well, despite the loss. The Irish, which I have said numerous times here, are better this year than they were when they made the national title game two years ago. And they took a big step in proving that in this game. Notre Dame only dropped from No. 5 to No. 7 in the AP poll, so if it sweeps the rest of its games, it could make it back into the College Football Playoff. Unlike two years ago, when very few people gave the Irish a shot at beating Alabama, there will be a lot more believers this season, especially on a neutral field. Glenn was the only one to take a shot on the upset with Notre Dame, and came awfully close to it happening. He and Craig won with the Irish plus the points anyway. Brad and Matt both take the loss on Florida State, which is quickly becoming an automatic pick against when it comes to the point spread, the complete opposite from how things were last year.
No. 17 Arizona State (+3.5) 26, No. 23 Stanford 10
Winners: Not a single one of us
Losers: Everyone, including anyone who actually stuck it out and watched this horrible game
How bad is Stanford's offense? Seriously, can a college football program that actually gets good recruits be this bad? Stanford scored 10 points, all in the second half, against Arizona State in the late game Saturday night. This is the same Arizona State defense that allowed UCLA, a team that barely beat Cal, to score 62 points on them. Sixty-freaking-two. But the Cardinal can only get 10? Wow. This was a bad way to end a day of some pretty bad football games all in all. Yes, the Florida State-Notre Dame game was great, but other than that, there wasn't anything about this week that stood out as special. Luckily, there's more football to be played over the next month and a half. All of us take losses on this game, all getting bamboozled by the Cardinal, which isn't to be confused with Cardinals. Matty Ice wins the week with a very good 7-4 record, which moves him into second place overall in our standings. Craig and Glenn were next with 6-5 records and Brad brings up the rear, with a 4-7 mark. Glenn continues to lead the pack with a 52-42 overall record, holding a four-game lead over Matt, a five-game lead over Brad and a nine-game lead over Craig for the picks crown. Obviously, there is a whole lot of football left to be played, and we'll be back in the coming days with another big week of college football previews and selections against the spread. As always, follow us on Twitter here for all of our college football news, analysis and picks.
Brad Last Week: 4-7 (spread), 8-3 (straight-up), 0-0 (upset picks)
Brad Season: 47-47 (spread), 69-25 (straight-up), 5-5 (upsets)
Craig Last Week: 6-5 (spread), 8-3 (straight-up), 0-0 (upset picks)
Craig Season: 43-51 (spread), 66-28 (straight-up), 5-8 (upsets)
Glenn Last Week: 6-5 (spread), 6-5 (straight-up), 0-2 (upset picks)
Glenn Season: 52-42 (spread), 70-24 (straight-up), 6-5 (upsets)
Matt Last Week: 7-4 (spread), 8-3 (straight-up), 0-0 (upset picks)
Matt Season: 48-46 (spread), 69-25 (straight-up), 3-4 (upsets)