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  • Taking stock of the 17 undefeated teams remaining in college football

    Alabama Ole Miss

    A week ago there were 25 undefeated teams left in college football. Week 5 saw that number cut by a third. With five games pitting undefeated vs. undefeated this week, the maximum number of unbeaten teams left alive by Sunday morning is 12, but considering this week’s slate we could easily be in the single digits.

    The maximum number of undefeated teams the schedule allows by season’s end is nine, but history tells us the final number will be much closer to one or zero.

    American

    Cincinnati’s 50-28 loss at Ohio State means there are no undefeated teams left in the American.

    ACC

    Florida State: 4-0
    Next game: vs. Wake Forest
    Best chance for a loss: vs. Notre Dame (Oct. 18)
    Prognosis: For the second week in a row, the defending champs looked vulnerable, and for the second week in a row the defending champs escaped alive. This next two weeks should – should - be cakewalks, but this is a team that plays to its competition until it can’t anymore.

    Georgia Tech: 4-0
    Next game: vs. Miami (Oct. 4)
    Best chance for a loss: vs. Miami (Oct. 4)
    Prognosis: Georgia Tech was off last week, allowing the Yellow Jackets an extra week to prepare for Miami. Considering they’ve lost five in a row to Miami, this was fortuitous timing.

    Big 12

    Baylor: 4-0
    Next game: at Texas
    Best chance for a loss: at Oklahoma (Nov. 8)
    Prognosis: Baylor is ranked in the top 10, Texas is unranked. Baylor is a 16-point favorite over the Longhorns for the second year in a row. And no one blinks an eye. My how times have changed.

    Oklahoma: 4-0
    Next game: at TCU
    Best chance for a loss: at TCU
    Prognosis: Oklahoma had a week off before Saturday’s trip to Fort Worth. Problem is, TCU played SMU, so the Horned Frogs essentially did, too.

    TCU: 3-0
    Next game: vs. Oklahoma
    Best chance for a loss: vs. Oklahoma
    Prognosis: TCU gave Oklahoma a stiff challenge each of the teams’ two meetings since the Horned Frogs joined the Big 12, 24-17 in Fort Worth on the final day of the 2012 season, and 20-17 in Norman last year. Those TCU teams struggled to move the ball. This one hasn’t – so far. We’ll see how much of a difference Doug Meacham has really made with TCU quarterback Trevone Boykin on Saturday.

    Big Ten

    Nebraska: 5-0
    Next game: at Michigan State
    Best chance for a loss: at Michigan State
    Prognosis: No one has paid much attention to Nebraska this season – at least not when they’re escaping overtime against McNeese State – with good reason. They’ve beaten Florida Atlantic, McNeese State, Fresno State, Miami and Illinois. That changes with a win over Michigan State on Saturday night.

    Conference USA

    Marshall: 4-0
    Next game: at Old Dominion (Oct. 4)
    Best chance for a loss: at Old Dominion (Oct. 4)
    Prognosis: If the Thundering Herd survive their next two – at Old Dominion, vs. Middle Tennessee – I think they cruise to the season finale against Western Kentucky.

    Independents

    BYU: 4-0
    Next game: vs. Utah State (Friday)
    Best chance for a loss: at Central Florida (Oct. 9)
    Prognosis: I don’t know what to think about this team. Taysom Hill is really good, and the Cougars have the ability to physically overwhelm every opponent left on their slate. But I don’t think the defense is 12-0 material, and they commit too many penalties.

    Notre Dame: 4-0
    Next game: vs. Stanford
    Best chance for a loss: vs. Stanford
    Prognosis: No one has come within 16 points of the Fighting Irish this year, but then again their best opponent thus far has been Syracuse. That changes Saturday.

    MAC

    There are zero undefeated teams remaining in the Mid-American Conference. #SadMACtion.

    Mountain West

    There are zero undefeated teams remaining in the Mountain West Conference. #SadMWaction.

    Pac-12

    Arizona: 4-0
    Next game: at Oregon (Thursday)
    Best chance for a loss: at Oregon (Thursday)
    Prognosis: This goes one of two ways. Either the Wildcats are gone from this list and receiving zero votes in both polls, or they’re still here and ranked among the Top 15 nationally.

    Oregon: 4-0
    Next game: vs. Arizona (Thursday)
    Best chance for a loss: vs. Arizona (Thursday)
    Prognosis: A trip to the Rose Bowl with No. 8 UCLA and a certain visit from College GameDay waits on the other side of this game, but Oregon must first contend with the team that beat them 42-16 last November.

    UCLA: 4-0
    Next game: vs. Utah
    Best chance for a loss: vs. Utah
    Prognosis: This was going to be a fun undefeated undercard to what’s happening elsewhere on Saturday, until Utah blew a 21-0 lead and lost to Washington State at home. Still, this Utes bunch is capable of taking down UCLA if they provide the type of effort they did in their last home game, a 42-35 squeaker over Memphis.

    SEC

    Alabama: 4-0
    Next game: at Ole Miss
    Best chance for a loss: at Ole Miss
    Prognosis: Here’s what Alabama has waiting after Saturday: a trip to the same Arkansas team that nearly beat Texas A&M on a neutral field, a Texas A&M whose offense has bedeviled Nick Saban the past two years, a constantly improving Tennessee team, a visit to LSU, a home game with Mississippi State, Western Carolina, and then Auburn.

    Auburn: 4-0
    Next game: vs. LSU
    Best chance for a loss: vs. LSU
    Prognosis: Here’s what Auburn has waiting after Saturday: a trip to Mississippi State, a home game with South Carolina, a visit to Ole Miss, a home game with Texas A&M, a visit to Georgia, Samford, and then a visit to Alabama.

    Missississippi State: 4-0
    Next game: vs. Texas A&M
    Best chance for a loss: vs. Texas A&M
    Prognosis: What Mississippi State has waiting after Saturday: Auburn, a visit to Kentucky, home games with Arkansas and Tennessee-Martin, a visit to Alabama, a home date with Vanderbilt, and then the Egg Bowl in Oxford. Much lighter load than the two schedules above, but the degree of difficulty for reaching Atlanta unbeaten feels about the same.

    Ole Miss: 4-0
    Next game: vs. Alabama
    Best chance for a loss: vs. Alabama
    Prognosis: The Rebels remaining slate after Saturday’s visit by Alabama: at Texas A&M, vs. Tennessee, at LSU, vs. Auburn, vs. Presbyterian, at Arkansas, vs. Mississippi State. The Rebels play four Top 15 teams in the next five weeks, plus a Tennessee team that nearly knocked off Georgia.

    Texas A&M: 5-0
    Next game: at Mississippi State
    Best chance for a loss: at Mississippi State
    Prognosis: Finally, Texas A&M’s remaining schedule after Saturday’s trip to Starkvegas: Ole Miss, at Alabama, vs. Louisiana-Monroe, at Auburn, vs. Missouri, vs. LSU. Only two road games, but those road games happen to be against two of top five teams in the country.

    The point of this exercise? If any team survives the SEC West and whatever the SEC East throws at them in Atlanta unscathed,  and then beats the No. 4 team (let’s not kid ourselves, this would be the Playoff’s No. 1 team) and then the winner of the No. 2 vs. No. 3 semifinal, we’re talking about possibly the greatest season in college football’s modern era.

    Sun Belt

    There are zero undefeated teams remaining in the Sun Belt Conference. #SadFunBelt

  • Video: Punt return of the week – “Can a brother get one block?”

    Not one meaningful block is thrown, yet Austin Fay of Greenwood (Ill.) still returned this punt 43 yards to the opponent’s five.

    Football isn’t an individual sport, but on this play it pretty much was.

    (HT Max Preps)

  • Auburn AD Jay Jacobs pens classy thank you letter to K-State fans

    kstatefans

    Auburn traveled to Manhattan two weekends ago to take on Bill Snyder and his Kansas State squad, and escaped with a hard fought 20-14 win.

    Not only was Kansas State’s on the field product impressive to Auburn athletic director Jay Jacobs, but their student section and fans left a lasting impression on both him, and a number of fans that made the trip

    So much in fact, that Jacobs felt compelled to write a letter to The Collegian (K-State’s campus newspaper), commending them on their hospitality and game day demeanor, noting that their atmosphere rivaled what he sees on a weekly basis in the SEC.

    Dear Editor,

    I wanted to thank K-State Athletic Director John Currie, K-State’s spirited student body and its first-class fans for making our recent trip to Manhattan a memorable one.

    We like to boast that we have the best game day experience in the nation in the Southeastern Conference, but the environment at K-State is as good as I have ever seen. In the days since our trip to Manhattan, many of our fans have told me it was the best they have ever been treated on a road trip. Considering how many road games some of our fans attend, that is saying a lot.

    The hospitality was outstanding. I can understand the courteousness prior to the game, but the way we were treated after the game was such a pleasant surprise. You are all first class.

    You should also be proud of your beautiful campus and its outstanding athletic facilities. The football facilities are especially impressive, and our fans enjoyed seeing them.

    Thank you again for the hospitality. We thoroughly enjoyed a hard-fought game and a wonderful environment. In years to come, we will have forgotten the score, but we will always remember how well we were treated.

    We wish you the very best of luck for the remainder of the season.

    Best regards,

    Jay Jacobs
    Director of Athletics
    Auburn University

    Really classy move by Jacobs there.

  • Bill Belichick’s post game press conference provided one of the best coaching Vines ever

    One of the many reasons that Bill Belichick is admired as an NFL coach, beyond his football acumen, is his demeanor at the post game press conference following games. Regardless of whether it’s a big win or a blowout loss, his emotions are the exact same.

    Last night’s post game presser fell into the latter category as the Pats were thoroughly dominated by the Kansas City Chiefs 41-14 in front of a Monday Night Football audience. Tom Brady had one of his worst games in recent memory, going 14 of 23 for just 159 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions and a fumble.

    With the game well out of hand, rookie quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo entered the game and Brady took a rare seat on the bench. Garoppolo  the night 6 of 7 for 70 yards and a touchdown, prompting a reporter to ask Belichick an utterly ridiculous question during the post game presser.

    The result may be my favorite Vine of all time, and Belichick didn’t even have to say a single word.

  • At 12:52am, Michigan releases statement admitting fault in sideline protocol

    davebrandon

    Michigan’s handling of the Shane Morris debacle on Saturday has been the talk of every major news outlet for the past few days. Yesterday a defensive Brady Hoke stood in front of reporters as they fired question after question his way about how the situation was handled on the sideline.

    Then, at 12:52am EST this morning, Michigan released a statement apologizing for the way that the situation was handled, noting a lack of communication was to blame, and vowing to make changes in the way that injuries are handled on the sideline.

    Kind of odd timing for a press release on a situation over two days after the incident in question, isn’t it?

    At the very least, this situation should prompt a meeting with your athletic training staff to touch base on your current sideline protocol, and communication, and if it can be improved to prevent a similar situation. Player safety is obviously everyone’s first concern, but the situation in Ann Arbor proves that important details can be easily overlooked in the heat of the moment and your plan of attack on injuries should be revisited.

    The full statement from Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon can be read below.

    Ultimate responsibility for the health and safety of our student-athletes resides with each team’s coach and with me, as the Director of Athletics. We are committed to continuously improving our procedures to better protect the health and welfare of our student-athletes.

    I have had numerous meetings since Sunday morning to thoroughly review the situation that occurred at Saturday’s football game regarding student-athlete Shane Morris. I have met with those who were directly involved and who were responsible for managing Shane’s care and determining his medical fitness for participation.

    In my judgment, there was a serious lack of communication that led to confusion on the sideline. Unfortunately, this confusion created a circumstance that was not in the best interest of one of our student-athletes. I sincerely apologize for the mistakes that were made. We have to learn from this situation, and moving forward, we will make important changes so we can fully live up to our shared goal of putting student-athlete safety first.

    I have worked with Darryl Conway, my Associate Athletic Director for Student-Athlete Health and Welfare, to develop a detailed accounting of the events that occurred. Darryl is the person who oversees all athletic training personnel and serves as the liaison to the physicians we work with through the University of Michigan Health System and University Health Services.

    It is important to note that our athletic trainers and physicians working with Michigan Athletics have the unchallengeable authority to remove student-athletes from the field of play. Michigan Athletics has numerous medical professionals at every football competition including certified athletic trainers and several physicians from various relevant specialties.

    I, along with Darryl and our administrative and medical teams, have spent much of the last two days carefully reviewing the situation regarding Shane Morris. We now understand that, despite having the right people on the sidelines assessing our student-athletes’ well being, the systems we had in place were inadequate to handle this unique and complex situation properly.

    With his permission, I can share that Shane Morris suffered an ankle injury during the third quarter of Saturday’s game. He was evaluated for that injury by an orthopedic surgeon and an athletic trainer several times during the game. With each of these evaluations it was determined that his ankle injury did not prevent him from playing.

    In the fourth quarter, Shane took a significant hit and stumbled after getting up. From the field level and without the benefit of replays, medical and coaching staffs did not see the hit. Because they did not see the hit, the athletic training staff believed Shane stumbled because of his ankle injury. The team neurologist, watching from further down the field, also did not see the hit. However, the neurologist, with expertise in detecting signs of concussion, saw Shane stumble and determined he needed to head down the sideline to evaluate Shane.

    Shane came off the field after the following play and was reassessed by the head athletic trainer for the ankle injury. Since the athletic trainer had not seen the hit to the chin and was not aware that a neurological evaluation was necessary, he cleared Shane for one additional play.

    The neurologist and other team physicians were not aware that Shane was being asked to return to the field, and Shane left the bench when he heard his name called and went back into the game. Under these circumstances, a player should not be allowed to re-enter the game before being cleared by the team physician. This clearly identifies the need for improvements in our sideline and communication processes.

    Following the game, a comprehensive concussion evaluation was completed and Shane has been evaluated twice since the game. As of Sunday, Shane was diagnosed with a probable, mild concussion, and a high ankle sprain. That probable concussion diagnosis was not at all clear on the field on Saturday or in the examination that was conducted post-game. Unfortunately, there was inadequate communication between our physicians and medical staff and Coach Hoke was not provided the updated diagnosis before making a public statement on Monday. This is another mistake that cannot occur again.

    Going forward, we have identified two changes in our procedures that we will implement immediately:

    We will have an athletic medicine professional in the press box or video booth to ensure that someone will have a bird’s eye view of the on-field action, have television replay available and have the ability to communicate with medical personnel on the sidelines.

    We are also examining how to reinforce our sideline communication processes and how decisions will be made in order to make sure that information regarding student-athlete availability to participate is communicated effectively amongst the medical team and to our coaches.

    We have learned from this experience, and will continue to improve ways to keep our student-athletes’ health and safety our number one priority.

    Read the official release from Michigan here.