After an eventful week 11, only five teams are left undefeated in the 2015 college football season: Ohio State, Clemson, Houston, Iowa and Oklahoma State. Oklahoma beating Baylor, Oregon winning at Stanford and Arizona shocking Utah hit the Big 12 and especially the Pac-12 hard when it comes to their college football playoffs rankings and hopes.
The big favorites did well, or well enough. The top 5 teams rolled to victory, each one through a differing degree of difficulty. Ohio State had no problem against Illinois, Alabama kept their impressive defensive roll going against Mississippi State and Notre Dame beat up Wake Forest. Iowa did have their rough moments against Minnesota, but their power running game is working well, overcoming anything in its way so far. For Clemson, it was mostly Deshaun Watson and a little less complacency in the second half against Syracuse.
Where did things get interesting? At Waco, for example. Heading into this week, the situation in the Big 12 was Baylor and Oklahoma State undefeated, TCU shellshocked from losing at Stillwater and Oklahoma hoping to get their chance of making the Texas loss irrelevant. The Sooners haven’t had much success against Baylor in recent years, but their running game with Samaje Perine and the ability of Sterling Shepard to slice a defense were too much for the Bears, who now along with TCU find themselves chasing Oklahoma, who still have to play the Horned Frogs and Oklahoma State.
The Cowboys struggled in Ames against Iowa State, a team that’s better than it’s 3-7 record. But they pulled through on a late touchdown and remain the only undefeated team in the conference. Without a championship game, and from how things look in the Big Ten, SEC and ACC right now (not forgetting about Notre Dame as well), going undefeated might be the only way for the conference to get into the top 4, although Oklahoma running the table might have a slightly different effect because of their name power. TCU? They lost Trevone Boykin, and almost lost to Kansas. They didn’t do well in the eye test.
The Pac-12 is a different story. No undefeated teams, with with both Utah and Stanford carrying on with one loss, it did feel as is if the two of them made it to the conference championship game unsacthed it’ll be enough for the winner to make it into college football’s final four. Oregon played spoiler to Stanford’s dreams with a 38-36 win, while Arizona did the same to Utah in the South.
With a game against California next and a 7-1 record in the conference, it’s hard to believe The Cardinal won’t make the championship game, but with two losses it might be too late to join the playoff train. In the South, Utah are 5-2 in conference play, just like… USC. Both teams have to play against UCLA, while USC have a date with Oregon in Autzen. Utah play Colorado. A safe way to pick up a win.
The wonderful American Conference will hopefully get a boost from this season. Houston remain undefeated thanks to a huge 20-point comeback in the fourth quarter against Memphis, winning 35-34. Navy keep on running on everyone while Temple fall a little bit further due to their loss against South Florida. No playoffs no matter what happens, but this was the conference’s best season since the massive tearing up of the Big East.
And a few interesting notes before we say goodbye, focusing on the SEC: Alabama have beaten three undefeated teams this season in the conference; LSU, Texas A&M and Georgia. All of them also lost the following week. LSU are 27-3 in weeks coming off a loss under Les Miles, and all three losses, just like the severe beatdown they got from Arkansas this week, came against the Razorbacks.