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Acker Assessment: Week 4

Could Alabama be facing Oklahoma again this season for all the marbles this time?

Acker Assessment: Week 4
By: Jon Acker

Last week I focused on college football pretenders. By the way, a little pat on my back for nailing the pretenders LSU and Mizzou, and even Florida State—despite their win and unjustifiable number 1 ranking. The only ranked opponent left for Florida State is Notre Dame, so unless voters have an epiphany about just how lackluster they are against weak competition they may outrageously sail into the playoffs with their high school caliper schedule.
On to contenders.


As much as I hate to admit it, Boise Bob’s OU team looks to be formidable. Last weekend’s win at Morgantown is impressive, but was certainly not convincing. West Virginia tallied over 500 yards of offense and without the long pick-six this would have been a nail-biter ‘til the end. The road to the playoffs goes through Norman when #7 Baylor, #25 Kansas State and #24 Oklahoma State all come calling. Without a conference championship the Sooners have an unfair advantage, which probably is just dandy with Boise Bob.

The SEC West:

Who among the SEC West right now doesn’t have a legitimate shot at the playoffs? Okay, probably Arkansas, but even the Hogs have bounced back nicely from their opening week loss to a fellow West opponent. Maybe LSU? A nighttime home loss at the so called “place where teams come to die- Death Valley” to another West opponent probably means Les Miles’ boys would need to run the table the rest of the season for a shot at postseason glory. The biggest obstacles to any SEC West team or teams making the playoffs are other SEC West teams. The current five undefeated SEC teams, all in the West, Alabama, Auburn, Texas A&M, Ole Miss, and Mississippi State have to play one another in TEN games. Yes, that’s TEN games, meaning those five teams will have at least ten losses among them. Throw in Auburn’s games against South Carolina and Georgia and that twelve potential L’s. Surviving the SEC West undefeated is probably almost statistically impossible as things look right now. Heck, surviving with just one-loss would require amazing talent and some breaks.


I still think Georgia is in the playoff mix. Yes they had a tough loss to Steve Superior, but their win over Clemson was certainly much more impressive than a Winston-less Florida State. Plus, the Bulldogs have a revenge game against Auburn in Athens on November 15, which depending on how well the disGUSting coach’s team is doing could be a huge feather in their season plumage cap to say – LOOK AT ME! Also, a win by any SEC East team in Atlanta on December 6, whether with one loss or even two losses, merits consideration for the playoffs.


Yes, Alabama has been covered in the SEC West blanket, above, but their win over Florida needs individual analysis. Last week I had the Tide as a “possible” pretender. To those of us in the Bama Nation we are still “concerned” about the defense. But then, maybe we are insatiable and will never be content with the D? The Tide D did well against the Gator’s holding them to 200 yards, but was helped by some dropped balls and just plain bad passes by Jeff Driskel. Work still needs to be done when ‘Bama heads to Oxford against the always potentially dangerous Rebels and Bo Wallace. The Tide offense? What else can be said other than, WOW. WOW that they could amass 645 yards, the most surrendered by the Gators in their history. And WOW that they had four turnovers which results in 21 nearly free points. Those turnovers would have been fatal against better competition. If the Tide can hold onto the ball the O looks unstoppable. Alabama is averaging 588 yards per game under Lane Kiffin’s leadership, hopefully leaving no doubts that his hire was a slam dunk for Coach Saban. With high octane offenses like Texas A&M, Auburn, Arkansas, Ole Miss and even Mississippi State all ahead for the Tide it is imperative the offensive juggernaut continue. The Tide passed the home test against the Gators. Next, can they past the road test against the Rebels?

Too soon to tell:

There are other teams that could be contenders but there is just not enough evidence yet to bestow such a claim yet. The two that stand out to me are Baylor and Notre Dame. Both of these teams have dates of destiny that can launch them into the playoff mix immediately. As mentioned previously, Baylor plays at Oklahoma on November 8 and Notre Dame at Florida State on October 18. Talk about huge games.

ESPN has been “eliminating” teams from playoff contention week by week. Through week four they state that 83 of the 128 FBS teams have been eliminated. Of course that is their opinion.
That still leaves 45, which is a lot, and means there is probably a sleeper out there that we are overlooking. Could it be a BYU or a revived UCLA or an even longer shot like a TCU or Arizona State? Time will tell.

A look ahead to week 5.
There are few big games in Week 5 to help sort out the playoff picture. The only matchup of ranked teams is #11 UCLA at #15 Arizona State. Arkansas at Texas A&M may be interesting- the battle of the run versus pass. Tennessee at Georgia is always an exciting one for SEC fans, regardless of national implications or lack thereof. Tennessee played well in Norman and this game may be closer than many expect. Stanford at undefeated Washington could be an elimination game for Stanford if they stumble again. A Michigan loss to Minnesota this weekend could signal the end of Brady Hoke’s tenure in Ann Arbor.

Larry Burton is a member of the Football Writers of America Association (FWAA) and was the most read SEC and Alabama football writer during his time at Bleacher Report. He has been credentialed by all the major bowls and the University of Alabama. Larry provides some of the best insight in the business through his "Larry's Lowdown" segment with TDA.

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