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Acker Assessment – Week 12

It took a while, but the Tide is finally back and soon will be named number one again. Can anyone stop the Tide?

Acker Assessment: Week 12

By: Jon Acker

Assessing the playoff picture. 


The trend continued in week 12 with one more team in the committee ranking top-four losing, but it remains to be seen if that team actually drops down to fifth or lower.  Every week that goes by makes it more and more precarious for the SEC as the cannibalization continues.  This week it was Alabama- Mississippi State and Georgia-Auburn that added two more losses to teams hopeful of making the playoff.  Last week I said, “I think only two SEC teams remain with any shot at the playoffs- Mississippi State and Alabama.”  That is still probably the case, but Georgia’s beat-down of Auburn could put them in the mix if they ran the table as SEC Champion and had a lot of help in other conferences.


The selection committee top 10 from last week were (this week’s results):


  1. Mississippi State (Lost)
  2. Oregon (Bye)
  3. Florida State (Won)
  4. TCU (Won)
  5. Alabama (Won)
  6. Arizona State (Lost)
  7. Baylor (Bye)
  8. Ohio State (Won)
  9. Auburn (Lost)
  10. Mississippi (Bye)


Mississippi State came into Tuscaloosa with a chip on their shoulder.  I honestly didn’t think they could hang with the Tide, and for 30 minutes they couldn’t.  But to their credit, they fought back and scoring with just 15 second left to make it a five-point game, may have saved their chance to make the playoff should they finish runner-up in the West.  It was a battle of halves- Alabama dominating the first, State the second.  Turnovers were the difference in the game and Alabama hung on for a huge statement win, which will definitely propel the Tide into the top-four, perhaps as high as number one.


How bad does Florida State’s schedule have to get before the committee realizes they don’t have a single quality win and really don’t even deserve to be in the top ten, let alone top four?  Their biggest win was against Notre Dame, who we all know out played Fisher’s felons and lost only because of a penalty.  Notre Dame lost to Arizona State last week who lost to Oregon State this week, AND Notre Dame themselves lost to a hapless Northwestern team at home that may not even get to a bowl. Add to that, Clemson lost this past weekend, again.  According to the Sagarin Rating, Felon State University has played the 51st toughest schedule.   Based on the Sagarin Rating, their biggest wins are against Clemson (25), Notre Dame (26) and Miami (28), all of which they struggled against.  I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again, these Criminoles will likely make the playoffs and then be embarrassed in the semi-final game against whomever they play.


The number four team from last week, TCU, had the scare of its life.  They struggled to beat a woeful Kansas team in Manhatten.   The difference between winning and losing was a punt return for a touchdown for TCU.  How will the committee view that effort?   The road to the playoff doesn’t get any easier for the Hornfrogs.   TCU goes to Austin in two weeks to face a resurgent Longhorn team.   Definite upset alert there.


The PAC-12, as a whole, took a slight hit with Arizona State’s loss to Oregon State this past weekend.  That diminishes the PAC-12 South which will send a representative to play North winner, Oregon, in three weeks.


The human polls both have Florida State (1), Alabama (2), Oregon (3) and Mississippi State (4).  All I can say is these humans must be Felon State alums or crack addicts to have the Criminoles jump back to the top.   They have not beaten a single currently ranked team- ZERO, gone is Okie State, gone is Clemson, gone is Notre Dame.

So what will this week’s committee top-four look like?   My guess is these humans won’t be as brain-damaged or bed-ridden with Florida State Penitentiary and have 1) Alabama, 2) Oregon, 3) Florida State, 4) Mississippi State.


Thoughts from around the SEC


What more could be said about the performance from Coach disGUSting Malzahn’s team than embarrassing.  The Bulldogs avenged their misfortune from last year in Jordan-Hare and, to add insult to injury, so battered and bruised Nick Marshall— the man that stole from his fellow Georgia teammates and was kicked off the team- that he was benched.  The swagger on the Plains has left the building and this team now looks like one in crisis.  Auburn could play spoiler in Tuscaloosa in two weeks, but one has to believe the Tide have this game circled for serious payback after last year’s “Disaster on the Pasture.”


Missouri remains alive to claim the East with a solid win at A&M this past weekend, a more dominant performance than the score indicated.  But, the road to Atlanta is a bumpy one, going through Knoxville next weekend and back in Columbia versus Arkansas to close the regular season.  Both of those will be challenges.  Maty Mauk is still not performing as expected for Mizzou, so their success lies with the rushing of Russell Hansbrough.


While Missouri controls its own fate, Georgia sure made a statement about how good they “CAN” be when their defense shows up.   They held Auburn to Malzahn-era lows in offense and scoring.   Georgia’s SEC schedule is done- now they must wait and hope Mizzou loses a game.


Well, you knew eventually Arkansas would end its conference losing streak.  They did so Saturday night in shocking fashion beating LSU and ending the 17-game losing streak with a fitting score of 17-0.  When was the last time LSU was shut-out?   What was most shocking of all— are you sitting down— the Hogs held the Mad-hatter’s to 123 yards of offense.  Yes- 123 yards, 12 first downs, and 36 yards rushing.  Up next for Bielema’s Bengal Tiger killers is Ole Miss.  Ole Miss needs to be worried about that game- big upset alert.   For LSU, I have to wonder if Les Miles’ seat is getting warm?  Is four losses acceptable in Bayou country?  Michigan will likely come calling, but will Miles at least listen?


What has happened to Steve Spurrier in his old age?  He said he feels sorry for Will Muschamp.  Is this a bodysnatcher verson of the old Steve Superior- who took pleasure in running up scores on other coaches?   The Gator implosion at the end of that game was epic, and I just saw that it cost Will Muschamp his job at the end of the season.  Spurrier, on the other hand, may have won that game but he’s losing the war in Columbia.  That was a matchup of two bad teams trying to “out-bad” one another.


What’s up next week?   It’s kind of a ho-hum weekend.  This is the weekend before “Rivalry week,” so many teams are playing cupcakes.  One big matchup in the PAC-12 is Arizona at Utah, which could have playoff implications should Arizona (the team that beat Oregon) lose.   Arkansas goes to Oxford and can play spoiler for the Rebels, who will be eliminated from the SEC West race with a loss.  Missouri at Tennessee, as mentioned, is huge in terms of the SEC East race and a must win for the Tigers.

Jon Acker is the Coordinator for Student Assessment at The University of Alabama and also assesses sports for us here.

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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