We are already into this week’s college football contests, but there is still plenty to be decided as the college football regular season winds down including:
The Coaching Carousel: It likely won’t match last year’s hectic cycle that included openings at Florida, Florida State, Oregon, Nebraska, Tennessee, and many more. However, this year’s cycle could be more interesting than previously anticipated. The headliner at this point is USC, where it’s hard to imagine that Clay Helton will keep his job unless the Trojans pull off a miracle against Notre Dame. James Franklin (Penn State) is a name gaining early traction which would open up another marquee job.
The other premier program to watch is Ohio State, where Urban Meyer’s health and preseason issues could lead to another retirement from football. Should that job open up, early season interim, OC Ryan Day would have to be considered, but there would be no shortage of big names wanting the job as well.
On the other hand, it seems as though Rutgers will not be making a move while Colorado decided it needed to. Maryland’s job is open, but Matt Canada has certainly made his case. Illinois could be another Big 10 opening, and Texas Tech and North Carolina would be intriguing jobs should those programs move on from their once-promising offensive gurus. At Louisville, Purdue head coach Jeff Brohm is the frontrunner which would then leave another for the Boilermakers.
At this time, Auburn remains a wildcard. I don’t see them paying Gus Malzahn the $32 million they would owe him to leave (the buyout stemming from his recently signed worst contract in sports history), but he has 5 straight seasons with 4 plus losses. A likely blowout loss to Alabama could motivate the school to write the check, but it still seems as though he will get another season.
Some coaches to watch for possible promotions: Ryan Day (Ohio State OC), Dave Aranda (LSU DC), Brent Venables (Clemson DC), Josh Heupel (UCF HC), Mike Locksley (Alabama OC), Mel Tucker (UGA DC), Tosh Lupoi (Alabama DC), Mike Norvell (Memphis HC), Kendal Briles (Houston OC), and Luke Fickell (Cincinnati HC)
Heisman Watch: QB Tua Tagovailoa (Alabama) and QB Kyler Murray (Oklahoma) are the clear frontrunners at this stage, as they have been for much of the year. Still, QB Gardner Minshew (Washington State) is hanging around, and fellow signal callers McKenzie Milton (UCF), Will Grier (WVU), and Dwayne Haskins (Ohio State) could make a push for an invite. I don’t think RB Karan Higdon (Michigan) is getting enough love, but that could change with a big game against Ohio State.
The Push for the Playoff: Below are my updated rankings with some of this week’s games already accounted for (noted by a *), but Washington-Washington State, West Virginia-Oklahoma, Auburn-Alabama, Clemson-South Carolina, Ohio State-Michigan, Georgia-Georgia Tech, and Notre Dame-USC all remain to be played with MAJOR playoff implications in each contest:
Also Receiving Consideration: Fresno State, Buffalo, Boise State, Texas A&M, Pittsburgh, Iowa, Oklahoma State, Auburn, Stanford, and Wisconsin
Dropped Out: Cincinnati, Boston College, UAB
25. Iowa State (6-4, Last Week #17)
24. Army (9-2, Last Week NR)
23. NC State (7-3, Last Week NR)
22. Missouri (8-4, Last Week NR)*
21. Northwestern (7-4, Last Week #24)
20. Syracuse (8-3, Last Week #12)
19. Mississippi State (8-4, Last Week #22)*
18. Utah (8-3, Last Week #21)
17. Washington (8-3, Last Week #20)
16. Kentucky (8-3, Last Week #18)
15. Penn State (8-3, Last Week #16)
14. Florida (8-3, Last Week #15)
13. Utah State (10-1, Last Week #14)
12. Texas (9-3, Last Week #13)*
11. West Virginia (8-2, Last Week #8)
10. LSU (9-2, Last Week #11)
9. UCF (10-0, Last Week #9)
8. Ohio State (10-1, Last Week #7)
7. Washington State (10-1, Last Week #10)
6. Georgia (10-1, Last Week #6)
5. Oklahoma (10-1, Last Week #5)
4. Michigan (10-1, Last Week #4)
3. Notre Dame (11-0, Last Week #3)
2. Clemson (11-0, Last Week #2)
1. Alabama (11-0, Last Week #1)