Playoff Hunt/Pac-12 Update: Ducks inch closer to the Top 5

Evan Gilges FishWrap, FishWrap Archive

After the luck of the Irish fell short in Tallahassee and West Virginia exposed Baylor’s user-friendly defense, only three legitimate playoff contenders remain undefeated.

Headed in the Playoff Direction

No. 1 Mississippi State Bulldogs

After a stellar first half of the season, the Bulldogs cruised into week 8 with their feet up on the dash as they enjoyed their bye week. Up next for the Bulldogs is an away game against the Kentucky Wildcats (5-2).

No. 2 Florida State Seminoles and No. 5 Notre Dame

Trailing 17-10 at half, Jameis Winston was not about to allow Florida State’s streak to end on their home field. With the help of running back Karlos Williams’ two touchdown runs in the second half and a defensive stand, Winston and the Seminoles held on in dramatic fashion for a 23rd straight win dating back to 2012. The Seminoles will have a bye in week 9, and then will play their first Thursday night game at Louisville (6-2).

As for the Fighting Irish, their undefeated season is over, but the Irish certainly aren’t out of contention. Stanford’s loss to Arizona State didn’t help their status, but with road games against Arizona State and USC still left on the schedule, there is plenty of work left for the Irish to make their case.

Jameis Winston helped lead Florida State to their 23rd straight win after beating Notre Dame 31-27.

Jameis Winston helped lead Florida State to their 23rd straight win after beating Notre Dame 31-27.

No. 3 Ole Miss Rebels and No. 4 Alabama Crimson Tide

Certainly neither team was  in the mood to mess around this weekend. They outscored their opponents 93-3 this weekend due to outstanding defensive performances. Ole Miss pulled away in the third quarter of their game and went on to outscore Tennessee 20-0 in the second half. The Rebels d-line stuffed almost every run as they went on to hold Tennessee to zero rushing yards. Up next for the Rebels is a trip to Death Valley, where Ole Miss will look to add to their perfect 7-0 record.

Saturday in Tuscaloosa was a statement win for a Crimson Tide team that had been lacking offensive production recently. After rallying for 45 unanswered points in the first half against Texas A&M, Alabama’s defense did the rest as they went on to hold Kenny Hill and the Aggies scoreless in a 59-0 shutout win. Up next for the Crimson Tide is the “Third Saturday in October,” better known as the Alabama-Tennessee rivalry. The Crimson Tide have won 7 straight versus the Volunteers.

The Big 12 Scramble

While both Big 12 favorites Baylor and Oklahoma lost this weekend, new favorites have emerged in TCU and Kansas State.

After being ranked No. 4 in the AP poll with an undefeated record, it seems the Baylor Bears went into Morgantown without their defense. Tied at 27 at the end of the third quarter, West Virginia scored twice while holding Baylor scoreless in the fourth to pull off the upset win.

Kansas State pulled out a tough win on the road against Oklahoma. After pulling within one point, Oklahoma was a PAT away from tying the game before Kansas State blocked it. That play went on to decide the game as Kansas State won 31-30.

After a late loss to Baylor last week, TCU got back on track with a 42-9 win over Oklahoma State.

Considering every team in the Big 12 has at least one loss, it’s likely that no team will represent the Big 12 in the College Playoffs unless a one loss Kansas State or TCU finishes with a better résumé than any other one-loss team.

Pac 12 Contenders

With Washington, Stanford, and Oregon State losing in week 8, the Pac 12 North is the Ducks’ to lose. Arizona State got revenge on Stanford after losing to them last year in the Pac 12 championship with a 26-10 win in Tempe, AZ. Oregon State suffered a double overtime 29-23 loss in Corvallis versus a Utah team that is surprising most of the Pac 12 thus far. In the Pac 12 South, there are four teams with only one conference loss (Arizona, Arizona State, USC, and Utah). Any of those teams, along with UCLA, have the capability of winning the South division. However, only Oregon, at this point, seems to be a potential threat at advancing to the College Playoffs. The Ducks likely will need to win out to be in the College Playoff discussions.

The 6-1 Utah Utes went into Corvallis and beat Oregon State 29-23 in double overtime.

The 5-1 Utah Utes went into Corvallis and beat Oregon State 29-23 in double overtime.

Other Oregon Fall Sports

Cross Country – Both the Men’s and Women’s Cross Country teams headed to Terre Haute, Ind. for the Pre-Nationals Invitational. Leading the men’s team was Edward Cheserek, who had lost his last country race in 2013 and went on to win the race in 24:04.5. The No. 2 men’s team finished in second with 91 points behind top ranked Colorado’s 35 points.

The No. 3 women’s team finished in second as well with 139 points behind No. 4 Georgetown, who won with 110 points. All five of Oregon’s women that scored finished the race within 10 seconds of each other.

Volleyball – The No. 10 Oregon Ducks are back on track after losing two straight matches to Washington and UCLA. The Ducks beat USC in four sets to finish their road trip, and now have four straight matches at the Matthew Knight Arena in Eugene. However, up next for the Ducks are both Arizona schools followed by Cal and top ranked Stanford.

Feature photo by Kevin Cline



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