The good news is that live football is on literally everyday until January. The bad news is that every NFL team has played half its regular season games and there are only 3 more weeks left in the college football regular season. Enjoy it while you can. Panthers vs Steelers should be a good one tonight.
I hope that this column has become a staple for you each week, but just in case you are new, 6-Pack Thursday is my weekly brain dump on six football-related things that involve the NFL, College Football or NFL Draft.
Let’s crack this thing open!
Sorting Through the One-Loss Teams
With three weeks left to play in the regular season, the debates over who should be in the College Football Playoffs is heating up. The good news is that things will be sorted out on the field and the final four should become clear.
With that said, I believe 9 teams playoff hopes remain alive but that list is destined to dwindle down in the coming weeks. There are plenty of “losable” games pending – let’s examine.
Alabama – I believe the Tide will cruise to and through the playoffs, culminating with Nick Saban’s sixth National Championship as head coach of Alabama.
Clemson – The only “losable’ game left on the schedule comes Saturday Night against Boston College who I expect to empty the tank in an effort to take down the Tigers. BC has an exciting rushing attack and some playmakers on defense but not nearly enough to outlast Clemson for 60 minutes. The Tigers are a different team with Trevor Lawrence at QB and I anticipate them as the No. 2 seed in the playoffs and eventual losers of the Title Game.
Notre Dame – With narrow wins over Ball State, Vanderbilt and Pitt with a closely-contested matchup with Northwestern, I don’t put it past the Irish to lose any of its remaining games. The most likely defeat is against Syracuse at Yankee Stadium but Florida State or USC at the Rose Bowl are both possibilities.
Michigan – The Wolverines are hot right now, but I see an L at Ohio State to close the regular season. The Buckeyes have too much offense for Michigan to keep pace.
Georgia – Talent-wise, Georgia is right there with Bama and Clemson but its loss to LSU is a dagger to UGA’s playoff hopes. I expect Georgia to enter the SEC Championship game with one loss before suffering its second defeat of the season to Alabama. There are some scenarios where I would pound the table for a two-loss Georgia to be in the Playoffs but it could be a tough sell.
Oklahoma – If the Sooners can avoid an upset to Oklahoma State on Saturday at home, a date at West Virginia on November 23rd is likely to lead to a second date the following week with the Big 12 Championship. on the line. One-loss Oklahoma has a good chance at the playoffs but beating West Virginia is consecutive weeks is no easy task. I think the Sooners find a second loss.
Washington State – This is where things get weird. From a talent perspective, nobody is going to argue Washington State is among the best in the nation. With that said, if the Cougars can win the Apple Cup at home over Washington, it enters the Pac 12 Championship Game with an 11-1 record. WSU could easily lose to Washington and/or the Pac 12 Championship game and expect one or both to happen.
West Virginia – With games against TCU, Oklahoma State and Oklahoma remaining and then the Big 12 Championship Game, it’s logical to think a second loss for WVU is coming at some point along the way.
Ohio State – The Buckeyes should cruise to wins over Michigan State and Maryland before hosting Michigan to close the regular season. I’ve already stated that I think OSU has too much offense for UM to keep pace with and expect them to take the East. If Ohio State can avoid a stinker in the Big 10 Championship game, the Buckeyes are in. That said, Michigan and the West Champion present “losable” games.
The final weeks of the season promise to be thrilling to follow.
Draft News Recap
With just three weeks left to play in the regular season, the relevant draft news is starting to unfold. Just after last week’s 6-Pack published, Oklahoma RB Rodney Anderson announced he declared for the 2019 NFL Draft. With three significant season-ending injuries since 2015, Anderson’s injury history is alarming. With that said, taking advantage of a weak RB class and making himself available could be his best path to a high selection. Anderson joins Nick Bosa and Ed Oliver as underclassmen who have declared. That number is likely to be between 100 and 130 names long by the deadline in January.
Washington OT Trey Adams announced he will be back for the Huskies in 2019. This is a smart decision for Adams who missed the second half of 2017 with a torn ACL in his right knee before undergoing back surgery in September that cost him this season. Adams must prove his health to maximize his draft stock.
It was announced that Stanford RB Bryce Love, Northwestern QB Clayton Thorson and Stanford LB Bobby Okereke accepted NFLPA Bowl invitations. It would come as no surprise to see any of those 3 ultimately end up at the Shrine Game or even the Senior Bowl but the Stanford players especially were a surprise. Love was a Heisman favorite entering the season but has battled injuries throughout the season. He has big play ability but his durability is a major concern. Thorson had some buzz over the summer but he’s always been a marginal prospect. I have Okereke ranked in my current top-100 prospects and he is deserving of a much bigger all-star stage.
Louisville’s Defense is Unbelievably Bad
Bobby Petrino’s defenses at Louisville have been awful for years and things are getting worse.
Over the Cardinals’ last four games, Louisville has allowed 236 points which averages out to 59 per game! For perspective, 62 FBS teams have allowed less than 236 points FOR THE SEASON! Against Power 5 competition this season, Louisville is allowing 49 points per game.
Over Louisville’s last four games, Louisville has given up a total of 1,653 rushing yards and 21 touchdowns on 211 attempts for an average of 7.8 yards per carry. For perspective, there are 90 FBS teams in the nation that have allowed less than 1,653 rushing yards FOR THE SEASON!
Lamar Jackson helped mask the issues throughout a Louisville roster and program that is destined to finish 3-10 this season. Petrino’s buyout situation is a tricky one to navigate through but the program clearly needs a new direction.
Kansas Head Coaching Vacancy
The 2007 Mark Mangino-led Jayhawks had a 12-1 record and won the Orange Bowl but that feels like 100 years ago. Since Mangino was fired in 2009, Kansas has compiled an 18-87 record. YIKES!
It’s already been announced that Kansas won’t retain David Beaty as its coach after this season.
So what is next for Kansas football? There is some buzz that Les Miles is a possibility to which I say get it done! What do you have to lose? A big-name coach like Miles willing to take the job is a slam dunk.
The other option that makes sense is a triple option coach. The idea was brought to my attention by NBC Sports NFL Draft and College Football writer Thor Nystrom and I love it. The reason you see teams like Navy, Army and Air Force running the triple option is because they will never have the talent to compete in a traditional manner. It’s how Georgia Tech has an 80-58 record with Paul Johnson as its coach and 8 bowl appearances in 10 seasons. Big 12 defenses would have nightmares trying to defend the triple option and its KU’s best chance to start actually winning games.
From a scouting perspective, there is nothing worse than evaluating players in and against a triple option offense but it makes too much sense for Kansas to not consider.
Or what about this… Les Miles AND an offensive coordinator to implement the triple option? Perfect.
Florida State’s Rushing Offense…
Florida State has seen better days, but I’m surprised at how much the Seminoles have struggled to run the football this season. Despite a formidable backfield of 5-star Cam Akers and Jacques Patrick, FSU is having a difficult time pounding the rock.
In seven games against Power 5 opponents this season, FSU has a total of 202 rushes for 437 yards. That’s an average of 29 carries for 62 yards per game.
There’s a lot that goes into these numbers but it’s still surprisingly low. The Noles have struggled for years to build a formidable offensive line and it continues to limit the offense.
First-year head coach Willie Taggart has his workout cut out for him if FSU is going to continue its streak of 36 consecutive seasons ending in a bowl game.
Best Football Player I Saw This Week – Quinnen Williams
There’s no NFL Draft prospect in the country that has done more to elevate his stock than Alabama DT Quinnen Williams who was a standout in the Tides’ shutout win in Death Valley over LSU last Saturday.
Racking up a team-high 10 tackles, Williams added 3.5 tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks. Like most games this season, Williams simply couldn’t be blocked. He is quick, powerful, urgent, flexible and polished with his hand technique to shed blocks and make plays.
I am among Houston DT Ed Oliver’s biggest fans but even I couldn’t resist elevating Williams over Oliver in my current defensive tackle rankings. Jon Ledyard wrote a fantastic piece comparing Oliver and Williams as prospects.
He’s only a redshirt sophomore but I believe Williams is one of the blue chip talents eligible for the 2019 NFL Draft. He’s a top-5 caliber talent and he proved why in a dominant performance against LSU.
3rd & 1 "gotta have it" down and Bama DL Quinnen Williams ain't having it. Dude's so good. Unblockable at times. Hands, athletic ability, power, technique, flexibility… it's all there. This is a top half of the 1st round guy. pic.twitter.com/hrtFzyeJh0
— Joe Marino (@TheJoeMarino) October 20, 2018