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J3C College Football Top 25 (2018 season final)

The King is dead, long live The King.

It isn’t that Clemson beat Alabama for the second time in three years to win the national championship, it’s the thorough manner in which they did so.  That’s why I’m not alone in feeling as though the role of hunter and hunted has officially changed as the 2018 season comes to an end.  The last time a Nick Saban coached team took a beating of this magnitude it was delivered by the Buffalo Bills.  I’m not at all sure the 2018 Bills could have done such a thorough job as Clemson did on Monday night.

How complete was it?   Consider this:  not only is the 28 point margin the largest in a title game in the playoff era but it’s also the largest in the playoffs since Clemson destroyed Ohio State 31-0 in the 2016-17 semifinal.   It’s a larger margin than Alabama has managed in five of their six playoff wins to date.

And to the chagrin of programs everywhere, both participants in last night’s game are still relatively young teams, making them odds on favorites to meet for a fourth time next year.

Otherwise, 2018 was the year of the quarterback transfer.  Every P5 quarterback that finished in the Top 25 of the QB Efficiency rating this season was either a transfer or was a key part of a quarterback transfer (ironically the closest exception might be the much discussed Tua / Hurts situation, but Tua’s own ascendancy led to a QB transfer the year before).  The highest rated P5 QB I could find that didn’t have a transfer situation clearly connected to them was a four-year starter … and will almost certainly be replaced next season by, yep you guessed it … a transfer.

2018 saw a baseball player win the Heisman Trophy, saw the end of a Hall of Fame coaching career for Urban Meyer, and saw the overdue departure of Paul Johnson from North Avenue.  Tennessee couldn’t finish and Ole Miss appears to BE finished, at least until they get a remotely capable coaching staff.

And with that, we reach the end of another road.  And prepare for the journey once again next fall.  Here now is my final J3C College Football Top 25 for 2018.
(Final rank & pre-bowl rank before the team name, my pre-season rank follows the name)

  1. (2) Clemson (2)
  2. (1) Alabama (1)
  3. (4) Ohio State (5)
  4. (5) Oklahoma (6)
  5. (3) Notre Dame (10)
  6. (6) Georgia (4)
  7. (7) Florida (Un)
  8. (11) LSU (22)
  9. (15) Texas (24)
  10. (13) Washington State (Un)
  11. (16) Kentucky (Un)
  12. (8) Michigan (13)
  13. (9) Washington (9)
  14. (10) UCF (25)
  15. (17) Syracuse (Un)
  16. (21) Texas A&M (Un)
  17. (18) Fresno State (Un)
  18. (23) Army (Un)
  19. (12) Penn State (7)
  20. (Un) Northwestern (Un)
  21. (14) West Virginia (20)
  22. (25) Appalachian State (Un)
  23. (Un) Cincinnati (Un)
  24. (22) Boise State (21)
  25. (Un) Iowa (Un)

Dropped: Mississippi State (19), Utah (20), NC State (24)

Teams ranked in pre-season that finished unranked (11) :
Wisconsin (3), Miami (8), Auburn (11), Michigan State (12), Stanford (14), TCU (15), Mississippi State (16), USC (17), FSU (18), Virginia Tech (19),
Oklahoma State (24)

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J3C College Football Top 25 (end of regular season)

And once again, here we are.

Another regular season has wrapped up with conference championship weekend, but what did we learn?  Well,  we know that Georgia might have fallen victim to the single dumbest play call in the history of college football … we know that Pitt was at most the best of a bad lot in their own division … we know that Ohio State can grind people down … we know that Oklahoma is capable of putting up points … we know that the Pac101216whatever is once again irrelevant to the playoff conversation … we know the UCF can beat mediocre teams with even their backup QB … and though we might not really care much, we know that scheduling willing patsies to fill out your 12 game schedule can help when bowl bids are handed out (Virginia Tech) or perhaps hurt (Iowa State … really?  Drake?  At home?  C’mon).

All that’s left for me until after the post-season is one final stab at ranking the upper 20-25 percent of the teams playing D1 football.   More than usual though, I’m a little stuck, on my own words.   For years I’ve explained my Top 25 as being
“part art, part science, part instinct …  my eyeball of the overall.”   A combination of how I perceive teams’ ability, their performance, and their relative positioning in light of both.

That’s worked for me as a guideline for quite a while but this year I’m bumping my head into another set of criteria, the charge given to the College Football Playoff Selection Committee.   See, their wording is different.   They’re asked, quite simply really, to rank what they consider “the best teams”, in order.  And I’m not sure what’s bugging me most here is the word you’d think.  It isn’t “best” that’s making me a little crazy, it’s “team”.

For the second year in a row, my top three slot in pretty easily.  It’s the pesky #4 spot that’s the rub.   There are three candidates for it in my mind.   One I eliminate pretty quickly due to their flawed decision-making of their head coach.   There’s a certain team that I admittedly dislike (to say the least) but that I think probably has the best overall roster of the trio, unfortunately for them right now they don’t have a head coach to match.  That leaves me debating who is 4th and who is 5th.  And the reason I’m debating it is more the word “team” than anything.   Having perhaps the best college football player in the country certainly lends credibility on his side of the ball, but when you look like you’re not even trying on the other side for more than a month of the season … the other candidate certainly knows how to lay an egg in grand fashion, but they also look like they at least understand there’s more to a football team than offense.  Decisions, decisions, decisions.

Last year, when I did this edition of my Top 25, I already knew how the committee ranked them.   I disagreed.
This year, I’m roughly ten hours in front of the committee announcement … and I strongly suspect it’ll be their turn to disagree with me.   So it goes.

For the last time in 2018, here’s the new JonsThreeCents College Football Top 25.
See you after the post-season is done.

(last week’s ranking follows their name)

  1. Alabama (1)
  2. Clemson (2)
  3. Notre Dame (3)
  4. Ohio State (6)
  5. Oklahoma (5)
  6. Georgia (4)
  7. Florida (7)
  8. Michigan (8)
  9. Washington (10)
  10. UCF (9)
  11. LSU (13)
  12. Penn State (12)
  13. Washington State (14)
  14. West Virginia (15)
  15. Texas (11)
  16. Kentucky (18)
  17. Syracuse (19)
  18. Fresno State (22)
  19. Mississippi State (20)
  20. Utah (16)
  21. Texas A&M (23)
  22. Boise State (17)
  23. Army (24)
  24. NC State (Un)
  25. Appalachian State (Un)

Dropped: Northwestern (21), Utah State (25)

 

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J3C College Football Top 25 (after week thirteen)

Ah yes, Rivalry Week.  Where strange things happen.  Or don’t.

Nothing strange about kicking things off in earnest on Thanksgiving and seeing Ole Miss get the blue hell beaten out of them.   A performance that got (so far) only the defensive coordinator fired but should have been the swan song for the entire inept staff … Friday provided the Big 12 version of arena football, with Oklahoma outlasting West Virginia … Washington did Apple Cup things to Wazzu …. Virginia Tech did VaTech things to UVA, again …  UCF won a game but lost something far more valuable to their fortunes … Then we get to Saturday and things got more than a little serious, with Alabama scuffling for a half with Auburn, Clemson doing likewise with South Carolina, and Notre Dame doing the same for most of the day in SoCal … Other teams, like Georgia and Florida and Kentucky did what they were supposed to do with downtrodden rivals (and don’t let the surge fool you, the lack of commitment to winning, or football in general, at Georgia Tech leaves the Jackets in the ranks of the downtrodden regardless of their late season wins) … But just when you thought you’d seen the last of the turkey, along comes Michigan to lay a big ol’ turkey egg against Ohio State.  Again … The insanity of seven overtimes for Texas A&M and LSU seemed to put a fitting bow on the regular season, in a year when defenses were hard to locate unless bad offenses were willing to pitch in to help … Oh, and let’s not forget Tennessee reverting to form against Vandy, after reverting to form in the latter part of the previous game.  Nobody is likely to mourn the departure from Rocky Top of OC Tyson Helton, who is off to take over things at Western Kentucky.   Good luck with that, he seems better suited for a Hilltop than a mountain anyway.

Only a few games remain before bowl season begins, so let’s sort ’em out again in earnest here with the latest update of my JonsThreeCents College Football Top 25.
(last week’s ranking follows their name)

  1. Alabama (1)
  2. Clemson (2)
  3. Notre Dame (3)
  4. Georgia (5)
  5. Oklahoma (6)
  6. Ohio State (11)
  7. Florida (10)
  8. Michigan (4)
  9. UCF (9)
  10. Washington (16)
  11. Texas (14)
  12. Penn State (15)
  13. LSU (7)
  14. Washington State (8)
  15. West Virginia (13)
  16. Utah (17)
  17. Boise State (20)
  18. Kentucky (18)
  19. Syracuse (19)
  20. Mississippi State (22)
  21. Northwestern (21)
  22. Fresno State (24)
  23. Texas A&M (Un)
  24. Army (23)
  25. Utah State (12)

Dropped: Cincinnati (25)

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J3C College Football Top 25 (after week twelve)

Did some teams have their turkey (and the ensuing hangover) a week early?

Bama was tied at halftime. Clemson had a one score lead at the half.   The clear top two teams went on to win by a combined 62 point margin but life was certainly more interesting for them than expected … Notre Dame established themselves as a rather clear (however distant) #3 while Michigan created more room for doubt by actually trailing after two quarters … Georgia played a glorified scrimmage while Oklahoma probably slipped backwards a tad … None of those teams did as much damage to themselves as Oklahoma State did to West Virginia however … For my more personal rooting interests it was Georgia Tech who managed to pull off the upset for a change while Ole Miss helped Vanderbilt look like a clear favorite in the upcoming rivalry game against Tennessee, a team that managed to find a way to look like hot garbage only a week after an upset that might have suggested they were closer to relevance than previously thought.

On into the winter we go, so let’s get the latest update of my JonsThreeCents College Football Top 25.
Happy Thanksgiving to one and all

(last week’s ranking follows their name)

  1. Alabama (1)
  2. Clemson (2)
  3. Notre Dame (3)
  4. Michigan (4)
  5. Georgia (5)
  6. Oklahoma (6)
  7. LSU (7)
  8. Washington State (9)
  9. UCF (10)
  10. Florida (17)
  11. Ohio State (11)
  12. Utah State (12)
  13. West Virginia (8)
  14. Texas (14)
  15. Penn State (15)
  16. Washington (18)
  17. Utah (20)
  18. Kentucky (22)
  19. Syracuse (13)
  20. Boise State (21)
  21. Northwestern (24)
  22. Mississippi State (Un)
  23. Army (25)
  24. Fresno State (Un)
  25.  Cincinnati (16)

Dropped: Iowa State (19), Boston College (23)

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J3C College Football Top 25 (after week eleven)

A brief respite from a season of craziness.

That was basically the story of week eleven, where almost everyone that was supposed to win (gasp) actually did so.  Though not quite all of them did so in the way we expected.

Both Alabama and Clemson dominated with defense.  How thoroughly?  They didn’t allow 300 yards of total offense COMBINED … Notre Dame and Michigan overwhelmed overmatched opponents, though in theory there ought to be a big difference in beating FSU and beating Rutgers.  Maybe not so big this season … Okay, sure, Fresno State laid an egg in the middle of my rankings but I figure somebody had to do it …

For my more personal interests, Tennessee got the job done against a Kentucky team that looks like it’s run out of gas, Georgia Tech avoided doing Tech things and handed CMR another loss to further warm his seat as the weather grows colder, and Ole Miss did Ole Miss things.  At least they got a big win earlier in the week with the “resignation” (yeah, right) of the existing chancellor there.

The march to the playoffs continues, so let’s march right on in to the latest update of my JonsThreeCents College Football Top 25.

(last week’s ranking follows their name)

  1. Alabama (1)
  2. Clemson (2)
  3. Notre Dame (3)
  4. Michigan (5)
  5. Georgia (6)
  6. Oklahoma (5)
  7. LSU (4)
  8. West Virginia (8)
  9. Washington State (9)
  10. UCF (10)
  11. Ohio State (11)
  12. Utah State (12)
  13. Syracuse (17)
  14. Texas (16)
  15. Penn State (19)
  16. Cincinnati (21)
  17. Florida (20)
  18. Washington (23)
  19. Iowa State (25)
  20. Utah (Un)
  21. Boise State (Un)
  22. Kentucky (13)
  23. Boston College (18)
  24. Northwestern (Un)
  25. Army (Un)

Dropped: Fresno State (14), Mississippi State (15), Auburn (22), Iowa (24)

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J3C College Football Top 25 (after week ten)

Stop me if you’ve heard this one: One potential contender for the final four lost, as did a number of field fillers.
Somehow that sounds familiar.

So in a post-Election Day attention diverted fashion, I’ll just hit a couple highlights from the weekend that was.
Thorough.  That’s the word that comes to mind when I think about what Alabama did to LSU.  In Death Valley … Clemson and Michigan both stood out this weekend … Oklahoma, Washington State, and Ohio State also stood out but for the wrong reasons instead of the right ones … Also standing out were Texas A&M, Florida, and Iowa, but that’s the kind of stuff that will leave you standing outside …. For my personal interests, Tennessee struggled their way past Charlotte (? Srsly?), Georgia Tech found juuuuust enough to avoid another collapse, and I watched in person for the second straight season as Ole Miss snatched defeat from the jaws of victory, sparked by the refusal of their quarterback to even look willing to TRY to get a crucial first down.   I’m genuinely shocked at this point that anyone is willing to block for him at all.

That’s an abbreviated wrap due to time constraints, let’s get to the latest edition of my JonsThreeCents College Football Top 25.

(last week’s ranking follows their name)

  1. Alabama (1)
  2. Clemson (2)
  3. Notre Dame (3)
  4. Michigan (5)
  5. Oklahoma (6)
  6. Georgia (7)
  7. LSU (4)
  8. West Virginia (8)
  9. Washington State (9)
  10. UCF (10)
  11. Ohio State (11)
  12. Utah State (17)
  13. Kentucky (13)
  14. Fresno State (19)
  15. Mississippi State (20)
  16. Texas (16)
  17. Syracuse (25)
  18. Boston College (Un)
  19. Penn State (12)
  20.  Florida (14)
  21. Cincinnati (Un)
  22. Auburn (Un)
  23. Washington (Un)
  24. Iowa (21)
  25. Iowa State (Un)

Dropped: Utah (15), Houston (17), Virginia (22), Texas A&M (23), Georgia Southern (25)

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J3C College Football Top 25 (after week nine)

Who’s on first, what’s on second, I Don’t Know is fifteenth.

While the top of the poll remains stable, the remainder is simply a mess.

I’m sure Bama & Michigan enjoyed their weekend off but I suspect Clemson may have enjoyed their Saturday on even more … Tough week to be a major college football fan in the state of Florida … Oops of the week likely belongs to Texas, though Oregon and Wisconsin deserve (dis)honorable mention … Not to be outdone, hard fail by Washington … Tennessee has returned to the lofty tier of “can’t finish” while Georgia Tech discovered that just letting the quarterback keep the ball might cut down on some of those pesky turnovers …

Though it feels increasingly futile, I’ll once again include 25 teams in the latest update of JonsThreeCents College Football Top 25.  (otherwise I’d probably need to change the name or something)

(last week’s ranking follows their name)

  1. Alabama (1)
  2. Clemson (2)
  3. Notre Dame (3)
  4. LSU (4)
  5. Michigan (5)
  6. Oklahoma (6)
  7. Georgia (7)
  8. West Virginia (12)
  9. Washington State (16)
  10. UCF (9)
  11. Ohio State (11)
  12. Penn State (17)
  13. Kentucky (14)
  14. Florida (10)
  15. Utah (21)
  16. Texas (8)
  17. Utah State (23)
  18. Houston (Un)
  19. Fresno State (Un)
  20. Mississippi State (Un)
  21. Iowa (20)
  22. Virginia (Un)
  23. Texas A&M (15)
  24. Georgia Southern (Un)
  25. Syracuse (Un)

Dropped: Washington (13), Oregon (18), Wisconsin (19), South Florida (22), Appalachian State (24), NC State (25)

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