Everything You Can’t Miss in College Football Before the Season Ends

  • The effect of the playoffs on the regular season

    Before the 2014 season began, there was much debate as to how the postseason playoff format would affect the week-to-week intensity of the regular season. Well much to the relief of avid college football fans, it has only increased the potency of college football, with teams seemingly having much more on the line with each passing game on the schedule. The newly implemented playoff format has already paid off in its first year and has revived the regular season unlike ever before.

    We’re not saying that all controversy surrounding the sport is gone forever. No, that will never happen. Although, instead of computer systems generating the controversy, it’s the play on the field that is getting people talking.

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  • Jameis Winston
    Which team (if any) will remain unbeaten?

    This time last year there were eight unbeaten teams remaining in college football. This season, that number is down to just three — Mississippi State, Florida State, and Marshall — with Notre Dame and Ole Miss being the latest to fall from the ranks of the undefeated over the past couple of weeks.

    The bulk of the college football season may be behind us, but there is still a lot of action left to be played. Moving forward, it will be interesting to see which team can escape the regular season madness without a loss. With a Nov. 15 showdown against No. 5 Alabama and an Egg Bowl matchup against Ole Miss still left on Mississippi State’s remaining schedule, there’s a change that the Bulldogs could lose not once, but twice in the regular season. As for Florida State and Marshall, the latter has the best chance of going undefeated given the remaining strength of schedule (but has virtually no shot at the playoffs). If you ask college football gurus, Florida State is the favorite to go undefeated, finish atop the rankings, and secure a spot in the playoffs. The last time we witnessed a season without any remaining unbeaten teams was in 2007, when LSU finished atop the rankings despite a two-loss record.

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  • Bragging rights in the state of Mississippi are up for grabs

    Getting back to the state of Mississippi for a minute, I don’t think anyone expected two teams from The Magnolia State to be so high up in the rankings at this (or any) point in the season. But that’s precisely the situation we now find ourselves in with Mississippi State ranking tops in the nation and Ole Miss now at No. 11. As stated in the previous point, the two teams are slated to face each other in the regular season, so state bragging rights will surely be up for grabs. While Ole Miss, who now finds itself with two blemishes on its record, is virtually out of playoff contention, it will play a major role in deciding whether Mississippi State can sneak in there.

    Regardless of the outcome, it’s safe to assume that the state of Mississippi as a whole has opened up some eyes this year, proving that it can hold its own with other powerhouse football states like Florida, Alabama, and California, and is a force to be reckoned with.

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  • Heisman race

    For two consecutive years, the coveted Heisman Trophy has gone to freshmen. This year, it looks like that trend is coming to a close. While there are plenty of freshmen who have Heisman potential, this year’s race will likely come down to a couple of upperclassmen in Mississippi State quarterback Dak Prescott and Oregon’s star gunslinger Marcus Mariota.

    As it stands today, Prescott sits atop the expert polls — perhaps as a result of Mississippi State being ranked No. 1 in the nation. Though, if you base it solely on stats, you’d have to give the edge to Mariota, who has thrown for 24 touchdowns and just two interceptions, and has also run for an additional seven scores. Also on the Heisman watch list this season are guys like Florida State’s Jameis Winston and Notre Dame’s Everett Golson, although it’s unlikely that the latter two will edge out either Prescott or Mariota.

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  • USC/Notre Dame
    Notre Dame vs. USC

    One of the most intriguing matchups left on the college football slate is the annual meeting between Notre Dame and USC. Despite its defeat to Florida State, Notre Dame still has a shot at sneaking into the playoffs as a one-loss team. Though, to get there, the Fighting Irish will have to get through Steve Sarkisian’s Trojans. Sure, it can be argued that USC, although it’s ranked in the Top 25, isn’t quite as good as we’re used to seeing it, but if there’s one game that the Trojans always seem to show up for, it’s the one against Notre Dame. This game could very well decide Notre Dame’s postseason fate, as well as USC’s future moving forward.

    image via Michael Li/Flickr Creative Commons

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  • Alabama, Auburn
    Which one-loss team is more likely to be playoff-bound: Alabama or Auburn?

    Much like the Notre Dame vs. USC matchup, another game that will likely affect the outcome of the playoff picture is the Nov. 29 showdown between in-state rivals Auburn and Alabama. Of course, before the two teams even take the field against one another, they’ll have to take care of the other teams on their respective schedules. The Crimson Tide still have to get through No. 16 LSU and top-ranked Mississippi State, while the Tigers still have to get through a pair of quality opponents in Ole Miss and Georgia before they can square off against ‘Bama.

    If you were to ask us to put our money up on one of the two, we’d have to give Alabama a slight edge, but really, it’s a toss up. At the end of the day, it’s a win-win for the SEC. Take both Alabama and Auburn, factor in Mississippi State, and the SEC could very well have three teams representing the conference in the playoffs.

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  • Louisville’s Gerod Holliman goes for the INT record

    Way back in 1968, University of Washington defensive back Al Worley set a FBS record for most interceptions in a season with 14. Today, 46 years later, that record still stands — well, at least for now it does. Through the first nine games of the season, Louisville DB Gerod Holliman has picked off a nation-best 10 passes. Yes, he still has a long ways to go before he can take down Worley’s mark, but with three more regular-season games remaining, as well as an eventual bowl game for the currently 6-3 Cardinals, Holliman has a shot (albeit an outside one) to cement his place in the record books.

    The last time the season INT record came close to being broken was back in 2011 when North Carolina State’s David Amerson put up 13 picks.

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  • Brady Hoke
    Will Michigan head coach Brady Hoke be back next year?

    We won’t know for sure whether Brady Hoke will still be the head honcho down in Ann Arbor next year until this current season comes to a close. With the Wolverines having underachieved thus far, the Big Blue faithful have already dubbed 2014 as “Brady Hoke’s Farewell Tour.” If Hoke can rally his team and beat Ohio State, he might —might — somehow escape the hot seat, at least temporarily. Whether or not that’ll happen remains to be seen. However one thing’s for certain: They certainly don’t tolerate losing down at The Big House.

    image via Adam Glanzman/Flickr Creative Commons

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  • Everett Golson
  • Jameis Winston
  • Marcus Mariota
  • USC/Notre Dame
  • Alabama, Auburn
  • Gerod Holliman
  • Brady Hoke

The BCS is no longer. Having been replaced by a more logical postseason playoff format, the absence of the controversial selection system has breathed new life into the college football landscape. No longer do we have to rely on a suspect BCS “formula” to narrow down the quest for the best college football program in the nation. Rather, the four best teams at the end of the season will get a fair — mostly fair, anyway — chance to battle each other for FBS supremacy. It’s not a perfect solution by any means. You could easily make the argument that the playoffs should be expanded to eight teams, and that thought would be totally justified. Just know that this is a step in the right direction.

Depending on the foreseeable success of this year’s postseason, the playoffs, in all likelihood, will probably be expanded to include more squads. It’s only a matter of time. Until then, however, there’s no shortage of quality football to be played on the collegiate front.

While we’re all extremely eager to see how the action-packed regular season plays out and which four teams sneak into the playoff picture, there’s still a lot to look forward to before the season commences, both on and off the field. Which team (if any) will remain undefeated? Which player will win the Heisman? Will there be any records broken this year? You’ll be relieved to know that we have the answers to these questions, and many more.

With that said, here is Everything You Can’t Miss in College Football Before the Season Ends.

Follow Gurvinder on Twitter at @gurvindersg