Getting caught up in the College Football Playoff chatter is easy to do. It gets so easy, in fact, that sometimes we forget to stop and enjoy the games. Don't ever forget to enjoy it, because college football often surprises us when we least expect it. Such was the case in Week 13 with Arizona State throwing a wrench in everything by upsetting Oregon at home. And what about TCU's near-comeback against Oklahoma? Giving in to compelling games is what makes this sport great. Still, there are always takeaways we can pull from what we watch.
Weeks like these always lead to overreactions, and that's OK. We are creatures of the moment. Overreactions are just as much a part of the game as touchdowns. So with Saturday's action mostly in the books, let's look at the biggest overreactions from the action and how absurd -- or completely warranted -- they might be.
Tom Herman is on the hot seat: It's ... warmer than it was a few months ago, that's for sure. You have to take Texas' 24-10 loss to one-loss Baylor, which dropped it to 6-5, with some context, though. Not even a year ago, it capped off a 10-win season with a Sugar Bowl victory in Herman's second year. It's too soon to abandon ship. The problem is this is the new standard at Texas and has been for the past decade. The Longhorns have lost at least four games each year since 2010. Is Herman the one to get it turned around? That question has been asked a lot, and in Year 3, there's not a definitive answer. Theoretically, at a blue-blood, championship-level depth should be noticeable by now. With Texas, it's not.
Jimbo Fisher has been a bust at Texas A&M: Harsh, but you set an awfully high bar when you pay a coach $75 million guaranteed. After losing to Georgia 19-13 on Saturday, Fisher is 2-6 vs. ranked opponents while at A&M and winless in four tries this season. That means he's earned a year's salary ($7.5 million or about $20,500 a day) since he last beat a ranked team (74-72 over No. 7 LSU in a bazillion overtimes last year). Granted, the Aggies have had a monstrosity of a schedule. No one envies having to play Clemson, Alabama, Auburn, LSU and Georgia in the same season. That's impossible. But to be a quality team, you have to at least get one of those wins.
The Pac-12's playoff hopes took a serious hit: Well, they did for Oregon thanks to a 31-28 loss at Arizona State. But I'm not in the business of saying what that means for Utah. That's the CFP Selection Committee's job. Now, I can guess what Oregon's loss means, but I don't think it's as big of a deal as it's being made out to be. As long as the Utes keep winning, they're in the discussion. And if they beat Oregon in the Pac-12 Championship Game -- Utah has not yet secured a spot -- the question is whether it will be better than what, say, Alabama or Oklahoma has on the resume. There are still a lot of possibilities with two weeks remaining.
Oklahoma hasn't looked like a top-four team in a month: Speaking of the Sooners, they keep finding ways to win. Their 28-24 victory over TCU was helped, if you will, by a that allowed them to run out the clock, putting to bed a furious comeback by the Horned Frogs. Stepping back from the controversial ruling, Oklahoma has been disjointed ever since its loss to Kansas State. The Sooners are a fun team to watch, but they're stress-inducing for fans. Why? Part of the problem has been rooted in turnovers. Quarterback Jalen Hurts has five turnovers in his past two games, three of which have come inside the opponent's 10-yard line. That's as many as 35 points off the board. There's something to be said for surviving and advancing, but with a new quarterback, a new offensive line and a defense that is still slowly improving, it's probably a miracle this team is 10-1.
About the SEC's "SoCon Saturday:" The SEC takes its fair share of flak for scheduling cupcakes during late November while lots of other power conferences with teams in the playoff race are dueling it out. There are legit gripes about scheduling cupcakes this late in the season. It's not good for viewership or ticket sales. But when you play your cupcakes is strategic, and the SEC has found the right combination of playing eight conference games while tossing in a softball to break things up a bit. Don't like it? No one said scheduling had to be uniform in college football. No one forces conferences to make things harder on themselves. So while Oklahoma and Oregon are clawing through their eighth straight conference games (with one to go), Alabama and Auburn are taking it easy. Work smarter, not harder.
Miami is in an even worse spot than Texas: In terms of programs that are perpetually struggling to be "back," Miami takes as many licks as Texas. And with a FIU on Saturday, the Canes are close to an all-time low. The loss was in Marlins Park, which is the current site of the old Orange Bowl, to a team led by Butch Davis, who once coached the Canes themselves. Miami coach Manny Diaz called Saturday "one of the darkest nights in this program's history," and he might be right. The Canes have had some tough losses over recent years, but not in decades have they been truly beat by a run-of-the-mill Group of Five team.to freakin'
Ohio State should be ranked No. 1: Here's a hot take for the hot takes: it doesn't matter. You can certainly argue that the Buckeyes are the most complete team across the board. They've been the most dominant team from Week 1 to Week 13. They momentarily blinked against Penn State in a , but all in all were clearly better than the Nittany Lions. So now that Ohio State has the big-time win, should it jump LSU for No. 1? I still say the Tigers have the better resume, but when it comes to the top two teams in the playoff, what matters are matchups, not rankings. Theoretically, the top two teams should advance to the national championship if the seeding is right.
This is Michigan's best chance to knock off the Buckeyes: I buy it, but with a caveat: Both Michigan and Ohio State are playing their best football now -- with the Buckeyes doing so at a historic level. Jim Harbaugh's team has played well since the second half of its loss to Penn State earlier in the year. The Wolverines' four-game winning streak includes statement victories over Notre Dame and now Indiana, 39-14. Those are two pretty good teams and Michigan beat them by a combined average of 28 points. Next week's game against Ohio State is in Ann Arbor, Michigan. There is a "if not now, then when?" vibe to this game for Harbaugh, though there have been instances like that in the past, too. What I keep coming back to is if Ohio State is historically good right now, is there enough room for Michigan to be dominant too? Unlikely, but you have to think at some point it's going to get one against its fiercest rival.
USC is in a conundrum with coach Clay Helton: I wouldn't say it's that dire, but it could be awkward. The story is that USC finishes its regular season one week before everyone else. In this instance, it ends with a 52-34 win over rival UCLA to finish 8-4 and winners of five of its last six. However, it would need Utah to lose to Colorado next week to make the Pac-12 title. Does USC with its new athletic director Mike Bohn make a move or wait it out? At this point, you already know what you're going to get with Helton. The question Bohn has to ask is whether the Trojans are at their best with Helton in charge. Whether he is or isn't, there's definitely not a lack data to come to a conclusion. It's not the best spot to be in, but if you're thinking long-term, what USC does over the next week or two doesn't make much difference.