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NORMAN AREY COLUMN: Last week’s results could change direction of college football

November 17, 2016

After last Saturday, we’ll call it “Black Saturday,” we now understand what a lot of college football has understood all season. Alabama is the lone “great” team in college football.

For a time we were told that the SEC just wasn’t that great a league — there was Alabama and everybody else. Well, that’s correct. After Black Saturday, Alabama and Western Michigan remain the only unbeaten teams in the country, and the Crimson Tide’s remaining schedule — Chattanooga, Auburn and the SEC title game — favors their going into the postseason undefeated.

On that note, going back to Black Saturday, it is unlikely that the defeats suffered by Michigan and Clemson will eliminate them from the playoffs. Due to a convoluted tiebreaker in the Big Ten East, Penn State has a better chance than Ohio State of reaching the title game. If Michigan wins out, it wins the Big Ten East and will be favored to win the league title.

Clemson is almost certainly still in the driver’s seat in the ACC, and that leaves Washington as the most susceptible to falling out of the playoffs. Some folks give Louisville an outside shot, but remember the Cardinals have a loss already to Clemson. If the Huskies take care of business, they could still be there with Alabama, Michigan and Clemson. If you feel this isn’t clear, I agree. Wait and see.

Out & about

The word is that several NFL teams are preparing a huge salary package to try and persuade Jim Harbaugh to come back to the pro league after this season at Michigan. … Keep an eye on Southern Cal freshman quarterback Sam Darnold, who has single-handedly saved the USC season and probably Clay Helton’s job. … FIU’s top NFL possibility, tight end Jonnu Smith, will miss the rest of the season after his girlfriend poured boiling water on his head. … Freshman quarterback Jalen Hurts became the first Alabama player ever to pass for more than 300 yards and rush for more than 100 in the same game. … ESPN’s award-winning show College Gameday will originate from Kalamazoo, Michigan this week in honor of Western Michigan, who along with Alabama is the only unbeaten team in the country. …

Almost for sure a death knoll, Oregon coach Mark Helfrich apologized to the Duck fan base after his team was humiliated 52-27 by Stanford.

Here & there

The vote on the San Diego Stadium has failed, which means that the Chargers will almost certainly move to Los Angeles. … When Marist men’s basketball team showed up in Durham, North Carolina, to play Duke, the team wore rainbow-colored socks in protest to the state’s “bathroom law.” …

In case you haven’t read it elsewhere, the last time that the No. 2, 3, and 4 ranked college football teams lost on the same weekend, as they did this past weekend, was in 1985. … Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh disputes a report that his quarterback, Wilton Speight, is out for the season. Speight supposedly has a broken collarbone he suffered in the Wolverines’ loss to Iowa.

New faces likely

Oregon, Kansas, Texas, N.C. State, Notre Dame and Texas Tech seem to lead the nation in having a new fresh face as head coach next year. The Irish aren’t for sure getting rid of Brian Kelly, but really, is he the right guy for South Bend? …

The Heisman race might be in for a shake-up as Clemson’s DeShaun Watson and Washington’s Jake Browning did nothing to help their causes last week.

Even Louisville’s Lamar Jackson wasn’t all that impressive for three quarters of the Cardinals’ win over Wake Forest. … And there will definitely be a new face at Georgia State as the Panthers fired head coach Trent Miles after GSU fell to 2-8 for the year. Despite going to a bowl game last season, Miles’ record in Atlanta was only 9-38.

In finishing

LSU has reportedly zeroed in on Florida State’s Jimbo Fisher to replace the fired Les Miles. Interim coach Ed Orgeron is a strong second choice. …

The hypothetical question: could Alabama beat the NFL’s winless Cleveland Browns? The answer is no — oddsmakers would make the Browns a 27-point favorite. … The only three college basketball teams who have odds better than 16-1 to win the NCAA basketball title are Kansas and Kentucky, tied at 7-1, and Duke, favored at 15-4.

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