It’s easy to get too high or too low after each week’s results in college football. Such is the nature of the sport that breeds emotional responses based on what happens positively or negatively every Saturday.
That’s why we’re here. A step back from the action can provide perspective that rightfully will temper some of the misplaced enthusiasm from positive performances and lift up those feeling down in the dumps after negative results from the weekend.
Week 7 had plenty of examples on both sides of the coin. Here are the five biggest overreactions from the action on the field.
The Big Ten still can get two teams in the playoff
The weekend started with four Big Ten unbeatens and one-loss Penn State all ranked among the top 11 teams in the poll. So with that strength at the top, the possibility of the league producing two teams capable of being in the semifinals started to generate some buzz. The theories were centered around two possibilities – Iowa winning the West, while meeting an unbeaten Michigan or Michigan State in the title game and a one-loss Ohio State or Penn State beating unbeaten Iowa for the conference title. They were both long shots, but not far-fetched given the unpredictable nature of the season.
The surprising loss by Iowa at the hands of Purdue pretty much erases any possibility of it happening. Yeah, the league could conceivably thread the needle with Iowa beating an unbeaten Michigan or Michigan State in the title game and then hoping a couple leagues have two-loss champions with a Cincinnati loss and Georgia beating Alabama in the SEC title game. It just seems remote at this point and not worth discussing until we get into November.
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Clemson will turn its offense around
Put all the Tigers players in another uniform and you’d have no expectation this could be an offense capable of winning the ACC. So why should they be able to because they play for Clemson? That’s the harsh reality after six games that have seen them manage just 123 points – an average of barely 20 per contest. This is who they are – a team that managed just 17 points Friday at Syracuse and needed its defense to come through with another stand to seal a victory.
There are many problems. D.J. Uiagalelei hasn’t been able to pick up the baton and carry this offense the way Trevor Lawrence or Deshaun Watson did. He’s struggled to generate big plays in the passing game. He only has four touchdown passes halfway through the year compared to four touchdowns in his two starts last season. The offensive line isn’t creating lanes for the running game. Justyn Ross hasn’t been a big-play receiver in his return after surgery last year. There’s no depth at the position behind Ross and Joseph Ngata. It shapes up to be a year with more close games and some losses, starting with Pittsburgh next week.
Caleb Williams is a Heisman contender
This possibility was floated during the broadcast Saturday night when Oklahoma was running up and down the field against TCU. And during a season where most of the preseason favorites have fallen by the wayside, including the quarterback Williams was backing up for the first six games, it would stand that there will be some unlikely contenders. It’s just hard to count Williams in that group.
That doesn’t denigrate his impact on the Sooners, who have looked like a completely different team in the six full quarters that the true freshman has been running the offense. They’ve managed 87 points in that span and Williams has thrown for 507 yards and six touchdowns. He could continue to put up these types of numbers in the last five games. It’s hard – if not impossible – to imagine him getting more votes than other contenders, like Bryce Young of Alabama and Matt Corral of Mississippi. On the bright side, Williams is sure to enter 2022 as one of the Heisman favorites.
Oregon is the favorite in the Pac-12
This was the case in the preseason. The chances for the Ducks got even stronger after they beat Ohio State on the road. Since that big victory, things have gone south for Mario Cristobal’s team. It struggled at home into the fourth quarter against Arizona. Then came a loss at Stanford. And then another close win against California. Injuries have been a major factor with several key players lost for the season. The offense hasn’t been consistent and the defense has yielded too many yards.
With a trip to UCLA ahead this week, a second loss in the conference seems more likely than not. Utah has emerged in the South along with the Bruins, and Arizona State is still a potential contender, despite its defeat to the Utes. The weakness of the North division still benefits Oregon, so a trip to the Pac-12 title game should happen. You just don’t like the Ducks’ chances if they get there unless something serious changes.
Arkansas was never as good as it seemed
The Razorbacks reeled off four consecutive wins to start the season, including a defeat of then-unbeaten Texas A&M. That got them ranked as high as No. 11 in the coaches poll. Then came a demoralizing loss at Georgia. It was followed by a defeat at Mississippi that ended when Arkansas coach Sam Pittman went for a two-point conversion after time expired. Saturday’s loss to Auburn was another disappointment because the Razorbacks outgained the Tigers but saw a second-half lead disappear in a double-digit deficit in three minutes.
Arkansas are out of the rankings for the first time since after Week 2. So the easy assumption is that the Razorbacks were simply overrated and the wins against Texas and Texas A&M were a mirage. That the early plaudits were overboard as they now sit in the basement in the SEC West. But the losses are really just a reflection of life in the country’s toughest conference. The ones against Ole Miss and Auburn were winnable. Besides a trip to Alabama, the rest of the games are winnable and it wouldn’t be surprising to see the Razorbacks finish 9-3 and back in the Top 25.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: College football overreactions Week 7: Big Ten can get 2 playoff teams