It was one of the more forgettable Saturdays in recent memory, with a staggering lack of competitive games (between good teams, at least). There were still Playoff winners and losers, of course, with an ugly game at the Swamp unfortunately claiming the title for most impactful game of a weekend we can’t move on from quickly enough.
Florida - We were hoping we could get through the entire season without having to acknowledge Florida, and I’m still far from lending any credence to its potential Playoff candidacy. But we give credit where it’s due here, and the Gators surprised us with a two-score win over Auburn in a game we figured would expose them. To be fair, this game may have just been a showcase for how far these two teams actually are from being legitimate national title contenders, but the Gators emerged victorious and will get a bump regardless of aesthetics. That said, we’re still not buying Florida as anything more than an OK team with a solid defense. Beat LSU this weekend? Then maybe we can revisit things.
Ohio State - A home win over Michigan State isn’t a needle-moving win in and of itself, but it marked another performance where Ohio State looked dominant. There are bigger tests ahead and certainly chances to falter, but the Buckeyes look like a Playoff team right now. Their two toughest remaining opponents - Wisconsin and Penn State - both travel to the Horseshoe.
Michigan - Unfortunately, we must keep the Wolverines technically alive in the Playoff race with an almost embarrassing 10-3 win over Iowa in which neither team was able to eclipse 270 total yards. There’s not much positive to say here other than “a win is a win,” and we figure Penn State and/or Notre Dame will do us all a favor and put Michigan out of its misery in the coming weeks.
Auburn - As soon as we start to wonder if there’s something to this emerging Auburn team, the Tigers fall flat on their faces at Florida. We wouldn’t say Bo Nix had been great through five games, but he had been capably running the show and growing as a true freshman quarterback. That all came crashing down Saturday, however, as he went just 11 for 27 passing with three picks when Auburn’s running game was largely stifled for the first time. While that loss puts the Tigers significantly behind the 8-ball with regard to their own Playoff fate, we can still look to them to pose a threat in a role they are very accustomed to: Spoiler. Auburn still gets home dates with Georgia and Alabama and a trip to LSU to live up to their past status as an agent of chaos — and hey, win enough of those games, and maybe you can creep back into the national title race yourselves.
Iowa - The Hawkeyes have to be kicking themselves after numerous trips into Michigan territory culminated in a total of just three points on their side of the scoreboard. This team has always been a fringe contender with little margin for error, and you feel like this was a game Iowa really needed if they were to make a serious push toward making the final four. They get a quick chance to turn things around with Penn State coming to town, but the Hawkeyes’ next loss will mark the end of their Playoff hopes.
Washington - We usually expect one inexplicable loss from the Huskies per season, but they have already blessed us with two just halfway through the 2019 campaign. We were willing to excuse the bizarre loss to Cal, but it’s hard to justify Washington’s 23-13 stumble this past week to a middling Stanford team. The PAC 12 can now only look to Oregon and Utah to save the day.
Rivalries to separate contenders from pretenders - We get a rare treat at noon with a massive game between Oklahoma and Texas, a game the Sooners want but the Longhorns need. A loss wouldn’t eliminate either from conference title contention, but Texas already has a loss on the resume and would be all but eliminated from the Playoff with another on Saturday. Not that the game isn’t important to the Sooners, as a win in what will likely be their toughest game could put them on the fast track to making the field.
Meanwhile, we get a suddenly-more-interesting prime-time matchup between LSU and Florida, where the Gators hope to parlay their win over Auburn into another unexpected victory on the bayou. The Tigers are a two-touchdown favorite for a reason, and we don’t necessarily expect Florida to hang around in this game. But we also didn’t expect them to beat Auburn, so you never know...
GAMES TO WATCH:
No. 6 Oklahoma vs. No. 11 Texas - Noon
No. 1 Alabama @ No. 24 Texas A&M - 3:30 p.m.
Michigan State @ No. 8 Wisconsin - 3:30 p.m.
No. 10 Penn State @ No. 17 Iowa - 7:30 p.m.
No. 7 Florida @ No. 5 LSU - 8 p.m.