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BTP Roundtable - National Edition

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So apparently football is being played elsewhere?

Stanford v Utah Photo by George Frey/Getty Images

This has been quite the season so far, huh? We slid passed the bye week, and while we were relaxing we moved up in the polls, how nice. This moment of reflection gives us a chance to look at all the other football happening outside of the ACC. Turns out there’s a ton of stuff going on out there throughout the country. Who knew?

Let’s talk about our impressions of all things NOT ACC related. The pressure of making it to the CFP has added way more scrutiny on every single loss, whole seasons are hanging in the balance every week. It’s been so much fun to watch, and makes me want to punch people in NJ that try to tell me college football is dumb and NFL is better. Also, this is a cool graph.

What’s the best conference in the country so far?

TheRealEssad: I’m just as shocked as anyone to say the Big 12. They simply have the most parity of any conference. Before the season we thought the ACC would have this locked down, but it haven’t played out that way, and the SEC is simply not what it’s been in the past. Big Ten may have 3 top 10 teams and 4 in top 20, but week to week challenge of Big 12 is solid (minus Baylor).

Alec Lower: You could probably make an argument for any of the power five conferences this year. I guess I’ll go with the Big Ten, as much as I hate to say it, because it has three teams in the top six. The world would be a better place without two of them (Penn State and Ohio State of course), but those are three really good teams. Michigan State is solid as well.

Ejoebarry: It has to be the Big Ten. They’ve got three teams who have legit shots at the playoff, plus two other extremely solid teams. The bottom of their conference helps the top teams look better, so if you want to weigh each team equally no matter their record, the ACC has to be right there because of teams like BC, Syracuse, UVA who have proven they aren’t pushovers like the bottom of the Big Ten is.

Steven: I can see the argument for the Big 12—that league does have good depth at the top. But it’s hard to deny the Big Ten here, for the reasons outlined above. By the way, it is highly amusing that Maryland is stuck in a division with Ohio State, Penn State, Michigan, and Michigan State. You thought we had it rough.

Who’s your Heisman pick so far?

TheRealEssad: I wish I could pick one of State’s three midseason All-Americans (Chubb, Samuels, Hines), but I’m going to go with Bryce Love of Stanford. The local kid is doing work on the west coast. Through seven games, he has 1,387 yards on 135 attempts, for a whopping 10.3 yards per carry average! This was supposed to be the year of the QB, but Love and Saquon Barkley (among others) have reminded everyone how important a good running game is.

Alec Lower: Bryce Love is really good. I haven’t gotten to watch that much of him this year, but his statistics certainly indicate that he should be at the top of the list.

Ejoebarry: I think Bryce Love is the easy pick right now. Another under-the-radar name I’ll throw out there is JT Barrett. He had an awful game against Oklahoma, but he’s padded his stats against lesser teams and if he can keep it up on the bigger stage he could find himself in the hunt if Love falters.

Steven: I don’t get the Saquon Barkley picks from national media members, though I’m sure Penn State being where it is has a lot to do with that. If it’s not Bryce Love right now—and it should be—my pick would go to Baker Mayfield, who leads FBS in passer rating. Seventy-four percent completion rate, 19 TDs against two picks, with a nation-leading average of 11.6 yards per attempt. Not too shabby.

What’s the best upset you’ve seen this year?

TheRealEssad: I think it has to be Oklahoma Iowa State. Who thought the Cyclones would be able to go into Norman and shock the Sooners, coming back from a 21-10 deficit to win 38-31. They singlehandedly threw a monkey wrench into the national title picture.

Alec Lower: Syracuse beating Clemson was pretty wild. It also helped the Pack out a lot so I’ll go with that one.

Ejoebarry: I know Louisville wasn’t ranked but BC scoring 45 and winning that game stunned me. Washington losing to Arizona State and Iowa State beating Oklahoma are national championship altering upsets against bad teams.

Steven: UNC over Old Dominion, definitely. Really didn’t see that one coming. The Iowa State win at OU was shocking at the time but looks less like a stunner now that the Cyclones are ranked. Turns out that’s a solid team.

What team/player has surprised you the most this year (for good or bad)?

TheRealEssad: TCU has consistenly been good years, but this year they’re going to another level. When they joined the Big 12 many people questioned whether they could hang with the big boys, and now they’re proving it in spades. The winner of their game with Oklahoma might make the playoff.

Alec Lower: Central Florida. UCF has been wrecking fools all season, and this was basically out of nowhere for the uneducated viewer of UCF, which is most people. The Knights are the best team in the AAC and should be the Group of Five representative in the NY6.

Ejoebarry: Not sure if you guys have heard but there’s a 1-7 team down the road. I didn’t think they’d be good, but no way I thought they would be THIS bad. On a positive note, Iowa State and Syracuse pulled off huge upsets and proved those aren’t flukes which is a lot more than I expected from either team. I also agree with Essad, didn’t expect TCU to be a top five team.

Steven: Wake Forest has turned a corner this year, and while the record doesn’t reflect it, the Deacs rank 35th in S&P+. They are legit solid, which I didn’t see coming, even after they got back to bowl eligibility last year. Two years removed from a 3-9 campaign, it looks like Dave Clawson has that program in good shape. It helps that John Wolford has quietly gone from iffy to good—he has 10 TDs against two interceptions this year, after throwing only nine TDs while hitting the opponents in the hands 10 times. Wake’s offense doesn’t stink now! Weird, I know.

On the flip side, what the heck happened to Arkansas? They have been housed in three straight games to put them at 2-5. This after three consecutive bowl trips. Hard to imagine Bret Bielema survives at this rate; his conference record at Arkansas is only 10-26.

Is there any part of this season that has left you feeling underwhelmed?

TheRealEssad: I feel like there were a few crazy upsets, but mostly a lot of the hype hasn’t materialized for many teams. Many teams are falling flat of expectations (ACC included), meanwhile Alabama continues its steamroll to the title (see: next question). Add to this the worst case scenario of three conference champions (including NC State) possibly being left out of the playoff. Don’t get me wrong, the playoff is great, but it’s a guillotine hanging over everyone just waiting for you to lose more than once (Washington/Washington State your time is close).

Alec Lower: The Atlantic Division big three has been kind of disappointing. Florida State and Louisville aren’t bad teams but neither is very good either. Clemson still looks good but that group of three isn’t what is was last year.

Ejoebarry: The SEC is horrendously bad. The Heisman race has been kinda “meh” too. There’s Bryce Love and who else? FSU is also underwhelming, but man that schedule is brutal. I think this is a 9 win team on paper, even without Francois.

Steven: That damned South Carolina game. Damn I would like to run that one back. I knew that game was gonna bother me all year. Also it is to my eternal disappointment that Penn State is good. By universal law they should suck forever, but karma ain’t real and god is dead. At least Baylor blows.

Can anyone in the SEC catch Alabama?

TheRealEssad: Alabama’s dominance of the SEC has created a massive tidal wave where the other schools have been racing to find their answer to Nick Saban. This has caused them to throw money (with huge buyout clauses) at average coaches, locking the schools in and setting several programs back years. And ‘Bama has taken advantage by continuing the warpath and showing zero mercy. The league started slow but is showing signs of recovery. Georgia is really good, but not in Alabama’s division. Auburn has 2 losses but still has UGA and Alabama on the schedule so they’re unlikely to end the season ranked. LSU lost to Troy and I have no idea what to make of Texas A&M.

Alec Lower: No.

Ejoebarry: Alec summed up my thoughts perfectly. I think Georgia can give them a run in the championship game though. My bold prediction is that Alabama will lose at some point. They’ve only gone undefeated once under Saban, and they play absolutely nobody this year. I think they get beat in the playoffs.

Steven: Nothing shall stand in the way of the Nick Saban death machine. Georgia is our only hope at this point, it appears. I don’t think anybody in the playoffs will have anything for them, but I’d be happy to be wrong.

Which remaining game are you most looking forward to?

TheRealEssad: Since I already gave a lot of attention to the Big 12, I’ll say Penn State-Ohio State (Oct. 28th). Winner stays on track for the playoff, and might seal the Heisman fate for Barkley either way (ominous music).

Alec Lower: NC State-Clemson. Regardless of what happens this week, this game is still going to be crazy and super fun to be at. It will still have ACC title implications too.

Ejoebarry: NC State-Clemson. The SEC championship, presumably between Geogia and Alabama, will be a good one too.

Steven: NC State-Miami in the ACC championship game should be a good one. Couple of good defenses and it’ll be a good environment in Charlotte on account of State being there.

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What are your thoughts on the national stage? Let’s hear it.