Is this a year when a player besides a quarterback or running back deserves serious Heisman Trophy consideration? Will the Western Michigan Broncos be rowing their boat on New Year’s Day? And should Les Miles be Purdue’s top target for its next football coach?
Those are but some of the big topics circulating through college football as we go into the final month of the 2016 season and the first College Football Playoff rankings are announced.
Everybody is rethinking the Heisman Trophy, but will the voters?
It’s the time of the year when the Heisman Trophy race really starts to take center stage in college football, so everybody is naturally trying to figure out who should be the Heisman Trophy favorite. We have our own little Heisman poll put together every week here, so you can get a sense where some of is are on this subject. But the subject on who should be considered for the Heisman Trophy is already a popular subject.
Kyle Kensing of CFB Huddle was one of many this past week to bring Alabama’s Jonathan Allen into the conversation. He was most certainly not alone. Michigan’s Jabrill Peppers is another popular sparkplug for outside-the-box thinking when it comes to the Heisman Trophy.
The Heisman Trophy should go to the best player in college football, but the problem is that everybody has a different definition of what the best player is. The quarterback is the most important position in college football, which is probably part of the reason so much emphasis has been placed on quarterback options like Lamar Jackson, Deshaun Watson and even Jake Browning of late. But sometimes the best players don’t play quarterback, or running back. That’s why I am starting to lean toward a player like Peppers, who has shown he is incredibly effective on the football field at a variety of positions.
There is no clear answer to this debate, but no matter how many people write stories about how the voters should handle the award, it is ultimately up to those voters to decide and think for themselves. And voters can be tough to sway sometimes. That’s why Louisville’s Jackson may still be the favorite and eventual winner.
Boxscore of the Week: James Madison 84, Rhode Island 7
This week, our boxscore of infamy can be found in the Colonial Athletic Association. We had quite the mismatch here between a high-powered James Madison and one of the worst FCS teams in the land, Rhode Island. They could have called this one after one quarter as the Dukes scored at least three touchdowns in each of the first threre quarters.
The 84 points scored by JMU set a new homecoming record for the program. The home team racked up 31 first downs, 319 rushing yards and allowed just 109 yards of offense to Rhode Island. Not surprisingly, JMU QB Schor Garners took home the CAA Offensive Player of the Week award after going 21-for-22 for 309 yards and five touchdowns.
Group of Five Situation: Western Michigan ready to row to New Years Six?
With Boise State going down on the road against Wyoming Saturday night, thanks to a game-winning safety of all things, the Broncos took a big hit in the New Years Six race. Like Houston, Boise State now faces the possibility of not even being able to play for a conference championship this season, which eliminates them entirely from the New Years Six conversation.
Wyoming is the only undefeated team in the Mountain Division, staying one game ahead of the Broncos and owning that crucial head-to-head tiebreaker. Craig Bohl is getting the job done in Laramie and could be sending Wyoming to the MWC Championship Game. Boise State falls to third in the pecking order in its own conference now, behind Wyoming and San Diego State.
So with Boise State done, all eyes shift to the last undefeated team in the Group of Five, Western Michigan. These Broncos may not have the incredibly difficult strength of schedule argument, but with all other contenders falling at some point, they are the obvious pick. And they are not here by default either. Western Michigan has been destroying its competition and leaving no doubt they belong in the conversation and will probably end up in the Cotton Bowl, which would be wild.
The potential pitfall for Western Michigan is a regular season finale against Toledo. Toledo just lost a game to Ohio over the weekend, but the Rockets are the team best suited to give Western Michigan a run this season. If Toledo can’t do it, nobody probably will.
Checking in on the American Athletic Conference, Navy is still in the mix but now has two losses. The Temple Owls are currently the favorite to host the AAC Championship Game too, as long as they can keep their slight lead on South Florida. Whatever happens, every Group of Five conference champion is going to have a minimum of one loss. If Western Michigan has none, that sweet bowl bid is theirs.
My Top Four
If the College Football Playoff started today, here is who I would have in:
The College Football Playoff doesn’t start today. Here is how I am currently projecting the top four to look at the end of the season:
- Ohio State
Next in line? Michigan and Louisville.
The first official rankings from the College Football Playoff selection committee will be released this week. A word of caution that these rankings mean absolutely nothing. This is all for show, literally.
The committee wants you to believe they start from scratch each week they put these meaningless rankings together. If that is true, then there is absolutely no need to get overworked about whatever rankings they unveil on TV, because there is only one ranking that matters from this bunch. That is the last one they will release at the end of the season. So relax when they say your team is too low or this team is too high, because it doesn’t matter.
Mailbag: Is Les Miles the clear answer for Purdue?
— Joe Dexter (@BuckeyeRadio) October 30, 2016
If you are the Purdue Boilermakers, you are in need of a coach that can do two things right off the bat. Your next coach must be able to bring a renewed energy and enthusiasm to the program, fans and alumni. That is essential. The new coach must also immediately bring a heightened level of respect to your program.
Now that Les Miles has a new agent on board to help him land a job in 2017, Purdue should be all in on the former LSU coach, right?
Well, maybe. I have a few coaches I would probably call first before entertaining the idea of bringing Miles to Purdue and the Big Ten, as much as I would love to see Miles in the conference. Personally, I think Purdue should be looking to go with a younger coach who is ready to take the next step up. That would make Western Michigan head coach P.J. Fleck the top coach on my call list in West Lafayette. The whole Row The Boat mentality is not one that will work at a number of schools likely to be on the market, but I think it could work at Purdue.
But this is Purdue, and they probably feel burned already by taking a chance on a hot MAC coach with relatively limited experience as a head coach at the FBS level. But Fleck is not Darrell Hazell. There is something unique about Fleck that would be able to breathe new life into a stale football program in a way few could imagine.
I imagine Miles will have a job somewhere, though!
Submit your questions in the comment section below and I’ll attempt to satisfy you with my answer in next week’s column, or send you into a fit of rage. You can also tweet your questions to me on Twitter (@KevinOnCFB).