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Monday, November 18, 2019 8:40 pm

Sinn's AP Blog Week 12

DYLAN SINN | The Journal Gazette

And then there were three. Only three undefeated teams remain in FBS football after surprise party-crashers Minnesota and Baylor lost Saturday against Iowa and Oklahoma, respectively. The last three teams left standing are Clemson, Ohio State and LSU as we enter the final two weeks of the regular season.

They are not the only ones that will likely claim a spot in the College Football Playoff if they win out, however. Among the one-loss teams that still have opportunities to play their way into the top four are Georgia, Oregon, Utah, Penn State, Oklahoma and Minnesota. Yes, the Golden Gophers are still alive even after their crushing loss to the Hawkeyes, which came on the heels of arguably the biggest win for the program in more than 50 years. P.J. Fleck's boat-rowers can still find themselves in the final four if they beat Wisconsin to close out the regular season and take out Ohio State in the Big Ten title game, a tall order to be sure, but not impossible.

That leaves nine teams that can win out and feel relatively confident they'll be in the CFP. In addition, Alabama and Baylor will both be in contention if they win their remaining games, although they will probably need some help from teams in front of them (then again, who knows with Alabama?). That leaves 11 teams still with a realistic shot at making the Playoff, more than usual for this time of year. It's possible that, as in most of the seasons since the CFP was introduced, the top four sort themselves out fairly organically and there doesn't end up being much debate. However, it's also possible we could end up with five or six one-loss teams with decent cases for making the field vying for the three remaining spots behind Clemson. Let the chaos begin!

Here is my AP Poll following Week 12:

1. Clemson (11-0)

2. LSU (10-0)

3. Ohio State (10-0)

4. Georgia (9-1)

5. Oregon (9-1)

6. Alabama (9-1)

7. Utah (9-1)

8. Minnesota (9-1)

9. Penn State (9-1)

10. Oklahoma (9-1)

11. Florida (9-2)

12. Baylor (9-1)

13. Wisconsin (8-2)

14. Michigan (8-2)

15. Notre Dame (8-2)

16. Memphis (9-1)

17. Cincinnati (9-1)

18. Auburn (7-3)

19. Iowa (7-3)

20. Southern Methodist (9-1)

21. Boise State (9-1)

22. Appalachian State (9-1)

23. Indiana (7-3)

24. Texas A&M (7-3)

25. Oklahoma State (7-3)

To see the official AP Poll, go to https://www.collegefootball.ap.org/poll

The best top 25 game of the week was Oklahoma-Baylor and in my opinion it told us much more about the Bears than it did about the Sooners. I had bought in on the Minnesota hype train the week before after the Golden Gophers beat Penn State, but I still hadn't seen enough from Baylor before this week to really believe that it deserved to be ranked among the nation's elite teams. The Bears proved that their 9-0 record coming into the game wasn't a mirage, jumping all over OU with four touchdowns in a 9:24 span to go in front 28-3. And then they couldn't close the deal. Oklahoma's offense turned on the jets in the second half and its defense found a way to slow down the Baylor offensive attack. The result was a 34-31 Sooners win that will ramp up the excitement if the teams face off again in the Big 12 Championship Game, which seems likely. Despite the loss, Baylor showed that it deserved to play with the big boys and it will probably get another shot at the Sooners in just a few weeks. Matt Rhule's team, which was 1-11 just two seasons ago, is for real.

The same can be said for Indiana, which came agonizingly close to beating Penn State in Happy Valley this week. The Hoosiers battled for 60 minutes and didn't back down against an opponent that many expected to roll. These are the types of games – chances to make a statement – that Indiana has been losing for decades. When opportunities like this have come along in recent years, they generally end in a setback for the program. This was the opposite. The Hoosiers like to say they're beyond moral victories at this point, but this is a moral victory if there ever was one. They went on the road against a top 10 team and went blow-for-blow into the final minutes before falling 34-27. If not for a miscommunication that turned a punt into a disastrous fake punt rush attempt (followed by a long rushing touchdown on which the referee provided a generous block), the Hoosiers may well have won. Anyone defaulting to "same old Hoosiers" isn't really paying attention. They have another opportunity this week against a surging Michigan team that might be looking ahead to Ohio State. This one's at Memorial Stadium and I think there is a decent chance that Saturday ends with fans storming the field.

Bold Pick of the Week: Indiana 28, Michigan 21

In that vein, I'm officially choosing the Hoosiers. Michigan has played terrific football since getting bludgeoned by Wisconsin, but the Wolverines are coming off an emotional win over a rival and are gearing up for a clash with the undefeated Buckeyes. Indiana has given Michigan all it can handle several times in recent years and I don't expect this game to be any different. Maybe, just once, the Hoosiers can make the few plays necessary to turn a near-upset into the biggest win for the program in decades.

Last Week: Baylor 27, Oklahoma 23

I wasn't impressed by the Sooners and picked the Bears to pull it out. The Oklahoma comeback was a tough pill to swallow.

Season Record: 2-9

dsinn@jg.net


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