Upon Further Review

Mike Zierath, Staff Reporter
Hawkeye Report

Hard to believe, but we are 1/2 way through the season. It’s going by much too quickly.

The one thing this allows us to do, however, is analyze where teams are and who is in the race and who isn’t. In other words, things are starting to clear up a little. But, guys (and gals), make no mistake, there is still a long way to go and just when you think you have it figured out, it will change!

The ACC is really beginning to shape up. Clemson and North Carolina State are clearly the two best teams in the Atlantic Division. It’s a far cry from where I thought that side of the conference would go, but not overly surprising that we have one team that has become a perennial favorite. They are, after all, the defending National Champions. The Wolfpack, on the other hand, is one of those teams that has kind of snuck up on me. They probably shouldn’t have. They returned a nucleus of players that most teams would have been proud of. They are just one of those schools that you don’t often anticipate being in the conversation, so that group of guys were overlooked. That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it. They play each other in three weeks. NC State has a date with Notre Dame in two. It will sort itself out.

In the Coastal, there are four teams that could still win that side of the division. Virginia, Virginia Tech, Miami and Georgia Tech are all in play. If I had to put two teams at the top, I’d have to say Miami and Virginia Tech are the best candidates to come out on top based on what I’ve seen from them so far. Miami is built for the long haul and may still be a year away. Virginia Tech is built for now. They also play each other four weeks, so, after that first week in November, we are going to know a ton more about these two than we do now!

Since FSU is out of the preseason picture I painted entirely, I will shuffle the deck a bit and say that Clemson and Virginia Tech will square off again in the ACC Championship.

The Big 12 got hit square in the nose this past weekend! Who would have ever thought that Iowa State could go to Norman, with a back-up quarterback, and beat the Oklahoma Sooners? Not me. Not you. Not any Oklahoma fan and only the most deranged of ISU fans (which is most of them) would have thought that as well. Oklahoma was, after all, 73-5-1 all-time versus ISU. That’s reason enough for me! Seriously, 73-5-1……….that’s just crazy. Yet, they still managed to lose that game. Maybe good old Baker Mayfield ought to worry more about his on the field performance than his twitter account or planting flags at mid-field.

The Sooner loss puts TCU squarely at the top, controlling their own destiny. Really, that’s what every team does, right up till the time they lose, isn’t it? And then even after a loss, they are still trying to steer their way back into contention, which is a form of destiny control, right? Win, as Adrian used to tell Rocky. TCU’s schedule, and the fact that Gary Patterson has them playing his punishing style of defense, bodes well for the Horned Frogs. Kenny “Thrill” Hill is doing enough offensively to keep them undefeated.

There’s one other team that has actually looked good, and that is the Texas Tech Red Raiders, who have my hot seat no-brainer, Kliff Kingsbury as their head coach. Yes, I realize they are 4-1. Yes, I know they are playing something that resembles defense. I know I had him flapping in the wind long ago. Mark my words.........you can all remind me if I’m wrong, the tough part of the Texas Tech schedule is looming. They could conceivably lose 6 of the next 7. I hope so cause I hate being wrong. Isn’t looking good for me though. They are better than everyone is giving them credit for and are led by a transfer from Iowa.

I have no freaking idea who comes out of this. I’m going to say TCU and Okie State battle it out at the end of the season in what will be a much anticipated rematch.

Big Ten East got one team closer to reality last weekend when OSU throttled Maryland. Michigan State beating Coach Khaki pants muddied the waters quite a bit. Probably down to a 3 team race in the near term. We’ll know how good Penn State is after their next three games vs Michigan, OSU and MSU, which is a brutal stretch! Michigan State, by virtue of their record the next three weeks, will likely still be in the picture. OSU has a gauntlet of their own the next 4 weeks.

In the West, Wisconsin seems to have grabbed the bull by the horns. Maybe that was the Huskers by their ears………….I don’t know. Still a lot of football to be played, but the Badgers definitely have taken a seat behind the wheel, again.

At the half way point, just from what I’ve seen, I think the Big Ten Championship will come down to Wisconsin and only God knows (maybe the Pope) who comes out of the East alive!

In the Pac-12 North, the battle for the Apple cup is shaping up nicely. Washington and Washington State are both undefeated and tied for the top spot. If they can somehow manage to get to the end of the season unscathed, I might go! Okay, I won’t, but I will watch it on TV.

In the South, USC and Utah are going to battle this weekend. The winner of that game, should be the clear front runner for the conference championship. I said that USC would be my CFP pick from the Pac-12 this year. Because of that, I think they win on Saturday.

The Pac-12 Championship will come down to USC and the winner of the Apple Cup. Should be a good one.

The SEC is no longer a one trick pony. Now, it’s a two-headed horse! Alabama is still the clear leader in the West. Georgia is the team in the East. This is going to be a great game when these two meet in the Championship, since they don’t meet in the regular season. There will be a couple very meaningful games played prior to that though. Alabama vs Auburn in the Iron Bowl and The World’s largest cocktail party when Georgia and Florida hook up.

Still think Alabama comes out on top, but we’ll see.

Four more undefeated teams were beaten last weekend. That total is now just 13 total FBS teams have an unblemished mark.

As I’ve made clear, I’m a proponent of playoff expansion. Earlier this week, a coach who I admire and respect came out with a statement about playoff expansion as well. His reasoning was sound and comparison was simple.

High School football does it in every state in the country. They make it work.

Division III has a playoff and it has worked tremendously well for all parties.

The FCS schools have also had a playoff for years, and you don’t hear them crying.

The NFL has their playoff format and it turns on more tv’s than you can shake a stick at. For crying out loud, including March Madness, the one sporting event every single year that draws the most viewers? The Super Bowl ya ding dong!

Isn’t it time that the FBS draw from the experience of every other level of football played across these United States and do something about expanding sooner, rather than later. It’s going to happen.

There will be people that will say it will take away from the bowls. The bowls? The concept where we saw bowl games added at such a fevered pace that it really made most of the smaller venues incredibly irrelevant before the games were even played? The bowls that were forced to take teams that weren’t even bowl eligible because there were so many bowls that it’s nearly impossible to have that many bowl eligible teams? It’s out of control and archaic at best. We should be eliminating many of these bowls and utilizing the bigger bowls as playoff host sites. That will turn on some TV’s and generate ad revenue up the Wazzu. Ask Mike Leach what he thinks……………

My trip home was everything I wanted it to be. Saw lifelong friends, made some new ones, saw a great game, had great seats and got to participate in the wave. I don’t convey my thoughts with words as well as Torbee, but he isn’t wrong when he said the Marching Bands choice of music sucks, but the hand formation waving at the kids was cool. Seriously, they’ve done those Beatles songs for at least 28 years, cause that’s how long I’ve been attending games at Kinnick. It’s old. It’s tired. They seriously need to come up with a little creativity in song choices. I guess that would require someone to work a little harder at band direction though.

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