It has been bang-on a half-century since so many unbeatens have peppered the NCAA football landscape.
That’s with at least seven teams balling without a loss through 11 weeks.
Back in 1973, it was a great eight — the No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide (9-0), No. 2 Oklahoma Sooners (8-0-1), No. 3 Ohio State Buckeyes (9-0), No. 4 Michigan Wolverines (10-0), No. 5 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (8-0), No. 6 Penn State Nittany Lions (10-0), No. 7 LSU Tigers (9-0) and No. 15 Miami (Ohio) Redhawks (10-0) — running with such enviable records.
And since then, the college pigskin ranks haven’t had quite that perfect-ish power shared by so many programs.
We’ve got seven unbeatens through Week 11 in 2023.
They are the No. 1 Georgia Bulldogs (10-0) leapfrogging No. 2 Ohio State (10-0) in the latest College Football Playoff Rankings at the head of the class, followed by No. 3 Michigan (10-0), No. 4 Florida State Seminoles (10-0) and No. 5 Washington Huskies (10-0) to round out the all-Power Five top five and two Group of Five sides in James Madison (10-0) and Liberty (10-0).
That’s a lot of zeroes in the loss column so far into the season.
And with one of Ohio State and Michigan certainly dropping from the ranks of the unbeatens when they square off in ‘The Game’ in Week 13, the CFP committee’s task of determining a final four for the last time might be made easy with four perfect Power Five programs in place by early December.
That makes for some kind of symmetry setting up the final final-four playoff after a milestone 50 years have passed since we’ve last seen at least seven unbeatens fire so deep into the schedule.
It’s just too bad Notre Dame isn’t in the 2023 picture after being crowned national champions in 1973.
A reprise of that championship would be fantastic symmetry.
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The CFP committee continues its snub of the Group of Five, leaving both James Madison and Liberty — despite their 10-0 marks — out of its top 25 … Washington is off to its best start since 1991 and it has been done facing the usual gauntlet of Pac-12 teams, which many believe has been heightened this season. Whatever the case, the final two games offer no relief — against No. 11 Oregon State (8-2) this Saturday (7:30 p.m. ET, ABC) and versus in-state rival Washington State at home in the Apple Cup seven days later … FYI: Oregon State goes into that Pac-12 fight 17-1 at home against the spread during the past three years, which doesn’t bode well for underdog UDub (+2.5) … Three other ranked-vs.-ranked tilts feature: No. 1 Georgia at No. 18 Tennessee (7-3); No. 25 Kansas (7-3) hosting No. 21 Kansas State (7-3); and No 22 Utah (7-3) visiting No. 17 Arizona (7-3) … With three others sporting three losses in the CFP Rankings — No. 15 LSU (7-3), No. 19 Notre Dame (7-3) and No. 23 Oklahoma State (7-3) — surely the committee could’ve dropped a couple out of the eight in favour of unbeatens Jimmy Mad and Liberty. The math just doesn’t work when it’s zero losses versus three, no matter the respective strength of schedules.
Jim Harbaugh and Michigan won’t get their day in court Friday in hopes of having the coach’s three-game ban handed down by the Big Ten negated by a judge. Instead they have chosen to continue on with the penalty assessed for the sign-stealing scandal Thursday. “The conference agreed to close its investigation, and the University and Coach Harbaugh agreed to accept the three-game suspension,” said Michigan in a statement. “Coach Harbaugh, with the University’s support, decided to accept this sanction to return the focus to our student-athletes and their performance on the field.” … Barring a win of the appeal or an on-field win by host Maryland (6-4) in its match with Michigan early Saturday (noon ET, FOX), Harbaugh won’t be on the sideline for the school’s 1,000th football victory. That’s the price you pay for cheating … The Heisman Trophy race continues to be uber fun, with everybody now chasing QB Bo Nix of No. 6 Oregon (9-1). The senior pivot, in what seems like his 10th year of college ball, went 23-of-31 for 412 yards and four TDs in last week’s home in over USC (7-4) to zoom into the frontrunner’s spot for the most outstanding player award. But what about QB Jayden Daniels of LSU, who was the top Heisman hopeful in a Week 11 home drop of rival Florida (5-5)? The senior QB dazzled for 372 passing yards and a wowzer 234 rushing yards for five total TDs in that triumph. Despite becoming the first player in FBS history to toss 300 yards and rush for 200 yards in a single game, Daniels isn’t on track to be in a conference championship contest like Nix — and so it’ll likely come down to the Oregon QB and Washington pivot Michael Penix, who’s still light-years ahead of all throwers with 3,533 passing yards. And we think getting your team to a title tilt should be a huge factor in the Heisman hype … Where’s Michigan QB J.J. McCarthy in all this? He’s 1,200 passing yards behind Penix for starters. And the sign-stealing stuff at his school is going to hurt him with voters. Again, that’s the price you pay for cheating.
So Jimbo Fisher pockets a holy-moly — and record — $76 million for being fired after a job not-so-well done at Texas A&M (6-4). Nice gig if you can get it. A&M athletic director Ross Bjork cited the buyout of Fisher’s final four years on his contract as being tied to A&M “not in the championship conversation and something was not quite right about our direction and the plan.” Fisher leaves after going 26-10 his first three seasons and just 19-15 in the past three, weighed down by a current nine-game road losing skid. The funny thing is A&M smoked visiting Mississippi State 51-10 last weekend before the axe fell … Speaking of which, Mississippi State (4-6) didn’t even wait a season before firing head coach Zach Arnett. He’s gone following the pedestrian start to the year, which includes an ugly 1-6 mark in SEC action. How fair is that since Arnett, who was without starting QB Will Rogers in the past few games, hardly got his feet wet? … FYI: ESPN reports the combined total for Power Five schools owing money to bought-out coaches is a whopping $146 million. Again, nice gigs if you can get them … Maybe these guaranteed contracts for coaches should come with some kind of clause so schools can feel better about laying out big bags of bucks — like half of the buy-out bundle goes to pre-determined charity organizations? Somehow the brain-dead business of handing out ungodly gobs of money for coaches has to stop, doesn’t it? Especially since they’re making it off the blood, sweet and talent of student-athletes — most of whom aren’t seeing any cash despite being the entertainment.
GAME TO WATCH
#5 WASHINGTON @ #11 OREGON STATE (-2.5)
Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET, in Corvallis, Ore., ABC
Buy points if it helps, but UDub’s the better team. Plus we want Pac-12 perfection.
CINCINNATI @ WEST VIRGINIA (-6.5)
Saturday, 2:30 p.m. ET
Morgantown is super tough for road teams, especially for weaklings like Cincy.
PICK: WEST VIRGINIA
(-10) #1 GEORGIA @ #18 TENNESSEE
Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET, CBS
The champs are rolling at the right time and could get big Brock Bowers back.
ILLINOIS @ #16 IOWA (-3)
Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET
Same as last week. Iowa doesn’t lose tight Big Ten slobberknockers at home.
LAST WEEK: 3-1
2023 RECORD: 21-21-2