NCAA

Penn State ranked 12th in first College Football Playoff rankings

Penn State ranked 12th in first College Football Playoff rankings

After knocking off then-No. 2 Ohio State and steamrolling Purdue, Penn State is 12th in the season's first College Football Playoff rankings.

Texas A&M was ranked fourth behind Alabama, Clemson and Michigan.

The Aggies (7-1) surprisingly were a spot ahead of unbeaten Washington on Tuesday in the first of six selection committee rankings. The Crimson Tide (8-0), Tigers (8-0), Wolverines (8-0) and Huskies (8-0) are the only remaining undefeated teams from Power Five conferences and hold the top four spots in the latest Associated Press poll .

The 12-person committee, however, gave a nod to Texas A&M's strength of schedule.

Ohio State was sixth and Louisville was seventh.

In the first two seasons of the College Football Playoff, only one team each season made the committee's initial top four and the final four.

The final rankings will be released Dec. 4, with the top four teams moving on to the College Football Playoff semifinals on Dec. 31 at the Fiesta and Peach bowls.

A look at what matters in the rankings and what they mean moving forward:

Don’t panic, Huskies
Selection committee chairman Kirby Hocutt, Texas Tech's athletic director who is now in the role that Arkansas AD Jeff Long held the firsts two seasons of the CFP, made it very clear that Texas A&M's four victories against teams with winning records (Auburn, Arkansas, Tennessee and South Carolina -- though it should be noted the Gamecocks are 4-4) provided the margin over Washington. The Huskies have two such victories.

"We had a lengthy discussion on the spot," Hocutt said. "Washington is a well-balanced team and they had a good win on the road against Utah. But in the committee's mind Texas A&M has played a stronger schedule."

The good news is there is room for the Huskies to grow. Washington still has USC and Washington State on its schedule and a possible Pac-12 championship game, which could be against Utah (16th in the committee's rankings), Colorado (15th) or USC, which would need a strong finish to get there. A big stretch run by Stanford would also help the Huskies.

Oregon being terrible is hurting the Huskies, who are getting little credit for pounding the Ducks. Another reason for Washington fans to hate Oregon.

Most important is this: The Huskies control their path to a Pac-12 championship and Texas A&M does not. The Aggies will need Alabama to lose at least a couple of times to reach the Southeastern Conference championship game.

The committee is told when considering similar teams to weigh conference championships like a tiebreaker.

If Washington wins out, the Huskies should be fine to get into the top four. If they win the Pac-12 but lose once along the way, it could get a little dicey for the Huskies when matched against an 11-1 A&M team that has lost only to Alabama.

A prediction: If it comes down to Pac-12 champion Washington at 12-1 and Texas A&M at 11-1, the Huskies will get that spot. Now if Alabama were to be the team 11-1 instead of A&M that would be a different story.

Cardinals maybe should panic
Louisville will need two losses from Clemson to have a chance to win the Atlantic Coast Conference championship. Because that is probably not happening, the Cardinals are hoping to be impressive enough to get into the top four without a conference title.

The first rankings do not look promising for the Cardinals.

Hocutt again cited strength of schedule when talking about Louisville. The Cardinals only victory against a winning team was against Florida State. That was a 63-20 win that very well might rate as the best singular performance by any team this season. The Cardinals next most notable game was a close loss at Clemson.

Want to call out the committee? Michigan at No. 3 is benefiting from home victories against eighth-ranked Wisconsin, Colorado and Penn State, No. 12 thanks to the upset of Ohio State. However, using the Sagarin Computer ratings, Michigan's strength of schedule is 49th in the nation. Louisville's is 52nd. Washington is 69th.

The Cardinals have games remaining against Wake Forest, Houston and Kentucky, all winning teams but none ranked.

The takeaway for Louisville: The Cardinals will need a ton of help to get in the playoff.

Margin of victory
Hocutt pointed out the committee does not look at margin of victory, which is sort of ridiculous.

The conference commissioners who set up the playoff protocol get hung up on the idea of not encouraging teams to run up the score, so there is no margin of victory metric. But there is no way the committee can evaluate teams properly while looking only at a W or L and not the final score.

Group of five
Unbeaten Western Michigan at No. 23 is the highest ranked team from the Group of Five, just ahead of Boise State at 24. The Broncos probably can't afford even one loss, but if they can make a perfect run to a Mid-American Conference title, a Cotton Bowl bid likely awaits.

Temple-UConn observations: Despite valiant effort from Marchi, Owls lose 1st homecoming game since 2008

Temple-UConn observations: Despite valiant effort from Marchi, Owls lose 1st homecoming game since 2008

BOX SCORE

That’s why football is a week-to-week game. Forget about momentum.

Temple found that out the hard way. After coming alive in a big road win over East Carolina last week, the Owls were humbled when a fourth-quarter rally fell short Saturday in a 28-24 homecoming loss to Connecticut at Lincoln Financial Field.

The Owls had one final shot at the victory with a drive in the final minute, but a Logan Marchi heave to the end zone was broken up.

The loss dropped Temple back under .500 at 3-4 (1-3 American Athletic Conference). UConn moved to 2-5 (2-2) with the victory.

• Say what you want about Temple quarterback Marchi (and you surely will after this game), but the guy is a fighter. Whether things are going his way or not, he continues to try to search for his receivers and attempt to squeeze the ball into those windows on the field. He made it two consecutive games with 300-plus yards passing as he was 33 of 54 for 356 yards with one touchdown and one interception Saturday.

• The game marked Temple’s first homecoming loss in nearly a decade. TU hadn’t suffered a homecoming defeat since a 7-3 loss to Western Michigan on Sept. 27, 2008. On that day, former Eagles DB Jaiquawn Jarrett was beaten in coverage on a double move in the third quarter for the game’s lone touchdown. Coming into Saturday, the Owls had won eight straight homecoming matchups by an average margin of 19.3 points.

• There was a rare sighting for Temple at the Linc: a rushing touchdown from a tailback. In fact, there were two. David Hood, who became the first Owls tailback to score on a run this season in last week’s rout of East Carolina, punched it in from one yard out to open the scoring in the first quarter. Ryquell Armstead weaved his way into the end zone for a 10-yard TD on the first play of the fourth quarter.

• Delvon Randall is simply a playmaker. The Owls’ leading tackler, Randall added another five stops in Saturday’s win. The junior DB also made a beautiful play along the sideline in the first quarter when he undercut an out route for an interception. It marked Randall’s third straight game with a pick. The Owls only have four interceptions this season and Randall has three of them.

• My colleague Greg Paone touched on college football’s targeting rule a couple of weeks ago (see story)We agree on pretty much all of the nuts and bolts of the rule. I’m glad it’s in place to protect players from violent and unnecessary hits. However, the more I see it called each week — and it seems like there is at least one in every game now — the more I’m starting to dislike the implementation. Temple defensive lineman Sharif Finch was ejected for targeting on Saturday when he went high on Huskies quarterback Bryant Shirreffs on a third-quarter touchdown pass. Shirreffs sold the hit by jerking his head back as he fell to the ground, but it was definitely worthy of a penalty. Was it a late hit? Yes. A bone-headed hit? Absolutely. But one worthy of Temple losing a top defensive player for the remainder of the game? I don’t think so.

• Speaking of Shirreffs, it’s easy to see why the Huskies have the best passing offense in the AAC. He didn’t show it with yardage in this tilt (just 105), but he was able to connect on three touchdowns through the air. He also added 39 yards on the ground, including a key run up the middle late in the fourth quarter.

• The Owls simply aren’t a good enough team to overcome 12 penalties for 117 yards.

• Like any other major college football game around the country, Saturday’s matchup at the Linc had scouts from NFL teams listed to attend. Of course, the Eagles were listed for several scouts in their home stadium. While the Miami Dolphins, Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers were also among those expected to have representatives at the game, there was only one other team labeled for more than one scout besides the Eagles — the New York Giants. At 0-5, they can certainly use all the help they can get right now.

• Temple will look to rebound when the Owls travel to play their final non-conference opponent in Army at 12 p.m. next Saturday.

Temple eyes streak, Penn looks to dethrone Columbia, Villanova on the road

usa-logan-marchi-temple.jpg
USA Today Images

Temple eyes streak, Penn looks to dethrone Columbia, Villanova on the road

Temple (3-3, 1-2 American) vs. UConn (1-4, 0-3 American)
Lincoln Financial Field, ESPNews
Noon Saturday

Last time out
Temple beat East Carolina, 34-10, last Saturday.

UConn lost to Memphis, 70-31, last Saturday.

Scouting report
Last week, quarterback Logan Marchi finally got on track with his first 300-yard game of the season against East Carolina. This week, the redshirt sophomore will face UConn, the team he initially committed to in high school under former coach Paul Pasqualoni. Marchi was then denied after a coaching change was made. The Huskies have the worst passing defense in the AAC, giving up 399.8 passing yards per game, and have allowed 19 touchdowns through the air in 2017. If Marchi can play well for a second week in a row, look for Temple’s offense to put up some points. 

Another matchup to look at is UConn’s passing attack against Temple’s defense. The Huskies’ boast the best passing offense in terms of yards in the AAC, averaging 325.8 yards per game, but have only scored nine touchdowns this year. Temple, on the other hand, allows the eighth-most passing yards in the conference (253 yards per game), but is ranked fourth in the conference in scoring defense, allowing 26 points per game. Connecticut must convert drives into touchdowns against this Owls defense if it wants to compete.

What it means
Temple’s hopes to reach the AAC championship game might not be realistic anymore but its bowl hopes are still alive. A win against UConn would put the Owls just two victories away from becoming bowl-eligible, which after their start would be good for Owl fans.

Series history
Temple holds the 12-5 series advantage over Connecticut, and is currently on a three-game win streak.

What’s next?
Temple travels to Army.

UConn hosts Tulsa. 

Penn (2-2, 0-1 Ivy) at Columbia (4-0, 1-0 Ivy)
Robert K. Kraft Field at Lawrence A. Wien Stadium
1:30 p.m. Saturday


Last time out
Penn lost at Central Connecticut State, 42-21, Saturday.

Columbia defeated Marist, 41-17, Saturday.

Scouting report
Penn’s strength is its rushing attack. They rank second in the Ivy League averaging 204 yards per game on the ground. Karekin Brooks has 543 yards rushing and five touchdowns so far this season. Getting the ground game going will be key for the Quakers this week.

Columbia defense has been strong so far this season. The Lions rank second in the Ivy League in total defense only allowing 316 yards per game and are third in the Ivy in pass defense. The Lions allow 194.8 yards per game through the air.

Series history
This is the 96th meeting between the teams. The Quakers hold a 73-21-1 advantage and have won the last 19 editions.

What’s next?
Penn hosts Yale.

Columbia is at Dartmouth.

Villanova (4-2, 2-1 CAA) at James Madison (5-0, 2-0 CAA)
Bridgeforth Stadium
6 p.m. Saturday


Last time out

Villanova defeated Maine, 31-0, Saturday.

James Madison beat Delaware, 20-10, Saturday.

Scouting report
Villanova has allowed just 1.6 yards per carry and 52 rushing yards per game this season. The Wildcats boast a strong scoring defense as well, the best in the Colonial allowing only nine points per game.

James Madison boasts the second-best rushing offense in the CAA averaging 223 yards per game and is second in scoring defense. The Dukes allow just 10 points per game to opposing offenses. Look for this game to be defensive showdown.

Series history
This is the 26th meeting between the teams. James Madison leads the series 14-11 and won 20-7 last season.

What’s next?
Villanova hosts Elon next Saturday.

James Madison travels to William & Mary next Saturday.