Week 9 Takeaways: Three biggest things we learned from the week
Of course, coach Jim McElwain’s program didn’t officially sew up the division on Saturday. It still needs to beat either Vanderbilt next week or South Carolina the following week (or have the Commodores lose one conference game) to win the East. But the Gators’ only loss this season has come on the road against a still-unbeaten LSU team. Given the way Florida is playing, it’s safe to assume it can beat one of either the Commodores or Gamecocks.
After the game Fox Sports rules analyst Mike Pereira took to Twitter to offer his take on the finish. Pereira believed a Miami player’s knee appeared to be down before a lateral. Officials also used review to pick up a flag on a block in the back, but that situation isn’t reviewable, according to Pereira. “In the end,” he tweeted, “the ACC has some explaining to do to Duke and to others.”
3. The Pac-12 remains in the hunt for a playoff berth but faces an uphill battle
The Pac-12 entered Week 9 on the outside looking in for a spot in the playoff. After all, it was the only Power Five league without an unbeaten team. The conference maintained the status quo on Saturday, which is good news for its playoff hopes. But it’s still hardly a guarantee that the Pac-12 is represented in the bracket.
Utah, the current leader in the Pac-12 South, moved to 7-1 after a 27-12 win over Oregon State. Meanwhile, Stanford barely escaped Washington State with a 30-28 win after the Cougars missed a 43-yard field goal as time expired. That close win pushed its own record 7-1, as well. Assuming the selection committee shies away from two-loss teams, the Cardinal and the Utes are still the best-positioned Pac-12 programs to slide into the playoff bracket.
What’s unclear is how the committee would view either squad as a Pac-12 champion. The Utes have a strong nonconference win over Michigan, but they also boast a 42-24 setback against a three-loss USC team. Meanwhile, Stanford’s season-opening 16-6 loss to Northwestern remains a black mark on an otherwise impressive résumé. Even with a Pac-12 title in hand, both programs might have to wish for a few more one-loss Power Five champs. Otherwise it’s entirely possible the conference misses out on playing for the national championship.