Synan Says: The Real Top 25 in College Football

Bowdell Haggins at FSU?

The crowd roared its approval as Florida State became bowl eligible Saturday with an expected romp over Alabama State– and the chants are growing louder, especially from current players, to hire interim Head Coach Odell Haggins.

Some fans and boosters, including the Noles 24/7 website, have taken to calling the interim coach “Bowdell Haggins” for his propensity for leading Florida State out of a coaching change and into a bowl game.

“It means the world,” said Haggins about going to a bowl game. “That s the expectation at Florida State every year.

“We won’t be in a New Year’s Bowl, but we are going bowling,” he added. “That is something we can build on as a university.”

The question now is should they keep riding this train now that Bob Stoops won’t be taking the job? Haggins has been a mainstay in Tallahassee for 26 years. He has also worked as the chief recruiter and clearly knows what this program should be inside and out.

Still, there are some questions. Other than his interim stint after Jimbo Fisher left, he has never been a head coach. At age 52, is this the right time? Is the job too big for Haggins? He has never worked anywhere else in college football except Tallahassee. Haggins played for Florida State before heading to the NFL. He then returned to Tallahassee to get his degree and joined Coach Bobby Bowden’s staff. Do the Noles want someone with more connections to the outside world? This much I can say for sure as a Clemson grad. If you get the right guy, promoting the interim coach to the full-time spot can be the right decision. One thing could make it much easier: upset rival Florida in two weeks and fans will be clamoring to keep “Bowdell.”

Everyone is predictably all over Alabama Coach Nick Saban for leaving star QB Tua Tagovailoa in the game with Alabama leading Mississippi State 35-7. I am not about to pile on the greatest coach in the history of the sport. He explained that he simply doesn’t worry about injuries–and he is right to coach that way.  The teams that worry about getting guys hurt are the teams that get guys hurt. Who plays their star QB with a 35-3 lead? Clemson. Trevor Lawrence came out of the tunnel for the start of the second half to lead his team on a touchdown drive with Clemson already leading Wake Forest 35-3. When Clemson scored, Lawrence was done for the day. Tua was still playing at the end of the first half. Rarely do you see a team pull their healthy starter in the first half no matter the score.

Don’t count out two losers from last week just yet. Baylor and Minnesota could still run the table and make a compelling argument as to why they should be in the playoffs as a top-four team. Baylor still has Texas and a possible rematch with Oklahoma. How could you not give Minnesota the nod if they close the season by beating Wisconsin and knocking off an undefeated Ohio State in the Big 10 Championship?

Top 25 for the Week Beginning November 17

1. LSU (10-0) Ole Miss proved you can gash them with the run.

2. Ohio State (10-0) They were 52 point road favorites at Rutgers. That’s simply too much and the Buckeyes did not cover.

3. Clemson (11-0) 11 wins and no team has gained 300 yards on them. Wake Forest got just 105.

4. Alabama (9-1) I realize there are no signature wins but they have routed everyone except their loss to the number one team in the nation.

5. Oregon (9-1) After two close ones versus Washington and Washington State, have routed their last two opponents.

6. Georgia (9-1) Auburn win is a big notch in their belt but I can’t get over the home loss to South Carolina.

7. Minnesota (9-1) Only loss by 4 on the road at a ranked team. Still has win over Penn State.

8. Penn State (9-1) Can still win Big 10 East and could knock Ohio State out of contention Saturday.

9. Oklahoma (9-1) Squarely in the playoff hunt.

10. Utah (9-1) They just don’t have the same level of wins as the teams above them.

11. Florida (9-2) Held Missouri to 6 points in Columbia. They average 40 there.

12. Baylor (9-1) Really needed a signature win and the second half collapse was stunning.

13. Wisconsin (8-2) Loss to Illinois looks better each week.

14. Michigan (8-2) Shea Patterson finally looks like the QB that threw all over the SEC at Ole Miss.

15. Memphis (9-1) It’s the loss to Temple. The Owls keep getting worse.

16. Auburn (7-3) Only losses are to top teams and beat Oregon.

17. Appalachian State (9-1) Beat both UNC and South Carolina on the road.

18. SMU (9-1) TCU win looks better, but they have to outgun teams because the defense is not good.

19. Boise State (9-1) Finish with road tests at Utah State and Colorado State.

20. Notre Dame (8-2) Would be favored against the three teams ahead of them but stumble against good teams. Their best win is Southern Cal by just 3 points or Navy in a rout.

21. Cincinnati (9-1) Dropping them after watching them almost lose two weeks in a row against vastly inferior teams.

22. Iowa (7-3) Have wins over Minnesota and Iowa State, losses are Michigan, Wisconsin and Penn State.

23. Texas A&M (7-3) Georgia and LSU are left. They win both and would be near the top 10.

24. Oklahoma State (7-3) Hard to get a read on this up and down team except Chuba Howard is really good.

25. San Diego State (8-2) Was impressed watching them beat Fresno Friday night.

 

Reach Mike Synan at mike.synan@floridadaily.com.

 

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