Coachless Wolverines Reclaim #1 in Top 25

Sorry, Jim Harbaugh.  Your Michigan Wolverines football team really doesn’t need you.  After beating arch-rival Ohio State 30-24 on Saturday without its head coach on the field, Michigan reclaimed the #1 ranking in the College Football Top 25 for the week ending November 25, 2023.

The Michigan head football coach earns about $8.25 million per year.

Jim Harbaugh was suspended for the Wolverines’ first three games in 2023 by the University for recruiting violations.  A few weeks ago, he was suspended by the Big Ten Conference for the final three games of the team’s regular season, too.

That makes Michigan 6-0 without its head coach and 6-0 when Coach Harbaugh is along the team’s sideline.

In my book, Harbaugh should offer to repay the University of Michigan more than $4 million for being a home spectator for half of the team’s football games this year.

Then there’s the situation in Columbus with Ohio State head football coach Ryan Day.  He is now 56-7 as the Buckeyes leader.  When you lose three straight games to your school’s biggest football enemy, the head coach will receive the brunt of the criticism afterward.

Can you imagine the heat that Ohio State’s coach is taking this week after losing to Michigan – without the Wolverines’ head coach on the sideline?

Ryan Day (who looks – to me – a lot like Popeye’s nemesis, Bluto) probably feels like someone on the receiving end of that cartoon sailor man’s spinach-fueled thrashing after going back to Columbus with Ohio State’s third straight loss to Michigan.

St. Nick (Saban) celebrates Christmas early in the Plains!

The heavily-favored Alabama Crimson Tide was down by four points with less than a minute to go in their annual grudge match called “The Iron Bowl” against intrastate rival Auburn.  With more than 85,000 Auburn fans screaming support for their home team, visiting Alabama found itself in a nearly impossible 4th down and 31 yards situation on the Auburn 31 yard line.

Facing a four point deficit, kicking a field goal wasn’t an option.  It was touchdown or bust for Bama.  If they should lose to Auburn, the Tide would have two losses on the season and be out of the running for a spot in the College Football Playoffs.

Fourth and 31 yards to go also meant a 0.1% statistical chance of converting the final play into a touchdown.

Inexplicably, Auburn rushed just two players on defense and sent nine men into a protective zone defensive coverage.  That gave Alabama quarterback Jalen Milroe nearly ten seconds to stand around and select an open receiver.  He eventually spotted Isaiah Bond in the corner of the end zone for the winning touchdown and miraculous 27-24 victory over Auburn.

With the win, 11-1 Alabama retains a chance to capture the SEC Championship this Saturday by taking down 12-0 Georgia.  The game will be at 3PM Central time on CBS.

Auburn (now 6-6) has played inconsistently from game to game all season.  However, Auburn head coach Hugh Freeze has done a solid job in his first season.  This team is trending in a positive direction.

Speaking of Christmas presents, here’s one for James Madison and Jacksonville State!

Two weeks ago, the 11-1 James Madison Dukes of the Sunbelt Conference were denied their second appeal to the NCAA to play in the post-season.  That decision stemmed from a dated NCAA rule which kept teams which have moved up into the FBS level out of any post-season games for their first two years in the upper division.

The NCAA (in its infinite wisdom) has approved a total of 41 bowl games to be played.  Those games require 82 teams – hopefully with a record of 6-6 or better.

This season, the NCAA only had 79 qualified teams to play in the 82 available bowl slots this year!

With the shortage of 6-6 teams, the NCAA Grinch has reversed course and will allow the James Madison Dukes to participate in a post-season bowl next month.

Did you know that there was another team which has been dealing with the same archaic NCAA curse?

The Jacksonville State (Alabama) Gamecocks of Conference USA are 8-4 in their second season at the NCAA’s FBS upper division level.  Just like James Madison, Jacksonville State is now available for a post-season bowl in December, too.

The Mighty Sunbelt Conference has 12 bowl eligible teams!

Yes, you read that right.

The Sunbelt Conference is so evenly balanced that 12 of its 14 teams are sporting a record of 6-6 or better.  That makes a dozen teams available to go bowling in December.  Only Southern Miss (3-9) and UL-Monroe (2-10) are sure to be home for the holidays.

There are seven (correct) 6-6 football teams in the Sunbelt Conference in 2023.  Alphabetically, Arkansas State joins Georgia Southern, Georgia State, Louisiana’s Ragin’ Cajuns, Marshall, Old Dominion, and South Alabama with a .500 record after the final regular season weekend.

They will join 11-1 (but still ineligible for the Sunbelt Conference championship) James Madison, 10-2 Troy, 8-4 Appalachian State, 7-5 Coastal Carolina, and 7-5 Texas State as bowl eligible teams.

App State will visit Troy this Saturday for the league championship (3PM on ESPN).

Give me 12-0 Liberty! 

The undefeated Liberty Flames are the biggest underdog left among the five remaining unbeaten teams.  The Flames want to cap a perfect season with a victory in the Conference USA title game this Friday.

Their opponent will be the flaming-hot New Mexico State Aggies (10-3).  These OTHER Aggies have won their last eight games – including a win a 31-10 victory at Auburn two weeks ago (How about that, Bama?).

New Mexico State will visit Liberty in Lynchburg, Virginia on Friday night for the C-USA league championship.  This game should be a dandy!  If you have the CBS Sports Network in your market, the game will kick-off at 6PM (Central) this Friday night.

It’s time to unveil the College Football Top 25 teams for the week ending November 25, 2023: