Well, this is it.
I had a chance to go to a Navy football practice last week, and while it’s always a master lesson in energy and efficiency, I can’t tell a good practice from a bad one. I guess I can if the coaches start yelling, but I won’t see what makes them yell unless it’s something obvious like fumbles. There was no yelling last Wednesday, so I suppose it was good enough.
Not that I expected anything different. Navy is a service academy, which gives it a sort of perpetual underdog status. Top 25 teams, on the other hand, are not underdogs. Some people assume that such a role reversal leads to overconfidence and a lack of focus on the part of the underdog that isn’t used to a favorite’s role. These are college kids, so I suppose anything’s possible. I wouldn’t assume that as the default, though. Based on what I saw at practice, the opposite may be true; the lofty ranking could just as easily have given the Mids a renewed sense of urgency.
Columns suggesting that Keenan Reynolds should be considered for the Heisman Trophy started popping up as he approached Montee Ball’s record for career rushing touchdowns. Since he broke the record, they’ve become even more frequent. Navy’s senior quarterback has been receiving attention nationally as well as locally, from a variety of outlets. National media voices like Kirk Herbstreit and Tony Barnhart have mentioned his name as a serious candidate. All of it is deserved.
There is Tuesday Night MACtion tonight with the potential to affect the Group of 5 New Year’s 6 bowl landscape. Otherwise, this post could await the College Football Playoff rankings refresh and could be a lot less speculative. The speculation: How far will Houston (#19 last week) fall? Will Temple replace Memphis as a third AAC team in the committee’s rankings? Will Toledo re-appear, as the Rockets did in the AP poll?
Sometimes I feel like I’m the only person who didn’t want a playoff in college football. It’s not that the games aren’t exciting; I mean, it’s college football! Of course they’re exciting. I’ve just always enjoyed bowl season, and to me, seeing the Rose Bowl go from a season’s grand finale to being a stepping stone is sort of sad. Besides, college football’s regular season has always felt like the ultimate playoff, with so much riding on each game.
That has certainly been the case for Navy this season, as the Mids have climbed higher in the polls than any Navy team has done in 35 years. In terms of conference implications, tomorrow’s game at Tulsa doesn’t really matter; it could affect where the American’s championship game is held, but regardless of the result, the winner of the Navy-Houston game will claim the West division crown. That doesn’t make the game meaningless, though. Far from it; we all want to see how far this thing can go if Navy wins out. And so the stage is set for Tulsa, the Mids’ next conference opponent.
The top-ranked champion of the “Group of Five” or G5 conferences earns a slot in one of the New Year Six bowls – this year the Peach Bowl or Fiesta Bowl. For the second week in a row, the American Athletic Conference is the only G5 conference appearing in the College Football Playoff Committee top 25 rankings. With three AAC teams there, to all others’ zero, it is safe to say that the American has established itself as the cream of the G5s. While that gives the AAC champ the inside track, the other conferences have some contenders lurking, and worst-case AAC fratricide could leave the door open.