Gardner Minshew and Mike Leach are on a path to bust every football metric including the College Football Playoff
The first College Football Playoff poll comes out tomorrow night, Tuesday the 30th and as we and many project - Alabama, Clemson, Notre Dame and LSU should be your top four. But - as we know by now, the first four isn’t going to be the last four on December 3rd.
The final month of college football is upon us which means some madness and shock and awe is likely coming.
There has been no more shock and awe in 2018, than what is going on in Pullman, Washington with the Washington State Cougars.
By now you know the story, because people everywhere are talking about it. Gardner Minshew - the transfer quarterback from East Carolina, with the stellar mustache and top gun shades from small town Mississippi has Mike Leach’s Cougars on the cusp of something special and something we haven’t seen in college football, and that’s busting every metric of the College Football Playoff wide open, but they need some help.
Minshew II, who has thrown for 3,183 yards and 26 touchdowns so far in 2018 and is on pace to go well over 4,000 and 30 in 2018 and that trajectory has Cougar fans chanting Heisman Trophy and College Football Playoff.
What History Tells Us:
History tells us that since 1998, the National Champion in college football has to recruit on a four year average of about 6.5 and the runner up on a four year average of 8-10 in recruiting rankings.
Since the college football playoff started, we’ve seen Washington and Michigan State get to the playoff with a four year recruiting average of 25-27.
So history tells us that Washington State doesn’t have a shot, because they are ranked 48th in our 2018 rankings - well outside our realistic college football playoff bust line on our talent index.
They have the great equalizer:
The one way a team can bust any championship metric is with phenomenal quarterback play. We saw Auburn do it in 2010 with Cam Newton, and they recruited in the high teens; Virginia Tech was a modest recruiter in 1999 and made the title game with Michael Vick, and what Minshew is doing in 2018 is off the charts.
Over the weekend, one analyst called Minshew the greatest graduate transfer quarterback of all time and Trent Dilfer called Minshew a future NFL starter in the making.
Minshew’s play has elevated everyone around him and his team is now ranked 10th in the AP and 11th in the coaches and we project that Washington State will be around 10th in the initial college football poll this week.
We initially projected Washington State to go 8-4 after the Minshew transfer, but had no idea he would be this successful.
Right now Minshew is just points behind other Heisman hopefuls in Kyler Murray, Tua Tagovailoa and Dwayne Haskinns in our updated quarterback metric chart for the top quarterback in the country.
Kyler Murray - 29
Tua Tagovailoa - 27.3
Dwayne Haskins - 27.1
Gardner Minshew II - 23.5
What he is doing right now on the West Coast has Cougar fans believing and they should - they have a shot to wreck the party.
They need help down the stretch:
For Washington State to make the College Football Playoff, they need two things to happen - win out and win the Pac12 championship and they need help along the way.
Assuming Alabama and Clemson win out, which looks almost a lock, the Cougars need some teams to lose down the stretch.
In the SEC, look for Alabama to knock LSU and Georgia out of the Cougars way over the next month, which opens up some space.
The next team to watch is Notre Dame - as the Irish are right now undefeated and on their way to the playoff. But - the Irish have three games down the stretch that could spell disaster, starting this weekend at Northwestern. The Irish also play Syracuse and Southern Cal to end the year. The Cougars need to be pulling for one or two Irish losses.
The Big10 has Michigan looking like they are in the driver seat, but they play Penn State this week and at Ohio State on November 24th. Cougar fans need a Michigan loss and you have to believe, even if Ohio State comes back to win he Big10, that 29 point loss to Purdue on October 20th will crush the Buckeyes chances of making the playoff in a close one team loss scenario.
Oklahoma is the other one loss team the Cougar fans need to lose another game just to be safe, and that could happen at West Virginia on November 23rd or the Big12 Championship game. Also don’t count out rival Oklahoma State on November 10th.
Cougars check the box elsewhere for now:
Washington State currently ranks fourth in the country in offensive scoring efficiency, but is 66th in defensive scoring efficiency. We noted last year a trend of most College Football Playoff Teams are inside the top ten in both - but Oklahoma proved last year with an elite quarterback you can buck that trend. The Sooner’s offensive and defensive efficiency profile from last year matches the Cougars this year.
Also when looking at potential one loss teams the Cougars only loss is a three point loss on the road to USC early in the year. Other teams have wider margins in their loss column.
What Minshew II and the Cougars are doing today is unheard of in college football, but now they have a shot and just need a little help. If they get that help, our projections show they will be right there to make the College Football Playoff and bust the big party wide open in January.
Projected College Football Playoff Top Ten with losses to Notre Dame, Michigan, Georgia and LSU - along with Washington State running the table.
What you see is three or four teams that will be separated by literally less than two points, so the committee will have a heck of a decision to make if this does in fact happen.
And as of today why wouldn’t total chaos happen in 2018? What has gone on in Pullman Washington is one heck of a story, and I don’t think the final chapter has happened yet - as a matter of fact, I am almost sure of it.