Soucie: What we learned in Week 5

There were a number of remarkable things that happened in Week 5 of the season, but the one that stood out was St. Ignatius’ surprising win over Mount Carmel.

Despite the fact that Wolfpack entered the game with a 4-0 record and had posted some impressive scores thus far, few if any expected St. Ignatius to topple one the CCL/ESCC Catholic Blue stalwarts.

The upset even garnered the poster treatment on College GameDay prior to the Notre Dame-Wisconsin matchup Saturday at Soldier Field.

But my favorite revelation from the outcome came courtesy of this tweet via St. Ignatius:

First, there’s a lot of hyperbole here. The two schools don’t play annually. And the Wolfpack program was revived in 2005 after being shut down following the 1963 season; but 1928 is 1928.

And while the 93-year gap is certainly an extreme case, there’s a number of programs that are reaching rather rarified air for their programs.

• Reed-Custer remained undefeated with a win over Peotone in Week 5. The Comets are 5-0 for the first time since 1986. Curious about the last time Reed-Custer has been 6-0? It would be a first. The football program began in 1978.

6-0 will certainly be a challenge for Reed-Custer as the dominant force in the Illinois Central Eight, Wilmington, lurks as the next opponent. But if we’ve been taught anything from what’s happened so far this season, it’s that anything is possible.

• Wauconda’s win over Antioch indicated there might finally be a changing of the guard in the Northern Lake County. Antioch has dominated the conference since its inception, but Wauconda’s 24-13 win serves as both a statement win for the program but also gets the Bulldogs one step closer to ensuring the program’s first winning record since 2006.

• Could York be leading a changing of the guard in the West Suburban Silver? We’ll find out soon as the Dukes have back-to-back games against Glenbard West and Hinsdale Central. But the 5-0 record already has put York in a position that it hasn’t been in awhile: playoff eligible (and likely already in because of the makeup of this year’s field). It will be the school’s first playoff berth since 2011.

These are some surprise stories in the class of just 50 teams that enter Week 6 with a spotless record, but there’s also a large group of teams at 4-1 that are strangers to that stratosphere as well. That ultimately means that while the playoff brackets are likely to include a large percentage of the usual suspects, some new names will make their presence felt, not only in the draw, but they are headed to much higher seed lines than almost anyone would have anticipated.

The relative lack of undefeated teams also means that parity will filter through to the brackets. One typically couldn’t imagine hosting an opening-round playoff game without at least seven wins and a large amount of playoff points. It would be surprising if that standard isn’t suppressed significantly this time around.

So where are we headed here?

Let’s take a look at the win breakdown after five weeks:

Win totalNumber of teams

The first thing to take note of is that there are only 240 teams in the state with above .500 records. The field is typically constructed of 256 teams with records that are better than .500 and has never admitted 4-5 teams as at-large teams, although a few 4-5 teams have made fields as automatic bid conference champions.

The path to 4-5 at-large teams seems to be as clear as it has even been because of a few factors.

First, the 240 teams above .500 is an important number to consider. There’s no guarantee that all 240 of those teams will stay above the .500 mark. 3-2 teams aren’t very likely to go 1-3 or worse over the remaining four games, but there will be some.

Conversely, the 2-3 teams need to go at least 3-1 over their remaining four games to make the field and 1-4 teams need to run the table. There will definitely be some teams that achieve this, but will it be enough to add to the teams that stay above .500 and also offset those that fall out of the group that are currently above .500? Odds are they will not.

Simple math also comes into play here. With the season at the midpoint stage, most schools are in their conference slates and playing in-state schools. With just 494 schools competing for playoff berths, there’s likely to be less than 250 wins available on a week-to-week basis. With the majority of the wins being claimed by teams in the top win groups, it seems almost foolish to think there’s going to be a massive surge from the bottom groups to get us back to a scenario where we will have at least 256 teams finishing with five wins or more.

That rationale is why, unlike previous seasons, teams with five losses can’t be formally eliminated from the conversation at this point.

Steve Soucie

Steve Soucie

Steve Soucie has been the Sports Editor at the Joliet Herald News since August of 2018. Prior to that, Soucie worked at the Kankakee Daily Journal and for Pro Football Weekly.