Beavers, Buckeys and everyone in between

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Ok – first off, I haven’t written a Week in Review column the past two weeks. Two weeks ago, Duke Energy couldn’t restore power to my house for what seemed like an eternity, so that’s my excuse for Week 3. For Week 4, I was too busy hanging out with the throngs of girls who want to date me…wait that’s not right. Week 4…what was I doing again? Yes that’s it! I was just too lazy. Rest assured, it will return this week.

But for now, the crazy weekend got me thinking about the title game this year. Two weeks ago, everyone was ready to crown the USC national champs and team of the decade after they beat Ohio State. After their loss to Oregon State on Thursday, the door was open for teams like Florida and Georgia, who responded by playing like dogs yesterday, and losing at home. While Oklahoma is sitting pretty right now, it appears that the field is wide open again. Obviously, still a lot of football to be played, and I’m sure one month from now I’ll read this and won’t believe how stupid I am, but I wanted to make some predictions for which teams have the best chance of playing in the BCS Championship Game this year…as it stands now and looking at their schedules in the coming weeks.

Here’s my list of legit contenders for the national title: Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Oklahoma, Missouri, USC, Ohio State, and LSU. I’m not sold on Texas Tech being able to stop anyone, Texas (post Vince Young) still chokes in big games, Auburn’s offense isn’t consistent, Penn State will have more players in jail than on the field by mid-November, and Temple is least a year away (just seeing if you were still paying attention).

So we’re left with 8 teams. Here’s how they stack up. Remember, I’m already offering the disclaimer that this could all change, and likely will change, as the season goes on. But what fun is life without going out on a limb now and then? In no particular order…

Georgia: The Bulldogs have arguably the best RB in the nation in Knowshon Moreno, a talented QB in Matt Stafford, a developing group of receivers and a fast defense. Of course, they also just got pounded at home by Alabama last night, and it wasn’t even close. The Bulldogs commit way too many penalties, and their defense looked lost last night. Furthermore, the Tide managed to take Moreno out of the game, making the Bulldogs offense one-dimensional. With a young offensive line, Stafford spent most of the night with a defender in his face, and his accuracy suffered. Another bad sign? The Dogs still includes road games against LSU and Auburn, as well as a neutral-site game against Florida. Georgia is immensely talented, but Alabama exposed some holes, and their schedule is simply too tough. Look for them to have at least one more loss this season.Florida: Wow. I didn’t think Florida would win by three touchdowns, as they were favored, but I never imagined they’d actually lose at home to Ole Miss. Quite simply, this Florida offense stinks, despite the plethora of talent. The offensive line has been abysmal, and QB Tim Tebow hasn’t been able to show off his wheels like last year. The play-calling, always fun and adventurous last year, has become somewhat mundane, even though the Gators boast about six players who run 4.3. Defensively, they showed some promise early, but they reverted back to the ’07 defense yesterday, missing tackles and blowing assignments.  With games still against LSU and Georgia, the Gators better hope they can fix whats wrong, or they could have two or three more losses tagged on them. I still believe they have arguably the most talented team in the country, but they better play like it from here on out.Nick Saban has the Tide rolling.

The Bulldogs' schedule doesn't get any easier after a loss to Alabama.
 

Alabama: Sadly, I have to give in now. Nick Saban is one of the best coaches there is – no two ways about it. Last night’s win in Athens was incredibly impressive, and the Tide are still growing. They have a great ground game, and QB John Parker Wilson is playing much better than he did a year ago. Their defense is just flat out nasty…fast and aggressive. Even better, Saban is the ultimate perfectionist, and you know he won’t let his team get too cocky. They still have to travel to LSU and Tennesee, but they get Auburn at home. If they can get past LSU in Baton Rouge – no easy task – the Tide have the potential to run the table if they play like they did last night. Of course yesterday showed that anything can happen in the SEC, but things are looking pretty good so far in Year 2 of the Saban Era.

LSU: The Tigers are still breaking in a QB, but everywhere else, they are loaded. They have a stable of talented backs, two great receivers in Demetrius Byrd and Brandon LaFell, and as always, a great defense. Les Miles is a little too arrogant for my taste, but he’s a great coach  and obviously can win big games. But as with other SEC teams, their schedule is brutal. They already won at Auburn in a great game, but in a span of five weeks, they travel to Florida and South Carolina, and host Alabama and Georgia. All are winnable game, but as we’ve seen, you can’t take anything for granted in the SEC. I like LSU’s talent, but I don’t see them going unscathed this year. Of course, a couple losses didn’t hurt them last year…

Can Jarrett Lee lead lead LSU to another national title?

Oklahoma: The Sooners have looked as impressive as anyone so far, and things are set up nicely for them to advance to the title game. QB Sam Bradford is piling up ridiculous numbers, and they have a ton of weapons at receiver and running back. They still have the Red River Shootout with Texas, but other than that, their toughest games are all at home, including visits from Kansas and Texas Tech. However, the dangerous game looming is that Oklahoma State road game to end the season. This rivalry game is always a battle, and the Cowboys have looked solid so far. Then there’s the matter of the Big 12 Championship Game, likely against a loaded Missouri squad that’s anxious for revenge. But all in all, the Sooners have a great chance at advancing. But will their recent bowl performances hold them back if it comes down to a judgment call between them and a 1-loss SEC team?

Chase Daniel and the Tigers are loaded.

Chase Daniel and the Tigers are loaded.

Missouri: The Tigers were a great story last year, but I never bought them as legit, national championship material. That’s all changed this year. Chase Daniel is a stud QB, Jeremy Maclin is as talented as any wideout in the country, and their offense is flat-out sick. They have so many weapons that it’s impossible for teams to defend them all, and that’s why the Tigers have rung up 215 points in only four games. Their defense is also legit, and they’ve proved capable of getting stops when they need to. Schedule-wise, they still travel to Nebraska and Texas, but they get Oklahoma State and Kansas at home. Call me crazy, but I like this Tigers team to have a real shot at the BCS title game this year.

USC: Yes the Trojans looked awful against Oregon State (again). But the fact remains that hey have a great chance at running the table in the Pac-10, and setting themselves up for a chance at the title. With the SEC and Big 12 teams beating up on each other, the Trojans should (key word =should) cruise through a weak Pac-10. QB Mark Sanchez has a great arm and more mobility than John David Booty, but his decision-making isn’t always the best and he forces throws. Their receivers have still underacheived, but they’ve still got plenty of offensive weapons to win. Their defense is fantastic, although they looked horrible in Corvallis. LBs Rey Maualuga and Brian Cushing are studs, and safety Taylor Mays is a beast. Pete Carroll should have his team’s attention now, and the Trojans should be right in the mix at the end of the year.

Ohio State: I know Buckeye-bashing has become a national past time, but hear me out. It’s not out of the question that every team on this list except USC could suffer two losses this year…such is life in the Big 12 and the SEC. It’s also possible that Ohio State could win out in the Big 10. They still travel to Wisconsin and Illinois, and have to host Penn State and Michigan, but the Buckeyes have owned the Big 10 in recent years. Plus, with RB Beanie Wells healthy and QB Terrelle Pryor now starting, they’re a different team than the one that got blown out by USC. So at the end of the year, if we have two teams at 11-1, and about six or seven at 10-2, or 9-3…who plays for the title? I’m not saying it’s a good system, or that I like it, or that Ohio State deserves to go there even if they win out, but it’s the system we have, and it’s not out of the question. Just some food for thought…

A healthy Beanie Wells could put the Buckeyes back in national title contention.

A healthy Beanie Wells could put the Buckeyes back in national title contention.

P.S. Don’t come back to me and start talking trash in two weeks when things have drastically changed. I know this is very very preliminary – but what’s college football without some good-natured debates?

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8 Responses to “Beavers, Buckeys and everyone in between”

  1. BobWicket Says:

    Here’s a debate. The cats should be at least #25, or am I just an irrational homer? Discuss.

  2. TheGoldfishCowboy Says:

    I’d like to see one more SEC team ranked as much as the next guy, but I have a hard time putting UK above these teams, simply based on quality wins (Louisville?) and a struggle with a 1-3 MTSU that lost to Troy and Arkansas State.

    Here are the AP #21-25, and their quality wins.. all of which I think make a better resume than UK’s at this point.

    Uconn – Louisville and Baylor
    Wake – Baylor, FSU and Ole Miss
    Oregon – Purdue, Wash St, and WashU
    Fresno St – Rutgers and UCLA (Fresno is the possibly replacement candidate for the Cats, but I still vote FS at #25)
    Oklahoma State – Wash St and Houston (who drilled ECU)

    That said, beat Bama and I’ll put you at #12 easy.

  3. BobWicket Says:

    I would argue uk over uconn. Uk beat Louisville pretty convincingly. Uconn needed a last minute pick six to beat Louisville. Mtsu is better than Baylor, surely?

  4. TheGoldfishCowboy Says:

    Baylor is 2-2 with both losses coming to ranked teams.

    MTSU is 1-3 with losses to Ark St and Troy. I can’t see anyone making that arugment.

  5. TheGoldfishCowboy Says:

    And they are currently losing to a 1-3 FAU.

    Although MTSU’s unis are much better than either FAU or Baylor.

  6. TheGoldfishCowboy Says:

    stupid hail marys

  7. BobWicket Says:

    I will maybe concede the MTSU arguement, but UCONN I will not. I guess the cats will just have to win saturday.

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