Three weeks of college football are in the books. Now it’s time for the inevitable predictions of the winners among the hallowed Top Five.
Week 4 presents an assortment of handsome matchups featuring teams in the upper echelon.
Whether or not you fall into the Nick Saban camp of taking the Western Kentucky’s of the world seriously, there are some fine games to be had this weekend.
Two out of the top-five teams square off against legitimate foes. No. 1 Alabama vs. Florida Atlantic and No. 5 Georgia vs. Vanderbilt notwithstanding, two will indeed feature quality matchups with good storylines.
No. 3 Oregon and its jet-fueled offense hosts No. 22 Arizona with a respectable offense of its own—coincidently ranked at No. 3, two slots higher than the Ducks. Rich Rodriguez clearly has instilled his explosive offensive philosophy.
No. 10 Clemson travels to No. 4 Florida State in an exceptional ACC battle. FSU leads the nation with 15 rushing touchdowns. And Clemson features the always-electric Tajh Boyd at quarterback.
Each of these teams sports a 3-0 record.
As for No. 2 LSU against a Cam Newton-less Auburn, well, it’s an SEC matchup—they’re generally pretty competitive. The Tigers also have the benefit of home-field advantage. Just don’t hold your breath on this one.
Without further adieu, lets make the picks for the top-five teams in college football.
Vanderbilt vs. No. 5 Georgia
The Commodores are not as bad as you’d think—really.
They held the ninth-ranked Steve Spurrier Gamecocks to 17 points. The defense ranks 16th in the nation with just 13.3 points allowed.
After trailing 10-0, Vanderbilt clawed back and maintained a three-point lead into the fourth quarter. It also outgained South Carolina 276 to 272 in total yards.
Pro-ready RB Marcus Lattimore was just a bit too much in the end, however.
Georgia finds itself in the top five via a 15th-rated total offense that scores 47 points per game. It took care of SEC newcomer Missouri in short order, 42-20.
As for the prediction, Vanderbilt will hold strong for the first half. It will then succumb to the top-three Bulldog running backs that can score at will and average 5.6-plus yards per carry while doing so.
No. 10 Clemson vs. No. 4 Florida State
Again, Tajh Boyd is one electric talent for the Clemson Tigers.
He first placed himself in the conversation of top NCAA quarterbacks last season with a 3,800-yard, 33 TD performance. He also added five scores on the ground.
In 2012, Boyd has completed 73.3 percent of his passes for 747 yards, six TDs and just one interception. He’s the unquestionable leader of this Clemson team.
RB Andre Ellington, though, has produced a fine season with 328 yards and four touchdowns.
Then there’s Florida State—the second-most prolific scoring offense in the FBS under the leadership of QB EJ Manuel.
At 58.7 points per game, the Seminoles have run roughshod over a trio of lesser opponents. They’ve scored no fewer than 52—with six players scoring a rushing TD—while allowing a total of three points.
It’s fair to say that their 1.0 points-against ranks No. 1 in college football.
Clemson, however, is no Murray State, Savannah State or Wake Forest. It’s a fully legitimate top-10 team.
FSU must play assignment football against a very balanced offense. It can score in a multitude of ways on the ground and through the air. Boyd is an excellent passer outside of the pocket as well.
The Seminoles fall to their first of only two ranked opponents on the season. They simply haven’t seen an offense of the Tigers’ caliber. Clemson’s ball-hawking defense will come up with an interception in the end to seal it.
No. 22 Arizona vs. No. 3 Oregon
There’ve been plenty of top-five statistics listed in this article, but not necessarily No. 1 rankings.
Well, the Wildcats did something fairly impressive against the otherworldly offense of Oklahoma State. They limited the 62.3-scoring, No.1-ranked unit to a measly 38 points on its home turf.
Yes—that’s an apt use of sarcasm when referring to this offense.
As well, in a liberal usage of the bend-but-not-break defense, Arizona allowed 636 yards in total. That said, the Wildcats defense picked off QB Wes Lunt three times and recovered a fumble.
All of that amounted to a defensive performance that sufficiently hampered the Cowboys.
In terms of the Wildcats offense, it racked up 59 points and 501 yards of total offense. Sophomore RB Ka’Deem Carey totaled four touchdowns (one receiving) in a breakout day on the gridiron.
The Ducks, meanwhile, are their usual prolific selves. They rank in the top five in total points and rushing offense.
RBs Kenjon Balmer and De’Anthony Thomas are the best one-two punch in the nation with their combined 10 TDs. QB Marcus Mariota, for his part, is a veritable force as well with a 75.3 completion percentage, eight TDs and 180.5 rating.
Oregon’s 68th-ranked scoring defense certainly leaves some to be desired, but that really isn’t the point.
The pertinent dynamic between these two teams is the question of who will outscore the other. One should expect a final over/under of 100-plus.
Arizona will put up a valiant fight as proven road warriors, but Oregon is just too good at Autzen Stadium. The Ducks will win in a high-scoring, yet closely fought matchup.
No. 2 LSU vs. Auburn
Even without the Honey Badger patrolling the field in his fearless ways, LSU has finished off their opponents in efficient fashion.
They’ve made mince meat of North Texas, Washington and Idaho with 40-plus point totals and 14 or fewer points allowed on defense.
LSU has found a viable quarterback in Zach Mettenberger. It also possesses a two-headed rushing attack with Kenny Hilliard and Alfred Blue.
Auburn, on the other hand, has been a less-than-impressive member of the SEC West.
It lost back-to-back games against Clemson and Mississippi State, and barely eked one out against the Sun Belt Conference Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks. The Tigers blew a 14-point lead in the fourth quarter before surviving with an overtime win.
Even with home-field advantage, Auburn is simply too inept at quarterback with Kiehl Frazier. LSU will stack the box against the run and force Kiel into multiple turnovers.
Auburn will assert itself as best it can as a proud member of the SEC. The Tigers of Louisiana, however, will capitalize on a fourth-quarter romp.
Florida Atlantic vs. No. 1 Alabama
If it weren’t for Nick Saban and his egomaniacal, media-controlling ways, coverage of this game would be rendered moot due to the inevitable blowout.
Then again, this will be a blowout, and Coach Saban doesn’t actually have ownership of free speech of the media.
All due respect intended, Alabama will win in a rout. Florida Atlantic is simply a team that will receive a handsome chunk of change for taking on the best in the nation on its home turf.
Owls quarterback Graham Wilbert will help put up a few points in the end, but the country’s most dominant defense will limit that to just a couple of field goals.
Even with this uneven matchup featuring No. 1 Alabama, the higher ranks of college football as a whole contain some television-worthy games.
Final score: Top Five 4, Underdogs 1
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