Why College Football Teams Ranked No. 5-50 Are All Pretenders, Not Contenders

Michael FelderNational CFB Lead WriterSeptember 27, 2012

MORGANTOWN, WV - SEPTEMBER 22:  Geno Smith #12 of the West Virginia Mountaineers leads the team onto the field before the game against the Maryland Terrapins  on September 22, 2012 at Mountaineer Field in Morgantown, West Virginia.  (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

Yesterday, at Your Best 11, we talked about how the top five looked against No. 1 Alabama. Ultimately, in looking around the nation, the pot of teams gets quite thin once you get outside of the top five. Teams ranked No. 5-50 are all flawed in one massive way or another and while they will slide in and out of the rankings and jockey for position, eventually, they'll prove themselves to a gang of teams that they are just not quite good enough.

With great respect to Georgia, one of the teams that looks to be turning the corner, we'll find out plenty about them as they play both South Carolina and Florida.

For some teams, it is merely a matter of talent, as in not having any or not having enough to get over the hump. Talent in the trenches with not a ton of talent on the edge or in the back end. While others have talent on the perimeter but not enough of solid line play for that talent to shine. Yet other teams have great coaching talent but a player talent deficiency so severe they cannot work the coach's plan. Or perhaps your team has the opposite, a team with quality players but a coach who cannot get out of his own way.

Either way, talent matters. You have to be good enough to get there, and most teams around the nation are simply lacking. They are not big enough, fast enough or strong enough across the board to hoist the crystal football. Certainly, in a one-game scenario, we can see upsets. That doesn't make your team a contender; it makes your team the victor on that day. 

Still operating in more general terms, we get to the one-dimensional teams. They're flat. They're static. They do one thing and do it well. If you find a way to stop that one thing, then they're up the creek without a paddle. For some teams, that one thing is throwing the ball around the yard. For others, it is a unique rushing attack. Other teams employ an offensive system that is innovative in both the run and pass.

They're all like a basketball player who can only go left. Or, to keep this football focused, a team that uses one tight end exclusively to block and another tight end to catch passes. Once you solve the riddle, they can be rendered ineffective. Most certainly some of those riddles are hard to solve, and sometimes riddles require special personnel to arrive at the proper conclusion, but they are solvable none the less.

This is not merely picking on offenses; there are defenses that have the same issue. Whether they are tied to exclusive man-to-man coverage or they play a defensive back-heavy scheme, they are systems that can be exploited and have their flaws picked apart.

These teams will likely have success this season on a micro and a macro level and will largely be dependent upon their individual measuring sticks for success. However, they will all likely fall short of greatness. That doesn't mean they're not good ballclubs, it just means they are not elite.

As the season progresses, some questions will get answered and some flaws will disappear. For other teams, new flaws will emerge with injuries or an opponent's game plan exposing unknown issues. Perhaps we'll see teams like Georgia, Texas or Ohio State push their way into the upper echelon.