Geno Smith has the Mountaineers rolling
Week 5 brought some much needed excitement to the college football season. Oregon, Alabama, LSU and Florida State showed some vulnerability, Stanford was exposed and Texas and West Virginia narrowly escaped wild games leading up to their Big 12 clash this Saturday.
Even though September was kind to many teams chasing down titles, there are a few that will not be so lucky in October.
Here are five teams that wish September never ended.
Led by Heisman candidate Geno Smith, the Mountaineers are off to a blazing start. The offense is putting up 600 yards and 53 points per game. The statistics are skewed a little because of the Baylor game, but they are definitely hitting on all cylinders right now.
West Virginia’s pass defense is non-existent giving up 350 yards per game. Part of the problem is their opponents generally have to pass just to stay in the game, but they’re not stopping the run either, so they have definite weaknesses to exploit.
West Virginia plays at Texas and Texas Tech and gets Kansas State at home. All three teams are undefeated right now, and they also play good enough defense to contain Geno Smith. The Mountaineers will finish 1-2.
The Fighting Irish appear to have a defense worth discussing this year. Senior linebacker Manti Te’o is a beast and his leadership has elevated the team.
The defense is allowing just nine points per game, which is exactly where a team needs to be to make a run at a championship.
The offensive production has decreased as the competition has stiffened. A major problem is they lack a dynamic playmaker that will be needed in close games. Making matters worse is the defense is creating turnovers, but the offense is unable to consistently capitalize. This will burn the Irish in at least one game.
Notre Dame plays Miami, Stanford and BYU at home. They travel to Oklahoma on October 27. The Irish will finish 2-2.
The Cornhuskers’ ground and pound offense led by Taylor Martinez, Rex Burkhead and Ameer Abdullah is working very well. The powerful trio is lighting up defenses for 300 yards per game. They are built for making a run at the Big Ten title.
This is a tough call between turnovers and the defense’s ability to stop the run. Turnovers are the most costly so it gets the nod.
Amazingly, the Cornhuskers have put the ball on the ground 14 times in five games. They have lost nine of those fumbles. Turnovers are always bad, but these mistakes will be fatal on the road.
The Cornhuskers play at Ohio State and Northwestern and get Michigan at home. All three run the ball extremely well. Fortunately they don’t create a lot of fumbles, but the Cornhuskers inability to protect the ball could change that. They’ll finish 1-2.
Which team will make it through October without a loss?
Balance in the offense led by the steadiness of junior quarterback Aaron Murray and the potent running back duo Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall.
Murray is displaying the maturity necessary to compete in the brutal SEC. He’s thrown for 1,370 yards with 12 touchdowns and just two interceptions. He’s also third in the country in pass efficiency.
The Bulldogs are also well on their way to having two 1,000-yard rushers. Gurley has 536 yards and Marshall has 428. More impressive is they are both freshmen. Things are looking upward for the Bulldog offense.
Georgia is having trouble stopping the run. They are allowing close to 150 yards per game, which is fine against inferior opponents, but it will be a glaring issue against better competition.
The Bulldogs won’t play at home in October. They travel to South Carolina, Kentucky and Jacksonville for the Florida game. They’ll finish 1-2.
The defense is suffocating again this year allowing just 288 yards and 11 points per game. They are also creating a lot of turnovers. If this trend continues, they’ll keep the Gamecocks in every game.
It is difficult to believe that a Steve Spurrier-led team is having trouble throwing the ball, but his Gamecock offense is struggling in the passing game.
The primary issue is the quarterbacks cannot seem to find a rhythm with the young receivers. Coupled with the strong running game that must be the focal part of the offense, it is easy to understand why the Gamecocks are one-dimensional right now.
The lack of a legitimate passing attack will cost the Gamecocks a game or two in October.
The Gamecocks get Georgia and Tennessee at home and travel to Florida and LSU. This might be the toughest schedule in the nation. They’ll finish 2-2.
South Carolina, West Virginia and Georgia are good enough to make a run, but their schedules and slight weaknesses will catch up with them. Notre Dame is probably a year away and Nebraska will have another midseason slump.
October has a cruel way of breaking the hearts of championship caliber teams.