NCAA Football Rankings 2012: Biggest Weaknesses for Each Top 5 Team
Week 6 of the 2012 college football season brought with it a major change of the top-25 landscape, but each of the top five teams in the nation certainly have some holes that are likely to be exposed at some point this season.
While none of these teams have lost a game from their weakness yet, they've still become apparent and could easily be exposed by the upcoming quality teams on their schedule.
College football has proven to be unpredictable, and we know that most of these teams won't make it through the season unblemished. However, the ones who can excel so much at other sides of the football won't get as burdened by their weakness and will reign supreme for it.
Here's all five of the top teams in this week's Associated Press Top 25, and what weakness could keep them from going undefeated.
1. Alabama Crimson Tide - Non-Explosive Passing Game
While it shouldn't become important enough to lose them a football game at all this season, Alabama's lack of a gunslinger could potentially hurt them in a tight game if their defense falters.
It's hard to think of a scenario where the defense would allow more than 40 points since they have kept their opponents to seven points per game this season, but if the unthinkable happens ,you want to be able to trust your quarterback to hit some deep balls late in the game to win it.
Nick Saban's squad boasts one of the deepest running back cores in the nation, but it becomes much less important in a tight game with fireworks each way. You want a QB who is elite enough to take his team down the field in a minute and a half, and I'm not sold on the fact that A.J. McCarron would excel in that situation.
But one thing is obvious—this Alabama team has proven last year that this 'weakness' doesn't really matter all that much when your defense is unstoppable and you have playmakers on offense. The one team that can hide its weakness best will be the Alabama Crimson Tide.
2. Oregon Ducks - Inconsistent Defense
The Oregon Ducks haven't been consistent enough on defense, and it will cost them a game against a number of legitimate opponents upcoming if they can't play their best game every weekend.
Their stats aren't bad as they average giving up 20 points per game, but after looking at each game individually, you'll see that they gave up 34 points to Arkansas State in their season opener, a team that's currently 3-3 from the Sun Belt Conference.
They also gave up 25 points to Fresno State and 26 points to Washington State. If that's the type of defense that shows up when they face USC (potentially twice) this season, there's no way they'll come out with the victory.
3. South Carolina Gamecocks - QB Shaw is Easily Injured
It's hard to find much wrong with this South Carolina team this season so far, but it's obvious that their gusty quarterback Connor Shaw plays with such heart and reckless abandon that he's highly susceptible to taking big blows.
In multiple games this season, Shaw has gone down and had to take as much as quarters of play off to heal and get his head on straight enough to get back on the field.
The statistics show it.
Backup QB Dylan Thompson, with 510 passing yards and five TDs, nearly surpasses starter Shaw in both stats with 733 yards and seven touchdowns.
This team is far from a national title contender without Shaw. His play this season has been magnificent, and if they don't have him to anchor their offense, then Marcus Lattmiore's presence is quickly diminished.
4. Florida Gators - Inconsistent Offense
As incredible as Florida's offense has looked at times, they've shown this season that they can falter and struggle to find their game for long periods of time.
Even though they don't deserve much criticism after their big win over LSU on Saturday, they were off their game early and quarterback Jeff Driskel couldn't seem to take a three-step drop without being attacked.
Running back Mike Gillislee is certainly elite so far, but he's missed time with injury and hasn't exactly been effective every single snap. Driskel needs to be able to trust his offensive line to protect him better when he drops back to pass if they're going to beat the likes of Alabama.
5. West Virginia Mountaineers - Defense
I mean, really?
You all knew this. Any top 25 team who wins a regular season game 70-63 obviously needs to be questioned, much less a top-five team like the Mountaineers.
As good as Geno Smith may be, there's no questioning that he'll struggle against a defense like Alabama, South Carolina, LSU or Florida. And the likelihood of him facing one of those teams in this year's national championship is very, very high.
AP Top 25 Poll - Week 7 (ESPN)
3. South Carolina
5. West Virginia
6. Kansas State
7. Notre Dame
8. Ohio State
10. Oregon State
12. Florida State
19. Mississippi State
22. Texas A&M
23. Louisiana Tech
24. Boise State
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