Biggest College Football Pretenders Leading Up to First 2012 BCS Rankings
Forget about the AP and coaches' poll, the BCS rankings are set to be released next week. Yes, even though there is so much football left to be played, we have already entered the home stretch of the college football season where teams will have to prove themselves now more than ever.
Teams such as Alabama, Oregon, Florida and South Carolina have all earned their spots atop the rankings, but there are many teams that remain on the fence. There are many clubs that have yet to pick up a marquee win, and there are a few other teams that have question marks on certain sides of the ball.
Whatever the case may be, in the month of October is when the contenders and pretenders begin to separate themselves from the rest of the pack.
As we approach the real part of the college football season, here are five teams that should be labeled as pretenders.
Note: All stats come from cfbstats.com unless otherwise noted.
No, this isn't an overreaction to the beat down the Bulldogs suffered last weekend to South Carolina. It is the simple fact that Georgia could not get anything going on either side of the ball and looked painfully bad when this team was supposed to contend for an SEC title.
Did the real Bulldogs even get off the bus?
Nearly 400 total yards of offense was dropped on this team, including 230 rushing yards, as Marcus Lattimore did majority of the work and finally looked like his old self. The running back tandem of Keith Marshall and Todd Gurley finally looked like freshmen, as the South Carolina defense shut them down all night long.
And then there was quarterback Aaron Murray, who only completed 35 percent of his passes and looked shaken throughout the game. The junior quarterback has yet to win a big game for this team, and although this is his third year as a starter, he still seems rattled in the big moments. Georgia is a combined 2-8 against ranked teams with him as the starting quarterback.
The defense has yet to reach its full potential and has struggled throughout the year, and you have to have lost all confidence in the quarterback play, as Murray seems to always choke in the clutch.
With a matchup against Florida in a couple of weeks, the team that I had picked to win the SEC seems to be one of the bigger pretenders of the 2012 season.
I love watching this Clemson offense work, as the Tigers once again have one of the more explosive offenses in the country. The problem is that the defense has been absolutely brutal, as the unit is allowing 27 points per contest and 446 yards a game. A combined 62 points were allowed the last two games against teams such as Boston College and Georgia Tech.
And while this may sound like a West Virginia type team and you are wondering why the Mountaineers aren't on this list, at least that team can rush the passer. The Tigers generate no pass rush whatsoever, as they have just six sacks in six games and have racked up a whopping nine quarterback hurries. If you can't pressure the quarterback at all, the defense is not going to improve moving forward.
Clemson may score a ton of points, but the defense has allowed 23 plays of over 30 yards, which is by far the most in the ACC. The Tigers will not be able to simply outscore the opponent every time, as we saw a few weeks ago against Florida State.
With teams such as Virginia Tech, North Carolina State and South Carolina still on the schedule, this Clemson team may have to wait till next season to return to a BCS bowl.
The offense is so great, as Matt Barkley is the best quarterback in the whole wide world, and he has so many weapons to spread the ball to. The defense is only improving and with leaders such as T.J. McDonald, the Trojans are easily the best team outside of the SEC.
Those were some of the things we heard a million times throughout the offseason, but I have yet to see any of it.
Barkley has not looked like the best quarterback in the country, and the offensive line has its own issues to worry about. The senior quarterback is averaging an interception a game, while he only threw seven all of last season. And despite having two former 1,000-yard rushers on the same roster, USC is currently 70th in the country in rushing yards.
Defensively, the pressure up front has been getting better and the Trojans are doing a good job of forcing turnovers, but the team has allowed over 400 yards twice in five games. Not to mention, USC has struggled to pull away from every team on the schedule so far except for the season opener against Hawaii.
The 10 penalties a game also doesn't help, as only Rutgers averages more a contest.
Unless this team cleans up its play as a whole, it's hard seeing this club knock off Oregon and could suffer a few other upsets along the way as well.
We knew it was only a matter of time, right?
Florida State spent the beginning of the season beating up on little guys and then lost to North Carolina State.
There is no question the defense of the Seminoles is one of the best in college football, but in order for this team to take that next step, the offense has to produce. Simply put, Florida State has relied on a solid running game all year, but it wasn't effective against the Wolfpack last weekend, which eventually caught up to the Seminoles.
Despite being a senior quarterback, E.J. Manuel is still not good enough to carry this offense on his shoulders. He lacks a killer instinct and can't make enough game-changing plays to help put the game away. So while the running game was averaging less than four yards a carry last weekend, Manuel couldn't find his rhythm and go for the kill.
The defense is wonderful, but the offense was not nearly as good as advertised when it was dropping 50 and 60 points on teams such as Murray State and Savannah State.
You could have put LSU on the pretender list even before the game against Florida, but the Gators gave us even more reason to believe the Tigers aren't the same team from a year ago.
Quarterback Zach Mettenberger hasn't become the difference-maker to this offense that everybody thought he would be. He is completing only 61.8 percent of his passes, looks lost in the offense and has thrown two of his three interceptions in the red zone.
The defense of the Tigers has allowed a combined 364 rushing yards and four touchdowns on the ground in the last two games. Keep in mind, Towson was able to put together 188 rushing yards, including 4.7 yards per carry, which was the most since January of 2010 against Texas A&M.
What in the world has happened to this LSU defense?
Not to mention, a running game that topped at least 100 yards in every game but one since 2010 was held to only 42 yards and less than two yards a carry against Florida.
LSU was due for a loss eventually, but the Tigers looked bad enough to call this team a pretender for now.