Biggest Roadblocks for Each Undefeated Team in College Football
There are just over a dozen FBS college football teams that are still undefeated heading into the second half of the season.
The list of perfect squads includes four SEC programs, a pair of Pac-12 contenders, two Big 12 juggernauts and a host of other early season surprises.
Unfortunately, not all of these winners can finish the year with unblemished resumes.
Here we break down the biggest roadblocks the rest of the way for the last of college football's undefeated.
*Rankings based on AP Top 25 Week 7
UTSA Roadrunners (5-0)
Although the University of Texas at San Antonio football program hasn't played any notable competition through the first few weeks of the season, the Roadrunners are one of just 16 undefeated FBS teams heading into Week 7.
Although the WAC is far from a power conference, it does boast No. 23 Louisiana Tech, who will host the Roadrunners on November 3. That matchup in Ruston will be UTSA's biggest test this year and likely be the game that puts it out of first place in the WAC standings. Either way, the road is about to get a lot rougher for the Roadrunners.
Still, UTSA deserves a shout-out for its stunning early season success.
Ohio Bobcats (6-0)
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It's only a matter of time before the Ohio Bobcats crack the Top 25. At 6-0, Ohio looks to be on its way to a MAC Championship this season.
The Bobcats opened up the fall with an impressive win at Penn State and haven't looked back since. With just six games left to play this year, the schedule will only get tougher for Ohio as it enters the meat of its conference matchups.
The biggest roadblock for the Bobcats will come on the road at Kent State in their season finale. The Golden Flashes are undefeated at home and sit atop the MAC East division after the first half of the year.
Ohio's November 23 matchup on the road could very well be the night its perfect season comes to a close.
No. 23 Louisiana Tech Bulldogs (5-0)
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The No. 23-ranked Louisiana Tech Bulldogs are arguably the most shocking team in the AP Top 25 this season. The WAC program has opened up the season with five straight wins and passed big tests at Illinois and at Virginia earlier in the year.
The Bulldogs are ranked third in the nation in scoring offense this fall, and they are putting up more than 53 points per game despite playing three of their first five games on the road.
Louisiana Tech will face a major roadblock on October 13, however, when it hosts No. 22 Texas A&M, a team it was supposed to open up against last August before Hurricane Isaac forced the teams to postpone the matchup.
Senior quarterback Colby Cameron will have to play a near flawless game for the Bulldogs as they attempt to conquer one of the Big 12's best. Cameron has thrown for more than 1,400 yards and 13 touchdowns this season with zero interceptions.
The Aggies are favored on the road by 7.5, according to Covers.com. But if Tech can survive at home, it will surely be on its way to a perfect 12-0 regular season and a WAC Championship.
No. 21 Cincinnati Bearcats (4-0)
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No. 21 Cincinnati is off to a phenomenal start this season and looks like a favorite to surprise No. 18 Louisville in the Big East.
The Bearcats have reeled off four straight wins to open the year and are outscoring their opponents by nearly 21 points per game on average. Still, Cincy has conference clashes with the Cardinals and No. 20 Rutgers coming up on the schedule.
With the Scarlet Knights coming to play Cincinnati in Ohio, look for the Bearcats' road matchup with Louisville to be their biggest roadblock in 2012. The Cardinals are 3-0 at home this season and have defeated the likes of Kentucky and North Carolina in Louisville.
Cincinnati will be favored over the next two weeks against Fordham and Toledo, but look out on October 26 when it travels south to Papa John's Cardinal Stadium.
No. 20 Rutgers Scarlet Knights (5-0)
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Despite watching former head coach Greg Schiano walk away for an NFL coaching job with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after last season, the No. 20 Rutgers Scarlet Knights haven't missed a beat this year under coach Kyle Flood.
The Knights are 5-0 and allowing less than 11 points per game. Looking at the schedule only two games stand out as potential losses for Rutgers: November 17 at No. 21 Cincinnati and November 29 vs. No. 18 Louisville. Their matchup with the Cardinals is at home on a Thursday night though, which should give them a major advantage.
That said, mark you calendars for November 17, when Rutgers will head to Cincinnati to take on the explosive Bearcats in front of their home crowd. The Knights have won at South Florida and at Arkansas already this season, but neither squad compares to Cincinnati, which boasts studs on both sides of the ball.
It's hard to see Flood's team losing in 2012, but if it slips up this season, it will be this November at Cincinnati.
No. 19 Mississippi State Bulldogs (5-0)
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There are several packs of Bulldogs in the Top 25 this October, but one of the most surprising is perennial SEC doormat Mississippi State.
Dan Mullen has turned things around in Starkville, and he has the No. 19-ranked Bulldogs off to a 5-0 start. Don't expect Mississippi State's remarkable season to come to an end anytime soon though. It will host Tennessee and Middle Tennessee over the next two weeks and will be a favorite to reach 7-0 after the first eight weeks of the season.
Then comes October 27 though, when the Bulldogs will travel to Tuscaloosa to take on the No. 1-ranked, defending national champion Alabama Crimson Tide. The way Nick Saban's defense is playing this season, you would have to be foolish to expect Mississippi State to pull out a W on the road in that one.
The Bulldogs have won at Troy and at Kentucky this season, but those two teams pale in comparison to the Crimson Tide.
No. 18 Louisville Cardinals (5-0)
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Although Charlie Strong's No. 18 Louisville Cardinals are off to a perfect start this season, their last three wins have been close calls. Louisville has won its last three matchups by a combined 16 points.
The Cardinals will open up Big East play this weekend at Pittsburgh, but don't expect them to slow down anytime soon. They will be tested in late October when they host No. 21 Cincinnati, but won't be over-matched until their season finale at No. 20 Rutgers on November 29.
The Thursday night showdown is without question Louisville's toughest road game of the year and will be pressure-packed assuming that Strong's Birds are 11-0 or in serious BCS contention coming in.
Sophomore quarterback Teddy Bridgewater has played superb football this season, completing 73 percent of his passes and only tossing three interceptions, but he is only completing 61 percent of his passes on the road where all three picks have come. Bridgewater and the Cardinals will be vulnerable on the road late in November.
Look out for Rutgers.
No. 10 Oregon State Beavers (4-0)
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The No. 10-ranked Oregon State Beavers are off to a scorching-hot start this fall, and look poised for their best season in over a decade. Oregon State went 11-1 under former coach Dennis Erickson in 2000 and whipped up on Notre Dame in the 2001 Fiesta Bowl, finishing the year ranked No. 4 in the country.
Mike Riley's Beavers have plenty of work to do before they can start talking about BCS bowl berths, however. Oregon State has eight games left on the schedule, including road games at Washington and at No. 17 Stanford as well as a late season showdown with No. 2 Oregon.
Of course no one expects Oregon State to survive its Civil War matchup with the Ducks, but also don't expect the Beavers to be undefeated coming into the much-anticipated rivalry game. After all, they'll have to escape Washington with a win over the Huskies on October 27.
Washington is undefeated at home this season and just upset then No. 8-ranked Stanford in Seattle last month. The Beavers boast a potent passing attack led by Sean Mannion, whose out indefinitely with an injured knee. His future, like the Beavers' is uncertain.
No. 8 Ohio State Buckeyes (6-0)
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Although Urban Meyer's No. 8-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes could easily go 12-0 this season, they aren't eligible for the postseason. Therefore they can't win the Big Ten Championship nor challenge for the national title.
Still, the Buckeyes have just survived two of their toughest matchups this season, beating Michigan State on the road and routing Nebraska in Columbus last weekend. The only formidable opponents left on Ohio State's schedule are Wisconsin and Michigan.
If there was ever a game this year's Buckeyes would lose, though, it would be November 17 at Wisconsin. The Badgers have been down this season and would surely catch Ohio State off guard. Montee Ball and company are undefeated in Madison in 2012 and boast a serious home-field advantage.
Ohio State has won over many with their flawless start to the Urban Meyer era, but there's still a second half of the season to be played, and Wisconsin is waiting.
No. 7 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (5-0)
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No. 7 Notre Dame has made significant strides under head coach Brian Kelly this season, paying extra attention to the defensive side of the ball and making life miserable for its opponents.
The Fighting Irish are allowing just 7.8 points per game this season, which ranks them second in the nation in scoring defense behind only No. 1-ranked Alabama.
The Irish's rushing attack has also been a pleasant surprise in 2012. Notre Dame is averaging more than 187 yards on the ground per game and is led by a trio of talented running backs. That vaunted running game will be tested later this season, however, when Notre Dame travels to Norman to take on No. 13 Oklahoma.
The two storied programs will clash on October 27, and if Kelly's squad can survive that brutal road test, then it will have to stave off No. 11 USC in the regular-season finale. A win in LA would prove it's for real and worthy of a BCS National Championship Game appearance.
Although Notre Dame's defense is scary, I don't believe it can survive two road games against BCS-caliber programs.
No. 6 Kansas State Wildcats (5-0)
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Quarterback Collin Klein has been sensational for the No. 6-ranked Kansas State Wildcats, who are ranked in the Top 20 nationally in both scoring offense and defense.
Bill Snyder's team looks like a favorite to win the Big 12 this season, and it likely won't be tested until October 20 when it takes to the road to face off against No. 5 West Virginia in Morgantown. The crowd at Mountaineer Field is always raucous, and it will make life challenging for Klein and the K-State offense.
The Wildcats' senior leader, Klein has played awesome football through the first half of the year, but he only managed one touchdown in Kansas State's only road win over Oklahoma earlier this season. He'll need to be at his best on the ground and through the air when the Wildcats visit the Mountaineers for a BCS championship elimination game this October.
With West Virginia playing at home, I give the edge to Geno Smith and the Mountaineers offense, which has been deadly thus far in 2012.
No. 5 West Virginia Mountaineers (5-0)
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If the No. 5 West Virginia Mountaineers don't win a BCS National Championship this season, at least their quarterback, Geno Smith, will be in the running to win the Heisman Trophy.
Smith has been putting up ridiculous numbers this season, throwing for nearly 2,000 yards, 24 touchdowns and zero interceptions through WVU's first five games. He tossed eight scores alone in the Mountaineers' Big 12 opener against Baylor.
Still, there is one offense in college football that has lit up the scoreboard more than WVU. The Oklahoma State Cowboys rank first in the country in scoring offense, and they are posting neary 56 points per game this season.
On November 10, the Mountaineers will travel west to play the Cowboys in Stillwater, in what is sure to be the most entertaining shootout of the 2012 college football season. WVU's defense has been suspect this year, however, allowing 35 points per week on average. That said, I can't see them getting enough stops on the road against Oklahoma State to get the win.
Defense wins championships, and WVU has virtually none on the road.
No. 4 Florida Gators (5-0)
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After this weekend's clash with SEC East rival Vanderbilt, No. 4 Florida will only have one true road game left on its schedule. That game will be on November 24 in the Gators' season finale when they visit Tallahassee to take on rival Florida State.
The No. 12 Seminoles are coming off an upset loss at North Carolina State in Week 6, but still boast a Top 10 scoring offense and defense. Not to mention the Seminoles are undefeated at Doak Campbell Stadium this year.
Though the argument can be made that the SEC is much better than the ACC, Florida State will have a mighty home-field advantage, one similar to what the Gators have in the Swamp.
Florida fans should be worried about how well Will Muschamp's offense travels in this matchup. The Seminoles are allowing just over 12 points per game this season, while the Gators have been productive, but far from explosive on the offensive side of the ball.
If the Gators can survive challenging matchups with SEC East opponents No. 3 South Carolina and No. 14 Georgia this October, their final regular-season game could mark where their perfect season comes to an end.
No. 3 South Carolina Gamecocks (6-0)
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College football fans will soon find out just how good No. 3 South Carolina is this season. The Gamecocks will travel to No. 9 LSU and No. 4 Florida in consecutive weeks on October 13 and October 20.
Those two games are without question South Carolina's biggest roadblocks to staying perfect in 2012. If the Gamecocks can survive the Tigers and Gators, they will be on a path to the SEC Championship Game and perhaps a trip to Miami for the BCS title game.
The biggest advantage Steve Spurrier's side has this fall is its defense. The Gamecocks rank fourth in the country in scoring defense, and they are allowing just over 10 points per game. South Carolina has yet to allow more than 17 points in a game in 2012.
Regardless of how sound South Carolina plays defensively though, Baton Rouge and Gainesville will provide two very difficult challenges. One would have to consider the Gamecocks the best team in all of college football if they can survive this stretch coming up.
No. 2 Oregon Ducks (6-0)
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We are only halfway through the season. and there already looks to be no stopping No. 2 Oregon's potent offense. The Duck ranks fourth in rushing and scoring offense this season, thanks to the dominant play of Kenjon Barner and De'Anthony Thomas.
The two stars have combined for more than 1,100 rushing yards in six games and have the Ducks circling November 3 on their calendars. That Saturday night Chip Kelly's squad will travel to Los Angeles to face of against No. 11 USC.
Oregon won its only road game so far this season by 25 points. But USC is a much different beast then Washington State. The Trojans boast a Heisman Trophy candidate quarterback in Matt Barkley, and they have already suffered a gut-wrenching loss of their own.
Expect Oregon to struggle at USC, where the Trojans will attempt to get after freshman quarterback Marcus Mariota early and often and look to ride a nothing-to-lose attitude to their biggest win of the year.
No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide (5-0)
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The Alabama Crimson Tide lost just one game all of last season, falling in overtime to Les Miles' LSU Tigers. On Saturday, November 3, the Tide will travel to Baton Rouge to attempt to exact revenge for the second straight time on the No. 9 Tigers.
If Alabama can survive its SEC West elimination game, then the Tide will be on their way to an SEC Championship Game appearance and in all likelihood a second consecutive BCS National Championship Game berth.
Nick Saban's men have two home games against No. 19 Mississippi State and No. 22 Texas A&M, but those conference clashes pale in comparison to the LSU showdown. The Tide will have to rely heavily on its No. 1-ranked scoring defense to keep the Tigers off the board, because LSU is only allowing 12.8 points per game this season.
Still, when you're the best team in college football, there aren't many roadblocks you can't overcome.
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