Reasons Why Each Top 5 Team Is Overrated in Initial BCS Rankings
Everyone knows the BCS Rankings cannot exist without controversy, but there seems to be an added edginess to the fans debating college football's elite this year.
As we crawl ever closer to a playoff system (finally), it is as if the die-hards around the nation are starting to expect more.
"Look at that snoozer of a championship game we had last year!" they shout.
Sparks of anger are sprouting up all across the Twitter world, much of which is either attacking or defending the perceived SEC bias.
Everyone wants to believe their school has a chance to win it all, but some feel as if computers and coaches in charge of deciding the fate of the game will never give them a chance.
Alabama is the consensus favorite to return to the BCS Championship Game—or so we think.
The rest seems to be up in the air. We've seen seven weeks of moving and shaking in the standings, yet it still seems like too small of a sample size to make any firm judgments on whose ranking is warranted, and whose is bewilderingly overrated.
Here are the question marks surrounding every Top 5 team in the initial BCS Rankings.
Alabama Crimson Tide
Alabama proved last year that suffocating defense is still what gets you to hoist that crystal trophy in January.
Nothing has changed in Nick Saban's 2012 squad.
The Tide rank No. 1 in the nation in total defense, passing defense, rushing defense, scoring defense and turnover margin.
But have they really played any opponents worth bragging about?
Let's look at their schedule a little closer:
Week 1: Michigan (neutral site)
Michigan is now unranked along with the rest of the Big Ten. They were supposed to be the cream of the crop in their conference, but now it seems apparent that being at the top in the Big Ten would be about the equivalent of a flea with the largest brain—it doesn't mean much.
Michigan is 4-2 but has not beaten a ranked team and has a head-scratching performance at home against Air Force in which the Wolverines only won by six.
Week 2: Western Kentucky
Sure, Western Kentucky went on to beat the University of Kentucky the following week, but Kentucky is 1-6 on the year with their only victory coming at home against Kent State. The Hilltoppers of Western Kentucky play in the Sun-Belt Conference and had to take on 'Bama in their home opener.
Week 3: @ Arkansas
Arkansas, thought to contend for an SEC Championship this season, has plummeted faster than Felix Baumgartner. At 3-4 now, the Razorbacks must fight to even become bowl-eligible. Their most impressive win may just be their opening 49-24 victory over Jacksonville State.
Week 4: Florida Atlantic
FAU is a terrible 1-5 on the year and tied for last in the Sun-Belt Conference. They have scored an embarrassing 13.2 points per game and won their lone contest at home against Wagner, 7-3.
Week 5: Ole Miss
Ole Miss is 4-3 on the year, but just 1-2 in conference play. Their only victory in the SEC came last week against an Auburn Tigers squad that may be hitting rock bottom in what could be Gene Chizik's final season.
Week 6: No Game
Week 7: @ Missouri
Missouri is bringing up the rear with Kentucky in the SEC East, as the Tigers are 0-4 in conference play. Alabama also had the treat of facing redshirt freshman QB Corbin Berkstresser, who started in place of injured James Franklin.
If the BCS National Championship Game were today, the Florida Gators would be playing against Alabama for a ring.
Seems odd considering the Gators were 7-6 last season and lost five games to SEC opponents.
But Will Muschamp has the Gators playing physical football with a strong rushing attack and smothering defense. The question is, can the offense take some of the pressure off the defense and move the ball more consistently?
The Gators rank 82nd nationally in total offense, putting up 378.33 yards per game. While that may not be a terrible statistic, it is the lack of balance that may be worrisome for Florida.
The Gators have rushed for 233.33 yards per game this season, good for 14th nationally. However, sophomore quarterback Jeff Driskel has only attempted 18.5 passes per game to this point. Florida has only thrown for 145 yards per game, dead last in the SEC and 114th in the nation.
If opponents find a way to stop the run, can the Gators squeeze enough offense out of an aerial attack to come away with the victory?
There are always a few things you can count on in the college football world.
Charlie Weis will always enjoy a good meal.
Defense will always play second-fiddle to offense in the Big 12.
The Buckeyes and the Wolverines will always look upon one another with disgust.
And Ducks from the state of Oregon will always be faster than any other ducks in the world.
So, why are the boys from Eugene overrated?
Let's check out the schedule.
In six contests, Oregon has only had to leave the comfort of home one time—and that was a fairly short trek one state to the north to take on Washington State.
While the Ducks are winning by an average of over 32 points per game, their smallest lead at halftime came against none other than Washington State.
Despite having one of the worst rushing offenses in the nation at 40.6 yards per game, Mike Leach's Cougars hung with the high-flying Ducks and were down just 23-19 heading into the locker room. Considering Washington State is now just 2-3 on the year and 0-4 in conference play, the slow-road start may be cause for concern.
A critical statistic in college football that often gets overlooked is not necessarily how a team plays but where a team plays. Teams that stockpile early and big wins at home may not be as good as advertised, and teams that lose early matchups on the road may not be as bad as they seem.
Of the 18 total losses by all teams ranked in the BCS Top 25, only seven have come at home. Of the teams ranked in the Top 15, only one has lost a single home game, a 24-19 loss by Oklahoma to the current No. 4 Kansas State Wildcats.
If we look back at Oregon's schedule again, they have played zero opponents that are currently ranked in the BCS Top 25. In the Ducks remaining six games, they will have to go on the road for four of them and play a total of three opponents currently ranked in the top 20.
It's safe to say the Oregon Ducks have not been tested as much as they will be coming down the stretch.
Kansas State Wildcats
There is no doubt the Kansas State Wildcats can spank their opponents with a balanced defensive and offensive effort.
They rank 15th in the nation in points for, putting up 40.8 per game, and they rank 19th in the nation in points against, surrendering 16.5 points per game.
If you've got your calculator out, that means they've beaten all six teams on their schedule thus far by an average of 24.3 points per game. This is a schedule that includes two currently ranked teams—Oklahoma and Iowa State.
Oh, and, by the way, both of those victories against ranked opponents came on the road.
Yes, the Wildcats pass the eye test and certainly seem like one of the more complete teams—if not the most complete team—in the Top 5.
So, how could anyone say they are overrated?
Let's examine some stats.
Only two of Kansas State's opponents are ranked above 65th nationally in total defense. Not surprisingly, they were Oklahoma and Iowa State.
Kansas State ranks 11th nationally in rush offense with 248.5 yards per game, but were held to more than 50 yards less than their season average in the two games against ranked opponents.
Moreover, defensive rankings are skewed also, because Kansas State has only played two offenses that rank in the Top 80 nationally—Oklahoma at No. 15 and Miami (Fla.) at No. 42.
But perhaps the biggest question mark is the balance of the offense.
Like Florida, Kansas State's effectiveness has been largely on the ground. Collin Klein is averaging under 20 passing attempts per game, and the Wildcats rank 112th in the nation in passing with only 179 yards per game.
While Klein has been spectacular with his legs and is the second-leading rusher on the team, will he be able to open up the offense through the air to keep up with Geno Smith this weekend or make enough plays against Texas Tech's fourth-ranked passing defense on Oct. 27 to keep his squad undefeated?
Notre Dame Fighting Irish
We all know about the defense by now.
The Irish have only surrendered an astounding 8.7 points per game and only four offensive touchdowns, least in the nation.
But here's something you might not have known.
Only one of the teams Notre Dame has faced thus far is in the Top 50 in total offense on the season, and that is Miami (Fla.) at No. 42.
In fact, if you averaged all of the season's offensive output by Notre Dame's six opponents thus far, they're putting up 390 total yards per game, an unimpressive 76th in the nation.
So, has the Notre Dame defense actually been challenged yet?
Speaking of 76th in the nation, that is exactly where Notre Dame's offense ranks.
That's right. Their offense has been exactly as effective as all of Notre Dame's opponents this year.
If the Irish want to keep winning, they're going to need more consistent play from their offense. Especially important will be the play of Everett Golson, who has thrown three interceptions to only four touchdowns this year.
Golson failed to complete above 50 percent of his passes in each of Notre Dame's three biggest games—against Michigan State, Michigan and Stanford.
They say numbers never lie, and Notre Dame may be the biggest example moving forward.