The Oxford English Dictionary defines fool's gold, a substance known as iron pyrite, as "a brassy yellow mineral...that can be mistaken for gold."
In the context of college football, fool's gold relates to teams that may, on the outside, appear to have that sweet, flaxen luster of competitiveness, but are actually not what they purport.
To the untrained eye, these teams might look and act like BCS contenders, just like scoundrels would try to pass off pyrite off as a means to ill-gotten wealth.
But looks can be deceiving.
Depending on whether or not we can trust Baylor, Oklahoma might be the class of the Big 12. Technically, that makes it a solid contender for the BCS.
But I still have my questions about the Sooners and think they are far worse than their ranking—No. 10 in the latest Coaches Poll—would seem to indicate.
Their two signature wins have come over Notre Dame and TCU, two teams that have underachieved in a big way this season. And they also needed all 60 minutes to put away West Virginia, a team that lost to Maryland in a 37-point shutout.
OU isn't horrible by any means, but its offense can't be trusted until Bob Stoops opens up the playbook and allows Blake Bell to throw the ball downfield. Otherwise, it might find itself in a lot of low-scoring, 60-minute games like Saturday's win over TCU.
And though the defense has looked great, what even half-decent offense has it gone up against? Notre Dame? How will the Sooners fare when Oklahoma State or Baylor is lining up across from them?
How will the offense keep pace?
Are we sure Fresno State is good?
The Bulldogs are 5-0, and their offense is rolling to the tune of 47 points per game. Plus, on paper, they appear to have beaten some pretty good teams.
But needing overtime to beat Rutgers at home looks far less impressive after SMU almost pulled the same feat. And this year's Boise State team, which the Bulldogs just beat, 41-40, has looked far from the national darling we've come to know and love.
A near-loss at woeful Hawaii two weeks ago confirmed my suspicions. No matter how good this offense is—and make no mistake, it's good—the Fresno State defense is sieve-like and shreddable.
This is not one of America's top 16 teams.
In looking for teams that might regress (or can be considered a fluke), one of the first things I look at is turnovers.
More often than not, turnovers—fumbles in particular—aren't taken away so much as they are given. Bad units can pose as decent, and decent ones can pose as great, if they're able to consistently fall on the football.
Miami is tied for third in turnovers forced this year, reaping the rewards of sloppy play from subpar quarterbacks like Jeff Driskel to keep points off the board. Florida spanked the 'Canes in Miami this season, but a litany of red-zone turnovers allowed them to steal the win.
Al Golden's defense has also recovered seven fumbles this year, tied for third among teams from BCS schools. Eventually, that river will start to run dry and the 'Canes will have to stop good offenses for three consecutive downs to get the ball back.
Does anyone think they're capable of that?
Color me unimpressed by Northern Illinois, which has a better record than it did at this time last year but hasn't looked quite as good on the field.
I know that's counterintuitive, but it's also true. Wins are not the only barometer of performance, and the Huskies have looked off in games against Iowa and Eastern Illinois.
Last year, NIU crashed the BCS but quickly proved that it didn't belong on that stage, getting bullied before a national audience by Florida State. This year, assuming (as I do) that it's slightly worse, it seems crazy to think it might make a return trip.
The MAC is down compared to 2012, but there should be a loss lurking in that schedule somewhere. Back-to-back games vs. Ball State and at Toledo could be tricky.
Much like Oklahoma, Texas Tech has shot out of the gate with five straight wins against questionable competition.
Here's a general rule: If the highlight of your resume is a 10-point home win over an offense led by Trevone Boykin, there's a chance you aren't that good.
I love what Kliff Kingsbury (*swoon*) is doing in Lubbock, and I think he could turn this program into a powerhouse quite soon. But with uncertainty at quarterback and all over the overachieving defense, it feels too early to buy the Red Raiders' BCS stock.
Maybe next year.