College Football: 10 Teams Ready To Crash the BCS Party
If there is one thing we have learned in college football, it is to never make too much out of anything that happens in the first few weeks.
The season is long and the line between contender and pretender is blurry.
However, through two games, several programs have either ruined their chances at glory or appear to be in position to make a run at a title.
Some of those names are familiar faces.
The Alabama Crimson Tide still look like the champions of old.
The Oklahoma Sooners pulled off a big win against Florida State.
The Buckeyes and Terrelle Pryor are going to be tough to beat.
However, some new faces are emerging and they appear poised to knock off the formulaic predictability in the BCS Championship game.
Given some of the talented players across the country, this may be the year someone comes from back in the pack to get their opportunity to play in the biggest game of them all.
The following is a list of 10 teams that could be potential gate crashers on their way to a BCS Championship appearance this season.
Will they break the monotony of the Alabama/Florida/Texas/Oklahoma/Ohio State domination?
Let the debate begin!
We all knew that Iowa captured lightning in a bottle in 2009.
Many thought that the Hawkeyes could not repeat the success of last year, particularly with the erratic quarterback Ricky Stanzi under center.
Well turns out that Iowa is looking just fine. In fact, it is off to a far better start than the shaky beginning of last season where the Hawkeyes needed two missed field goals to survive an upset scare from Northern Iowa.
With a combined 70-14 score in its first two games, Iowa's offense has run like a well-oiled machine. Averaging over 450 yards of offense, Iowa has only six more yards passing than running.
That's balance, boys and girls.
Most importantly, Stanzi has zero interceptions to go with his three touchdown passes to start the year. By comparison, he already had two interceptions at this point last season.
While the season is young and it is hard to know what to make of their competition, Iowa will be a very difficult team to beat it if the Hawkeyes avoid beating themselves.
With Ohio State and Wisconsin both coming into Iowa City to play the Hawkeyes, the road to the Big Ten title appears to be going through Kinnick Stadium.
A return to the BCS looks probable, but a championship run is still in the cards.
Nebraska was a trendy pick to come out of the Big 12 given the uncertainty at Oklahoma and Texas.
Well, that hope has certainly not faded after two convincing victories over Western Kentucky and Idaho.
While the competition has been far from stiff, the Cornhuskers have shown explosiveness on both sides of the ball.
We knew that the defense was going to be impressive. What we did not know is that the Cornhuskers would have such big play potential.
Against Idaho, Nebraska had consecutive touchdown runs of over 50 yards a piece on offense. They also had two interception returns for touchdowns in consecutive plays.
That ability makes them a threat to be a factor in each and every game.
Nebraska still plays in a rather weak division overall and if they continue on this rate it will come down to a big showdown with Missouri to keep a BCS dream alive.
Then the Cornhuskers would have to take down either Texas or Oklahoma. Texas has certainly not looked as sharp as Longhorn fans would hope and while Oklahoma did get a big victory over Florida State, they too have a few things to prove as the season continues.
Nebraska has the ranking to make a move in the standings while some of the premier teams knock each other off the top spot.
If the Cornhuskers just do what they do, they could sneak their way on to the biggest stage of them all.
This just in, Arkansas football can score.
We knew the Razorbacks were stacked on offense and we knew that they would have no trouble finding the end zone many times. Scoring at least 31 points in each game, Arkansas has thrilled the crowd.
The question was if the defense could stop anyone long enough to let quarterback Ryan Mallett and his coach Bobby Petrino work their magic?
Well, two games into a season and Arkansas has given up a total of 10 points and 375 yards of total offense.
Yes, I know the competition is weak but Arkansas gave up at least 10 points in every single game last season.
The Razorbacks have looked as good as advertised, racking up over 1,000 yards already. Considering that none of the SEC teams look invincible, Arkansas may be able to simply outscore its way to an SEC title.
Whether Arkansas is a contender or a pretender will be determined in the next few weeks.
With games at Georgia, at Auburn, and two home games against Texas A&M and Alabama within the next four games, the Razorbacks have some big hurdles to test their defense.
If they survive though, they could have smooth sailing all the way to their final regular season game against LSU.
Arkansas has been building towards this season and now appears to be their opportunity.
Will they seize it or will the upcoming schedule expose them?
California Golden Bears
The Golden Bears have always had trouble handling the big-time spotlight.
It seems like every team they appear to be making a move nationally, then they fall hard in a complete shocker.
Three dominating wins to open last season turned into a 42-3 loss the next week at Oregon.
In 2007, Cal backed up five wins to open the season with three losses.
In 2006, Cal had eight wins in a row before dropping two of the last three.
The Golden Bears simply have had trouble handling prosperity.
So is this finally the year we can buy into Cal?
It is if you think that the Bears have finally found an offense.
In two games, Cal has scored a whopping 104 points this season. Quarterback Kevin Riley has already racked up seven touchdowns this season, giving him 44 for his career.
The Golden Bears made the soon-to-be Pac-10 member Colorado feel pretty stupid about their decision to jump ship, but can they continue this in conference play?
Cal's offense has been directed by a strong defensive effort that has gotten them short fields. When they had to pull off a longer drive, the Golden Bears lacked consistency.
If California continues to produce turnovers, they could really make a move. However, given the quality teams out west, it might be hard to maintain that level of success game in and out.
Auburn fans love its team and had high hopes entering this season.
Then the Tigers barely survived Mississippi State and suddenly the fervor died down a bit.
Well have no fear, that 17-14 contest had much more to do with an improving Bulldog team and a hostile crowd than any lingering problems for the Tigers.
Auburn has some big shoes to fill on offense after losing its starting quarterback and running back, but the overall depth has improved dramatically under coach and former coordinator Gene Chizik.
Still, the Tigers passing game was pretty lackluster. Receivers could not make big catches and the defense had to bail them out more than a few times.
So why do I still think Auburn could be a gate crasher at the BCS ball? It's only Week 2, boys and girls!
With all the transitions taking place with this team, of course it will take some time to adjust. The Tigers still have seven sacks on the young season and that defense can help them stay in games while the offense finds its way.
Auburn has stiff competition in the SEC West, but every team has a few flats that Chizik could be able to exploit.
If they capture a little magic, expect the Tigers to finally break through and capture an SEC title.
Life has been just fine for the Cardinal so far without their star running back. Capturing the national headlines now is quarterback and Heisman contender Andrew Luck, who is 28-of-47 for 467 yards, six touchdowns, and zero interceptions.
Luck showed some impressive footwork as well in the Pac-10 opener against UCLA, doing his own Gerhardt impression for 63 rushing yards.
Of course, the star last weekend was the Cardinal defense that shut out the Bruins and held their quarterback to a paltry 39 yards.
Now I know that UCLA and offense are two things that do not really go together, but unlike other teams that have racked up statistics against scrubs, Stanford got their impressive victory in a conference game on the road.
That has to count for something boys and girls.
Now the running game of Stanford must continue to improve and people will question just how good the defense is considering the bad state of UCLA's offense. However, Luck seems to be one of those leaders that can take the team on his back and pull out a victory.
Stanford is well-coached, disciplined, and talented. When some key players return and the units jell, the Cardinal are going to be a very difficult team to knock off.
Is there a team more overlooked than the Wisconsin Badgers?
While everyone is talking about either Ohio State or Iowa in the Big Ten, the Badgers are ranked 11th in the country and are lurking under the radar.
Wisconsin has an experienced and talented quarterback in Scott Tolzien and, although he has two interceptions to one touchdown so far this season, star receiver Nick Toon can make anybody look good.
The Badgers have won each of their first two games comfortably though not necessarily in dominating fashion. The defense needs to continue to improve, even though the Badgers are currently ranked second in total defense for the Big Ten.
If Wisconsin can keep on winning, they will quickly grab the headlines with their schedule.
No one can say the Badgers got a break like they did in 2006 when Wisconsin avoided Ohio State en route to a 12-1 season.
This year Wisconsin must travel to Iowa and Michigan to go along with a big home date with the Buckeyes. They also did a good job of scheduling competitive out-of-conference games to successfully prepare them for the conference tilt.
Wisconsin may not be clicking on all cylinders yet but that is not really a bad thing. If they can hit their stride in time, they could surprise everyone.
Let's be honest, has any team looked more impressive the first two weeks than Oregon?
The Ducks started the season by scoring 72 points, then they went to Tennessee and humbled the Volunteers with a second half shellacking.
All of this, of course, without their star quarterback Jeremiah Masoli, who is busy losing to Jacksonville State nowadays.
Oregon claimed a wild Pac-10 last season and should be the favorites to do so yet again.
Three of the top conference contenders—Stanford, Washington, and Arizona—all must come into Eugene, Oregon to try and knock off the Ducks.
The last time Oregon lost a conference game at home was in 2007.
The Ducks have a solid coach in Chip Kelly and a defense that has shut down its opponents. They have yet to give up a passing touchdown and have the pedigree to rise from the fold.
Many people think that the Pac-10 is just too chaotic for anyone to go undefeated, but if someone does it has to be Oregon.
TCU Horned Frogs
Boise State was everyone's darling until Virginia Tech had to lose to James Madison University.
The euphoric high has disappeared and now the anti-Boise State sentiment has set in.
They don't play anyone! How would they fare in the SEC or Big Ten?
The problem is that Boise State probably will go undefeated, so what can the pollsters do?
Oh that's right, pick TCU instead.
The Horned Frogs are also in the top five of the national rankings and they too have an impressive victory. Oh, the Oregon State Beavers also have yet to lose to an FBS school.
It will be interesting to see how they fare against the Broncos on the blue turf. If they pull off the upset, expect the Horned Frogs to get all that media love that has been in Boise.
Also, TCU might get a big opportunity if Utah continues to play well. The Utes are nationally ranked and pulled off a big overtime win over Pittsburgh, one of the top Big East programs.
Unlike Boise State, TCU may have a big conference game to earn respect and get into the championship game.
The Horned Frogs are certainly stacked with both talented and experienced players.
Quarterback Andy Dalton could very well be a Heisman finalist, and at the very least he is going to re-write the school record books.
Many of us thought that this could be the year that a non-BCS conference make it to the big game. It just might not be the one people originally had in mind.
Boise State Broncos
Let's face it. Boise State went from one of the BCS frontrunners to becoming a big long shot.
The Broncos needed Virginia Tech to play well. The Hokies needed to win the ACC and look good doing it to give voters enough courage to put the WAC darling into the biggest game of the year.
However, when the Hokies went down at home to James Madison University, those dreams nearly died.
Now, even though Virginia Tech fans may think the sky has fallen, the Hokies still could win the ACC given the sad state of the conference.
After all, Georgia Tech could not beat a team that lost to North Dakota State. Miami cannot play on the road and North Carolina has more off-the-field issues than any program around.
The Hokies need only to solidify their offensive and defensive lines to become a top-25 program once more and that could certainly propel the Boise State bandwagon once more.
Besides, with Oregon State on the horizon, Boise State could rack up one more impressive win.
It seems clear that a third team the Broncos must root for would be Fresno State. The Bulldogs knocked off Cincinnati in Week 1 and could give Boise State a boost in the rankings if they continue to play well.
That being said though, quarterback Kellen Moore and company have a tall task in front of them. Going undefeated simply may not be enough for everyone.
However, with a few breaks, Boise State may finally get the opportunity they have been looking for.
Let me make one thing clear. I believe the Broncos can compete with anyone and they deserve this chance. It is a shame most teams are terrified of playing Boise State because they know it puts their program in a lose-lose situation.
Things will not be much better when they join the MWC given the attrition in that league as well.
However, if Boise State keeps building, its time may come. It just might be longer than we all expected.
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