What makes college football so great is the drama each weekend brings as teams jockey for position to earn a shot at the national title or claim a conference crown. Adding to the drama this year is the lingering presence of TCU, Boise State and now Utah in the top ten of both major polls.
With these three schools hanging around it adds even more pressure on the power conference guys to keep keep winning, because one loss could knock a team out of the race this year.
Here is a quick look at the AP’s top ten college football teams and a word of caution and hope for each one.
Alabama: We have two cautions for Alabama football fans. First, be wary of national titles handed out in October. Many of them are lost before November.
Second, Alabama’s red zone defense has been outstanding, but consider that Penn State turned the ball over three times inside the thirty and Florida gave the ball up twice in the red zone. Teams have moved the ball, but have not finished drives off. Can this trend continue?
Take courage though. Alabama beat up Florida and basically did not even give it an effort in the second half on offense. Alabama only totaled 71 yards in the second half with 37 coming on a run out the clock drive by the second team.
Ohio State: Terrelle Pryor is too much of the Ohio State offense and it is hard to win a national championship when one guy is 60% of your production. Buckeye fans might quickly point to Texas with Vince Young, but that is the exception to the rule.
One other caution for those attending this weekend’s game with Indiana. There are rumors that concession works might stage a walk-out. Ohio State football fans need to come to the game well fed.
Be encouraged that on offense five different players, all with multiple catches, average over ten yards per reception. The Buckeye’s also feature one of college football’s best defenses this season, and that does win championships.
Oregon: The Ducks have done a pretty good job of keeping other teams from scoring but there is reason to be concerned with the defense. As a unit Oregon just gives up too much yardage through the air and ground. Stanford and Arizona State each racked up more than 500 yards of offense against Oregon’s defense. A struggling Tennessee team put up 333 total yards.
On the positive side, it just might be that you don’t need to worry about the other guys scoring when you put 56 points a game on the scoreboard. Most impressive of all the offensive outings was the 52 hung on Stanford last weekend.
Boise State: Poll voters like to see headlines, and Boise State can expect most national ones to discuss their overall weak schedule and worthiness to play for a national title compared to schools from more competitive conferences.
The caution is also a reason to have hope. Boise State’s football team will be undefeated at the end of the year, and teams they need out of the way probably won’t be. This will keep the team in blue a part of the conversation until the end.
TCU: Everyone who feels for Boise State really needs to hurt for TCU’s football team. At least people are talking about the Broncos. You don’t hear much at all about the Horned Frogs. They are buried in a state full of high profile college football programs and pro sports are king in several cities. It just does not leave much space for getting Gary Patterson’s team real play nationally.
Take heart Horned Frog fans. If you finish the season undefeated the computers that create so much angst as they calculate strength of schedule differences will find your year to be a better one than Boise State’s. Imagine the Bronco’s faithful screaming as you get a better bowl because of a higher BCS finish.
Oklahoma: Despite out-playing Texas from the very start, the outcome had the potential to swing when Landry Jones rolls out late in the 4th quarter and just drops the football. If Jones does not manage to get a few fingers on the ball so it barely rolls out of bounds Texas recovers the fumble and is still alive. Of course, there is the old saying, “If if and buts were candy and nuts we would all have a merry Christmas.”
Teams that keep playing close games eventually find themselves on the wrong side of the score. The Sooners need to start closing every game out like they did Florida State.
On the up side, Oklahoma’s football team is still 5-0 and avoids Nebraska this season in regular season play. Landry Jones is also starting to look like the best QB in the Big 12 this season. Solid play behind center is always a plus.
Nebraska: What do we really know about the Huskers? They have beaten Western Kentucky, Idaho, Washington and South Dakota. They will beat Kansas State Thursday, and there will still not be much we know about Bo Pelini’s team. Consider this: Nebraska’s football opposition this season has a combined record of 3-11.
Well, for something good…The Huskers seem to run the football pretty good. It is not time to say this is reality yet though. The best rushing defense Nebraska has faced was Idaho’s. The Vandals are the 65th best team at stopping the run in the country. South Dakota State is 111th. At the FCS level of college football.
Auburn: By now everyone has to agree that Cam Newton can play football. He is currently completing 65% of his passes and has tossed twelve touchdowns this fall. Newton also has 138 yards more rushing than the next closest Tiger. He also has more rushing attempts than Alabama’s Trent Richardson and Mark Ingram.
Michigan’s Denard Robinson is hurting and so is Ohio State’s Pryor. When a QB is counted on to produce most of a team’s offense with both his arms and legs it can mean trouble at some point.
On the plus side for Auburn football is the play of freshman running back Michael Dyer. Look for him to carry the football more as the season continues. Auburn can also take confidence from two close, physical games they won against South Carolina and Clemson.
Arizona: Is it possible for one team to have another’s number? Oregon State might have Arizona’s. In their last eleven meetings the Beavers have won nine. Does this make their matchup with Oregon State a trap game? If you are an Arizona football fan you better be thinking so.
Arizona’s football team can be optimistic against the Beavers this year because the best quarterback in the conference this year is not USC’s Matt Barkley or Jake Locker of Washington. Arizona’s Nick Foles is the man. The Wildcat’s signal caller is completing 74% of his passes. Arizona also has an aggressive defense that is making plays each week.
Utah: The win against Pitt is a positive, but the rest of the schedule has been pretty weak. UNLV has lost every game except for when they played New Mexico. Everyone beats New Mexico, and usually by a really large margin. San Jose State is another team that everyone beats. Well, that is not quite correct. The Spartans did beat Southern Utah.
Don’t fret yet Utah football fans. The Utes will have their chance to show how good they are in games with Air Force, TCU, Iowa State and Notre Dame.
Who should be in the top ten? Number eleven Arkansas is a better football team than Utah for sure. When they play Auburn the question of who the second best team is currently in the SEC is will be answered. They deserve the nod above the Utes, who should not even be in the top 20 based on their accomplishments to date.
Who will fall from the AP top 25 after this weekend? Look for Miami to take Florida State down which will push Jimbo Fisher’s team from the rankings. If South Carolina falls to Alabama they would likely not fall all the way out, but the possibility is there.