College Football Rankings 2011: 3 National Title Contenders Outside the Top 10
The AP has a preseason top 10 of Oklahoma, Alabama, Oregon, LSU, Boise State, Florida State, Stanford, Texas A&M, Oklahoma State, and Nebraska.
A lot changes during the season. Auburn wasn't exactly a National Championship threat a season ago, but they came out, went undefeated, and claimed their first National title.
Generally, the preseason rankings are relatively accurate. But that's boring. Right now, we're going to take a look at who will be this year's Auburn. What teams out of the top 10 are most likely to come out and claim a National Championship?
The USA today Coach's poll has Wisconsin as its No. 10 team, so you can accuse me of cheating here if you want.
But in the AP, the Badgers are currently 11, so they qualify.
Wisconsin was incredibly impressive in a 51-17 dismantling of UNLV. That win, coupled with a guaranteed loss of Oregon or LSU, will probably be enough to place the Badgers in the top 10 next week.
The month of October will be tough. They start with a home game against Nebraska, and finish with two road dates against Michigan State and Ohio State.
Still, I like their chances. The toughest of those games will be against Nebraska, which is at home. This team already looks like a machine.
The AP has the Fighting Irish ranked at No. 16. They finished last season with a lot of momentum. Now, the offense, which struggled at times, has a year of experience under Brian Kelly.
The Notre Dame defense was solid last year, and remains largely intact.
With home games against Michigan State and USC, and road games against Michigan and Stanford, the road will not be easy for the Irish. They'll need to find their stride early, as the Michigan and Michigan State games come early in the year.
If they can get through that and remain undefeated through a relatively simple part of the schedule, the Irish have the talent to reliably beat USC. The game against Stanford is the last of the year. It won't be easy, but it's winnable.
I don't think this is the year for Notre Dame. There are a lot of "if's" in the scenario that I just listed. Still, given their talent, it's not impossible.
For SEC standards, Georgia has a relatively easy schedule. They don't have to deal with Alabama or LSU, which is a nice advantage.
Their National Championship hopes rest largely on tonight's opener against Boise State. The Broncos know that they need a win to even be considered for a National Championship.
The Bulldogs need to match the intensity and urgency that the Broncos are sure to come out with. Playing in front of a partisan crowd, Georgia will have no excuse to not be fired up.
After that, the Bulldogs have a game against a South Carolina team currently ranked at No. 12. The Gamecocks have issues at quarterback, so Georgia should handle them. The schedule isn't easy, but it's a manageable SEC load.
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