With key players suspended and many of the experts picking against them, LSU didn’t just find a way to beat Oregon. The Tigers actually looked like a team with few weaknesses.
Every team has one flaw that can be attacked and be the reason they lose. Obviously some have more than others.
So what are LSU’s blemishes? How about No. 1 Oklahoma? Does Bob Stoops’ team have any imperfections that could keep the Sooners from playing in the BCS Championship?
With the release of the new rankings out, it’s time to take a look at how you can beat each Top 25 program.
Baylor showed everyone how to do it.
Spread out the TCU defense and pitch it long or force them to give the corners help. It will open up the underneath passes and the running game.
TCU’s defense will get better as the season goes on, but there is a blueprint in place to take down the Horned Frogs.
Thank you, Robert Griffin III. It was a pleasure to watch you work Friday night.
Texas is still trying to develop a running game. Freshman Malcolm Brown racked up 86 yards on 16 carries against Rice, but most of it came late in the game.
Any good defense will stunt quarterback Garrett Gilbert and force the Longhorns to prove it can run the ball.
If that fails, then Gilbert becomes an easy target and the offense will stall.
It’s never good when your quarterback situation is in flux every week, and that could be the case again this week when Alabama comes to State College.
Add into the mix that Penn State’s offensive line has a few weaknesses and teams can capitalize on a line that lacks any serious cohesiveness with either quarterback.
If that’s not enough, Linebacker U is vulnerable to the run.
The Bulls just pulled off a nice upset at Notre Dame this past weekend, but South Florida caught a few breaks.
Skip Holtz’ team has a lot of raw talent, but there’s also a lot of youth.
The Irish actually exposed some weaknesses in the defense, including a suspect secondary.
A Big East rival like West Virginia and its passing game could exploit the defense for some serious points.
In a conference loaded with top-rated quarterbacks, Missouri’s defensive backfield is inexperienced.
The Tigers are loaded offensively, even without Blaine Gabbert at quarterback, so Gary Pinkel is going to try to outscore opponents like Oklahoma and Oklahoma State.
As exciting and impressive as Baylor’s win over TCU was last week, the Bears also showed off some major issues on defense.
Baylor has three newcomers in the defensive backfield and that inexperience can be taken advantage of by the big arms in the Big 12.
When WVU plays at Maryland (Sept. 17) and LSU (Sept. 24), expect both of those defenses to get after quarterback Geno Smith.
The junior had a nice showing in his first game under QB guru Dana Holgorsen, but at times he held onto the ball too long and threw some dangerous passes.
If he does that against the Terrapins or Tigers, WVU could open the year 2-2.
The Gators looked impressive in their opener with Florida Atlantic, but let's be real...it was Florida Atlantic.
When Florida starts facing some of the tougher SEC defenses, the Gators' offensive line becomes a huge liability.
That's not good news for quarterback John Brantley, who will take some punishment from standouts from Alabama and LSU.
This is easily Mark Dantonio's most talented Michigan State team since he arrived seven years ago.
Quarterback Kirk Cousins is a leader and Edwin Baker offers offensive balance as one of the Big Ten's best backs.
So where do you gain an advantage on the Spartans?
The linebackers are young, so teams like Wisconsin and Nebraska might be able to put a lot of pressure on the defense by running the ball consistently.
The Bulldogs have gotten better in each season under Dan Mullen, so expectations are for a 10-win season.
For that to happen, Mississippi State must avoid too many mismatches with its linebackers.
The defensive line and backfield are solid, but the linebacking corps could end up being a weakness.
Since the SEC is loaded with athletes, this could be an issue for Mississippi State.
Ohio State worked so hard on defense to stop quick, spread offenses that now it struggles with power running teams like Wisconsin.
The Buckeyes travel to Miami this Saturday and the Hurricanes like to run the ball under first-year coach Al Golden. However, Miami’s line may not be physical enough to bulldoze its way through Ohio State.
But the aforementioned Badgers, Nebraska, Michigan State and Michigan all have the potential to expose the Buckeyes.
The lack of any real running game, especially after the loss of Knile Davis for the season, means Arkansas could easily become one dimensional on offense.
Bobby Petrino is aware of this potential problem, but he normally lacks the patience to deal with it. So he simply turns to the pass to ignite the offense.
SEC teams with a good pass rush and a solid defensive backfield could shut them down.
The typical culprit (Arkansas defense) is actually a strength this year.
The Ducks are one of the most athletic teams in the nation.
However, when they face a defense that can rush the passer and shut down the run…say like LSU…then Oregon’s biggest weakness rears its ugly head.
The Ducks turn the ball over too much and it creates easy scoring opportunities for their opponent.
East Carolina showed everyone in the SEC how to potentially take down Steve Spurrier’s squad.
You have to throw it, but with South Carolina’s pass rush it’s probably best to keep it to shorter, quick passes to protect the quarterback.
Aaron Murray and the Georgia Bulldogs will likely take this approach Saturday as they try to avoid an 0-2 start.
The Hokies should be favored in every game this season, so Virginia Tech should be able to win on talent alone.
While Virginia Tech remains an ACC power, Frank Beamer’s teams usually lack “elite” talent. Just look at the way the Hokies have struggled in BCS Bowls.
So once Tech faces a top-notch team, the weaknesses will come out and cost them a legitimate shot at a major win.
Nebraska is pretty solid all the way around, but a key to beating the Cornhuskers is to fluster quarterback Taylor Martinez.
Last year we saw that Martinez can lose his composure and cave under pressure.
There are some nice defenses in the Big Ten that will make Martinez struggle.
The easiest way to beat Oklahoma State is to score 50 points and hope the Cowboys’ offense doesn’t score more.
Until Mike Gundy’s defense proves it can stop a top 15 team then you have to assume teams like Oklahoma and Texas A&M will outscore them.
With Russell Wilson at quarterback and Montee Ball and James White running the ball, there wasn't much you couldn't like about Wisconsin in its opener.
The way to make the Badgers pay is to throw the ball a lot, especially quick, shorter routes to offset Wisconsin's penchant for blitzing.
Texas A&M has the skill and depth on offense to pile on the points this year.
If a Big 12 foe is going to answer the call against the Aggies this fall it will happen by putting a lot of pressure on a defense that is improved, but still untested.
Get an early lead on the Aggies and Mike Sherman's team will panic.
Whenever you hear someone talk about Stanford they normally only mention Andrew Luck.
He is that good.
A key to taking down the Cardinal, though, is getting after Luck with pressure. He doesn't mind a physical game, but if you can wear him down then Stanford's offense will falter.
While Florida State is everyone’s “surprise” pick this fall, the Seminoles still have some question marks.
The defense is improved, but against the best competition last year the unit had a number of breakdowns, especially in pass coverage.
With E.J. Manuel at quarterback, FSU has more raw talent at the position. But he’s still learning Jimbo Fisher’s system and early in the season he could be confused by defenses. So defensive coordinators should be looking to throw as many looks at him as possible to create turnovers.
Whether FSU has an answer for these issues will become even clearer when the Seminoles host No. 1 Oklahoma on Sept. 17.
When Boise coach Chris Petersen has time to prepare, his Broncos are tough to beat.
If you want to beat Boise State it helps to get them on a short week and have an offense that can keep pace with the Broncos on the scoreboard.
Since Boise rarely plays an elite opponent, it wouldn’t be a shock to see a program like Alabama or LSU use its athleticism to wear down Boise.
If you know the answer to this one then maybe you should let the rest of the SEC in on your secret.
Penn State will give its best shot this Saturday.
Since the Crimson Tide are so talented on defense, you need to create situations where your offense can get a short field.
The best way to do this is to create turnovers or capitalize on special teams.
If Les Miles decides to stick with Jarrett Lee at quarterback, there’s a good chance he’ll fall apart against someone like Alabama, Florida or Arkansas.
Lee did what he had to against Oregon in the opener. His numbers (10-of-22 passing for 98 yards) were pedestrian, but he didn’t lose the game for the Tigers.
Opposing defenses can rattle Lee and cause him to turn the ball over.
Maybe we should check with Florida State defensive coordinator Mark Stoops, because if anyone is going to come up with a plan to stop the top-ranked Sooners it’s probably going to be him.
But it’s not going to be easy.
If a defense can confuse Landry Jones with different blitz packages and create third-and-long or force some turnovers then you put the pressure on Oklahoma’s defense.
It’s not like the defense is a weakness, though. But if you can wear down the defense it’s possible to beat Oklahoma.