College Football: Predicting the 1st Loss of Undefeated Top 10 Teams
Coming into this season we knew that LSU, Alabama, and Oklahoma were going to be three of the best teams in the nation.
But who would have thought that Stanford, Wisconsin, and Clemson were still going to be undefeated going into the sixth week of the season?
With all of the surprisingly undefeated teams in college football, it is the time of year in which fans start waiting for teams to win instead of expecting them to win every game.
So who will the undefeated teams in the top 10 lose to, and why will they lose to them?
Potential Stumbling Block: at Tennessee
Last year Tennessee was one penalty away from beating LSU in Death Valley.
You could argue that LSU has slightly improved since last year, but Tennessee is a completely different football team, especially on the offensive side of the ball.
This year the Vols have the 11th-best passing attack in the nation, the Vols are averaging about 38 points and over 100 rushing yards a game, and have already had good offensive games against two quality opponents
Last year, the Vols were only averaging 27 points a game going into the LSU game (they only averaged 15 points a game against quality competition,) were starting a turnover machine at quarterback in Matt Simms, were one dimensional on offense, and look liked they were going to be a three-to-four-win football team.
This three-to-four-win team only lost by two points in Death Valley!
Now that Tennessee is playing LSU at home, has one of the best young quarterbacks in the country in Tyler Bray (he already has 14 touchdown passes,) and is looking like a borderline top 25 team instead of a borderline bowl team.
If Tennessee can stop the run and get a passing game going against LSU (remember how well WVU passed the ball against the Tigers,) they have a good chance at upsetting LSU.
Potential Stumbling Block: vs. LSU
Alabama and LSU are the two best teams in the country on defense, so this game will most likely come down to which offense can put just enough points on the board to come away with a huge win.
I trust the LSU offense more than I trust the Alabama offense because I trust the experience of the Jarrett Lee/Jordan Jefferson combination more than the youth of the McCarron/Sims combination.
This game will come down to quarterback play because LSU will be able to stop Alabama's running game.
The LSU run defense has been incredible this season, as they have only given up about 60 rushing yards per game. The Tigers only gave up 95 yards to an Oregon team that is averaging about 300 yards rushing this season, only 52 yards rushing to a Mississippi State team that is averaging about 185, and only 70 rushing yards to a West Virginia team that averages around 135.
So LSU holds quality opponents to an average of 133 yards below their average of rushing yards per game.
Based on this logic, the Tigers would be able to hold the Tide to about 97 yards rushing, which means the Alabama offense would have to pass.
LSU wins this game because of their stellar run defense.
Potential Stumbling Block: @ #25 Baylor
Baylor will finally get their statement win against Oklahoma.
Baylor has a good chance to pull the upset here because Oklahoma will be looking forward to their game at Oklahoma State (a potential battle of unbeatens). Oklahoma will also be worn out from playing three straight tough games against Texas Tech, Kansas State and Texas A&M, and Oklahoma has struggled with fast offenses in past years.
We all remember how Oklahoma was embarrassed in big-time bowl games by fast teams like LSU, West Virginia, Florida, USC and even Boise State. The Sooners are facing a conference team that has that sort of speed, and they are playing them on the road in what may be the biggest game in Baylor's history.
Baylor scores 47 points a game and has the nation's eighth-best passing offense, the nation's most athletic quarterback in Robert Griffin III and one of the nation's best receivers in Kendall Wright.
If the Baylor defense can contain the Oklahoma Sooners, they should have a good chance to beat the Sooners.
Potential Stumbling Block: @ #19 Illinois
It is tough to pick against Wisconsin because of their balance on offense and defense.
The Badgers have the third-highest scoring offense in the nation, a defense that only gives up around 10 points a game (second in the nation,) the most efficient quarterback in the nation in Russell Wilson and a top ten rushing attack led by Montee Ball and James White.
I think a game in which this balance could be nullified is the Badgers' November 19th game at Illinois.
The cold weather could make the Badgers depend on the run way too much and make them one-dimensional.
If the Illini can take advantage of this and get off to a quick start, they might have a chance to beat the Badgers.
#5 Boise State
Potential Stumbling Block: vs TCU
The only "quality" opponent left on the Broncos' schedule is the TCU Horned Frogs.
TCU has gone from the best defense in the nation to about the 70th-best, but they do have a pretty balanced offense.
TCU has the 26th-best rushing attack in the nation and ranks 12th in points scored. If TCU can pressure Kellen Moore, create third-and long situations, control the clock and have a good 4th quarter, they will have a chance to upset the Broncos.
#6 Oklahoma State
Potential Stumbling block: vs. #3 Oklahoma
Oklahoma State has plenty of potential stumbling blocks before hosting the Sooners, but I feel like this is the only game in which they have over an 80 percent chance of losing.
I say this because the Cowboys' defense this season has been nothing short of suspect. The Cowboys are 75th in scoring defense (giving up around 28 points a game), are giving up over 250 passing yards a game (against only one quality opponent), and the Cowboys' run defense gives up about five yards per carry.
It also needs to be pointed out that Oklahoma has one of the nation's best offenses and probably one of the best defenses in the Big 12. All of this (along with Oklahoma State's poor history against Oklahoma) means a loss for the Cowboys against the Sooners.
Potential Stumbling Block: @ #9 Oregon
This is a game in which the Ducks will prove that they are still the class of the Pac-12.
The Ducks' rushing attack (around 300 yards per game), passing attack (around 235 yards per game), third down rush defense (only gives up about 2.6 yards per carry) and ability to force second-half turnovers give them a clear advantage over the Cardinals.
I also believe that Oregon can win the battles on the offensive and defensive lines. This means that they should be able to get about 300 yards rushing (their average) and they should be able to stop the run and pressure golden boy quarterback Andrew Luck.
I think the Ducks will win this game by at least two touchdowns.
Potential Stumbling Block: @ #13 Georgia Tech
I have to start with an apology to Tiger Nation.
Before the season I said that you were probably going to go 5-7, that you probably had the worst starting quarterback in the ACC, that you probably had one of the worst defenses in the country and that your energetic coach would probably be canned by season's end.
Now it looks like you will probably go anywhere from 10-2 to 12-0, it looks like you have the best and most versatile starting quarterback in the ACC, you have a defense that is "good enough" and you have a coach who is coming up with the best schemes of any coach in the nation.
With all that being said, I still think Clemson has to lose a game somewhere.
They matchup well with just about every team on their schedule except the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. The Yellow Jackets have the best rushing attack in the nation and have the second-best scoring offense. I think the Jackets will be able to control the clock with their running game and will use the home crowd to will themselves to a victory
I still love you, Clemson.