5 College Football Teams That Could Beat the Indianapolis Colts
Every so often, we find ourselves watching a college football team that is so good, we believe they could give an NFL team a run for its money.
But perhaps just as often, there's one NFL team over the course of a season that is just so bad, we think there's a good chance it would lose in a head-to-head matchup against some of the nation's best college programs.
For the 2011 NFL season, it's clear the Indianapolis Colts are easily the worst team in the league, and their 0-10 record thus far shows us that they have a real shot of repeating the 2008 debacle in Detroit by going 0-16.
But how bad are the Colts? Could they really lose to some college teams?
Here are five candidates that could beat Indianapolis on any given Saturday...or Sunday.
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While there are plenty of people across the nation who believe Stanford seems to be a team that has its fortunes directly tied to one player—Andrew Luck—there is one other thing a solid Cardinal team has the would serve it well against an NFL opponent.
Stanford runs a two-back pro-style offense, something that is increasingly rare in the college game. Stanford runs the pro-style well, too. The Cardinal are fourth in the FBS in scoring offense, with 45.0 points per game over 11 contests this season.
The Colts have given up an NFL-worst 300 points through 10 games this season. If you combine that porous defense with the deadly accuracy Luck can execute, it should be clear Stanford stands at least a chance against Indianapolis in this theoretical game.
After all, if Indy can't stop any NFL pro-style offense, it makes sense it wouldn't be able to stop the best college pro-style offenses, right?
Michigan State Spartans
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While we make light of Indianapolis' hapless defense, the Colts offense isn't much better.
The Colts have scored just 131 points so far this season, or 13.1 points per game.
One of the nation's top college defenses is just a few hours north in East Lansing, Mich.
The Spartans have been fielding a suffocating defense all season, a fact to which most Big Ten opponents can attest. MSU allows a Big Ten-best 257.3 yards per game. In fact, in the entire FBS, only LSU and Alabama fare better on defense.
While the Spartans offense isn't the most prolific you'll ever see, it's doubtful State would need to score many points to put itself in a position to beat the Colts.
Oklahoma State Cowboys
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As mentioned, Indianapolis leads the NFL by giving up 30 points per game.
If there's one team in the FBS that knows how to score a ton of points, it's the Oklahoma State Cowboys.
While the Colts clearly have problems stopping any NFL pro-style offense, it would be very entertaining to see how they deal with one of the most high-flying spread offenses in the college game.
Oklahoma State's defense isn't much better than Indianapolis, as the Cowboys have also given up 300 points this season (but over 11 games, not 10).
This fictitious game would come down to who could score the most points and how quickly they could do it. For my money, that's a Cowboys team that scores 49.8 points per game—meaning Oklahoma State scores more than a third of Indianapolis's total point output over the entire season in every game.
Alabama Crimson Tide
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We've already mentioned how a great defense could completely shut down an anemic Colts offense. There are only two teams in the FBS that have a better defense than the aforementioned Michigan State Spartans, and one of those teams is Alabama.
The Crimson Tide lead the nation in total defense—and by quite a large margin, too. The Tide give up a mere 195.9 yards per game, and it's no surprise Alabama also leads the FBS in terms of scoring defense as well, giving up an amazingly scant 8.4 points per game.
If the Colts advanced the ball into Alabama territory during this game, it would be a minor miracle. Forget scoring points.
It's clear from watching the current SEC season that the best athletes in the nation are members of the various defenses in Dixie. One could even make the argument that Alabama (and one or two others in the SEC) have nearly a complete NFL-caliber defensive unit. If Indy can't crack even the worst NFL defenses, how can it expect to crack one of the nation's best in the SEC?
Louisiana State Tigers
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There probably isn't anyone left in the country that doubts LSU's status as the best team in the FBS so far this season.
The Tigers have run roughshod over the lesser opponents on their schedule (of which there have been few), and there have been some equally impressive wins against some of the nation's best.
Although an overtime win against Alabama in Tuscaloosa was about as ugly and sloppy of an offensive performance we've seen from any SEC team in quite a while, the Tigers were lucky Alabama had an every worse night.
Still, the LSU Tigers are one of the best in many statistical categories. Sure, LSU ranks just 75th in the FBS in terms of total offense (behind such powers as Louisiana-Lafayette, Louisiana-Monroe and Louisiana Tech) but the Tigers paradoxically rank 14th in scoring offense.
On the other side of the ball, LSU ranks second in the FBS in both scoring defense and total defense, so once again, we're looking at a team that would stand a very good chance of absolutely shutting down a listless Colts offensive attack.
While not every team on this list would unquestionably beat the Colts on any given day this year, they all certainly stand a decent chance—and LSU probably has a better chance than most.