My one shining moment for the season went unpublished, but it happens that way sometimes. Last week was when I found that elusive undefeated week I’ve been seeking all season, thanks to USC’s last second heroics. I’m all about repeat performances, especially repeat perfect performances. This week has some challenges, so it won’t be easy. On to the picks……
Last Week: 10-0
Overall: 94-29 (76.4%)
SEC: 41-6 (87.2%)
Chattanooga @ #1 Alabama (off): That “off” you see could actually be representative of the actual game, meaning Alabama is really off this week because this one won’t be close. Some pretty clever scheduling here by the Tide; couldn’t take a bye week this late in the season before facing Auburn so they did the next best thing by scheduling the requisite FCS opponent. Chattanooga 12, Alabama 48
Idaho @ #2 Florida St. (-57 ½ ): The winds of controversy are gusting in Tallahassee now. I don’t know that it will affect them in this game, but it potentially could going forward. Jameis Winston will start this game and as long as the rest of his teammate actually physically show up to the stadium they should be fine. Idaho 3, Florida St. 55
Indiana @ #3 Ohio St. (-35): Has there ever been a more irrelevant 22 game winning streak in college football? I would venture to say Ohio State’s is probably the first. The Buckeyes are in the rear view mirror of the BCS Championship game, but unfortunately for them they are not as close as they appear. They play yet another subpar opponent. Indiana 10, Ohio St. 56
#4 Baylor (-9 ½ ) @ #10 Oklahoma St. : This week’s game of the week will be in Stillwater and expect it to be a shootout. Baylor is leading the nation in scoring with 61.2 points per game. Baylor is ranked in the top 10 in rushing and passing offense. So clearly there are no real weaknesses on offense. Oklahoma St. tends to rely more on the pass but even there they’re only 38th in the NCAA averaging 258.2 yards per game. Defensively, Baylor seems to be the better team. Just in general Baylor would seem to be the better team, not to mention the fact that they’re chasing their BCS National Championship dream. As I initially looked at this game I thought Oklahoma St. would get the win. After all they’re at home and Baylor seems ripe for an upset. I mean we are talking about Baylor here; perennial cellar dweller in the Big 12. Something that I think no one is really talking about is the fact that this is only Baylor’s 3rd true road game. They struggled somewhat on the road against Kansas St. and the other road game was against lowly Kansas. I’m not sure they will be fully prepared for the type of road atmosphere they’ll face in Stillwater. If Oklahoma St. has some early success and Baylor doesn’t, then this one could shake up the BCS. My mind tells me that it will take a tougher defensive team to slow down Baylor, but the fact that they’re playing on the road tells me that they may struggle. It’s a coin flip honestly. Baylor 38, Oklahoma St. 41
#5 Oregon (-21 ½ ) @ Arizona: The Ducks have a renewed life for a Pac-12 title with Stanford’s loss last week. Watching the Ducks play Utah last week they seemed to have a malaise about themselves. I expect that to change this week. Marcus Mariota should be closer to 100% following the knee sprain that’s kept him in the pocket the last couple games. Arizona has a tough running game that they’ll likely rely on heavily in this game. In the end I think a refocused Oregon team will be too much for the Wildcats. Oregon 52, Arizona 20
Citadel @ #7 Clemson (off): Clemson gets to take a bit of a break this week before facing in-state rival South Carolina to end the season, which by the way will be a great matchup. Citadel 0, Clemson 56
#8 Missouri (-2 ½ ) @ #24 Ole Miss: Missouri gets the services of starting QB James Franklin back this week. The Tigers showed some toughness while he was out, but that home loss to South Carolina may keep them out of the SEC championship game. They need this win and a win against Texas A&M to advance. Lose either and the South Carolina loss bites them in the ass. Missouri 38, Ole Miss 28
California @ #9 Stanford (-32): Stanford comes into this game with their tail tucked between their legs following the upset loss to USC on the road. It’s kind of hard to figure this team out. They lose on the road against Utah, win on the road against Oregon and lose on the road to USC. Given that information I would say they focused their season on beating Oregon again. I don’t expect them to have any problems in this game though. California 12, Stanford 30
#12 Texas A&M @ #22 LSU (-4 ½ ): LSU hasn’t been what I expected them to be this year. Their young defense has not developed into that typical LSU defense. To that end, Texas A&M’s defense has been even worse. They’re currently 12th in the SEC in total defense and 106th in the NCAA. For me the intangible here is that this will be Texas A&M’s first visit to Death Valley as a member of the SEC. At the beginning of the season I thought the Aggies would lose this game and I still think that. Texas A&M 31, LSU 34
#17 Arizona St. (-1 ½ ) @ #14 UCLA: For all intents and purposes this game is likely going to determine who represents the Pac-12 south in the championship game. Should UCLA win then they would how the edge by way of the head to head tie breaker. Should Arizona St. win they’re pretty much in the driver’s seat for the south’s spot. Some interesting scenarios could still play out with both teams still having conference games against rivals next week. I’ve seen UCLA play Oregon, Arizona and Washington with varying degrees of success. I think they’re a solid team. Keep in mind their only two losses this season have come against Stanford and Oregon, not bad. Arizona St. 27, UCLA 38
On to the SEC
Mississippi St. (-2 ½ ) @ Arkansas [in Little Rock, AR]: The battle to stay out of the bottom of the SEC west. State’s 4 wins have come against non-conference opponents and Kentucky. Arkansas’ 3 wins have come against non-conference opponents and they’re winless in conference. Not to mention the fact that the Hogs have managed to lose 7 in a row. I’m not sure that they even know how to win anymore. State will be taking the field down one of the two QBs they use. I believed in the Hogs early in the season and thought they had a good shot at pulling out 6 wins this season. That thought has since faded. I picked them to win a winnable game at Florida and they lost. Following that game I decided I wouldn’t pick them anymore the remainder of the season. I think they have a chance to win, but I’ll keep my word. Mississippi St. 24, Arkansas 21
Coastal Carolina @ #11 South Carolina (off): I’ll give you $100 if you can tell me where Coastal Carolina’s campus is without Googling it. Coastal Carolina 6, South Carolina 49
Georgia Southern @ Florida (off): Surely, surely the Gators can get a win in this one with a home pummeling at the hands of in-state rival Florida St. on the horizon. Georgia Southern 10, Florida 31
Kentucky @ Georgia (-25): Georgia has been ravaged by injuries this season. They should have known something when their best receiver was lost for the season in the first quarter of their first game due to a knee injury he suffered while celebrating a touchdown; bad omen. Kentucky is terrible. Kentucky 9, Georgia 31
Vanderbilt @ Tennessee (-2 ½ ): This rivalry game actually has a bit of intrigue to it. In the last two years it’s been pretty heated and I wouldn’t expect anything less this year. Vanderbilt is looking to win 2 in a row in this series for the first time since the 1920’s. Tennessee has been who I thought they would be this season. But for some misfortune in home games against Georgia and South Carolina, their season may be much different. I always say that losing teams find a way to lose and that’s exactly what they’ve done. Vanderbilt 33, Tennessee 24
What a horrible week last week was. All the upsets in the SEC wreaked havoc on my picks. Shout out to Miami, Alabama, Oregon and Ohio St. for getting the job done for me last week. This type of weekend typically happens in college football and you can get pretty rich if you can guess which weekend it will be. I don’t really think anyone saw all of those SEC upsets coming. This is a new week and as coaches say we gotta put last week’s disappointment behind us and focus on what’s in front of us this week; and I shall. On to the picks……
Last Week: 4-6
Tennessee @ #1 Alabama (-28): Alabama is just kinda rolling along not making a ton of noise, but they are the champs until proven otherwise. Tennessee will probably be pretty pumped up for this game, but let’s just be honest they don’t have what it takes to win at Alabama. Tennessee 13, Alabama 41
NC State @ #2 Florida St.(-32 ½ ): NC State was the team to derail Florida State’s national championship dreams last year in a close game in Raleigh. For some reason I think this is a different FSU team from those past teams that found a way to lose to an opponent (usually unranked) they shouldn’t. Maybe I feel that way because the ‘Noles are ranked in the top ten in the NCAA in total offense and total defense. I could be completely off though. NC State 16, Florida St. 55
#12 UCLA @ #3 Oregon (-23 ½ ): I must admit I’m pretty surprised by the line in this game. UCLA only gives up 19.2 points per game and they score 39.8 a game. I fully expect Oregon to score quite a bit, but I don’t know if they’ll cover the number. The Bruins are a good team but I’m not sure they’re good enough to beat the Ducks in Eugene. UCLA 28, Oregon 48
Penn St. @ #4 Ohio St. (-14 ½ ): I can’t say that I’ve watched Penn St. play this season, but I do know that they lost at home to UCF. I know UCF is a decent team, so that wasn’t a terrible loss, but if they can’t protect the home field against a team like UCF then they’ll have their hands full in Columbus. Penn St. 17, Ohio St. 38
#21 South Carolina @ #5 Missouri (-3): Do we all truly think Missouri is the 5th best team in the country at this point of the season? I mean, really? I’m not convinced they’re that good, but they are in control of the SEC east. Win this one and their fans better start scouring Stub Hub for SEC championship game tickets. South Carolina 27, Missouri 31
#6 Stanford (-4) @ #25 Oregon St.: This game has the potential to be a head scratcher. Oregon St. can play pretty tough at home. Sure they lost to Eastern Washington in their home opener, but they’ve bounced back, somehow, to land in the top 25. Wait, the more I look at this team they really haven’t beaten anyone of significance to land at #25. Stanford 38, Oregon St. 10
Wake Forest @ #7 Miami (-24): For Miami’s sake I hope they’re focused on this game and not thinking ahead to their big matchup next week against the ‘Noles. They should handle this one pretty easily. Wake Forest 13, Miami 33
#8 Baylor (-35) @ Kansas: How ridiculous is it that Baylor has scored 70 points in 4 of their 6 games this season and 69 points in one of the other two games. This could be a major embarrassment for Kansas, but then again Baylor has done this to pretty much every team they’ve played. Baylor 70, Kansas 14
#9 Clemson (-14 ½ ) @ Maryland: Clemson will be licking its wounds as they travel to Maryland. I’m sure Clemson fans are hoping that one loss doesn’t turn into 2. Maryland strangely found a way to lose at Wake Forest last week. The Terps haven’t been quite right since taking that haymaker on the chin from FSU. Clemson 44, Maryland 20
#10 Texas Tech @ #15 Oklahoma (-7): It doesn’t happen very often where the higher ranked team is the underdog in a game, but Texas Tech will be on the road in Norman. The last time the Red Raiders trekked into Norman they came out with a 3 point victory. Oklahoma is 9th in the NCAA in total defense, but somehow managed to give up 445 total yards to Texas two weeks ago. Tech has the 2nd ranked passing offense and Oklahoma is ranked 1st in passing defense. This one should be interesting. Texas Tech 41, Oklahoma 30
On to the SEC
Kentucky @ Mississippi St. (11 ½ ): I’m not sure that this will be one of the more compelling Thursday night matchups that you’ll ever see. Kentucky just isn’t very good. Their lone win came against a winless Miami (OH) team. It is still SEC football though and Mississippi St. is 3-3, so they’re not completely terrible. Good luck watching this one. Kentucky 7, Mississippi St. 29
Vanderbilt @ #16 Texas A&M (-17): Vanderbilt is down a starting quarterback but the good news for them is Johnny Football may not play due to a shoulder injury. Despite beating an injury riddled Georgia team at home, I remain unimpressed by Vandy. A&M has shown up on offense, but they’re defense (ranked 118th in the NCAA) leaves something to be desired. As long as they play defense that terribly they’ll just be a middle of the road team in the SEC. Vanderbilt 30, Texas A&M 40
Furman @ #13 LSU (off): I’m not sure we really care about this game. Furman 3, LSU 48
Florida Atlantic @ #11 Auburn (-24): I’m curious as to why Auburn is ranked #11. I’ve seen them play, but I’m not sure they’re deserving of that high a ranking. Sure the road win at A&M was impressive, but what else have they done? Florida Atlantic 22, Auburn 45
Idaho @ Ole Miss (-41 ½ ): Idaho is one of the worst teams in the NCAA and that probably all that needs to be said. Idaho 0, Ole Miss 42
The South continues to play the role of little brother to the North, they have 3 teams winless in conference play. The North continues to be the home of the powers of the conference. As good as they are, Washington may get stuck behind some of the lesser knows after back to back games against Stanford and Oregon.
It's still early in the conference season, so no real surprises here. Georgia draws a home date against Missouri this weekend so one of the undefeated teams atop the East will notch their first loss. Auburn's being in 3rd place in the West could be a bit surprising to some, but they still have their toughest games yet to play.
I felt good about last week’s performance despite dropping 2 games, both of which were very close. You know what they say, “you can’t win big if you don’t bet big” so I went for it. Dominant is the best way to describe my performance in SEC game picks. This week’s slate of SEC games is actually intriguing, but stick with me and I’ll show you the way. On to the picks…….
Last Week: 8-2
Georgia St. @ #1 Alabama (-54): Looking over what ‘Bama has done so far this season, it’s clear that they’re concerned with winning and not much else. They haven’t done much spectacular outside of the A&M game. ‘Bama hasn’t scored 54 points since beating this Georgia St. team in 2010, let alone beat anyone by that margin. Strangely, this game may be your opportunity to make a little money this week. ‘Bama wins, but I don’t see them covering. Georgia St. 7, Alabama 49
#2 Oregon (-40) @ Colorado: The Ducks are rolling. De’Anthony Thomas will be out this week, but I don’t see that being a factor. Marcus Mariota will still be taking snaps so I don’t see anything changing for the Ducks. Still no real tests for Oregon’s defense yet, but a home date against Washington looms next week. Oregon 52, Colorado 10
#3 Clemson (-14 ½ ) @ Syracuse: This will be the first conference meeting between these two teams. I think Clemson’s fast offense will love playing indoors at Syracuse. The Orange get most of their work done in the air and have shown an ability to put up some points the last few weeks. Clemson’s defense was a question coming into the season, but they’re 36th in the NCAA in total defense which isn’t all that bad. They certainly deserve their #3 ranking. Clemson 48, Syracuse 28
#4 Ohio St. (-7 ½ ) @ #16 Northwestern: These two teams haven’t played since 2008 when the Buckeyes layed a 45-10 beating on the Wildcats. ESPN GameDay will be in town and no doubt Northwestern will be up for the game. They’re certainly improved, but I don’t their good enough to challenge the Buckeyes. Here’s another opportunity to make some cash. Ohio St. 41, Northwestern 20
#15 Washington @ #5 Stanford (-8 ½ ): So last week I said I finally believe in Stanford and I thought they were ranked too high. Well now I think they’re ranked too low. To me they probably should be at least #4. They’re going unnoticed to some mainly because they play on the west coast. This should be a competitive game though. Washington 30, Stanford 45
#6 Georgia (-11 ½ ) @ Tennessee: Georgia is coming off a very impressive home win against LSU last week. For whatever reason, I’m still not really feeling Georgia. They’re clearly the best team in the SEC east and they should take care of an undermanned Vols team. Georgia 30, Tennessee 16
#7 Louisville (-34) @ Temple: *YAWN* Louisville 55, Temple 10
#25 Maryland @ #8 Florida St. (-15): When the Terps last hit the field they were laying a beatdown on a West Virginia team that last week handled the #11 team in the country. It’s entirely possible that none of that means anything, but I do expect this game to be a significant test for the ‘Noles. There’s a distinct possibility that this could be Florida State’s annual choke game, which would ruin their date with #3 Clemson in 2 weeks. Maryland 28, Florida St. 31
#10 LSU (-10) @ Mississippi St.: So I hyped up LSU last week and they disappointed me. The running game was bad and the defensive secondary was even worse. I still think they’re a good team though and they clearly have some areas to improve on. Mississippi St. gives me no reason to think they have a chance. LSU 42, Mississippi St. 17
#22 Arizona St. (-6) @ Notre Dame [at Arlington, TX]: Arizona St. has shown consistent improvement with their only loss coming at Stanford; not bad. I can’t let this go by without speaking to my disdain for Notre Dame. I have proven to be correct this season in my assessment of how they aren’t a very good team this year. I’m enjoying watching them lose and will do the same this weekend. Arizona St. 38, Notre Dame 21
On to the SEC:
#24 Ole Miss (-3) @ Auburn: Road games in the SEC are always tough and Ole Miss has already won one. Auburn didn’t look terrible in their last outing 2 weeks ago at LSU. And they’ve had a week off to improve upon that performance. A home game against a ranked opponent could be a time for them to show just how much they have improved. Ole Miss 28, Auburn 31
Arkansas @ Florida (-12): The last time the Hogs visited The Swamp they were done in by a couple of phantom penalty calls that literally cost them the game. Florida is trying to adjust to life after the loss of their starting QB Jeff Driskel. Backup Tyler Murphy has stepped in and led the Gators pretty well. They didn’t show much on offense before Driskel was hurt, but last week they pounded Kentucky with their running game. Arkansas get’s their starter Brandon Allen back for his second game coming off the shoulder injury. The Hogs hung in there with Texas A&M last week, but an inability to stop the run and a couple of costly turnovers did them in. I think this game will be entertaining, low scoring but entertaining nonetheless. Arkansas 27, Florida 21
Missouri @ Vanderbilt (Pick ‘Em): Boy is this ever a pick ‘em game. Both of these teams have something to prove. Missouri wants to show that they belong in the SEC and their 4-0 start to the season isn’t just a product of their lackluster scheduling. Vanderbilt wants to prove they can live up to the lofty expectations that a nine win season brings. If Vandy loses they will be 0-3 in the SEC and that doesn’t bode well for living up to expectations. Missouri 34, Vanderbilt 38
Kentucky @ #13 South Carolina (-21): Kentucky continues to be Kentucky and that’s pretty much all we need to know in this one. Kentucky 13, South Carolina 44
Last week set up perfectly for my attempt at perfection, but my hopes for an upset by Arizona St. were dashed when Stanford went all ground and pound and dealt with the Sun Devils. So much for the upset pick. I’m moving forward though and this week will be much more challenging with some really good games being play. On to the picks……
Last Week: 9-1
#21 Ole Miss @ #1 Alabama (-14 ½ ): Ole Miss is certainly improved as they make their 2nd consecutive trip to Tuscaloosa. Bama took last year’s game 33-14 and were dominant in the first half. I don’t see this one playing out much differently. Ole Miss is playing a lot of freshman and that will make it difficult going up against an experienced Alabama team. Ole Miss 14, Alabama 35
California @ #2 Oregon (-37 ½ ): Cal is ranked 121st in the NCAA in total defense and playing on the road at Oregon isn’t the way to improve upon that stat. Expect this one to get out of hand. Cal 13, Oregon 56
Wake Forest @ #3 Clemson (-29): Wake is a middle of the road team and their 2-2 record reflects that. Playing in Death Valley is a difficult proposition that Wake hasn’t shown any signs of being prepared for. The Clemson offense has been highly productive behind Tajh Boyd. Wake Forest 17, Clemson 41
#23 Wisconsin @ #4 Ohio St. (-7): This game is unbelievably close. I’ve looked at a number of aspects that typically separate teams and there’s no real separation there. Both teams run the ball well and are solid passing teams. Both defend the run well, but Wisconsin defends the pass better than OSU. Every aspect I’ve looked at has been close. Expect this game to be very close on the field as well. Braxton Miller will “probably” start this game, which could provide the Buckeyes a boost and The Horseshoe is an intimidating environment. Wisconsin 31, Ohio St. 30
#5 Stanford (-10) @ Washington St.: I’m a believer in Stanford now (even though I do think they’re ranked a bit high), they get it done with good O-line play and a tough running game. Those are winning combinations. Washington St. is getting some respect from Vegas. Here’s your opportunity to make some money this week. Stanford 35, Washington St. 20
#6 LSU @ #9 Georgia (-2 ½ ): This should be a great game. Certainly a big story line here is Zach Mettenberger returning to Georgia for the first time since being kicked off the Bulldogs team a couple of years ago. Both of these teams have good running games and play action passing games. LSU is consistently getting better on defense and that doesn’t bode well for not only Georgia but the rest of the SEC. This game is a must watch, getcha popcorn ready. LSU 38, Georgia 21
#8 Florida St. (-24) @ Boston College: I’ll be honest and say that I don’t know much about Boston College but the good news is I don’t need to know much about them to know the outcome of this game. Jameis Winston continues to guide the FSU ship pretty successfully. The wheels will come off at some point for the ‘Noles, but not this week. Florida St. 42, Boston College 13
#10 Texas A&M (-16) @ Arkansas: Johnny Football takes his show on the road for the first time this season and Arkansas plays its 2nd consecutive game without starting QB Brandon Allen. The Hogs will pound it on the ground and A&M probably won’t be able to do much to stop them considering they’re 110th in total defense and 106th in rushing defense in the NCAA. But ol’ Johnny Football has shown an ability to make those horrid numbers irrelevant and has led the offense to rank 5th in the NCAA. Arkansas has played well on defense so far this season. Their D-line pretty much controlled the line of scrimmage in a loss at Rutgers. It might be a long day in Fayetteville on Saturday. Texas A&M 45, Arkansas 17
#12 South Carolina (-7) @ Central Florida: Interesting game here. UCF is coming off a bye week and a win at Penn State, which even under the circumstances is impressive. I haven’t seen anything overwhelmingly impressive from South Carolina. I fully expect this game to be competitive throughout. South Carolina 30, Central Florida 24
#14 Oklahoma (-4) @ #22 Notre Dame: For the third time in four weeks I get the opportunity to speak about how much I despise Notre Dame and wish they could find a way to lose every game every week of every season. I’m starting to think my disdain for the Irish is becoming a bit unhealthy. It may even seem somewhat misguided. I don’t really care though. Oklahoma 44, Notre Dame 30
On to the SEC:
South Alabama @ Tennessee (-19): South Alabama beat the same Western Kentucky team that Tennessee demolished. Tennessee coach Butch Jones’ experiment with changing quarterbacks didn’t go so well; it ended with Nathan Peterman going 4-for-11 for 5 yards and 2 interceptions (and an injured hand that required surgery and will keep him out for a month). The Vols should be ok this week though. South Alabama 17, Tennessee 28
#20 Florida (-13) @ Kentucky: Florida starts the rest of its season without starting QB Jeff Driskel after his season ending leg injury against Tennessee. Back up QB Tyler Murphy showed he was very capable by leading the Gators to the win last week. I’m not sure it matters who’s under center for the Gators, they should take care of the Wildcats relatively easily. Florida 27, Kentucky 10
Arkansas St. @ Missouri (-21 ½ ): Missouri have been quietly having a nice season and are 3-0. Sure it’s been against non-conference opponents but wins are wins. Arkansas St. had an inexplicable loss to Memphis last weekend and if they can’t beat Memphis then…… Arkansas St. 6, Missouri 35
UAB @ Vanderbilt (-20): UAB faces its second SEC opponent this year; it didn’t turn out so well the first time. Vanderbilt has been steady which has produced a 2-2 record. I haven’t seen anything impressive from Vandy, but they won’t have to be this week to win. UAB 7, Vanderbilt 24
Let me be clear, I believe there’s no such thing as running up the score. I believe it is incumbent upon the other team to play defense well enough to stop their opponent. However, I think that is true when the opponent is on an equal level or at least is expected to be on an equal level based on their division within the NCAA. Even when it comes to conferences within a division there’s separation and some of the BCS conference schools should steer clear of those lower level FBS (formerly Division I-A) conference schools as well. Let me be clear on one other thing, I think the time has come for the FBS vs. FCS (formerly Division I-AA) non-conference games to come to an end.
This past weekend we saw 10 FBS teams beat 10 FCS or lower level FBS schools by a total of 616 to 37. 10 games and neither of the defeated were able to score more than 7 points. Shameful and in my mind it’s shameful on both parties. There no way on Earth Florida A&M should have been on the field with Ohio State; shame on the Buckeyes for scheduling the game and shame on the Rattlers for wanting to schedule the game. Sure I know their reasons for doing it (entertainment value certainly wasn’t among them) and it’s clear that money was the most important reason. I’m aware that these lower level schools need the money for their athletic operating budgets, but there has to be other ways to go about it. Watching these types of games are completely devoid of anything that would resemble excitement.
In fairness the Big Ten is in the process of implementing a policy that would forbid its teams from playing FCS schools. It will be a gradual process considering some Big Ten schools already have existing contracts to play FCS schools. For once I applaud the Big Ten. Hopefully with the coming FBS Playoff, it will dissuade many schools from scheduling such inferior opponents.
Louisville is a perfect example of the need for these types of games to go away. The Cardinals, through 4 games, have played 2 FCS opponents, 1 lower level FBS opponent and 1 opponent, Kentucky, that’s at the bottom of a BCS conference. Only the game against Kentucky has even been remotely close. They have defeated the other 3 opponents by a score of 165 to 14. The good news for Louisville is that they will likely go undefeated in the regular season. The bad news is no one will care because the level of competition within their conference is lacking and their non-conference games have done nothing to bolster an argument for them to play for the National Championship. The Cardinals’ remaining schedule features the likes of Temple, Rutgers, Central Florida, South Florida, UConn, Houston, Memphis and Cincinnati. Lose to any of those teams and they’re dead in the water. Beat all of those teams and they’re an undefeated team playing in a BCS bowl game and not the National Championship game.
In case you missed it here’s a summary of those 10 games referred to earlier:
Ohio St. 76, Florida A&M 0: the score was 55-0 at the half and FAMU managed just 80 total yards for the game.
Louisville 72, Florida International 0: the score at the half was 38-0 and FIU posted 30 total yards for the game.
Florida St. 54, Bethune Cookman 6: halftime score was 33-0. BC was the only one of the FCS teams that put of stats that looked normal. They had 242 total yards in the game.
Miami 77, Savannah St. 7: halftime score was 49-0. Savannah St. was 1-for-13 on 3rd downs with 4 turnovers in the game.
Washington 56, Idaho St. 0: 42-0 was the halftime score. ISU managed just 22 rushing yards and averaged less than 1 yard per rushing attempt.
Baylor 70, Louisiana-Monroe 7: 49-0 was the halftime score. Baylor put up 781 total yards.
Mississippi St. 62, Troy 7: the halftime score was 45-7. Mississippi St. had 551 total yards.
Washington St. 42, Idaho 0
Virginia 48, VMI 7
Iowa 59, Western Michigan 3
When the AP and USA Today put out their polls at the beginning of the season it’s based on how a team ended the previous season and usually how many returning starters they have from the previous season. This logic can make it pretty difficult on some really good teams to get their shot at the National Championship or some of the more lucrative BCS bowls. And some years teams far exceed the ranking bestowed upon them by these two bodies (Auburn began the 2010 season unranked and went on to win the National Championship) and some fail miserably (USC was preseason #1 in 2012). I’m of the opinion that both the AP and USA Today should wait until after the season starts to rank teams. Wait until we have some current data to judge teams on in order to determine who truly are the best teams. So in that spirit I present to you my list of the top 10 college football teams. I like to use the eye test and study what the teams have done to this point in the season; examine their quarterback play, how well they run the ball and if their defense is any good. I also like to look at the NCAA statistical rankings and see where teams rank in some of the key offensive and defensive categories. To be honest it’s mostly about the eye test. Simply watching a team can tell you quite a bit about them. So here it goes The Real Top 10:
1. LSU Tigers
Zach Mettenberger is vastly improved as a quarterback. He has shown an ability to make pretty much all of the throws and on time and on target. A stout running game has helped him out a lot as well. The Tigers can run, throw it and the defense is getting better week by week. This is the best team in college football right now and they likely will be when the season ends.
2. Oregon Ducks
Oregon is an offensive juggernaut. I haven’t seen a team yet that can score with the Ducks. Marcus Mariota has a plethora of weapons to get the ball to led by DeAnthony Thomas who is very likely the fastest player in college football. The defense hasn’t really been tested so far, so I can’t definitively say how good they are. The Ducks are fast and it’s going to be very difficult to keep up with them and keep them out of the top 2 at the end of the season.
3. Alabama Crimson Tide
OK so I have to admit that this vote isn’t necessarily based on their play on the field, because honestly it’s been a bit lack luster sans the Texas A&M game. Alabama is Alabama though and until someone unseats them, they’re still the champs. Once they get their offensive line together and the run game they’ll be just fine. I don’t see anyone on their schedule beating them until they meet LSU.
4. Texas A&M
The Aggies are fast too. Johnny Manziel makes this team go. He’s starting to become more of a pocket passer first and runner second. He has two big receivers that are really developing into some great SEC players. Their woeful defense is what’s going to hold them back, they’re ranked 110th in the NCAA in total defense. That’s bad.
The Tigers looked good against Georgia, their offense did anyway. Clemson’s defense is middle of the road and it appears that their offense is good enough to carry them for now. Tajh Boyd is very versatile at quarterback and he’s making this team go.
6. Florida St.
“Famous” Jameis Winston is in control at QB for the Seminoles. Winston has been hot so far this season; he has just 5 incomplete passes in 3 games. As a team the Seminoles are in the top 15 in total offense and total defense. The ‘Noles have a tendency every year to lose a game that they shouldn’t, I suspect this year will be no different.
7. Ohio St.
I’m pretty impressed by the fact that the Buckeyes have played the last two games without their star quarterback Braxton Miller (Kenny Guiton has filled in). Granted Guiton has impressed against lesser competition, but there’s still something to be said for having a capable backup. Ohio State is also in the top 15 in the NCAA in total offense and total defense. They get their first real test this week against Wisconsin.
The Bulldogs have steadied the ship since a season opening loss at Clemson. They took a big step towards winning the SEC east by beating South Carolina. They get LSU between the hedges this week and get a chance to move up the ladder if they can pull off the win.
This vote is based solely on what I’ve seen from watching Louisville and personally evaluating how they play. I say that because the level of competition they have played is way less than subpar, it’s been awful. I fully expect the Cardinals to go undefeated, but no one will care.
I want to put the Bruins higher, but I need to see a little more from them. I was totally impressed with the way they came from behind and manhandled Nebraska in Lincoln. UCLA has games at Stanford, Oregon and USC this season. How they play in those games will tell me if this team is for real.
Last week’s performance was not my best work. I did however get the “Game of the Century” correct, so there’s that. UCLA and Ole Miss showed Nebraska and Texas who the boss was. I was blindsided. I’m bound and determined to be perfect sooner than later. This shall be the week! On to the picks……
Last Week: 8-2
Colorado St. @ #1 Alabama (-39): Nick Saban is giving his former assistant coach and his team an opportunity to play on the big stage…..and get beat down. Colorado St. 3, Alabama 42
Florida A&M @ #4 Ohio St. (off): If this were a battle of the bands this wouldn’t be close. Actually the more I think about it even though this is a football game it still won’t be close. Florida A&M 0, Ohio St. 62
#23 Arizona St. @ #5 Stanford (-7): Arizona St. pulled off the miracle win last week against Wisconsin. In my mind Stanford's ranking is purely a product of their accomplishments last season. Arizona St. 31, Stanford 27
Auburn @ #6 LSU (-17): Auburn has shown improvement since week one and even broke their 10 SEC losing streak. But this is Death Valley, on a Saturday Night. Auburn 13, LSU 35
Florida International @ #7 Louisville (-42): For some strange reason this game was close last year. FIU is ranked 122nd (next to last) in the NCAA in total offense. That’s terrible. FIU 6, Louisville 45
Bethune Cookman @ #3 Florida St. (off): Who makes Florida State’s schedule? Bethune Cookman 0, Florida St. 63
North Texas @ #9 Georgia (-33 ½ ): Georgia seems to be bouncing back from the opening week Clemson loss and the Mean Green won’t do much to stop that. North Texas 10, Georgia 38
SMU @ #10 Texas A&M (-28 ½ ): I fully expect Texas A&M to have a bit of a hangover early in this game. No doubt SMU will come to play. If you want to make a little money this weekend, then take SMU and the points. SMU 20, Texas A&M 31
Tennessee @#19 Florida (-16): Florida hasn’t shown much by way of offense this season. The only legit spark Tennessee’s offense has shown came from their defense creating 5 turnovers in 6 plays. The Gators are a strange team to this point of the season. I’m not sure what to expect in this one. Tennessee 24, Florida 26
Michigan St. @#22 Notre Dame (-6): Michigan St. is a solid team, but they haven’t been tested the way they will be on the road at Notre Dame. Yes I hate Notre Dame; Yes I would be ok with them losing every game. But I would much rather be right than with my pick than spiteful. Michigan St. 28, Notre Dame 34
On to the SEC:
Vanderbilt (-29 ½ ) @ UMass: Vanderbilt has suffered a couple of tough early season losses. This game should help heal some of those wounds. Vanderbilt 44, UMass 14
Arkansas @ Rutgers (-2): The Hogs will be starting their backup QB who completed 4 of 6 passes in 3 and a half quarters of work last week. Rutgers’ QB will be starting this week despite suffering a concussion last week. This will be a tough road test for the Hogs that I’m not convinced they can pass with a backup QB. Arkansas 14, Rutgers 24
Troy @ Mississippi St. (-14 ½ ): Troy is a decent team, in the Sun Belt. They shouldn’t be much of a match for the Bulldogs. Troy 13, Mississippi St. 28
Missouri (-2 ½ ) @ Indiana: Expect this on to be nip and tuck. Sure Indiana isn’t all that good, but they’ve proven to be tough at home. This is another on that Missouri must win to be a bonafide SEC school. It will be tough though. Missouri 28, Indiana 24