The Gators were firing on all cylinders at Kentucky until Tim Tebow went down with a concussion late in the third quarter. John Brantley replaced the injured star, and proceeded to lead the offense down the field for one touchdown in the final quarter. With Brantley in the lineup, the Gators are easily one of the best five teams in the country. With a healthy Tebow in the lineup, they are a near lock for an undefeated regular season.
Each week, the Crimson Tide inch closer to unseating the Gators as the top dog. Nick Saban’s team has looked increasingly impressive in every game this season, including a dominating performance over Arkansas on Saturday in a 31-7 win. Razorbacks quarterback Ryan Mallett entered that game with hopes of a making a signature win in his early career. Instead, the vaunted Tide defense held Mallett to less than a 50 percent completion rate. This bunch looks like the team with the best shot at knocking off Florida down the road.
The Longhorns thrashed Texas-El Paso in impressive fashion last week. It is clear that Colt McCoy is leading one of the most dangerous offenses in the country. However, they might be too dangerous; even dangerous to themselves. They just have not looked consistent enough yet this season to convince the nation they are a surefire national championship team. They are clearly talented enough to make that run, and it’s hard to see anyone betting against them, but they just need to be a bit more convincing in the coming weeks.
4. Boise State
Believe it or not, these Broncos could buck all the way to Pasadena for the BCS title game. If teams ranked ahead of them keep falling by the wayside, the “Gonzaga of college football” should run the table in the regular season and make it nearly impossible for the voters to keep them out of the championship. They would deserve it, too. After strangling Oregon in the first week, that win looks much more impressive with the Duck’s beat down of California. The Broncos have a strong enough resume, and as long as they win the rest of their games in convincing fashion, they will make that championship dream a reality.
5. Virginia Tech
Similar to Boise State, the Hokies are finding themselves soaring through the rankings after teams we thought to be superior get knocked off. Frank Beamer’s group is the perfect example of the adage “if you are going to lose, lose early.” The opening-season loss to Alabama seems like a distant memory now. Unlike two years ago, when Tech was embarrassed early in the season by LSU, the Hokies put up a good fight with the Tide this season.
In 2007, the Hokies ended up being jumped in the polls by the Tigers late in the season because nobody could argue the Hokies were the better team. This time around, Tech has the credentials to be in the thick of the championship hunt if they keep winning. The 31-7 domination of Miami on Saturday should serve as a springboard to a great run this season.
Landry Jones has stepped up in Sam Bradford’s absence to keep the Sooners’ reputation intact. After an idle week this past Saturday, the Sooners’ will travel to South Beach this week to play the Miami Hurricanes. After Virginia Tech exposed the Hurricanes last Saturday, it looks like the Sooners should be the better team this week, with or without Bradford. This will be the first big test for the Sooners since BYU, where Bradford went down. If Jones or Bradford leads them by Miami, and then Texas in two weeks, the early-season loss will be dead and gone (one dollar to T.I and J.T.).
If history tells us anything, the Trojans will recover from their annual early-season upset loss and run the table, ending up in the Rose Bowl again. California seemed to have taken hold of the role as Pac-10 favorite last week, until Oregon stomped them in Eugene. Until somebody knocks off Pete Carroll and the Trojans, they are the favorite in the conference.
The absolutely, positively, most underrated coach in America is Chip Kelly. This guy not only wins wherever he goes, he wins a lot. At Grand Valley State, Kelly won multiple national championships, before turning Central Michigan into a MAC power. Now, he has won a Big East title with the Bearcats and is well on his way to another. Tony Pike is a great quarterback who will be a household name by season’s end. The Thursday night showdown with South Florida in two weeks looks like it could be the game of the year in the Big East.
9. Ohio State
With Penn State’s loss to Iowa, the Buckeyes once again look like the best team in the Big Ten. Iowa was very impressive on Saturday, but the Buckeyes get the Hawkeyes at home in November. They still have to go into Happy Valley to face the Nittany Lions, but Iowa exposed Joe Paterno’s team in a way that makes the Nittany Lions look more vulnerable than anyone thought.
With the win over Texas Tech on Saturday, the Cougars sit atop the Big 12 South standings. Okay, not really, but no other team in the country holds a 2-0 record against the Big 12. Case Keenum is a legitimate big-time quarterback. Kevin Sumlin has taken the Cougars to the next level, and a BCS bowl is well within reach at this point. The only scary thing for Sumlin is that his team does not fall victim to the East Carolina Disease. In 2008, the Pirates beat both Virginia Tech and West Virginia, before falling later in the season to lesser opponents and ending up in the Liberty Bowl. Houston’s toughest opponents left on the docket are Southern Miss at home and Tulsa on the road in consecutive weeks. Kevin Sumlin needs to keep his team focused, or they will be just another one-month wonder.
16. Oklahoma State
17. Penn State
20. South Florida
21. South Carolina
24. Georgia Tech