A few weeks ago, the Crimson Tide were nipping on the heels of their conference rival Florida. Now, they are pulling away from the Gators, and quickly. Another dominating performance by Mark Ingram, in which he ran for over 250 yards against South Carolina, has many people hopping on the ‘Bama bandwagon.
What puzzles me is why Ingram has not received any more national attention to this point. He’s now third in the nation in rushing with 905 yards, and is single-handedly carrying the Tide offense through the conference season.
It’s funny to think, that at the beginning of the season, all the talk surrounding the Alabama program was about Julio Jones on offense and gargantuan nose tackle Terrance Cody on defense. However, the stars of this team so far have been Ingram and quarterback Greg McElroy offensively, and middle linebacker Rolando McClain on defense.
That’s why the play the game.
For Gator fans, what’s scarier than seeing Tim Tebow lay motionless on the turf for several minutes? Seeing Tebow and his fellow teammates having to scratch and claw for a home win against Arkansas. The Razorbacks did everything they could in that game to upset the defending national champions, but still came up short.
Ryan Mallet, the sophomore transfer quarterback from Michigan, tore apart the vaunted Florida defense, leading several long drives for scores. He took care of his job all day long. His only shortcoming was leaving two drives up to Alex Tejada, who missed two field goals that would have been enough for the win.
Tejada’s miss on the go-ahead field goal with three minutes to go will linger in the minds of Razorback fans for years to come.
However, every national champion always had one close call every year, where they needed a little luck and a gutsy effort to pull out a win. This was the Gators’, and now that they have had their wake-up call, expect Urban Meyer to re-focus his group and set them on a crash course for Atlanta to face the Crimson Tide this December.
3. Boise State
Up until now, the consensus opinion among college football experts is the Broncos just don’t have the meat on their schedule to warrant a spot in the national championship.
Week by week, however, other teams keep failing to impress, and one can’t help but think the Broncos might be that team.
I don’t put much stock in the seven-point win over Tulsa, despite the fact the Golden Hurricanes were blasted 45-0 to a Sam Bradford-less Oklahoma team. Just like Florida, the Broncos had their one allotted scare for the season.
While they are still on the outside looking in, Chris Peterson’s team is doing all they can do right now, and that is win football games. If USC, Texas, Cincinnati, and Iowa all fall (who says that can’t happen?), then it is going to be hard to deny the boys from Boise.
This is how bad Texas looked against Oklahoma: they won, and got jumped by a WAC team that beat Tulsa by seven. I am simply not impressed with what I have seen out of Texas so far this season.
Outside of Jordan Shipley, Colt McCoy has no reliable options in the passing game. Gerald McCoy and the rest of the Sooners’ defensive line had a field day against what should be a physical Longhorns offense.
Even though McCoy is the star of this team, even he looked out of sync on Saturday. Brett Venables, the Oklahoma defensive coordinator, threw multiple looks at McCoy that kept him off balance every step of the way.
Had Sam Bradford not been lost for the game on the second drive, Oklahoma would have won this game going away. Landry Jones played decently as his replacement, but threw several questionable passes, including two bad interceptions in the fourth quarter.
Texas has a lot of work to do to prove to me they are a top-notch team.
5. (a) Cincinnati
I was very impressed with the intensity and execution the Bearcats played with Thursday night in Tampa. They dominated the Bulls both offensively and defensively in a 34-17 win.
Bulls quarterback B.J. Daniels spent half the game running for his life in the backfield, looking for open receivers. Cincinnati applied great pressure to Daniels while also locking up all of his options downfield.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Brian Kelly is the most underrated coach in college football. Truth be told, I’d put him in my list of top five coaches in America. He lost star quarterback Tony Pike at halftime with a seven-point lead, and proceeds to plug in backup Zach Collaros, who actually played better than Pike in this game.
The Bearcats desperately need South Florida to win as much as possible the rest of the way, as well as West Virginia and Pittsburgh for that matter, so that if they run the table in the Big East it is impressive enough to vault them into the national championship game.
5. (b) Iowa
As ugly as Big Ten football is, they have a darn good team in Iowa who’s rising fast. After trailing 10-0 on the road against Wisconsin, the Hawkeyes completely shut down the Badgers in the second half to come back and win the game, keeping their unbeaten season alive.
Ricky Stanzi is a serviceable quarterback, but he has a complete team around him. There are no Heisman candidates or superstars on this team, but they beat their opponents with sound, tough football.
With Ohio State’s embarrassing loss at Purdue this past week, the Hawkeyes are now the clear-cut favorite in the Big Ten, and would love nothing more than a January trip to Pasadena. They might even get to a week later than normal if they play their cards right.
After three quarters of football in South Bend last Saturday, the buzz was beginning to grow about the Trojans and their revived dominating form. After that, they proceeded to nearly collapse, coming within three yards of having to play overtime with the Fighting Irish.
Had they closed out that game with authority, rather than by letting Notre Dame nearly pull off its biggest win in recent memory, USC would probably be third in the rankings right now. Instead, there is still uncertainty surrounding the true identity of Pete Carroll’s team.
They still have a few big games left to sway the country’s mind, but they are running out of time.
It was a ho-hum week for the ‘Canes in Coral Gables, but it was an illustrious week for them in Atlanta. After Georgia Tech’s upset of Virginia Tech, Miami’s ACC title hopes took a serious upswing. They now sit in a tie with the Jackets and Hokies for second in the Coastal division, with the Virginia Cavaliers on top.
That won’t last long. The Wahoos will fall in the coming weeks, while the aforementioned triumvirate of the Coastal should win out.
If that happens, it would be Miami playing for the conference title and in all likelihood, an Orange Bowl bid. That in of itself would mark a huge step in the right direction for Randy Shannon’s program.
8. Georgia Tech
I will admit it: I was wrong about the Jackets’ offense. I thought that teams had figured out how to defend their triple option attack, and Josh Nesbitt was a mediocre quarterback who made too many mistakes.
Nesbitt, and the rest of the offense for that matter, was on the mark Saturday night, tearing apart the Virginia Tech defense in the second half en route to a 28-23 victory.
Now, Paul Johnson has his team sitting at 6-1 and in contention for a BCS at-large bid should they not win the conference. Maybe he really does have something going with this triple option thing.
The Horned Frogs do not get nearly enough credit for their efforts. They shut down a sneaky Colorado State team 44-6 Saturday, and look to be in prime shape heading into a battle with BYU in Provo this week.
A win over the Cougars would go a long way in convincing the pollsters/computers that they deserve more respect and a higher ranking.
Since the Cougars and Utah have each lost a game already, the Frogs are the last hope for the Mountain West Conference this season to make a BCS run. It won’t be easy, but Gary Patterson knows what he’s doing down there, and this week’s game could be the best of the week.
Call me crazy, but the Razorbacks are making a statement in Bobby Petrino’s second season at the helm.
As mentioned earlier, they were tantalizingly close to beating the nation’s top-ranked team. Mallet has thrown 14 touchdowns with only three interceptions this season. He is this year’s Jevan Snead; the similarities are scary. Both are pro-style quarterbacks with NFL-ready arms, both transferred from big-time programs to their current schools, both lead/are leading a resurgence of their respective programs as first-year starters.
If only Mallet had knocked off Florida, the comparison would have been complete. Nevertheless, Arkansas looks very much like the second-best team in the SEC West so far this season. Wins over Ole Miss and LSU would go a long way towards proving that.
12. Virginia Tech
13. Oklahoma State
14. Texas Tech
15. Penn State
21. West Virginia
22. Ohio State
24. Boston College
25. South Florida