There was no reason to even consider dropping Alabama after its dominating win over Ole Miss in Oxford. The defense, led by Rolando McClain at linebacker, officially ended Jevan Snead’s dreams of a Heisman Trophy.
Snead struggled in his second straight important conference game; completing 11 of 34 passes with no touchdowns and four interceptions.
As Snead’s Heisman hopes walked out one door, in came Mark Ingram’s on the other side. The Crimson Tide running back has been unstoppable thus far, including a 172-yard performance on Saturday. He has 659 yards and seven touchdowns at the midway point of this season.
Even with Ingram’s surprising success, he has surely not had to carry the load for the Tide’s offense. Greg McElroy continues to impress, throwing nine touchdowns and only one interception.
Don’t let the 13-3 score in the Gators’ win over LSU fool you; the Gators dominated the Tigers in Death Valley Saturday night. They have Brandon Spikes and the rest of the defense to thank for that.
The Florida defense, which features at least nine future NFL players, never allowed the Tigers to sniff the end zone much of the game.
Tim Tebow might not have the same gaudy statistical numbers like he had in 2007 and 2008, but if the Gators continue to win en route to a second straight national title game appearance, the Heisman is his to lose.
3. Virginia Tech
The Hokies get the nod this week over undefeated Texas for one reason, plain and simple: their schedules. Frank Beamer’s team’s body of work is far more impressive than the Longhorns’. Wins over Nebraska, Miami, and Boston College look much better than wins over Wyoming, Texas Tech, and UTEP.
Tyrod Taylor is making significant progress as an intelligent passer. Despite criticism from the outside about Taylor’s lack of downfield running this season, Taylor’s pocket presence is what has taken the Hokies to the next level.
All it will take for the Longhorns to overtake the Hokies in the rankings once again is wins over Oklahoma and Missouri the next two weeks.
Colt McCoy is falling into the same trap as Tebow in the respect that he is simply not living up to last year’s numbers. He took control of the Colorado game in the second half Saturday to help Texas win 38-14. It was another sluggish performance, which could lead to a disappointing loss to Oklahoma this week.
Sam Bradford is back under center for the Sooners, and you can bet your bottom dollar he will have his team ready to avenge last year’s loss.
The game in South Bend this week against Notre Dame is a no-win situation for the Trojans. If they win, the Irish are not a credible enough of an opponent to vault the Trojans past Virginia Tech in the BCS. If they lose to Charlie Weis’ bunch, it will leave the Trojans out of the national title race altogether.
Nevertheless, this is an important game for Matt Barkley, the freshman quarterback who already has one huge road win on his resume. Beating Ohio State and Notre Dame at their houses in his first year on campus would vault Barkley into near legend status already. However, a loss to the Irish for the first time in eight years would make 2009 a sobering year in Southern California.
6. Boise State
There is nothing new to say about Boise. As long as they run the table, they will play in the Fiesta Bowl. I know it. You know it. Head coach Chris Peterson knows it, and that is the cards the Broncos have been dealt.
7. Ohio State
The win over Wisconsin on Saturday was most impressive. The Buckeyes welcomed in a red-hot conference opponent with upset aspirations, and shut them up big-time.
Once again, November will be the telling month when Jim Tressel leads his team up against Iowa, Penn State, and of course Michigan. Until then, it’s practically cruise control in Columbus.
The Canes find themselves in the same position as Boise State. With an easy road the rest of the season, Miami can count on a BCS at-large berth should they win out.
Here is a funny tidbit of information: remember how Harris was talked about as Heisman candidate after the first two weeks? Well, ESPN’s ACC blogger Heather Dinich made a post highlighting five of the best quarterbacks in the ACC, and Harris was not even mentioned. Oh, how the mighty fall.
Thursday night comes the moment of truth for the Bearcats. Everything is on the line. The Big East, an outside national title chance, and Tony Pike’s reputation as an elite quarterback all rides on the outcome of the South Florida showdown.
The Bearcats are the better team; it’s hard to argue that. But the Bulls are playing so well when it matters most this season, I would never bet against them. Everyone needs to watch this game; it could prove to be one of the year’s best.
The Hawkeyes came through in the clutch to hold off Michigan last week. They are not as sure of a bet to make it to the Ohio State game unscathed, but they are a strong football team, and have no problem flying under the radar until November.
Despite big wins over Penn State and the Wolverines, hardly anyone is talking about Iowa as a serious threat on the national stage, yet they are still rolling through opponents on a weekly basis.
16. South Florida
17. Notre Dame
18. South Carolina
21. Oklahoma State
23. Georgia Tech