1. Alabama is still a national title contender.
Believe it or not, this team only had 10 returning starters from last year. Despite that, Alabama forced three turnovers and held Michigan’s high-powered offense to 269 yards. Michigan was playing without its starting RB, but the fact that Alabama held Michigan to 69 rushing yards is very impressive. On offense, Bama picked up where they left off. A.J. McCarron threw for 199 yards, two TDs and no INTS. Even though Trent Richardson left for the NFL over the summer, the running game is still clicking too. T.J. Yeldon ran for 111 yards on 11 carries and Jalston Fowler added 67 yards on eight carries. Alabama is definitely still in the mix for the National Championship.
2. Oklahoma’s offense isn’t what was advertised.
Oklahoma came into this season ranked in the top-5 and had a QB who was considered a Heisman contender. Everyone was expecting a blowout when Oklahoma went against UTEP, a small school few people have heard of. Did you know UTEP stood for the University of Texas El Paso? I will further prove my point by stating that the bettors in Vegas had Oklahoma winning by 30 points. Instead, Oklahoma found itself only up 10-7 at the start of the fourth quarter and had to score twice to put the game away 24-7. Last year, Oklahoma’s conference rivals couldn’t hold it under 30 points, especially not a Conference-USA team that went 5-7 last year. Oklahoma was only held to 24 points or lower twice in 2011 and it happened against teams ranked in the top-5 both times.
That being said, QB Landry Jones didn’t have a terrible game. He threw for 222 yards, two TDs and no INTs. Oklahoma RB Damien Williams ran for 104 yards on nine carries. The offense seemed to have trouble waking up and was actually efficient in the 4th quarter. Oklahoma will have a chance to redeem itself when it plays FCS foe Florida A&M this weekend.
3. Florida State’s schedule is the weakest of all of the contenders.
At the beginning of the year, FSU only had three ranked teams on its schedule, which wouldn’t have been so bad if any of them were ranked in the top-10. FSU needs Virginia Tech and Florida to play very well and maintain a high ranking until FSU plays them. Clemson looks very good and is already ranked twelfth in the nation. Clemson could be in the top-10 by the time it plays FSU, which is in three weeks. Unfortunately for FSU, it is the other two ranked teams that don’t look so good.
Florida is not expected to do well and it plays in the SEC, which is always a tough conference. Florida won’t play FSU until the last game of the season and it isn’t crazy to believe that Florida may not be ranked by then, especially with the inconsistency of the offense in its 27-14 victory over Bowling Green. Virginia Tech also leaves question marks, because it plays Clemson before FSU. Clemson is clearly better than Virginia Tech and that loss could leave VT unranked when they face FSU. This point is exemplified further by VT needing to go to overtime to beat an unranked Georgia Tech squad 20-17 in its first game. Florida State can control its own destiny if it wins out, though.
4. West Virginia and Oregon need to play better defense if they want a National Championship.
BCS bowls can be won with just offense, but it is very rare for a national title to be won without a good defense. Oregon and West Virginia are both teams respected annually for their amazing offenses but plagued by defenses that give up yards and points. West Virginia had the entire nation in awe after scoring 64 points against Marshall, but everyone seemed to miss the fact that Marshall scored 34 points and racked up 545 yards. If Marshall can do that to West Virginia, what could Alabama or USC do?
Oregon’s defense was equally as bad in letting Arkansas State, a Sun Belt conference school, score 34 points and gain 530 yards. People will try to point to the fact that Oregon was winning 50-10 at halftime and say they relaxed and put in their second-string defenders, but that doesn’t change anything. Oregon’s second string should be able to hold a weak team like Arkansas State to less points than that. Those players will be replacing the starters when they get tired or injured. Oregon should be deeper in defensive talent. West Virginia and Oregon will both have to get much better at defense to make a real run for the national title.
Agree? Disagree? Let me know in the comments.
-Marty F. Nemec