Now that we’re heading into the third weekend of college football, the rubber is finally meeting the road. We’re already getting an idea of which teams we can probably expect to see in the four-team playoff (hint: quack!) and which ones we won’t (hint: they’re coached by Brady Hoke, Urban Meyer…or just about any other B1G team). For my money, Oregon is the most impressive team in college football right now. It’s not surprising they beat Michigan State. It is surprising they made it look so easy in the second half. Right now, I’d say Oregon is the toughest team in the nation. Right now.
So Where Are Your Rankings?
If you read my CFB updates last year (thanks, all two of you!), you know I’m no fan of preseason rankings. I put no stock in them. At this point in the season, rankings really don’t matter because there are only a handful of legitimate contenders. The rest are just for show. For that reason, I look at that landscape in this early part of the season and put teams in three different buckets: the Contenders, the Maybes, the No Ways. I’ll start ranking the teams in Week 4 or Week 5.
That doesn’t mean we didn’t see some fun and exciting games this past week, but let’s face it: Iowa is not a contender! Their comeback was exciting (unless you’re a Ball State fan), but the best the Hawkeyes can hope for is the Outback Bowl or something.
There were no surprises in South Bend this weekend either. The ESPN GameDay crew all picked Michigan. WHY?!?!?! This is a team that is inconsistent and schizophrenic. And, in all fairness, Everett Golson is a pretty solid quarterback.
The shocker of the week happened in Columbus. Who expected Va.Tech to roll the chestnuts? Even though I think it’s going to be a tough season for OSU, I certainly expected them to win their home opener. I suppose that Navy game a week ago was no fluke after all.
Now then, let’s take a quick look at our buckets, then break them down.
* Alabama (2-0)
* Oregon (2-0)
* Texas A&M (2-0)
* Florida State (2-0)
* Oklahoma (2-0)
* LSU (2-0)
* Auburn (2-0)
* Kansas State (2-0)
* Georgia (2-0)
* USC (2-0)
* UCLA (2-0)
* Notre Dame (2-0)
* Michigan State (2-0)
The No Ways
* Ohio State (1-1)
* Michigan (1-1)
* Pretty much the entire B1G
Right now, I only see three teams that look like bona fide national championship contenders. The rest? We’ll see.
‘Bama had a tougher time with West Virginia that most people expected, but it didn’t really surprise me. The Mountaineers have played the role of spoiler for a few years. The Tide has one more tuneup game before it gets real. The Gators come in on Sept. 20 and then Saban’s crew is on the road at Ole Miss. We’ll see how QB Bobby Sims plays in a hostile environment for the first time this season.
The Ducks are the team I hate the most in college football, thanks to their obnoxious uniforms. But there’s no denying their talent. Their convincing win over Michigan State—at home, albeit—proved they are legit. But that all could change once they get into their conference schedule. Until they go on the road to UCLA on Oct. 11, the Ducks should be 5-0.
Texas A&M (2-0)
No Johnny Football? No problem. The Aggies are lighting up scoreboards like they’re telethon tote boards. Sophomore QB Kenny Hill lit up Steve Spurrier’s Gamecocks in Week 1 and damned near broke Lamar in Week 2. The should keep racking up points until their Oct. 18 showdown at home against Alabama. That will be the first real test for both teams and will go a long way in determining the SEC championship.
Lots of good teams here, but they have yet to convince me they’re going to win a national championship. Let me break it down for you.
Florida State (2-0)
Look, I know they’re really good. And I know they had a decent test in Okie State their first week out. But that’s just it. The Seminoles have shown cracks in the armor early. Jameis Winston is still a stellar talent, but he’s no longer a surprise. Sure, he’s going to still put up gaudy stats, but what happens when they play a team with a strong defense? We might find out this weekend when Clemson comes to town.
You can’t hold down Bob Stoops for long, can you? Then again, who the hell have the Sooners played so far? No one. And they don’t really have a tough road until mid-October. Even then, Oklahoma has a pretty cushy schedule, outside of K-State and Baylor (both at home). Their toughest road game comes Sept. 20 when they go to West Virginia. We’ll see if that high-powered offense comes to play for a major program with a real defense.
I watched that Week 1 comeback against Wisconsin. That made me a permanent believer in Les Miles (as though I already wasn’t). It wasn’t just the fact that they came back. It was his confidence at halftime. He clearly knew something and pounced on it in the second half. The Tigers’ season doesn’t get real until they go on the road to Auburn on Oct. 4.
Speaking of Auburn…last year’s runner-up has a much tougher row to hoe this season. Their first real test comes this weekend when (the other SEC) Tigers head to K-State (2-0), which is the first big test for both teams, really. The winner will establish itself as a legitimate Top Ten team. But it gets no easier for Auburn. I have zero confidence that they will run the table this year. But they could prove me wrong. If their running game continues to run roughshod over opponents, I might become a believer. But let’s be real: beating up Arkansas and San Jose State are nothing compared to what comes next.
I honestly have no earthly idea how the Bulldogs get so much love year after year from voters. I’ve always felt they’re a really good team that gets overrated and ultimately proves me right. But to be fair, they beat up Clemson pretty good in Week 1. And now, they’ve had two weeks to prepare for South Carolina. Even if they beat the Gamecocks, I’m still not sold on Mark Richt’s program. Unfortunately, the rest of their schedule isn’t all that impressive, so don’t be surprised if Georgia continues to dazzle dimwitted voters.
After beating a tough Stanford team on the road, the Trojans made a statement that the Pac-12 championship still goes through LA. Which team in LA, however, remains to be seen. And we won’t know the answer until Nov. 22, when the Men of Troy hook up for a crosstown battle with UCLA (2-0). USC has a pretty clear path to be 10-0 heading into that showdown. The Bruins? Well, they’ve got huge Oct. 11 home game vs. Oregon that will be the deciding moment of their season.
Notre Dame (2-0)
After this weekend, the break’s over for ND. Sure, smacking around Michigan is one thing. And they’ll do even more damage to Purdue this Saturday. But the road to a playoff berth is not going to be easy for Brian Kelly’s squad. I think they can beat Stanford at home, but both Florida State and USC on the road? Good luck. But one thing’s for certain: with Everett Golson back under center, anything is possible for this team. We’ll know more in a few weeks.
Michigan State (1-1)
Sparty might be the best one-loss team in the nation. Kinda blows when you’ve only played two games, but the upside is you can play yourself back into contention. You just can’t make any mistakes. The problem for MSU is, even in a down year, the conference schedule is always bruising in the B1G. Sparty will be 3-1 when they square off at home vs. Nebraska on Oct. 4. If they beat the Huskers, I expect MSU to be 7-1 by the time they play Ohio State on Nov. 8, and they should win that game convincingly. Truthfully, after Oregon, there’s no reason Sparty can’t run the table.
Do we really need to talk about the No Way pile of teams? Okay, why not…
Ohio State (1-1)
After losing QB Braxton Miller for the season, the fightin’ Urbans lost any hope of a national championship. Thanks to the weakness of the B1G, OSU could certainly back their way into a championship game. That being said, Ohio State should be 5-1 by the time they go to Happy Valley to take on Penn State. Either way, this will not be their year.
Okay, I put them here as a joke. They were never a contender this year! Their inability to do anything right vs. Notre Dame last weekend pretty much exposed every single problem with Hoke’s team. Their best hope is to be a spoiler (and save Brady Hoke’s job).
Later this week, I’ll publish the first of my three LOCKS OF THE WEEK for Week 3. Those are the three games I will correctly predict the winners, so you should really take those three picks and bet them. I’m not joking.
Stick around. You’ll see.