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NCAA POWER 15 – 2013 WEEK 10

Ten weeks into the season and the picture is becoming pretty clear. The remaining unbeaten teams that matter are Alabama, Florida St., Oregon, Baylor & Ohio State. We all know that Alabama is a foregone conclusion should they end the season undefeated. The consensus seems to be that Florida St. and Oregon are battling for a spot against them, but I wouldn’t count Baylor out just yet. As you’ll see, the Bears have a shot that won’t come to fruition until the season ends, but a shot nonetheless.

The games that matter this week are huge. Oklahoma plays Baylor. Stanford plays Oregon. LSU plays Alabama. The BCS picture could become A LOT clearer depending on the outcomes of those games. We’ll see!

#1 The questions about the schedule are real, but what can Alabama do except beat the teams they are scheduled to play? Complicating matters this year are rumors of a lack of motivation, disciplinary problems with the team, and now rumors about Nick Saban potentially being interested in the Texas job should the Longhorns look for him to take over for Mack Brown. In the meantime, all Alabama does is keep winning. QB AJ McCarron is a beast and let’s not forget Alabama’s defense ranks #1 in the nation giving up 9.8PPG. If you take the 42 points Texas A&M scored on them out of the equation, that number drops to 5.1PPG! Beating a very good LSU squad this weekend in Tuscaloosa would do quite a bit to quiet the noise surrounding the program all of a sudden, and I’d expect the Tide to do just that. ROLL DAMN TIDE!
#2 Florida State is starting to look like the Seminoles during the hey day of the Bobby Bowden era. Florida St. has faced two top-10 teams in Clemson & Miami-FL and has walked away with two wins by the combined score of 92-28! FSU simply doesn’t win big games, they demoralize their opponents. QB Jameis Winston is on pace to throw for 4379 yards & 42TD! He doesn’t have the rushing numbers Johnny Manziel had last season but Winston will have more passing yards & passing TDs. At this point in the season Winston has to be the front runner for Heisman Trophy which is interesting because after never having awarded the honor to a freshman, we might have back-to-back freshman winners in Manziel & Winston albeit both were redshirt freshman. FSU’s road to 13-0 is extremely easy. They simply can’t let up in Gainesville.
#3 Speaking of Heisman candidates, if there is one player to challenge Winston at this point it is Oregon QB Marcus Mariota! Mariota is on pace to pass for 3992 yards with 35TD, but also rush for 894 yards & 16TD! That’s almost 5000 yards & 50+TD for the season! If Oregon can pull off a 13-0 season, it seems likely that Mariota & Winston will be in a dead heat for that honor! Oregon has already defeated Washington & UCLA so all that is remaining is a road game against Stanford to complete an undefeated regular season! That’s not going to be easy but the Ducks are averaging close to 60PPG & I’m not sure Stanford is going to be up to the task of taking down this Oregon offense. As much as I like FSU, doesn’t it feel right that Oregon & Alabama are headed for each other? Bama’s defense against the Quack Attack? I like the sound of it.
#4 How bad is the state of the Big 10? Consider this. Ohio State completed a 12-0 regular season last year but due to rules violations were not allowed to participate in the postseason. Given that currently Ohio St.’s best win is against a 2-loss Wisconsin team in Columbus, you can make an argument that a 13-0 Ohio St. team will be left out of the national championship picture should two of the aforementioned 3 teams remain undefeated & even if Alabama winds up 12-1, would you take a 13-0 Ohio St. team over the Tide? Let’s assume Ohio St. wins out, then you could have the Buckeyes be 26-0 over the last two seasons & yet have no national championship to speak of! The Big 10 is down yes, but Urban Meyer & the Buckeyes administration has to beef up the non-conference schedule or this will become a common theme.
#5 After losing to Florida St., the Tigers have responded by going on the road against Virginia & Maryland and coming out with 2 wins by a combined score of 99-37! The Terps & Wahoos aren’t the greatest teams out there but conference road wins aren’t easy to come by and to win that much of a dominating fashion is a testament to how good Clemson is. It’s hard to hammer the Tigers too much with their only loss coming against the Seminoles. If you believe in Florida St., and their ability to go 13-0 then you can argue that Clemson is one of the 2-4 best teams in the nation. If Clemson wins out they’ll be 11-1 with wins over both Georgia & South Carolina which is impressive. Clemson still has a chance to get to a BCS Bowl & I think this is interesting for QB Tajh Boyd. Boyd is on pace for almost 4,000 passing yard & 30TD! At this point he’s just an afterthought. College Football is a fickle sport.
#6 I’m giving the Cardinal the benefit of the doubt there but if you are looking closely you can see quite a few cracks in the Stanford facade. Stanford has some quality wins over Arizona St., Washington, UCLA & Oregon St., but over their last 4 games, Stanford is 3-1 with that puzzling loss coming against Utah. Furthermore, the wins over UCLA, Oregon St., and Washington came by a combined score of 75-50. Yes Stanford is winning games, but they aren’t doing so in a convincing manner. Stanford has a chance to really prove they are legitimate if they can upend Oregon at home this week. They also have upcoming games against USC & Notre Dame. Right now it does seem like Stanford is teetering but they can certainly end the season on an extremely high note. I think it interesting that QB Kevin Hogan hasn’t been great & the defense, although a top-20 unit, has been disappointing.
#7 A couple of thoughts here. At 8-0, Baylor has been disgusting offensively! This team has scored 70 or more points on 4 different occasions & in another game they posted 69! They lead the nation in scoring offense, averaging 62+PPG! That’s 8 points better than Oregon for crying out loud! RB Lache Seastrunk is on pace to rush for close to 2000 yards while QB Bryce Petty is on pace to throw for almost 5000 yards! That’s nuts! The other thought is that Baylor hasn’t played a single decent team unless you count West Virginia who they beat 73-42! Baylor’s schedule is severely backloaded with their 5 remaining games coming against Oklahoma, Oklahoma St., Texas, Texas Tech & TCU! Baylor has a lot to prove here but all of those teams are beatable & if Baylor somehow finishes with 5 wins over that schedule to go 12-0 then it’s going to be hard to keep them out of the BCS Championship. A lot to prove here.
#8 It is worth pointing out that most publications didn’t have Missouri competing in the SEC East this year. Most pundits thought Mizzou was anywhere from a 4th place to a 6th place team in their own division! What HC Gary Pinkel and the players at Missouri have accomplished this season is nothing short of amazing & this season is already a success. What is most impressive is that although the Tigers did lose a heartbreaker to South Carolina a week ago, the Tigers rebounded to beat a decent Tennessee team 31-3! Missouri could have folded when the dream season ended, but the regrouped & gave the Vols a spanking! There is still plenty to play for in Columbia. If the Tigers win out they’ll boast an 11-1 record with wins over Georgia, Florida, Vanderbilt, Tennessee, Ole Miss & Texas A&M! If they were to beat a 12-0 Alabama team in the SEC Championship, could you really deny Missouri a shot at the BCS Championship?
#9 Miami-FL is in some way in the same boat as Clemson. If you believe in Florida St. as potentially the best team in the country then where do you exactly rank Miami-FL who hung with the Noles for a half before suffering a 41-14 final defeat in Tallahassee? More than anything this was a testament to Al Golden and how bright the future is for “THE U” once Golden gets a full roster of players worthy of the jersey they wear. Miami-FL is close right now but not quite there yet. With that said, there is still a lot to play for in Coral Gables. The Canes get Virginia Tech at home & a win there almost guarantees an 11-1 record & a rematch with Florida St. for the ACC Championship! Even if Miami were to lose to FSU a 2nd time, if they finish 12-2 with 2 losses to FSU then this is a top-5 team. Keep that in mind when you consider that Miami-FL isn’t quite there yet. That’s nuts.
#10 UCLA isn’t in a situation unlike Baylor except the Bruins have a couple of losses. UCLA’s two losses have come in back-to-back road games against Stanford & Oregon. About 99% of the teams in college football would lose back-to-back road games against those two teams and since I have Oregon at #3 and Stanford at #6, it’s hard to critique the Bruins for losing those games. Also like Baylor, UCLA has some backloaded games. They get Arizona, Washington, Arizona St. & USC to end their season which could give the Bruins a 10-2 record & a Pac 12 South championship with a chance to play in the Rose Bowl. What’s been a little disappointing regarding UCLA to a degree is the play of LB Anthony Barr & QB Brett Hundley. Barr is considered to be a potential #1 overall draft pick & if UCLA were undefeated, Hundley would be a Heisman candidate. Their stats simply don’t match though. That’s picky!
#11 Auburn is the first of 4 SEC teams I’m not entirely sure what to do with. If you believe the SEC to be the best conference in the nation by a significant margin then Auburn’s only loss came on the road to a top-10 team in LSU! That’s not something to hold over their head! War Eagle has wins over Ole Miss and on the road against Texas A&M. There is enough on the schedule to prove they are legitimate and let’s not forget that Auburn is still in the running for a national championship. Their last 2 games are home dates with Georgia & Alabama & if they can win those two they’ll be 11-1 and SEC West champions. Can you really keep a 12-1 Auburn team out of the BCS title game for a loss to LSU in Baton Rouge? Like the situation in Coral Gables, HC Gus Malzahn has done amazing things in Auburn! If this is a harbinger of things to come then Alabama will have to the two best programs in college football!
#12 Texas A&M is an interesting case because you could argue that they’ve been somewhat unlucky. At 7-2, the Aggies are clearly a top-10 team. You can’t really bang them for losing to Auburn & Alabama. They lost by a combined 11 points while the Tide & Tigers are a combined 16-1! What has to be intersting for Texas A&M fans at this point is the future of the program. With the two conference losses to Auburn & Alabama, there is pretty much no way the Aggies can win the West, but for the most part we know Johnny Manziel is leaving College Station after this season, but more importantly there are rumors circuulating that HC Kevin Sumlin could be interested in the USC job should USC AD Pat Haden come calling. Florida still hasn’t recovered from losing Urban Meyer & Tim Tebow almost simultaneously. That same fate could befall Texas A&M, but they still have a shot to finish 11-2 & in the top-10.
#13 If you look at a lot of other power rankings, you’ll notice that I’m probably underselling LSU a bit here. Like Texas A&M, the Bayou Bengals have a couple of losses, but they’ve come against Auburn & Ole Miss by a combined 6 points. This is the very definition of the SEC eating its own during the regular season which diminishes their ability to compete for a national championship. That doesn’t seem to be the case when the SEC has won the last umpteen titles, but if the goal is a national championship then this season is a failure for LSU. The Tigers probably can’t win the West but they can do some damage in the process. They still have Alabama & Texas A&M so they could really bolster their resume & play spoiler. This isn’t the LSU team that has dominated defensively these past few years but I love the bruising style of RB Jeremy Hill & if LSU can ball control they can easily finis 11-2!
#14 It always seems like Steve Spurrier is THIS CLOSE to winning a championship at SC but something happens. The injury bug hasn’t been kind to South Carolina, but the Gamecocks flexed some muscle going into Columbia & beating an undefeated Missouri team before coming back home & HAMMERING Mississippi St. 34-16! SC gets a bye week before the ol’ ball coach welcomes in a reeling Florida team that the Gamecocks should have no problem getting up for! SC’s 2 losses have come by a combined 13 points on the road to Tennessee & Georgia. Should Missouri lose another game & SC beat Florida, the Gamecocks would win the SEC by tiebreaker. A win over Clemson would push SC to 10-2 & certainly a top-10 ranking. That pushes SC into the SEC Championship & while a win wouldn’t give them a BCS title appearance, it would give them an SEC title & the Sugar bowl with a shot at 12-2!
#15 You can certainly argue against Michigan St.’s inclusion in a Power 15, but the defense put a beating on rival Michigan this past week and now ranks 3rd in scoring defense & 1st in total defense. Like Ohio St., the Spartans are a victim of their schedule. Their big win this season might be their latest one against Michigan, but keep in mind that Michigan St. lost to Notre Dame who lost to Michigan! You can’t help but be impressed with an 8-1 record & even the loss to the Irish is to a team that is now 7-2! The defense is for real in my opinion & that is enough to get them here but winning on the road against Nebraska would do them good. Michigan St. should win out and get to 11-1 before playing Ohio St. for a chance at the Rose Bowl. Like Ohio St., MSU needs to schedule better. Their out of conference opponents were W.Michigan, S.Florida & Youngstown if you exclude the Irish. MSU won all 3 by a 102-36 margin.

November 8, 2013 - Posted by | Alabama, Auburn, Baylor, Clemson, Florida St., LSU, Miami-FL, Michigan St., Missouri, Ohio St, Oregon, Power 15, South Carolina, Stanford, Texas AM, UCLA

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