College Football – Contender or just Pretender?

Oct 12, 2012 by

 

Every college football season brings about its own “contenders” and “pretenders.”  If you watch ESPN, you may see Mark May and Lou Holtz discuss weekly who they believe to be legit contenders…although even if Notre Dame was 3-3 I think Lou Holtz would still attempt to convince the nation they were contenders.  Below is a break out of the current contenders and pretenders based on who I believe can WIN the National Championship, not just get there.

Contenders

Alabama

Coach Saban has once again reloaded his defense and has a complete quarterback in A.J. McCarron leading the offense. The Tide is arguably the most deep and complete team in America. Their big test in the regular season will go down in Baton Rouge vs. LSU (11/3). I wonder what the over/under will be for that one, 13.5? Bama does not play Florida, Georgia or South Carolina in the regular season and will only have to play one of them in the SEC Championship Game. Barring an upset loss at home to Mississippi St. (10/27) they should represent the West Division in the conference championship.

Oregon

Speed kills my friends, speed kills. I believe Oregon’s approach is if they can’t run through the big SEC defensive lines they will run around them. The lack of pure strength across the offensive and defensive line is the only question mark for this once again talented Duck squad. They have a few tough road tests in Arizona State (10/18), USC (11/3) and Oregon State (11/24). They could easily get USC again in the Pac 12 Championship Game, too. A one loss Oregon will have the best opportunity to play in the National Championship outside of a one loss SEC team.

South Carolina

“The old ball coach” has the Gamecocks playing extremely physical, but what makes them great is the speed they mix in as well. Connor Shaw and Marcus Lattimore, two gifted football players, spearhead the offensive attack. Like Oregon, South Carolina will be tested on the road with games at LSU (10/13), at Florida (10/20) and at Clemson (11/24). Their recipe for success will be to win 2 out of those 3 games and represent the SEC East in the conference championship.

Kansas State

All Bill Snyder does is win, win, win; no matter what! Collin Klein might be Geno Smith’s kryptonite. We will find out soon as the Wildcats head to Morgantown (10/20) with massive Big 12 implications on the line. It will be an uphill battle but with the mix of Kansas State’s balanced offense and tough defense they may be able to get the Mountaineers off their usual rhythm. The lack of a Big 12 championship game would eliminate a possible road block to reach the National Championship.

USC

Some people are writing the Trojans off; I’m not going to do it. They have Matt Barkley throwing to Woods and Lee on the outside and to say the offense is loaded with weapons would be an understatement.  The defense has not been the Achilles heel so many analysts predicted when the season started. USC stubbed their toe at Stanford, but I expect them to continue to pick up their play and get the ball rolling. They have a few marquee games vs. Oregon (11/3) and Notre Dame (11/24) that could help boost them in the polls if they win. Both of these are at the Coliseum. They may also get to play the Ducks again in the conference championship which would further solidify their case to play in the National Championship.

Pretenders

LSU

The injury bug has bit, the honey badger has no bite and the Tiger’s schedule is ruthless. Starting last week with Florida, LSU plays five straight ranked teams. Sometimes Les is more…but not in 2012.

West Virginia

Simma down now, I know a decent amount of readers might disagree here. I simply do not believe they are consistent enough on defense to run the table. If the Mountaineers’ offense lays an egg in any game, they could very well lose, even if the opponent is nothing special. They do have Kansas State (10/20) and Oklahoma (11/17) at home which does help their case. Say West Virginia does run the table and meets up with Alabama, do you really think Nick Saban is going to let Geno Smith cruise up and down the field???….No. Alabama’s offense would punish West Virginia’s defense all night long. WVU will be favored from here on out the rest of the regular season but watch out for one poor showing along the way. Geno Smith will win the Heisman Trophy though, as he is putting up video game stats.  Maybe he will be able to put the team on his back the entire season and into the National Championship, but don’t count on it.

Florida

This is one of the most improved teams in the nation as they have become a physical team down in the SEC.  I am really impressed with the defense they are playing. The problem is their lack of any serious air attack limiting them in big games so I expect them to lose a couple at least. They rank 115th in the nation in passing yards per game. They play South Carolina (10/20) and Georgia (10/27) back to back weekends at the Swamp which will be a tough test along with finishing the season at Florida State (11/24). Florida would have to win 2 out of 3 here, take care of business in their other games and win the SEC Championship Game to make the National Championship.  It’s possible, but no likely.

Notre Dame

Manti Te’o is having a remarkable season even with his recent losses of loved ones. He is on a mission to make great play after great play. The entire defense is stout and one of the best in the nation. Just ask Michigan, or Michigan State, which scored a combined nine points in 120 minutes. The problem is the Irish will have to most likely go undefeated in the regular season to make the National Championship and with their muddy QB situation I think they will drop at least one along the way. I don’t see them winning both games at Oklahoma (10/27) and at USC (11/24).  Stanford has had their number in recent years which could make this Saturday’s matchup a great game to watch.

The Ohio State University

Coach Tressel, I still love ya man! It stinks one of the few bright spots within the Big Ten is suspended from postseason play this season. I do not believe this team is ready to beat an SEC team in the National Championship yet, but with Braxton Miller continuing to master the Urban Meyer spread for a couple more years, along with more top recruiting classes, the Buckeyes will be contenders in 2013 and 2014.

Florida State

Going into the season I thought Florida State was over ranked as usual. After the impressive comeback win against Clemson I almost started to drink the Seminole Kool-Aid, but good thing I stuck to Miller Lite as they flopped at NC State last weekend. The problem FSU faces is the soft remaining schedule, they only play one ranked team, home vs. Florida (11/24). As it stands today, they would play either Miami or Duke in the ACC Championship game which would make it hard to impress the computers compared to a one loss Oregon or USC.

DarkhorseGeorgia

I think last weekend against South Carolina was a little bit of an aberration as the game got away from them early. If they can win out, have the right combination of Florida/South Carolina losses, represent the SEC East in the conference championship and beat the favorite Alabama, the Dawgs would make the National Championship.  That’s a lot to ask for.  They look dead in the water right now but the strong SEC conference, having won the past 6 National Championships (disgusts me to admit this as a Big Ten fan), gives them hope.

Teams with a slight chance facing an uphill battle Oklahoma, Clemson, Mississippi State, Oregon State

Am I confident the National Champion will come from one of my current contenders, yes…But then again this is what makes college football so special. Anyone of my pretenders could win it all come January 7th, 2013. The next couple of months should be interesting and exciting to watch!

Going out on a limb with USC running the table to make the National Championship Game – Bama 31, USC 23 – Maybe this is just the matchup I want to see!  Let’s all hope two SEC teams do not play each other again.

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