A weekend of upsets in the top ten has left the college football world at least temporarily upside down. There are plenty of names in this weekís top ten that are probably unfamiliar to casual fans. Teams like Cal, South Florida, and Kentucky all benefited from the combination of their own victories, and the massacre that was the previous weekend. With the season approaching the halfway point the current AP Poll packs thirteen teams that can still say they are undefeated. As last weekend proved though, literally no team is safe from losing at least one. Even USC, who slipped to number two in the poll, has to consider itself lucky after escaping with a win against a surprising Washington team.
The question at this point is how many of these teams have a legitimate chance of running the table and putting themselves in position to play for a national championship. Hawaii is the only undefeated team in the top 25 that isnít a BCS team, so they arenít very likely to get the chance to play for a title. With that said, here is a breakdown of the other twelve teams and their chances.
Of course the Trojans are a favorite to go undefeated, simply because of their schedule. No disrespect to Cal, Oregon, or Arizona State, who are all ranked teams, but USC is good enough to beat all of them. Even with the nail biter this past weekend against the Huskies, USC is still outscoring opponents by three touchdowns. While all three teams have explosive offenses that will continue to put up big numbers, getting into a shootout with USC is almost always a bad idea, and none of them have shown enough on defense to convince me that they could slow down the Trojan attack.
Believe it or not, but there is a very good chance that we will be seeing the Buckeyes playing for another national title this year; there may be no one with an easier road to an undefeated record than Ohio State. With a defense that is allowing only a touchdown per game, they will slow down high flying and ranked Purdue this weekend. After that, there is a matchup with Michigan State, who - while having a nice season - has not convinced me that they are good enough to win that game on the road. And then comes the big battle with #6 Wisconsin. The Badgers, Iím convinced, are ranked as high as they are because they havenít lost yet and because of their name. They have barely won their last two home games against Iowa and Michigan State, and it is plausible they will lose to Penn State before they even play the Buckeyes. Regardless, donít be surprised if Ohio State still had a goose egg in the loss column come January.
Wouldnít it be something to see the Bulls playing for a national championship? The Bulls!! Well believe it could happen. Their schedule is by no means an easy one the rest of the way, with a trip to Rutgers in two weeks and Cincinnati and Louisville visiting later in the season; South Florida will have their work cut out for them. Their offense isnít blowing anyone away, and they arenít winning games by convincing margins. Hereís what it comes down to though: they rise to the occasion when it is necessary. More importantly, if you can hold West Virginia to thirteen points and less than 200 yards rushing, you can contain any offense in the Big East.
This one pains me to do because I think LSU is the best team in the country. They have an explosive offense and the fastest defense around. Unfortunately for the Tigers, they have to get through a month-long gauntlet of Florida, Kentucky, Auburn, and Alabama before they have what should be smooth sailing to the SEC Championship game. Even if they should make it through the regular season unscathed, it is very likely they will see the Gators again in the title game. The simple task of having to potentially beat Florida twice in one season alone is enough to make you think twice before labeling LSU undefeated champs. Throw in the other three tough conference games on the schedule, and you have think that the Tigers are likely to get tripped up somewhere along the way. Despite that though, they certainly have the talent to run away with a national title.
The Eagles are very similar to LSU in that they have the talent and ability to run through their conference schedule without a loss, but there are some tough games waiting for them in the ACC. Matt Ryan is quietly putting together a brilliant season, one that should earn him at least some votes for the Heisman if BC keeps up their winning ways. Despite Ryan and a defense that has done an adequate job so far, there are still matchups waiting with Virginia Tech, Clemson, Florida State, and a Maryland team that looks like it could make a strong run in the second half of the season. The Eagles are good enough comparatively to the rest of the conference right now though that they can't completely be counted out just yet.
Donít adjust your computer screen. The name you are reading is in fact Missouri. Sure their next two games are against Nebraska and at Oklahoma, but the Cornhuskers havenít beaten anyone that great yet, and they barely beat an average Wake Forest team. Oklahoma certainly didnít look themselves this weekend in their loss to Colorado, but the Tigers will be on the road for that game. If quarterback Chase Daniel comes to play however, Missouri will have a real chance in both games. After that, the Tigers are pretty much looking at all winnable games. Kansas State on November 17th will be the toughest remaining game. Call this pick a gut feeling.
Their offense continues to impress me each week, still averaging nearly 500 yards per game. Curtis Painter is averaging close to four touchdown passes per game to go along with over 300 yards per game; pretty stellar numbers. The defense hasnít been great, but then again it hasnít had to be. This weekend will be a big test though at home against Ohio State, a game I donít think the Buckeyes will lose. If that should happen though, the Boilermakers need wins over Penn State, Michigan State, and Michigan to run the table, very doable if they can beat Ohio State.
Cal and Arizona State
This is a case of great teams at the top of the conference beating up on one another. Both have to play USC, and even though both will be at home for their meetings with the Trojans, they donít have any kind of defense to slow down the massive offensive attack that will be coming their way.
The Wildcats have been a nice story, reaching the top ten with an offense that has been on fire. Andreí Woodson is having himself some kind of year, thatís for sure. Despite that, Kentuckyís next three games are against #13 South Carolina, #2 LSU and #9 Florida; it just isnít going to happen.
P.J. Hill is having a great season rushing the football, but Wisconsinís defense isnít that solid and they are not deserving of their #6 ranking. If the Badgers donít lose on the road to Penn State, they will a couple of weeks later to Ohio State.