Around the Nation - Week 6
October 9, 2012
By The SportsBoss
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Conference play has commenced, and in the last two weeks we have learned quite a lot - some good, some bad, some undecided as well. Let's jump right into the Power Poll this week, then discuss the Top 10 teams more in depth below.
Power Poll Top 10
1 - Alabama Crimson Tide
There is no question at this point in the season the Tide is the #1 team in the country. The 'Bama defense has not yielded more than 14 points in a game, and has posted two shutouts as well - granted, the competition has not been great, as they have only played one team in my current PP (#23 Michigan), but it's still impressive with the turnover on the roster how well they have played so early in the season. As mentioned all season long their schedule is very favorable as well, avoiding #3 Florida, #4 South Carolina and #10 Georgia from the East. Their season is likely to come down to a pair of games, the SEC Championship, and with a win, the BCS Championship - I just do not see many (if any) scenarios where Alabama does not win the SEC West.
2 - Oregon Ducks
Can a team fly under the radar starting the season 6-0, while averaging 52.3 points per game, and an average margin of victory of 32.3ppg? Seems like the Ducks are not getting as much press as even some of their Pac-12 brethren, including the surprise teams #14 Oregon State, #19 Arizona State, Arizona, UCLA, and #16 USC - who seem to have generated more buzz based on a loss then the Ducks unbeaten season so far. What's good for the Pac 12 is those aforementioned surprise teams, who may be able to at least give Oregon a game - especially considering OU must travel to Arizona State (this week), USC and Oregon State. It is more possible now than just a few weeks ago Oregon loses a game somewhere along the line outside the USC matchup, but they still appear to be the cream of the Pac-12 North crop.
3 - Florida Gators
The Gators have risen up from seemingly nowhere to the #3 spot in the latest poll, and it would be tough to argue any team in the country has three more impressive wins thus far than UF does in Texas A&M and Tennessee on the road, and at home this past Saturday vs. #8 LSU. I still have questions about this offense - but that question can really be said regarding just about every SEC team. After their trip to Vanderbilt this Saturday they will have closed out their road slate in the SEC (the Georgia neutral field game is a Florida "away" game this season), and will not leave the state of Florida for the remainder of the regular season. From October 20th to November 17th they will have 5 straight home games in The Swamp, followed by a season ending trip to Tallahassee, which may evoke memories of those fabulous 90's Gator/Seminole showdowns. The SEC East title is completely there for the taking if Florida can beat #10 Georgia in Jacksonville on October 27th.
4 - South Carolina Gamecocks
By now I think everyone knows this South Carolina team means business, supported by a defense that is one of the best in college football which directly resulted in their hammering of a very strong Georgia team on Saturday in Columbia. The Cocks miss two of the three ranked SEC West teams in #1 Alabama and # 21 Mississippi State, but do face #8 LSU this coming weekend in Death Valley - which probably is not good for SC since the Tigers are off a rare loss. If they can somehow pull out that win, their season will likely come down to the following weekend when they travel to Gainesville to face #3 Florida. They still control their own destiny in the SEC East, like Florida.
5 - Kansas State Wildcats
The Cats started a little slow on Saturday vs. in-state rival Kansas, but eventually woke up and pounded the Jayhawks 56-16. With # 7 Oklahoma already in the "W" column, only three potential losses remain on their schedule: these next two weeks they travel to #24 Iowa State followed by #6 West Virginia, and they close their season at home vs. #15 Texas. They control the Big 12 right now along with West Virginia - but this conference is very competitive, so it is far too early to make projections with any certainty as to who may earn the automatic BCS bid. We do know the October 20th K-State/WVU matchup will have Big 12 & BCS championship implications.
6 - West Virginia Mountaineers
Outside #2 Oregon there has not been a more explosive offense then WVU, averaging a robust 52.0ppg. However, their defense has allowed an equally robust (albeit for the wrong reasons) 35.0ppg, something you figure must be fixed at some point since it is extremely difficult to continually outscore your opponents on a weekly basis. When analyzing their remaining schedule there are without question more landmines on it than #5 K-State has - for some reason, maybe the defense comment above, I just do not trust that WVU will find their way through this schedule with enough wins to earn a Big 12 championship in their inaugural season.
7 - Oklahoma Sooners
Maybe, just maybe, the Sooners got their loss out of their system early enough to still make a run for a BCS Championship. That remains to be seen. What we have seen so far is a team that still struggles to be consistent - however, this past Saturday was a solid step in the right direction beating Texas Tech in Lubbock. Not only do the Sooners have that difficult Big 12 schedule to navigate, they also face #11 Notre Dame in Norman on October 27. If they can beat the Irish, and ND continues playing well, that could be that extra boost they need come BCS Championship game invite time, assuming they win the rest of their Big 12 games as well. I would say there is a chance - hey, I have them as my highest rated 1 loss team, even above a few of the undefeated teams - but because of their inconsistency, think it's a small one.
8 - LSU Tigers
The Tigers 18 game regular season win streak came to a halt on Saturday in Gainesville, as their offense was nowhere to be found in a 14-6 loss. A good sign from that game is that defense - wow. Even with the personnel turnover year after year Les Miles and company always have a scary, fast, physical defense that seemingly each week controls their game. Problem remains the same for LSU - an offense that cannot score enough points - and "enough points" is often such a small amount, which makes it that much worse. QB Zach Mettenberger has not performed as well as the Tigers faithful hoped, while the OL/running game has also been a little subpar for their talent and expectations. LSU still controls their own fate in the SEC West - beat #1 Alabama at home in early November, and take care of the rest of their business, and they will earn that SEC Championship game invite. I expect an inspired effort this weekend vs. #4 South Carolina - and this game is absolute must see TV if you are into strong and tough defenses.
9 - Florida State Seminoles
It happened again to head coach Jimbo Fisher and Florida State - they blew another game they had no interest losing, and once again it was unranked NC State that knocked them off. There were signs a loss was possibly on the horizon after a tougher than expected home win over # 13 Clemson, and a non-cover closer than expected win at South Florida the week before. But like many of the teams ahead of them, FSU still controls their ACC fate - and let's be honest here, the ACC isn't exactly home to a bunch of heavyweights. The 'Noles do not have another ranked ACC team on their schedule and figure to be double digit favorites moving forward besides the finale at home vs. #3 Florida. That game will not have ACC impact, but this old school battle could have extremely significant ramifications on the BCS Championship for one or both teams.
10 - Georgia Bulldogs
Like #9 FSU there was blood in the water before their blow-out loss to #4 S. Carolina on Saturday. Whether it be uninspired defensive efforts vs. Buffalo & Florida Atlantic, the very tight win over Tennessee the week before, the Dawgs poor record vs. good teams the last few seasons, and their poor record vs. SC of late, the loss Saturday should not have come as a shock - maybe the final score, sure, but not the loss. But, even with that loss, all is not lost per say. UGA once again avoids #1 Alabama, #8 LSU and #21 Mississippi State from the West, the only three ranked teams from the opposite division, and will still face #3 Florida on a neutral field. If Georgia can take care of the rest of their games, and finish 11-1, it's still very possible they win the SEC East and get a chance to face Alabama in the SEC Championship Game - and in a one game scenario anything can happen. I still really like this roster and think they will play a little looser with a chip on their shoulder for the remainder of the season, and could be dangerous.
11 - Notre Dame Fighting Irish
12 - Ohio State Buckeyes
13 - Clemson Tigers
14 - Oregon State Beavers
15 - Texas Longhorns
16 - USC Trojans
17 - Louisville Cardinals
18 - Rutgers Scarlet Knights
19 - Arizona State Sun Devils
20 - Stanford Cardinal
21 - Mississippi State Bulldogs
22 - Nevada Wolfpack
23 - Michigan Wolverines
24 - Iowa State Cyclones
25 - Cincinnati Bearcats
Next Five to keep eye on, in alphabetical order only
Duke Blue Devils
Louisiana Tech Bulldogs
Tulsa Golden Hurricane