Contenders to Watch
October 10, 2013
By Lance Blankenship
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There is going to be a great deal of controversy as this regular season ends and teams jockey for the title game. I think as many as five or even six teams can be unbeaten after their regular season ends. Let's breakdown the heavyweights.
The Tide play home vs. LSU on Nov. 9. This is the only opponent with the firepower to knock off the Tide. Alabama's remaining foes -- Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi State, Chattanooga, and Auburn -- will be pounded by Tide.
The Ducks are mighty on offense and QB Marcus Mariota is a super-weapon. Their defense is much improved but not enough to beat Alabama. They are in danger of losing to Washington this week. Stanford is another potential loss on Nov. 7 in Palo Alto. No other opponent has a chance to beat them.
The Buckeyes are not as talented as their 2002-2003 National Championship team. They are still excellent and as of today appear to be headed to a spotless record. Michigan will be overwhelmed by OSU's talent edge and fierce pass rush. Indiana will probably be a 27-point underdog on Nov. 23 in Columbus. The Hoosiers, because of their hurry-up style and smart QB, could make the Buckeyes work hard to win if OSU turns it over a few times.
The Seminoles are coming together and have a week to rest before their showdown at Clemson. FSU will beat the stuffing out of the Tigers and coast home. NC State, Miami, Fl., Wake Forest, Syracuse, Idaho and Florida will all be helpless victims against the Seminoles. This team is capable of beating Alabama in the National Championship game. That is, if the Tide survives LSU and the potential rematch in the SEC Championship Game.
The Cardinal have an NFL-caliber QB in Kevin Hogan. They also have a great coach and a high degree of overall talent. Their trip to Utah this weekend will be hard work as the Utes run well. Hogan's passing and the Cardinal's tremendous front seven will allow them to win going away, however. UCLA and Oregon State are the next two opponents/victims. A bye week follows. The fireworks then begin on Nov. 7, when Oregon visits Palo Alto. One of these teams will lose their undefeated status and a possible ticket to the title game in a rare Thursday matchup. I think Stanford's fundamentals will prevail, even if they go off as home underdogs. A trip to USC follows on Nov. 16. Although the Trojans are limp this year, wide receiver Marqise Lee is enough to scare any team. Stanford will still win. Arch-rival Cal visits Stanford on Nov. 23. Despite the emotion and animosity, Cal has no chance of winning. Finally, Notre Dame comes to town on Nov. 30. The Irish have the best three-down defensive line I have seen in many years and they will pressure Hogan. Stanford, probably a double-digit favorite in this tilt, will have to play sharply to survive.
The Tigers have played a B-schedule so far and have beaten all five opponents by two touchdowns or more, due to the great play of QB James Franklin. They have the ability to beat UGA this weekend on the road and the line has already been bet down from 10 to 7 at most shots. This may be too tall an order but if the ball bounces the Tigers' way, they can do it. If they do pull off the shocker, a trip to the SEC title game is possible. Florida is next and they are mediocre at best without QB Driskel. South Carolina, who follows, is having trouble with their star DE and is starting to unravel. Tennessee is no competition. UK stinks. Mississippi is banged up. The season finale, Texas A&M, will be played in Columbia and Missouri can beat the Aggies, who have a poor defense that hides under Johnny Football’s headlines.
The Bulldogs, at 6-0, are very good. Their schedule has been somewhat light but they have obliterated their foes. They have a bye this week. Their next three games, UNLV, San Diego State and Nevada will all be wins with some degree of comfort. The matchup on Nov. 9 may be a problem as Fresno travels to Laramie for a battle with Wyoming. The Cowboys have two key factors working for them in this spot. One, War Memorial Stadium in Laramie stands at over 7,200 feet in elevation. That is the highest elevation of any stadium in college football. Fresno will have to adjust to the cold and thin air. Secondly, Wyoming has an equal to Carr at QB in Brett Smith. If Fresno State escapes Wyoming they will go undefeated as New Mexico and San Jose State are their last two opponents. A rematch against Boise State in the Mountain West Championship is expected and even if Fresno State does go 12-0, they have no chance of getting into the BCS championship game.
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