5 Teams Are Really Left in the National Championship Race: Alabama, Oregon, Florida, Kansas State and Notre Dame

College Football Wrap-Up – Week 7

Focus on Alabama, Oregon, Florida, Kansas State and Notre Dame. All of these teams are unbeaten at 6-0 and are the only ones left in the national championship race following major college football’s 7th week of play.

Should they all continue to win out, Alabama would meet Florida for the SEC title with the winner advancing to the title game. The opponent would probably be Oregon or Notre Dame, with Kansas State on the outside looking in.

In the 3 games that really mattered over the weekend, #9 LSU upset #3 South Carolina 23-21, #7 Notre Dame beat #17 Stanford 20-13 in overtime, and #5 West Virginia was overwhelmed and upset by unranked Texas Tech, 49-14. In a game that mattered a lot less, #13 Oklahoma crushed #15 Texas 63-21.

Here’s how all the of the AP Top 25 teams fared in the 7th week of action:

#1 Alabama (6-0) leveled an injury-ridden, 3-4 Missouri team, 42-10, in a rain-soaked game on-the-road that also saw a 38-minute lightning delay. The win was Alabama’s 10th straight by at least 19 points. All the Crimson Tide did was roll up 533 yards of offense with 362 yards rushing. Eddie Lacy ran18 times for 177 yards (9.8 yards per carry) and scored 5 touchdowns. T. J. Yeldon ran 18 times for 144 yards (8.0 ypc) and scored 2 touchdowns.

And the Crimson Tide defense? No problem. They held Missouri to 129 yards of total offense and exactly 3 yards rushing.  Did I mention that Alabama is #1 nationally in total defense, and #1 in scoring defense? Through 7 weeks of major college football, there is Alabama and everyone else who wishes they were Alabama. 

#2 Oregon (6-0) was idle this week.

#3 South Carolina (6-1) had its national title hopes take a major blow when the Gamecocks traveled to #9 LSU and Death Valley. They don’t call it Death Valley because they couldn’t think of another name. The Tigers scratched and clawed their way offensively to a 23-21 upset win while South Carolina was sorely in need of a quarterback when it counted most.

LSU missed one 15-yard field goal and settled for 3 more by driving at least as far as South Carolina’s 5-yard line. The Gamecocks came into the game with the nation’s #4 scoring defense and #11 total defense, and it showed, but a 50-yard scoring run by LSU freshman Jeremy Hill with 5:03 left broke South Carolina’s spirit. Hill ran for 124 yards on 17 carries (7.3 ypc) in a breakout game.

Let me say it here and now: If Oregon, Notre Dame and/or Florida go undefeated this year, the chances of LSU or South Carolina playing in the national championship game are nil. Fans, and especially sportswriters and sportscasters, are not going to put up with a 1-loss SEC team in the national title game this season.

 #4 Florida (6-0) on-the-road beat up a 2-4 Vanderbilt team, and stayed undefeated and in the hunt for the national title. Florida had 3 starting linemen out with injuries, but still racked up 326 of its 403 yards of offense on the ground. The Gators sophomore QB Jeff Driskel ran for 177 yards (including a 70-yarder) and 3 touchdowns, bringing back memories of Tim Tebow. The win was Florida’s 22nd straight over Vanderbilt, which has now lost 47 straight games against Top 5 teams. It’s good to be a Gator and not a Commodore.

#5 West Virginia (5-1) on-the-road got found out this week, losing to unranked Texas Tech (also 5-1), 49-14. Tech led 35-7 at the half. The Mountaineers were all in a twitter over their 48-45 win over then #11 Texas last week, overlooking their lousy #102 total defense and #102 scoring defense (that’s West Virginia I am talking about, NOT Texas; Texas was 74th in total defense and 64th in scoring defense).

I wondered aloud, how long before West Virginia gets found out. The answer was not long. Texas Tech swamped the West Virginia Mountaineers. Red Raider QB Seth Doege passed for a career-high 499 yards and 6 touchdowns. West Virginia’s QB Geno Smith, who looked great against weak teams, got his Saturday, as he was held to 29-of-55 passing (52%) for 295 yards and a touchdown.

So much for West Virginia, my guess is the Mountaineers will lose again, and again. There is not enough time this season to fix West Virginia’s absolutely crummy defense, which is now ranked #114 in total defense and 109th in scoring defense. Stick a fork in West Virginia, the Mountaineers are done in the hype column, and out of the title picture.

#6 Kansas State (6-0) on-the-road went toe-to-toe with Iowa State (4-2) before winning the in-state rivalry, 27-21. K-State QB Collin Klein ran for 105 yards and 3 touchdowns and passed for another 187 yards and the Wildcats held the ball for 40+ minutes, which left the Cyclones less than 20 minutes to get something done, and they couldn’t.

Kansas State travels to West Virginia next in what was supposed to be a “showdown” game. I think not. K-State should take down the Mountaineers in this away game unless the Wildcats go brain dead on their flight out.

#7 Note Dame (6-0) at home was tested to the limit, but managed to beat #17 Stanford (4-2) in overtime, 20-13. The Irish defense, now ranked #11 in total defense and #2 in scoring defense (8+ points per game), held when it counted to stay unbeaten and in the hunt for the national title. Good for the Irish, good for college football, and good for America. There is no team in America that has more football history and glory than Note Dame hass. Did I forget to mention that I am part Irish?

#8 Ohio State (7-0) on-the-road held off a 2-4 Indiana team, 52-49, in a horrible effort by the Buckeyes. Their 7-0 mark looks great, but the Buckeye defense is #69 in total defense and #53 in scoring defense, in other words, very average. Not as bad as West Virginia, mind you, but hardly good enough to get them to the national championship game.

The Buckeyes beat Michigan State at State by 1 point (the Spartans did have a defense, just no offense), and beat Nebraska at home by 25 points (Nebraska was too full of itself to beat Ohio State), but still ahead are Penn State, Wisconsin and Michigan. Should Ohio State beat all 3 and run the table (go undefeated), I will give the Buckeyes more props, but they will not play for the national championship, even if were eligible, which they are not because of sanctions, which is also true of Penn State.

 #9 LSU (6-1) upset #3 South Carolina, 23-21.

#10 Oregon State (5-0) traveled to Brigham Young (4-3) and took care of business, winning 42-24. The Beavers from Corvallis are not exactly tearing it up statistically (although they are ranked #11 in turnover margin with a +6), and still must face Utah, Washington, Arizona State, Stanford, California and Oregon to get anywhere. My guess is they will meet their match more than once along this trail of potential destruction.

#11 Southern California (5-1) on-the-road watched a 3-3 Washington team unravel in a 24-14 victory. The AP Top 25 Poll had USC #1 coming into the season, but it is now clear that there is no way Southern Cal is playing in the national championship game, must less winning it.

#12 Florida State (6-1) did a wonderful job of annihilating a disturbing 1-5 Boston College team, 51-7, but it is so too little and too late for the Seminoles. They may win 4 more games and be 10-1 when they play Florida in their final league game of the year, but Florida will win that game unless the Earth caves in. Gator Coach Will Muschamp is like shark smelling blood in the water; he has been kicked around since leaving Texas as its defensive coordinator, and he and his Gators are ready to take their place at the top of the heap.

Florida next hosts South Carolina, and does not play Alabama in league play, but could easily face the Crimson Tide for the SEC title and with an entrée to the national title game. The Gators must, of course, keep winning.

#13 Oklahoma (4-1) at home gave the #15 Texas Longhorns (4-2) a genuine horsewhipping, 63-21, in what was supposed to be a competitive football game famously called the “Red River Rivalry”. Not this time. Oklahoma led 46-8 after 3 quarters. It’s over for the Texas Longhorns, they may as well head into the sunset while they still can.

Okie Coach Bob Stoops rattled on about his defense after this win, conveniently suffering amnesia over the absence of his defense when the Sooners lost at home to Kansas State, 24-19. There is more to a football season than Texas, as Stoops well knows. Even if Oklahoma wins out, the Sooners will not play in the national championship game. 

#14 Georgia (5-1) was idle this week.

#15 Texas (4-2) was beaten by #13 Oklahoma, 63-21.

#16 Clemson (5-1) was idle this week.

#17 Stanford (4-2) was beaten by Notre Dame in overtime, 20-13.

#18 Louisville (6-0) traveled to Pittsburgh (2-4) and beat the Panthers by 10, 45-35, but still must face currently unbeaten Cincinnati and Rutgers. Louisville: Not in the hunt for anything except maybe a Big East title—that and a couple of dollars should get Louisville a cup of coffee.

#19 Mississippi State (6-0) eased by a 3-3 Tennessee, 41-31. Try getting by Alabama, LSU and a very unhappy Arkansas team the rest of the way.

#20 Rutgers (6-0) at home managed to beat a 2-4 Syracuse team, 23-15. Talk about NOT making a statement. The Scarlet Knights may be headed for a nightmare.

#21 Cincinnati (5-0) at home beat Fordham, a 4-3 AA team, 49-17. Seriously, Bearcats, this is how you show us you are ready to go unbeaten and play in the national title game?

#22 Texas A&M (5-1) on-the-road handed #23 Louisiana Tech (5-1) its first loss, 59-57. Texas A&M is #36 in scoring defense and Louisiana Tech is #114 among 120 teams. Louisiana is in the wacky WAC (the Western Athletic Conference), but Texas A&M is in the SEC and has no excuse worth talking about. “I know” as late night talk show host Craig Ferguson might say, Louisiana Tech is in the WESTERN Athletic Conference. Both of these teams are going nowhere fast.

#23 Louisiana Tech (5-1) lost to #22 Texas A&M, 59-57.

#24 Boise State (5-1) at home beat a 4-3 Fresno State team, 20-10. Not exactly the Broncos of recent years. When you lose to Michigan State 17-13 to start the season, and the Spartans are now a 4-3 team, you are in deep doggy do.

#25 Michigan (4-2) at home shut out Illinois 45-0. This might be a big deal if Illinois (2-5) actually had a football team. They don’t. Michigan is #10 in total defense and #23 in scoring defense, and those numbers should be getting worse pretty soon.

The Wolverines got slammed by Alabama, lost at Notre Dame and now must still face Michigan State, Nebraska, Northwestern, Iowa and Ohio State. In other words, Michigan should not be #25 for very long. Michigan State, Nebraska and Iowa have all had disappointing seasons, and Ohio State is still unbeaten, which is more than Michigan can say.

In other games of note among unranked teams:

Ohio pushed its record to 7-0 by beating a 1-6 Akron team, 34-28.

Five teams now have 6-1 records with wins over the weekend: Northwestern, Nevada, Northern Illinois, Tulsa and Toledo.

Three teams now have 5-1 marks with wins over the weekend: TCU, Arizona State and Kent State.

None of these teams could possibly be in the hunt for the national title, but they could certainly be in the hunt for conference titles. Time will tell what their records will look like in another 6 weeks. Now the heavy lifting really begins as teams continue to get down and dirty in league play.

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