At least 4 teams among the AP Top 25 know exactly who they are and where they are going as college football’s 5th week of play concluded Saturday night.
The rest of the Top 25 teams are excited and have a lot of hope, but their fate is really iffy about where they will be at season’s end.
There is this thing called destiny, and a lot of winning teams want to think that they are riding it, but there is also this thing called defense, and defense trumps destiny almost every time in championship play.
So if it is not obvious, let’s identify the 4 teams that absolutely know who they are and where they are going:
#1 Alabama blanked #21 Ole Miss 25-0.
#2 Oregon whipped unranked California, 55-16.
#3 Clemson ripped unranked Wake Forest 56-7.
#5 Stanford on-the-road destroyed unranked Washington State 55-17.
Now let’s talk about the maybes, wannabes, iffies and very iffies.
The biggest maybe is the #5 Ohio State Buckeyes, who hosted #23 Wisconsin and managed to win by only a touchdown, 31-24.
You only need to know two things about Ohio State: 1) In compiling a 5-0 mark, the Buckeyes have played the 119th toughest schedule in the country among 124 Division 1-A schools, and 2) Given their weak schedule and conference, they will probably not face a Top 15 team all season while they go unbeaten. Only #16 Northwestern (they have played the 123rd toughest schedule so far), and #19 Michigan (they have played the 133rd toughest schedule so far) stand in Ohio State’s way.
The second biggest maybe is the #9 Georgia Bulldogs who, to their credit, beat #6 LSU, 44-41. The Bulldogs were favored at home by 3 and won by 3. Georgia has played the toughest schedule in the country so far, and deserves a lot more credit for its 3-1 mark than Ohio State does for its 5-0 record.
Georgia may get to the national championship game, but that will only happen if they outlast South Carolina in the SEC East Division, and then beat the probable SEC West Division winner. That would be Alabama. Yes, THAT Alabama, the one that has won 2 of the last 3 national titles, and is looking to win 3 of the last 4 national championships. When you bet against Nick Saban, you had better have deep pockets and be able to afford to lose.
No other team in the hunt for the national championship deserves a second, third or fourth look at this time. If anyone is going to be in the hunt, they are going to have to play their way in by beating much better teams on paper.
Among the wannabes that probably won’t get it done are South Carolina, Florida State and Texas A&M.
The #12 South Carolina Gamecocks could only beat an unranked Central Florida team by a field goal, 28-25. The #8 Florida State Seminoles defeated unranked Boston College, 48-34. The #9 Texas A&M Aggies traveled to unranked Arkansas and won, 45-33. All three of these teams give up too many points in winning.
Among the iffies (it’s iffy they will go far) are the #7 Louisville Cardinals (4-0), #11 Oklahoma Sooners (4-0), #12 UCLA Bruins (3-0) and #17 Baylor Bears (3-0), all of whom have run up unbeaten records while playing weak competition that haven’t amounted to a hill of beans.
And then there are two very iffies—Washington and Northwestern.
The #15 Washington Huskies are now 4-0 and the #16 Northwestern Wildcats are 4-0. The difference between the two schools is the quality of their opponents. Washington has played the 40th toughest schedule so far and Northwestern the 123rd toughest. Who do you think will go farther? Yeah, me too.
The Washington Huskies are at least an emerging team that MIGHT go farther. Let’s see how Washington does this week when the Huskies travel to #5 Stanford. They had better have more than their cleats tied when they take on Stanford at home.
Now let’s have a shot of Jameson and ask why is Oklahoma State STILL in the Top 25?
The #11 Cowboys were upset by unranked West Virginia, 30-21. The Cowboys three wins before they lost to West Virginia were over Mississippi State (rated 48th Sagarin), UTSA (University of Texas at San Antonio and rated 115th by Sagarin), and AA Lamar (rated 200th by Sagarin).
Oklahoma State lost to an unranked team, and built a 4-0 record against weak competition, and still only dropped to #21 in the Poll when the Cowboys should have been gone, like Notre Dame now is gone as a two-loss team after losing to the visiting #14 Oklahoma Sooners, 35-21.
The waters may run deep in Stillwater, but they are stagnant, The Oklahoma State Cowboys are going nowhere fast, they are living off past hype.
Another disappointment: Last week we wondered how the 4-0 Minnesota Golden Gophers would do when they started league play. Now we know. They promptly lost to visiting Iowa, 23-7. In other words, Minnesota is taking its rightful place where it belongs, in the middle to the back of the pack in the weak Big Ten Conference. What can be said: Gophers get exterminated on the turf of championship fields.
Three unranked teams have quietly gone to 4-0. They include Northern Illinois, Missouri and Houston. The Mid-American Conference (MAC) Northern Illinois Huskies just put a 55-24 beat down on Purdue from the less-than-mighty Big Ten.
If you think Purdue is down, Southern California is sucking Louisiana pond water after a 62-41 beating from Arizona State. So bad that Head Coach Lane Kiffin was pulled off the team bus at LAX and immediately fired by Athletic Director Pat Haden.
Kiffin was not allowed to ride the team bus from the airport back to the campus. Dude, that’s harsh. That said, Kiffin’s Trojans had lost 7 of its last 11 games, and gave up 42 second half points to the Arizona State Sun Devils before losing 62-41.
Kiffin also had another 60+ point loss among the most recent 7 losses, at home to Oregon last season, 62-51. The Pete Carroll glory years at Southern California have come to a screeching halt. It’s not easy being Lane Kiffin, especially this week.