Don’t let Will Muschamp’s postgame comments after the win over Florida State fool you….this team is not worthy of playing for the national championship. Frankly, I’m not sure whether they’re worthy of playing for a BCS bowl either.
It must be said that this defense is probably the best in America, overall. There is no doubt about that. That defense has, however, masked the absolute offensive ineptitude of this Gators team. In an age of football where you must be able to score in bunches if necessary, the Gators rank 75th in the nation in scoring offense and QB Jeff Driskel – who I thought was a pro-style QB – ranks outside of the top 100 in the country with just over 1,400 yards passing and only 11 touchdowns on the year.
In consecutive weeks, the Gators offense was so bad that they lost to Georgia, barely hung on to beat Missouri and almost lost to Louisiana-Lafayette. Can you tell me that this is a BCS-worthy team? I didn’t think so. The Gators will be there very soon, but not yet.
It pains me to put the Wildcats into this category because Bill Snyder is such an amazingly well-prepared and underrated head coach. Maybe the most underrated in college football history, for that matter. In two tenures with the Kansas State football program, Snyder has compiled a 169-84-1 record and gone to 13 bowl games. You cannot lose to an under .500 Baylor team by four touchdowns and have it not hurt your reputation for the current season, however.
Wildcats QB Collin Klein is a worthy Heisman invite and the greatest warrior in the sport currently and the purple and silver defense is as scrappy as any out there, but when there are so many other well-deserving teams this season in college football I just cannot say that Kansas State would be on my list of BCS bowl contenders. My opinion could change with a solid Big 12 finale victory over 23-ranked Texas this coming Saturday, however.
I love Les Miles. He is one of the greatest sound bites in college football. LSU played admirably against Alabama a few weeks ago and easily could have won that game. The fact remains though that this team consistently plays to the level of their competition.
The Tigers lost both games to the two SEC teams ranked ahead of them and barely beat Auburn, Mississippi and Arkansas this year – three teams with a combined record of 13-23. This style of play makes for exciting games, but also tells me that the Tigers aren’t worthy of a BCS game this year. Their defense is once again BCS-worthy, ranking ninth in the country in total defense. Their offense is quite the opposite though, averaging a non-BCS-worthy 5.56 yards per play and must be improved this off-season to get to where Les Miles wants to be.
There are a lot of people in America who believe that Notre Dame isn’t worthy of their BCS title game spot and I am one of those people. They don’t pass my “eye test”, so to speak – the Irish scraped by three teams at home this season by a total of nine points. Those three teams have a combined record of 18-17 on the year.
For me, it’s not about hating the Irish just to be a hater. For me – and I dare say for most people out there who have the same viewpoint – it is different. The Irish have lost my respect (and a lot of other fans' respect) because of their continuous refusal to join a major BCS conference due to some sort of innate superiority complex and they will continue to lose respect until they do so.
For the Irish, winning 12 games is enough while the rest of the major contenders must win a thirteenth conference championship game. This team has an unwritten edge on every other team in America and for what reason – their illustrious history? Does that include their two bowl wins since 1995? Or could it be their 15-16 record in bowl games since 1925? Nope, you guessed it. It is because of the money and the greed that surrounds NCAA football.
It seems to be a popular sentiment that the sport of college football is better when Notre Dame is better. So what, the sport wasn’t great for the first ten years of this decade? Is that what we are saying? Give me a break.
Congratulations to the Irish on a fantastic campaign this year. We all look forward to watching you get your butts kicked in the championship game versus a legitimate opponent.
The Real Blokes
All that I need to know when talking about the Crimson Tide as a contender is that Nick Saban is still their head coach. I’m sold on this team until Saban is no longer the head coach. The man is possibly the greatest coach in SEC football history and his defenses are some of the most sound in NCAA history.
Not only does Alabama have the nation’s best defense despite losing a chunk of starters from last season, they are also some of the most well-disciplined football players in the country. The Crimson Tide offense is still somewhat conservative, but is more capable of ripping off big plays than ever with offensive standouts like Eddie Lacy, T.J. Yeldon and Amari Cooper, which gives them yet another added weapon to their already overflowing arsenal.
The Crimson Tide currently rank 15th in the nation in scoring offense at 39 points per contest, the highest of the Saban era. For the most part, this team looks unbeatable.
It is true that the Bulldogs got a huge scheduling break this season when they didn’t have to play LSU or Alabama, but one look at their style of play and the amount of hardship that they have been able to overcome this season and it is easy to see why they deserve a BCS bowl this year.
Head coach Mark Richt, despite being on the hot seat coming into the season, has gone 11-1 despite missing much of his starting secondary in the first four games of the year and losing two leading receivers for the season throughout the year to knee injuries. The man knows how to get the best out of his players when it counts the most.
Anyone would be hard-pressed to find a more balanced team in all of college football as well. The Bulldogs rank inside the top 25 in both scoring offense and total defense. They also have the top-ranked quarterback in the country in terms of passer rating in Aaron Murray and the most disruptive pass-rusher in the country in outside linebacker Jarvis Jones.
Their mental toughness is undeniable and they should give Alabama a run for their money in Saturday’s SEC title game.
The Aggies have taken the college football world by storm with their stellar and somewhat surprising play under first-year head coach Kevin Sumlin. A good amount of this team’s 10-2 record can be attributed to their team defense which is improved from last year and is allowing just over 22 points per game. However, we all know why this team is where they are in 2012 and his name is Johnny “Football” Manziel.
The Heisman front-runner and true freshman QB (yeah, I said true freshman) is hands down the most electric player in college football and his ability to scramble away from pressure inside the pocket is simply uncanny and cannot be taught. Manziel ranks second in the country in total offense for individual players with 4,600 yards combined passing and running, averaging 7.88 yards per play. Don’t be surprised to see the true freshman win the Heisman Trophy this season, which would be a first in the award’s history.
No team plays anywhere close to the warp speed that the Ducks display on offense. Head coach Chip Kelly is an offensive mastermind and has taken Oregon to the forefront of the college football world since his arrival. The Ducks average over 50 points per game – good for second in the nation in scoring offense and have the most dynamic backfield duo in the country with explosive running backs Kenjon Barner and De’Anthony Thomas.
Barner ranks third in the country with 61 plays of 10 yards or more and Thomas is just a sophomore. Add true freshman QB Marucs Mariota to that mix (who plays similar to that of a heady veteran) and you have the most intimidating offense in all of college football.
And don’t for one minute think that the Ducks are susceptible on defense. They are just as explosive on the defensive side of the ball and have forced more turnovers (38) than any other team in college football this season with their freakishly awesome depth of athletes. Look for the Ducks to make it four consecutive BCS bowls this year.
As an added bonus this week, here are my top five Heisman Trophy contenders:
1 – Johnny Manziel (QB, Texas A&M) – The one-man show averages over 383 yards per game by himself on a 10-2 Aggies team out of the SEC.
2 – Jarvis Jones (OLB, Georgia) – Everybody wants to talk about Manti Te’o, but Jones has more disruptive plays than anyone in the country with 10.5 sacks, 19.5 TFL and six forced fumbles.
3 – Marqise Lee (WR, USC) – The sophomore receiver leads the nation in receptions (112), is second in receiving yards (1,680) and has 802 kickoff return yards, to boot.
4 – Manti Te’o (LB, Notre Dame) – The leader of the Irish leads his team in tackles (103) and also has seven interceptions – most of which came in big games and close wins.
5 – Kenjon Barner (RB, Oregon) – The heart-and-soul senior of the Ducks is fourth in the nation with over 135 yards rushing per game and second in the nation with 21 rushing TDs for an 11-1 BCS-bound Oregon squad.
Photo Credits: Icon, Getty