Things I learned from the action Saturday
Alabama is a good football team: And I mean scary good. Granted, Florida has been horrifically overrated all season, playing sub par opponents and scratching out victories. However, they do have a fair amount of talent on that squad and they were completely dismantled. That game was an absolute massacre. Ingram had fairly pedestrian stats (12 rushes – 49 yards and 2 touchdowns) and Alabama still won by 28 points. Auburn may be the only team left that can keep the Tide away from a second national championship game, and the only reason I say that is because it is a rivalry game, and Cam Newton is playing way above his head right now.
Oregon may be the 2<sup>nd</sup> best team in the country: You want a dominant performance? Oregon goes down 21-3 in the first quarter. Their response was to simply outscore the ninth ranked Cardinal 49-10 for the rest of the game. I was incredibly impressed especially with the onside kick Chip Kelly called after their first touchdown, which set up a second score and brought the Ducks back into the game. They don’t have much in the way of defense, but their offense is the most explosive in the country, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see them vault over Boise State and TCU if they manage to run the table in the Pac-10 in the rankings – although USC getting upset this weekend hurts those chances.
The Big-XII is having a down year: Texas and Oklahoma played this weekend, did anyone notice? The Sooners managed to hold on in the face of a furious Texas rally and now a collision course with the Cornhuskers in the Big-XII championship game seems immanent. Yet, I ask myself if Oklahoma or Nebraska were able to run the table, would it be enough to put them in the title game ahead of an undefeated Ohio State, Oregon or even TCU and Boise State? The answer right now is undoubtedly no. I can’t remember the last time that I really believed that an undefeated Big-XII champion wouldn’t belong in the national championship, but that is a clear indicator of just how down the conference is this year. They needed to have a strong year from their big names that were staying in the conference, and every game Nebraska wins hurts the conference, which I still don’t think will be around in 5 years.
The Buckeyes are vulnerable: Ohio State is not nearly as invincible as advertised. Their 24-13 win against Illinois was a lot closer than the scoreboard indicated, as they only had a 4 point lead late in the fourth quarter against a pretty bad Illinois team. Granted, Ohio State does tend to play down at least once or twice a year against Big-10 foes that it should handle easily, however their schedule is not exactly a walk in the park, especially with tough road games in Madison and Iowa City, and Penn State and Michigan at home are not exactly gimmes either. I thought this team would play for the national championship this season at the beginning of the year, but they need to improve a lot if they want to run the table in the resurgent Big-10.
Michigan State is a darkhorse in the Big-10: At the beginning of the yar I had Michigan State penciled in as a contender for the Big-10 title. Their schedule was incredibly favorable (easy non-conference, Wisconsin at home, no Ohio State) and they were returning a lot of talent. I will be the first to admit I didn’t think they would live up to my expectations but they have passed every test sent their way. Now we will see if they can truly contend for the Big-10 title as they have their first road game of the year against the most explosive offense east of the Mississippi. If the Spartans win this weekend there are really only two more tests on the schedule, at Iowa and at Penn State.
Denard Robinson is still a freak: Seriously, the man is a human highlight reel. He is doing things that no one has ever done and he is doing it as a sophomore. He looks like someone playing a video game against the lowest difficulty setting. The yardage he racks up every week is astonishing, he has led two game winning drives on the road and, most importantly, he is not turning the ball over. One interception against UMass and a fumbled snap against Indiana are the only blemishes against him thus far, and if he can stay healthy, Michigan has a shot at beating any team they play this season.
My Top 5:
3) Ohio State
4) Boise State