Who is the best team in college football?
Ohio State? The Buckeye had trouble early on with Maryland and gave up 170 yards on the ground to quarterback Perry Hills, who had rushed for 119 total yards in the previous five games. The Buckeyes have also not seemed to have solved their quarterback problem. Cardale Jones threw for 291 yards and two scores, but was replaced in the red zone for J.T. Barrett. For the defending national champions, Ohio State is far from dominant this season.
TCU? The Horned Frogs were almost upset, yet again, by Kansas State. TCU’s defense have up 52 points to Texas Tech, 45 to Kansas State, 37 to SMU and they rank 64th in the country in terms of yards given up per game. Injuries, offseason losses and players leaving the team have absolutely gashed this defense. Trevone Boykin, Josh Doctson, and the offense is dynamic and is averaging 616 yards per game, but cannot be relied upon to outscore their struggling defense on a week to week basis.
Michigan State? Connor Cook and the Spartans have been anything but dominant this season. Their narrow win over Oregon is worth nothing at this point and they’ve just managed to scrape by Purdue and Rutgers in back to back weeks. Their offense ranks 72nd in the country with an average of 397 total yards per game and Michigan State will definitely face a major test in Michigan this weekend.
On the other hand, a major case could be made for one of several teams for the title of “Best Team” in college football. Utah certainly has the most impressive resume, destroying Oregon on the road and defeating Jared Goff and Cal this past weekend. Clemson has one of the best wins on the season on their record after beating Notre Dame at home two weeks ago. Meanwhile, Michigan just recorded their third straight shutout of the season and might be the best team in the Big 10.
So what have we learned so far this season? For one, it’s a really good thing we have a playoff now because, if the season were to end today, the committee would have a hell of a time deciding who to pick. Fortunately for them, the season doesn’t end today and we will eventually have more upsets and losses to make things more clear in the playoff picture. Remember, Ohio State was written off last season after falling to Virginia Tech, but managed to rebound and win it all as a #4 seed.
We’ve also learned just how tough of a game football is. Injuries have absolutely decimated the ranks of college football and Georgia star running back Nick Chubb was the most recent loss this season. Chubb injured his knee on the very first play of Georgia’s eventual loss to Tennessee. The injury was brutal in the most terrible way and the entire nation wishes him a speedy recovery.
But we’ve also seen injuries to other great players. Here is a short list of some major talents that have gone down:
- Taysom Hill, quarterback, BYU (foot injury)
- Jalen Mills, safety, LSU (fractured fibula)
- Ed Davis, linebacker, Michigan State (knee injury)
- Malik Zaire, quarterback, Notre Dame (broken ankle)
- Tarean Folston, running back, Notre Dame (torn ACL)
- Tony Connor, safety, Ole Miss (meniscus tear)
- Thomas Tyner, running back, Oregon (shoulder injury)
- Byron Marshall, wide receiver, Oregon (leg injury)
- James Conner, running back, Pittsburgh (MCL injury)
- Eddie Vanderdoes, defensive tackle, UCLA (torn ACL)
- Myles Jack, linebacker, UCLA (knee injury)
- Corey Clement, running back, Washington (groin injury)
All of these players have serious NFL talent and this season will only serve to increase the amount of talk about lowering the current draft requirement of three years out of high school. That, and Leonard Fournette’s performance this season, will definitely give the NFL Player Personnel staff something to think about. All of these players are NFL-ready this season, but were prevented from jumping to the next level by this stupid rule. It would be a major advantage for the NFL to have these players in their ranks, so why prevent them from going pro?
Speaking of Leonard Fournette, he has the Heisman trophy wrapped up at this point. He is the best player in college football, hands down. Through five games, Fournette has rushed for 1,022 yards and 12 touchdowns. He leads the nation in rushing despite playing one less game and is the 10th player in NCAA history to cross the thousand yard rushing mark in the first five games of the season. He is the entire LSU offense, defensive coordinators know this, and they still can’t stop him. LSU travels to Alabama on November 7th in a game that will test Fournette against the SEC’s best defensive front.
Speaking of talented running backs, Dalvin Cook of Florida State continues to be dynamic. Cook rushed for 222 yards against rival Miami, the best performance by a running back in the long history of that rivalry. In the past two games, Cook has scored on the his very first touch of the game: a 94-yard run versus Wake Forest and a 72-yard run versus Miami. He injured his hamstring against Wake Forest, re-aggravated the injury versus Miami and then came back to rush for another hundred yards in the same game. Cook is an absolute freak of an athlete and here’s hoping his hamstring stays healthy.
This week’s started on a Thursday when Washington upset #17 USC on the road. The Huskies, with a true freshman quarterback and a defense that played out of their minds, essentially ended the Trojans hopes for this season. Cody Kessler was terrible and USC, once again, proved that the hype was too much. USC will continue to be nothing more than a pretender in the world of college football. Today, it was announced that head coach Steve Sarkisian will be taking an indefinite leave of absence while he deals with an undisclosed condition. We all know what this is, and this is just another problem that the Trojans have to deal with. USC just might be looking for a new head coach sooner than later.
One team that probably won’t be looking for a new head coach is Texas. The Longhorns upset the #10 Oklahoma Sooners in the Red River Showdown, securing a crucial victory for Charlie Strong. Texas wasn’t anything special offensively, but Strong’s specialty is defense and they held the high-scoring Sooners offense to just 10 points. The players were ecstatic after the victory and they carried Strong out on their shoulders after the game ended. We all assume things are bad at Texas, but with time Strong might have something special building there.
Elsewhere in Texas, Baylor is certainly making a strong case for the playoff committee. They won 66-7 over Kansas and the Bears have scored no less than 56 points in every game this season. While the offense has been strong as always, the Bears have also been a nice surprise defensively. And in the Big 12, where defense is non-existent, this might be what pushes them over the top. Baylor plays TCU on November 27th in what will be the de-facto Big 12 title game.
A review of college football wouldn’t be complete without the SEC. Alabama rolled off another victory over Arkansas, Florida dominated Missouri and the two teams certainly look on track to meet in the Atlanta. Ole Miss is the one team standing in the Tide’s way at this point and they are certainly capable of running the table. Bama, LSU and Ole Miss have yet to meet each other, and those matchups will be crucial in determining the fate of the SEC West.
One team that is commonly overlooked is Texas A&M. Kyle Allen and Christian Kirk have the offense rolling and Myles Garrett and Daeshon Hall are dominant on defense. The Aggies host Alabama next week in a game that will determine just how far Texas A&M can go this season. They might have the best collection of young talent in the nation and this is the game for them to put it all together. If not, they’re probably a year away from serious playoff contention.
The most surprising team in the nation so far might be the Michigan Wolverines. After losing their season opener to Utah (which doesn’t look so bad anymore), the Wolverines have allowed a grand total of 14 points through five games, including three straight shutouts. Jim Harbaugh is working magic with this squad that many predicted to have a rebuilding year this season. They’re nothing special offensively, but they are efficient and the defense is dominant. They rank #2 in the country, only allowing 181 yards per game. Harbaugh and the Wolverines might be the best team in the Big 10 and this week’s test against Michigan State, in front of College GameDay, might finally elevate them into the playoff picture.
There are also a hand full of undefeated teams left that might surprise you. Iowa is 6-0, Oklahoma State is 6-0, Toledo and Houston are both 5-0 and undefeated Temple and Memphis are sitting just outside of the Top 25. Upsets and losses will come, but it is surprising that this many teams are still undefeated. Toledo could easily cruise through their weak MAC schedule and new head coach Tom Herman has Houston rolling as well. We could easily be looking at 2-3 undefeated or one loss Group of 5 teams in the bidding for New Years Bowls.
Current Playoff Picture
- Baylor: They’ve been the most dominant team offensively and they’re defense isn’t half bad either. Their de-facto playoff elimination game isn’t until November 27th versus TCU, but the have plenty of time to prepare until then.
- Utah: Another victory over a Top 25 and the Utes just might be for real. Suddenly, their schedule doesn’t look so hard, but the Pac-12 has a way of getting weird for teams that are supposed to be favored.
- Alabama: Yes, they’ve lost a game, but they’re the best team from top to bottom in the country. They *should* take care of Texas A&M, and a test with LSU comes later. They also need Ole Miss to drop a conference game to get to the SEC Championship, but the Tide are in a good position at this point in the season.
- Michigan: Three straight shutouts have been the most impressive performance this season from any team. Harbaugh has them in prime position to take advantage of struggling Ohio State and Michigan State.
- Leonard Fournette: The best player in college football. Period.
- Everyone else.
Next week, College GameDay travels to Michigan for the in-state rivalry between the Wolverines and the Spartans, but that’s only one of several good games to watch. UCLA takes on Stanford on Thursday night, Alabama travels to Texas A&M, and Florida and LSU square off in Baton Rouge. Other games that might be sneaky good include Ole Miss at undefeated Memphis, USC at Notre Dame, and Penn State at Ohio State. You’ll have no shortage of games to watch in week seven so enjoy it and make sure to say a prayer for Oregon, who are underdogs to Washington this week.