All it took was two Saturdays for the unpredictable roller coaster ride of emotions that is college football to hit full speed. We've been given heavy weight heart pounding match ups, upsets that few saw coming, and thrillers that came down to the final seconds. In the 4 days till kickoff piece, I made my predictions for whom I thought would be in the playoffs this time around. Today I'm going to discuss my updated top 4 as well as those that just missed the cut and my thoughts on other notable teams. Let's take a look at what's changed:
1) THE Ohio State University - (an even heavier sigh than last time)
At this point I'm wondering what Urban Meyer has the other QB's on the depth chart doing. There are so many programs in the country that would kill to have as dynamic a play maker as Braxton Miller, Cardale Jones, and J.T. Barrett (Texas, Notre Dame, LSU, the list goes on). The Buckeyes have 3 things that make them tough to beat:
1. The dynamic players in the backfield, featuring:
- Cardale "Big Ben Roethlisberger of the NCAA also known as 12 Gauge and Lord of the Twitterverse" Jones.
- Braxton "The Walking Madden Controller" Miller.
- J.T. "Waiting for my time to shine...even though beating several B1G records last season and guiding my team to an 11-1 record as a redshirt freshman only got me the second string spot" Barrett.
- Ezekiel "Put me on the cover of the next SI Swimsuit Edition since I hate wearing anything other than a half shirt" Elliot.
2. Coaching - Along with having some of the best talent in the nation, the buckeyes back it up with one of the best coaches in the NCAA. Meyer's resume speaks for itself, but he knows how to dominate and deconstruct other really good teams.
3. A conference that hardly makes them sweat - Bret Bielema called them out, and in a cruel twist of fate got upset by Toledo the following Saturday, but he's right. Ohio State has no reason to sweat until the end of November when Michigan State comes to town searching for blood. The following week they go to the big house to play "dad pants" Harbaugh and the Wolverines. Ohio State is essentially a Tyrannosaurus Rex running around a field of sheep and will occasionally get taken down by a really really big sheep that it did not prepare for.
2) Texas Christian University - Only a little home cooking
I still believe that the Frogs have the best chance to run the table out of all of these teams despite having a Chinese fire drill with our defensive rotation every game. Our offense is still healthy (knocks on wood) and is still very capable of making big plays. This week's game against SMU will help whoever is taking first team reps on defense get ready for Big 12 play with the Pony's new high tempo offense.
I understand the concerns about depth on defense, especially with the rate at which players are going down, but I stand firm in my trust of Coach P. When our schedule gets tough it'll be the the last 3 games of the regular season and how could we forget how the defense performed during those games last year? I know the pieces aren't the same, but the mastermind pulling the strings is still here.
3) University of Alabama - Delight in Dixieland
The Tide moved up a spot since last time because I now have a better idea of how Derrick Henr...I mean their offense runs. Henry ran for 147 yards, 3 touchdowns, and ripped off a 56-yarder against Wisconsin on only 13 carries. THIRTEEN. I understand it when someone points out a new quarterback as a weakness, but look at last season. Blake Sims' first year as a starter in Lane Kiffin's system, led them to be the #1 ranked team by the end of the season, and only 1 regular season loss. I say the tide finish with only 1 loss and their biggest game of the season will be at Georgia on October 3rd. Although next week's revenge game against Ole Miss should be fun to watch. Fun fact: Nick Saban has never lost a revenge game.
4) University of Southern California - Welcome everybody to the wild, wild west
The Trojans moved down a spot because I feel like the committee would put a 1 loss SEC team ahead of a 1 loss Pac-12 team. The Trojans face their first real test this week when they play Stanford. The Cardinal's offense might have sputtered in week 1, but their defense is capable of making other teams' offense do the same. The last 2 games played between these teams have been close, with USC winning 13-10 in 2014 and 20-17 in 2013, so I wouldn't be shocked if it's another close one.
Come November I believe that they can give Oregon a run for their money up in Eugene, but the following week against UCLA has peaked my interest a lot more now. I'm not yet sold on how good UCLA true freshman Josh Rosen really is. Yes he had a solid performance in his first game against a division 1 opponent, but that opponent also didn't make a bowl game last year. If it comes down to a battle of quarterbacks, I'm going with seniority and giving Kessler and the Trojans the Win.
Outside Looking In:
- Michigan State - I'm a big fan of Mark Dantonio and his squad, but if the committee puts all the emphasis on who is the conference champion at the end of the year (which I disagree with, just because you are a conference champion doesn't automatically make you a top 4 team in the country.) then I am sticking with the Buckeyes.
- Oregon - Even though the ducks were one slightly overthrown pass from taking the lead late in the game against Michigan State, I still see the Ducks losing at least 1 more game this season, but they are still the team to beat in the Pac-12 north.
Stock Went Up:
- Texas A&M - love how physical the Aggies defense has been playing, especially in the opener against Arizona State. Question is can that defense handle the physicality of SEC conference play?
- Oklahoma - as much as I hate to say it, when it mattered in the second half Baker Mayfield was near perfect against Tennessee. As long as OU has a healthy Sterling Shepard they'll be a threat.
Stock Went Down:
- Notre Dame - How'd I know that the Irish would come off as overhyped this season? Cause they do it every season. They had a hard time stopping a much less than stellar Virginia team and they lost their starting QB for the season...I highly doubt that they have the same depth at that position as Ohio State.
- Arkansas - don't lose to Toledo.
Winner - Georgia Tech
Runner Up - Clemson
- I'm really high on the Tigers this year, but I think that the triple option of the Yellow Jackets is too legit.
Winner - TCU
Runner Up - Baylor
- If you think we have defensive issues how about giving up 52 points in your first two games of the season to SMU and Lamar.
Winner - THE Ohio State
Runner Up - Wisconsin
- My ideal championship game here would be Michigan State vs. Minnesota, but it's too early to see how good the Gophers really are.
Winner - University of Southern California
Runner Up - Oregon
- We could see these teams play each other twice this season, and if they split the series I say USC wins it in the Conference Championship game.
Winner - Alabama
Runner Up - Georgia (please just not Mizzou again)
- Georgia has an amazing running back, but Alabama has one that's bigger and is just as good. These teams also have a chance to meet twice, but I say the Tide takes them both.
I know that this was a lot to digest people, and many of you might not care what happens outside of the realm of purple and white, but let me know what you think! Agree or disagree, I want to hear what your opinion is in the comments!