Monday, September 29, 2008

College Football: Five Weeks In

At this point in the season, you can get a true sense of the teams and start forming opinions that are based on something other than guesswork and emotions. Here are some of my thoughts, including the poll I keep in my head: The Stanton’s Space Top 20. Hey, it's every bit as valid as the Top 25 Poll kept by all those AP journalism majors.

Most Underrated Team
Connecticut. Nobody is talking about them, but the Huskies are 5-0, they have the nation’s leading rusher, and they are coming off a 9-win season in which they shared the Big East title only to be relegated to the Meineke Car Care Bowl while their more-heralded co-champion (West Virginia) got the glory of a BCS bid. If they win at North Carolina this weekend, expect them to make a big jump in the polls and mount a serious challenge for the Big East crown.

Most Overrated Team
Texas Tech. They used to be underrated back when they had tough defense (remember Zach Thomas?) and a strong running game (remember Byron Hanspard?). But now they are a trendy pick showing up in everyone’s Top 10, and I’m not buying it. As the late Chris Thomas would have said, they have one of those "zipadee-doo-dah offenses" that throws 60 times a week and averages 50 points a game – and unfortunately for Red Raiders fans, those kinds of teams usually wilt as soon as they face a powerful opponent and find themselves in a dog fight. Before I can take this team seriously, I have to see them hold their own against the big boys.

My Auburn Indulgence
I can’t talk college football without focusing on my alma matter. We lost one of the best defensive linemen in school history, and a quarterback who was one of the best big-game QB’s we’ve ever had, and then we started the season with a new defensive coordinator, a new offensive coordinator, and an offensive system completely different than anything we’ve ever run. So we should have known coming in that this is a transitional year in which the team will need time to evolve.

Despite all that, we are 4-1 and the defense is playing like one of the best that Auburn has ever fielded (just tighten up your downfield coverage, DB's!). Yes, it is nerve-wracking watching our O-line struggle and waiting for the offense to gel, but I have to say this to my fellow alumni who are calling for heads to roll: Get a grip on reality for the reasons I just laid out, and get it through your skulls that judgment must be withheld until we know how the season turns out.

No matter what, we should not start ripping Tuberville: He is a hell of a coach and the fact he changed the offense so drastically shows he is not resting on his laurels. I remember quite a few of us (me included) wanting to run him out of town just one year before he delivered a 13-0 season. I, at least, won’t make that mistake again. Tommy Tuberville should not have to listen to boos raining down from those of us who have never coached.

Stanton's Space Top 20
  1. Oklahoma
  2. Alabama
  3. Penn State
  4. Missouri
  5. LSU
  6. Texas
  7. USC
  8. Florida
  9. South Florida
  10. BYU
  11. Kansas
  12. Georgia
  13. Utah
  14. Auburn
  15. Wisconsin
  16. Boise State
  17. Oregon
  18. Ohio State
  19. Fresno State
  20. Vanderbilt

No comments: