Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Nine Weeks In

Now we are nine weeks into the college football season and we know a little more about who is and is not a legitimate title contender than we did when I wrote about the topic after Week Six. But only a little.

The list of teams vying for conference championships and spots in the inaugural College Football Playoff remains incredibly long for this late in the year. There are at least a half-dozen players in the thick of the Heisman race, all of whom are deserving and none of whom is a clear favorite. But from an excitement standpoint, that only makes things better! Who cares if It gives headaches to the self-important folks who vote in the polls or on the playoff selection committee or for the Downtown Athletic Club?

The two teams who played in last season's national championship game, which was not decided until the final play, are tied for the longest home winning streak in America. Wouldn't a rematch be delicious?

Why is nobody talking about Alabama when they are 7-1, one play away from being unbeaten, and getting better every week?

Florida State finished last season as the #1 team in America. They haven't lost this season and have continuously found ways to win, so I would still rank them #1. But their offensive line continues to look vulnerable at times, and everything I believe about football tells me that the offensive line is the one position where you can't have a weakness and win the whole shebang.

The state of Mississippi -- not the state of Alabama or state of Florida -- is currently the epicenter of the college football universe, even after Ole Miss's gut-wrenching loss to LSU... Yet it is still very conceivable that Auburn and Alabama will move past Ole Miss and Mississippi State over the next four weeks and knock the Magnolia State from its well-deserved place on the pedestal.

Speaking of Ole Miss's gut-wrenching loss, say what you want about Bo Wallace's go for broke pass on the final play, but you can't say he went down without a fight. If single coverage is what he saw (like he claims) then it came down to if his audible works he's a genius and hero, but if it doesn't work he's a lunkhead and goat. We all know there were two defenders there when the ball arrived, but I'll give him the benefit of the doubt.

Duke is once again putting together a fine, winning season and showing that football can compete with basketball on Tobacco Road. With them sitting at 6-1 and in control of the ACC Coastal Division while Stanford is 5-3 and two games back in the Pac-12 North, it appears that the award for "strongest football team at a smarty pants institution" has taken up residence on the East Coast this year.

Regarding the Big-12, I say this: 1) West Virginia, whose only losses were in closely contested battles versus Alabama and Oklahoma, is only about a dozen plays away from being in the national championship conversation; 2) watch out for K-State; 3) Kliff Kingsbury is a pansy ass pretty boy; and 4) although TCU's recent run is impressive, something about those basketball-like point totals makes me skeptical about whether they are playoff worthy.

As an Auburn grad I say this about my team: 1) they are a legitimate top ten outfit; 2) Nick Marshall is one of the better quarterbacks in the country, no matter what anyone says to the contrary; and 3) their D has done a good job not breaking at clutch time even when they have bent alot in the build-up ... However, 4) that D needs to stiffen up significantly, because no D can keep bending for three quarters in each game without eventually breaking at some point in the season; and 5) three of Auburn's five remaining games are on the road against top ten opponents, which means a) the odds are very much against them winning out, but b) if they do win out, their spot in the playoff is all but secure even if an unbeaten Mississippi State keeps them from appearing in the SEC championship game.

Finally, I have to give props to the Georgia Southern Eagles. This is their first year in Division I-A after a 30-year run at the I-AA level that included six national titles between 1985 and 2000. You might recall that they beat Florida in the Swamp last November. Anyway, they are currently 6-2 with their only losses being by one point at NC State and four points at Georgia Tech -- which means they are good enough to compete in a power five conference.

Anyway, since Week Ten begins in two nights when FSU and Louisville do battle, I better get around to hitting the "publish" button on this post. So, based on what has happened up to now, below is the Stanton's Space Top Twenty.

1.    Florida State
2.    Mississippi State
3.    Alabama
4.    Oregon
5.    Michigan State
6.    Auburn
7.    Notre Dame
8.    Kansas State
9.    Ole Miss
10.  Georgia
11.  TCU
12.  West Virginia
13.  Oklahoma
14.  Ohio State
15.  East Carolina
16.  Arizona
17.  Baylor
18.  Utah
19.  LSU
20.  Arizona State

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