Published September 26, 2012 - 1:45pm
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We are entering week five in the college football season, as the first quarter is in the books. And we can start to separate the contenders from the pretenders.
We’ve already identified four main contenders in the SEC.
Six teams really emerge as threats to the SEC’s string of six championships in a row. Let’s take the rest of the country’s temperature, shall we?
Here are the six likeliest teams to reach the championship against an SEC squad in Miami, with the first three having the best chance:
1. Florida State (4-0): Does FSU deserve to be #2 in the rankings behind Alabama right now? One good half against Clemson won’t get you there, or the fact the Noles have beaten Murray State, Savannah State and Wake Forest sitting 4-0. But if you look at the schedule and the road ahead, it’s a cakewalk. FSU usually finds a way to lose a guaranteed win every year, but this team could be different. The defense is fast and physical, and the running game, which was the one lacking aspect of last year’s team, has really evolved. FSU will be favored by at least 10 points in every single game except Florida in November, but they get the Gators at home. FSU has to run the table in order to be considered, because the Noles won’t get in over a one-loss Pac-12 or Big 12 champion.
2. Oregon (4-0): Oregon looks like the #2 team in the country, led by their high-octane offense and 4×100 relay team that looks like Team Jamaica. But did you notice the Ducks posted a shutout against Arizona last weekend 49-0? Arizona averaged 46 points in their first three games before landing the goose egg against the Ducks. While the offense is explosive, the Ducks could be defined by their defense. It’s the best defense Chip Kelly has had as the head coach. Tough games loom ahead against USC, Stanford and Oregon State. But I like this team and look for them to hammer their opponents ahead.
3. USC (3-1): The Trojans lost the one game that puts them behind the eight ball – Stanford. USC will now have to beat Oregon twice, once in the regular season and once in the Pac-12 Championship game to make it to Miami. USC has to win out in order for this to happen, and I’m not sure if they can. They certainly have the players to do so though.
4. West Virginia (3-0): This has been my dark horse pick before the season started. Several coaches have won the BCS in their second year at the helm. And Dana Holgersen looks to have the best shot at winning it in year two at WVU. The offense is electric, led by Heisman frontrunner Geno Smith and receivers Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey. WVU hasn’t even reached their conference schedule yet, so we’ll keep an eye on them moving forward.
5. Stanford (3-0): Stanford, along with Georgia, has the best front seven in college football. They won the game they had to win early against USC, but games at Notre Dame, Oregon and UCLA still loom on the schedule. I’m not sure this group makes it out alive and wins the Pac-12.
6. Texas (3-0): Who has Texas beaten? No one. But they do have some explosiveness on offense led by David Ash, Malcolm Brown and Joe Bergeron. The Longhorns probably have the best defense in the Big 12, but they, like West Virginia, haven’t started their conference schedule yet. The defense will have to step up in a big way, and it starts this weekend against Oklahoma State.
Others to keep an eye on: Notre Dame (4-0), Kansas State (4-0)
Who do you think plays the SEC in Miami?