Here we go, the first week of NCAA Rountable Discussions. Stephan, Zach, and Archie discuss the latest questions in College Football.
How many teams from the Pac-12 will reach a bowl game?
Stephan- 8. You have your obvious contenders, USC, Stanford, Oregon, UCLA, and Arizona who are currently in the top 25. I also like Utah, Arizona State, and Washington to get a bowl bid. A team you really need to pay attention to is Washington State who could sneak in to the bowl picture. Eight is the magic number here, but I would not be surprised if one more snuck in.
Zach– There are seven allotted slots for the conference — the Rose, Sun, Kraft Fight Hunger, Alamo, Holiday, Las Vegas and New Mexico Bowls — and the league should have no problem filling all of them in 2012. The real question is whether they can get a team or two beyond that eligible and fill a slot for a conference without enough bowl-eligible teams. Oregon, USC and Stanford are definitely going bowling. This year you’d expect one if not both Arizona schools to be in a game. UCLA looks really good (more on them later), and both Washington schools are currently 2-1. Then there’s Oregon State, who’s only played one game yet made that game count with an upset of the Wisconsin Badgers. I’m going to predict that not enough teams reach 6-6 in other leagues and eight Pac-12 schools go bowling this year.
Archie– Given that there are 35 bowl games now, the number for the PAC 12 will
probably be the same as last year (7). The only difference is USC will be
included in lieu of one of the other teams.
Which current 1 loss team has the best shot at reaching the National Championship game?
Stephan– Michigan. After suffering a blowout loss to Alabama and a close win at home against Air Force. Michigan rebounded to pick apart Massachusetts in a route. Okay you may say this was a “gimmie” win, and you would be right. Looking at the rest of Michigan’s schedule, it is favorable. Next week against Notre Dame in South Bend may prove to be their toughest test the rest of the way. They have one other tough road game against Ohio State, but that is a winnable game. Out of the 1 loss teams, Michigan has the best odds.
Zach– At this point in the season, it’s tough to say which one-loss team’s defeat was more anomalous than the others. USC (current BCS rank: #15) is the best positioned of that list in this week’s projected BCS standings, but now they look thin on defense and less likely to compete with either Oregon or Stanford (should they even make the Pac-12 championship game). The combination of historical relevancy and the best loss in the bunch (to the defending national champion on neutral turf) has me guessing Michigan (current BCS rank: #19) is best positioned to play for the title should they run the table and win the Big Ten.
Archie– The easiest and most obvious answer is USC. Given their loss was to a top
ranked team and Conference rival this may weigh in their favor IF the
conference has a strong showing the rest of the year.
Will UCLA reach a BCS game?
Stephan– The last two games are going to be the deciding factor for UCLA. They have a very favorable schedule for the Pac-12, and are going to be at home against the top teams, USC, Stanford, and Arizona. A 10-2 record seems very possible for UCLA which could get them a spot in a BCS game. They will need to beat at either Stanford or USC in my opinion to make that possible. What surprises me about UCLA is that in three games they have 13 offensive Touchdown’s, and 7 defensive Touchdown’s. Mora really has these guys playing on a championship level. So in theory, they cannot have more than two losses, AND they have to beat either Stanford or USC to get a BCS spot.
Zach– They’ve certainly been impressive in the first three weeks, and if they were to emerge as a 13-0 Pac-12 champion they’d certainly deserve a shot at the national championship. That’s highly unlikely, though the early returns from the first quarter of Jim Mora’s first season as head coach have been promising indeed. Brett Hundley is ranked 34th nationally in QB efficiency, the second-highest freshman (behind Oregon’s Marcus Mariota), and is leading this offense like a seasoned veteran. RB Jonathan Franklin has forced his way into a clogged Heisman race with a ridiculous 8.2 yards per carry and 180+ yards per game to lead the nation in rushing. The defense is strong against the pass, not so much against the run; that could prove costly, with Stanford as the regular-season finale and a potential Pac-12 championship likely pitting them against Oregon or Stanford (a second straight week) if they manage to edge out USC, Utah and the Arizona schools for the honor. As much as it would be a hell of a turnaround story, UCLA still has a few years before it reaches BCS contention.
Archie– No, the Bruins have a much improved team this year and they have a signature win over Nebraska under their belt. But, I don’t think they win the USC or Stanford games.
Since there only 5 BCS bowls one being of course the BCS National
Championship Game, I don’t see them falling into the other top 8 in the
What are your Top 5 Power Rankings?
- Alabama – This is not even close in my opinion. Alabama can run, pass, and defend better than any other FBS school.
- Oregon – The defense scares be a little bit, and the Ducks have yet to be seriously tested. Still, they are probably the fastest team among all the Division 1 teams.
- Florida State – Two straight shutouts is hard to do in Division 1 Football. Giving up only three points in your first three games is equally impressive. I don’t care if you are playing Murray State, Savannah State, and Wake Forest. With this defense, they could be a National Championship contender.
- LSU – I may be the only one, but I still am not convinced on LSU. They have dominated their first two games, but they have been getting off to slower starts, and should have had the game in hand by halftime against North Texas, and Idaho. They were impressive against Washington, but have yet to have a road game. This week against Auburn could tell a huge story.
- Oklahoma – After a little scare against UTEP in Week 1, Oklahoma’s offense came out swinging against Florida A&M. Landry Jones has looked good, but not quite the Heisman form many were expecting. Jones has already been sacked four times, and needs to scramble more than he has when receivers are not open. Oklahoma has a tough test against Kansas State this weekend.
- Alabama – No team looks nearly as complete or as deep at the moment, on both sides of the ball, than the battle-tested defending champs.
- Oregon – Marcus Mariota gives the Ducks a QB dimension greater even than Dixon in 2007, perfect for leading Oregon’s luxury of offensive weapons.
- LSU – Offense is improved with new QB Zach Mettenberger, and defense looks as stifling as ever. Can anything trip Tigers up before November 3?
- Clemson – Big test comes this weekend in Tallahassee, but the defense has started to improve to a level that can help Tigers dangerous offense?
- West Virginia – Mountaineers look like class of Big XII so far, with an offense that should serve them well in conference barnburners.
- Alabama – They have looked extremely tough so far
- LSU – But only by a slim margin
- Oregon – I know they have not been tested but they are running the ball for days
- Oklahoma – Homer pick I know. They were criticized for their lack of offensive play on opening day. Last week they could have scored a heck of a lot more. They had 662 total yards last week. 8, count them, 8 rushing TDs from 4 different backs.
- Florida State – They look awesome on both sides of the ball
Is Ohio State the team to beat in the Big 10?
Stephan– Even though Ohio State is 3-0, I still think that Michigan is the team to beat in this conference. Quite simply, Ohio State has yet to receive solid competition. California gave them all they could handle and some at home. This was a game they really should have dominated, but only won by a touchdown late in the fourth quarter. California even had a fourth quarter lead early on. No game is easy especially when it is against a BCS conference. Michigan got their butts handed to them by the best team in the country, while Ohio State has struggled against opponents they should be blowing out.
Zach– It’s starting to look like it, which means Michigan (see earlier topic) would have to beat them in the season finale to make any Big Ten championship legitimate. Urban Meyer has rebuilt this team into a dangerous group that has masked its deficiencies wisely and is playing to its strengths. The next few years won’t be easy for the Buckeyes, and there are other teams that still present strong cases despite a loss on the record this year. But right now, I have a feeling Ohio State will get the benefit of the doubt from Vegas in every conference game they play this season.
Archie– I think they have been the most impressive so far. Minnesota needed overtime in their first game and Northwestern has allowed too many points against, to win that conference
in my opinion.
At 3-0 is Notre Dame a serious National Championship contender?
Stephan– Notre Dame is one of those teams that is so difficult to predict anything. I will say this for them. Brian Kelly has them playing their best football since the Brady Quinn era. They have probably the toughest schedule every year in college football. The win over Michigan State last Saturday was very impressive, holding a good offense to only 3 points, and doing it on the road. They still play road games against Oklahoma, and against USC, plus home games against Michigan and Stanford. Asking right now are they a contender? They have to be. Will they be there in the end? That remains to be seen.
Zach– I think we’re always apt to overreact about those teams that are woven into the fabric of the sport’s history. Have the Fighting Irish been impressive so far this season? They sure have, their win in East Lansing last weekend a capstone to an eye-opening first month that’s illuminated how far they’ve come under Brian Kelly’s leadership. If they win next weekend against Michigan, the tumult and the roar in their favor will only increase. And that’s helpful when it comes to the BCS standings, where Notre Dame is now 10th in the projected standings. Upcoming games against #4 Stanford, #6 Oklahoma, #15 USC, #19 Michigan, and #41 BYU presenting as tough a challenge as any other contender’s schedule. The biggest thing making them a threat, though, is the fact that it isn’t Kelly’s trademark offensive wizardry but a stifling defense that is carrying the team. Allowing just 10 points per game and less than 300 total yards to opposing offenses, the Irish are certainly threats to remain in the national championship picture if they keep winning.
Archie– Notre Dame has 4 huge games left. In my opinion they have the toughest
schedule in Division 1. If they beat Oklahoma, Stanford, Michigan and USC we should
give them the National Championship without a bowl win. BUT, I don’t see them winning even two of the four. So, No they will not be in the title game. That’s my final
Can anyone beat Alabama?
Stephan- No, at least not the way they are playing right now. Looking ahead at their schedule, they play two more ranked teams (23) Tennessee, and (2) LSU, both on the road. LSU has lost a step from last year but are still a great football team. I don’t think anyone has the ability to beat Alabama at this point in time, not even LSU. They should run the table in the SEC and advance to the National Championship game. At that point in time, all bets are off. You saw what they did to a very good Michigan team in a neutral site. Alabama shut out Arkansas on the road. It is hard to shutout any SEC team on the road, but considering this was a BCS team a year ago, that is impressive. The Alabama rushing game is so dangerous, I don’t even think the best defense (which is Alabama) could stop them. Kenyan Drake, Eddie Lacy, and T.J. Yeldon, are able to pound the ball down other defense’ throat’s. A.J. McCarron is also a QB who can throw with consistency. No one can beat Alabama.
Zach– Alabama certainly looks otherworldly at the moment, a turnover-generating team that has only performed as well on offense as they’ve needed to perform so far. (You know there’s another gear there for the turning, which is scary considering they’ve scored 41, 35 and 52 points in their first three games.) LSU is probably the only team that can match Alabama defensively, and their offense has certainly amped up their play with Mettenberger behind the center. Florida State is also the type of team built to run against a surging Tide. But neither have convinced me yet that they could go toe-to-toe with Bama for four solid quarters… not yet.
Archie- Loaded Question! Sure. Someone can. Not sure yet who that somebody will be. If they come out sluggish or turnover prone there are a couple of teams on their regular season schedule that will beat them like a drum. IF they play to their skills, No they go undefeated this
year in regular season. Not willing to predict BCS games as of yet.
And that wraps it up for this week. Feel free to answer these questions below. Also, if you have a question that you would like asked during the roundtable discussion, e-mail me or follow me on Twitter @StephanHall.
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