College football hot reads: 10 teams are in it to win it
BY STEVE GREENBERG Staff Reporter October 13, 2013 9:45PM
Jameis Winston, Kevin Pierre-Louis, Kasim Edebali
Updated: October 14, 2013 6:06PM
Eight teams have made it to the halfway point with 6-0 records: in order of national ranking, Alabama, Oregon, Clemson, Ohio State, Louisville, Missouri, Texas Tech and Northern Illinois.
How many of those teams seem like legit BCS title contenders to you?
I’m going with five. No disrespect to Mizzou, Texas Tech and NIU, but they’re (ahem, unofficially) out of the running.
Six other teams are sitting at 5-0: Florida State, UCLA, Miami, Baylor, Fresno State and unranked Houston.
FSU and Baylor are the only two on my list of teams with a shot to win it all.
UCLA, ranked ninth, might be every bit as good as Baylor or Louisville, but the Bruins play Saturday at No. 13 Stanford (2:30 p.m., ESPN2) and a week later at No. 2 Oregon. No team in the country, not even Alabama, would win both of those games on the road back-to-back.
Any one-loss teams out there still in the title mix? No. 6 LSU will be golden if it beats Alabama, Texas A&M and the SEC East winner and finishes the regular season 12-1. No. 11 South Carolina likewise will have a great chance to get to Pasadena if it wins out.
It’s less likely Stanford would reach the title game at 12-1, but it’s certainly possible. The Cardinal stays on the list, and that makes a perfect 10 teams still fighting for the national championship.
Good early action
Two of those unbeaten teams have weeknight games — No. 10 Miami at North Carolina (6:30 p.m. Thursday, ESPN) and No. 8 Louisville at home against UCF (7 p.m. Friday, ESPN) — and both games are losable. UNC has really struggled, but there’s a ton of talent in that program, and home-field advantage is always a big deal. UCF won at Penn State and nearly knocked off South Carolina. The Hurricanes and Cardinals had better be ready to play.
Saturday night special
All offseason, Florida State at Clemson (7 p.m. Saturday, Ch. 7) was pointed to as the game of the year in the ACC. Now, it’s much bigger than that. The No. 3 Tigers and the No. 5 Seminoles are so good that this is a de facto ACC title game, which means it’ll decide at least an Orange Bowl berth and turn the winner loose on a serious push for Pasadena, site of the BCS title game.
Of course, you could forget all that other stuff and simply revel in the quarterback duel of the year: Clemson senior Tajh Boyd vs. FSU true freshman Jameis Winston. The winner can go ahead and book his flight to New York for the Heisman ceremony.
Really now, three 5-1 Big Ten teams left out of the latest AP Top 25? Seems like at least one too many. Maybe 6-1 will be the magic record for Michigan State, which should blow out Purdue (11 a.m. Saturday, BTN) in East Lansing. Michigan should also be 6-1 after hosting Indiana (2:30 p.m. Saturday, BTN), though you never know with the shaky Wolverines. Nebraska, the other unranked 5-1 team, is off.
For Irish eyes only
It’s always a bummer when a great rivalry game such as USC at Notre Dame (6:30 p.m. Saturday, Ch. 5) looks kind of blah, but blah’s exactly what this is. I know it, you know it, and Florida State and Clemson know it. No need for a lot of prime-time flipping back and forth unless your heart belongs to the Irish.