Monday, September 23, 2013

Top 10 for 9/22

1) Alabama Crimson Tide (beat Colorado State Rams 31-6 at home)
This Alabama team is kind of weird. They seem to be playing down to their competition but then went and rolled over Texas A&M last weekend. Sure, they had a healthy margin of victory but they just didn't look as crisp as they should against a team like Colorado State. AJ McCarron was productive, but he didn't play nearly as well as he did against the Aggies defense. As a whole, the Tide only ran for 66 yards which is pretty concerning. Again, aside from the game last week against A&M, the running backs have not played well in the other two games. That is very worrisome for a Nick Saban coached team as that is basically how he wants to win his games. It seems like the changes that took place along the offensive line are starting to catch up. Aside from that, the defensive backs don't seem to be as good as they have been in the past. Teams are figuring out ways to get big chunks of yards against the secondary that Saban had been so good at limiting in recent years. I'm starting to wonder if this team is really as unbeatable as I proclaimed last week.

2) Ohio State Buckeyes (beat Florida A&M Rattlers 76-0 at home)
Think Urban was tired of dropping in the polls? He cranked up the heat and didn't stop until time ran out. Kenny Guiton set an OSU record by throwing for six touchdowns, all in the first half. He was basically throwing the wide open receivers all day. Its great for Urban to know that he has such a reliable back up since Braxton seems to be injury prone. This may set up a weird scenario as Urban has already stated that Braxton will get the start next week against Wisconsin. How long does he wait to put Guiton in if Braxton is rusty and struggling? Hopefully it doesn't come to that. This game was also allowed Urban to showcase freshman Ezekiel Elliot, a highly touted running back out of Missouri. He made the most out of his opportunities, running for over 150 yards and two touchdowns on only 14 carries. Elliot looks like he could be a real threat in the backfield along with Carlos Hyde.

3) Clemson Tigers (beat NC State Wolf Pack in Raleigh 26-14)
This game was close for a while but Clemson did a good job of not choking like they have in the past. Tajh Boyd continues to make his case for the Heisman, throwing for 244 yards and 3 touchdowns on 66% passing. He is not a guy who is going to light up the scoreboard for five touchdowns a game, but he is a very polished passer who can also make plays with his feet. It really helps that he still has a very talented duo of wide receivers to throw to in Sammy Watkins and Martavis Bryant. They combined for 16 catches, 169 yards and two of the receptions and it is clear to see that Boyd trusts them and feels very comfortable throwing to them on most routes. It will be important for running back Roderick McDowell to continue his solid play to open up the big plays down the field, but so far he has lived up to the challenge. The Clemson defense did its job too, limiting most big plays for the Wolf Pack. They did get very lucky that an 80 yard touchdown run was called back (incorrectly by the way) or else they would have put their team in a hole. The pass defense is solid, but the run defense could still use a bit of fine tuning before some of their tougher games.

4) Stanford Cardinal (beat No. 23 Arizona State Sun Devils 42-28 at home)
This game ended up getting a bit closer towards the end than head coach David Shaw wanted to see. After pitching a shutout in the first half, the Cardinal defense allowed four touchdowns in the second half, three in the fourth quarter alone. Arizona State has a pretty good team this year, so it isn't like Stanford should be upset that they didn't get a the shutout. My guess is that they figured they were ahead by so much and just let off the gas. The good news for them though is that the offense continues to be very efficient. Quarterback Kevin Hogan again had a typical outing for him, completing 11 of 17 for 151 yards, 2 TDs and 1 pick. He continues to find comfort in throwing to Ty Montgomery who caught 4 of his passes and both touchdowns. Again, it was the Stanford rushing attack that did most of the damage. Tyler Gaffney and Anthony Wilkerson each had 18 carries to combine for 155 yards and three scores. They each bring a different element to the run game which allows them to control the pace of the game. It is a formula that numerous teams try to attain, but few can actually achieve with such efficiency.

5) Oregon Ducks (idle this week, home against California Golden Bears next week)

6) Louisville Cardinals (beat Florida International Golden Panthers 72-0 at home)
This isn't even worth talking about really. I mean, what do you need to know that the score already doesn't? FIU was over matched from the start and didn't have a prayer as the Louisville offense just tore through them. Oh yeah, and the defense only gave up 30 yards. Total.

7) LSU Tigers (beat Auburn Tigers 35-21 at home)
This game was surprisingly even despite LSU winning by two touchdowns. Two interceptions thrown by the Auburn quarterback was really the difference in this game. It was raining the whole game so play did get a bit sloppy at times for both teams. This shifted the offensive tone to the running game, and Jeremy Hill continued to have an outstanding performance since coming back from suspension. Hill exploded for 183 yards and three touchdowns on 25 carries, showing the ability to bounce off tackles and hit the next gear to get down field. Mettenberger and the receivers were hampered due to the weather, but were still solid enough out there to gain first downs and put the game out of reach in the fourth quarter. The run defense wasn't up to par however. They allowed over 200 yards and 3 touchdowns, but were able to eliminate runs of over 20 yards. LSU plays a very tough Georgia team next week that can do all its damage through its running backs, so they have a bit to work on during this week.

8) Georgia Bulldogs (beat North Texas Mean Green 45-21 at home)
Somehow, in some way, this game was tied at 21 just after half. That was due to special teams giving up two touchdowns, so it isn't like the offense or defense suffered some sort of catastrophic meltdown. Those were actually firing on all cylinders. Murray had another productive day, throwing for over 400 yards and three touchdowns against one pick. Georgia fans should be ecstatic that Murray has been able to continue his high level of play despite losing his best receiver Malcolm Mitchell in the first game of the year. They are also fortunate that Todd Gurley can take over a game by himself. His stat line was pretty average this past week, but when your quarterback throws for 400 yards, it isn't like Mark Richt is going to him every other play. He is going to be the most crucial component to the game next week against LSU.

9) Florida State Seminoles (beat Bethune-Cookman Wildcats 54-6 at home)
Just your typical blowout against a school that had no business of being there. Redshirt freshman Jameis Winston continues to look great, but I want to see what he does against some tougher competition. We have to wait a few weeks until they travel to Clemson to get a true gauge of where he is at, but this week at Boston College could pose a few challenges.

10) Texas A&M Aggies (beat Southern Methodist Mustangs 42-13 at home)
Even when it doesn't look like their trying, this offense knows how to score. Manziel only need 14 completions to get 244 yards and a touchdown while adding another 102 and two touchdowns rushing. SMU was clearly overmatched against the reigning Heisman champion, who helped carve up this defense before being sat down to let the second and even third string quarterbacks get some reps. The best part about this game for the Aggies though had to be the improvement on defense. After being flat out dominant at points last year, they have really struggled to regain their form against even the lowliest of competition. Garrett Gilbert did pass for almost 350 yards on him, but it took him over 60 throws to get to there. Coach Sumlin needs to keep improving the defense or they could get beat again later down the road and be pushed out of the SEC West race.

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