Monday, October 28, 2013

Top 10 for 10/27

Due to a road trip to Columbus this weekend, I didn't really get a chance to see the games, so don't expect a lot of analysis here.

1) Alabama Crimson Tide (beat Tennessee Volunteers 45-10 at home)
A lot of what you'd expect out of this rivalry over the last six or seven years. The Tide continues to roll.

2) Florida State Seminoles (beat NC State Wolf Pack 49-17 at home)
Winston continues his incredible freshman season and the stable of running backs posts another 200 yard game. How they got jumped by Oregon remains a mystery.

3) Ohio State Buckeyes (beat Penn State Nittany Lions 63-14 at home)
It was the worst loss that Penn State has suffered since 1899. Jesus. The Buckeyes continue to add to the nation's longest win streak but a weak strength of schedule could leave them out of the title game with a 25 game win streak.

4) Oregon Ducks (beat No. 12 UCLA Bruins 42-14 at home)
Oregon committed two turnovers and still won by a huge margin. They travel to Stanford to try and avenge their only loss from last year. If they win, I can't see a scenario where they don't end up playing for it all.

5) Miami Hurricanes (beat Wake Forest Demon Deacons 24-21 at home)
As impressive as Miami's start has been, reality is about to come crashing down when they visit Tallahassee next week. Needing a last minute touchdown to beat Wake at home is never a good sign.

6) Baylor Bears (beat Kansas Jay Hawks 59-14 in Lawrence)
Baylor has been able to score on command, but their competition has been anything but stellar. This upcoming week starts a run of OU, Texas Tech, and Oklahoma State. That should give an indication of where the Bears stand.

7) Stanford Cardinal (beat No. 25 Oregon State Beavers in Corvallis)
Stanford held the nation's leading passer to 271 yards on 57 throws, but the offense is going to have to produce more than 275 total yards of their own to beat Oregon next week.

8) Clemson Tigers (beat Maryland Terrapins 40-27 in College Park)
Clemson is starting to look very average since getting beat by Florida State, especially in the secondary. The Terps threw for three touchdowns despite losing their two best receivers in two consecutive weeks.

9) Missouri Tiger (lost to No. 21 South Carolina Gamecocks 27-24 at home in 2OT)
Does anyone want to win the SEC East? The loss of quarterback James Franklin could be too much for Mizzou to overcome from here on out.

10) Auburn Tigers (beat Florida Atlantic Owls 45-10 at home)
Don't look now, but the Tigers are behind only the Tide for the SEC West. This team could run the table (@ Arkansas, @ Tennessee, home against Georgia) until getting Alabama at home in the Iron Bowl, which would set up the most intriguing matchup since Cam Newton played for the Tigers.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Can Jameis Winston Make it Two in a Row?

And by two in a row, I mean two freshman to win the Heisman Trophy. Last year, Johnny Manziel became the first freshman, true or redshirt, to win the Heisman. His awarding was a historical landmark that many people might forget happened only six years after the Heisman was first awarded to a sophomore. In 2007, Tim Tebow broke the long tradition of upperclassmen receiving the award thanks to a ridiculous regular season. While this was totally unprecedented, it actually set in motion three sophomores receiving the Heisman in succession (2008: Sam Bradford, QB, Oklahoma; 2009: Mark Ingram, RB, Alabama). I obviously wasn't alive in the 70s and 80s, but for some reason there was a stigma against giving underclassmen the Heisman trophy. But recently, people have begun to put those prejudices aside in favor of the player who commands your attention.

Manziel had a fantastic year last year. He set the SEC record for total yards, beat who was thought to be unbeatable in Alabama, and wrecked Bob Stoops's defense in the Cotton Bowl. Winston hasn't done quite all of that yet, but what he has accomplished this season has ignited the same sort of frenzy that Manziel created last year. In his debut against Pitt, he was almost flawless. He completed 25 of 27 passes (one was actually a catch that was called incomplete) for four touchdowns and 356 yards. Since then, he hasn't let off the gas. On the year, he has almost 1900 yards, 20 touchdowns and only three interceptions. He had his true Heisman moment last week against Clemson in primetime. Winston picked the Clemson defense apart at will, albeit with a lot of help from some very athletic receivers. For the night, Winston completed 65% of his passes for a staggering 444 yards and three touchdowns against only a single pick that came on a wrong route by the receiver. Clemson was absolutely defenseless against him. This was following a 393 yard, five touchdown performance in an annihilation of 25th ranked Maryland. Winston has the numbers right now to wow over voters across the country.

What Winston also has going for him that Manziel didn't last year was the fact that he has his team in title contention. By this point last year, Texas A&M had already suffered two losses that had put them out of any realistic shot at an SEC Championship game, let alone a title. But at the moment, Winston has his team in a prime position to secure a spot in the last BCS Championship game. In the most current AP Poll, Florida State is third behind Alabama and Oregon while garnering two 1st place votes. In the BCS rankings which were released this Sunday, Florida State was sitting in second place only behind Alabama. Depending on how Florida State and Oregon perform the rest of the year, one of them will probably be playing for the title against Alabama. At the moment, Marcus Mariota of Oregon is Winston's biggest competition. Oregon has to play UCLA this week and Stanford next week which could give Mariota his time to shine in the spotlight and regain voter's attention. Winston will get a chance to retaliate with a game against currently 7th ranked Miami at home which could put the focus back on him. If the Gators weren't having a down year, that would give Winston a huge advantage as a final showing before voting at the end of the year. So the odds are both of these teams are undefeated when the regular season ends, but they will need to be at their best and not allow any slip ups.

While I still think Mariota is in the lead right now and should be, statistically (28 total touchdowns, 0 INT), I ultimately imagine that the voters will fall in love with Winston, especially if the Seminoles are undefeated. Oregon might end up playing Alabama, but Winston has taken college football by storm which grabs people's attention and demands the respect of voters. Remember, no one was picking Manziel or Cam Newton to win the Heisman until eight games into their seasons'. A good number of analysts and writers predicted that Winston could have a major impact this year, but I really doubt few envisioned this. His year has been full of moments that make you just go "holy shit, dude". And really, isn't that what the Heisman is all about? The Maxwell Trophy is supposed to go to the best player while the Heisman goes to the most outstanding. And right now in college football, there is no one more outstanding than Jameis Winston.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Top 10 for 10/20

This week is going to have even more shake up in the top ten than last week did. Of the Top 10 from last week, six of them lost a game and five of them moved out of the top 10.

1) Alabama Crimson Tide (beat Arkansas Razorbacks 52-0 at home)
What a joke of a schedule for playing in the SEC. Compare their schedule to LSU. As was the usual case this year, Alabama wasn't even challenged. They clearly overmatched the Razorbacks who are still breaking in sophomore quarterback Brandon Allen who only completed 7 of 25 passes. The Tide's rush attack clearly overwhelmed Arkansas on its way to 352 yards and 4 touchdowns while McCarron just needed to be serviceable. Considering that LSU just loss to Ole Miss this past week and the disarray of the SEC East, Alabama has a clear shot to the national championship game barring some sort of divine intervention.

2) Florida State Seminoles (beat No. 3 Clemson Tigers 51-14 in Clemson)
I'm rolling with the BCS rankings and putting the Seminoles at 2 after their bludgeoning of the Tigers in Death Valley. It all starts with redshirt freshman Jameis (Jame-iss) Winston who has a very realistic chance of being the second freshman to win the Heisman this year. For being so young, he has such a command of the playbook and the pocket. He doesn't have run first instincts but instead prefers to stand in the pocket and keep his eyes down field when the play breaks down. That helped him rack up 444 passing yards and three touchdowns against one pick on Saturday in prime time. Winston is getting a ton of help from his receivers Rashad Greene, a midsize receiver with very good speed, and Kelvin Benjamin, a 6-5 sophomore with incredible hands and a ridiculous vertical leap. Just as exceptional is the defense which is suffocating opponents, holding them to under 12 points a game. DE Mario Edwards Jr and LB Christian Jones lead a squad that is looking as dominant as Alabama's this year. This team could very easily end up playing in Pasadena at the end of the season.

3) Ohio State Buckeyes (beat Iowa Hawkeyes 34-24 at home)
At this rate, OSU is probably going to find itself on the outside looking in when it comes to the national title in January. The rest of the conference is pedestrian which is going to affect their strength of schedule while the team hasn't been able to handle the competition as easily as they should. Iowa is not a bad team but this game was way to close when the line on the game was 17.5 points. The defense is the most concerning component, especially the secondary which continues to allow quarterbacks to look phenomenal. As if they weren't hurting with Christian Bryant out for the season, Bradley Roby was ejected on a targeting call. Yet the team seems to be making plays when they need to, but one has to wonder when that luck will eventually run out. Fortunately the offense continues to hum along. Carlos Hyde bullied his way to 150 yards and 2 touchdowns on 24 carries while Braxton added another 102. He also passed for 222 yards and 2 touchdowns on 22 of 27, one of his best statistical days in his career. The combination of Philly Brown and Devon Smith is giving the Buckeyes a great tandem for Miller to work with. But at this point, surviving may not be enough for Ohio State who desperately needs to start crushing teams.

4) Oregon Ducks (beat Washington State Cougars 62-38 at home)
More of the same for the Ducks. I hate writing about them because they've gotten so commonplace now. They have such an explosive offense that it is almost detrimental to their team since the defense needs to be on the field for so long. The defense definitely had its hands full this week as the Cougar's quarterback threw the ball an insane 89 times in an effort to keep up with the Duck's high flying offense. While the secondary did allow four touchdowns in this fashion, they also came up with four turnovers which helped stave the Cougar's hopes for a historic upset. Oregon will get a tougher game from the Bruins this week, but they should be able to outscore UCLA after the Bruins troubles in Palo Alto.

5) Missouri Tigers (beat No. 22 Florida Gators 36-17 at home)
The Tigers have made the biggest leap over the past two weeks thanks to two huge wins against division opponents. After stunning Georgia in Athens and losing their starting quarterback in the process, Mizzou went up against the best defense in the nation and took it to them. Freshman Maty Mauk completed only half his passes, but it equated to 295 yards and a touchdown with some crucial plays to move the chains. Just as impressive was Henry Josey who averaged 7.6 yards per carry on his way to 136 yards on the ground. The Tiger's offense put the Gator's defense on its heels for the first time this year on every drive. Missouri's defense also looked very capable, holding Florida to just 151 yards. They forced Tyler Murphy to throw underneath and limited big plays. No one saw this coming, but Missouri seriously looks like a team that could finish the regular season undefeated.

6) Miami Hurricanes (beat UNC Tar Heels 27-23 in Chapel Hill)
Despite a terrible night by Canes's quarterback Stephen Morris (19-35, 322 yards, 4 INTs) Miami managed to pull this one out and is in the driver's seat for the ACC Coastal. Morris's performance was good enough to move the Canes down field when it mattered most, especially in the last few minutes for what turned out to be the game winning drive. Duke Johnson was on his way to another productive night before leaving the game before the half. But second stringer Dallas Crawford quickly rose to the challenge, rushing for 137 yards and two touchdowns on a grueling 33 carry day. Crawford picked up the slack and was able to move the chains and get in the endzone when Morris struggled. Johnson's injury doesn't appear to have any impact next week, but the Hurricanes did lose one of their better receivers in Philip Dorsett who has a partial MCL tear. Miami has to travel to Tallahassee in two weeks which could mark their only loss of the season, but other than that they should be in a great position to represent the Coastal. If the defense can keep opponents to only 17 points per game, Miami should have little trouble riding the tandem of Johnson and Crawford until Dorsett returns from injury.

7) Baylor Bears (beat Iowa State Cyclones 71-7 at home)
Baylor might not be your normal Big 12 team that is in the Top 10. This team can score on command. They are first in the nation in points per game at an insane 64.7 points. Oregon is second in the nation and trails them by a touchdown. Bears head coach Art Briles has done an insane job of building an offensive system and recruiting the players who might not be ranked high but who will have an immediate impact in his system. His system allows him to plug in a quarterback to sling it around to receivers who appear to be miles away from the nearest defender. Bryce Petty has been great for them so far, throwing for over 2000 yards and 15 touchdowns against one pick. Rarely does Petty struggle, but if he does, Briles can just have him hand the ball to Lache Seastrunk. An Oregon transfer, Seastrunk is a solid sized running back with ridiculous elusiveness and a great burst. It has only taken him 83 carries to amass 760 yards (9.2 per carry) and 10 touchdowns. If he were carrying the ball more than his current average of 13 times a game, he would be a serious Heisman candidate given Baylor's current ranking. The biggest question will be whether or not the defense can keep holding opponents to 16 points a game. That has been many Big 12 teams' downfall before, but if Baylor can buck that trend they could see themselves in the Fiesta Bowl.

8) Stanford Cardinal (beat No. 9 UCLA Bruins 24-10 at home)
Stanford got itself back on track after last week's demoralizing loss at Utah. This was more of what the Cardinal is good at. They controlled the ball for 37 minutes and were able to greatly limit what the Bruins did. Bruins quarterback was forced into two interceptions and didn't look as comfortable as he has all year against the Bruins' pass rush. Stanford was able to get its running game back against UCLA, rushing for over 170 yards which was crucial to keeping the time of possession in their favor. Stanford needed a strong rebound after last week with Oregon looming and they got one. If they can have another solid performance against Oregon State, it should put them in a good position to to take on Oregon at home.

9) Clemson Tigers (lost to Florida State Seminoles 51-14 at home)
There really wasn't anything positive to come out of this game for Clemson. They were embarrassed at home, plain and simple. Tajh Boyd was limited to barely over 150 yards and threw two interceptions. Sammy Watkins was held in check save for a touchdown and no one in the run game could ever get into a rhythm. Its unfair to criticize the defense in this game since they were put in bad positions all night. Clemson had four total turnovers, one of which was returned for a touchdown for Seminole DE Mario Edwards. Unfortunately for Clemson, this loss puts them out of title contention for the year. Florida State now has sole possession of first place in the division and conference and will own the tie breaker even if they drop an ACC game. At this point, Clemson needs to hope that Florida State either drops two ACC games or goes to the national championship game so they can go to the Orange Bowl.

10) Texas Tech Red Raiders (beat West Virginia Mountaineers 37-27 in Morgantown)
I'm just as surprised as you. But with all these other teams in the top ten falling out, someone had to round out the new rankings. Texas Tech is doing what it always does: throw the ball a trillion times a game. And so far it is working. They are second in the NCAA in passing offense and 15th in scoring offense at just over 41 points per game. I really haven't gotten much of a chance to watch this team, so I don't really know what more to tell you than that. The Big 12 race is wide open at this point but we should know a lot more about the Red Raiders after they travel to Norman next week to take on the Sooners. If they win that, it will set up a very intriguing game in November against Baylor.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Best Games for 10/19

Noon Game
No. 22 Florida Gators @ No. 14 Missouri Tigers (12:21 on ESPN3)
It sucks that Missouri quarterback Jonathon Franklin is now out for the year. He was the catalyst behind last week's stunning upset of Georgia and was the best shot the Tigers had of beating Florida this week. Florida last week to LSU but their defense remains practically impregnable. It was only because their offense couldn't get going that they gave up 17 points. Florida's quarterback Tyler Murphy is still getting used to the college system but so far has been very impressive. If Franklin was in this game, I could see Missouri winning this game. But starting a freshman against one of the most impregnable defenses in college? Missouri's defense isn't stellar, so they are likely to give up some points. I got the Gators in this one 24-17.

Afternoon Game
No. 9 UCLA Bruins @ No. 13 Stanford Cardinal (3:30 on ESPN2)
Last week's loss at Utah is very concerning for Stanford. They gave up a ton of yards, especially on the ground, which is very uncharacteristic of them under David Shaw. Their offense was able to put up some good points on the board, but in the end their defense let them down. Now the Cardinal have to welcome a hot UCLA team that torched Cal by almost four touchdowns last week. Brett Hundley for the Bruins continues to show that he could make the jump to the NFL as just a redshirt sophomore. But what has been most impressive about the Bruins is how drastically their defense has improved since last year. They are only allowing 18 points per game, good for top 20 in college football this year. I know Stanford will be motivated to win, but I think that UCLA has a great chance in Palo Alto. This one could swing either way, but I'm going to take the Bruins 27-23.

Evening Game
No. 6 LSU Tigers @ Ole Miss Runnin' Rebels (7:00 on ESPN2)
To be honest, this game really isn't that great. This just happens to be the weakest time slot for this Saturday. I've kept expecting Ole Miss to take the next step and have a marquee victory, so maybe this week will be the one. Still, I have a hard time seeing that happen considering how LSU performed at the Swamp last week. LSU wins this game 35-20. 

Night Game
No. 5 Florida State Seminoles @ No. 3 Clemson Tigers (8:00 on ABC)
I advise that you watch this game no matter what. The implications of this game are huge. Not just in the ACC, but for the National Championship and probably for the Heisman as well. Florida State has had a real resurgence this year behind the young arm of redshirt freshman Jameis Winston. He has been phenomenal this year, but now goes up against one of the best quarterbacks in the country in Tajh Boyd. Each one of these quarterbacks has a great arsenal on offense to work with that should lead so plenty of scoring in this game. Clemson has drastically improved over the season on defense after surrendering 35 to Georgia. They are 10th in the country at 16 points per game allowed while Florida State is 3rd, allowing 13 points per game. However, Florida State really hasn't played anyone of note yet besides a Maryland team that was 25th. At this point in the season, it seems like Clemson is way overdue for a loss, but I'm not sure that this is the game that they falter with. This game is going to be close, but I think that Clemson has a slight edge. They are at home, with a more seasoned quarterback, and are probably pissed off that their the underdog in their own house. I got Clemson 19-13, but this is the can't miss game of the weekend.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

CROSSOVER! This is mostly a college football blog because I love college more than the NFL. However, obviously a lot of college players are working towards their dreams of eventually playing in the NFL. Although the NFL is still early in the season, it is pretty clear who the worst teams are. Right now, three teams in the NFL have not won a game: New York Giants, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and the Jacksonville Jaguars. Each scenario below is who would draft whom out of the college ranks if they obtain the first pick this draft.

With the first pick of the 2014 NFL draft, the New York Giants select Jadeveon Clowney, defensive end, South Carolina.

As a Giants fan, I kind of struggled with this. There is no doubt that Clowney is the best pass rusher in the draft and one of the best prospects in years, but the Giants also need help protecting Eli who has really regressed this year. So it is really between Clowney or whichever offensive tackle the Giants give a better grade. But considering General Manager Jerry Reese's covetous nature towards pass rushers, the Giants would almost certainly take Clowney. The Giants won two Super Bowls in large part because their defensive line was able to pressure the quarterbacks with just four rushers. Not to sound like John Madden, but anytime you can cover three or four targets with seven guys and still get pressure, you're going to win. The Giants have not been able to get back into that winning formula and are suffering because of it.

Does he really look like he needs to pack on more mass?
Enter Jadeveon Clowney, who could end up saving jobs if he is able to make the immediate impact he is truly capable of. If you've been following my blog or college football, you know who he is and you know what he is capable of. From the moment he stepped on the field as a freshman, Clowney has dominated SEC linemen who are now in the NFL. He was named the SEC defensive freshman of the year, high praise for a player usually going up against the best that the offensive line could throw at him. Clowney has an insane combination of athleticism and technique that allows him to consistently pressure the quarterback. Take a look at some of his tangibles. He is 6'6, 270 pounds, and yet I've heard a few scouts mention that he could improve his strength. This is your typical size for a 4-3 defensive lineman in the NFL. But here is what begins to separate Clowney from anyone else in college and most people in the pros, or anyone in the pros for that matter. It was reported that Clowney ran the 40 yard dash in 4.5 seconds at a team practice this offseason. Before you make up your mind what that means, keep it in the back of your mind for a second while I bring up some notable NFL players and their size and speed coming out of college:

AJ Green, WR, Georgia: 6'4, 207 lbs, 4.50 40-yard dash

Adrian Peterson, RB, Oklahoma: 6'2, 220 lbs, 4.40 40-yard dash

Patrick Willis, ILB, Ole Miss: 6'1, 242 lbs, 4.51 40-yard dash

Jason Pierre-Paul, DE, South Florida: 6'5, 270 lbs, 4.71 40-yard dash

Remember what these three were able to do?
I hope that this illustrates to you just how athletically imposing Clowney is. He's as fast as All-Pro player AJ Green, despite being 60 pounds heavier. He beats out JPP in terms of speed by .2 seconds, a huge amount in the NFL, despite playing the same position and being slightly bigger. His athletic ability has given him a huge leg up since high school and he will STILL be able to use the same God given gifts to beat out offensive linemen the moment he makes the jump to the NFL. His attitude has recently called into question his commitment to football, but I personally think that is him being bored with college competition and his desire to not have a serious injury before signing a contract. A no nonsense coach like Coughlin could work wonders with Clowney. He'd know how to break him into proper conditioning and would not be afraid to bench him if his attitude did get in the way. But I think that it would work out well because of how the Giants have developed pass rushers in the last half dozen years. Clowney, JPP, and rookie Damontre Moore could form one of the most lethal defensive end trios in years.

With the first pick in the 2014 NFL draft, the Jacksonville Jaguars select Teddy Bridgewater, quarterback, Louisville.
Clowney will garner the higher grade from scouts and general managers, but Bridgewater probably won't be that far behind him. The logic here is that a franchise quarterback is much more valuable than a franchise defensive end in today's NFL. If you don't have a competent quarterback, you'd better be praying that your defense and running backs can handle the burden. None of these three have come to pass in Jacksonville recently.

There is no way, and I must stress the "no" part, that Jacksonville can go into next season with either Blaine Gabbert or Chad Henne as their starting quarterback. They are already struggling to put meat in the seats of their stadium, let alone be competitive in their own division. Through three years, Gabbert has posted incredibly mediocre numbers for being the 11th pick in 2011 (career numbers: 53% completion, 4357 yards, 22 TDs, 24 INTs). To put that into perspective, Cam Newton threw for 4051 yards and 21 TDs on 60% completion IN HIS ROOKIE SEASON. And it isn't as if Chad Henne is that much better. He's been given numerous chances with the Dolphins and with Jacksonville and hasn't been able to separate himself from the competition in those two destinations (numbers with JAX: 55.3% completion, 2988 yards, 13 TDs, 15 INTs).  Now THAT is a telling statement. Neither of these quarterbacks is going to get Jacksonville over the hump in their division. The Texans are a good quarterback away from being a Super Bowl team, Tennessee was showing a lot of life with Jake Locker this year, and the Colts already have their new franchise quarterback for the next dozen years in Andrew Luck. Henne and Gabbert's combined abilities and stats don't even match what someone like Luck can bring to the table.

The Jaguars made the right move in the last draft by deciding against picking a quarterback. No matter who they drafted and where, it would not have even come close to the value that they will get from Bridgewater if he is taken first. If he had the eligibility to enter this past spring's draft, he would have easily been taken first by the Chiefs. Bridgewater has been the starter since his freshman year and, despite some struggles that year, has excelled in every area of quarterback play. Between his freshman and sophomore campaigns, Bridgewater's statistical line is as follows:

66.5% Completion, 5847 Yards, 41 TDs, and 20 INTs

Oh yeah, and he has 18 TDs and only 2 INTs this year so far. Everything that you want out of a quarterback, Bridgewater has. He has fantastic mechanics which allows him to maintain such a high accuracy rating. Pressure doesn't phase him and cause his mechanics to slip either. He also has a cannon for an arm while being able to put touch on the short to intermediate routes. But what has impressed me about him so much is his football intelligence. Last year he went against the ferocious Gator's defense in the Sugar Bowl and tore them apart. A defense swarming with NFL talent just looked helpless against Bridgewater who ended the game with 266 yards, 2 touchdowns and one pick on a tipped pass. He has the ability to read defenses like Aaron Rodgers and consistently makes the right decision based on what the defense is showing him. He knows exactly where his receiver is going to go and deliver an accurate pass before the receiver has come out of his break. Back shoulder throws, fade and comeback routes, whatever you name he can do it.

The knock against Bridgewater is the competition that he's faced, or lack of. Playing in the Big East and now whatever they are calling that Frankenstein of a conference has inflated his numbers, skeptics say. I can understand where the sentiment lies, but I have to disagree with this point. That could affect his chances of winning the Heisman, but won't impact how he performs in the NFL. His mechanics wouldn't have changed if he had gone to Miami or South Carolina instead of Louisville. He's gone up against the competition on the schedule and handled them with relative ease. Look at it this way: since his freshman year, Bridgewater has only played two ranked opponents but beaten both of them. Russell Wilson only faced two ranked opponents before going to Wisconsin and beat them both. RG3 was a dismal 2-12 against ranked opponents during his 3 full seasons as a starter. And I'll tell you this right now; Bridgewater's victory over Florida in the Sugar Bowl was infinitely more impressive than either of Wilson or Griffin's victories. If Jacksonville can develop Bridgewater to his full potential, he will quickly make the case to be in the same category of young, promising quarterbacks along with Luck, Griffin, and Wilson.

With the first pick in the 2014 NFL draft, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers select.....
Well I'm not sure. Ok I am, but it has to do with whether or not Greg Schiano will be coaching this team next year or not. The same could be said with the Tom Coughlin or Gus Bradley of the Jags, but I think that Schiano is on a shorter leash than the other two and is really the only one who could (and should) be canned at the end of this year. So because this pick I would say is much more contingent on the head coaching situation after this season.

If Schiano is retained: Jadeveon Clowney, defensive end, South Carolina.
You mean I get to keep my job AND get Clowney?!
Hot DAMN!!
Schiano is a defensive minded coach, so this is a pretty obvious selection. As I talked about above, Clowney is a freakish prospect who will instantly upgrade whatever line he is plugged into. It is kind of ridiculous to think that this team needs help at the ends, but that is the truth. Adrian Clayborn and Da'Quan Bowers were both very promising when they were drafted, but injuries have hampered their ability to get acclimated, develop, and make an impact in the NFL. Thus, the Bucs need some serious help at the ends of their defensive line. In a division where Drew Brees, Matt Ryan, and Cam Newton make up six games out of sixteen, a game changing defensive end is a necessity.

If Schiano is fired: Teddy Bridgewater, quarterback, Louisville.
Personally, I hope Schiano doesn't get another job in the NFL for a decade for how he treated Josh Freeman. Anyway, if Schiano is fired then you have to figure that general manager Mark Dominik will also be gone since GMs and coaches are usually hired and fired hand in hand. Schiano sabotaged Freeman's career so he could draft a stoned version of Napoleon Dynamite and eventually implement him as the starter. Although Mike Glennon (the aforementioned stoned Napoleon Dynamite) has only started two games this season, he hasn't given decision makers in the front office much hope considering the weapons he has on offense. If Schiano is back in the college ranks to satisfy his ego by lording over 18 year old kids from Hillsborough, NJ, you can guarantee that this team is going to draft Bridgewater.
Your stoned Napoleon Dynamite.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Top 10 for 10/13

This week featured the most shake up in the top 10 that we have seen all year. A couple fell out while the names that moved in have a good chance at staying in the top 10.

1) Alabama Crimson Tide (beat Kentucky Wildcats 48-7 at Lexington)
Is it possible that Alabama has moved under the radar this season? Except for their vengeance game against A&M this year, no one has really been focused on Alabama. A big reason for that is that they have been dispatching the dregs of the SEC for most of this season and will for the remainder of the season. McCarron is starting to get more time to throw which will help the Tide, but as is usually the case the story is really all about the running game and defense. Yeldon and Drake combined for 240 yards and four touchdowns while the defense held the Wildcats to just 170 total yards and one offensive touchdown. This team won't be challenged for another three weeks when LSU comes to town.

2) Ohio State Buckeyes (idle this week; next week home against Iowa Hawkeyes)

3) Clemson Tigers (beat Boston College 24-14 at home)
I don't really know how to rationalize this close of a win. Despite outgaining BC by almost 300 yards, Clemson only managed to beat the Eagles by ten points. Tajh Boyd played great, completing 70% of his passes for 330 yards and a touchdown. The running backs were also able to get going for Clemson, and they didn't have any turn overs. They just simply could not finish drives. The points they allowed are a little concerning. Boston College scored on plays of 40 and 70 yards but other than that really couldn't manage any sustained drives. That could spell trouble for Clemson who takes on Florida State at home next week. The Seminoles have exponentially more talent than Boston College, and that could mean playing a lot of catching up for the Tigers.

4) Oregon Ducks (beat Washington Huskies 45-24 in Seattle)
This was one of the more complete games we've seen Oregon play all year. Washington has a very talented squad this year and took Stanford to the wire in Palo Alto. But Oregon was able to do too much with all the speed they have. Mariota takes center stage here, as he lead the Ducks by throwing for 3 touchdowns and 366 yards on 24 completions. Bralon Addison and Josh Huff received all three of those touchdowns and 14 of the catches. They were able to get all kinds of separation from Washington's defensive backs, giving Mariota a huge window to throw into. What impressed me most about Oregon was the play of their defensive backs. They held Keith Price to under 200 yards and while they did allow a touchdown, they forced him into an interception. They did allow Bishop Sankey to rush for 160 yards and two touchdowns on them, but keeping Price limited allowed them to get the ball back more often. With Stanford losing at Utah this weekend, Oregon is now in first place of the PAC 12 North where they will most likely stay for the rest of the year.

5) Florida State Seminoles (idle this week; next week at Clemson)

6) Louisville Cardinals (beat Rutgers Scarlet Knights 24-10 at home)
Definitely not the best game for the Cardinals or for Bridgewater, but you can't win every game by four touchdowns. Rutgers has built a strong program over the past few years and do have some talent to keep up with Louisville. Bridgewater was intercepted once in the endzone, but other than that was what you'd expect. He added two more touchdowns to his season total to go with 310 yards. The real focus here should be on the defense for Louisville which forced 4 turnovers on the day. Quarterback Gary Nova for Rutgers was forced into three interceptions on the day. Louisville's secondary was able to blanket receivers and stepped in front of routes often to disrupt the pass. If the defensive line can get the kind of pressure on quarterbacks and continue to plug the lanes like they did last night, Louisville could survive a bad night for Bridgewater if that ever happens.

7) LSU Tigers (beat Florida Gators 17-6 at home)
Interesting stat a friend of mine showed me before this game: Florida's secondary had held opposing quarterbacks to the lowest QBR (quarterback rating) in the SEC while LSU QB Zach Mettenberger had the highest QBR in the SEC entering the game. So something had to give. And while it did, it didn't really affect the game all that much. The dangerous trio of Louchiez Purifoy, Marcus Roberson, and Vernon Hargreaves III held Mettenberger to only 9-17 and 152 yards. However, Florida's defense was no match for the power run game of the Bayou Bengals. Jeremy Hill averaged 6.4 yards per on his way to 121 yards. Mettenberger guided the Tigers to the goal line twice and then turned it over to JC Copeland and Anthony Jennings to punch it in. Florida's offense is still trying to find its rhythm by working in redshirt sophomore Tyler Murphy at quarterback, so the challenge for the Tiger's defense wasn't that overwhelming this week. They were pretty much able to gear towards stopping the run with seven guys in the box while playing prevent with the secondary. This was a solid midseason evaluation for LSU just a few weeks before travelling to Tuscaloosa.

8) Texas A&M Aggies (beat Ole Miss Runnin' Rebels 41-38 at Oxford)
I'm starting to think that this team has no chance of winning in Death Valley a few weeks from now. Manziel put in a very good game this week, but I think the LSU game will be another example of where he can't do it all. He was the epitome of duel threat this week (passing: 31-39, 346, 1 INT; rushing: 19 for 124, 2 TDs) and got more receivers than just Mike Evans involved. But other than that, it kind of stops there for the Aggies. Other than Manziel, no rusher was that effective against Ole Miss. But the biggest issue continues to be the defense which looks like it misses being in the Big 12 after one year in the SEC. Ole Miss is a team on the rise in the SEC, but they did whatever they wanted to the Aggies's defense. The second string QB completed two touchdown passes on only four attempts against them for Christ's sake. We've already seen what will happen to the Aggies when they can't outgun someone. They better get their act together or they will not be in a BCS game this year.

9) Miami Hurricanes (idle this week; next week at North Carolina Tar Heels)

10) UCLA Bruins (beat Cal Golden Bears 37-10 at home)
Meet the new kings of LA. While USC wallows in its own incompetence, UCLA and head coach Jim Mora Jr have been created a very strong program. It all starts with redshirt sophomore Brett Hundley, a smart and athletic pocket passer who could be the second QB taken off the board this upcoming draft. He showcased his abilities against Cal, throwing for a whopping 410 yards and three touchdowns on 31 of 41 passing. He has a great duo to throw to in Shaq Evans and Devon Fuller, who combined for 12 catches, 168 yards and two touchdowns against Cal. Evans is the taller target while Fuller is the speedy receiver who can beat safeties downfield and corners across the middle. On defense, UCLA has one of the most disruptive players in Athony Barr, a converted fullback who now plays outside linebacker in the 3-4 defense. He has so much speed and agility with so little experience that some pro teams are grading him over Clowney for top pass rusher. This could be the only time UCLA cracks the top 10 though. They get limited play out of their running backs and have a suspect secondary. We will learn a lot about this team over the next couple of weeks as they take on Stanford and Oregon, both on the road.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Best Game for 10/12

Noon Game
No. 12 Oklahoma Sooners vs. Texas Longhorns (12:00 on ABC)
The Red River Rivalry has lost a bit of its luster this year with Texas's season in the toilet. Still, whenever these programs get together for this annual game at the Cotton Bowl, its well worth watching. Texas lost big time last year and with this season full of turmoil, Mack Brown could be coaching for his job. I don't see how Texas wins this game, but the more interesting element of this game could be seeing if Mack is fired before getting on the team bus if it is another blowout.

Afternoon Game
No. 17 Florida Gators @ No. 10 LSU Tigers (3:30 on CBS)
This is easily the best game of the day. Florida has been a much better team since Tyler Murphy took over for the injured Jeff Driskel. But what I'm honestly more interested in is the battle of Florida's cornerbacks against LSU's wide receivers. This year, LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger has made huge strides, and no small part of it is because of his receivers. Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham Jr. have combined for 77 catches and 7 touchdowns on the year. But they will be going up against the best corner tandem in Marcus Roberson and Loucheiz Purifoy, both consensus first round picks this upcoming draft. Death Valley is probably the toughest venue to play in, and I have a feeling LSU will put enough pressure on Murphy to force him into mistakes. I got LSU 21-17.

Evening Game
No. 2 Oregon Ducks @ No. 16 Washington Huskies (4:00 on Fox Sports 1)
Washington played Stanford incredibly well in Palo Alto this past week. While Keith Price did throw one pick, he made up for it with two touchdowns and 350 yards in the air. Huskies running back Bishop Sankey was also very imposing, rushing for two touchdowns and 125 yards on 27 carries. They will need to repeat that kind of production against Oregon to have any chance of pulling off the upset. Oregon has plenty of speed to take over this game from the kick off and possess plenty of game changers on defense. I think Washington can put up points on Oregon, but I don't think they can match them. Oregon has too much talent and they'll avoid the upset, 42-33.

Night Game
No. 9 Texas A&M Aggies @ Ole Miss Runnin' Rebels (8:30 on ESPN)

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Why Criticism Directed Towards Clowney is Unfair

If you've read any sports media site since the season started, you have probably at least seen a headline calling Clowney's performance and work ethic into question. He has caught a lot of flak this year for taking plays off, having below par conditioning, and most recently for telling Coach Spurrier that he couldn't play due to injury moments before the game against Kenucky. All of this has been very noticeable for the most coveted defensive player in maybe forever. Its like a total 180 degree turn from where Clowney stood last year: the most feared, dominant player who commanded double teams every play and was a sure fire pick to be chosen first overall in next year's draft. At least that's what the media wants you to believe.
No way quarterbacks and left tackles aren't still intimidated...

This issue, like many others here in the US, has been totally fabricated by the media. Have Clowney's numbers taken a dip from last year? Yes, that part is undeniable. Through four games this year, he has 12 total tackles and 2 sacks (compared to 2012: 17 tackles, 4.5 sacks; 2011: 16 tackles, 4 sacks). What has been more noticeable is that he is not effecting the game even when not in on the play. He was known for bringing pressure on the quarterback on every play which lead to South Carolina's dominant defensive stretch. These observations have brought on speculation that he is dogging it this year so that he is is fully healthy for the NFL when he eventually declares his intent. Ok, and what exactly is the problem with that?

Since joining the Gamecocks, Clowney has been an unstoppable force. Several scouting reports of him coming out of high school said that he could have made the jump to the NFL then and still be a first round pick. He has unparalleled athleticism and technique that is beyond his years. The real issue with this falls back to the NCAA. The NCAA and NFL mandate that a player be three years removed from highschool, meaning that kids like Clowney are forced into playing when they well know that they could be in the NFL. This isn't the first time that a player has been overqualified for the college by his sophomore year. But the NCAA knows that it will not make money if the best players are constantly leaving for the NFL while still underclassmen. Basketball doesn't have this issue because there isn't a talent age gap. You consistently see incoming freshman who will future number one picks single handedly bring millions in for their school in one year. If you can find the whole interview with Spurrier from 10/8, he even says that the university should be thankful to Clowney for not just the wins but the revenue he has brought in.

There really is nothing wrong with that at all. Every program has a major sport that earns money for the school. But where it becomes bothersome is the fact that Clowney is being labelled as selfish for his actions. Why? Because he wants to earn a fraction in the NFL of what he made for the Gamecocks? Because he doesn't want to end up in the same situation that his team mate Marcus Lattimore faced? According to a Forbes article, Lattimore lost an estimated eight million dollars because of the injury he sustained his junior year, the year after tearing his other knee apart. This is Clowney's (and a lot of other athletes') livelihood at stake here. If the NCAA is not going to compensate players for putting their bodies on the line every day, then they should not be able to mandate when a player leaves for the NFL. Why regulate that players must be in college for three years? If a scout tells them they could easily be drafted, then what are they gaining by coming back from that extra year? The NCAA obviously doesn't care if it's used to get your degree or else they would mandate that as the minimum requirement for going to the pros.

And the notion that Clowney is hurting his draft stock is laughable. Like I said, scouts have said that he could have been a first rounder coming out of high school. He dominated the SEC for two straight years. Do you really think he suddenly has lost talent? Did the MonStars from Space Jam came down and drain his powers or something? Its an insane notion. Depending on who is picking at the top, Clowney could still easily be number one overall. Remember, he still did this less than a year ago...

Sunday, October 6, 2013

The Current Heisman Race

After the first third of the season is done, do we have a true Heisman front runner? In the past, there have really been two categories for deciding who is in the lead for the Heisman. The more traditional approach is to look at the best player on the best team (think Troy Smith for OSU or Sam Bradford for Oklahoma). The other approach is to look at the most explosive player who puts up insane numbers (RG3 at Baylor, Manziel last year). Sometimes, it can be a mix of both (Cam Newton). I think the more recent trend is to give it to the guy who is really has that "wow" factor. Fans and voters alike love to see the explosive play, the 80 yard run that makes you jump off of your feet and scream "Did you see THAT?!". With that in mind, I think because there is no clear cut player who is head and shoulders above the rest, this year will follow that pattern. So with still plenty of season left to be played, here are my current Heisman front runners.

1) Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon Ducks
Mariota is by far the best quarterback that the Ducks have had in last half dozen years. He may not have the mobility of someone like Dennis Dixon or Darron Thomas, but his athleticism should not be underestimated. This year, Mariota already has more than 300 yards and seven touchdowns with a long of 71 yards. His coach Mark Helfrich hasn't given him as many designed runs as Chip Kelly did last year, but Mariota has a great understanding of when to take off when nothing is there. His agility isn't phenomenal, but his straight line speed has to be respected. But what really separates himself from previous Oregon quarterbacks in this system is his throwing ability. His numbers aren't incredibly gaudy, but he is efficiently lethal. Despite completing only 57% of his passes, he has a rating of 162 which factors in a quarterbacks influence on the game. So basically, despite slipping with his accuracy a bit this year, Mariota makes enough big plays through the air that it more than makes up for his mediocre accuracy. It isn't like he has been terrible either. He has over 1300 yards and 14 touchdowns through the first third of their schedule and is on pace to pass his passing yards last year but fall just short of his passing touchdowns. Considering the fact that he is also the quarterback of the number two team in the country, Mariota should have a safe lead for the Heisman right now. If he takes this team into Palo Alto and avenges their only loss from last year, I don't see how he doesn't get the Heisman.

2) Tajh Boyd, QB, Clemson Tigers
Boyd is going to be at the top of the Heisman contenders so long as he and his team avoid "Clemsoning", losing a game they have no business of losing and dropping out of the title race. Boyd has set a steady course and the unquestioned leader of the team. He lead the team to a signature early season victory against Georgia, and has since been outstanding almost to the point of perfection. The Tigers's most recent game against Syracuse was the first game in which Boyd has thrown an interception (2 actually). On the year, Boyd has thrown for 14 touchdowns and almost 1500 yards on an impressive 66% completion rating and has been able to deliver clutch plays when his team needs it. Clemson has only faced two challenges, but Boyd played his best games at home against a rabid Georgia team and pulled out a solid road victory against an NC State team that has a penchant for upsets. Boyd isn't as graceful a runner as Mariota, but he has good size and a good knowledge of when he should take off. He is definitely more reliant on his arm, which isn't a bad thing, but Dabo trusts him enough with goal line and short yardage situations. What is helping his cause is that he has Clemson in a serious chance to win a national title. Voters will take note of that fact if Clemson is undefeated towards the end because of the quality of their wins. They would have defeated Georgia, Florida State and South Carolina before the ACC Championship game against Miami. If that is the case, there is a good chance Boyd gets a call to New York.

3) Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M Aggies
Before the season started, I had Sammy Watkins pegged as the most likely wide receiver to get the call. Watkins has had a great season so far, but Evans might have separated himself from the rest of the pack. Last year as a freshman, Evans overtook senior Ryan Swope as the number one receiver and has since been a monster in the pass game. He stands at 6-5, 225 pounds and has great 4.45 speed. For his size and skill set, he has been compared to NFL wide out Vincent Jackson. Evans has the range to go up and attack the ball at its highest point, regularly beating out even the best cornerbacks for contested passes. He has solid straight line speed but is also very controlled coming out of his routes with very good concentration. So far this year, Evans has 28 catches for 691 yards and has matched his season total touchdowns from last year with five. He had his best game of the brief season against Alabama, turning seven catches into a staggering 279 yards and two touchdowns against the vaunted Tide defense. He is a constant mismatch against corner backs and commands double coverage which he is still learning how to beat. With Manziel throwing to him off of designed passes and broken plays, Evans is a big play in the making. A&M is going to be playing some pretty meh competition soon (Miss. St., UTEP, Auburn) so he should continue to have a Heisman worthy season.

Notable Omissions:
Braxton Miller, QB, Ohio State Buckeyes
He missed a couple of weeks which have hurt how his stats appear on paper. For perspective, Kenny Guiton has 14 total touchdowns from two weeks of starting while Braxton has 6. He will continue to play at a high level, but I don't know if he will be able to make up for lost time.

Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M Aggies
The loss to Alabama kind of simmered things down about for Manziel. His numbers are still good, but he isn't having the kinds of days with his feet that made highlight reels last year. If A&M is able to get back into the title chase, I think Manziel could have a better chance of moving back into the race.

Jadaveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina Gamecocks
This hype died after the first week. He apparently has conditioning problems that caused him to take noticeable plays off. He only has two sacks and sat out this past week against Kentucky. I don't see how he makes it to back into the discussion barring some sort of super human campaign the rest of the year.

Aaron Murray, QB, Georgia Bulldogs
I think that Murray has the best chance of breaking the top three. Since a shaky first game loss to Clemson, Murray has thrown 14 touchdowns and only 2 picks in marquee wins over South Carolina and LSU. He still has Florida to make a statement against and then some average SEC teams to pad his stats against.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Best Games for 10/5

Noon Game
No. 25 Maryland Terrapins @ No. 8 Florida Seminoles (Noon on Watch ESPN)
Maryland is inexplicably undefeated through four games this year and they are actually playing like it too. Its not just the competition they've faced. They have play makers on both sides of the ball, starting with sophomore wide out Stefon Diggs. Now that they have a quarterback who isn't a linebacker like last year, he has been able to get the ball more frequently and uses his athleticism to turn an ordinary play into an explosive one. Yet they will be up against a tough Florida State team that can score just as much as them. Florida State definitely has the athletic edge in this game and should be able to keep the Maryland skill players under manageable control. I expect the Seminoles to win this one by double digits.

Afternoon Game
Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets @ No. 14 Miami Hurricanes (3:30 on ESPNU)
I really don't think this will be that great of a game, but it has more potential than others in this time slot. Georgia Tech can always play their fellow ACC teams very well, and their triple option attack can frustrate even veteran defenses. Miami's defense has really risen to the year but has only really faced some average competition this far into the season. This should be a good litmus test to see where the Canes's defense stands at this junction of the season. Georgia Tech doesn't have a great defense, so Miami should really be able to put up a lot of points in this game behind Stephen Morris and Duke Johnson. Miami should also win this one comfortably, 38-28.

Evening Game
No. 4 Ohio State Buckeyes @ No. 16 Northwestern Wildcats (8:00 on ABC)
This is one of the true road tests for the Buckeyes this season, besides their final game in Michigan. Northwestern is a very solid team this year, especially in the run game. They rank 18th in the country, averaging 250 rushing yards per game and are 21st in points per game at 41.3. They are an more explosive rushing team than Wisconsin is, preferring to use the spread offense as opposed to a traditional approach. They should be able to score on Ohio State tomorrow night. However, I don't think that they have the kind of talent on offense that can slow down the Buckeyes. Despite this team allowing only 21 points per, the only real quality opponent they've beaten is Cal who hung 30 on them. I don't see how Northwestern can keep up with Devin Smith and Philly Brown on the outside while trying to contain Braxton and Carlos Hyde. This is a huge game for Northwestern, and the fact that it is a night game is only going to increase the intensity in Evanstown. I think Ohio State manages to win in a closely fought shootout, 45-35.

Night Game
No. 15 Washington Huskies @ No. 5 Stanford Cardinal (10:30 on ESPN)
REVENGE! A midseason loss at Washington last year was the only blemish on the Cardinal resume. This year, the Cardinal have their eye on delivering a vengeful victory against Washington who comes into this game playing incredibly well. The Huskies are lead by senior quarterback Keith Price who is off to a hot start after a disappointing junior campaign. He is joined in the backfield by Bishop Sankley, one of the most underrated running backs in the league. He is a workhorse runner who can go between the gaps or bounce outside with relative ease. He already has 600 yards through four games and is a major reason that Washington ranks 11th in rushing at almost 290 yards. Yet their strategy plays right into the strength of Stanford's defense which is against the run. They do a fantastic job of disrupting the line of scrimmage to stop the running back as soon as he gets the ball. They also have great range and athleticism in the secondary which should cause some issues for Price. I think that this game comes down to a field goal at the end and the Cardinal sneak away with this one, 28-27.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Top 10 for 9/29

1) Alabama Crimson Tide (beat No. 21 Ole Miss Runnin' Rebels 25-0 at home)
This game speaks more about the defense than it does the offense. Ole Miss has a very talented group of skill players, so the fact that Alabama held them to no points and just over 200 yards is very impressive. Bo Wallace was able to hit some open receivers, but he was limited to about 160 yards on 17 completions. He connected to Treadwell and Moncrief on a few deep throws, but all in all the Tide secondary was very impressive. McCarron was efficient in this game, but that's really all that could be said. He completed 25 of 32, but that only amounted to 180 yards and had a pick mixed in. Yet this was the first game where the running game was really dominant. TJ Yeldon and Kenyan Drake gashed Ole Miss for 230 yards on 29 carries and two touchdowns. Credit to the offensive line for opening holes for them to average 7.9 yards a carry.

2) Ohio State Buckeyes (beat No. 23 Wisconsin Badgers 31-24 at home)
As usual, these teams played each other extremely well and had a very close game. On defense, Ohio State surprised by stepping up the run support and holding Wisconsin, who had been averaging 350 yards per game, to only 104. Gordon and White were neutralized for the most part, each being held to under 5.0 yards per carry and didn't have a rush longer than 20 yards. However, Wisconsin was able to move the ball up the field due primarily to Jared Abbrederis, who had an incredible night of 10 catches, 207 yards and one touchdown. He frequently got separation from All-American corner Bradley Roby and made catch after catch. Yet he was really the only one who could get going in the passing game, and Wisconsin struggled when he was not open. On offense, Ohio State continued on it's hot streak. The team came only 10 yards short of 400 total, but it was very evenly distributed. Braxton had a great game after missing time, throwing for 200 yards and 4 touchdowns, three coming in the first half. Urban got a bit cautious and wasn't letting him throw as much, but I would expect that he wanted to ease him back into the game before setting him loose at Northwestern next week.

3) Clemson Tigers (beat Wake Forest Demon Deacons 56-7 at home)
I think that a performance like this puts Tajh Boyd as the top contender for the Heisman. Wake Forest isn't a decent team by any stretch, but Boyd just makes it look so easy that he was done after the first half. He had already thrown for 300 yards and 3 touchdowns with another 70 yards and a touchdown rushing. He has such great touch at all levels of the field that it makes it so easy for his receivers. Sammy Watkins continues to look like one of the best in the country, this week hauling in 6 catches for 113 yards and a touchdown. His ability to come out of breaks at lightning speed or speed to get downfield is the definition of game changing. One false step or missed tackle and he's gone. The defense wasn't challenged this week, but they did what they had to do and largely prohibited Wake Forest from accomplishing anything with the ball.

4) Stanford Cardinal (beat Washington State Cougars 55-17 in Seattle)
This was a good test for the Cardinal and coach Shaw who let Kevin Hogan air it out more than he had in recent games. The results were very encouraging, as Hogan completed 16 of 25 for 286 yards, three touchdowns and one pick. He appeared more comfortable with the mid to long range throws and it paid off as they were able to move up and down the field. The running game really only had to chip in, but still accumulated 240 rushing yards. They can get production out of at least three different running back, so they can rely on that should Hogan ever come up against a defense that he can't figure out. I doubt that will happen to them this year, however.

5) Oregon Ducks (beat California Golden Bears 55-16 at home)
They won by 41 points and De'Anthony Thomas didn't even play. I can't see this team losing any time soon.

6) Georgia Bulldogs (beat No. 6 LSU Tigers 44-41 at home)
This was a signature win that could go a long way for the Bulldogs if they can run the rest of the table. Aaron Murray was able to net another signature win in his senior year to lift Georgia over LSU. Murray accounted for 300 of the total 500 yards and four of the total five touchdowns. He was forced into an interception, but for the most part was able to move the ball against the LSU defense. He threw the game winner too, a perfect pass to a wide open Scott-Wesley to go ahead by 3. He has shown a lot of poise and leadership in these first few weeks that could really elevate this team to the next level. Scott-Wesley and Chris Conley were great for Georgia, able to get separation from the tenacious LSU defensive backs and make some tough catches in traffic. Todd Gurley was having a good day (8 rushes for 73 yards) before an injury ended his day. Keith Marshall showed that he is still a valuable asset to the team, running for almost 100 yards on 20 carries. He was able to bully his way to some crucial first downs that propelled Georgia to victory. Forget about the defense. If the offense can play like this, Georgia may be coming out on the right end of the SEC championship game this year.

7) Louisville Cardinals (bye this week; next week at Temple)

8) Florida State Seminoles (beat Boston College Eagles 48-34 in Chestnut Hill)
This was a bit of a surprise. Not that Florida State won, but that they gave up so many points to Boston College. They allowed some sustained drives and gave up almost 400 yards on defense to a team that is very average. They did intercept Chase Rettig twice, but giving up four passing touchdowns with a significant talent gap is a little troublesome. Fortunately, they have Jameis Winston who might just give this team a chance against Clemson in a few weeks. He has cooled off a bit since his hot start, but his accuracy and ability to get the ball downfield with a flick of the wrist has allowed Florida State to run up the score on opposing teams. This team will only get better with every week that Winston is on the field and is given the chance to make plays with his arm. He has deceptive athleticism, but his ability to make throws under pressure will determine how far the Seminoles go this year.

9) Texas A&M Aggies (beat Arkansas Razorbacks 45-33 in Fayetteville)
Maybe the Aggies should just elect to play offense for an entire game. Arkansas is pretty average this year (they lost to Rutgers...) and still managed to rack up 500 yards of offense and stayed competitive throughout this game. They intercepted Hogs' QB Brandon Allen twice, but allowed way to many big plays that kept them from ever putting the game away. Although Manziel doesn't look quite like the Heisman winner from last year, he has still be the focal point of the Aggies's attack. He threw for 260 yards and two touchdowns, both going to the towering receiver Mike Evans who finished with 6 catches for 116 yards. Evans has asserted himself as one of the best and most dominant receivers in football. He has the size and hands to beat any corner in jump ball situations while having the speed and agility to burn receivers deep and out of breaks. Manziel hasn't had the rushing performance we were used to last year, but that might be a good thing. He won't take as many hits and will be able to surprise the defense more when they aren't expecting it.

10) LSU Tigers (lost to Georgia Bulldogs 41-44 in Athens)
I wanted to drop the Tigers out of the Top 10 for an undefeated (UCLA, Oklahoma, The U) but I think that LSU might be one of the best teams in the country. Their defense hasn't really shown up in the dominating fashion that they did last year, but they are still able frustrate opponents. They were one blown assignment away from winning that game too. What has really impressed me about LSU is Mettenberger and how good the receivers have come on. While Jeremy Hill and the running game could never get in rhythm, Mettenberger was able to take control of the game. He completed 23 of 37 passes for 327 yards and three touchdowns while refraining for costly interceptions. I said a few weeks ago that LSU could struggle if he didn't find another target other than Beckham Jr and Landry. Disregard that. While Mettenberger did find senior receiver Kadron Boone twice for a touchdown, he still completed 16 passes to Beckham Jr and Landry. They have proven week after week that they can beat any coverage and are going to get their's. They might be able to take on Alabama this year in Tuscaloosa.