Halfway Home!

 

With the release of the first BCS standings of the year, we’ve hit the official midpoint of the college football season. With that in mind, I figured it would be a good time to look at what we’ve learned in the first month and a half and look back at how far off we were with our preseason predictions. First, what have we taken away from the first seven weeks of the season.

1. Notre Dame’s defense is for real.
– The Irish came into the season with a big question mark under center and through six games, that doesn’t seem to matter. The Irish are allowing just 8.67 points a game are are 11th in the nation in total defense, giving up just 287 yards a game. On the offensive side, they have been able to hang 40+ points twice. But it was Saturday’s tough overtime win over Stanford and solidified the toughness of this team. That might help them down the stretch as they still have trips to Oklahoma and USC facing them.

2. Being ranked 3-5 means you’re going down
– West Virginia and South Carolina were this week’ s casualties. Florida State, LSU, and Georgia have all tasted loss number one after climbing into the ranks three through five. It’s the same thing that happened in 2007 to the #2’s. The question we now have is who is going to knock off Oregon and Florida. Why are the Tide not mentioned here? Well…

3. Alabama is still a level above everyone else.
– You would think in losing so much talent to the NFL last season, the Tide would take a small step backwards. And with that thought, you and I have proven we don’t know Nick Saban. This defense is just a dominant, if not more so, than last season’s edition. They have the top rushing defense in the nation (55.33 ypg), top pass efficiency defense (80.99 ypg), top scoring defense (7.50 ppg), top pass defense (125.83 ypg), are tied for 11th in sacks (3.17 spg) and the top total defense, allowing just 181.17 yards a game. Oh, and they’ve put up 40.5 points a game, starting with their opening night humbling of Michigan. If you can think of a team that’s got a shot at taking them down, let me know. But even with a trip to Death Valley in three weeks, it seems the Tide are headed for another national title game.

4. Florida’s come a long way
– From an opening week win where they seemed to be one bad play away from being upset by Bowling Green, to running past LSU last week, Florida has shown quite the improvement. They answered enough questions on offense to get wins and the defense has stepped up big time, allowing just 12.33 points a game (6th nationally). A lot of the offensive success is thanks to Mike Gillislee, whose second in the SEC averaging 102.5 yards a game on the ground. The next two weeks will show whether their initial BCS ranking of #2 is justified with South Carolina and the World’s Biggest Cocktail Party in back-to-back weeks.

5. The Big Ten is definitely having a down year.
– The Big Ten has been criticized big time for the last decade or so for not being able to win the big games (11-13 in BCS games). And now it appears that the two best teams in the conference right now are ineligible for postseason play, meaning another rough bowl season for the ol’ Western Conference. Wisconsin stumbled out of the gate, but rebounded with 2 straight conference wins. The catch is that Michigan State, Ohio State and Penn State await, and with all of that, they are still likely going to represent the Leaders Division in Indianapolis because Purdue, Illinois and Indiana are, well, bad. The Legends Division looks a little better with Michigan still undefeated in conference, Iowa looking much better than expected and Northwestern already at 6-1. Nebraska is there as well, however Rex Burkhead is questionable this week with a knee injury and the defense has been good, but not up to Cornhusker standards. Either way, I’m thinking that the Legends division winner will head to the Rose Bowl.

6. Oregon State has surprised the hell out of everyone.
– Every preseason poll I saw had Oregon State as a middle of the pack team at best. They’ve already matched the five wins many expected the Beavers would win. Instead, OSU has boasted a top ten passing offense that was still potent when starter Sean Mannion was knocked out of the Washington State game with a torn meniscus. Backup Cody Vaz just picked up right where Mannion left off, throwing three touchdowns this week against BYU. The number that really surprised me is their rush defense, which is 4th in the nation and allowing just 70 yards a game. Should they continue at this pace, the Civil War will be for the Pac-12 North and I don’t know anyone who would have said that two months ago.

Now to point out how bad Armando and I’s powers of prognostication are, here are the conference champions as we predicted them and where our choices are half way through the season:

Conference August Prediction Current Standing
SEC LSU 2nd SEC West (2-1, 6-1)
Big Ten Michigan T-1st BIG Legends (2-0, 4-2)
Big 12 Oklahoma T-2nd (2-1, 4-1)
ACC Florida State Atlantic 2nd (3-1, 6-1)
Pac-12 USC 2nd Pac-12 South (3-1, 5-1)
Big East South Florida (Armando: Louisville) USF – T-6th (0-2, 2-4)
Louisville – T-3rd (1-0, 6-0)
Conference-USA SMU (Armando: Memphis) SMU – T-3rd CUSA West (2-4)
Memphis – T-3rd CUSA East (1-1, 1-5)
Mountain West Boise State 2nd MW (2-0, 5-1)
Mid-American Ohio 1st MAC East (3-0, 7-0)
Western Athletic Louisiana Tech 5th WAC (0-0, 5-1)
Sun Belt Florida International T-9th SBC (0-3, 1-6)

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