Another week down in college football and that means, of course, we have a new order in the Southern Football Report Top Four.
- Ohio State Buckeyes 7-0 (3-0)
Best Win: 34-27 at Indiana
This Week: at Rutgers
Once again the Ohio State Buckeyes took care of business but this time it was against one-loss Penn State who had upset on their mind but not in their play. The Nittany Lions took a 3-0 lead in the first quarter before the Buckeyes shot out to a 21-3 lead at halftime. Then a 3rd quarter Penn State touchdown sparked another bevy of Buckeye scores as Ohio State cruised to a 28-point victory. Ohio State has done nothing to lose their number one ranking but there are quite a few teams behind them keeping pace. The Buckeyes haven’t been overly impressive this season but is that because we expected them to be? Last season J.T. Barrett was the quarterback all season long and Ohio State looked almost unstoppable offensively. He has been coming in off of the bench so far this season and playing amazing when given the chance. So why would we expect this team, led by Cardale Jones, to be the same as that team? The lofty expectations that haven’t been met thus far are our own doing, not the team’s shortcoming. Barrett will get the start this week on the road against Rutgers. This Saturday night, we’ll see the Ohio State Buckeyes team that we expected to see in the previous seven weeks.
- Baylor Bears 6-0 (3-0)
Best Win: 63-35 v. Texas Tech (AT&T Stadium)
This Week: v. Iowa State
At some point we won’t be able to ignore what is happening in Waco, Texas, with the Baylor Bears. Not since the Run & Shoot Offense at Houston with the 1989 Heisman Trophy winner Andre Ware have we seen sustained offensive greatness like we’re seeing right now from the Baylor Bears. Coach Art Briles’ bunch is putting up video game numbers in real life. The Bears are leading the nation in offensive yards per game by almost 100 yards & are averaging an outrageous 64 points per game! With all that said, here is the scary part: they are also 2nd in the nation in rushing yards per game with almost 350 rushing yards per game. That means they can get the lead on you and run the clock out. This is a dangerous team which has a chance to be very special in 2015. It took them a couple of weeks (while still scoring 60 points per game) to get settled in but right now the Bears are rolling. There has been a wake of destruction in their path as can be seen by their OCR (Opponents Combined Record) where teams fall apart after a loss to Baylor but we have seen that a lot in the past with great teams. Unlike a lot of teams around the country Baylor has to prove themselves every week and so far they have passed with flying colors.
- Utah Utes 6-0 (3-0)
Best Win: 30-24 v. (23) California
This Week: at USC
Usually you can tell a good football team by how they perform in the 4th quarter and by that mark Utah is doing alright considering that they have outscored Power 5 opponents 37-14 in the 4th quarter. The scary part of the equation is that they Utes have yet to get back to last season’s defensive greatness. Right now Utah is giving up just under 370 yards per game on average which is worlds different than last season when they were a Top 5 defense in the nation. Credit the ground game with senior running back Devonta Booker who is averaging 130 yards per game on the ground and really taking the will out of opponents. Each week we think that the team that Utah is playing is capable of upsetting the Utes team that is in uncharted territory ranking-wise but every week when the dust settles in Rice-Eccles Stadium, Utah has come out on top by a touchdown or two. The other side of things is how well this team is coaches. The Utes are tied for 9th with a few other teams for the fewest penalties per game where Utah averages only 4 penalties per game in 2015. Many people think that Utes Head Coach Kyle Whittingham is a prime candidate for some of the significant job openings that have come available in recent weeks but after being at a school for 11 seasons and finally having a legitimate title contender, I doubt he’s entertaining any of those offers.
- Clemson Tigers 6-0 (3-0)
Best Win: 24-22 v. (6) Notre Dame
This Week: at Miami
Like a baby bird that had to get pushed out of the nest in order to learn how to fly, the Clemson Tigers offense took a few weeks to find it’s wings after the departure of offensive coordinator (and genius) Chad Morris. With an average yards per game mark a shade under 450 per game, the Tigers have found their rhythm on offense mainly because of the accelerated improvement of a brand new offensive line. Early in the season DeShawn Watson looked to be running for his life but the last few weeks, they’ve all grown to trust one another and have looked almost unstoppable at times. Just ask the Boston College Eagles, who boasted the number one defense in the land before playing the Tigers last week and allowed almost 400 yards more than their season average. With the offense coming around, that makes the Clemson defense that much more dangerous who once again, under Brent Venables, are a Top 10 defense. When you hold the Georgia Tech offense to season rushing lows as well as program rushing lows under Paul Johnson, you’re doing something right. The Clemson Tigers have everything you need for a championship equation: above average offense, star quarterback, great defense, psycho fan base & an energetic coach.
FIRST THREE OUT
LSU Tigers 6-0 (4-0)
Best Win: 35-28 v. (8) Florida
Many of us thought that the Tigers were basically the LSU Fournettes but last week’s win over the undefeated Gators showed us all that the passing game isn’t as bad as we thought and that LSU can still play defense. With that said, I still think they should be called LSU Fournettes.
TCU Horned Frogs 7-0 (4-0)
Best Win: 55-52 at Texas Tech
It’s not that the Frogs have played that bad because they haven’t. At all. It’s just that the five teams ahead of them are playing that well & doing it in more than one way. Don’t worry, November is just a few short weeks away and that is when the Big 12 is going to be must-see-tv.
Iowa Hawkeyes 7-0 (3-0)
Best Win: 40-10 v. (20) Northwestern
This is the first time that the Hawkeyes have even sniffed a chance at making the College Football Playoff but after watching them in action on Saturday, they seem to be the real deal. Starting running back Jordan Canzeri went out with a leg injury but Iowa kept on rolling. They’ll keep rolling toward Indianapolis at this pace.
OUTSIDE LOOKING IN CROWD
Stanford Cardinal 5-1 (4-0)
Best Win: 41-31 at (6) USC
Loss: 16-6 at Northwestern
If you look at how well Stanford has played since that early start in Evanston, you could argue that the Cardinal is one of the best teams in the country. Running back Christian McCaffrey has now rushed for over 100 yards in four straight games and two of those were 200-yard performances. Stanford has won every game by an average of 26 points.
Alabama Crimson Tide 5-1 (4-0)
Best Win: 41-23 at (9) Texas A&M
Loss: 37-43 v. (15) Ole Miss
Where would Alabama be if they didn’t have five turnovers against Ole Miss? In the last couple weeks Alabama has taken down two Top 10 teams on the road which is impressive in itself but when you see the final scores, those wins become even more impressive.
Notre Dame Fighting Irish 6-1
Best Win: 41-31 v. USC
Loss: 22-24 at (12) Clemson
Given all of the circumstances, the 2015 Notre Dame season has already been a success but outside of one game where they played as good of a second half as anyone, the Irish can still improve. Before the season, the second half of the season looked easy but not anymore with three of the four remaining opponents all in the Top 25.
Oklahoma Sooners 5-1 (2-1)
Best Win: 31-24-OT at (23) Tennessee
Loss: 17-24 v. Texas (Cotton Bowl)
As always, Oklahoma has stubbed its toe against a team that it had no business losing to and is now behind the eight ball in the national landscape. The Sooners are a good football team but now they have to prove it every week and they did that on Saturday in Manhattan with a 55-0 win.