College Football Playoff: Why Four Teams Aren’t Enough

No. 1 Mississippi State remains in the driver's seat to be the top-ranked team int he playoff (Photo: USA TODAY Sports )

No. 1 Mississippi State remains in the driver’s seat to be the top-ranked team int he playoff (Photo: USA TODAY Sports )



“Four teams aren’t enough.”

I said that the second I heard that a four-team playoff was introduced to College Football. I was met with the expected response that the teams would sort it out and there would only be four deserving teams at the end of the year. I laughed. We must not have been watching the same sport for the last 10 years.

And here we are.

The season is coming to a close and there is absolute chaos. Florida State has been struggling, but looks to remain undefeated and a miracle season by Duke could have them and FSU with one loss at the end of the year. Baylor and TCU both have one loss and have already played each other (plus the Big 12 has no championship game). Alabama and Mississippi State could both end the season with one loss. Ohio State or Nebraska could end the season with one loss, as well as Oregon or Arizona State. All of this is happening and there are only three weeks left.

Let’s get into why exactly more than four teams should be in the playoff.

There are five power conferences.

Power conferences are not made alike. Using the eye test alone, the pass-happy offenses of the Big 12 are much different than the rushing attack-oriented Big 10. Each conference has its own flavor, as well as its own strengths. Who is to say that Florida State wouldn’t get a loss in the Pac 12? Who’s to say that 2-loss Kansas State wouldn’t have one loss in the Big 10? We simply don’t know because the conferences don’t really play each other. If a conference is a “power conference,” its champion should be in the playoff. There should be some sort of requirement, however, to ensure that the conference champion is one of the best teams in the nation. An example could be that the champion has less than three losses or maybe it is ranked 12th or better. If a team wins a conference, it is the best team in the conference and it did enough to prove that. Let the conferences sort it out. With a six-team playoff, there is an extra spot for Notre Dame, a BCS buster, or possibly a second team from a big conference. An eight-team playoff would remove even more doubt.

The Baylor-TCU situation from this season.

This was a conundrum I saw coming from a mile away. What happens when two one-loss teams play each other and the team that won that game loses to a sorry opponent? The team that won between the two will be devalued due to a bad loss and the team that lost that tiebreaker will have a better loss (TO THE OTHER TEAM). Couple this with the team that lost the head-to-head playing better football when the playoff comes around and the problem appears. For instance, this year, Baylor and TCU both have one loss, but Baylor beat TCU 61-58 when they played. Baylor followed that win with a horrible 41-27 loss to unranked West Virginia. Because of this, TCU is ranked higher than Baylor in every national poll despite losing to Baylor. In many mock playoff selections, TCU has been popping up, but not Baylor. If both teams win out, this is going to be a a sticky situation.

The Alabama-LSU situation from 2011 or Alabama-Auburn situation from 2013

In 2011, Alabama missed four field goals during a 9-6 loss versus LSU. In 2013, A last-second Alabama field goal didn’t go far enough and was caught by Auburn’s Chris Davis, who then returned the now technical punt 100 yards for the game winning touchdown. I can’t think of two other games in College Football history than left viewers staring at the screen more unsure if the better team won the game. With a 4-team playoff, neither loser of those games should get another chance. The 2011 National Championship between two SEC teams was the most pathetic joke I’ve ever seen in sports (How can a team that couldn’t win its own half of its conference deserve to fight to be the best team in the nation over other conference champions?) However, in a 8-team playoff, it’s fair-game and that losing team would still be in. The better team lost on that given day? Prove it in the new bigger playoff.

When a conference champion loses a game because of injury but regains form come playoff time.

This is a specific example, but it is one that affects Ohio State and Arizona State, none-the-less. Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller was knocked out for the season due to injury 11 days before the season started. Freshman back-up J.T. Barrett came in and looked awful. Ohio State looked sloppy against Navy, then lost against Virginia Tech. Barrett was shaken and couldn’t do anything right. Seven games later into the season and Ohio State is unstoppable and Barrett just dismantled Michigan State, which was statistically one of the best defenses in the nation. OSU also has gained at least 49 points and 533 yards in six of its last seven games Obviously this argument only works for a conference champion, but it is obvious that this is not the same team that lost to Virginia Tech. Because the Virginia Tech loss is the worst out of all of the contenders, this four-team playoff system will leave Ohio State and all of us will miss out on a potentially great team competing for the trophy.

Arizona State also fell victim to injury and lost starting quarterback Taylor Kelley for three games. In backup QB Mike Bercovici’s first game, ASU looked awful and turned the ball over four times. UCLA throttled them 62-27 in a game that is hardly representative of the team that just beat No. 10 Notre Dame 55-31.That 35-point loss is going to keep being brought up if ASU wins the Pac 12 and analysts are looking for every reason why certain contenders shouldn’t be in the playoff. Like Ohio State, Arizona State now is not the same team that played in their lone loss.

A four-team playoff is better than the two-team National Championship of last year, but it still isn’t enough. It is better to have all of the real contenders with a couple pretenders, just like the systems of every other major sport. The current system leaves teams that have proved they’re among the nation’s best sitting at home. The sport, the teams, and the fans would all be better off with a playoff that features more than four teams. That’s my opinion.

-Marty F. Nemec

Will the Ohio State Buckeyes Go Undefeated in 2013? (PODCAST)

The Ohio State Buckeyes just came off of an undefeated season, but the stakes are much higher this time around. (Photo by: Greg Bartram/USA TODAY Sports)

The Ohio State Buckeyes just came off of an undefeated season, but the stakes are much higher this time around. (Photo by: Greg Bartram/USA TODAY Sports)

A lot of my new PR followers don’t even know I enjoy posting about sports. Here is a podcast about whether the Ohio State Buckeyes can go undefeated again in 2013:

http://martinfranknemec.podomatic.com/entry/2013-07-01T14_55_35-07_00.

If you liked the band featured in my podcast, go add them on Facebook here.

-Marty F. Nemec

BCS Rankings- Week 14(CFB)

RK TEAM RECORD
1 Notre Dame 12-0
2 Alabama 11-1
3 Georgia 11-1
4 Florida 11-1
5 Oregon 11-1
6 Kansas State 10-1
7 LSU 10-2
8 Stanford 10-2
9 Texas A&M 10-2
10 South Carolina 10-2
11 Oklahoma 9-2
12 Nebraska 10-2
13 Florida State 10-2
14 Clemson 10-2
15 Oregon State 8-3
16 UCLA 9-3
17 Kent State 11-1
18 Texas 8-3
19 Michigan 8-4
20 Boise State 9-2
21 Northern Illinois 11-1
22 Northwestern 9-3
23 Oklahoma State 7-4
24 Utah State 10-2
25 San Jose State 10-2

-Marty F. Nemec

BCS Rankings- Week 12(CFB)

RK TEAM RECORD PTS
1 Oregon (45) 10-0 1485
2 Kansas State (14) 10-0 1451
3 Notre Dame (1) 10-0 1382
4 Alabama 9-1 1259
5 Georgia 9-1 1223
6 Ohio State 10-0 1212
7 Florida 9-1 1089
8 LSU 8-2 1046
9 Texas A&M 8-2 1031
10 Florida State 9-1 1024
11 Clemson 9-1 907
12 South Carolina 8-2 848
13 Oklahoma 7-2 798
14 Stanford 8-2 766
15 Oregon State 7-2 556
16 Nebraska 8-2 549
17 UCLA 8-2 541
18 Texas 8-2 496
19 Louisiana Tech 9-1 374
20 Louisville 9-1 322
21 USC 7-3 297
22 Rutgers 8-1 179
23 Michigan 7-3 135
23 Texas Tech 7-3 135
25 Kent State 9-1 93

-Marty F. Nemec

What We Learned This Weekend in College Football 11/06 by Your Sports Connection | Blog Talk Radio

This was my first online radio show ever and I was joined by my friend, Daniel Brandon. Just skip to 1:30 because we messed up the beginning. We worked hard on it!

What We Learned This Weekend in College Football 11/06 by Your Sports Connection | Blog Talk Radio.

-Marty F. Nemec

Game of the Week- Week 6(CFB)(Poll)

#5 Georgia(5-0) vs. #6 South Carolina (5-0)

After a lackluster week five, week six brings three matchups that feature top-11 teams. (11)Texas vs. (8)West Virginia and (4)LSU vs. (10)Florida were deserving, and no game is bigger than Georgia vs. South Carolina.

This game is very close on paper, matching a great offense against a great defense. Both teams have had games that were closer than expected and only one ranking separates the two teams in the AP poll. This will be a pivotal match-up between the two SEC East powers that were expected to compete for the division(although Florida has unexpectedly asserted itself as a third contender). The winner of this game will be on the fast-track to the SEC championship, especially if it is Georgia because it doesn’t have to play LSU, Alabama, Mississippi State, or Texas A&M from the SEC West. South Carolina will have to face LSU. Both teams will play Florida down the road.

Georgia comes into this game ranked fifth in the nation with an offense ranked eighth, racking up 40.2 points and 536 yards per game. That offense is led by the unbelievable freshman running back tandem of Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall. Gurley and Marshall together have combined for 14 touchdowns and 964 yards. Both of these youngsters are averaging 7.9 yards per carry or better and they have really turned into something the Bulldogs can rely on. Not to be outdone, Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray is sitting sixth on ESPN’s Heisman Watch. He has completed 68.2 percent of his passes and has thrown his way to 1370 yards and 12 touchdowns, with only 3 interceptions. The defense hasn’t been good by any means, but it is holding teams to an average of 22 points per game, which is low enough for the Bulldog offense to outscore.

South Carolina boasts one of the best defenses in college football. The Gamecock defense ranks sixth in the league in scoring defense. Not only has the defense been capable of holding opponents to an average of 11.2 points per game, it also ranks second in sacks and has accumulated 22 sacks in five games(that’s 4.4 sacks per game)! If that stat doesn’t show South Carolina’s ability to run through offensive lines, maybe their ninth-place ranking in total tackles for loss(8.4 per game) will do the trick. South Carolina also has the seventh-best rush defense in the league, allowing 77.6 rushing yards per game. That rush defense will be necessary in slowing down Georgia’s talented running backs. The South Carolina offense is much weaker than Georgia’s but is also led by a productive running game. Marcus Lattimore has rushed for 440 yards and 8 touchdowns, which isn’t too impressive compared to what he is capable of, but is still respectable. Lattimore is also a big back who is capable of grinding out yards on short yardage plays and has proven his ability to do that year after year. Quarterback Connor Shaw has been hindered by injuries so far and started the year only passing for 174 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions in the first two games. Shaw returned to full health and in the last two games, he has passed for 397 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions. Against Missouri, he even posted a 95.2 completion percentage. He has added 203 rushing yards as well, but no rushing touchdowns. Shaw’s passing ability isn’t near some of the other quarterbacks on top-10 teams, but he can pass well when he has to, especially when his running is effective and teams have to keep a spy on him.

Marty’s pick

The betters in Vegas have South Carolina winning by 1.5 points. I’m stuck in the middle and think both teams have a legitimate chance of winning.

Georgia’s defense is a huge liability for the team. It has only held one team under 20 points and that was a Vanderbilt team whose only win is over Prebyterian, an FCS school. South Carolina will likely find success early in its running game and will score a good amount of points. Georgia’s shootout with Tennessee was embarrassing when Florida beat them by 17 points earlier in the season. Georgia also had three freebie touchdowns in that game coming in the form of 50-plus yard rushing touchdowns and would have probably lost without them. South Carolina won’t give up plays like that, certainly not three of them. Georgia has had 43 plays over 20 yards and 22 plays over 30 yards, so they live off of big plays. This is exciting to watch and it means they can score a touchdown on any play, but it also isn’t a good style to play in when you’re going against a disciplined defense.

South Carolina’s offense is just as suspect as Georgia’s defense. The Gamecock offense hasn’t played against a defense ranked in the top-45 and still found a way to be held to 17 points against one of them(Vanderbilt). If anyone remembers that game, South Carolina was given the win on a horribly missed pass interference call at the end of the game on Vanderbilt’s final drive. It is true that Shaw was injured for part of that game, but a team that lost 48-3 to Georgia shouldn’t have challenged South Carolina until the end of the game. Inconsistent quarterback play has been South Carolina’s problem for the last couple years and I honestly am not ready to throw confetti in the air and proclaim Shaw has found the secret to being an elite quarterback. The revered South Carolina defense has only played one offense ranked in the top-95 in terms of scoring offense(Missouri). The only team South Carolina has played with a passing offense or rushing offense ranked in the top-50 is UAB, who ranks 28th in passing yards per game. South Carolina has built amazing defensive stats against some very sorry offenses.

Once again, this decision is very hard for me. South Carolina has not been tested and it’s impossible to tell just how good its defense is. The Gamecock offense also hasn’t proven to me that it can compete against an elite offense like Georgia’s. However, the truth of the matter is that South Carolina plays disciplined defense and is very good at pressuring opposing teams’ quarterbacks. If South Carolina’s defense is anywhere neat as good as its stats suggest, this could be a very long day for Aaron Murray.

Georgia lives life on the edge with its high scoring offense and sleepwalking defense, but I like Murray’s chances in figuring out South Carolina’s defense compared to Shaw not beating himself with bad decisions. Lattimore is off a step or two this season and Shaw will have to make very important passes through the course of the game. I think the game will come down to a touchdown or less and these teams’ strengths and weaknesses really do cancel each other out on paper. Georgia knows it has only one more tough game after this one to get to the SEC Championship and coach Mark Richt’s behind has been roasting on the “hot seat” for far too long to give up this potential 11 or 12 win season.

WINNER:



Agree? Disagree? Have your own prediction? Let me know in the comments.

GOTW record: 4-1

-Marty F. Nemec

Some Things We Learned- Week 5(CFB)(POLL)

1. The SEC’s giant group of undefeated teams in the top-ten may not be as good as advertised.

On the first glance, it appears the SEC has already dominated the college football world again because they have five teams in the AP poll’s top-ten. However, this simple glance doesn’t show the struggles these teams have gone through. The SEC is the best conference so far(big surprise, right?), but the conference is not as head and shoulders above everyone else as the rankings make it appear to be.

Alabama has earned their place at the top of the country and the conference. Although Ole Miss gave them a better run than most people expected, it can be excused. However, the top-ten ranked win against Michigan has lost almost all of it’s value, as Big Blue has spiraled downward. Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson has already thrown eight interceptions and has looked as bad at passing as he ever has. With Arkansas plummeting into oblivion, Bama’s schedule really doesn’t feature many tough games. It’s weird to say, but Alabama’s schedule appears to be one of the easiest schedules of any top-ten team, including the other SEC teams. Despite all of this, Alabama deserves their spot as the top team. I won’t argue against them.

The fourth-ranked LSU Tigers have been a hot mess, as I’ve pointed out before on this column. The lucky winner of the “What terrible team will challenge LSU this weekend?” for week five was Towson, an FCS school that lost to Kent State 41-21 earlier in the season. If Kent State sounds familiar to any SEC fans, that’s because lowly Kentucky steamrolled them 47-14. Kentucky followed that big win with an overtime loss to the Sun Belt conference’s Western Kentucky, then a 38-0 shutout loss to the Florida Gators. Towson was beating LSU with five minutes left in the second quarter before LSU remembered it was supposedly the third-best team in the nation. The LSU offense has been very inconsistent and it can’t seem to find a sustainable way to produce yards and points. Les Miles is a great coach and there is a good chance LSU will fix its problems by the end of the year. The only problem is that LSU plays 10th-ranked Florida this weekend and an upset loss is very possible.

Georgia, the fifth-ranked team in the country, has showed an alarming lack of defense up to this point in the season. Tennessee, a team Florida beat 37-20, gave Georgia all it could chew in a 51-44 shootout. Also, the 1-4 Florida Atlantic Owls scored 20 points against Georgia. FAU had only mustered 17 points against their four other opponents which include Middle Tennessee, North Texas, and FCS team Wagner. The defense started the season injured and doesn’t appear to be getting better. However, the Georgia offense looks phenomenal, especially the rushing attack. Running backs Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall, both freshman, are averaging 7.9 yards per carry or better. They have a combined 14 rushing touchdowns. In the Tennessee game, Marshall ran for two 70-plus yard touchdowns and Gurley added a 51-yard touchdown of his own. With the success of the running game, don’t sleep on Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray. He has passed for 1,370 yards, 12 touchdowns and only 3 interceptions. Factor in the 68.2 completion percentage and this an offense that can score. With this kind of team, being upset any week is a real possibility, and Georgia will have to grow up quickly on defense in time for this weekend’s showdown with sixth-ranked South Carolina.

Sixth-ranked South Carolina has been troubled at the quarterback position, which is a familiar sight, but has been instilling its authority with a strong rushing attack led by Marcus Lattimore and a smothering defense. Lattimore’s numbers are a bit lower than expected(nowhere near Heisman consideration) but he still has the ability to muscle his way through short yardage situations. He is averaging 4.8 yards per carry and has rushed for 440 yards and eight touchdowns. The defense is the gem of the team and is ranked sixth in the country, allowing only 11.2 points per game. Injuries have forced South Carolina to play both Connor Shaw and Dylan Thompson at the quarterback position. The result is both having five touchdowns and 500-plus yards each. Shaw, the starter, has worse stats with five touchdowns and two interceptions, but in his defense, Thompson racked 507 of his 510 yards and all five touchdowns(no interceptions) against cupcakes East Carolina and UAB. I question the offense’s ability to outscore elite teams and South Carolina will get its chance to prove me wrong when it plays fifth-ranked Georgia this weekend.

Last on the list is 10th-ranked Florida. I have nothing bad to say about the Gators. Not only have they completely earned their ranking, but no one in the country expected them to reach the top-ten after last season. Florida coach Will Muschamp has made an amazing turnaround and has seemingly fixed the quarterback situation that plagued the blue and orange residents of the Swamp for all of last season. Florida quarterback Jeff Driskel has done enough on offense, passing for 698 yards, four touchdowns and one interception. Running back Mike Gillislee has averaged 5.5 yards per carry and has rushed his way to 402 yards and five touchdowns. It is very possible that Gillislee would still lead the SEC in rushing yards had Florida not already taken a bye-week.

Although, it isn’t in the top-ten, I’d like to congratulate Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen for having his squad undefeated and ranked 20th after five weeks of football. With favorable games against Kentucky, Tennessee and Middle Tennessee, Mississippi State could potentially be 7-0 when they face Alabama on Oct. 27. No one expected a good season out of the Bulldogs at the beginning of this season.

2. Ohio State might be the front-runner of the Big Ten.

Ohio State held a 4-0 record at the start of the weekend and was the highest-ranked team in the Big Ten conference, yet there was plenty of reasons for doubt. The Buckeyes hadn’t played a great defense or a ranked team. Their defense looked lacking and had been burned by almost every running back it had faced. People questioned its ability to stop an elite running back. The offense had been inconsistent and struggled to move the ball for portions of games, even against California and UCF. Everyone recognized that Ohio State was getting better each week, but many didn’t think they’d get good enough to compete with the “big boys” of the Big Ten conference. Ohio State is far from the Buckeyes team during the 2000’s that dominated the conference and played in a BCS bowl almost every year.

Then came a 17-16 win over the 20th-ranked Michigan State Spartans. Michigan State had allowed 11 points per game and had a running back who ranked second in the country in total rushing yards. It was the ultimate test for this erratic team and it was a test the bettors in Vegas didn’t think they would pass. Ohio State traded their high scoring, little defending style for a physical, defense-oriented style and ground out a close win. Now, they are ranked 12th in the nation.

With 21st ranked Nebraska and Wisconsin already losing against unranked teams, Ohio State appears to be in the driver’s seat. Nebraska defeated Wisconsin by coming back from 17 points down in a thriller of a game. Nebraska faces Ohio State next and the winner of that game will most likely be the best team in the Big Ten. Ohio State is ineligible to play for the Big Ten Championship, but the rest of the conference will know, despite who holds the trophy, that Ohio State is the real champion if they beat Nebraska and continue that success to the end of the season. The 24th ranked Northwestern(5-0) and Purdue(4-1) are surprise teams that could potentially get their hands in the Big Ten title race, so keep an eye on them.

3. Offense owns college football at this point of the season.

Last year, it appeared the offensive teams were in short supply. Outside of Oklahoma State, Oregon, Arkansas, and Michigan, there weren’t many all-offense teams ranked highly. This year, only six of the top-15 teams in the AP poll are ranked in the top-20 in scoring defense. Six of those remaining nine teams aren’t even in the top-30! To put it in perspective, the average scoring defense ranking of the top-15 teams is 29th. If you’re wondering how it got so bad, you can thank West Virginia(96th) and Clemson(67th) for dropping the ball(duh-duh-ksss!) defensively. This year definitely looks primed to give the viewers some amazing shootouts and probably produce more NFL quarterback prospects than last year. The Heisman race will be very fun to watch. Geno Smith is running at a full sprint towards it right now, but there are some great quarterbacks and offensive schemes that could put them in a position to catch him.



Agree? Disagree? Do you have another “Thing We Learned?” Let me know in the comments!

-Marty F. Nemec

Game of the Week- Week 2(CFB)(Poll)

#24 Florida(1-0) vs. Texas A&M(0-0)

The selection of games this weekend is a little weak as it has no ranked match-ups. I had trouble deciding between Georgia-Missouri and Florida-Texas A&M, and I eventually went with the latter.

Florida didn’t look very good in their opener, but there were things that were promising. Florida quarterback Jeff Driskel completed 10 of 16 passes for 114 yards and had a very important fourth-quarter 50 yard touchdown. Mike Gillislee averaged 6.2 yards per carry on his way to 148 yards and two touchdowns. The offense clicked in the second half, but had a good amount of trouble waking up in the first half. One can assume Florida will not have that problem in this game. Another liability for Florida suprisingly is their defense. The 27-14 score does not show the two missed field goals by the Bowling Green Falcons. Another missed fact may be that Bowling Green only had 38 less yards than Florida(365-327). Florida’s defense did clamp down near the red zone and that is a quality that will help the Gators immensely. Another great help to Florida will be coach Will Muschamp’s former job as defensive coordinator of the Texas Longhorns. Texas A&M runs an “air raid” offense which very strongly stresses passing plays and that is alien to the SEC conference, but Muschamp had to defend against the “air raid” offenses of the Big-12 conference every week. He should know how to coach the Florida defense to limit big plays and keep the Aggies’ passing attack under control.

Texas A&M was not able to play its opening game due to bad weather. The Aggies will be starting Johnny Manziel, a freshman quarterback, and he hasn’t had even a second of playing time. Another interesting fact is that Manziel will be the first freshman quarterback to start a season opener at Texas A&M in 68 years. Luckily for the Aggies, this game will be played at their stadium in College Station, Texas. Florida won’t be intimidated much, though, so don’t count on that being a game-changer. Texas A&M does have other intangibles on their side. The biggest of those is probably the fact that it wants to prove it is a team that belongs in the SEC. The media has talked extensively about Missouri and Texas A&M not belonging in the conference and both schools will be determined to prove the world wrong on that matter. Texas A&M did lose Cyrus Gray, a 1000+ yard rusher, but it still has Christine Michael. Michael looks like he could be as good or better than Gray, so maybe the Aggies will be fine in the rushing department.

This has the makings of a good game. Texas A&M is known for having a high scoring offense every year and although Florida’s offense finished last year ranked 105th in the FBS, Florida is a proud team that responds well to pressure. Florida also has a great deal of talent that Muschamp can work with. It should be a great, entertaining game.

Marty’s pick

I respect Texas A&M but former starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill(drafted in the first round by the Miami Dolphins) is a tough act to follow for Manziel. Texas A&M will suffer greatly from not having a warm-up game and they will be severely punished for any mishaps on offense. I feel that this game will be close and could be a high-scoring affair. I have to give the edge to the Gators in a game that both teams will fight their hearts out to win.

WINNER:



Agree? Disagree? Have your own prediction? Let me know in the comments.

GOTW record: 1-0

-Marty F. Nemec

Some Things We Learned- Week 1(CFB)

1. Alabama is still a national title contender.

Believe it or not, this team only had 10 returning starters from last year. Despite that, Alabama forced three turnovers and held Michigan’s high-powered offense to 269 yards. Michigan was playing without its starting RB, but the fact that Alabama held Michigan to 69 rushing yards is very impressive. On offense, Bama picked up where they left off. A.J. McCarron threw for 199 yards, two TDs and no INTS. Even though Trent Richardson left for the NFL over the summer, the running game is still clicking too. T.J. Yeldon ran for 111 yards on 11 carries and Jalston Fowler added 67 yards on eight carries. Alabama is definitely still in the mix for the National Championship.

2. Oklahoma’s offense isn’t what was advertised.

Oklahoma came into this season ranked in the top-5 and had a QB who was considered a Heisman contender. Everyone was expecting a blowout when Oklahoma went against UTEP, a small school few people have heard of. Did you know UTEP stood for the University of Texas El Paso? I will further prove my point by stating that the bettors in Vegas had Oklahoma winning by 30 points. Instead, Oklahoma found itself only up 10-7 at the start of the fourth quarter and had to score twice to put the game away 24-7. Last year, Oklahoma’s conference rivals couldn’t hold it under 30 points, especially not a Conference-USA team that went 5-7 last year. Oklahoma was only held to 24 points or lower twice in 2011 and it happened against teams ranked in the top-5 both times.

That being said, QB Landry Jones didn’t have a terrible game. He threw for 222 yards, two TDs and no INTs. Oklahoma RB Damien Williams ran for 104 yards on nine carries. The offense seemed to have trouble waking up and was actually efficient in the 4th quarter. Oklahoma will have a chance to redeem itself when it plays FCS foe Florida A&M this weekend.

3. Florida State’s schedule is the weakest of all of the contenders.

At the beginning of the year, FSU only had three ranked teams on its schedule, which wouldn’t have been so bad if any of them were ranked in the top-10. FSU needs Virginia Tech and Florida to play very well and maintain a high ranking until FSU plays them. Clemson looks very good and is already ranked twelfth in the nation. Clemson could be in the top-10 by the time it plays FSU, which is in three weeks. Unfortunately for FSU, it is the other two ranked teams that don’t look so good.

Florida is not expected to do well and it plays in the SEC, which is always a tough conference. Florida won’t play FSU until the last game of the season and it isn’t crazy to believe that Florida may not be ranked by then, especially with the inconsistency of the offense in its 27-14 victory over Bowling Green. Virginia Tech also leaves question marks, because it plays Clemson before FSU. Clemson is clearly better than Virginia Tech and that loss could leave VT unranked when they face FSU. This point is exemplified further by VT needing to go to overtime to beat an unranked Georgia Tech squad 20-17 in its first game. Florida State can control its own destiny if it wins out, though.

4. West Virginia and Oregon need to play better defense if they want a National Championship.

BCS bowls can be won with just offense, but it is very rare for a national title to be won without a good defense. Oregon and West Virginia are both teams respected annually for their amazing offenses but plagued by defenses that give up yards and points. West Virginia had the entire nation in awe after scoring 64 points against Marshall, but everyone seemed to miss the fact that Marshall scored 34 points and racked up 545 yards. If Marshall can do that to West Virginia, what could Alabama or USC do?

Oregon’s defense was equally as bad in letting Arkansas State, a Sun Belt conference school, score 34 points and gain 530 yards. People will try to point to the fact that Oregon was winning 50-10 at halftime and say they relaxed and put in their second-string defenders, but that doesn’t change anything. Oregon’s second string should be able to hold a weak team like Arkansas State to less points than that. Those players will be replacing the starters when they get tired or injured. Oregon should be deeper in defensive talent. West Virginia and Oregon will both have to get much better at defense to make a real run for the national title.

Agree? Disagree? Let me know in the comments.

-Marty F. Nemec