By this point in the season, the undefeated college football teams start to feel like the teenagers in a “Friday the 13th” movie. Gruesome deaths await. Yes, you should definitely split up and walk through the woods alone! That’s a great idea!
Johnny Football took the chainsaw to Alabama last Saturday. Louisville, which lasted longer than anyone expected, went down in a hail of knives to Syracuse. Now we’re down to four. One, we know, has already taken a fatal dose of probation. It would be simpler if one and only one of the three that remain would be kind enough to wander through that old empty house over there. But what fun is simple? Better to have the chaos of three unbeatens, or maybe to have everybody lose and see which of those one-loss zombies rise from the loam.
OK, we’ve hyperextended the metaphor. Status for next week: doubtful. Let’s get on to the True Top Ten.
1. Kansas State (10-0)
LAST WEEK: Def. TCU 23-10.
K-State has spent more time atop the TTT than any other team -- this is the fifth week overall -- so it’s good to see the BCS standings come around. There was some worry before the TCU game that star quarterback Collin Klein had a concussion, but he played and ran for both K-State touchdowns. The Wildcats don’t have to play a conference championship game because the Big 12 has just 10 teams this year. But if they run the table with their schedule -- which includes four other teams in the BCS top 25 -- that’s a résumé that no one else can top. Next up: at Baylor.
2. Oregon (10-0)
LAST WEEK: Def. California 59-17.
Oregon’s top four defensive linemen were injured going into the Cal game, and the fifth went down that night. Three freshmen, including a backup tight end, played long stretches on the D-line. This makes me wonder: Are Oregon defensive players more likely to get hurt because the offense scores so fast? Quarterback Marcus Mariota and running back Kenjon Barner also got banged up during the game, although Mariota recovered to throw for 377 yards and six TDs.
This week is dangerous ground for Oregon -- it’s like warming up for a title fight by sparring with someone almost as good as your opponent. Stanford forced USC into the slow lane back in September and beat the Trojans as convincingly as Oregon did, just in a different way. The Cardinal will test that Oregon D-line, or what’s left of it. Good thing for the Ducks that this one’s at home. Next up: Stanford.
3. Notre Dame (10-0)
LAST WEEK: Def. Boston College 21-6.
I mentioned in last week’s TTT that this home game against Wake Forest is a classic trap for the Irish before the big finale at USC. Then again, Wake lost 37-6 to N.C. State last weekend. Then again again, that makes them all the easier to overlook, no? Hang on, I’ve almost got myself convinced … Next up: Wake Forest.
4. Ohio State (10-0)
LAST WEEK: Def. Illinois 52-22.
I put it to you, Buckeye fans: If Urban Meyer loses these last two games and the Buckeyes end up 10-2, is that a successful season? Wouldn’t you have taken it in a heartbeat before the year started? How about 11-1, but the loss is to Michigan? (I was nice and didn’t ask if you’d take 1-11 if the only win were over Michigan. That’s just mean.)
From a distance, 10-2 or 11-1 for this Ohio State team is an amazing year. But it does make me wonder if it’s a little easier to win when the pressure’s off. Would this team have such a good record if the Buckeyes had a shot at the national title? That’s one of the questions we’ll have to ask in the afterlife. Along with finding out what our dogs were thinking about all this time. Next up: at Wisconsin.
5. Florida (9-1)
LAST WEEK: Def. LA-Lafayette 27-20.
6. Alabama (9-1)
LAST WEEK: Lost to Texas A&M 29-24.
7. Georgia (9-1)
LAST WEEK: Beat Auburn 38-0.
If I were ranking by who’s playing the best right now, I’d go in reverse order. We all saw what happened to Bama, and Florida had to score twice in the last 1:42 -- including a blocked-punt TD with two seconds left -- just to beat the Ragin’ Cajuns. But the Gators have played the toughest schedule of these three teams, and beat the Bama-slayers in College Station. Meanwhile, my Bulldogs have crept into the national title mix, although Georgia would have to beat Alabama in the SEC title game. Nick Saban will probably have calmed down by then, right? Next up for Florida: Jacksonville State. Next up for Alabama: Western Carolina. Next up for Georgia: Georgia Southern.
8. Florida State (9-1)
LAST WEEK: Def. Virginia Tech 28-22.
The Hokies are having a tough year, but that was the first time that anyone’s beaten them in Blacksburg this season. FSU is one point at N.C. State away from being undefeated, but to me they’re in the third tier of this year’s teams. (First tier: the four undefeateds. Second tier: the three SEC one-loss teams.) FSU has one shot to move up a level: Florida, at home, in two weeks. Next up: at Maryland.
9. LSU (8-2)
LAST WEEK: Def. Mississippi State 37-17.
10. Texas A&M (8-2)
LAST WEEK: Def. Alabama 29-24.
Texas A&M got the big win over Bama, but LSU beat the Aggies in College Station last month and forced Johnny Football into his worst game of the season (three INTs and just 27 yards rushing). Just think, we get to see Alabama-LSU, Bama-A&M and LSU-A&M every year now. The Lord blesses us with many gifts. Next up for LSU: Ole Miss. Next up for A&M: Sam Houston State.
Dropping out: Oregon State, Louisville.
Bubbling under: Oklahoma, Clemson, Stanford, South Carolina.
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