Let’s just say it: This might be the best college football season of all time. Any of the teams in this week’s True Top Ten could beat any of the others, and it wouldn’t be a big upset. A four-team playoff this year would be fantastic, and an eight-team playoff would be INCREDIBLE. Even the teams I’d put 9 through 11 (South Carolina, Stanford, Texas A&M) have all beaten a team above them. I can’t remember another season with such balance at the top.
If Alabama beats Notre Dame 42-6 for the national title, I take that first paragraph back. But I don’t think I’ll have to.
This season, everybody’s a winner in the True Top Ten.
1. Notre Dame (12-0)
LAST WEEK: Def. USC 22-13.
Blame it on Lane Kiffin if you want -- I’m certainly not against Kiffin-blaming on general principle. But even though I was rooting for USC to score there at the end on Saturday, because I always root for ANARCHY!, I thought the Notre Dame defense would hold up. Even before that goal-line stand, the Irish had allowed just one TD on 18 goal-to-go runs this season. Throw in Kiffinomics (time management + playcalling = disaster), and I’m surprised Notre Dame didn’t score. Obviously, the Irish are beatable. Everybody is beatable this year. But nobody’s going to rout this team. Next up: National championship game (Jan. 7).
2. Ohio State (12-0)
LAST WEEK: Def. Michigan 26-21.
I’m sure the fans in Columbus will be reasonable and tempered in their expectations for the Buckeyes next year. After all, Ohio State only had a perfect season, and whipped both teams playing in the Big Ten championship game, and shut up hated Michigan. Next year, Ohio State will go 27-0, and you might think football teams don’t play that many games, but Urban Meyer finds ways to DO THE IMPOSSIBLE. No pressure, guys. Next up: Season over.
3. Florida (11-1)
LAST WEEK: Def. Florida State 37-26.
NOW I hear all the talking heads saying Florida has the best resume in the country. Well, guys, somebody was saying that weeks ago. Florida has wins against the teams ranked 7, 9, 10 and 13 (LSU, Texas A&M, South Carolina, FSU) in this week’s BCS standings. Only one other team (LSU) has beaten even two of the top 13. And the Gators’ only loss is to No. 3 (Georgia). To me, they’re Notre Dame South: Decent, mobile QB, solid running game, brick-wall defense. I guess that means Notre Dame is actually Florida North. Except probably not as good. Next up: Bowl game (probably Sugar).
4. Alabama (11-1)
LAST WEEK: Def. Auburn 49-0.
5. Georgia (11-1)
LAST WEEK: Def. Georgia Tech 42-10.
People are still so invested in Alabama being the best team in the country that they’re already talking about how Bama will crush Notre Dame – it’s as if the Georgia game is not even worth the breath. I understand that, given how the Tide has played these last four years. All I’ll say (and feel free to take my bias into account) is this: Alabama has two clear advantages over Georgia -- offensive line, and coach. I think Georgia is more talented everywhere else on the field. As we Georgia fans know from deep, painful experience, talent does not equal championships. But if the Dawgs manage to hit the high notes … Next up for both: SEC Championship Game (Atlanta).
6. Oregon (11-1)
LAST WEEK: Def. Oregon State 48-24.
7. Kansas State (10-1)
LAST WEEK: Idle.
One of the benefits of having so many good teams this year is great matchups trickling down through the bowl games. ESPN’s bowl projections show Oregon vs. Kansas State in the Fiesta Bowl. Just a couple weeks ago, a lot of us thought that would be the national championship game. It still feels like a fun clash of styles, although after Kansas State gave up 52 to Baylor, the thought of what Oregon might do to the K-State defense is terrifying. Next up for Oregon: Bowl game. Next up for Kansas State: Texas.
8. LSU (10-2)
LAST WEEK: Def. Arkansas 20-13.
How tough is the SEC? LSU’s only losses are to the No. 2 and No. 4 teams in the BCS … and I’m pretty sure Tiger fans don’t consider this a successful season. (I know for a fact Bobby Hebert doesn’t.) If LSU had anything at quarterback these last few years, Les Miles might have four national titles and would be running for president. Of the universe. Next up: Bowl game.
9. South Carolina (10-2)
LAST WEEK: Def. Clemson 27-17.
ACC, we should talk. Your best team (Florida State) lost to Florida at home. Your second-best team (Clemson) lost to South Carolina at home. You don’t have a third-best team. Georgia Tech, which is 6-6 and just got crushed at Georgia, still made it to the ACC championship game. I’m guessing good seats are available. None of this has much to do with South Carolina football (except the Clemson part), but I’m pretty sure Steve Spurrier would say it if he were sitting here. Being that it’s not a game day, I’m pretty sure Steve Spurrier is playing golf. Next up: Bowl game.
10. Stanford (10-2)
LAST WEEK: Def. UCLA 35-17.
What’s the biggest single play in college football this season? It has to be Stepfan Taylor’s (non-)touchdown in OT at Notre Dame. If he had been ruled in, and Stanford had gone on to win, we might have SEVEN one-loss teams (Notre Dame, Stanford, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, K-State, Oregon) with some claim on the national title game. Looking back at those Notre Dame-Stanford highlights … wow, does that Stanford defense hit hard. It’s right there with Notre Dame and Florida. Next up: UCLA in Pac-12 Championship Game (Fri.)
P.S.: By the way, if we had an eight-team playoff that started this weekend, the first round would include rematches of Notre Dame-Stanford AND Alabama-LSU. Plus Georgia-Kansas State and Florida-Oregon. I’m glad the BCS has protected us from such things. But really, it’s crazy to complain. What a season. Roger Ebert gives it a million billion stars.
Dropping out: Florida State.
Bubbling under: Texas A&M (best No. 11 team ever).
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Questions? Comments? Challenges? Taunts? You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @tommytomlinson. I don’t have a Heisman ballot, but if I did: 1. Manti Te’o; 2. Johnny Manziel; 3. Braxton Miller. If the award was for Most Entertaining Player: Johnny Football, in a landslide.