Seven weeks of upsets, domination and struggle have already come and gone in the world of college football. With the midway point to the season now upon us, legitimate BCS talk begins. The first BCS rankings released Sunday put Alabama, Florida, Oregon, Kansas St. and Notre Dame at the top. Each team owns a perfect 6-0 record, but with six more games to be played, will all, or any, remain in the top 5?
The No. 1 Crimson Tide show no real weaknesses, but their competition will drastically improve in the second half of the season. The toughest game left on their schedule will be the much-anticipated SEC West rivalry against LSU on Nov. 3. Although suffering a loss to Florida in Week 6, the No. 6 Tigers turned things around quickly, proving they are still a huge threat with a key win over South Carolina Saturday.
Also left on the docket is undefeated No. 12 Mississippi State and No. 18 Texas A&M. While Alabama has not played a ranked team since then-No. 8 Michigan in Week 1, it seems unlikely Alabama will succumb to any of these upcoming threats. Their defense, ranked top in the nation averaging just 7.5 points allowed per game, is supported by Heisman hopeful AJ McCarron, their quarterback who has led the offense to average just over 40 points per game.
Alabama looks like it will march its way to another national championship game. Rated No.1 since Week 2 and with a favorable schedule, there shouldn’t be much change at the top spot in the polls.
Alongside Alabama, the No. 5 Fighting Irish could very well make it to 12-0. While they have a tough schedule still ahead, Notre Dame has proven this season they can take on, and defeat, quality teams. So far they have downed Michigan, Michigan State and, most recently, Stanford.
Linebacker Manti Te’o is undoubtedly one of the best defensive players in the nation right now. Recording 11 tackles against Stanford, what perhaps is most impressive about Te’o is that 11 tackles is right around his average each game. In six games he has made 57 tackles, averaging 9.5 a game.
Notre Dame will play No. 9 Oklahoma in two weeks and then No. 10 USC to end the season, both games on the road. For both opponents, offense is their strength, but Te’o and the Fighting Irish defense average the second fewest points allowed per game with 8.7. If the Irish offense can post several scores, they have a good chance at beating Oklahoma.
USC is going to be the biggest challenge. Having their hopes at a perfect season and a spot in the national championship game ruined in Week 2, the Trojans now play a spoiler role this second half of the season as they fight for a BCS bowl game spot. Notre Dame’s fate will likely come down to this final game.
USC also has the potential to devastate their Pac-12 rival, No. 3 Oregon. The Ducks have remained in the top 5 this first part of the season, but have yet to face any real challenges. Their explosive offense led by running back De’Anthony Thomas has picked apart every defensive opponent, scoring 42 points or more in all six games.
Three conference games against ranked teams like USC, No. 20 Stanford and No. 8 Oregon State will finally test the Ducks. USC and Stanford have each suffered a loss already this season and both do not want to make it two.
Oregon’s defense is nothing special. While they shut out Arizona, they have given up an average of 24 points in the other five games against teams that are not near the caliber of these three upcoming opponents.
With an even tougher schedule ahead of them, No. 2 Florida will also have to fight hard in order to keep its top five status as well. After beating LSU without even allowing the Tigers a touchdown, Florida earned its spot in the top five. But No. 2? That could be a stretch. The Gators barely escaped Texas A&M back in Week 2 and even against LSU they were unable to put a score on the board until the second half.
With No. 7 South Carolina and No. 11 Georgia back-to-back in the next two weeks, I don’t see Florida making it out untouched. Quarterback Jeff Driskel showed his ability to run on Saturday, rushing for 177 yards against Vanderbilt for three touchdowns. However, a much tougher South Carolina defense awaits the Gators in the near future. And even if they do push through to 8-0, a trip to Tallahassee to face Florida State to end the season could also spell out a loss.
Finally, there is the case of the No. 4 Kansas State Wildcats, who have taken the Big 12 by storm this year. They will travel to play No. 13 West Virginia Saturday, with Mountaineer quarterback Geno Smith looking to regain his prominence in the Heisman race.
However, West Virginia’s defense is ranked an abysmal 112th in the nation in points against, and Wildcats’ quarterback Collin Klein will exploit this. If Kansas State can get to 7-0, they still face several strong Big 12 opponents. It’s going to be a tough road for the Wildcats in conference play.
So who is going to join the top five then? If South Carolina can get by Florida, the rest of their schedule poses no serious threats. They remain the team to beat in the SEC East.
Whatever the case is, it’s still evident there is plenty of football to play and the rankings at the top will always change. But that’s the fun of the game.
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