BCS Championship Crystal Balls
As we near the halfway point in the college football season (already?) and as we prepare for the release of the initial BCS standings of the season, the Bama Lighthouse staff decided to provide our readers with the teams who could play Alabama in the National Championship. I mean, Bama’s invite to the game is a foregone conclusion with the collapse of LSU, right? LSU’s woeful performance last week in their loss to Florida doesn’t bode well for their games against South Carolina and even Texas A&M. We predict that LSU will be handled easily by the Ole Ball Coach Saturday, making it virtually impossible to keep Alabama out of the SEC Championship game. Our crystal ball says that Bama will matchup against South Carolina with the victor heading to Miami.
Here are the teams, other than Alabama, and the games to keep an eye on as we enter the backstretch of the college football season (Alabama’s synopsis is at the bottom):
While most of the attention on the Oregon Quack attack has been on the dynamic running back duo of Kenjon Barner and De’Anthony Thomas, the Ducks are running on all cylinders thanks to Chip Kelly finally finding a legit quarterback in freshman Marcus Mariota. Mariota has completed 68% of his passes and has given Kelly a passing threat from the QB position, resulting in a #7 ranking in total offense (542 yards per game) and the #4 ranked scoring team with over 52 points per game. The national pundits are even saying that these little Duckers have a pretty decent defense this year, so it appears that Oregon has the offense and enough defense to be the leading contender to make it to the BCS Championship game.
Pros: Innovative and fast paced high-octane offense scoring over 52 points per game.
Cons: Typically soft defense which has yet to face a team that can challenge them.
Hurdles Remaining: At USC (11/3), Stanford (11/17), Civil War game at Oregon State (11/24) and Pac 12 Championship game – likely a rematch against USC – on 11/31.
Summary: Basically, the Ducks simply have to continue outpacing and outscoring their opponents at this ridiculous pace and they’ll be in the big game. While USC will likely have two opportunities to cook their goose, I simply don’t see how Oregon loses to anyone remaining on their schedule. Then again, USC felt pretty good about beating Stanford earlier this season so anything can happen.
Chance of BCS Natty Invite: 75%
If you like to watch a high-powered offense, look no further than the Mountaineers. Still think the Big East is a joke? Yeah, me, too. But, that just goes to show you how truly weak the Big 12 is because West Virginia is now in a position to own their new conference! With leading Heisman trophy candidate Geno Smith triggering the offense, the boys from West Virginia are downright scary. It’s not enough that Smith is an exceptional QB, no, in addition to Smith the Mountaineers boast two of the most electric wide receivers in the country in Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey. Either Austin or Bailey can turn a quick screen into a long touchdown and neither can be covered in man to man. The only way to put a muzzle on the Mountaineers rifle is to harass and sack Smith all day long. If someone can do this, then they are assured of scoring against West Virginia because their defense is pretty woeful. Remember, for all of the accolades of WVU putting up a 70 spot on Baylor, the Bears did put up 63 points of their own!
Pros: Insanely talented skill players, including the likely winner of the Heisman trophy.
Cons: An offensive line that allowed several sacks and two forced fumble against Texas and a defense that couldn’t stop a runny nose.
Hurdles Remaining: At Texas Tech (10/13), Kansas State (10/20), at Oklahoma State (11/10), Oklahoma (11/17).
Summary: The Mountaineers have a pretty difficult set of games ahead of them. The Lighthouse says there are four decent opportunities for West Virginia to trip up and this team certainly has a history of wetting the bed at inopportune times. They are a Geno Smith bad game (or injury) away from a loss – that’s a lot of pressure on him so I think, eventually, they will fall.
Chance of BCS Natty Invite: 20%
The Lighthouse staff is digging thru our archives but we simply cannot remember seeing a more dominant defensive front that the one that South Carolina boasts this season. Jadeveon Clowney is the bell cow here and he’s become the absolute freakish beast that we all thought he could be. Clowney single-handedly changes games and disrupts entire offenses and is the best defensive player in the country. Meanwhile, the Ole Ball Coach has cobbled together a decent offense that centers around the running of Marcus Lattimore and QB Connor Shaw. Shaw is the key here, as he’s a threat to run and his passing abilities continue to progress. Personally, I think Lattimore appears to be a shell of his former self but that hasn’t seemed to be a big detriment to the Gamecocks.
Pros: The beastly Jadeveon Clowney and a front four that is lethal. Connor Shaw’s dual threat capabilities and the consistent running of Lattimore. Quietly, they have a few talented receivers as well.
Cons: Shaw isn’t a pure passer and Lattimore isn’t nearly as effective as he once was.
Hurdles Remaining: At LSU (10/13), Florida (10/20), Tennessee (10/27), at Clemson (11/24), SEC Championship Game (12/1).
Summary: The three game gauntlet of Georgia, LSU and Florida is a lot to ask of any team and while USC certainly appears more than capable of winning all three games (they’ve already beaten UGA), the Gamecocks will be tested severely. If there’s a letdown after the Florida game, a desperate Tennessee team and their high octane passing game will be waiting for them. Then South Carolina would only need to beat Clemson in Death Valley and beat Alabama in Atlanta. Wow – that’s a brutal, brutal schedule.
Chance of BCS Natty Invite: 25%
Believe me, the Lighthouse feels the same way that you do about seeing the Irish appearing in this list. Listen, we don’t believe in them either but evidently the entire underground world of college football media wants you to believe the Irish are back. Notre Dame was able to eek out a victory over Michigan but only after Michigan committed six turnovers and a penalty at the goal line which gave the Irish another chance to punch in the winning TD. We are impressed with the Notre Dame defense, though, and Gene Stallings proved that’s all you need sometimes to win a few football games.
Pros: A defense and a schedule that appears harder than it really is thanks to the woeful Big 10.
Cons: They have a revolving door at QB and they’ve been wildly inconsistent on offense.
Hurdles Remaining: Stanford, at Oklahoma, at USC
Summary: Unimpressive wins over Purdue, Michigan State and Michigan have not swayed the Lighthouse staff into thinking the Irish are contenders this season. However, none of the three teams remaining on the schedule are exactly juggernauts so it’s doable for Notre Dame. I still think one or two of these teams will end up beating the Irish simply because Notre Dame is still looking for consistency on offense.
Chance of BCS Natty Invite: 5%
You can’t help but notice that the Gators are still undefeated and in contention in the SEC and, thus, they make an appearance on this list. However, the Lighthouse isn’t buying Florida – in fact, we are selling big time. The Gators have a one-dimensional offense paired with a very good (but not great) defense. Yes, Florida beat LSU but, honestly, LSU appears to be overhyped this season. Florida’s biggest challenges await down the road and they are certain in our mind to lose two of their future games.
Pros: Florida has a very good running back in Mike Gillislee and a very good defense that makes it possible for the Gators to stay in every game.
Cons: Simply put, their QB is not there yet in his development. This will be their downfall.
Hurdles Remaining: South Carolina (10/20), Georgia (10/27), at Florida State (11/24), SEC Championship Game against Alabama (12/1)
Summary: If you can score just a little bit against Florida then you can walk away with a lovely alligator purse, belt and matching shoes. I just don’t see Florida as an elite team as they are very beatable.
Chance of BCS Natty Invite: 0%
Since this is a Bama Lighthouse site, it’s incumbent upon us to promote Alabama as one half of the BCS Championship game. Given the stout defense and the offensive balance, Alabama certainly seems poised to make a third appearance in four years (marinate on that for second!) and a schedule that seemingly gets easier and easier with each passing week certainly helps. While Alabama needs to continually work on their running game and their ability to protect the quarterback, they continue to overwhelm the weaker teams appearing on their schedule. Are there teams that can beat Alabama? Sure there are. Remember Iowa State’s upset over Ok State? Remember TCU’s upset over Boise? Remember USC’s upset over Oregon? Stuff happens and, if you aren’t prepared to play each and every week, a team like Tennessee can force you to block two field goals to preserve a win.
Pros: A balanced offensive attack that can overpower a defense with the brute force of the running game or they can speed into the end zone with a variety of play making wide receivers. The Tide defense continues to be one of the best in all of college football and is next to impenetrable.
Cons: While the rushing attack is solid, it’s been stymied by the likes of Western Kentucky and Ole Miss. In addition, the Bama QB is getting sacked, putting him in peril that Bama can ill afford.
Hurdles Remaining: AJ McCarron’s health, at Tennessee (10/20), at LSU (11/3), SEC Championship Game – Lighthouse predicts South Carolina – (12/1).
Summary: As you can see, Alabama’s path to the SEC Championship is lined with roses and patsies. Tennessee’s ability to throw the ball from the pocket to their talented wide receivers certainly poses a threat to the Bama defense. If they aren’t focused, this is the type of offense that can pose some problems for the Tide’s defense. And, what was once an epic battle royale part deaux (or is it three?) against the Bengal Tigers has been reduced to just another game Alabama should dominate. The Lighthouse’s magic crystal 8 ball says that Bama is undefeated when they reach Atlanta to play South Carolina. This is a game that worries the 8 ball and, as for a prediction on the game, it simply says “Ask Again Later.” So we shall….
Chance of BCS Natty Invite: 75%