Posted by Walter
Walter – During last Saturday’s big game in Lincoln, I wasn’t so much enamored with USC as I was disappointed with Nebraska. The Cornhuskers were given a chance to reassert themselves in the big time. To bring back the glory days. And what did they do? They laid down and rolled over….which is exactly what the Trojans did to them. USC was dominant from the first whistle, which is pretty amazing considering their passing game still isn’t clicking on at least 2 cylinders. But this team has lived up to its hype all year. They are talented enough to dominate even on an off day, and even though he has struggled by his standards I still get the feeling John David Booty is capable of winning games for this team all by himself.
Frazier - This USC team is frightening. They haven't looked great yet, or even terribly good, and they absolutely destroyed Nebraska in Lincoln. Their defense has the chance to be absolutely dominant, and their passing game has yet to establish itself. The scariest part about USC is that while we know their passing game will be excellent, they finally found a running back. Johnson was excellent last week, and he may emerge from the great muddle. If a running back can step in and lay claim to the job, then there could be no stopping the Trojans. This is a classic Pete Carroll team, they don't always play up to their potential, but they ALWAYS have the most talent on the field.
Walter – So LSU dominated Middle Tennessee State this past weekend. So what? Well, normally it wouldn’t be impressive. But let’s not forget that this is the same Middle TN St. team that put up 40 points and 500 yards on Louisville….AT Louisville. Now nobody is going to mistake the Cardinals as the second coming of the ’85 Bears, but they are a legit top 25 team and Middle TN shredded them. So why am I telling you this? Well, mostly because when they came down to Baton Rouge, all LSU did was shut them out and keep them under 100 total yards of offense. While the Louisville defense is scary bad, this LSU defense is scary good. They’ve given up 7 points all season, and VTech (a top 5 team at the time) needed a shaky pass interference call to put up those points.
Frazier - It's almost a toss-up between LSU and USC for the top spot. Both teams are scary good. Both teams have excellent defenses. Both are going to be very, very difficult to beat this year. USC gets the edge because there is a sense that they have an extra gear that no one else is capable of attaining. However, LSU has looked more consistently excellent, and there is no reason to believe their defense will ever have a bad day. Its' simply too good.
Walter – Here’s the real question, just how good are these Sooners? I mean, we know they can play, but do they deserve to be considered in the same breath as LSU and USC? I say yes. Oklahoma is the one team in the country who has an offensive line good enough to stand toe to toe with the Trojan and Tiger front 7. Frankly, no other OL in the country is even close…….not even the units that practice against those defensive fronts all week. The 2007 Sooners are a perfect example of just how important offensive line play can be. Think about it. In the past 14 months the Sooners have lost arguably the greatest offensive player in the history of their school (Adrian Peterson), their 5 star recruit quarterback of the future (Rhett Bomar), and their blood and guts senior fill in who was the most underappreciated player in the nation (Paul Thompson). No players, no problem. Enter redshirt Freshman Sam Bradford and a stable of running backs nobody outside of Norman has ever heard of and what do you get? Three dominant wins and a #3 ranking. The only constant has been that offensive line, who just dominate from whistle to whistle.
Frazier - Oklahoma absolutely housed a Miami team that destroyed Texas A&M. So what do we learn from this transitive property? Well, we learned that Oklahoma is a hell of a lot better than most of their Big 12 competition. The big contest will be against a Texas team that has completely underachieved so far this year. Stoops is bound to have a good defense, and a tough, tenacious offensive line has given his new quarterback and some less experienced running backs an opportunity to shine. No one has been more impressive through the first few weeks of the season.
Walter – Look, I am as stubborn as they come (see Oregon last year). Sometimes it pays off (see Oregon last year), and sometimes it don’t. I think this might be one of those times it don’t. I vastly underestimated this Florida team and they’ve made me pay. Three games, three dominating performances on both sides of the ball. Now, the fact that Tim Tebow and the offense is clicking is not a huge shock. They’ve played some weak defenses, and all three games have been in the comfy confines of the Swamp. But what has really been impressive is the play of a defense that is replacing a boatload of starters. Will Florida be able to keep up this frenetic pace when they take their show on the road? Maybe, maybe not. But for right now there is no doubt that they belong in the same breath as the three teams above them.
Frazier - Well, Florida is back. I didn't think they could reload defensively. They seem to have. People kept saying that Tebow was a perfect fit for Meyer's offense. Well, so far it looks true. Tebow is one of the most hyped players I can remember, and he has absolutely delivered. They have put themselves in the conversation for who's the nations best. The proving ground will be in Baton Rouge. A win against LSU? Well, then the champs return to the top of the heap. Maybe the big man should read some old posts, when he predicted that Florida would be the nations best THIS year, not last year. Even when he's right, he's wrong.
5) West Virginia
Walter – Speaking of teams we don’t really know about, how can we even begin to evaluate the Mountaineers this season? The offense has been good, not great, but has appeared unfocused at times. The defense has shown flashes of adequacy (see 2nd half at Maryland), but those moments have been equaled by flashes of ineptitude (see 1st half against Marshall). This team has the experience and the talent to run the table. Whether they do or not will depend entirely on whether they show up for the games they need to. It’s one thing to sleepwalk through East Carolina, quite another through South Florida. We’ll know a lot more about this team in two weeks when they travel to Tampa to take on the Bulls. South Florida beat them last year in Morgantown so this is a big time revenge game. If WVU isn’t up for that one, then this team will find itself on the outside looking in.
Frazier - Welcome to "the others". There are four teams that have stepped forward, and then there is everyone else. All of "the others" have some potential flaws, weaknesses, or unknowns. There's just something missing. Now, it's possible one of these teams could step up and contend for the title. College football is nothing if not unpredictable. WVU is a perfect example of "the others". They have a pair of legit Heisman contenders, and the most exciting offensive rookie in the country. They also have a suspect (at best) defense, and a ton of questions. They have had some really tough first halves, and just haven't looked quite right. When USC is a step off, they just look incredibly deep and scary. When WVU is a step off they look imminently beatable. This team needs to be perfect to win out, and I'm not sure they've got it in them.
6) Ohio State
Walter – I want to like Jim Tressell, I really do. He’s old school. He runs the ball, he plays defense, and he makes you pay for mistakes. But I’ve tried to like him, and I just can’t. The reason for my disdain, primarily, is that I just can’t ever shake the feeling that his team is a complete fraud. I mean, how long can you actually win when your game plan is to wait for the other team to fuck up. For a while I guess, since this has been one of the best teams in America over the last 5 years. But I just can’t shake the feeling that the Buckeyes just aren’t very good. I mean they looked invincible last season, then got pasted by Florida. No matter how good they look, I just can’t shake the feeling that the other shoe is getting ready to drop. Unfortunately, since the Buckeyes have a PATHETIC schedule (thanks for sucking again Big 10), we won’t know if this team is a fraud until Oct. 27 when they visit Penn State.
Frazier - The Buckeyes are an interesting team. Maybe they'll find things easier flying under the radar. They are kind of the opposite of WVU. They have a very good defense, and a suspect offense. I'm just not sure if they've got enough to take care of business. Even though the Big Ten is laying a huge turd this year, I think they could just up and lose at any time. If they have another game like they did against Illinois last year, it will be a loss this time around. So are they capable of winning out? Probably. Are they capable of losing any time, any where? Yeah, probably. I wouldn't say that about the top four.
Walter – Everything we need to know about the Bear we’ll learn in the next three weeks. They have a classic three game stretch including a “looking ahead to next week” game (Arizona), a “seemingly impossible road game” (@ Oregon), and a “potential let down game” (Oregon St.). California is good enough to get through all three games unbeaten. But, in order to do that they’re going to need a great three week stretch from their best players, but more importantly their coach. Jeff Tedford has proven time and again that he is amongst the best X and O guys in the nation. But his challenge will be to get his team to focus on each task, and play the way they are capable of playing. If this team goes 3-0 watch out, because all that would stand between them and an undefeated matchup with USC Nov. 10 would be winnable games at UCLA and AZ St.
Frazier - Ah yes, the "other" Pac-10 team. I still don't believe in this defense. Their big win was against a Vols team that went and got decimated by Florida. So while you can't take anything away from the Bears, you can wonder a little bit. This is another good, not great team. Honestly, I can't differentiate between some of these teams. This is a fast, athletic Bears offense, but they lack the balance.
Walter – I’m not quite sure how it happened, but this Clemson team has become an official Walter 323 binky. I think it started when I tabbed them as my sleeper pick in the ACC. The infatuation grew when they beat the despicable Florida State Seminoles on opening weekend. But I think Clemson got locked in as an official binky when I was the only person in the entire world (presumably) to name Cullen Harper on my initial Heisman Ballot. Gentlemen, welcome to your destiny. What is there not to love about this Clemson team? Two great backs, a swarming defense, a cool, calm and collected QB that nobody wants to talk about, and perennial lame duck coach grasping for his last chance at glory. I mean, come on. The story lines with this team are endless. And if those aren’t enough, we’ll have the obligatory cameo by backup QB Willy Korn at some point this season (for those of you who don’t know he was the star of that MTV show “Two a Days”). Yup, I am officially driving the Clemson bandwagon…..and I couldn’t be happier.
Frazier - I am very afraid for my friend. Clemson is the type of team that lures you in with their potential. They have talent, and interesting stories (you're forgetting the player who had to get an NCAA waiver to start a charitable fund to take care his younger brother) and then they start reading those stories (possibly even this story) and then their heads explode. Their might not be a worse big-game coach on the planet than Tommy Bowden. Every time the lights shine brightly, he shits himself in the spotlight. I really like what Clemson has done so far, but I should probably go grab a mop.
Walter – Speaking of inexplicable binkies the Oregon Ducks somehow make that list. After a 2006 season where I eviscerated the Ducks at every turn, now I’m basking the glow of their 3-0 start after anointing them the 2nd best team in the Pact 10 to start the year. What the Ducks have done is both incredible and not completely unforeseeable. While nobody expected this, the Ducks do return a TON of offensive playmakers, almost the entire offensive line (there’s that unit popping up again), and enough players on defense to slow other teams down (remember they play in the Pac 10). Add in the dynamic spread offense of Chip Kelly (formerly of 1AA New Hampshire, and vastly underrated), and you’ve got a recipe for success. So far so good, but then again you could have said the same thing at this point last season….and we all know how that turned out.
Frazier - The Ducks are the quintessential Pac-10 juggernaut. They have plenty of offensive playmakers, and a little bit of defense. They will have plenty of shoot-outs, choke in a couple of others (we'll say 3) and then offensively blindside some poor team in an incredibly enjoyable bowl game. Let's just agree that when Ohio St. is putting up ridiculous offensive numbers in that bowl game, well, I warned you.
10) Boston College
Walter – As a loyal season ticket holder, the only thing that makes me happier than the Eagles breaking into the top 10 is knowing that they truly belong here. What BC did to Georgia Tech was impressive, but what was shocking was the relative ease with which they did it. BC went into their stadium and turned the formerly ferocious John Tenuda defense into a bunch of schmucks. All night long it seemed that Boston College, and superstar QB, Matt Ryan were one step ahead of the Yellow Jackets. When they blitzed Ryan saw it and delivered the ball perfectly. When they sat back in coverage Ryan didn’t rush, ran through his progressions and found the open guy. It was a brutally efficient performance by the Eagles. No wasted movements. No negative plays. With a few cupcakes on the schedule in the coming weeks, Boston College should remain in the top 10 until they hit the brutal final leg of their schedule which includes road trips to VTech and Clemson. But hey, going into the season I thought last Saturday’s game at Georgia Tech was going to be the toughest game on the slate. The ceiling on this team has officially been raised after that performance, and I wouldn’t be shocked if we were talking about this BC team as the best in school history.
Frazier - Well, I have to admit that BC has looked excellent so far. They came out and won 3 straight conference games. Let's just hope that this mini-vacation against the Army's and UMass's of the world doesn't slow up the momentum. Matt Ryan (and his offensive line) were phenomenal against a vicious Yellow Jackets defense. Normally I'd expect them to implode (a perfect example last season) but maybe without O'Brien there to screw things up, they can continue their run through a soft conference.
11) Appalachian State
Louisville – well their season’s over
Alabama – John Parker Wilson, you are the MAN in Tuscaloosa right now
Penn State – they haven’t played anyone yet, but a win at Michigan could be tough to ignore
South Carolina – let’s see how they do against LSU
South Florida – that Auburn win ain’t looking quite as good as it did last week