Road2BCS: Week 5 Assessments – Oh where oh where has the defense gone. Oh where oh where could it be?

Week 5 is in the books and we are down to less than 30 undefeated teams in the FBS. Of the undefeated teams left, only a handful have a true shot at raising the crystal ball in January. Ohio State is ineligible, while several others just don’t have a true chance, either due to the conference they play in, or the fact that they won’t be able to overcome their current ranking. So, then, who are the true contenders? Lets take a look at the top 10 potential BCS Champions.

#1 Alabama Crimson Tide: It’s no secret that Nick Saban’s team is looking like the class of college football. AJ Mccarrons looks like a lot more than just a “game manager.” If they continue to get stellar QB play, dominating defensive play and the running game continues to hum, it’s hard to think anyone can derail this train. While they didn’t look as dominating this weekend against Ole Miss, the win was very costly losing starting wide receiver Deandre White to a torn ACL and they also took a huge hit at running back with Dee Hart tearing his ACL again.

#2 Oregon Ducks: Is it possible that Chip Kelly’s team is actually better? The answer is…maybe. Sure, they rolled Arizona, but was more impressive was the play of their defense. Although it took longer than expected to dispose of Mike Leach’s Washington Cougars the Ducks still won in convincing fashion. I think Oregon is very deserving of their lofty ranking, but I’m certainly not ready to crown them champs just yet.

#3 LSU Tigers: All the talking heads were ready to anoint the November LSU/Bama game the de facto National Championship game, however a potential kink was almost thrown into that plan last week when upset minded Auburn put a heck of a scare in LSU. I’ve watched plenty of Auburn the past few years as I’m married to an Auburn fan so I know one thing for certain, the AU defense is terrible. A good remedy for a less than convincing win is to play a FCS team, right? WRONG! Auburn actually trailed Towson for a while and allowed them to score 22 points.  If LSU wants to even sniff the crystal ball, they better get better on offense…and defense…and quick! The Tigers are going to need to play much better than they did in weeks 4 and 5 to beat the Gators next week, let alone the Tide in November, and I just don’t see that happening.

#4 Florida State Seminoles: OK, in full disclosure, I am a die-hard Seminole. I graduated from FSU with my Bachelors and my JD, so I bleed garnet and gold. Now, onto football. For years we’ve heard the rumblings…”The Noles are back,” but it was never more than wishful thinking. Well, maybe, just maybe, we have our first contender back in Tallahassee since Chris Weinke commanded the huddle. Despite the 37 points given up to Clemson, this is a VERY talented defense, and an offense that will play with anyone in the country. There’s not a game on the schedule that should scare Noles fans, as the only team that can beat FSU on this schedule is…FSU. Sure, they didn’t look perfect against USF but they tightened up when they needed to and still won by 2 TDs on the road. Now, they must remain focused or they’ll find themselves wondering “what if?”

#5 Georgia Bulldogs: Mark Richt has an elite QB, and what we thought was an elite defense coupled with a schedule that lacks Alabama and LSU. The Dawgs won in a shootout against Tennessee, and who knows what might have happened if Tyler Bray does not fumble the ball. UGA must get their defense in order if they plan to beat South Carolina and Florida and contend for a SEC East Title.

#6 South Carolina Gamecocks:This team will only go as far as Marcus Lattimore and his surgically repaired knee. Connor Show does not seem to be able to stay healthy which may cost them as they begin a tough SEC slate that includes UGA, Florida, LSU, and a desperate Tennessee squad.

#7 West Virginia Mountaineers: Geno Smith and Tavon Austin are game breaking talents, but is the defense good enough to compete at an elite level? It sure didn’t look so against Baylor, giving up 63 points in a Playstation style match up. Also, struggling to beat an average Maryland team will throw up some red flags, Texas, Kansas State, and Oklahoma will pose a considerable challenge to the Mountaineers and how they respond will ultimately determine their fate?

#8 Notre Dame Fighting Irish: With star Manti Te’o terrorizing opponents, this may be the year that the echos have awoken. Playing USC doesn’t seem so daunting anymore and Miami certainly isn’t what it was. Oklahoma will still be a challenge, but If ND could somehow go undefeated, there’s very little doubt voters would vault them above almost anyone into that #2 spot, just for being Notre Dame.

#9 Florida Gators: It pains me to have the Gators here, but road wins against Texas A&M and Tennessee cannot be ignored no matter how mediocre either of those teams is. The Gators are gaining confidence each and every week, though a date with LSU looms large next week. They must also play UGA and travel to Doak Campbell Stadium, but if the Gators keep winning behind a solid D and young QB Jeff Driskel, they’ll keep rising in the polls.

#10 Texas Longhorns: Texas is an interesting team to watch. They came into the season with very little hype. Now #11 in the polls, there’s plenty of big games left on their schedule to bring them all the way to #2. David Ash continues to gain confidence, showing poise in a comeback win on the road against Oklahoma State, Texas has a lot of talent, especially on the defensive side of the ball. If they remained focus and can beat Kansas State, Oklahoma and WVU, Texas could be looking at returning to the big stage. Next week’s showdown with WVU will answer a lot of questions.

While there are other teams with the potential to climb into the race, these are the 10 I see as having the best shot to win it all. There’s plenty of time left, and by the time you read this, some of these teams may already be off the list! Next Saturday will be the time for the real contenders to separate themselves, PUT UP OR SHUT UP SATURDAY!! Don’t you just love college football? – Jared Ross (@fsunole21)

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