When the AP and USA Today put out their polls at the beginning of the season it’s based on how a team ended the previous season and usually how many returning starters they have from the previous season. This logic can make it pretty difficult on some really good teams to get their shot at the National Championship or some of the more lucrative BCS bowls. And some years teams far exceed the ranking bestowed upon them by these two bodies (Auburn began the 2010 season unranked and went on to win the National Championship) and some fail miserably (USC was preseason #1 in 2012). I’m of the opinion that both the AP and USA Today should wait until after the season starts to rank teams. Wait until we have some current data to judge teams on in order to determine who truly are the best teams. So in that spirit I present to you my list of the top 10 college football teams. I like to use the eye test and study what the teams have done to this point in the season; examine their quarterback play, how well they run the ball and if their defense is any good. I also like to look at the NCAA statistical rankings and see where teams rank in some of the key offensive and defensive categories. To be honest it’s mostly about the eye test. Simply watching a team can tell you quite a bit about them. So here it goes The Real Top 10:
1. LSU Tigers
Zach Mettenberger is vastly improved as a quarterback. He has shown an ability to make pretty much all of the throws and on time and on target. A stout running game has helped him out a lot as well. The Tigers can run, throw it and the defense is getting better week by week. This is the best team in college football right now and they likely will be when the season ends.
2. Oregon Ducks
Oregon is an offensive juggernaut. I haven’t seen a team yet that can score with the Ducks. Marcus Mariota has a plethora of weapons to get the ball to led by DeAnthony Thomas who is very likely the fastest player in college football. The defense hasn’t really been tested so far, so I can’t definitively say how good they are. The Ducks are fast and it’s going to be very difficult to keep up with them and keep them out of the top 2 at the end of the season.
3. Alabama Crimson Tide
OK so I have to admit that this vote isn’t necessarily based on their play on the field, because honestly it’s been a bit lack luster sans the Texas A&M game. Alabama is Alabama though and until someone unseats them, they’re still the champs. Once they get their offensive line together and the run game they’ll be just fine. I don’t see anyone on their schedule beating them until they meet LSU.
4. Texas A&M
The Aggies are fast too. Johnny Manziel makes this team go. He’s starting to become more of a pocket passer first and runner second. He has two big receivers that are really developing into some great SEC players. Their woeful defense is what’s going to hold them back, they’re ranked 110th in the NCAA in total defense. That’s bad.
The Tigers looked good against Georgia, their offense did anyway. Clemson’s defense is middle of the road and it appears that their offense is good enough to carry them for now. Tajh Boyd is very versatile at quarterback and he’s making this team go.
6. Florida St.
“Famous” Jameis Winston is in control at QB for the Seminoles. Winston has been hot so far this season; he has just 5 incomplete passes in 3 games. As a team the Seminoles are in the top 15 in total offense and total defense. The ‘Noles have a tendency every year to lose a game that they shouldn’t, I suspect this year will be no different.
7. Ohio St.
I’m pretty impressed by the fact that the Buckeyes have played the last two games without their star quarterback Braxton Miller (Kenny Guiton has filled in). Granted Guiton has impressed against lesser competition, but there’s still something to be said for having a capable backup. Ohio State is also in the top 15 in the NCAA in total offense and total defense. They get their first real test this week against Wisconsin.
The Bulldogs have steadied the ship since a season opening loss at Clemson. They took a big step towards winning the SEC east by beating South Carolina. They get LSU between the hedges this week and get a chance to move up the ladder if they can pull off the win.
This vote is based solely on what I’ve seen from watching Louisville and personally evaluating how they play. I say that because the level of competition they have played is way less than subpar, it’s been awful. I fully expect the Cardinals to go undefeated, but no one will care.
I want to put the Bruins higher, but I need to see a little more from them. I was totally impressed with the way they came from behind and manhandled Nebraska in Lincoln. UCLA has games at Stanford, Oregon and USC this season. How they play in those games will tell me if this team is for real.