Alabama Sits in the Driver’s Seat

Alabama Sits in the Driver’s Seat

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Alabama remains the top team in the nation, vanquishing Texas A&M last Saturday and revenging its only loss in 2012. The Crimson Tide were not able to shut down Johnny Manziel, but they did put up enough points to outlast the Aggies. At 2-0, Alabama has 10 regular season games remaining, a probable SEC title game in the offing and a bowl game. That’s a lot of football between now and the end of the national title game, but the Tide is clearly in the driver’s seat.

Looking ahead there will be several challenges for Alabama to overcome. We’ll look at several important dates as well as the challenges the remaining top five teams may face (i.e., Oregon, Clemson, Ohio State and Stanford) for the remainder of this season.

Alabama — When you are the two-time defending national champion in search of a three-peat, everyone is gunning for you. Last week, the Tide came back to defeat Texas A&M, demonstrating fortitude that was missing last year when they fell behind early. Quite honestly, Alabama does not have as tough of a schedule ahead of it as it could have. Florida, Georgia and South Carolina, all ranked teams, are not scheduled and two games against FCS teams remain: Georgia State and Chattanooga. No. 21 Ole Miss on Sept. 28 and No. 6 LSU on Nov. 9 are the Tide’s biggest challenges remaining and these are home games too.

Oregon — Averaging 61 points per game has the Ducks looking quite impressive. That they put up 59 points each against Virginia and Tennessee speaks volumes about where this team is headed. Marcus Mariota threw for 456 yards and four touchdowns against the Volunteers, a breakthrough game that has everyone adding him to their Heisman hopeful lists. Games against No. 17 Washington on Oct. 12 and No. 13 UCLA two weeks later loom large for the Ducks. But, it will be a road game against No. 5 Stanford on Nov. 7 that could have the most profound impact on Oregon. Odds are that if the Ducks win everything including a Pac 12 championship, they’ll face the SEC champion in Jan. Style points and the continued hard work of De’Anthony Thomas will also matter much.

Clemson — The Tigers opened the season with a big win over Georgia and then cruised past South Carolina State. Tonight it is a nationally televised contest against NC State, what could present a trap game if the Tigers are not careful. Clemson last won a national championship in 1981 and fans are already thinking 12-0. The Tigers will face Florida State at home on Oct. 19 and then make a season ending trip to Columbia against South Carolina on Nov. 30, what represent the Tigers biggest obstacles to a perfect season.

Ohio State — The Buckeyes may be ranked No. 4, but their schedule has been light thus far. Florida A&M is up next, what should present another cakewalk before starting an eight-game string of facing Big Ten opponents. That string starts with No. 24 Wisconsin at home before taking on No. 18 Northwestern on the road. How the Buckeyes fare in these two games will reflect heavily on whether their season-ending game against No. 15 Michigan will really matter.

Stanford — Did you see Stanford play against Army last week? It wasn’t an impressive performance. Indeed, at half time the Cardinal were up just 20 to 13 before winning 34 to 20. Just as they did in their first game against San Jose State, Stanford warmed up in the second half. There are several obstacles that the Cardinal will have to overcome as they make their way through the season. Already mentioned is its date with Oregon, but the fun starts this Saturday when No. 23 Arizona State comes to town. Games against No. 17 Washington and No. 22 Notre Dame are also on schedule. Notably, all five ranked opponents are home games. Luck of the schedule, eh?

Week Four

We are about one week away from full-on conference play, where the games that matter most will be played. The only contest between ranked teams this week has Stanford hosting Arizona State. Michigan State, unranked and undefeated will play at No. 22 Notre Dame, for one of the other better games of the day.

See AlsoCollege Football RoundUp and Forecast: Week Three

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Categories: NCAA Football