The Top Fan's Top 25 - Week Three
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1. Alabama (2-0) - The great coaches - and great players - know how to win in different ways. Alabama is known for having a strong defense that will take the ball away, and a controlling offense that will run the ball down your throat and then run time off of the clock. But in this one, Alabama was forced to keep scoring, and they responded. The Nick Saban gameplan isn't to score 49 points, and it sure is hell isn't a gameplan designed to give up 42. But when you're playing the Heisman winner - in his house - it might take 49 points to win, so that is what Nick Saban and AJ McCarron made sure happened. This wasn't a normal Tide game, but it is now a W in the record books, and that is pretty darmed normal under Saban.
2. Oregon (3-0) - During the second and third quarters, Oregon Scored 49 points. Yes, Tennessee is rebuilding, we all know, but the Ducks made the visiting Vols look like a high school team in a 59-14 win. Alabama will hold on to #1 until they lose, but Oregon is showing some awfully good signs early on as far as being the total package. The Duck defense gave up the first seven points of the game and the last seven points of the game with Oregon scoring 59 consecutive points in-between. QB Marcus Mariota was 23 of 33 for 456 yards, four TDs and did not throw an interception. He remains firmly in the Heisman Trophy race.
3. Ohio State (3-0) - The Buckeyes will stay at #3 with a nice road win at Cal, 52-34, playing backup QB Kenny Guiton (four TDs, 276 yards). There is no word as of yet to when Braxton Miller could return, but I think it is safe to say that Guiton can guide the Buckeye offense quite well for the time being. He had 21 points on the board before Cal's whole team made it out of the locker room and onto the sideline. Three TD passes in the opening six miniutes set an Ohio State team record, and the onslaught was on. Cal scored a bit throughout the game to keep it from getting too ugly, but OSU flexed a little muscle in this one.
4. Clemson (2-0) - An open date gave CU a chance to add a little extra focus to a Thursday night road trip to Raleigh ahead in four days. While NC State has a new coach, Dave Doeren, and lost several key players from a year ago, this program - historically - has been an upset-machine in home night games when a highy ranked team is in town. Florida State and Clemson are the main victims of the Wolfpack in recent years, and this one will be nerve-wracking for Tiger fans. The weapons are there to deal with unpredictable, highly-excited teams like NCSU will be Thursday, but senior leadership will have to make sure a banner season isn't knocked off course prematurely.
5. Stanford (2-0) - A 34-20 win over Army isn't convincing enough for me to leave the Cardinal at #4, so they drop one spot. If they are for real, then they will get their chance to prove it in six days when a good Arizona State team rolls in. After that, the schedule does not lighten up as four teams currently ranked (Washington, Oregon, UCLA, Notre Dame) as well as four other tricky conference games (Utah, Oregon State, USC, Cal) finish off the regular season schedule. It is tough to say much about Stanford thus far based on the level of competition, but like I said, if they are for real then the next 56 days will tell the tale.
6. LSU (3-0) - The Bayou Benglas made easy work of Kent State, 45-13, to move through their OOC slate unbeaten and are now ready to focus on an SEC schedule that includes five teams currently ranked. One team that isn't ranked (although they may be ranked in the new AP poll later today) is Auburn, who is up next in Death Valley. The Tigers and Tigers have played some classic games over the years, with 2013 poised to see some fireworks, as well. LSU will be the big favorite going into this game, but history has shown these two find a way to make it fun!
7. Florida State (2-0) - The competition has been questionable to say the least (Pittsburgh and Nevada) but Jameis Winston has guided FSU to 103 points in his first two games under center. The redshirt freshman is going to get plenty of love until somebody beats him, and there aren't too many teams on the slate - at this point - that I think are capable of doing that. Nole fans have wanted another national title for 14 seasons now, and this year looks as though they will at least be in the discussion. Games against Clemson (away), Miami (home) and Florida (home) will tell the truth about how good FSU - and Winston - really are.
8. Louisville (3-0) - I honestly hate it for Louisville this season, but it is what it is. And what it is, is a schedule that will see the Cardinals bounce around spots 5-10 but never able to breakthrough to the top conversation. This schedule is just too weak, and the one game on the whole thing that Louisville had a chance to make any kind of national talk with - rival Kentucky of the SEC - is now in the books as a boring 14-point win. If Louisville was to get national news for the game, a big-time route, a Teddy Bridgewater showcase game was needed. Didn't happen. Louisville will go unbetaen, but the bowl game is now the only shot at national respect in 2013.
9. Georgia (1-1) - After opening away at Clemson, back home with South Carolina, and with LSU just around the corner, there isn't a team in America that deserved an open date more than UGA did this past weekend. The Dawgs play North Texas before welcoming in the Tigers for what should be a Top Ten game in Sanford Stadium and a key game in the SEC. Quarterback Aaron Murray and running back Todd Gurley have been especially impressive to me over the first two games. The defense is young, but they are learning and learning fast!
10. Texas A&M (2-1) - Before this game, I thought QB Johnny Manziel was a punk. After watching him against Alabama yesterday, my opinion of him has changed a bit. The reason for this change in opinion isn't that he oozed with class and humility yesterday, but rather that the dude can flat out play football. He made a couple of throws I know he wishes he could take back, and his team was not led to the huge home win (49-42 loss), but he is definitely a unique player, and he plays hard. I think other QBs nationally are more deserving of this year's Heisman at this point (Marcus Mariota is the first to come to mind), but Manziel is more than just hype and mouth, he has some substance.
11. Oklahoma State (3-0)
12. South Carolina (2-1)
13. Michigan (3-0)
14. UCLA (2-0)
15. Oklahoma (3-0)
16. Northwestern (3-0)
17. Arizona State (2-0)
18. Miami (2-0)
19. Mississippi (3-0)
20. Washington (2-0)
21. Baylor (2-0)
22. Texas Tech (3-0)
23. Michigan State (3-0)
24. Arizona (3-0)
25. Auburn (3-0)
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