Well, it is official.
I have a fever and the only cure is more pigskin, and thank god the pageantry reached an all-time high this past weekend with the USC Trojans getting stunned against a Stanford many had forgotten with Andew Luck being selected as the top overall pick in the NFL Draft.
Plus, we thought both the Tennessee Volunteers and Michigan State Spartans would protect their home field and they did anything but. Is the Big Ten that putrid and can the Irish perhaps crack the top 8 in the coming weeks?
Summarizing and breaking down the week three that was, here are your pretenders and contenders from all of your top games.
Contender: Notre Dame Fighting Irish
The Fighting Irish look back, and nearly better than ever (at least past decade). Their defense up front is simply stifling thanks Stephon Tuitt looking like an All-American defensive end thanks to Louis Nix III clogging up the middle, which allows Manti Te’i to make superstar plays all over the field. Bank on a double-digit win season and a BCS bid if they can avoid a meltdown at home in upcoming games against Michigan (this weekend), Stanford (top 10 team right now) and Brigham Young.
Pretender: Michigan State Spartans
Can the Big Ten get any worse? It truly is not possible since with the way every team is playing, but you just never know. The offenses are atrocious and there are few glaring weaknesses on every club right now. Sparty still has the goods on defense to win their division and take care of Purdue, Wisconsin or Illinois in the Big Ten title however.
Contender: Stanford Cardinal
The Cardinal are not back because they never went anywhere under David Shaw. The coaching staff is one of the best in America, and Josh Nunes grew up a bit in this one thanks Stepfon Taylor running bonkers on the Trojan run defense. Great teams are built from the inside-out, and Stanford is stout as anybody in the Pac-12.
Pretender: USC Trojans
Sorry to say, but I told you all that the Trojans would suffer a loss this season and it should not be shocking in how they lost on the defensive side of the ball. They were ran over by a much more physical and talented Stanford squad. There are still questions about Oregon in terms of being the best team on the planet, but Stanford answered the bell this past weekend and they may not be done upsetting teams (Notre Dame, Oregon both on road).
Contender: Clemson Tigers/Florida State Seminoles
This weekend’s matchup between the two teams has had me drooling since this past offseason knowing that Clemson would be in the top 10 if they would defeat Auburn in the Atlanta Georgia Dome. Tajh Boyd looks like a video game monster these days, and the Seminoles defense is right there as well.
This will be the best matchup of the regular season in terms of offensive squads against defensive squads. Sit back, relax and strap it down because this game has the makings of living up to all the hype and then some. The winner will be portrayed as the team to knock off the SEC winner and the loser may not even appear in a BCS bowl with the way the Irish (and Big 12 second best team out of OU, TX, WV) are climbing up the polls.
Pretender: Tennessee Volunteers
We or at least I thought the Vols would be officially back and once again my theory of “great teams are built from the inside” took a turn for the best. Tennessee still is struggling to protect Tyler Bray and their defensive line is nothing to brag home about. While they still could win eight or nine games in the regular season, the chances of going 10-3 after their bowl game are essentially dead and gone.
Contender: Florida Gators
The Gators flashed brilliance and excellence in Neyland Stadium thanks to a top-five defense. The SEC has speed that kills, but it was the play of quarterback Jeff Driskel that allowed them to grow up right in front of our very own eyes. They still have LSU, Georgia and Florida State on the slate, but they proved they have the goods to compete with the best in the business.
Pretenders: Arkansas Razorbacks/Auburn Tigers
What else can we to these teams other than disappointment?
Tyler Wilson did not play (concussion, head) and thank goodness because Alabama would have humiliated him. The team was destroyed 52-0 and they have officially been labeled as the most overrated top 10 team in America. They may struggle to appear in a bowl game if they cannot find a way to get by a solid Rutgers squad at home. Even best case, they likely will not win more than six or seven games.
Auburn is in the same discussion with their putrid offense that is just not working out for Kiehl Frazier. What else can we say other than the defense is not nearly as good as we thought it could be, and the points are still not adding up.
Contender: Alabama Crimson Tide
The Crimson Tide are the best team on the planet and there are only a few teams that may even be close (LSU, FSU, UGA). A.J. McCarron may sneak up into that Heisman discussion in the coming weeks, but he just wants to win another BCS title. The defense is elite despite what some naysayers said all offseason, and they are heavy favorite in every game save in Baton Rouge and potentially Atlanta (SEC title).
Pretender: Virginia Tech Hokies
Virginia Tech is looking for their 12th consecutive season of double-digit victory seasons and that may be in jeopardy with Clemson and Florida State still on the schedule. One of those squads will play Frank Beamer and the boys twice, which means a best case 9-4 season heading into the postseason is a likely scenario. Their brutal loss to Pittsburgh on the road has this team scratching their heads thanks an inept offense.