20. The ACC overall is only getting worse and stinks, so it seems
Familiar successful teams in the ACC are really struggling in all facets of the game. It is a bit disappointing, but without senior leadership we have seen teams struggle throughout the landscape.
The Yellow Jackets may fail to appear in a bowl game at 3-5, thanks to the No. 70 scoring defense that is allowing nearly 30 PPG. While the Hokies defense isn’t much better, it has surprisingly been their brutal offense that has cost them (No. 59, 29 PPG). If it were not for FSU dominating the stats in nearly every category and Clemson’s offense going bonkers every weekend they would get worse treatment than any conference in America (funny because both FSU and CU are getting jobbed in BCS).
19. Mountain West Conference Is Legit In Depth
The depth of the Mountain West is borderline spectacular thanks to teams such as Fresno State, San Diego State and Air Force. Nevada is not as good, but they should be bowling this season thanks to a powerful rushing attack under Chris Ault’s Pistol Offense.
Meanwhile, Boise State is once again in the middle of another shocking BCS run to those five prestigious destinations. They still need to finish ahead of the Big Ten or Big East champion and finish in the top 16, which does not seem like mission impossible right now.
18. Conference USA is in a rebuilding season
Tulsa and UCF are two respectable programs these days on the field, but they need more bowl eligible teams to avoid a few punch lines this holiday season.
There are already four teams that are bowl ineligible which should not even be possible, but four of the five teams have seven losses as the other already has eight defeats (Southern Miss).
17. The SEC East is back better than ever even despite some tough losses
Many could argue the East is better than the West although the Alabama and LSU defenses likely gives them a slight edge still. Plus, A&M and Mississippi State have put together sensational season thus far, but the East has improved.
The likes of Florida, Georgia and South Carolina were all legit teams in the months of September and October and they should remain national powerhouses (save perhaps SC without Lattimore).
16. The Big 12 is as loaded as any conference not named the SEC
There are currently eight teams with three losses are less (K-State only non-two los team at 8-0) and that deserves some love. The Big 12 is legit as any conference these days and the pollsters have rewarded them quite a bit. Texas Tech has been a pleasant surprise this season and team like Texas is mathematically still alive in the Big 12 hunt since they have not yet played the Wildcats (they would need them to lose beforehand obviously).
Still, the offensive playmakers are still there and while the defenses are still getting torched we have seen some entertaining games thanks to some solid depth. West Virginia, Texas, Oklahoma State, Texas Tech and TCU may not be the greatest teams in the world but they have picked up decent enough victories to garner the attention from most voters. If Texas or Oklahoma can step it up a tad then we might still see two bids in the BCS grab a hold of the Big 12 (although I have my doubts).
15. Johnny Football
Yes, Johnny Manziel deserves his own slide because the kid has been that dang impressive. He is a complete freak of an athlete that can embarrass your defense unless you have the Jimmy and Joe’s like LSU does.
Manziel is currently third in total offense averaging 376 yards per game, but that is thanks to his 99 yards per game rushing. The complete package for such a youngster, this Aggie could have the program dreaming some big things in the not so distant future (potential BCS bowl in next three years).
14. Chip Kelly and Nick Alioti Got it Going On
The Oregon Ducks are quite the team right now and despite the number four ranking in the BCS they have the looks of running the table and potentially upsetting Alabama in the BCS title.
This is easily their most talented defensive squad ever and the offense has been unstoppable thanks to redshirt freshman Marcus Mariotta looking flawless thus far. Oregon potentially may lose a game thanks to running into some legit talent, but the players they currently have has given them arguably the greatest opportunity to win it all.
13. Southern Miss, Massachusetts remain winless
These two teams are dreadful, but at least the Minutemen were not picked to win seven or eight games. UMASS was picked as my worst teams in the country heading into the season and they have not disappointed sad to say. However, to see a Golden Eagles team coached under now Ellis Johnson to struggle this miserably is shocking. They nearly upset No. 10 Louisville in a monsoon affair not too long ago and had they turned the ball over like madmen against Boise State, who knows what could have happened. The bottom line is they have not executed and they have been one of the more disappointing non-BCS teams in the country.
12. Manti Te’o Is The Best
Although Jarvis Jones will be a top 3 pick in the NFL Draft and Te’o may fall to the middle of the first round, this Golden Domer middle linebacker has been more productive than any defensive player in seemingly forever through eight games.
Te’o has picked off five passes already and he has single-handily carried this Notre Dame team on and off the field in the crunch time. While they have a few other NFL players on defense (and offense), Te’o is the one player that has carried the second winningest program in the history of the sport to the national title picture.
11. Notre Dame could play in the Rose Bowl
Once again the Irish are undefeated and they may end up playing in the BCS title against perhaps Alabama. Also, they would be prone to playing in the Fiesta Bowl against Kansas State potentially, but it is possible they would end up heading to Pasadena if the Pac-12 does not have a team ranked high enough for the BCS selection committee to consider against the Big Ten champions.
Could you imagine Nebraska and Notre Dame in the Rose Bowl on New Year’s Day? I know for a fact it would be the most watched Rose Bowl ever, and millions around would rejoice (even if they end up 11-1).
Lastly, do not forget that ND has only appeared in one Rose Bowl and it was the very first bowl game they ever appeared in (Four Horsemen in 1925 victory over Stanford, 27-10)!