It seems like yesterday that the humidity was thick and college football was kicking off in August. Now that the temperatures have dropped and the days have become shorter, it is time to recap and assess all that has occurred in college football thus far as most teams have played six games out of their scheduled 12.
The headline this year in college football is to expect the expected. A sport typically pigeonholed as being unpredictable and upset-filled has been incredibly predictable this year. The top-10 national rankings have been virtually unchanged since Aug. 24. Clemson, Alabama, Georgia, and Ohio State have emerged as the favorites to make the College Football Playoff in December.
Top-ranked and defending national champion Clemson, with quarterback Trevor Lawrence and yet another crop of NFL quality defensive lineman has passed every test thus far, downed a ranked Texas A&M team, beat Syracuse in the Carrier Dome, and narrowly averted an upset against North Carolina.
No. 2 Alabama has knocked its opponents out quickly by scoring at a blistering pace. The Tide have easily handled Duke, Ole Miss, South Carolina, and two non-conference opponents. Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa’s parabolic passes and perhaps the best group of wide receivers in the nation, Jerry Jeudy, Henry Ruggs, and Devonta Smith, makes the Tide a feared opponent going forward.
No. 3 Georgia has quarterback Jake Fromm who in attitude and throwing ability is a future NFL star. Running back Deandre Swift is a Philly native and an explosive threat every time he touches the ball. The Dawgs defense has clamped down in wins over Notre Dame and Tennessee, but the question as always for Georgia is can they get past Bama in the SEC title game in December?
The team that I think is the national championship darkhorse is Ohio State. Quaterback Justin Fields, only a sophomore and a Georgia transfer, adds the dimension of his running ability that Dwayne Haskins did not possess in addition to being a steady downfield passer. Fields will win the Heisman Trophy before his time in Columbus is up. Ohio State’s offense has torched opponents in 2019, turning nationally televised clashes with Nebraska and Michigan State into blowouts by halftime.
Besides the “Core 4,” Oklahoma (5-0) and new quarterback Jalen Hurts have put up big point totals, but can the defense stop Alabama or Clemson? Louisiana State is the real wild card this year, loaded with talent and putting up basketball numbers on offense, scoring 66 against Vanderbilt and 65 against Northwestern State, and beating ranked Texas 45-38 in Austin. Them versus Alabama on Nov. 9 could be the game of the year.
Penn State is 5-0 but has not really played anyone of note. Quarterback Sean Clifford and the Nittany Lions play ranked Iowa, Michigan, and Ohio State in the next few weeks.
Wisconsin shocked many when they beat Michigan 35-14 on Sept. 21. Running back Jonathan Taylor, of Salem, New Jersey, is the favorite for the Heisman, and quarterback Jack Coan is the best athlete the Badgers have had playing the position in years.
While college football has been routine thus far, that can be chalked up to weak opponents many ranked teams have played. Conference play is just starting and will surely provide the excitement, drama, and upsets fans are accustomed to.
Matthew Collins can be reached at email@example.com.