Prepare for Combat

October 25, 2011
By Jerryd Curry BRONZE, GRANITEVILLE, South Carolina
Jerryd Curry BRONZE, GRANITEVILLE, South Carolina
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One week after the first list of BCS rankings was released there was a major shake up in the top 10. Preseason #1 Oklahoma was upset by the unranked Texas Tech Red Raiders 41-38 which dropped them down to #9. Also former #6 Wisconsin was defeated by an underrated Michigan State squad after a final play Hail Mary gave the Spartans the 37-31 victory and dropping the Badgers out the top 10. Those are just some of the twist and turns as the teams journey toward that ultimate goal of a national championship. As the teams gear up and prepare for the homestretch here’s a midseason report of the top 10 teams.

1. LSU- Is there any question about this one? The Tigers led by Coach Les Miles looked poised, powerful, and prepared to make a run at the National Championship. The Tiger’s offense is lead by the quarterback duo of Jordan Jefferson and Jarrett Lee. Coupled along with RB Spencer Ware and star receiver Rueben Randle, this offense averages 39.3 points a game. Along with a forceful defense that allows only 11.5 points a game, this Tiger team is ready to capture another national title for the SEC. They started the season in Dallas with a huge win over last year’s runner up champions, the Oregon Ducks. However, they still have a few more challenges down the road and it starts on November 5 as they’ll travel to Tuscaloosa, Alabama to take on the Alabama Crimson Tide. The journey isn’t over then for they’ll have to end their season against a strong Arkansas team.
Key Player: QB Jarrett Lee- He’s stepped into the leadership role for the Tigers after the absence of Jordan Jefferson. His stats may not be top notch having only 1,250 passing yards and 13 touchdowns, but one stat that sticks out is only one interception this season.

2. Alabama- The Crimson Tide is showing its head again in the top 10 as usual with Coach Nick Saban on the headset. The Tide offense starts in the back field with RB Trent Richardson, one of the most dangerous running backs in the nation, who helps the Tide post 39.4 points per game. On the other side of the ball, they have an oppressive defense that allows only 9.6 points a game which is tops in the NCAA. In order for the Tide to have a shot at title number 14, they must beat LSU at home. Then they also have a rematch against rival Auburn after an embarrassing 28-27 loss last year.
Key Player: RB Trent Richardson(Heisman Hopeful)- Richardson has proven himself to be one of the best running backs in the nation game after game this season and his stats back him up to as he has 989 rushing yards and 17 rushing touchdowns, both second in the nation.

3. Oklahoma State- With one of the most deadly offenses in the nation, Oklahoma State clocks in at #3 in the standings this week. The Cowboys’ offense starts at the quarterback position with Brandon Weeden taking the snaps. Along with receivers Justin Blackmon and Josh Cooper, the Cowboys have an aerial attack that throws for almost 400 yards a game and 48.6 points per game, each second in the nation. As for the other side of the ball, the defense is lackluster allowing 26.9 points per game. The Cowboys stated their claim in the top 10 after two big road wins against Texas A&M and Texas, but they are far from a lock in a BCS bowl game and possibly a national title shot as they still have a tough game against a surprising Kansas State team, a road test against a momentum-filled Texas Tech and one more road test against the Oklahoma Sooners.
Key Player: QB Brandon Weeden- Weeden leads the aerial attack on this team and his stats prove him to be a great quarterback. With over 2,400 passing yards and 19 touchdowns, Weeden will be the key to if the Cowboys will continue to their goal of a national championship.

4. Boise State- This team is the most doubted team in the nation. Year after year the Broncos win and stay consistently in the top 5, yet is always held back because of the conference they play in and their strength of schedule. The offense follows behind the forceful arm of Kellen Moore. However the Broncos have the second option of RB Doug Martin. Stat wise, the defense is one of the top defenses in the nation, but looking at the teams they play it could be better. Looking at the schedule, Boise’s toughest team remaining will be the TCU Horned Frogs and then most likely a BCS bid, but if they get too eager, they’ll find themselves dropping like last year after that heartbreaking loss to Nevada.
Key Player: QB Kellen Moore(Heisman Hopeful)- No question here. Moore has proven himself to be the best true passing quarterback in the nation. With 2,010 passing yards and 24 passing touchdowns, Moore is looking at another trip to New York.

5. Clemson- I may get hate mail for this but no matter how much you may hate them, Clemson has proven themselves to be deserving of their #5 rank. Coach Dabo Sweeny wasn’t looking so hot at the beginning of the season after only beating Wofford by 8, but after 3 straight wins after Auburn, Florida State, and Virginia Tech the Tigers look to be BCS bound and it all starts on the offense. Clemson’s offense starts with their awe striking passing game conducted by QB Tahj Boyd. Receiving the ball is the speedy combination of Sammy Watkins and Deandre Hopkins, coupled along with a solid running game led by Andre Ellington. The offensive line is sketchy as Boyd has been sacked 15 times. The defense can be shaky at times, especially after allowing 45 points to Maryland, but they must remain forceful throughout the rest of the season to retain that ranking. Clemson has a key road game against Georgia Tech this weekend, then the annual game against a down, but not out South Carolina team.
Key Player: QB Tahj Boyd(Heisman Hopeful)- Yes, Heisman Hopeful. Boyd is one of the best quarterbacks in the nation and his stats back up that statement. He has over 2,300 passing yards and 24 passing touchdowns, as well as 6 rushing touchdowns.

6. Stanford- The Cardinals remain in the top 10 after a rocky start to the off-season as Coach Jim Harbaugh announced he was taking the job as the San Francisco 49ers head coach. But “Luck” would come to the Cardinals as QB Andrew Luck would return for his senior year. On offense along with the senior QB is WR Coby Fleener and Chris Owusu, in addition to RB Stepfan Taylor in the backfield. Combined this offense produces around 49 points per game. The defense is strong and powerful allowing only 12.6 points per game, but in order for the Cardinals to remain this high they will need to remain determined and dominant to achieve a BCS bid. The Cardinals have yet to be truly tested yet this season, but they will be pushed to the breaking point on November 15 as they host an explosive Oregon Duck team.
Key Player: QB Andrew Luck(Heisman Hopeful)- Luck is the leadership the Cardinals need to piece together this season and produce another BCS bid. His stats are hit and miss. He doesn’t have 1,900 passing yards, but is consistent shown by his 71% completion rating and 20 passing touchdowns.

7. Oregon- The quack attack is back and better than ever. After falling short to the national championship by a last second field goal to Auburn, the Ducks returned determined and ready to make another run to the BCS game and the journey all starts with the offense. With the QB/RB duo of Darron Thomas (left knee) and LaMichael James (dislocated elbow) out for now, the true depth of Oregon was tested and passed with flying colors (so far). Leading the attack is 2nd string QB Bryan Bennett and RB Kenjon Barner and a receiving group where 9 different receivers have a touchdown which makes this electrifying offense tough to contain. The offense averages 328 rushing yards a game along with 48.1 points per game. The defense is solid allowing about 20 points a game which is enough for the offense to capture the win. The Ducks started the season off as they ended last season with another SEC loss, this time to LSU. Since then the Ducks have been on cruise control and will remain there until that big showdown against Stanford where they will need their offense to be full strength.
Key Players: The Receiving Corps- Yes most credit does go to LaMichael James because of his dangerous ability to run the ball, thus freeing up receivers down field, but this team is filled with receivers that are fast and able to catch the ball easily which allows more targets for Thomas or Bennett to throw to. This creates the fast-paced offense that the Ducks are able to run and that is difficult to contain and even harder to stop.

8. Kansas State- Honestly I think they moved up too much too fast. The Wildcats, for right now, stand as an overrated team, but during the next few weeks could prove themselves of that ranking. The offense is headed by QB Collin Klein and RB John Hubert in the backfield. The offense is mostly run-oriented averaging 213 rushing yards per game. The defense is pretty good as well only allowing 19 points a game, but this K-State team has yet to be truly tested. The toughest team they have played have been the Baylor Bears and that was only by a 1 point margin. Going down the stretch the Wildcats must face Oklahoma, then at Oklahoma State, then back home to face Texas A&M, and then back on the road to Texas.
Key Player: QB Collin Klein- Klein defines the offense for this team. His passing stats are mediocre throwing for not even 1,000 yards and only 8 touchdowns, but what he lacks in passing he makes up for in running the ball. He leads the team in rushing yards, 670, and rushing touchdowns, 14.

9. Oklahoma- The Sooners came into the season with all the momentum in the world as they were pre-ranked #1 in the AP Poll. The offense is led by QB Landry Jones, who is accompanied by the All-American wide-out Ryan Broyles. In addition to a strong pass game, the Sooners possesses a solid rush game headed by RB Dominique Whaley. This menacing passing offense averages 379 passing yards and 44.3 points per game. The defense is rock solid holding opposing offenses to only 19 points a game. Oklahoma took a small step back this past week by being upset by Texas Tech, but they can’t dwell on this loss for long because there is still work to do and could put the Sooners back in the race for a BCS bid. The road won’t get any easy as they’ll have a road test against Kansas State, then against Texas A&M the following week. They also have to play a quiet, but deadly Baylor team and then end the season at Oklahoma State.
Key Player: QB Landry Jones(Heisman Hopeful)- One of the best passers in the nation, Landry Jones could be taking a trip up to New York this December. Jones has passed for almost 2,600 passing yards and 21 touchdowns. This week, his leadership skills with come into play to see how he picks his team up after last week’s loss.

10. Arkansas- Arkansas has yet to truly prove their #10 rank, but going down the stretch they’ll face some tough adversaries. The Razorback offense has one of the best passing and scoring teams in the nation and at the helm is QB Tyler Wilson combined with his leading receiver Jarius Wright. The running game is almost non existent with RB Ronnie Wingo Jr. as the leading rusher with not even 300 yards rushing. The defense is decent at best allowing 21.3 points per game. Arkansas has been sketchy at times this season after close wins over Ole Miss and Troy and their only loss coming to Alabama. The Razorbacks still have tough games down the road as they play South Carolina in two weeks and wrap up the season on the road at LSU.
Key Player: QB Tyler Wilson- Wilson is the cornerstone of this offense since the rush game is weak. Wilson has been able to fill that gap in the offense by passing for 2,011 yards but only has 12 passing touchdowns. He’ll need to continue to work hard and put the team on his back in order to remain in the top 10.

Team to look out for: Michigan State- After an early season loss to Notre Dame, in two weeks the Spartans have climbed their way up to #11 after two huge wins giving Michigan and Wisconsin their first loss of the season. The offense is respectable averaging 29 points per game with QB Kirk Cousins running the show. What became a major part of Michigan State is their forceful defense, who allows only 13.7 points each game. They have another test coming up this week as they’ll face a tough Nebraska team. From there the Spartans just have to keep playing consistently, win the Big Ten conference championship and earn a BCS bid.

Under the radar: QB Russell Wilson (Wisconsin)- Wilson’s stock may have dropped after the loss on the road to Michigan State, but the quarterback has been nothing short of incredible this season. He’s only thrown for 1,780 passing yards and 16 touchdowns, but his completion percentage of 73% and his 204.9 passer proves his reliability as a quarterback and keeps him in the talks for the Heisman Trophy.

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