Do not let a bye week diminish your respect for Alabama. They remain the undefeated intercontinental champions, and will be as long as the greedy promoters prevent them from playing teams No. 2 through No. 6 in succession in a no-holds-barred, one-versus-five survivors match in the Rose Bowl.
They probably spent the bye week working a casual 90-hour review of everything they've ever done in their lives, not just in football, but beyond, which is how Nick Saban knows that defensive coordinator Kirby Smart once stole from a convenience store in Dawsonville, Georgia as a reckless teenager (we have no evidence of this at all). This is why Kirby will not leave, and why blackmail's just another word for loyalty.
They also play LSU this Saturday, just in time to grab the spotlight from football neophytes like Florida State and Oregon. Just in time to remind everyone that when the dry ice smoke rolls out of the entrance ramp and "Ain't No Grave" starts playing, this cage match is over before it starts.
Oh, Oregon's been playing football since 1893, you say? Well ain't you sweet, sugar? To be honest we hardly noticed, but we can be oh so forgetful.
[/sips sweet tea bourbon from crystal football]
2. Florida State
Hiring Jimbo Fisher was a great decision, but bringing on co-coach Jameis Winston to play quarterback and take over the reins of offensive coordinator was a risky but ultimately brilliant call. Winston greets players coming out of the tunnel.
He interrupts Jimbo Fisher when the fiery co-coach gets a bit too testy. He greets the youth, and when he is beheld brings them joy. He sometimes throws interceptions that do not matter. He refuses to wear contact lenses, because if his vision were corrected on the football field, his mind would be overwhelmed by his ability to see the energy fields surrounding everyone's bodies. He beats Miami 41-14 while squinting to see playcalls.
Winston also has a malicious offensive line capable of keeping him clean for entire games, skill players who make man coverage look like an open invitation for embarrassment, and a defense that bottled up the best running back in the country until his horrendous ankle injury. Are we saying Winston is not the only good thing about this team? Yes. Are we also saying that this must have been what it was like to watch Joan of Arc take over an army as a teenager, if Joan of Arc could throw a deadly post pattern? Yes. This is exactly what it would have been like, except with a dude who really, really loves cheese balls.
If he would give up a national championship for a lifetime supply of cheeseballs: "I would not, BUT I'm gonna get some cheeseballs anyway"— Perry Kostidakis (@perrykos) August 11, 2013
Played its second string in a blowout against the bye week.
That thing Alabama's about to enjoy, with all the crucial weighted tests of football dominance laid out neatly in the span of a single month? Life is not entirely unfair, because Oregon gets that, too, and just in time to go tit-for-tat with Alabama in taking back some of the shine the Seminoles hoarded in the month of October. (Even FSU's game with Florida is diminished now, thanks to Will Muschamp's successful devolution of the Gators into 1984's grittiest 6-4 football team. Dreams DO come true, Will!) Alabama gets Auburn at the end, and Oregon in turn gets their rivalry against Oregon State. It's not a backloaded Pac-12 schedule, but it's a pair of big games of national import when both programs need them.
Oregon happens to be getting Stanford at an opportune time: the Cardinal are injury-riddled, misfiring on offense, and looking anything but capable of keeping pace with the Ducks, who in the first week of November are still averaging an unholy 55.6 points a game. They will also likely have a healthy De'Anthony Thomas, a fully functional Marcus Mariota, and will have the assistance of the Stanford offense in making the Ducks defense look better than it might really be. They'll have to endure the roar of HUNDREDS of Stanford fans, but remember that the unsettling silence of Stanford has been cited by some as being legitimately upsetting. (Go all the way, Stanford: make the insanity-causing Quiet Room of college football.)
After this week's bye, the next month for Baylor is the abominable pun we'd like to avoid but have to run headlong into: a bearish run through Oklahoma this Thursday night, and then Texas Tech, Oklahoma State, TCU, and Texas in succession.
If the stupid simulations you run in your head are anything close to accurate, the crux there is the November 23rd game in Stillwater against the Cowboys, who this year have suddenly morphed into this year's Big 12 team with a run game and defense.
Baylor's playing so far outside of anything anyone in the program has experienced that to say they can't run the table is foolish. When you're averaging 63 points a game and playing the longest sustained streak of amazing football the program has ever seen, you by definition have no idea what you are doing. And when you have no idea what you're doing, the only answer is to stay clueless, and keep doing it.
5. Ohio State
Take every article from 2006 written about Boise State's run as a BCS buster. Now, substitute "Ohio State," and you'll see where the Big Ten stands in the national consciousness, since the greatest opponent for Ohio State now is the slumping decay of the conference it happens to play in, and the diminishing returns on weekly blowouts of cannon fodder's cannon fodder like Purdue, whom the Buckeyes beat 56-0 this weekend.
Some positives still to enjoy, though:
- You got a four-way O-H-I-O cheer going at an opponent's stadium.
- You're going to paint the forest with Michigan.
- You have a line on facing a well-respected Michigan State team in the title game.
- You will likely slaughter whatever poor team happens to face your grudge-laden selves in a bowl game.
- Minnesota has seven wins! You don't have to be happy about that, I just want someone to verify that that whole thing is real and isn't just happening in my mind.
Raj Mehta, USA Today
6. Michigan State
The funnel-web spider of college football, just waiting for you to fall into the trap so it can immobilize you and wait for the inevitable. Michigan had a record-low yards rushing against the Spartans in a 29-6 act of futility, something that (again) may mean Michigan State is as dominant as imagined or that Michigan's offensive coordinator Al Borges has gone utterly and completely insane at last.
Still immune to the SEC East virus and technically in line for a possible SEC Championship after beating Tennessee 31-3, because Gary Pinkel washes his hands at least three times a day, something no one else in the SEC East must do. (Well, we know Will Muschamp doesn't for sure, since germs are a lie and winners prevent sickness with a positive attitude alone, and that's why he's eating this raw meat straight from the styrofoam and shrink-wrapped pack.)
Auburn, still sitting there with only one loss to LSU, because Gus Malzahn is a brilliant madman playing a former DB at quarterback on a team that looked like complete garbage one year ago; Stanford, we suppose, since a win in the Oregon game could change damn near everything; Oklahoma, the backup chute pick for anyone in need of a one-loss team in most any year; Oklahoma State, because... um... because we're just picking one-loss teams at this point, and don't want to short anyone the possibility of something weird happening.
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