With week 5 of the 2012 College Football season behind us, we have undefeated teams: 1 of the ACC (Florida State), 5 from the Big 12 (Kansas State, TCU, Texas, Texas Tech, West Virginia), 3 from the Big East (Rutgers, Cincinnati, Louisville), 2 in the Big Ten (Ohio State, Northwestern), 1 in the MAC (Ohio), 2 in the Pac-12 (Oregon, Oregon State), 6 in the SEC (Georgia, South Carolina, Florida, Alabama, LSU, Mississippi State), 2 in the WAC (UTSA, Louisiana Tech) and Notre Dame.
In all, 24 schools with no losses, three of them coming from non-AQ conferences, three from the Big East that probably doesn’t stand a chance in the national view of things and one Notre Dame, in the independent state they’re always in, for now.
So who has a good chance of following through with the 0 on the losing column?
Florida State have a very good chance of winning their first conference title since 2005, because of EJ Manuel, because of their great defense and because they got past their biggest obstacle in the conference, Clemson. The rest of the road? No (current) ranked teams until they reach the last day of the regular season, with #11, 4-0 Florida waiting, but at home, the Seminoles are favorites. Miami away and Virginia Tech, despite their disappointing start, is always tricky.
In the Big 12, it’s hard seeing any one of the undefeated teams not losing at least one down the road. West Virginia are off to record breaking numbers thanks to Geno Smith, but with games in Texas and Texas Tech, hosting Kansas State and Oklahoma, their offense won’t be enough to finish undefeated. Texas Tech have road games against TCU and Kansas State. TCU, also in a Big 12 debut season, are having problems putting points on the board. Texas have a bad defense. Kansas State might have the best defense in the conference, and have a good enough ground attack to carry them through. If there’s on team I like finishing undefeated in this conference, it’s the Wildcats.
Big East? Hard to tell. Rutgers win over Arkansas doesn’t mean anything, considering the Razorbacks’ situation. Should drop a game or two at least, with a rough finish against Cincy, Pitt and Louisville. Cincinnati showed some quality with their win over the Hokies, but should fall somewhere along the way, probably at Lousiville on October 26. The Cardinals probably have the best shot out of the three to remain undefeated, looking solid on both ends of the ball.
On to the Big Ten. Northwestern are the big surprise so far, but their wins have come against the fodder of other conferences. They don’t have to face Ohio State, which is a plus, but Nebraska and even the underachieving Michigan and Michigan State should be too much for them, especially on the road. Ohio State weren’t expected to be this good, and they aren’t that good, but Braxton Miller may be good enough for a surprising season. Michigan State on the road was probably their toughest test, with Wisconsin in Madison and Michigan at home looking like the potential problems down the road. Still, they have a decent shot.
Notre Dame have surprised many with their fantastic start, including wins over Michigan and Michigan State, but it doesn’t get a lot easier down the road. Home against Stanford might be one “ugly” game to watch for the offense lovers; Oklahoma away is always a tough one, but Kansas State showed that great defense is a problem for Landry Jones to handle; and there’s always USC waiting in the end. Unlikely to finish undefeated.
Oregon look like a step above the rest in the Pac-12, but a visit to USC, who ruined the Ducks’ season last year, is probably the trickiest part of their remaining schedule. The Civil War against Oregon State has been a nice fixture for them in recent years, but derbies are always tricky. Oregon State surprised many with their passing attack, but visits to Washington and Stanford among the rest should be too much for them, not to mention the Ducks.
National champions come out of the SEC, where there are still six teams without a loss. Alabama look too good for the rest, but their undefeated or not will probably rest on the LSU game, in Baton Rouge, October 3. Same goes for LSU, although their bad offense might struggle against Florida and South Carolina, besides their meeting with the tide. Mississippi State play both LSU and Alabama on the road. Enough said.
In the SEC East, it’s going to be about the inner struggles between Florida, Georgia and South Carolina. Problem for Florida and South Carolina? They both have LSU on their schedules. Georgia play in Columbia, USC play at the swamp. No one finishes undefeated.
The non-BCS schools? It doesn’t matter, because even a perfect season won’t be enough for them to make it into the NC game. Maybe a BCS bowl, maybe.