College Gridiron Week Three: Is There a Sleeper Upset Among the College Ranks?

Ron Johnson@TLCCaptainSenior Writer ISeptember 18, 2010

PASADENA, CA - JANUARY 07:  Lineman Marcell Dareus #57 of the Alabama Crimson Tide runs with the ball after an interception against the Texas Longhorns during the second quarter of the Citi BCS National Championship game at the Rose Bowl on January 7, 2010 in Pasadena, California. Dareus would score on the play giving the Crimson Tide a 24-6 lead over the Longhorns.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Jeff Gross/Getty Images

Through two weeks it is safe to say that the polls are pulling for a showdown involving Alabama, Ohio State, Boise State, or TCU. It is also clear that having the Big Ten embarrassed again by the SEC would sound better than the SEC embarrassing the WAC/Mountain West Conferences.

Unfortunately, they also have made it clear that they do not want Florida anywhere near the top five at this point.

Here is how the top 10 looks heading into this weekend:

#1) Alabama Crimson Tide (2-0, 0-0 SEC)

Last Week: W vs. Penn State 24-3

Up Next: @ Duke 9/18

The Crimson Tide have had a perfect start to the defense of their National Championship.

After thumping San Jose State in the home opener, Alabama went on to knock around JoePa’s Penn State football team. It was so bad that it looked as if the Nittany Lions forgot to show up for this huge game. But the worse part of it all for Penn State is that they didn’t have the pleasure of battling Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram, who was deemed not ready to play…yet.

Up next for the Tide is the upset minded Duke Blue Devils, who made a dramatic run to the postseason last year. Duke has proven that they are no longer the pushovers they used to be. But if they want complete proof that they’re ready for a run at the ACC Crown, a tough showing against a dominant Alabama team could be the start of something bigger.

#2) Ohio State Buckeyes (2-0, 0-0 Big Ten)

Last Week: W vs. Miami (FL) 36-24

Up Next: vs. Ohio 9/18

So here we are again. Ohio State has a Heisman hopeful at quarterback, they are looking more dangerous than ever, and if they play their cards right they will be playing for the National Championship in January.

But like times of the past, they are rolling neck and neck with an SEC Powerhouse. This time it is Alabama that is in their crosshairs. But after an impressive win over the Miami Hurricanes (this time without controversy), the Buckeyes can relax a little as they face the Ohio Bobcats this weekend.

For Ohio, it will be only about slowing the Buckeyes down and hoping to cause enough stir to have the Buckeyes singing a new tune. For Ohio State, it will be all about padding stats and increasing their BCS Stock. With the way Terrelle Pryor has played this season, he will have himself a well earned spot in the Heisman Race alongside Michigan’s Denard Robinson.

#3) Boise State Broncos (1-0, 0-0 WAC)

Last Week: Idle

Up Next: @ Wyoming 9/18

So the Broncos knew what they had to do to garner some respect and some votes: beat Virginia Tech, possibly the toughest team on their schedule.

So after defeating the Hokies, they thought they were in good shape, right? Sure…that is, until James Madison defeated the same Hokies team last weekend. Now there are those who have opted to not punish the Broncos for the shocking ending last weekend. Playing the field, BCS???

In any event, the Broncos are traveling to the Laramie to face the Wyoming Cowboys, who are coming off a bad loss to the Texas Longhorns. The Cowboys are still confident about their season, but they have to get over the hump and find a way to stop Kellen Moore and that dangerous aerial attack of the Broncos.

But barring a ref with a house payment, Boise State should be able to cruise through this game and the remainder of their schedule. It’s almost too easy for them…almost.

#4) TCU Horned Frogs (2-0, 0-0 MWC)

Last Week: W vs. Tennessee Tech 62-7

Up Next: vs. Baylor 9/18

The Horned Frogs are still feeling the pinch of that season ending loss to Boise State back in January. But that isn’t stopping them from getting back up and taking down the best the country has to offer en route to another Mountain West Championship and possible BCS appearance.

But now they have to focus on every opponent and treat them like they are the Boise State Broncos. This will be put to the test against Baylor this weekend.

For Baylor, the football team has always been a pushover in the Big XII Conference. But this time around, they get the chance to play spoiler. Granted, it is a slim chance, but it is a chance they are willing to take.

Gary Patterson will not let his team rest until they get the respect they rightfully deserve. And before they meet them next season in conference play, TCU would like to welcome the Broncos in the hard way.

#5) Oregon Ducks (2-0, 0-0 Pac-10)

Last Week: W vs. Tennessee 48-13

Up Next: vs. Portland State 9/18

The Ducks have been on a scoring rampage for the last two weeks. The Ducks forced their beloved mascot to deliver over 500 pushups in a rout two weeks ago. Then they delivered a punishment to Tennessee that will leave the Vols gagging when Florida comes to town this weekend. The Oregon Ducks on the other hand have an easy win on the horizon when they face Portland State.

There isn’t much that can describe the situation right now, but Oregon is quietly proving that they can win without Jeremiah Masoli, who was given his walking papers last season. And considering that USC won’t garner the infamous Pac-10 Championship this season, that leaves the door wide open for Oregon to lay claim to it early and often.

#6) Texas Longhorns (2-0, 0-0 Big XII)

Last Week: W vs. Wyoming 34-7

Up Next: @ Texas Tech 9/18

It is still a wide open Big XII Conference, but that isn’t stopping Texas from sticking out like a sore thumb. After dismantling Wyoming, the Horns are proving that even without gunslinger Colt McCoy they can still win big when it counts.

Now that they are leading the rest of the Big XII at this moment in regards to the polls, Texas has a chance to take another step towards another shot at immortality when they open conference play at Lubbock when they face the Raiders.

For the Red Raiders, upset is the word for the week. There are those who haven’t forgotten that the Raiders decimated the Horns’ chances of a NC two years ago on a unbelievable touchdown catch by Michael Crabtree. If déjà vu is bound to happen again, this would be the time to do it.

The Horns want to win it all outright, rather than share it with Oklahoma or Nebraska. Defeating Texas Tech in Lubbock is the perfect start for a team that was believed to be old news after the drafting of McCoy by the Cleveland Browns.

#7) Oklahoma Sooners (2-0, 0-0 Big XII)

Last Week: W vs. Florida State 47-17

Up Next: vs. Air Force 9/18

Someone please explain to me which Oklahoma Sooners team will show up this weekend. Two weeks ago, Florida State and Oklahoma were two different teams. The ‘Noles dominated Samford, while Oklahoma barely beat Utah State.

Last weekend, both teams showed completely different sides to the football nation. In the end, Oklahoma showed what made them dangerous for the last few years.

Now Oklahoma faces the top rushing team in the nation, as they battle the Air Force Falcons. After garnering over 400 yards on the ground against BYU, the Falcons now travel to Norman to face a team that has been in countless NC conversations.

But the question isn’t whether or not Air Force can hang with Oklahoma, it is more along the lines of which Sooners team will show up: the team that squeaked by Utah State or the team that owned Jimbo Fisher and Florida State?

#8) Nebraska Cornhuskers (2-0, 0-0 Big XII)

Last Week: W vs. Idaho 38-17

Up Next: @ Washington 9/18

While everyone is talking about Texas and Oklahoma (again), the Huskers have quietly made their way into the top ten.

If that isn’t enough to get your attention, they are doing all this without their vicious pass rusher, Ndamukong Suh. Even without Suh Nebraska has continued to dominate every team they faced this season. After taking down the Vandals in Bronco Country, they now travel to the Pacific Northwest to battle another sleeper team in Washington.

The Huskies had a bad start when they lost a heartbreaker to begin the season, but they managed to bounce back last weekend to get back on the winning track.

But when you have a conference as wide open as the Pac-10, you have to put it all out on the line. In this case, beating Nebraska will do more for their credibility. For Nebraska it’s all about separating them from the rest of the herd in the Big XII Conference…namely Oklahoma and Texas.

#9) Iowa Hawkeyes (2-0, 0-0 Big Ten)

Last Week: W vs. Iowa State 35-7

Up Next: @ Arizona 9/18

They have to be the same team that shocked everyone last season. Despite coming up short on their goal of claiming the Big Ten Championship, Iowa continued to show that they are out for the brass ring.

So far, they are off to a good start, especially after taking down in-state rival Iowa State last weekend. Now they go from the Big XII to the Pac-10 looking to add another notch to their belt this season…and maybe even add another loss to the soon-to-be departed Pac-10 Conference.

Arizona has always been known as a basketball school, but lately Arizona has tried to break out of the shell known as Lute’s House. They will have their chance if they can take down a vicious Iowa team that is more determined to take down Penn State and Ohio State than ever before.

When this Destruction in the Desert is done, expect Iowa to return to the Big Ten with the Buckeyes and Nittany Lions in their crosshairs…just as long as they don’t forget about Michigan.

#10) Florida Gators (2-0, 0-0 SEC)

Last Week: W vs. South Florida 38-14

Up Next: @ Tennessee 9/18

The Gators offense needs a lot of work considering that Tim Tebow is no longer running the show. But despite the loss of several key figures in the schema known as Gator Nation, Florida continues to deliver shock and awe and impress Gator Country.

Florida has seemed to get off to a slow start, but always seem to deliver in the second half. This was proven two weeks ago against Miami (OH) and last week against South Florida. The sky should be the limit for this Gators team…but the real test begins this week.

Tennessee is coming off a humiliating loss to Oregon and now they have to focus on the invasion of the Gators this weekend. Despite having the big wins, Florida continues to drop in the polls. Despite being undefeated and doing all this without Tebow, Florida has gone from fourth to eighth to 10th in the polls.

A decisive victory over Tennessee should get them back in the thick of things. But even with that, what has the likes of Oklahoma done that Florida has not? 


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