As we enter week 5 of the college football season, it is now clear who the contenders are. Many of the top teams have rolled over inferior competition and remain undefeated. However, we all know that going undefeated is a rare feat, and it is very likely no one will accomplish it this year. But if they do, here are the top 5 teams you might see with a zero in the loss column come January. NOTE: by undefeated, I mean in the regular season.
5. ALABAMA (SEC)
The Crimson Tide of Tuscaloosa are always a favorite in this conversation. Despite their vigorous SEC West schedule, the Tide consistently come out unscathed when December arrives. This year, however, might see a different story. This years squad, led by Nick Saban, faces Ole Miss, Arkansas, Texas A&M, Tennessee, and LSU in a 5 week span, 4 of which will be played on the road. They also face a rematch with their biggest rival Auburn in Tuscaloosa to close out the regular season. If the Tide hope to win all 6 of these games, they will need to rely heavily on probable starting quarterback Blake Sims. Although Alabama features one of the best running games in the nation, featuring T.J. Yeldon and Derrick Henry, it is impossible to get through the gauntlet the SEC provides without throwing the ball. Alabama’s running game and defense should continue to shine per usual, but the play from the quarterback position this season will define their success.
4. Florida State (ACC)
The Noles of Tallahassee ride the nations longest win streak at 18 games. They are also the defending national champions and have the best player in the country, Jameis Winston, under center for every snap taken. Although the chances FSU again goes undefeated and win the first 4-team playoff this year are great, I believe that they will not make it past week 10 undefeated. The Noles, although without Winston, showed weaknesses this past week against Clemson. After what should be 2 easy wins against Wake Forest and Syracuse, Florida State enter a tough portion of their schedule where they play Notre Dame at home, Louisville on the road, and then finish up against a much improved Virginia side back at home. I believe the Noles face a tough test against an athletic Notre Dame team. If they do not lose that one, then back to back wins against a Louisville team who will be hungry for an upset and a Virginia team with a prominent defense will do the trick for them. I expect great things from FSU this year, and possible even a playoff birth, but I do not believe they can make it there without a blemish on their resumé.
3. Oklahoma (Big 12)
The Sooners face yet another easy schedule this year. They face few challenges, and do not even have a Conference Championship game to compete in when December rolls on in. After a decisive win over Tennessee this past week, the Sooners appear to be ready to flex their muscles to the rest of the nation. Oklahoma should have no trouble easily defeating the first half of their schedule, and even the second half will be nothing to worry about either. There is only one game they should be worried about losing: Baylor at home on November, 8th. This will be one of the most anticipated games of the season, and all viewers (including me) will be expecting a score somewhere in the ballpark of 77-70. Bryce Petty leads a fierce, fast-paced Baylor attack that hope to claim a spot of their own in the playoff. The winner of this game should role to a playoff spot, and I believe that Trevor Knight will put up a historic night in this game. Oklahoma has one of the best offenses in the nation, and they will use it to their advantage this year en route to a great season.
2. Oregon (Pac-12)
Although Oregon does not face the easiest of schedules this year, I believe they have the most talented roster in the nation. Led by quarterback and Heisman frontrunner Marcus Mariota, the Ducks should roll over formidable and solid Pac-12 competition alike. The Ducks have already won their most difficult regular season game in a Week 2 win over Michigan State. In the Pac-12 the speedy Ducks face a UCLA team that has underperformed in 3 wins this season, and a Stanford team who we’ve already seen beaten by a very average USC team. I believe Oregon WILL run the table this year, winning all regular season games and their conference championship en route to the programs first National Championship. Mariota will be to good for everyone else in the end, winning both the Heisman and the NCAA’s first playoff title.
1. BYU (Independent)
Although no one knows much about the Brigham Young University Cougars, they have immediately risen as a team you should not mess with. BYU absolutley clobbered Texas in Austin, winning 41-7. Quarterback Taysom Hill provides a threat both with his arm and feet. He is not scared to outrun even the fastest of safeties in the NCAA, and is also not scared to burn them over the top on deep passing routes. BYU faces competition that could only be described in the words of Richard Sherman: “mediocre at best.” They have already beaten both Texas and Houston, and squeaked by an aggressive Virginia team this past week. The middle part of their schedule will provide zero challenge. The one game which might raise a few eyebrows for the Cougars comes in their final game of the season against a Pac-12 team in California. However, Hill will lead them yet again to victory in this one. Wether an undefeated BYU team would gain entry to the College Football Playoff over a one loss team from a Power Five conference is yet to be seen, but NCAA fans should expect nothing less then a perfect season from BYU.