I am not convinced any longer that Florida will automatically repeat. As I predicted after the Tennessee-Florida game in which Monte Kiffin figured out a system of defeating the Tebow spread offense, teams are mimicking what he came up with, and Florida, though still undefeated, is looking anything but No. 1 caliber. They have an Achilles' heel now, and everybody knows it.
The other major contenders for No. 1 all have their own foibles as well. I was not impressed with Alabama this weekend at all. They never scored a touchdown against the mediocre Tennessee team. (I'm convinced if Tennessee had a offense to speak of, they would be a Top Ten team this year.) Granted, Tennessee's defensive coordinator is brilliant, even though I have to admit watching Pro style defenses is like watching paint dry. Still, Alabama has some issues on offense. I am not sure their young QB is quite ready for a serious, big time game yet though, which they will get this coming week against LSU, and then later against Florida in the SEC Championship game.
Then there are the Longhorns, which I have not been all the impressed with either. They looked dreadful against a QB-less Oklahoma a few weeks back. They have also not particularly improved in the subsequent game, though they did handle a soulless Missouri team. Nebraska beat Missouri, and they have a complete offensive meltdown on their hands in Lincoln. (More on that in a minute.)
Then there's poor Iowa that, to quote a comedic great, "don't get no respect." Granted they like to win by the hairs of their chinny chin chin, and haven't looked particularly good in the close games. But you can't tell me if Ohio State or Michigan was undefeated at this point and had handedly beaten Penn State and Wisconsin (Iowa beat both teams by 10 points or better), they wouldn't be at least in the top 3, if not seriously considered for No. 1.
Then there are what I can the WKWC teams (as in Who Knows Who Cares?) . Boise State and Cincinnati are both undefeated. Cincinnati still has to play a good West Virginia team, so its hard to say about them. Boise State is always a great team from a marginal conference. They whine and complain that they don't get any respect. To a certain extent that is true, but they know going into season after season that unless they move up to a major conference, they will never be more than Miss Congeniality.
In teams like Cincinnati and Boise State's defenses, this is one of the reasons I detest the legal fiction of the Bowl Championship Series "national championship" scheme. If they let non-major conferences compete for slots in the BCS bowls, why are they always blackballed from the national title game? I think their anti-trust gripes against the NCAA are legitimate, as the NCAA does discriminate against non-major conferences because they know it will substantively cut into their money
I don't particularly care for a playoff system because it does cut down in the meaning of regular season games. I went to a Div II school that has a playoff system, and the number of fans in the stands doubled once the playoffs started. It never failed. I still think if we want to keep the bowl system we should go back to the traditional regional rivalry bowl system where the SEC champ always went to the Sugar Bowl, the PAC-10 and Big Ten Champs always went to the Rose bowl, etc. At least in that system, the NCAA can call a spade a spade and keep out the non-major conference teams, and there is also a guaranteed conference champ vs. conference champ bowl game system, instead of ending up with stupid BCS bowl games that have completely no meaning like West Virginia/Oklahoma or Kansas/Virginia Tech. I'll take a guaranteed, old fashioned rivalry Rose or Sugar or Cotton bowl any day. I will concede in a culture of winner take all that I am a minority opinion on that.
And then there is USC still floating out there in no man's land. I think they still have as legitimate shot at playing in a national title game as any, assuming they can take care of regular season business from here on out. Eventually Florida or Alabama will have to lose, thanks to the SEC championship game. Both teams might end up with a loss, as Alabama still has to play LSU and Florida has a stretch against Georgia and South Carolina and the date with Alabama. Looking at Florida's current status, I am going to predict they will lose one of those games. Texas still has a few tricky games against Okie State and Kansas. If two of those three teams (Alabama, Florida, and Texas) end up losing, which is a possibility as none of which are super teams this year, USC is placed just right for working their way back up. USC, though they sometimes have a early season brain cramp against Oregon or this year Washington, they do it early, which gives them time to work back up the polls gradually. (There you go, Father Tim, that paragraph is for you.)
And I suppose I should say a few words about Nebraska, seeing is that is a team I keep up with, albeit sadly not the Top 25 team I was hoping for. They won against Missouri, and then found a way to tank their offense. I don't know exactly what happened. They have some injuries on offense, but that doesn't explain the 8 turnovers (4 of which inside the 5 yard line) last Saturday. It was ugly in Lincoln, and against Iowa State of all teams. I have been concerned that Watson, the NU Offensive coordinator, has not stuck with an offensive system all year. They modulate between games between a power option and a west coast and a hodge podge of other offense schemes, none of which really seem to stick. They got away with it for a while because teams (and I was even taken in by it for a few games) were thinking they had the offensive might they had last year, but teams have figured out it is more of a "scrap everything and go back to the drawing board every week" kind of deal than a "let's fake out the defenses every week" kind of deal. I don't know what they are going to do, but they need to do something. The Omaha paper has been screaming for weeks to change quarterbacks. I didn't agree with them at first, but I think anything at this point might shake out some cobwebs. Watson will be gone at the end of the season if nothing changes.
Anyway, I'm not going to make a Top Ten list this week. At this point, I think just about any top five team could legitimately beat any other team...that and its 5:30 in the morning and the baby is still screaming.