We made it! After all the long months of drinking by pools, lakes, rivers, and oceans, it’s time to work on that winter hibernation body, because we have football again! Labor day weekend is the end of the summer chapter where we witness golf once again overtake baseball as the 4th best sport upon the return by Tiger Woods. If your life me, though, after July and the NBA Finals, the sports world gets quiet. Then Labor Day comes with a bang and the whole sports world gets back up and moving. Fantasy football is in full swing as guys and gals argue with their buddies on why their pick is overrated and their team will crush the other when they play. When we can sh*t talk each other for entertainment not violence. It’s a time where we throw away our friendships simply because the hated Dawgs are in Bobby Dodd, Tide are traveling to Auburn, or that team up north is in The Shoe, and there’s no way you are going to let the opportunity pass to tell them just how sh*tty their team really is. This is the time we all love and cherish each year as we end the year off with American’s favorite tradition, Football. Then start a new year with commitments we don’t intend to keep, food, family, friends, and you guessed it, football!
Bit of a long intro, but I cannot contain my excitement for the season. This list will breakdown teams ranked in the AP 10-5 (skipping Miami as they play tonight). Tomorrow I will break down 1-4 & Miami. At the end I will tell you which teams will not finish the year in the top 10. Let’s get ready for what looks to be another season of Really?!
And the “Did you see that!?”
Each season brings its own tales of underdogs rising to beat a superior program. A rivalry game that changes the trajectory for two teams over the course of the rest of the season. Week 1 is typically not the best tell for exactly how a season will play out, but there are always items that we can see play out over the season that show up week 1. Let’s look at where all the top 10 teams could get exposed and be in for some shock at some point this season.
#10 Penn State
Well if you’re in Happy Valley, you probably don’t need this article to know where Penn State may see some struggles this year. The loss of Saquan Barkley is most certainly number 1. His ability to make something out of nothing or run a punt to the house is sorely missed. Even bigger may be the loss of Moorehead. Trace McSorley came into the year hot on people’s boards as a potential Heisman candidate, but only managed 230yds on 36 attempts against App St. The run game carried the load well getting over 200yds on 43 attempts and averaging nearly 5 per carry. McSorley was a big portion of that and how well he holds up long term taking double digit carries a game to overcome the passing inefficiencies. However the under 60% completion for McSorley makes you wonder how much of an effect the change in coordinator will have on it’s QB over the course of the season. Concern : QB / OC chemistry in conference play
Auburn is one of the few teams who opened up their season with a real match-up as they took on Washington to start the season in Atlanta. This is considered a neutral site game, but anytime an SEC team plays a PAC12 school in Atlanta it is always more in favor of the SEC crowd. Auburn came out flat especially in the run game and could never get traction. PAC12 schools aren’t traditionally known for stout defenses (Washington does have a talented interior DL), yet Auburn could not get anything really going. On nearly 50 carries they got just shy of 150yds. They averaged just over 3 yards per rush from their main backs and this could loom as a major issue. Their passing attack is really predicated on trying to use their athletic receivers to mask the inefficiencies of Stidham. Stidham isn’t a bad QB, but he is more of a guy who can complete a high percentage due to easy reads and throws just getting the ball in their play-makers hands not due to arm talent and multiple reads. Concern : Rushing Offense, Play Action
This is Auburn’s biggest run, and while the blocking isn’t bad and enough for the 1st, it’s not great. Poor angle by the safety leaves the hole.
Miami will be included in the 1-4 article posted 9/3. Game is tonight @ 7:30pm @ LSU in Arlington Texas. Game available on ABC
Many people came in hyped on what Lane Kiffin could do at Florida Atlantic, and even possibly upset an Oklahoma team replacing Baker Mayfield at QB. If you’re like me watching the game, that notion was squashed in the first half of the first quarter of the game. Kyler Murray looks to be a stud. When a team wins 63-14 it isn’t easy to find holes as they clearly out matched their opponent. However, their special teams play wasn’t exactly spectacular. Partly could be opponent, but outside Lee Morris, they looked rather pedestrian in blocking and tackling. They have a good kicker in Seibert which could have them become complacent. This will be worth keeping an eye on as the season develops. Concern : Special Teams Play
Washington as mentioned above started with Auburn in Atlanta. Washington faced what might be the best front 7 in college football this year, and got more than they could handle in a tight game. The area of concern throughout the season will be the offensive line. They really struggled against Auburn’s front. They moved to QB draws that had success early against an aggressive front, but it quickly was dissipated when the interior DL just started mauling the interior line back 5 yards. Check the draw below in a goal to go situation. Auburn rushed 4, but the play is made by the interior just moving the line of scrimmage back 5 yards leaving the play nowhere to go. Concern : Offensive Line
#5 Ohio State
Ohio State opened it’s game against at least a power 5 team, but Oregon State hasn’t been anything to write home about. They also ran all over the Beavers 77-31 in a game that was never close. It was interesting to see if OSU would come out flat as they faced their first opponent without Urban Meyer, but they quickly squashed that feeling. If there is one thing to watch, it is the rush defense of the Buckeyes. Oregon State was able to find running lanes all game and averaged 5 yards a carry on almost 40 attempts. The game got out of hand rather quickly, so Oregon State moved towards throwing more, but when they wanted to run the ball they showed the ability to pick up yardage. Artavis Pierce killed them in the screen game and with patience as OSU would get over agressive and over pursue the ball. Concern : Run Defense
Which teams will finish the season out of top 10?
There can be cases made that all these teams are worthy of top 10 and could finish the year there. However, here are the teams who won’t finish here:
- Auburn : Simply put, schedule and a lack of playmakers in the offenseive and defensive backfield will cost them a few games this season. Mostlike finish with 4 losses just outside top 10
- Washington : Washington has too many holes on the OL and the skill positions on offense aren’t enough to mask this in league play. Also finish with 4 losses.
- Penn State : This isn’t simply because of the game against App State. I think the loss of Barkley will have a ripple effect where we realize just how pedestrian this Penn State team is after the effects of the Sandusky incidents. Finishes with 3 losses and too many close games.