NFL who? Let’s talk about where the fun and passion really is – the college game! Three games under their collective belts, some familiar names are at the top of the polls, but there are a few lurking close behind who can do some real damage and maybe even crash the four-team playoff bracket, kind of like the Washington Huskies did last year. Speaking of fun – the four-team playoff is tremendous! But why not double it to eight teams? Or quadruple it to sixteen? What are they waiting for? America would love a bigger competition, and it could add for extra excitement. Doesn’t the NCAA realize that they’ve already created one of the greatest sports spectacles in history with March Madness?! Let’s invite more teams to the football party and see how thrilling it will be!
But back to the current year. Let’s look at the Top 10 Associated Press-ranked teams in the country. Each of them has three wins and no losses except # 10 Ohio State at 2 wins and one loss. The Buckeyes suffered a beatdown at the hands of Oklahoma led by Heisman candidate quarterback Baker Mayfield in week two. Oklahoma paid back the Buckeyes for singing their fight song on the Sooners’ home field last year after the Buckeyes defeated them in Norman, Oklahoma. This year, QB Mayfield actually took the flag of the Sooners and stuck it in the ground at midfield of Ohio State’s stadium in retaliation. Baker did apologize for the flag-plant incident – although I’m not really sure why he had to!
Speaking of Oklahoma, they are one of the schools from the only state with not one but two representatives in the Top 10 at this point. The Sooners are ranked # 3, largely on that dismantling of the Buckeyes in Columbus, Ohio, but the Oklahoma State Cowboys are also in the mix at # 6. The Cowboys have wiped out their three opponents in consecutive weeks – Tulsa, South Alabama, and Pitt. The dropped 59 points on both Tulsa and Pitt, and a mere 44 on South Alabama!
The others rounding out the five on top of the rankings board (besides the Sooners at #3) are the usual suspects at # 1 and # 2 – Alabama and Clemson. These two have met in the last two championship games, each winning one. Who knows? Maybe the rubber match will occur in January. The Penn State Nittany Lions look like they are finally back after their storied program was rocked by one of the most sordid scandals in the history of all sports. Ranked # 4, Penn State is squarely in the conversation for the national crown. Their first three opponents have managed 14 points against them while Penn State has racked up 141 points! At # 5 sits USC, yet another of the glamor programs in the history of college football. Led by QB Sam Darnold, the Trojans seem poised to return to the top of the heap after a few down years in the post-Pete Carroll era.
I mentioned Oklahoma State at # 6, so let’s discuss 7 through 10 who all have a chance to rise up – and I believe I know which one of the four really will meet the challenge. Ohio State can never be overlooked when they have the wizard Urban Meyer as the head coach, but it’s going to be tough for them to make the pollsters forget the way Oklahoma took care of them on their own home field. At # 7 and #8, respectively, we have the Huskies and the Michigan Wolverines. Washington proved last year that they belong with the top-tier programs, and Michigan is led by Jim Harbough who has returned that team to its former powerhouse status.
But – drumroll please – the team that is going to surge from its current #9 spot to the top of the heap is none other than the WISCONSIN BADGERS! The Badgers have outscored their first three opponents – Utah State, Florida Atlantic, and the always tough BYU Cougars – by the nice round figure of 100. They have scored 130 points, while the other three have scored 30 combined. Challenging games against Purdue, Maryland, Iowa, and those Harbough-coached Wolverines remain, among others, but I’m confident that Wisconsin will dispose of all comers handily during the regular season and then crush their opponents in the championship playoffs! You read it here first! Get ready to crown the Wisconsin Badgers national champions in January! That my family is alumni and one currently goes to U of Wisconsin in no way has biased this prediction.
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