OUR TOP THREE
1. Alabama. The shocking thing is the Tide ranks last in SEC rushing (and 90th in the nation) and 13th in SEC total offense. The rushing stat is a key because the Tide is 52-0 in the last five-plus years when running for at least 140 yards.
2. Oregon. The Ducks are No. 2 to Baylor in most major offensive categories, and their defense is stingy, too, ranking fifth in fewest points allowed and top-30 against the pass and in total yardage.
3. Clemson. The Tigers don’t look dominant, but they have that win over Georgia and now begin a soft three-game ACC stretch against Wake Forest, Syracuse and Boston College.
LSU. Hat’s off to the Les Miles Recruiting Machine. Sure, the Tigers reload, not rebuild. Yet it’s hard to comprehend how the team has powered up so quickly after losing an NCAA-record 11 players early to the NFL draft. That would wreck any other program besides Alabama.
Maryland. Few expected the Terps to be 4-0 heading into a bye before Florida State invades. WR Stefon Diggs is one of the most exciting players in the country, and QB C.J. Brown is a gifted runner and passer. The Terps have outscored opponents 159-41.
Boise State. From 2009-11, the Broncos went 38-2. They are merely 2-2 in 2013. There is no magical quarterback play any more, and the defense has fallen hard. It’s ranked 100th against the pass and 98th in yards allowed.
South Florida. This appeared to be a program on the verge of big things, but a 5-7 season in 2011 was followed by a 3-9 disaster and now an 0-3 start to ‘13 that includes a blowout loss to FCS foe McNeese State.
Melvin Gordon (RB, Wisconsin). Who needs Montee Ball? The NCAA’s career touchdowns leader left and was replaced by a faster model. Get this: Gordon is averaging 11.8 yards per pop. The sophomore, a former four-star recruit from Kenosha, Wis., leads the nation in rushing with 156 yards per game.
Fresno State. The Bulldogs (3-0), who earned their cred by knocking off Boise, have smooth sailing until November. The Mountain West has added a conference title game to the Bulldogs’ potential hurdles. Fresno’s offense is triggered by QB Derek Carr, who has thrown for 8,881 career yards and is the younger brother of David Carr, the No. 1 overall pick of the 2002 NFL draft.
An excellent lineup Saturday is highlighted by:
6-LSU at 9-Georgia: While the young Tigers learn on the job at a terrific pace, the Dawgs can’t afford a second loss. Georgia is the fourth team in the last 20 years to tackle three top-10 teams in the first four games.
21-Ole Miss at 1-Alabama: If the Tide isn’t clicking, this could get interesting because the precocious Rebels, who can score on anybody with a beautifully balanced attack, are hungry and have belief.
23-Wisconsin at 4-Ohio State: See how they run. The Badgers are third in the nation in rushing; the Buckeyes are sixth. OSU, which gets QB Braxton Miller back, is putting up 52.5 points per game.
14-Oklahoma at 22-Notre Dame: Will we get the Bell-dozer or Air Bell from the Sooners’ QB? Blake Bell surprisingly threw for 413 yards two weeks ago in his first career start. The Irish are on a 10-1 roll in games decided by a TD or less.
New Mexico State’s student attendance is so bad that school president Garrey Carruthers has raised money to give out cash prizes to kids who show up at home games. Among the prizes are $2,000, $250 and a VIP parking pass. Here’s the catch: The student has to be present in the fourth quarter to collect the reward. The Aggies have dropped 15 straight.
NO ROOM FOR ‘DOGS
Favorites went an astounding 55-2 last week, according to RJ Bell of pregame.com, with the only upsets being Utah over BYU and Memphis over Arkansas State. Favorites were 36-21 against the spread.
“It’s not like the old Roman days or anything. I mean, they’re not going to have guns and knives or throw you to the lions. It’s not like your life’s at stake. It’s just a football game. I hear it’s pretty loud, though,” Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez said about this weekend’s trip to Washington.
USC has won 11 of its last 12 against Arizona State, but the Sun Devils are 6-point home favorites Saturday.
Colorado has played only two games because of the floods. “Seems like three years since we played,” said coach Mike MacIntyre, who faces Oregon State on Saturday.
California is averaging 95 plays under new coach Sonny Dykes, son of former Texas Tech coach Spike Dykes.