As college football pushed past the first third of the season last weekend, we’re left with a few unalienable truths among the top teams and a laugh track where the NFL used to spin its tunes.
The Alabama Crimson Tide are the favorite to claim their third BCS National Championship in four years. Nick Saban’s Process has moved from installation to devastation. Holding them back? A November roadie in Baton Rouge, Georgia/Florida in Atlanta and an opposing quarterback channeling (sober) Stephen Garcia a la Alabama-South Carolina 2010.
Sans a disastrous October or November for the Oregon Ducks, De’Anthony Thomas will have a seat in New York City for the Heisman ceremony. His game (while stunningly addictive) encapsulates so much of the YouTube fandom charge that replicating his current stats over the final 2/3 of the year means he’s in. Run fast? Run long? Toss in a juke and there’s a poster on every 12 year-old’s wall in the Pacific Northwest.
Zach Mettenberger hasn’t buried the legacy of Jordan Jefferson and Jarrett Lee for the LSU Tigers. The former Georgia Bulldog arrived with NFL talent and junior college production. His first SEC road game reminded many that a tenacious Tigers defense and home field advantage might carry them past Alabama but they’ve lost an air of invincibility. Les Miles plans to find it this winter in Cambodia.
Jim Harbaugh laid a foundation for the new Stanford Cardinal though he wasn’t the entirety of its support. David Shaw’s team plays physical, controls both lines, run the ball down your throat and ask whether your resume is up to date so you’re ready to come work for them when this college thing is over. Depth will hurt the USC Trojans until the roster max returns to 85. UCLA sees an opportunity but it’s happening in Palo Alto. Stanford’s rise won’t end with their spirited ex-leader in San Francisco.
Will Muschamp isn’t just a fiery defensive coordinator better suited for the sidekick role. The Florida Gators aren’t title contenders yet and may not be until recruiting catches up to their SEC West counterparts. Their ace in 2012? After halftime, there’s no better squad adjusting to what the opponent runs successfully. Muschamp and his staff absorb punishment like a boxer early, reassess, and then floor Ivan Drago without needing a montage.
Bill Snyder is the finest active coach in college football. His Kansas State Wildcats, fresh off a ten-win season in 2011, stamped their registration for another Big 12 title chase with a Norman upset of the Oklahoma Sooners. Nick Saban possesses the rings, the players and the revenue. He also posted a 34-24 mark for the Michigan State Spartans, a better and more desirable gig than the one in Manhattan. Give Snyder 20 years back and Alabama’s resources and I’m betting he matches Saint Nick.