It’s beginning to look like nothing can stop Alabama from defending its national championship. The Crimson Tide look too foreboding to deal with for 60 minutes. And, as you will see below, there is a very good reason they remain the top team in the Tiebreaker.com Top 5 poll.
No. 1 Alabama (4-0)
Before Nick Saban gambled by asking him to save the Tide from a beating by Georgia in last season’s national championship game, few people outside the tight inner circle of college football knew who quarterback Tua Tagovailoa was.
Now, it appears the nation is polishing the Heisman Trophy for him.
The Athletic checked the pulse of Heisman voters with an informal poll and Tua took the top spot, earning 29 of 34 first-place votes.
Any doubt was effectively wiped away in last week’s 45-23 butt-whipping of Texas A&M, a team that almost beat Clemson earlier this season.
Tua completed 22-of-30 for 387 yards for four touchdowns and no interceptions. In the 31 drives he’s driven, the Tide has rolled to 20 TDs and two field goals, completing 15-of-19 on third downs along the way. His offense has averaged 9.5 yards
Next up for the Tide is Louisiana-Lafayette. And that should be a lot of fun considering Alabama’s offense has exceeded 500 yards of offense in each game this season.
“I’d appreciate it if you’d sort of look at some of the things we didn’t do so well and write about that so maybe I could show it to the players and say, ‘Look here, man. Here’s something you can do better,” said Saban after the Texas A&M rout.
We promise to consider it.
No. 2 Georgia (4-0)
There was concern before Georgia’s game at Missouri last week that the Tigers might have the offense capable of leashing the Bulldogs. They tried, but the Dawgs still slobbered all over Missouri.
Georgia has scored over 40 in each of its games, including two within the SEC. But coach Kirby Smart wasn’t leading any parades after his defense allowed four rushing TDs and 172 yards.
So, looking for something to lean into his team about, Smart focused the pressure on the “D” before its game Saturdayagainst Tennessee.
But let’s be honest. The Vols average 205 yards rushing, but lack weapons resembling the great Travis Henry, their all-time leading rusher, who played for seven seasons in the NFL.
Despite it, Smart did take time to pat senior linebacker D’Andre Walker on the pads. He had two sacks and two forced fumbles against Mizzou and remains the only Georgia defender with a sack this season.
No. 3 Clemson (4-0)
The big man of campus now stands 6-feet-6, freshman quarterback Trevor Lawrence. The highly touted recruit, ranked No. 2 nationally last season by ESPN, was named the Tigers starter earlier this week over senior Kelly Bryant, who had won 16 of18 starts since taking over for Deshaun Watson.
The move was not taken well by Bryant, who took two days off from practice before announcing he was transferring, eerily similar to the reaction the two QBs he beat out for Watson’s job had. They bolted, as well.
On Saturday, Clemson plays Syracuse, which put 51 up against UConn, the worst defensive team in the nation last week.
The Orange will have to work to out-pace Lawrence and sophomore halfback Travis Etienne, who gained 122 yards on only 11 carries in last week’s 49-21 road thumping of Georgia Tech.
No. 4 Ohio State (4-0)
If you are wondering who finished second to Tua in The Athletic’s Heisman poll, it was Buckeyes’ QB Dwayne Haskins, who completed 21-of-24 for 304 yards with five TDs and no picks in Urban Meyer’s triumphant return from suspension against Tulane.
But No. 9 Penn State is no Tulane. And that’s the intriguing challenge the Buckeyes have Saturday before 110,000 fans wearing white (and not for surrender) at Beaver Stadium.
The Nittany Lions (55.5) and Buckeyes (54.5) have the two top offenses in the nation. Both have racked up at least 40 points in every game this year.
And if Haskins has a Big Ten peer, it assuredly is Penn State’s Trace McSorely, although it’s too early to tell if he’s more Kerry Collins than Anthony Morelli. Penn State fans will certainly understand the reference.
Haskins leads the Big Ten in completion percentage (75.7), passing touchdowns (16), passing yards (1,194). … you get the point. But Penn State’s Miles Sanders is just the sixth back in its history to have at least 200 yards rushing and three rushing TDs in the same game.
No. 5 Oklahoma (4-0)
Out of respect to the United States Military Academy, and the brave and dedicated young men who have contributed to the history of college football since 1890, and produced three Heisman Trophy winners – Doc Blanchard, Glenn Davis and Pete Dawkins – we excuse the Sooners for waiting until overtime last week to beat Army.
Look, we know Army held the ball for 44:41 during regulation and ran 87 plays to Oklahoma’s 40. The Sooners’ sports information office tells us that only in 1989, when they beat Iowa State 43-40, had its defense been on the field for so long in a victory.
In fact, the 40 snaps – which included OT – were the third-fewest in program history dating to 1937.
But in retrospect, it only gave OU’s sophomore linebacker Kenneth Murray more time set a school-record with 28 tackles (22 assisted), which is the most by an FBS player since such statistics were first gathered in 2000.
Ironically, OU’s previous record for tackles was set by linebacker Carl McAdams (24) in a 10-0 loss in 1965 to another service academy, Navy.
And we thought “This We’ll Defend” was Army’s motto.