The 2013 college football season is still too young to truly have a full grasp on what each team will bring to the table every week. But that doesn’t stop the abundance of overreaction for each title contender. There are legit concerns for teams and areas on which to improve.
Of course, it is possible to see where offenses and defenses stand, but how much can we really define by two or three games of observation?
Since the preseason top 25 poll is nothing more than reputation, it already is difficult to see how good a team is before a game is played. There are plenty of team previews and analysis to scroll through, and tons of information on scouting reports for players, but in the end everything is based on things that can potentially happen.
Just look at the Heisman Trophy winners over the past few years. Can anyone honestly say they had Cam Newton, Johnny Manziel or Robert Griffin III as their preseason favorite?
The truth is we can’t with a straight face say we know how good the Alabama Crimson Tide will be by November. Defensively the Tide don’t even sit in the top 10 nationally in total defense. They have played just two games. Surrendering over 600 yards and 42 points to the Texas A&M Aggies certainly looks bad.
But how much stock do you put in Manziel’s numbers against a Bama defense that was nursing a lead much of the second half? We didn’t know how well the Tide O-line would hold up before they pushed A&M all over field. The result was 230 yards on the ground on 37 carries.
Alabama’s offense put up over 500 yards on an Aggie defense that was playing with all their starters for the first time this season. How much stock do you put in the numbers? We can probably say with complete certainty the A&M defense is a concern, as they have given up an average of almost 500 yards a game.
How about Teddy Bridgewater and the Louisville Cardinals? The offense is averaging over seven yards a play, and Bridgewater hasn’t fallen short of expectations. He has thrown 10 touchdowns and currently has a QBR of 92.9, which ranks 4th nationally. However, the Cardinals haven’t played a ranked team and figure to have the easiest road in the AAC.
The Ohio State Buckeyes will be fighting an uphill battle all season. As of now, their schedule could feature just one ranked team. Their conference brethren didn’t do them any favors over this past weekend, going 1-3 against the Pac-12.
National perception is everything in the BCS, and despite another undefeated season, Ohio State may have to put their resume up against a one-loss team from the SEC or Pac-12. Running through a Big 10 schedule will not be looked at the same as the SEC or Pac-12.
Perception comes into play much more than many realize. When your teams’ resume is put up against another team from a conference that is considered stronger, right or wrong, the team from the perceived weaker conference will get left out. So where does the perception come from?
There is the opinion aspect, and then there is the factual stance based off some kind of data. Strength of a conference comes from the most simple piece of evidence. This is where bowl games and early season head-to-head match-ups between conferences comes in handy. The Big 10 now sits just one notch above the AAC in terms of national perception of strength. So, do we now consider Ohio State overrated?
How about the Stanford Cardinal? They haven’t necessarily blown through their early season schedule. They have had to manage their way through slow starts against San Jose State and Army, but they have come out with wins. Do we now consider the defense a concern after the triple-option of Army accounted for 333 yards on 71 plays?
There is only one thing we can say for certain at this point in the season. College football is in high octane mode.