Not all the cupcakes have been eaten. Tennessee gets to feast on Ohio (not to be confused with Ohio State) and Clemson will put the wood to South Carolina State this coming Saturday. But, for the most part, the top tier of teams with eyes on a national championship have navigated through the soft underbellies of their schedules without taking much incoming fire.
Now, the heavy lifting begins for most teams in conference play.
There hasn’t been a lot of shuffling in the list of teams with a real shot at the title, though books have re-arranged the numbers a tad.
The biggest hit comes at the expense of Clemson. DeShaun Watson and the Tigers barely scraped by Troy at home in Week 2 (30-24). They certainly didn’t look like the team that pushed Bama to the limit in last year’s title game.
Look for there to be a real shake-up after Week 3, which features a pivotal ACC clash between no. 2 Florida State and no. 19 Louisville (home to overnight sensation Lamar Jackson); an epic SEC tilt between no. 1 Alabama and no. 19 Ole Miss, the only team to beat Bama last year; and an inter-conference showdown between no. 3 Ohio State and no. 14 Oklahoma.
Florida State: 11/2
Ohio State: 6/1
Alabama ran roughshod over USC in Week 1 (52-6) and weren’t tested by Western Kentucky in Week 2 (38-10). Now they travel to Ole Miss looking for vengeance for last year’s 43-37 setback. They’ll stay title favorites with a W.
The final score (30-24) of Clemson’s win over Troy raised some eyebrows. Troy stayed with the Tigers for a half and showed that Clemson’s secondary has some holes. DeShaun Watson will have to play much better, as well, if his team is going to win the ACC and he’s going to stay a Heisman contender. (More on that shortly.)
Michigan proved it can score a lot. And quickly. QB Wilton Speight had 4 TDs and the Wolverines had 358 yards through the air in a 51-14 win over Central Florida. We should know a little more about their CFP bona fides after a three-week stretch against Colorado, Penn State, and no. 9 Wisconsin.
Louisville enters the top-12 thanks to dominant wins over Charlotte (70-14) and Syracuse (62-28). It’s been a while since the Cardinals had an offense like this. Not even Teddy Bridgewater’s teams were scoring like Lamar Jackson. If they can knock off Florida State at home this weekend, they may out Clemson as the ACC favorite – at least until their Week 5 battle with the Tigers.
Christian McCaffrey (Stanford): 5/1
Deshaun Watson (Clemson): 7/1
Lamar Jackson (Louisville): 7/1
J.T. Barrett (Ohio State): 15/2
Leonard Fournette (LSU): 9/1
Dalvin Cook (Florida State): 9/1
Nick Chubb (Georgia): 12/1
Greg Ward Jr. (Houston): 12/1
Baker Mayfield (Oklahoma): 32/1
Chad Kelly (Mississippi): 35/1
The odds lengthened a bit for Clemson’s Watson, who completed barely 50-percent of his passes versus Troy and threw two interceptions.
J.T. Barrett was nothing special in OSU’s latest romp, and Dalvin Cook had a comfortable 83 yards and two TDs in Florida State’s rout of Charleston Southern.
Houston QB Greg Ward Jr. and LSU RB Leonard Fournette were both denied an opportunity to pad their stats because of injuries.
The real leaper on this list, literally and figuratively, is Louisville’s Jackson. A Heisman afterthought at season’s outset, he had 21 carries for 199 yards and four TDs in a huge win over Syracuse. Jackson, by the way, is the quarterback – and he also completed 20 passes for 411 yards and another TD in the game. He now has 13 total touchdowns … in two games. Yikes.
Photo credit: Thecoiner [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.
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