After just one month, this year’s college football season has proven to be wild and unpredictable. In multiple conferences, teams that rode the preseason under the radar of most pundits have emerged as true contenders for conference titles and in some cases, a playoff berth.
In the Atlantic Coast Conference, the University of Louisville has emerged as a true powerhouse with a high octane offense led by quarterback Lamar Jackson. Jackson has taken the stage as college football’s next great dual threat QB, burning defenses with both his arm and legs.
He has accounted for a staggering 25 total touchdowns in four games with a mere three interceptions. While the Louisville offense has averaged over 60 points a game, including the 63-20 demolition of Florida State University, who was ranked No.2 in the country by the Associated Press at the time, Jackson and Louisville have a huge showdown this week against reigning ACC champions, Clemson.
One important aspect remains unchanged in the Southeastern conference: Alabama is still king. After losing seven players to the NFL draft this past spring, Alabama has managed to still produce top notch talent. The defense, spearheaded by linebacker Tim Williams, remains extremely stout.
On top of this, Alabama has received a gift, in the form of their top rival Louisiana State University experiencing an early season collapse. LSU entered the season with high expectations, ranked No.5 in the Associated Press preseason poll. Behind the Heisman favorite running back Leonard Fournette, many figured that the Tigers would grind their way to a college football playoff spot.
Instead, the offense was ineffective, scoring 14 and 13 points respectively in their two early season losses. The early season struggles culminated this past Sunday when LSU fired their head coach, Les Miles.
Miles was the LSU head coach since 2005. While there, he never finished with a record worse than 84 in the regular season and had a 114-34 record overall. The Tigers best season came in 2007, when he lead LSU to a national championship game win over Ohio State University. Despite the fact that his teams were always solid, they have consistently underperformed over the past few years, despite the extraordinary talent that they had. Now that LSU is firmly dismantled, expect Alabama to have smooth sailing throughout the rest of the regular season.
The Big 10 conference has shown itself to be loaded with the most top notch teams throughout the first month of the season. Ohio State University, similar to Alabama, finds itself continuing to place great players on the field, despite a historic number of underclassmen leaving for the NFL draft last season.
As Mike Weber steps into the role of running back in place of Ezekiel Elliott, Weber looks as if he will be the next great in a long line of Ohio State running backs. Quarterback J.T. Barrett has also solidified himself as the team’s starter after having to split time with Cardale Jones last season.
The University of Michigan, after suffering through a long stretch of mediocrity, has returned as a college football powerhouse. Head coach Jim Harbaugh has transformed the culture at Michigan, repeating the success he found at Stanford University and in the NFL with the San Francisco 49ers.
Now with Ohio State and Michigan currently ranked No.2 and No.4 in the AP’s latest poll, college football’s greatest rivalry is finally back in true form. These two teams will provide plenty of fireworks when they meet later this year, as the winner will get a trip to the Big 10 championship game and with it, a potential trip to the playoffs.