After two straight national championships, the Alabama Crimson Tide are undefeated and again sitting at the top of the national rankings as the best college football team. The results of the first Leatherheads Top 16 poll are not a surprise with Alabama ranked #1.
Bama will play Ole Miss this weekend to try to hold on to the top ranking. The Rebels are 3-0 after beating Vanderbilt, Southeast Missouri State and Texas. The A.J. McCarron-led Crimson Tide are also 3-0 after beating Virginia Tech, Texas A&M and the Rams of Colorado State.
The Aggies are ranked #9 and are the highest ranked team with a lost, joining Georgia and South Carolina as the three teams with losses in the Top 16. Of course, A&M lost to Bama in that classic game on September 14 as the Tide escaped getting Manzieled for the second year in a row. Texas A&M play Arkansas this week. The Razorbacks are coming off a loss to Rutgers. Johnny Football is having another great year. Leatherhead Terry Keshner calls him the James Franco of college football and Leatherhead Tony Williams calls A&M an offensive-MACHINE – so true!
In the #2 spot we have the Oregon Ducks. The Ducks are 3-0 and will be playing a 1-2 California Golden Bears team. Although the Ducks have tough matchups coming up with games against Washington, Washington State and UCLA, the big match will be against Stanford on November 7. The Cardinal play at Washington State on Saturday.
There is a tight race for the #3 spot with just seven points separating Clemson, Ohio State and Stanford with two 4-0 teams slightly behind in LSU and Louisville. Clemson currently holds that #3 spot but like Leatherhead Dave Boyce said to me: “If NC State makes you look beatable, you are beatable.”
LSU plays at Georgia in Week 5. If the Bulldogs lose, it is likely they will drop out of the Top 16 but could run the table the rest of the way with only one AP-ranked team left to play this year in Florida. LSU on the other hand has yet to play Florida, Ole Miss, Alabama and the Aggies.
Michigan sits at the bottom of the poll after barely beating a UConn team that looked pitiful the first two games of the season. A late pick led to a score and allowed the Wolverines to win the game and stay undefeated.
A game to watch this weekend is Oklahoma at Notre Dame. Can the Irish find last year’s regular season magic and top a very good Sooners team? The Irish are 3-1 with their loss coming against Michigan on September 7. Meanwhile, linebacker Manti Te’o will be making his NFL debut for the San Diego Chargers on Sunday.
An interesting team on the verge of joining the Top 16 is the Northwestern Wildcats. The 4-0 Wildcats have the week off but play Ohio State in Week 6. Leatherhead Bob Swick thinks they are the sleeper team of this season while Keshner told me “If the Wildcats can beat Ohio State, they’ll be that much closer of realizing their dream of getting embarrassed in January.”
Here are the first rankings by Leatherheads of the Gridiron for the 2013 season:
Others receiving votes: Baylor – 13, Northwestern – 13, Washington – 11, Ole Miss – 5, Florida – 4, Texas Tech – 2, Michigan State – 2, Notre Dame – 1.