Tigers, Tide best of best

Tenacious defenses separate LSU, 'Bama from pack in SEC

September 26, 2011|By Matt Murschel, Tribune Newspapers

There's LSU and Alabama and then everyone else in the SEC. From the start of the season, everyone was pointing to these two as the cream of the crop in the SEC. Armed with stellar defenses and impressive wins, both can make a case as the top team in the nation.

It was a tough week for the Big East. After spending most of the week scrambling from the aftermath of the defections of Syracuse and Pittsburgh, the conference was back in the news after it had to apologize for a blown call that cost Toledo a victory against the Orange.

Uniforms are the only thing worth talking about with Maryland. After two straight losses, including a devastating 38-7 defeat to Temple, the Terrapins have looked as ugly as some of those uniform combinations.

Denard Robinson's development as a quarterback has taken a step back. Sure, the Michigan star has rushed for 552 yards and five touchdowns, but he has struggled throwing the ball, completing only 48.6 percent of his passes for 624 yards with six touchdowns and six interceptions.

Temple continues its amazing turnaround. Steve Addazio's offense was the butt of jokes last year at Florida, but his transition to head coach at Temple has been impressive.

Clemson, Georgia Tech are the cream of the crop in the ACC. Both have jumped out to 4-0 marks and lead their respective divisions despite getting little fanfare. The Tigers were tabbed to finish second in the Atlantic and the Yellow Jackets fourth in the Coastal.

West Virginia is a year away from being a top-five team. The Mountaineers were impressive against LSU, rolling up 533 yards in their 47-21 loss. Another year in Dana Holgorsen's offense, and Geno Smith could have this team on top.

LaMichael James is the best running back west of the Rockies. After struggling to open the season, James has cracked the 200-yard mark in the last two games, including 288 on 23 carries in the Ducks' 56-31 victory over Pac-12 foe Arizona.

It may be ugly, but Notre Dame is finding ways to win. Despite committing two more turnovers and 85 yards worth of penalties, the Irish outlasted Pittsburgh 15-12. It was their second straight victory as they look to rebound from an 0-2 start.

It's time to include Oklahoma State in any national title discussions. Coming off a come-from-behind victory over Texas A&M, the Cowboys look like a force in the Big 12. With winnable games against Texas and Baylor, a Dec. 3 matchup with Oklahoma could be the only thing standing between them and a perfect season.


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