Right now there are 23 unbeaten teams. Now that everyone has played either a quarter or a third of their schedule, it’s time to look at them. All teams fit in the following 4 categories (teams listed alphabetically):
This category is for the elite teams that appear to have legitimate shots at going to the national championship game. Presence in this category goes beyond just on-field performance, though a team could play its way in. They are:
- Ohio State
- West Virginia
LSU and USC are obvious. Oklahoma and Florida are here on the basis of highly productive offenses and proven coaches/track records. West Virginia and Ohio State are here because they appear to be the class of their conferences, though some big tests loom for them in the future; it’s sooner than later for WVU with it’s showdown at USF tomorrow.
Solid But Unspectacular
This category is for the teams that don’t belong in the category above, but still have a couple of good wins. There’s only one team in it so far, but that likely will go up.
Some would argue that the Louisville win isn’t very good, but the Car_inals will still finish with a respectable record because not everyone will be able to outscore them; they just happened to let UK beat them two weeks in a row. Arkansas may be 1-2 right now, but it’s not a bad team. Kentucky stays, though most might think they belong in the next category, which is…
Wishing the Signature Win Looked Better
This is for teams that either thought they had a big win only to see that team fall off, or saw a team that was going to be a feature win trip up and diminish in value. Beyond that particular game, they haven’t played anyone. In parenthesis is the team that was going to be the signature win.
- Arizona State (Oregon State)
- Boston College (Georgia Tech)
- California (Tennessee)
- Clemson (FSU)
- Cincinnati (Oregon State)
- Oregon (Michigan)
- South Florida (Auburn)
None of these really should require much explanation, except maybe Clemson. I’ve thought since the preseason that FSU would stink, but the Semis were ranked preseason and people like Phil Steele were predicting a big comeback for them in 2007, so it still counts.
Ain’t Beat Nobody
This is for the teams that have yet to play and beat a good team from a BCS league.
- Michigan State
This category is always the most full at the beginning of the year, and it always empties out by somewhere in the middle. It should be noted that it’s not unprecedented for a team to finish here. Tommy Bowden’s 1998 Tulane team beat a schedule of teams in the regular season where no team finished with more than 7 wins, and the bowl win was over 9-win BYU (who lost the only two games it played against teams that finished with more than 7 wins). Depending on how Washington ends up, Hawaii may end up here if it runs the table.