Is LSU legit? WVU has it tough; Houston, no problem

Matt Lowe

October 02, 2012 at 10:53 pm.

LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger will need to play well for LSU to get a road win in The Swamp. (Derick E. Hingle-US PRESSWIRE)

Now that Week 5 and Week Four of the college and NFL seasons are in the books, let’s talk a little college football shop shall we. …

Is LSU really a Top 5 team? We will find that out this weekend when the Tigers head to The Swamp to take on the upstart Gators. Les Miles’ club hasn’t looked great the last two weeks in wins over Auburn and Towson, but don’t think for a minute that LSU has completely lost its Mojo. The Auburn game turned into an unexpected dogfight, and last week’s practice time was likely used on the Gators all week instead of the mighty Towson Tigers. Look for a good showing from LSU on Saturday.

Is Ohio State the best team in the Big Ten? Right now it looks that way, but there’s still a lot of football left to be played. It appears Braxton Miller has supplanted longtime conference standout Denard Robinson’s as the conference’s best dual-threat quarterback, which is saying something considering Shoelace’s many accomplishments. Miller is a better passer, however, which is why he gets the call over Robinson in my book. Although the Buckeyes will not play in the postseason, their determined to prove that they are back. And entering Week Six, they are on the right track.

Is West Virginia for real? If the Mountaineers invade Austin and get a win over Mack Brown’s 4-0 Longhorns, then we will know they are a legit threat to claim the Big 12 title. However, with games looming at Texas Tech, at home against Kansas State and TCU, at Oklahoma State and against Oklahoma at home over its next five contests, West Virginia should not be considering a national title player just yet. If it wins all those games, yes, it will be in the national title discussion, but that is a brutal stretch of games for any team, much less a team that’s had a hard time defending all year.

Can Oregon State win the Pac-12? Probably not, but it’s safe to say that the Beavers have been one of the country’s most surprising team’s this season. Oregon State, behind quarterback Sean Mannion, tailback Storm Woods and receivers Brandin Cooks and Markus Wheaton, has been very efficient on offense, and the defense has done a good job of stopping the run and forcing teams to be one-dimensional. The real test for this team however will come over the next eight weeks. After a home game against Washington State Saturday, the Beavers play seven straight teams that went to a bowl game a year ago. The schedule is especially tough in November, when OSU plays Arizona State at home, then goes to Stanford before closing out the month with home games against Cal and Oregon.

Is Texas Tech for real? Don’t look now, but Tommy Tuberville’s Red Raiders are 4-0 and have a chance to make a big statement with a win over Oklahoma at home this weekend. Texas Tech has been getting it done behind an always-potent passing offense and a surprisingly stingy defense. The Red Raiders currently sit No. 1 nationally in pass defense, yielding 82 yards per game, No. 12 in rush defense (85.5 ypg), No. 1 in total defense (167.5 ypg) and No. 5 in scoring defense (10.8 ppg). That’s a gigantic leap in defensive efficiency from last year’s team, which was one of the worst units in the FBS a year ago. Granted, Texas Tech’s four opponents have been Northwestern State, Texas State, New Mexico and Iowa State, but huge strides have been made defensively. We’ll find out more about what the Red Raiders have when they stand toe-to-toe with the Sooners.

Lowe’s Top 5 college teams

  1. Alabama (5-0)
  2. Georgia (5-0)
  3. Oregon (5-0)
  4. LSU (5-0)
  5. Florida State (5-0)

Thoughts on Week 4 of the NFL …

When will Dallas be Dallas again? Year after year, the preseason chatter always warms up to the Cowboys, but year after year they seem to underachieve. In the offseason, Dallas made a big splash on defense by signing Brandon Carr away from Kansas City and drafting Morris Claiborne (LSU) with its top pick to solidify the secondary. Although Claiborne has looked good at times, Carr hasn’t lived up to the billing. Neither guy could handle Bears’ wideout Brandon Marshall Monday night in Dallas’ 34-18 defeat. The sloppy play of Cowboys’ quarterback Tony Romo (five interceptions; two returned for touchdowns) and receiver Dez Bryant were also factors in the loss. On the Bears first pick-six, Bryant ran the wrong route and the pass was jumped by Chicago cornerback Charles Tillman and returned for a touchdown. Bryant also dropped numerous catchable balls, and gave poor effort on several occasions. Romo, meanwhile, just made a number of poor decisions, which resulted in a number of costly turnovers. The Dallas offensive line isn’t a strong point at the moment, but Romo needs to protect the ball better if the Cowboys want to be a playoff-caliber team.

Houston we don’t have a problem: The Texans moved to 4-0 last week after dismantling Tennessee 38-14, and now take on a Jets teams that’s coming off a 34-0 blowout at the hands of San Francisco. Houston gets it done with a powerful running game and a strong play-action passing attack on offense, but it’s the ‘D’ that makes the Texans a really tough team to beat. Houston ranks 10th in the league in rush defense and second against the pass, and it can also really get after the quarterback. Second-year end J.J. Watt, who currently leads the NFL is sacks (7.5), is on the verge of superstardom after a solid rookie season. He leads a defense — and team for that matter — that has a loads of talent and is very physical.

What is going on in New Orleans? Even with all the suspensions, nobody ever could’ve imagined that the Saints would be winless after four games. But that’s the case, and the road doesn’t get any easier for New Orleans this week when it hosts San Diego. A big reason for the 0-4 start has been the play of the defense. Through four weeks, the Saints have allowed a minimum of 27 points to every opponent. They also haven’t been good against the run. Kansas City running back Jamaal Charles ran for 233 yards and a score in an overtime loss in Week 3, and Green Bay’s Cedric Benson gained 84 yards on 18 carries a week ago. If the Saints are going to get in the win column, they’ll have to play much better defense, especially against the run.

Lowe’s Top 5 NFL teams

  1. Houston (4-0)
  2. Atlanta (4-0)
  3. San Francisco (3-1)
  4. Baltimore (3-1)
  5. Green Bay (2-2)


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