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BCS Contenders Unit Reviews

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With four games left on the schedule for most teams, we're down to a final ten teams that are legitimate contenders for a BCS Title Game berth. Some of these teams play one another, and the field will certainly narrow as we go along, but let's take a moment and look closer at each of the ten remaining viable BCS Title Game contenders.

Really, there are about twelve teams that can be considered legitimate contenders, but we're going to eliminate two of them for the purposes of this discussion. First, we say good-bye to Arkansas, a team which has a shot if it wins out. I just can't see that happening, though, so we're dismissing them for now.  Second, we say good-bye to Louisville, which can replace West Virginia on this list on Friday morning. For now, we bid them adieu. Really, though, they're plenty capable of beating WVA. If they do, insert them into the Mountaineers slot.

Below is a ranking of each team's units, with brief commentary following each. I put these together a little more hastily than I would have liked, so if I'm wrong somewhere, feel free to jump in.

Offense, Overall

  1. Ohio State
  2. Texas
  3. Tennessee
  4. West Virginia
  5. California
  6. Michigan
  7. USC
  8. Notre Dame
  9. Florida
  10. Auburn
Comments: It's pretty amazing that Texas can make a legitimate claim to be the second best offense in this group, but really, it can. We thought this team would win close games with a smothering defense and limited offense. Instead, it's putting up points and yards from all over the field, and with McCoy's unbelievable development, you have to take the Horns offensive attack seriously.

As for the others, I think Ohio State's got the most balance and the most big play ability, which makes them the obvious #1. Behind them, each team has a weakness. West Virginia runs the ball exceptionally well, but doesn't pass well. California isn't consistent enough to be ranked above the teams in front of them. Michigan's offense is a different animal when Manningham's healthy, but for now, this looks about right.

Offense, Rushing

  1. West Virginia
  2. Michigan
  3. Texas
  4. Ohio State
  5. Tennessee
  6. Auburn
  7. California
  8. USC
  9. Florida
  10. Notre Dame
Comments: This isn't on the numbers alone, of course. We're factoring in everything - from scheme to offensive line. The most controversial choice here might be Michigan at #2, but I think I'd trust that line and Mike Hart to get the needed yards on a play more than any other team on that list. Hart just doesn't fumble, he can run between the tackles, and he's got great speed when he needs it.

For Texas, the big runs haven't been there, but the rush game as a whole is still one of the best. We complain that it doesn't always look good, but Texas continues to average gigantic yards per rush totals. Ugly or not, it works.

Offense, Passing

  1. Ohio State
  2. Tennessee
  3. California
  4. USC
  5. Texas
  6. Michigan
  7. Notre Dame
  8. Florida
  9. Auburn
  10. West Virginia
Comments: For all the love Brady Quinn gets from some folks, he isn't having a stellar year. Good? Yes. Superb? Hardly. The Irish throw a lot of dinky junk in their pass game, which means loooong sustained drives are required for scoring. As SMQ has noted several times, that can be problematic. I think Weis would do his group a huge favor by going deep more often.

The most surprising passing game this season has been Tennessee's, which has roared back from a down year to become a very potent attack. Meanwhile, for Texas, McCoy's making a case to move this team up each week. Since the Ohio State game, he's been one of the nation's best, by any standard. The team to watch, of course, is Michigan, which is plodding along fine without Manningham, but will need him for the big game at the end of the season.

Defense, Overall

  1. Florida
  2. Michigan
  3. Ohio State
  4. Auburn
  5. USC
  6. Texas
  7. Tennessee
  8. West Virginia
  9. California
  10. Notre Dame
Comments: I just don't see how some folks are considering the Irish national title contenders. The defense is still spotty, and the offense is overrated. Anyway. The two teams at the top of the list, Michigan and Florida, are just punishing opposing offenses. For Michigan, the run defense is unbelievably dominant, and the pass defense, thanks to the front four, is effective. Florida's outstanding everywhere.

Ohio State is playing very solid defense, and though they haven't been tested by an elite offense yet, they're playing good football. We'll get a good look at what the Mountaineer defense is capable of Thursday night. For the Horns, the run defense is terrific, but our struggles with the pass are well documented.

Defense, Rushing

  1. Michigan
  2. Texas
  3. Florida
  4. USC
  5. Ohio State
  6. Auburn
  7. Tennessee
  8. West Virginia
  9. California
  10. Notre Dame
Comments: The top three teams are all brutally dominant against the run. After that, there's a little dropoff, but most of these teams do an above average job stopping the run. One wonders about Auburn, of course, after what happened in the Arkansas game.

Defense, Passing

  1. Florida
  2. Auburn
  3. USC
  4. Tennessee
  5. Ohio State
  6. Michigan
  7. West Virginia
  8. Notre Dame
  9. California
  10. Texas
Comments: Looking at all the above lists, it's pretty clear that if Texas can shore up its defensive woes in pass defense, it can be competitive with anybody. As is, there's work to do. No real surprises here, though I'll note in closing that West Virginia's a wild card here. They simply haven't played anybody. The numbers are good, but both times I've seen them play, the defense only looked average.

--PB--