Early-Season FBS Myths Busted
By Joe Coughlin
Seeing isn’t always believing.
As we digested the first three weeks of the college football season, we started to feel pretty confident about some things.
We watched the games or — more than likely — just saw the scores and some clips. And after our due diligence, we nod, stand and declare: “Yeah, I get it.”
But that's not true. Those things you know for sure will inevitably flip on their heads. You don’t know anything. You're a sham.
Don't be so hard on yourself, though. It's early and plenty will played out. That said, here are a trio of myths circulating after the first few weeks of the college football season. I wouldn't be so sure about them.
• Michigan is a title contender after beating Notre Dame.
I don’t think Michigan is a contender in its conference, let alone the country. The declaration in question assumes Notre Dame was a title contender. Not true. The Irish are a quality team, but nothing like what we saw in 2012. Lack of a balanced offense and a soft back seven on defense will get ND four losses this year. As for Michigan, I love what I’ve seen from Devin Gardner, but not much else. The Wolverines' running game has been stagnant outside of Gardner. The talented frosh Fitz Toussaint is averaging just 3.6 yards per carry, and he’s getting the rock (55 carries so far). A good but mid-level Akron team took Michigan to the brink. Don’t play it off as a “trap game.” Michigan is a flawed team. Also don’t be awed if the Wolverines start 7-0 after the incredibly soft start to their season — because then they have to go to Michigan State, host Nebraska, visit Northwestern and Iowa, and host Ohio State. I see two wins there, possibly three.
• Bama already beat the best team on its schedule.
Manziel and his Aggies are worthy enough, sure, but there's a team out there that's marinating — soaking in game experience and getting better every week. Look out for LSU. The Tigers are a team to be reckoned with, and although they are ranked No. 6 in the nation, they are being overlooked as a contender. If QB Zach Mettenberger (65.2 percent, 9 TDs/0 INTs) has achieved his potential, LSU has every right to be in the same conversation as Oregon, Stanford, Ohio State and Clemson. The Tigers have scored 46 a game, and allowed just 18 (one of the three games was legit — a 37-27 win over TCU). LSU fanfare was quiet to start the season because of the 10 underclassmen who declared for the draft. But the run game is legit, the defense still is scary (especially the front four) and the Tigers still are getting better.
• Johnny Football has a chance at another Heisman.
If you watched him against the Tide, specifically in the second half, this statement has to be accurate. But it’s not. Manziel will put up stats, but the only way he’s getting the Heisman is if he gets his team into the national title game all by himself. The problem won’t be Johnny’s numbers; it will be his counterparts. Oregon’s QB Marcus Mariota — who already has 889 yards passing and 262 rushing with 11 TDs — is the surest bet to keep up his numbers. Teddy Bridgewater at Louisville will have better passing numbers than Manziel. If Clemson avoids a let down (I don’t think they will), Tahj Boyd will be in the conversation with massive rushing and throwing stats. And then there’s Jameis Winston. If the FSU pilot takes a break from completing passes (he has more TDs than incompletions), he’ll notice himself climbing the list. Braxton Miller and AJ McCarron also could squeeze in the conversation with strong finishes.
My point is Manziel will continue his success, and I think at least two of the aforementioned will do the same. The race will come down to the intangibles. Is he a winner? A valued teammate? A good representative of college football? He’s going to lose that battle.