Zero of 10
Wisconsin has many strengths which have led to an unbeaten file, however the pbading recreation shouldn’t be considered one of them.Andy Manis/Associated Press
It’s onerous to imagine, however now we have simply three weeks left within the 2017 faculty soccer common season. We’ve had 10 weeks of soccer to kind out the contenders from the pretenders for the College Football Playoff, and solely 5 unbeaten groups stay within the Football Bowl Subdivision, together with 4 within the Power Five conferences.
Last Saturday’s seven matchups of ranked groups did loads to kind out the nation’s high groups, and now we have quite a lot of key showdowns remaining earlier than the playoff alternatives are introduced on Dec. three. The nation’s Top 10 groups within the Associated Press ballot have proved themselves, however all have weaknesses that would cease them in need of their aim of successful a nationwide championship.
Think these groups are invincible? Think about Alabama final fall. The Crimson Tide entered the nationwide title recreation No. 1 and 14-Zero in opposition to Clemson. But Deshaun Watson proved the Tide’s protection mortal, choosing it aside for 420 yards and three touchdowns and tossing a last-second TD move for a surprising 35-31 win. Weaknesses could be uncovered at simply the flawed time in your workforce’s nationwide championship hopes.
Based alone observations and statistical developments, this is a take a look at the most important weak spot for every Top 10 workforce.
1 of 10
Auburn wants extra constant manufacturing from its receivers, together with Ryan Davis.Butch Dill/Associated Press
In an essential season for Gus Malzahn, Auburn has emerged because the SEC’s third-best workforce. Saturday’s 42-27 win at Texas A&M improved the Tigers to 7-2, and with residence video games remaining in opposition to No. 1 Alabama and No. 2 Georgia, they may have a major say in each the SEC title race and the College Football Playoff dialog. Malzahn’s groups are identified for his or her floor recreation, and junior Kerryon Johnson has emerged as a workhorse again, speeding for 100-plus yards in 4 of his final 5 video games.
However, Auburn wants extra consistency and explosion from its receiving corps. Quarterback Jarrett Stidham is a succesful pbader with 11 touchdowns in opposition to three interceptions. Leading receiver Ryan Davis has 48 catches for 461 yards and 4 touchdowns however averages a pedestrian 9.6 yards per catch. The Tigers want extra from Darius Slayton, the No. 2 receiver. He has simply 13 catches on the season for 401 yards and three scores, averaging 30.Eight yards per reception. Saturday, he had two catches for 99 yards, together with a 53-yard landing, persevering with a powerful run he began two video games in the past with 4 catches for 146 yards and a landing in opposition to Arkansas.
Auburn wants opponents to concern its pbading recreation, and the impact could be much less strain on the backfield led by Johnson. More huge pbading performs and deep strikes from Slayton would just do that.
2 of 10
Myles Bryant is being leaned upon in a giant manner in Washington’s secondary.Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press
If not for one unhealthy night time, Washington could be in prime place for a College Football Playoff bid. The Huskies are Eight-1, with their solely loss an inexplicable 13-7 defeat to Arizona State. Jake Browning is among the nation’s high quarterbacks, with 1,907 yards and 16 touchdowns in opposition to 5 interceptions. Tailback Myles Gaskin offers the Huskies a premier possibility within the backfield with 918 speeding yards and 10 touchdowns.
Washington’s protection permits 11.1 factors per recreation, No. 2 within the nation. But the Huskies might want to cease some potent pbading badaults to win the Pac-12, with Washington State looming within the Apple Cup and doubtlessly USC within the league title recreation. That might be a priority given harm points within the secondary. Starting cornerbacks Jordan Miller and Byron Murphy are sidelined. Miller is out for the season with a damaged ankle, and Murphy has missed six video games along with his return from a damaged foot unclear.
Washington is leaning on sophomores Myles Bryant and Austin Joyner, however it’s onerous to exchange the expertise of Miller, who has performed 34 video games with the Huskies. Washington State’s Luke Falk and USC’s Sam Darnold may exploit that youth and put additional strain on Washington’s explosive offense to maintain tempo.
three of 10
TCU’s punting recreation has struggled this season.Peter G. Aiken/Getty Images
TCU enters Saturday’s showdown at No. 5 Oklahoma as one of many nation’s most full groups. The Horned Frogs have an skilled quarterback in senior Kenny Hill, who has 2,009 pbading yards and 15 touchdowns in opposition to 5 interceptions, and the nation’s No. 6 scoring protection, yielding 13.9 factors per recreation. The Frogs’ solely defeat got here at No. 24 Iowa State, a 14-7 loss with the one rating approaching KaVontae Turpin’s kickoff return landing.
TCU’s weak spot exhibits when it’s making an attempt to place foes in troublesome area place. Sophomore punter Adam Nunez has struggled, averaging 39.5 yards per punt. Overall, TCU ranks No. 113 in workforce punting. Nunez has put 22 kicks inside opponents’ 20-yard traces, however he must be extra constant to badist the protection with troublesome checks like Oklahoma forward.
Four of 10
Miami’s offense has been stable with Malik Rosier at quarterback, however the Hurricanes nonetheless have some tough edges.Wilfredo Lee/Associated Press
In Mark Richt’s second season on the helm, Miami seems to be one of many ACC’s finest groups. Saturday’s dominant 28-10 win over Virginia Tech pushed the Hurricanes to Eight-Zero and established them because the workforce to beat within the ACC Coastal Division and a legit College Football Playoff contender. Miami’s “turnover chain” protection yield 17.6 factors per recreation, No. 12 nationally, and the ‘Canes rank fourth nationally in turnover margin.
First-year beginning quarterback Malik Rosier has been succesful, with 2,264 pbading yards, 19 touchdowns and 7 interceptions. But he and the offense have to be extra environment friendly for the ‘Canes to achieve the lofty requirements set from the late 1980s to the early 2000s. Miami ranks No. 120 nationally in time of possession, holding the ball for 26:42. And the Hurricanes are No. 117 nationally in third-down conversions, changing 31.three p.c of their tries. That’s No. 12 within the ACC.
With troublesome video games just like the matchup with No. three Notre Dame looming Saturday night time, Miami wants extra from Rosier and its offense to interrupt by into the College Football Playoff.
5 of 10
Without Quintez Cephus, an already common Wisconsin pbading badault takes a giant hit.BRADLEY LEEB/Associated Press
Following losses from Ohio State and Penn State on Saturday, Wisconsin stands because the Big Ten’s finest hope for a College Football Playoff bid. At 9-Zero, the Badgers are the league’s solely workforce with fewer than two defeats and considered one of solely 5 unbeaten groups left within the FBS. However, Wisconsin will want some badist to get into the playoff. It has no wins over ranked opponents, and solely two foes (Florida Atlantic and Northwestern) are at present bowl-eligible.
The Badgers have a powerful operating badault led by freshman tailback Jonathan Taylor, who has 1,368 speeding yards and 12 touchdowns. However, their pbading recreation is a serious query mark. Quarterback Alex Hornibrook has 15 touchdowns in opposition to 9 interceptions and has thrown for 250 yards in just one recreation this season. The receiving corps is weak and took a giant hit Saturday when high receiver Quintez Cephus left the sport with a leg harm that would sideline him for the remainder of the season, per Jeff Potrykus of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.
Cephus has 30 catches for 501 yards and 6 touchdowns. Tight finish Troy Fumagalli has 30 receptions for 401 yards and three scores, however the high remaining receiver, A.J. Taylor, has 14 catches for 231 yards and two touchdowns. That leaves the Badgers one-dimensional and susceptible to an upset with Iowa, Michigan and Minnesota remaining on the regular-season schedule.
6 of 10
Oklahoma’s cornerbacks have struggled at occasions this fall.Sue Ogrocki/Associated Press
Oklahoma is firmly within the dialog for the College Football Playoff. The Sooners are Eight-1 and tied for first within the Big 12, which is able to ship its high two groups to its revamped championship recreation. Oklahoma’s solely loss got here in opposition to Iowa State, and the Sooners survived Bedlam and rival Oklahoma State in a wild 62-52 win that featured 598 pbading yards and 5 touchdowns from senior quarterback Baker Mayfield.
Mayfield is a two-time Heisman finalist and one of many nation’s high quarterbacks with three,226 pbading yards and 28 touchdowns in opposition to 5 interceptions. The offense hasn’t missed a beat regardless of the departures of receiver Dede Westbrook, a 2016 Heisman finalist, and tailbacks Joe Mixon and Samaje Perine.
And OU wants all that offense to remain afloat within the pbad-happy Big 12. Saturday, Oklahoma State standout Mason Rudolph torched the Sooners secondary for 448 pbading yards and 5 touchdowns. The Sooners enable 262.Eight pbading yards per recreation, No. 110 nationally, and rank No. 103 nationally in move effectivity protection. With No. Eight TCU and senior Kenny Hill in addition to West Virginia and pbad-happy Will Grier left on the schedule, the OU secondary wants to enhance. As it stands, Mayfield and the offense cannot afford an off-game.
7 of 10
Kelly Bryant’s limitations as a deep pbader may hinder Clemson’s offense.Gerry Broome/Associated Press
One yr after breaking by for this system’s first nationwide championship in 35 years, Clemson is in place to defend its title. Saturday’s wild 38-31 win at NC State improved the Tigers to Eight-1, they usually can win one other ACC Atlantic Division title with a victory over struggling Florida State. An 11-1 file and one other ACC title are nicely inside attain.
Deshaun Watson left large sneakers for Kelly Bryant to fill, and whereas Bryant shouldn’t be on the stage of the Heisman Trophy runner-up (few are), he has gained video games in his personal manner. Bryant is Clemson’s main rusher, with 548 yards and 9 touchdowns, and has performed by accidents with toughness and grit as a powerful on-field chief.
However, he isn’t the pbader that Watson was, significantly downfield. Since throwing for 316 yards in a 47-21 badping of Louisville, Bryant has not thrown for greater than 207 yards in a recreation. He is finishing 65.2 p.c of his pbades on the season. Saturday, he accomplished 20 of 38 pbades for 191 yards and one landing with an interception. On the season, Clemson averages 10.55 pbading yards per completion, No. 118 nationally.
Deep menace Deon Cain is averaging 11.9 yards per catch after averaging 19.1 yards per reception as a sophomore. To repeat as nationwide champions, the Tigers must scare extra folks downfield, and that hasn’t occurred a lot with Bryant operating the offense.
Eight of 10
Notre Dame’s Brandon Wimbush is a superb runner however may enhance as a pbader.Nam Y. Huh/Associated Press
One yr after an unpleasant Four-Eight marketing campaign, Notre Dame seems to be like one of many nation’s finest groups. Entering Saturday’s showdown with No. 7 Miami, the Fighting Irish are Eight-1, with their solely loss a 20-19 defeat to No. 2 Georgia, maybe the very best “quality loss” within the FBS. Tailback Josh Adams is a legit Heisman Trophy candidate with 1,191 speeding yards and 9 touchdowns, and the protection is stingy, permitting 18.Four factors per recreation, No. 17 nationally.
However, the pbading recreation has been a constant supply of fear for the Irish offense. In his first yr as a starter, dual-threat quarterback Brandon Wimbush has proved himself as a runner, speeding for 639 yards and 13 touchdowns. But his pbading leaves a little bit to be desired. Wimbush is finishing 51.three p.c of his pbades for 1,287 yards with 11 touchdowns in opposition to two interceptions. His 280 yards in a 48-37 win over Wake Forest was a season excessive, however he accomplished simply 15 of 30 pbades.
Notre Dame ranks No. 108 nationally in pbading yards and No. 103 in move effectivity. If the Irish are pressured to lean on Wimbush to win a giant recreation, their playoff hopes might be in hbadle.
9 of 10
Georgia is rolling at 9-Zero, however the Bulldogs have a really run-heavy offense.John Bazemore/Associated Press
In Kirby Smart’s second season, Georgia has emerged as one of many nation’s high all-around groups. The Bulldogs are 9-Zero and have already clinched the SEC East championship earlier than Saturday’s journey to No. 10 Auburn. They’re in wonderful place to say a College Football Playoff berth and have one of many FBS’ high speeding badaults with seniors Nick Chubb and Sony Michel, averaging 279.three speeding yards per recreation, No. Eight nationally. A nasty protection permits simply 11.7 factors per recreation, No. three nationally.
Freshman quarterback Jake Fromm seized the job from sophomore Jacob Eason and has run the offense nicely. However, Georgia has some critical offensive imbalance. The Bulldogs common 166.three pbading yards per recreation, No. 112 nationally. If wanted, can Fromm be counted upon to win a recreation along with his arm? Georgia has barely tried. The Dawgs run a number of run-pbad possibility, which provides Fromm the power to decide on between run and move on the line of scrimmage. He has solely three video games with greater than 15 pbading makes an attempt and just one recreation with greater than 201 pbading yards, a 326-yard effort in a 53-28 win over Missouri.
The run recreation is working nicely, however Georgia could be well-served if Fromm aired the ball out extra and gave the offense some steadiness.
10 of 10
Shaun Dion Hamilton’s season-ending knee harm will additional check Alabama’s linebacker depth.Brynn Anderson/Associated Press
It’s onerous to discover a weak spot with Alabama. The Crimson Tide are the nation’s most full workforce and a powerful wager to make the College Football Playoff for the fourth time in as many seasons. Nick Saban’s program averages 40.9 factors per recreation, No. 9 nationally, and permits simply 9.Eight factors per recreation, No. 1 nationally. They have a powerful run recreation and quarterback Jalen Hurts is a extremely efficient offensive chief.
If you’re on the lookout for cracks within the Tide’s machine, nonetheless, it’s price inspecting the center of the protection. In the opener in opposition to Florida State, Alabama misplaced a pair of linebackers, starter Christian Miller and key reserve Terrell Lewis, to season-ending accidents. And in Saturday’s 24-10 win over LSU, the Tide absorbed two extra brutal blows to the linebacker group.
Senior Shaun Dion Hamilton, a Butkus Award semifinalist, suffered a season-ending damaged kneecap, per Matt Zenitz of AL.com. And proficient sophomore Mack Wilson additionally suffered a season-ending foot harm. Both had surgical procedure Sunday.
Their losses will critically check linebacker depth. Alabama nonetheless has senior Rashaan Evans, one of many SEC’s high linebackers, however junior Keith Holcombe and freshman Dylan Moses will probably be relied on extra closely. With Auburn, a possible SEC title matchup with Georgia and the College Football Playoff forward, this might be one weak spot that opposing offenses search to use.