It caught my eye.
Despite the futile track record, my daily scan at warp speed through social media continued in earnest Tuesday to see if anything popped out at me … and, much to my surprise, something did.
Wasn’t anything deep or detailed. Just a graphic courtesy of Fox Sports that pointed out the remaining unbeatens after three weeks of college football action this autumn of 2018.
But it got me thinking …
Which teams are capable of crashing the four-team party to settle the national champion that already seems to have sent out invitations, pending committee approval, to the current top five-ranked ranked squads: Alabama, Georgia, Clemson, Ohio State and Oklahoma?
Five? Three? Any?
Let’s be honest here. In this day and age, any outfit not named above that has a loss is out of the running — save for, maybe, Notre Dame … and that’s big MAYBE anymore anyway.
Those five are so far above every other program the difference defies description, and Alabama is, by far, the elite of that elite.
Frankly, Clemson, with its NFL-caliber defensive line and freshman phenom Taylor Lawrence looking like he may get forced into being “the man” faster than head coach Dabo Swinney had planned, seems to be the only legit competition to the Crimson Tide defending its crown.
But it’s nice to dream, or just wonder … what if?
Outside of that Fab Five, a whopping 29 teams have yet to taste defeat, or even a tie, offering hope of the improbable, if not impossible, to an awful lot of fans sports an awful lot of colors.
THE NO SHOTS
With apologies to many of my fellow Group of Five followers, if not alums, while this sport may love its “underdogs,” it very rarely rewards them. Central Florida not only was the nation’s lone unbeaten last season, it gave the country two of the most entertaining games in for-the-ages thrillers against South Florida and Memphis, won its conference and topped Power Five foe Auburn in a New Year’s Day bowl game — all while performing under the uncertainty of whether program builder Scott Frost would stay or leave.
For its efforts, UCF got a pat on the head with a No. 6 ranking, behind four teams with two losses each, mind you, and a ton of mockery thrown its way by stuck-in-their-ways experts and Joe Six-Packs alike for having the audacity to claim it had earned more.
With that in mind, watch out for the door hitting you in the face, North Texas, Louisiana Tech and Marshall of Conference USA, UCF, South Florida and Cincinnati of the American Athletic Conference, and Buffalo and Akron of the Mid-American Conference.
Boston College, Syracuse, N.C. State and Duke of the Atlantic Coast Conference, Minnesota and Indiana of the Big Ten, Kentucky and Missouri of the Southeastern Conference, and the Pacific 12 Conference undefeated quartet.
None of them — not Stanford, California, Washington State, Colorado or Oregon — have what it takes. Nice teams. But nothing special, even if Bryce Love returns to Heisman favorite form for the Cardinal.
Pretty much the same story with the rest mentioned right here, and in some cases, such as with Minnesota, Indiana and Missouri, that may be generous.
Iowa of the Big Ten, Louisiana State of the SEC and Oklahoma State of the Big 12. Oh, yeah, Notre Dame, too. Sorry, Irish backers, but your guys are brutal to watch — even in victory. ND, currently ranked eighth in the country, could be 0-3 right now very easily and with a stretch of five straight weeks against quality competition starting with road game No. 1 Saturday at Wake Forest, it can forget about an undefeated season.
Iowa, just, well, doesn’t impress anyone. Nine teams ranked with losses, and the Hawkeyes are 3-0, unranked and not even leading the way in “others getting votes.”
As for Okie State, will be forever grateful that it put the kibosh on another Boise State darling tale before it ever really got started, but, they look to be the third wheel in a two-team conference.
LSU? Puh-leeze. That offense still stinks. To high heavens.
THAT LEAVES ...
If memory serves, Virginia Tech of the ACC, West Virginia of the Big 12 and Penn State of the Big 10 — and, really, they’re all wing-and-a-prayer wildcards to do anything.
The Hokies, led by two brilliant DBs in Caleb Farley and Reggie Floyd, have the stingy defense while the Mountaineers and Nittany Lions have the gunslinging QBs in Will Grier and Trace McSorley. Incredibly impressive strengths for each team, but none of them are complete or balanced.
If any were to shock the elite, never mind the nation, Tech seem the one for several reasons — even beyond that incredibly ranging and athletic stop troops. Schedule, special teams and a few threats at the skill positions. In that order.
ND is Tech’s toughest regular season game left and the Hokies get the Irish in Blacksburg, Va. Its next two toughest games — Boston College and Miami — are also at Lane Stadium.
Conversely, Penn State has four ranked teams remaining on its slate, starting with No. 4 Ohio State on Sept. 29. West Virginia, meanwhile, closes its season with this stretch: at Texas, vs. Texas Christian, at Okie State, vs. Oklahoma. Good luck coming out unscathed from that.
At this point, just can’t see any team challenging the top 5 for a spot in the CFP. But Tech sure looks like the best bet to put that to the test.
Unless, of course, Mississippi State somehow shocks Alabama, Auburn and LSU in the SEC West under first-year coach Joe Moorhead, who has the Bulldogs playing their best ball since a magical run to No. 1 in 2014.
OK, now memory has served ...