By: Kenneth Harrison
TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services
We have only played a few games in the 2023 college football season but I’m still left with questions.
Who are the real national title contenders? Let’s take a look at the top four teams and see what’s going on.
#1 Georgia: The Bulldogs have won two consecutive national championships and were undefeated last season. They have been ranked as the top team this year despite losing several key players from those teams.
Quarterback Stetson Bennett graduated and he’s on the LA Rams roster. The players drafted in the first round were defensive tackle Jalen Carter, tackle Broderick Jones and linebacker Nolan Smith.
Junior Carson Beck is the new QB this season and we have not learned much from the first three games. They opened SEC play against South Carolina at home. They went into halftime trailing the Gamecocks 14-3. The ‘other USC’ lost their season opener to North Carolina so they are not an elite team.
The Bulldogs shut them out in the second half and won, 24-14. The next game is against UAB so that will be an easy win. I want to see how they play against better competition but they do not play a ranked opponent until October 28, which is No. 25 Florida.
#2 Michigan: The Wolverines had an undefeated regular season in 2022 and went to the College Football Playoff. Michigan has played East Carolina, UNLV and Bowling Green so these are basically glorified preseason games.
Quarterback J.J. McCarthy is the returning starter so they do have continuity at the most important position on the field. The next games are against bad teams, Rutgers and Nebraska. They don’t face a ranked team until No. 7 Penn State on November 11.
#3 Texas: The Longhorns made a big jump in the polls after they beat No. 3 Alabama 34-24 on the road.
Now we should put an asterisk next to this because it does not hold the same weight as it would have over the last decade. The Crimson Tide are struggling at quarterback and Jalen Milroe was benched after that game. Alabama struggled at USF, so I think the quality of this win will be diminished as the season progresses.
Quarterback Quinn Ewers cut the mullet in the offseason and put himself in the Heisman Trophy race after the Bama game.
Texas responded by sleepwalking the first three quarters at home against Wyoming. They started the fourth quarter tied at 10. They ended up winning 31-10.
They only have one more ranked team on the remaining schedule and that’s No. 16 Oklahoma. I think they might be the hardest team to evaluate because the Big 12 has expanded and they don’t have many good teams to play.
#4 Florida State: Going into last week I thought this was the best team in the nation. They started the season with a blowout win over No. 5 LSU, 45-24. The Tigers have played well after that so it’s a good win.
Senior quarterback Jordan Travis is a returning starter and he might be a first-round pick in the 2024 draft. He’s thrown 8 touchdowns with only 1 interception, so he takes care of the football.
The Seminoles struggled and barely beat Boston College, 31-29. The next opponent is Clemson but they have lost seven straight meetings.
FSU does have three more ranked opponents on their schedule; No. 18 Duke, No. 20 Miami and No. 25 Florida.
I’m looking forward to November so we can truly see who the real contenders are.