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Mountaineer Gameday: McCarron often overlooked, WVU underrated?

By Frank Giardina

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- As we move into the first weekend of October in college football, here are some thoughts on individual players, as well as teams ranked in the top 25.

Alabama - Tough not to have the Crimson Tide ranked No. 1. They still have major SEC challenges to negotiate, but 'Bama has another outstanding defensive team and quarterback A.J. McCarron is better than many people think. The nature of his offense does not allow him to put up Geno Smith type numbers, but he wins games.  

Oregon - Is it me or do the Ducks just look faster than everyone else? They are as explosive as any team in the country. Coach Chip Kelly is becoming a star, however there are rumblings of possible NCAA issues brewing. Remember the name of assistant coach Scott Frost. The former Nebraska quarterback will be a good head coaching hire soon.  

West Virginia - The Mountaineers seem to be a little under ranked to me. If they win at Texas on Saturday night, this is a team that should be a legitimate top 5 team. It is just the start of October, but quarterback Geno Smith probably won the Heisman Trophy with his eight-touchdown performance last week. We will know more about WVU on Saturday night, but I am not sure the Longhorns can keep up with, or slow down, Smith and his set of receivers: Tavon Austin, Stedman Bailey and J.D. Woods.  

Northwestern - Are the Wildcats really a Top 25 team? In what is a very down year for the Big Ten, the Wildcats may win games, but the early season schedule has not been impressive. Northwestern is 5-0 but the wins have been over lowly Syracuse, Vanderbilt, Boston College, South Dakota and Indiana.  

South Carolina - We may be taking Steve Spurrier for granted. Think about it. The Old Ball Coach elevated his alma mater Florida to another level when he won a national championship there in 1996. He laid the foundation for a Gators program that became an annual national title contender. He has also significantly raised the bar at South Carolina. It has not happened overnight, but he has done a great job in Columbia. Hey, the man won at Duke, for crying out loud.

Duke - Speaking of the Blue Devils, I realize they are not ranked and they have played a very soft schedule, but they are 4-1.  Good for Coach David Cutcliffe, one of the classiest men in college football. He should never have been fired at Ole Miss. The Rebels have not been as good since he left. However, his firing there may have saved his life. He was an assistant at Notre Dame when he had heart issues. Had he still been a head coach, he might not have taken the time off he needed to get checked.  

Big East - With West Virginia gone, and Pitt and Syracuse leaving, the Big East still has three good football teams. Greg Schiano left Kyle Flood a good nucleus at 22nd-ranked Rutgers. Louisville is ranked No. 19 and played a solid, non-conference schedule. Cincinnati may be one of the most overlooked teams in the country. Butch Jones of Cincinnati and Charlie Strong of Louisville will both be highly sought after by larger BCS programs in the future.

The state of Ohio - Fans in the Buckeye State are bemoaning a lack of national respect for two of their teams. Ohio State is ranked No. 12 but there is not much love for Cincinnati and the Ohio Bobcats as neither are ranked in the top 25. The Bobcats are getting very little respect being unofficially listed as No. 31 in the AP poll. If they run the table in a very balanced MAC, it will be interesting to see how high they go in the rankings.  

Kansas State - The Wildcats are ranked No. 7 in the AP poll. I greatly appreciate the coaching of Bill Snyder, but I am not ready to buy the Wildcats just yet. The road win at Oklahoma last week gave them great credibility but the Sooners may have been overrated. Big 12 play may expose ranked teams such as Kansas State and TCU.


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