Three games into the college football season is a dangerous time if bettors pay attention to what the media is saying instead of what is actually happening. Teams have played enough games that there have been some outstanding performances, and some teams have inevitably put together outstanding efforts.
The media is quick to jump on the bandwagon of certain teams, and after three games they have already decided which teams are destined for National Championship runs.
The problem is, though, that some of the teams they get excited about haven’t yet done enough to prove that they are anything more than just a team with potential.
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Here are four teams right now that are getting more attention and more praise than they have yet proven they deserve. They may ultimately prove to be as elite as people think, but what they have done so far hasn’t been convincing yet:
Florida State Seminoles
People are, it seems, absolutely desperate for the Seminoles to succeed. That explains why for each of the last few years the media and the betting public have jumped all over this team and heaped praise and adoration on this team before they have earned it.
This year is no exception.
You don’t have to look far to find an expert willing to tell you about how this team is going to break offensive records, redefine defensive accomplishment and contend for a national title. That may be the case, but how would we know? What have they done so far?
They beat up on Murray State. They were on their way to humiliating Savannah State until the weather mercifully called the mercy rule. They destroyed a Wake Forest team that is pretty lousy — no matter how much Seminoles’ backers want you to believe that they are a legitimate opponent.
The team hasn’t been even remotely tested so far, so it is far too early to say that Jimbo Fisher and company have completed the turnaround, or that this team is for real. If we haven’t learned by now that patience and skepticism is warranted when dealing with this team then we just haven’t been paying attention.
I am somewhat less skeptical of Oregon than Florida State, but the issues are basically the same.
We know that this team is ridiculously fast, and we also know that they can move the ball well. What we don’t know, though, is what they will look like against a real opponent.
With apologies to Arkansas State, Fresno State, and Tennessee tech, this has not exactly been a tough string of games. Unlike Florida State, the hopelessly outmatched opponents have been able to score some points — they have averaged more than 24 points per game.
The Pac-12 is stronger this year than it has been in a while, and Oregon therefore faces a much tougher schedule going forward than Florida State. Oregon could certainly prove to be an elite team, but as USC showed us last week in their loss to Stanford anything can happen in the Pac-12.
Texas has been so good for so long that people don’t seem to know how to deal with them as they struggle. That means they are anxious to have them back in the upper echelon of national programs.
The Longhorns are definitely on the right path — as their 66-31 win at Ole Miss last week showed. Still, they have a long way to go before they can prove that all the changes over the last couple of years have made a real difference, and that this team is back and ready to go.
The next four weeks are going to be very illuminating about where this team really is. After a week off to prepare this week they travel to Oklahoma State, then host West Virginia and Oklahoma. If they survive that — and they would need to win at least two of three to consider it a success — then they deserve every bit of the attention they are getting now.
Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Like Texas, the public is generally much happier when Notre Dame is an elite, respectable team contending for national honors every year. It has been a long time since the Irish have truly been relevant, though, so it’s a long, tough climb back.
People seem determined to tell the story that they are finally back this year. Maybe, but it’s too soon to tell.
What have they accomplished this year? They beat up on Navy, but in two games the Midshipmen have proven one thing — they are really bad this year. Then they played a tough Purdue team and only barely escaped with the win. Finally, they played a very strong defensive game against Michigan State, but the Spartans have proven themselves challenged offensively, and they are particularly incompetent through the air.
Meanwhile, there are real concerns about the overall strength of the Notre Dame offense. In their next five games they face tough tests in Michigan, Stanford, BYU, and Oklahoma. By the end of October we’ll have a much better sense of how good this team really is than we do now.
Right now I don’t really think we know anything about them.
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