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by | College Football Insider

Fun with Numbers: Strengths of five best unbeatens compensate for weaknesses


The five best undefeated teams in the country (no disrespect to Louisville) also have five of the country's most accomplished coaches. They have 62 years of experience and 552 wins to prove it.

Alabama's Nick Saban, Notre Dame's Brian Kelly, Kansas State's Bill Snyder, Oregon's Chip Kelly and Ohio State's Urban Meyer combine for a .743 career winning percentage in 752 games.

They are boosting win totals each week because their teams play like well-coached teams should -- at least most of the time.

When they don't, they flourish in certain areas to compensate for struggles (especially in the case of Ohio State's defense).

Kansas State: The offense writes the story, but the defense deserves more credit than it gets. Meshak Williams, Adam Davis ... these guys can play.

Opponents will have to get their yards through the air, because they are only rushing for 3.26 yards per carry against K-State. The Wildcats lead the Big 12 in scoring defense (17.1 points per game).

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Snyder can be proud of both sides of the ball, not just the one with Optimus Klein.

Ohio State: Meyer's Buckeyes have to get creative at times to offset a defense that ranks 60th nationally. Even special teams, a Meyer staple in the past, is slacking by giving up eight kickoff returns of at least 30 yards. But Ohio State is finding ways to lead the Big Ten, and not just with Braxton Miller. The Buckeyes are 3 for 3 on 2-point conversions. Opponents are converting 34.9 percent of their third downs on Ohio State, which is tied for 13th nationally in interceptions with 12. The defense isn't where Meyer wants it, but at least the Buckeyes can create turnovers on the same day they give up a lot of yards.

Alabama: With AJ McCarron playing this way the past four weeks, it's hard to exploit a statistical weakness in Nick Saban's NFL factory right now.

The Tide crack the top five in several national categories, even the obscure ones like opponent's long passing plays (first). Alabama is first in scoring defense, first in total defense and fourth in opponent's third-down conversion rate.

If there's a weakness, maybe it's fourth-down defense. Opponents have converted six of 12 attempts. But a lot of teams are down big against Alabama and have to go for it on fourth down in the second half. We're reaching here, I know.

Oregon: My favorite Ducks ranking -- No. 38 in fourth-quarter scoring offense. The nation's most high-powered offense can't score in the fourth because it's up by 50!

But this is another case of a defense getting overshadowed by the points being put up on the other side. Oregon is tied for sixth nationally with 14 interceptions and tied for fourth in passes defended with 55. Southern California's Matt Barkley could struggle against this stingy secondary.

As if the 330.6 rushing yards and 6.18 yards per carry per game weren't enough to win consistently.

Notre Dame: The stellar Irish defense is willing to give up yards as long as it doesn't give up scores. Opponents have managed five touchdowns on 23 trips to the red zone.

Notre Dame has had erratic quarterback play at times, but its 17 rushing touchdowns are pretty impressive considering how many close games it plays. This helps Notre Dame control the clock. The Irish rank 14th nationally in time of possession at over 32 minutes per game.

No huddle:

7: Number of freshmen or sophomore starting quarterbacks among the nation's top 25 teams. Eight, if you count Oklahoma State's injured freshman J.W. Walsh and his replacement, freshman West Lunt. Johnny Manziel, Marcus Mariota and Jeff Driskel are among the quarterbacks who earned their programs' trust in short time.

22: Difference between points Colorado has given up through eight games (368) compared to the Buffs' entire 2009 season (346). Colorado (46 points allowed per game) is threatening Louisiana-Lafayette's NCAA record for 50.3 points allowed per game set in 1997.

45: Number of seasons since Indiana won a Big Ten title. The Hoosiers (3-5, 1-3 Big Ten) still have a chance if they win out, thanks to an assist from ineligible Penn State and Ohio State.

1,328: Number of missed tackles by the Texas defense this season.

5: Number of receptions of 50-plus yards for USC's Marqise Lee.

Jeremy Fowler is a national college football insider with CBSSports.com. Fowler joined CBS in 2012 after covering the Minnesota Vikings for the St. Paul Pioneer Press for two seasons and covering the Florida Gators for the Orlando Sentinel for two years. Fowler is also a contributor to the CBS Sports Network.

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