Unlike basketball, college football requires a synchronicity of events to increase a teams' college football odds for the season championship. It could involve any number of factors such as luck, team unity, experience, a combination of solid offense and defense, and spectacular individual performance. But it's rare that just one player will lead a team to the top.
As an example, look at Louisville and it's easy to see that even a player as dynamic as QB Lamar Jackson doesn't overshadow the need for other contributions. Last year's Heisman Trophy winner leads the nation this year in total offense at 426 yards per game, out-pacing the No. 2 player, QB Mason Rudolph of Oklahoma State, by a 60-yard average. Yet, Oklahoma State is 7-1 and challenging for the Big 12 title with an outside shot at a final four appearance, while Louisville is just 5-4 and has lost 7 of its last 12 games.
The difference is shown in a combination of statistical factors.
Louisville lacks big contributions from other players. Jackson naturally leads the team in passing, but also has 1,029 rushing yards which is more than 3 times the amount of the teams' top position player at running back. Oklahoma State has a 100-yard per game rusher in Justice Hill.
The Cardinals' defense is nearly non-existent, allowing 410 yards and 30.8 points per game. And while Oklahoma State isn't dominant on defense, it has allowed much fewer yards and points at 358 and 24, respectively.
Louisville's top two receivers are both underclassmen. Dez Fitzpatrick, a freshman, leads the team with a mere 67.8 yards per game to rank 62nd nationally.
The Cowboys have the No. 2 and No. 32 receivers, and both are seniors. James Washington has 45 catches and averages over 22 yards per play. Marcell Ateman has 34 catches with an average gain of 19.65 yards per play.
With the season basically 75% completed, Bryce Love of Stanford leads the nation in rushing at 198.4 yards per game. But the Cardinal are 6-2 and barely escaped with a 1-point win over Oregon State (1-7) last weekend as Love sat out with an injury and the Beavers' 91st-ranked run defense held Stanford ball carriers to a paltry 81 yards.
Conversely, Virginia Tech has no individual runner, receiver or passer in the top 26. But the Hokies are 7-1 behind a team that ranks 32nd in offense, 9th in defense, and 2nd in points allowed. They also have a +6 turnover margin, and multiple non-offensive touchdowns.
Top-ranked Alabama is 12th nationally in yards per game, 5th in points per game, and 1st defensively in yards allowed and points allowed. But individually, the Tide's top rusher ranks 40th, the top receiver ranks 77th, and the starting QB ranks 88th.
Meanwhile, the collapse of Florida State (2-5) is evident across the board. The Seminoles are stacked with prize recruits who haven't brought it all together as a team. Thus, FSU ranks 114th in total offense, 31st in total defense, 48th in scoring defense, and 127th in turnover margin.
As the season winds down and the race to the top heats up, enjoy watching Lamar Jackson, Bryce Love and the many other collegiate stars. But remember that this is a team game, and even the individual stats back that up.