Defenses dominate season's first month

It's obvious from watching a month of football that this season's championship chase is all about defense. Check out the top dozen teams in the rankings. With only two exceptions, they are winning mostly with defense, a departure from what we saw the last couple of years, when potent offensive attacks at USC and Texas set the tone.

Ohio State's weakness was supposed to be its new faces on defense. Instead, the Bucks have been carried so far by their D, while the touted offense has been just good enough. Auburn, USC, Texas, LSU, Georgia and Virginia Tech have been more impressive on that side of the ball, too. Make that much more impressive.

Even teams such as Florida and Michigan, which feature veteran quarterbacks, have been lifted by the stout play of their defenses. Florida's bunch has been superb, smothering the run completely. That's good, because the Gators now brace for the most cruel gauntlet I have ever seen: Alabama, LSU, Auburn (on the road) and Georgia. Michigan has unleashed a new, attacking scheme that has been an even bigger story than the arrival of the latest playmaking wideout, Mario Manningham.