Iowa, Oregon, Penn State, Notre Dame, Oklahoma and California all lost ground in the AP Top 25 Poll this week. All of them also lost ground in my Top 25 Poll this week with the exception of Oklahoma—I kicked Oklahoma out of my Poll some time ago, and the Sooners will not find their way back into my Poll anytime soon. Here is how I see it this week:
1) Alabama (9-0) The Crimson Tide won a 24-15 signature victory over the 9th-ranked Louisiana State (LSU) Tigers this week. No team had a bigger win against a better opponent. With the pressure to perform on, Alabama came through to remain unbeaten. The Tide travels to Mississippi State this week.
2) Florida (9-0) The Gators beat a very weak, 119th-ranked, 2-8 Vanderbilt team this week, 27-3. They remain behind Alabama because this was not a killer performance.
3) Texas (9-0) The Longhorns remained unbeaten with a dominating 35-3 win over 83rd-ranked Central Florida; this is one reason why Texas will not be No. 1 or No. 2 in my Poll. Simply put, Texas has not played a really good team all season. Yes, they beat an extremely disappointing 5-4 Oklahoma team, and beat Oklahoma State 41-14 on-the-road, but the Longhorns’ strength of schedule is ranked 52nd by Sagarin whereas Florida is ranked 40th and Alabama 25th. Plus the Big 12 is nowhere near the SEC in competitiveness. Texas gets Baylor next, what a laugher.
4) Texas Christian (9-0) Moves ahead of Cincinnati because the Horned Frogs put a 55-12 drubbing on San Diego State. This is exactly what an unbeaten team should be doing this time of year. Next up is 14th-ranked Utah, a little stiffer competition.
5) Cincinnati (9-0) Remained undefeated by recording a really lame 47-45 squeaker over 52nd-ranked Connecticut. Gets 7-2, 23rd-ranked West Virginia at home this week.
6) Boise State (8-0) Won another 45-35 lame victory, this time over 96th-ranked Louisiana Tech (3-6), another nobody on the Broncos’ schedule. Has played no one all year except Oregon, who is now 7-2 and looking less impressive. The Broncos’ strength of schedule is a whopping 79th.
7) Georgia Tech (9-1) Needed overtime to notch a 30-27 victory over 55th-ranked Wake Forest. Gets Duke team next, and must face in-state rival Georgia in their last game.
8) Pittsburgh (8-1) Scored in every quarter to win 37-10 over 93rd-ranked Syracuse. Gets nod for 8th position because the Panthers have an offense (15th best in nation) and Iowa doesn’t (74th best). Hosts Notre Dame this week. Pittsburgh has a better scoring defense and should win. Moment of truth comes when the Panthers face Cincinnati in their last game.
9) Iowa (9-1) Had 13-game win streak broken on their home field by Northwestern 17-10 in a game the Hawkeyes should have never lost. The miracle comebacks and close wins have now ended as reality sets in. Iowa’s troubles are just starting—they travel to Ohio State this week and could get crushed by the Buckeyes.
10) LSU (7-2) Lost to Alabama 24-15 on-the-road. Alabama is the best team in the country at the moment. Not many teams can claim that their 2nd loss of the season was to the best team in the country. LSU will be heard from again. Next up is the Tigers’ homecoming game against Louisiana Tech; this could be very bad news for the general health of Louisiana Tech (now 3-6).
11) Ohio State (8-2) Upset 11th-ranked Penn State 24-7 on the Nittany Lions’ home field in Happy Valley, or shall we say Not-So-Happy-Valley. Nation’s top scoring defense was caught sucking some Louisiana Tech pond water between offensive possessions. Buckeye mojo is returning at just the right time. Ohio State gets Iowa at home this week, and the Buckeyes are seeing potential road kill. Should Ohio State be ranked 9th rather than 11th? I will let you know in my next Top 25 Poll.
From No. 12 on, this Poll is hard put to rank any team with a straight face. All of the contenders have been up and down like an unsteady clown on a pogo stick—great one week and lousy the next (prime example is Oregon).
12) Penn State (8-2) Can’t stand Penn State and they were upset at home by Ohio State, however, their only two losses are against Iowa and Ohio State. Southern Cal’s only two losses came against a 3-6 Washington team and Oregon, both away games. Penn State will handle Indiana and in all likelihood Michigan State and finish at 10-2.
13) Southern California (7-2) Picked up tough 14-9 road win at Arizona State and finishes year against Stanford, UCLA and Arizona, another tough road to hoe to end the year at 10-2.
14) Oregon (7-2) Could not stand the success of upsetting 4th-ranked Southern Cal 47-20 last week. Showboating players got their butts kicked this week not by Stanford but by Stanford’s battering ram Toby Gerhart, who rushed for a school-record 223 yards and scored 3 touchdowns as the quack-quack Ducks were hammered at home 51-42 by The Cardinal. Life for the Ducks gets tougher as their last 3 opponents are Arizona State, Arizona and Oregon State. Good luck, quack quacks.
15) Utah (8-1) Hard to ignore Utah’s 8-1 record, but the Utes’ last victory was 45-14 over 164th-ranked and winless New Mexico (0-9). This is the sort of competition Utah faces most weeks during the season; in other words, no competition. The Utes travel to TCU this week to face the 9-0 Horned Frogs. It’s put up or shut up time for Utah this week. Should Utah get squashed by TCU, the Utes will drop in my Poll like a 100-pound sack of tomatoes thrown off a hundred-story building. Utah’s strength of schedule? Don’t even ask, it’s 95th and on the other side of Mars.
16) Houston (8-1) Hard to ignore Houston’s glossy 8-1 mark, but jeepers, their latest victory is a close 46-45 run-and-shoot with a 4-5 Tulsa team. The Cougars have the 2nd best scoring offense in the country, the 86th worst scoring defense, and 114th worst total defense among 120 major college teams. The rest of Houston’s schedule includes 5-4 Central Florida, 2-7 Memphis and 0-9 Rice. The Cougars could end up with an 11-1 mark and be one of the worst 11-1 teams in college football history.
17) Wisconsin (7-2) Took a field goal to get a 31-28 road win over a weak Indiana team last week. Badgers get Michigan next at home, travel to Northwestern and then finish their season with a trip to Hawaii, all of which is to say they could end up 9-3 or 10-2 if they are really on their game.
18) Arizona (6-2) Last seen beating up a pathetic 1-8 Washington State team 48-7 while becoming bowl eligible. Wildcats could be the best 6-2 team in the country, but do have some proving to do, and they have the chance to do it when they next face California, Oregon, Arizona State and Southern Cal in that order. Let’s see how deep down Arizona’s 22 best can dig on their way to better recognition.
19) Navy (7-3) Time for a fresh face. The Midshipmen upset 19th-ranked Notre Dame 23-21 on the home turf of the Fighting Irish, dropping Notre Dame to 6-3. Navy could be skating from here on in—they face 1-AA Delaware (6-3), Hawaii (3-6) and Army (3-6). If Navy wants any props at all, the Midshipmen must end the year at 10-3.
20) Oregon State (6-3) The Beavers are one of the dirtiest teams in the country and consider football games an excuse to legally hurt people. The Beavers were last seen upsetting California 31-14 on-the-road to become bowl eligible. The California Bears? They have made a career out of folding at the wrong time. Oregon State faces Washington (3-6) and Washington State (1-8) before ending their season at Oregon (7-2). Oregon State could be 8-4 or 9-3 when all is said and done.
21) Oklahoma State (7-2) Trashed a very average Iowa State team 34-7 last week, and finish the year against Texas Tech, Colorado and Oklahoma. Let’s see how many of these last 3 the Cowboys can win.
22) Temple (7-2) Lost its first two games and now has run off 7 straight victories after sneaking by Miami of Ohio 34-32. As Al Davis says, “Just win, baby, just win.” Temple finishes the year against Akron (2-7), Kent State (5-5) and Ohio (6-3). Temple could end the year at 9-3 or 10-2.
23) Rutgers (6-2) Only two losses were to 8-0 Cincinnati and 7-1 Pittsburgh. Let’s see if they can beat 6-2 South Florida next.
24) Central Michigan (7-2) Suffered its second loss on-the-road at Boston College 31-10. Ends year with Toledo (4-5), Ball State (1-8) and Northern Illinois (6-3). Could easily end up at 9-3 and even 10-2.
25) Brigham Young (7-2) Shut out a weak Wyoming team 52-zip. Cougars end their year with New Mexico (0-9), Air Force (6-4) and Utah (8-1). BYU will end the year at least 8-4 if not 9-3.