Wednesday, October 3, 2012

College Football Week 5 Rankings

Oh, what a week for the College Football fan!!!

We have a shootout for the ages.  I mean seriously, there is a game or two a year where the pundits predicting a rediculously high scoring shootout, where the last team with the ball wins, but nearly every time one team or the other will find some defense/heart and win going away.  This, was not that game.   Honestly....133 points?  This is not your dad's, let alone your grandpa's college football.  For all the talk about the changes in the rules, and how less physical the game has gotten, this game illustrated what I think is the biggest factor in the explosion in the passing game.  These kids are just damned good at it.  There is a plethora of strong-armed, accurate QB's who have been running spread attacks since pee wee football.  Kids today start by learning spread concepts and how to read defenders.  When I started, we learned how to block down how to hold our stance.  This is a big difference.  Look at how fast college QB's are acclimating to the NFL.  They can do because they have been doing it, and when you make things just a touch more difficult on the defenses...well, you get 133 points explosions.  What are defenses to do....well you get physical where you can.....I look for us to see more and more press coverage.  Make the receiver actually beat you, and then outrun you too, because if they can get their timing down.....well you're toast.  But back to last weekend.

What else did we get?

Well, we got reminded how parity has slipped into the college game.  The variety of schemes the ability for more teams to recruit nationally has given us a game where it is literally about the matchup that week. As where Stanford was too physical for USC and made just enough athletic plays to win, they could not move the ball against a Washington Husky team who had been manhandled by LSU a few weeks before.

A Georgia Tech team who had nearly beat Va. Tech at Blacksburg gets taken out at home by a Middle Tennesse State team that hadn't been on anyone's radar since losing to McNeese State in Week 1.  How did this happen?  Well, Middle Tennessee state ran it 44 times for 266 yards, and took care of the ball when they did put it in the air.  Nothing fancy, just a balanced attack against a team that couldn't score efficiently enough to keep up.

Speaking of ACC teams having trouble out of conference, Cincinnati cemented their Big East contender status with an exciting rally to take a last minute win at BlacksburgMunchie Legaux looks to be coming into his own as a leader.  He was accurate down the stretch and that drive that he led for the go-ahead touchdown could be the launching pad for a nice career leading the Bearcats.  He does need to work on his mechanics to be more consistent with his accuracy though.

In some good news for the ACC, Miami has come roaring back after getting smashed in Manhattan Kansas.  Perhaps they didn't like hearing and alumn go crazy in public.  This Canes team is not likely to compete for anything major this year, but they are talented and are gaining confidence in a hurry.  They need to find a way to slow people down though, especially on the ground.

Let's see what else....

Well, Arkansas still sucks

Idaho should be in the FCS

Houston won a game!!!

and Louisana Monroe got to play someone who was not in the top 10.  I think they enjoyed it.

Anyway, I could rant on about every game, but let's get to the updating rankings.  Again, this is according to what has been done, not according to what I think. 

1. Georgia Bulldogs 4.57
The Bulldogs just keep dancing on the edge and one of these weeks they are either going to play to their potential or fall to the doom of also-ran status.  I don't know how you get 2 veteran starters, at least one of who is likely to be an early draft pick back on defense and have your worst defensive game of the year....but they did it.  But, they also won.  The offense needs to protect the ball better this week as they have their first real showdown of the year as they travel to South Carolina to take on the Gamecocks.  One of these 2 SEC east teams is going to fall from the top 5.  The question is whether it will be the yo-yo that is the Bulldogs, or the limping but physical Gamecocks.

2. Alabama Crimson Tide 4.16
There is a reason that they are #1 in every other poll I have seen.  They are loaded, well coached, and consistent.  They have a week off to get ready for Missouri, which pretty much takes away Missouri's one advantage.  They are an offense that you just don't see in the SEC, but and extra week of prep will have Saban and his boys ready for anything the Tigers have to offer.  That is assuming that James Franklin doesn't remember that he is supposed to be a star.

3. South Carolina Gamecocks 3.8
The Gamecocks were looking past Kentucky.  Whether it was just lack of focus with an inferior opponent on the other sideline or them looking forward to the Georgia game this coming week only they know.  Either way, they had better be focused when the they look across the field at the Dawgs.  They are not as talented as Georgia, so their front 7, which is their strength by far, had better make Aaron Murray's day a long one, or it could be over early.  If they can step up, Spurrier may be looking down the standings at the rest of the SEC East.

4. Oregon Ducks 3.72
Another week, another 50 points.  They get to play the Washington Huskies, who are coming off a HUGE win against Stanford this next week.  Don't be surprised if you see an over/under of ~80 for this one.  The Ducks should win going away, but that's what Stanford thought maybe it will be 50-30.

5. Florida State Seminoles 3.58
The Noles didn't really dominate the Bulls like people around the country expect, but B.J. Daniels always gets up for the Seminoles.  He grew up wanting to play there, but with E.J. Manuel and Christian Ponder in town when he came out of high school, there was no room in the backfield.  That said, the Noles trailed for a total of 2 minutes and 21 seconds, and coasted after exploding for 17 points in the third.  They go to visit Sean Glennon and the Wolfpack next.  It should not be close, but the Wolfpack might just come out angry after Miami stole one from them last week.

6. LSU Tigers 3.44
These Tigers just really don't seem to be trying very hard.  Towson State looked much better than they should against a top 10 team, but then again, how are going to get a team to be excited to play an FCS team in week 4?  Could be that they just escaped a bit of a trap game, or that they were overconfident in general, but either way, a trip to the swamp is up next and they better be ready.  One of these teams is going to leave this game in the top 10 and with a shot at a trip to Atlanta for the SEC title game. 

7. Ohio State Buckeyes 3.33
The Buckeyes are not as crisp as we are used to seeing from an Urban Meyer team, but considering they are under probation for a lack of institutional control, that make take a bit.  While they are not dominating people, and they seem to be playing to the level of their competition a bit, they are beating that competition and they have a star in Braxton Miller.  This could very well be the best team in a down Big Ten.

8. Texas Longhorns 3.05
That win last week against the Cowboys was a big one for a young Longhorns squad.  The yards and points they gave up was not encouraging with the Mountaineers next on the schedule.  On the bright side, West Virginia does not have Joseph Randle on the roster, but on the downside, Oklahoma State threw for 301 yards with a backup QB....and their starter was not the QB that Gino Smith is.  The young athletes the Texas collects by the dozen need to step up and limit the West Virginia receivers as much as possible.  On the bright side, Dana Holgerson's offense will not be anything new, and will closely resemble what they just saw last week.  If they can do better, they will have a shot, but I tend to think they are in trouble.

9. Florida Gators 3.05
I have heard some grousing from Gator fans that they should be getting more credit after a series of convincing wins over quality teams.  They have been treated largely as an afterthought in the SEC and their fans are not happy about it.  Well, they have their shot coming up with the Bayou Bengals coming to the swamp.  If they can match the physicality of the Tigers and take them down, they will put themselves in positino to make a run to the SEC title game.  They have the advantage of missing Bama this season, but have 4 teams remaining who are currently in the top 6, so there is work to do regardless.

10. (tie) Notre Dame Fighting Irish 3.00
The Irish keep winning, but there are a lot of people out there who question just how good they are.  They have played 3 decent Big Ten teams, but nobody knows just how good those teams are, and their offense has not looked dominant in any of the games....having not scored more than 20 against any of these teams.  With Miami coming to town, it could be interesting.  Miami has the opposite problem, them young offense is explosive, but they have had trouble on defense, especially in the running game.  If they can score, Notre Dame will be tested to try and answer.  How good are the Irish?

10. (tie) Kansas State Wildcats 3.00
The Wildcats have what looks, on paper, to be one of the easiest rivalray games in the country.  Charlie Weis has done his best to bring more talent into Lawrence, but they Jayhawks just aren't very good.  Where the Jayhawks are prone to mistakes that just kill them, the Wildcats are the opposite.  They do not make mistakes, and have some serious talent spread all over the field.  Look for Collin Klein and Cats to dominate their 'rival', and it might still cost them a spot in the rankings.

12. Texas A&M Aggies 2.96
Kevin Sumlin's Aggies are doing their damnedest to look like a real live SEC team.  They lost a tough one at home against the Gators and have been making everyone pay for it sense, winning 3 games by a combined 176-27.  Ole Miss is up next and I look for them be a tougher match than SMU, South Carolina State (lol), or the limping Arkansas, but A&M is much more talented than the Rebels and should win it going away before their makeup against against the Louisana Tech Bulldogs before renewing an old rivalry with LSU.

13. West Virginia Mountaineers 2.82
Welcome to the Big 12....time to go to Austin and see if you are a contender or not.  Gino Smith and his running mates are fast and efficient, but they haven't dealt with a defensive scheme like what the Horns throw out there.  Look for the Mountaineers to hit some homeruns, but Gino Smith is going to take some hits.  It will be an interesting test....but one that they should pass.

14. Clemson Tigers 2.68
Do you want the good news or the bad news?  Well, the good news is that the Clemson Tigers are loaded on offense and run one of the more effective schemes in the country with their version of the air spread.  They have scored 37 points or more in every single game this season...and they are 4 and 1 with their only loss being at Florida State.  Nobody is going to fault them too much for losing in Tallahassee, that's a tough place to win again with Jimbo having restocked the shelves.  So, they are winners, and they are explosive on offense.  So, what's the bad news?  Well, their opponents are also explosive.  They are giving up nearly 27 points a game on average, and that average was deflated by games against Furman and Auburn.  It's true that their quick strike offense does give the opponents more possession and, therefore, opportunities to score.  So, how much of a concern is this?  Well, they have given up 749 yards passing in the last 2 games, and gave up 287 yards rushing in one of those.  Their defense is porous....but on the bright side, they are playing Georgia Tech, so they can focus on the run this week.

15. Arizona State Sun Devils 2.59
This is a very solid football team.  I am not sold on them being #15 when is all is said and done, but I will be shocked if they are not in the rankings.  They have a tuneup against Colorado before Oregon comes to town to start of a string of 4 straight games against ranked conference opponents.  If they can take 3 of those, they will earn this spot.

16. Nebraska Cornhuskers 2.57
The Huskers broke out some fancy new uniforms and rallied to beat the Badgers in Lincoln.  Taylor Martinez's improved passing has given them a balance that gives them a truly dynamic and dangerous offense.  Their defense is not what we are used to seeing out of the Huskers, but they are still positioned to make a run at their first Big 10 title.  This week's game at Columbus against the Buckeyes is going to be huge in that pursuit.  They will need to do better than they did against the last dual-threat QB that they faced if they want to put themselves in the drivers' seat.

17. UCLA Bruins 2.55
Speaking of Brett Hundley and his comrades, they rebounded nicely after losing a tight game against the Oregon State Beavers by soundly thrashing the doormat known as the Colorado Buffaloes.  They have a series of 5 winnable conference games, highlighted by tough matchups with the Arizona schools, before they close with USC and Stanford.  Those last 2 are the kind of game that you are going to happy with a split out of , but at least both of them have to come to Pasadena.  They are looking at what should be a 9 win season which would put their fanbase over the moon.  If they can find a way to make that 10, it will put a lot of powder blue and gold at the Pac-12 title game

18. USC Trojans 2.51
The Trojans need to play angry.  Losing to Stanford has removed their room for error this season with Oregon still on the slate.  They are the most talented team in the Pac-12 south, but 2 losses will likely have them out of the Rose Bowl chase and in a second tier bowl.  They have 4 winnable games to get healthy and work things out before they finish with Oregon, Arizona State, at UCLA, and Notre Dame.  Less than 7 wins out of the remaining 8 will be considered a huge failure for a team with such high expectations.

19. Texas Tech Red Raiders 2.49
The Red Raiders look to be the most balanced that they have been in the Tommy Tuberville era.  That is to say, their defense isn't totally inept.  We don't know how good they are though because, frankly, they haven't played anyone yet.  With OU and West Virginia up next, we will know shortly.  I expect to see them play better than they have on that side of the ball in recent years, and still lose.  OU is going to be angry and ready for them, especially after Tech's upset of OU ruined the Sooners' title shot last year.  West Virginia....well yeah, they are just scary on offense.

Oh yeah, TCU, K-State, and Texas are up after that.  The Big 12 schedule is no joke, and Tech is not going to be laughing.

20. (tie) Northwestern Wildcats 2.45
The Wildcats are another of those teams, like Texas Tech, where you just don't know how good they are yet.  They have a couple of decent wins, but nothing outstanding.  I have the feeling that they are a solid, but but outstanding team.  I guess the question is, how far will decent take you in the Big Ten this year?  I would bet on 9 wins, and if they can split with Nebraska and Michigan State, they may have a real shot at the top of the "Legends" division.  Again, we don't really know what they are, but they have such a soft schedule.

20. (tie) Oregon State Beavers 2.45
I really wish the Beavers had played more games, but you have to give credit where it's due.  They have 3 wins and they are all quality wins.  They can really throw the ball and their defense has played well against 3 very solid offenses, of various types.  They seem to be a team that has a limited upside, but if they don't make mistakes, they can continue to 'overachieve'.  I keep waiting for them to drop one of these tough games...after all, they have won 3 by a total of 13, with each game being a one score game.  No offense to Beavers fans, you be excited, and I will keep rooting for you.  Just think, if they can get past the Huskies, Cardinal, Sun Devils they could have a one-game playoff against their in-state rivals for the Pac-12 north.  How much fun would that be?  I wouldn't bet on it, but I will root for it.

22. Western Kentucky Hilltoppers 2.43
The Hilltoppers are done playing the SEC after going 1-1, but they are far from done with tough games.  The Sun Belt is going to be a pretty solid conference this year with Western Kentucky, Troy, Arkansas State, and Louisiana Monroe all holding up pretty well out of conference.  Oh, and those other 3 and up next, in series, for the Hilltoppers.  If they can run that table, the conference will be theirs for the taking.  But then again, after watching games like Middle Tennessee's upset of Georgia Tech, they would be wise not to sleep on the rest of the conference.  I fear that this conference is going to feed on itself to the point where the rest of the country thinks it is mediocre.

23. Stanford Cardinal 2.41
Cardinal faithful have to be disappointed in a loss to the Huskies but I believe this is really just evidence of the parity of the Pac-12.  There are a ton of solid teams in this league that can go either way on gameday against another good team.  Washington was looking at it's first opportunity at a "good" team since getting shelled by LSU and they had a chip on their shoulder.  This is more what people were expecting to see from the Huskies, and I think this is who they really are.  As for the Cardinal, they need to pick up the pieces and get really to go or the next 3 against Arizona, Notre Dame, and Cal could be ugly.  They need to win out to have a shot, and they still have Oregon on the roster.  Losing to anyone else automatically makes them at best a spoiler.  I think that's who they really are, but they get to try and prove me wrong on the field.

24. Nevada Wolfpack 2.2
The WolfPack have the advantage of playing in the Mountain West.  They have a long time to make the pollsters forget about a home loss to an inconsistent South Florida Bulls program, and a lot of mediocre, or bad, teams to do it against.  They need to find a way to slow down the other team's offenses a bit more effectively though, you can't get away with giving up 27 points a game.  That said, look for their end of the season game against Boise to mean a lot for their season....again. 

25. Tennessee Volunteers 2.19
My sweet lord can these Vols sling the ball around the field.  The problem is, they make every other team's offense look as good as their offense is.  They are going to be up and down all year, but they are the kind of team that could catch lighting in a bottle and pull a big upset.  I have their October 27th game against South Carolina circled on my calendar for an upset special.  South Carolina has looked gimpy at times, and if Tennessee can find enough defense to slow them down, their offense could pull off a huge upset in the SEC East.

26. (tie) Arizona Wildcats 2.18
Back to back losses to Oregon and Oregon State have the wildcats reeling a bit.  The bigger problem is that the next 4 games are against ranked conference opponents.  I think Cats are in trouble as RichRod didn't have the talent waiting for him that was waiting for Todd Graham at ASU.  They will do well to pull a split out of the next 4.  Look for them to fall out of the rankings.

27. (tie) Louisville Cardinals 2.18
The Cardinals are moving into the meat of the Big East season.  To this point they have won, but not in a dominating fashion, overall.  I really like Teddy Bridgewater and think that the Cardinals are one of the top 3 in the Big East.  Right now, I have to think they are 2nd at best, with Cincinnati leading the pack.  If they disagree, they can prove me wrong in a couple weeks.  First, they have to deal with a Pittsburgh team that has a new found confidence after back to back wins.

28. Miami Hurricanes 2.11
You had to wonder how the young Hurricanes would response to getting blown out by the Wildcats a few weeks back.  Well, it didn't turn them into doormats, but nor did it turn them into world beaters.  But, they did appear to come out of it tougher.  They have been in attack mode since they headed back east on offense and have a strong start in the ACC, at 3-0 atop the Coastal division of the ACC.  Notre Dame is up next, and this is going to be one of those strength against strength as Stephen Morris and Duke Johnson lead the young Canes offense against the vaunted Notre Dame defense.  Don't get me wrong, if they can win at South Bend, it will be a huge upset, but I will be rooting for it.

29. Fresno State Bulldogs 2.03
Fresno is anotehr offense heavy team behind the strong arm of Derek Carr.  They give up too many points though, and that is a problem.  They will have a nice record at the end of the year, playing in the Mountain West, but look for them to drop out of these rankings regardless.  After all, you aren't going to get much credit for playing Wyoming, New Mexico, and Hawaii in the meat of your schedule.

30. Lousiana Tech Bulldogs 2.00
This is a balanced offense that will flat-out chew up most defenses.  Their lowest output for the season is 44 points.  However, this is another example of a team that is just trying to outscore people.  You can't give up 37 POINTS A GAME!!!.  I love their style and playmakers, and it will be interesting to see how they match up against the Aggies but if they want to get any love, they need to blow some people out.

Conference Count
SEC: 7
PAC-12: 7
BIG-12: 4
ACC: 3
C-USA: 1
MWC: 1
WAC: 1
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