Well, it seems like every year we have that week that tips the College Football landscape on it's head, and I think we might have just had it. There were at least 3 losses in the top 10, depending on the poll you were looking at, and some huge upsets.
If we weren't sure, we found out there are some teams who just can't play defense, some who can, and some who just don't seem to have that killer instinct.
In short, we know a lot more than we did, and the rankings reflect that. Let us see where we are, shall we?
1. Oregon Ducks 4.94
These Ducks just keep on rolling. When I watched the pieces of this game that I could catch, it was not their speed on offense, nor their pace that was scary to watch. We have come to expect these things from the Ducks, and the idea that they have such an offensive arsenal is not bothersome anymore, as effective as it is. It is their defense that strikes me. Usually when you see a quick strike offense, you see a terrible defense, statistically, because the other team gets so many possessions that the yards tend to pile up, but this is a team that is in the top third in points allows and is tied for the national lead in takeaways. That kind of opportunistic defense is deadly when combined with an offense as efficient as theirs is. I still look forward to the USC and Stanford games, when they are lined up against teams that run a more traditionally attack that will try to bully them between the tackles, but they are look scary to this point.
2. South Carolina Gamecocks 4.58
We have to give them credit, after a slow start, they have looked as good as anyone. There are some out there that were calling Georgia their first real test of the season, and well....that's got to be worth an A. Don't take that drubbing to say that the Dawgs are not good, they are a very talented team, their O-Line and D-Line just didn't have the horses. This is a physical team, and Connor Shaw is a dynamic player now that he is healthy again. It's going to be a lot of fun to watch the Gamecocks and Bayou Bengals tear into each other next week. How is this for a thought...LSU Beats South Carolina, and Bama, then South Carolina beats the Gators......who will win the SEC? I love chaos.
3. Ohio State Buckeyes 4.42
The Buckeyes had been playing to the level of their opponents this season, too often squeaking by when they should have run roughshod over an opponent. Putting down a solid CornHusker team by 25 gives us a glimpse of the potential of Urban Meyer's squad. 3 might be high this season, but they look to be the class of the Big 10 at this point, and it really isn't close.
4. Alabama Crimson Tide 4.16
Bama took the week off, giving them the chance to heal up for the SEC home stretch. With Missouri and Tennessee up next, their defense will get tested, but their offense won't. Look for a combined 90-40 in the next 2 games.
5. Florida Gators 3.95
The Gators are back. LSU is not as good as people want them to be, their offenses just isn't there, and with that being true for the second year in a row, Les Miles needs to think about a change. They don't need to go spread, or run-n-shoot, how they recruit they can run whatever scheme they want, but they need one. As for the Gators, they are running the ball like they haven't since Eric Rhett and some guy who used to play for the Cowboys were hanging out in Gainesville, and it's working. Their game with South Carolina in 2 weeks is going to be worth watching if you like to see quality defenses do their thing.
6. Notre Dame Fighting Irish 3.91
Well, the Irish showed me that they were more than I thought they were. I expected them to beat Miami, but I also expected to continue to see weakness in their offense. That was a statement win, admittedly against a less-than-stellar opponent, but that is how a good team should beat a lesser team at home. That, was a whoopin.
7. LSU Tigers 3.9
LSU may have the best defense in the country, even without the Honey Badger, but their offense is brutally one dimensional. They need to find a way to make use of Zach Mettenburger's right arm or they are going to keep dropping.
8. Georgia Bulldogs 3.82
Well, Dawgs, it's time to find out what you are made of. Your manhood was challenged and found wanting, so are you going to be able to pick yourself up?
9. Florida State Seminoles 3.73
I really don't know what happened in the second half of that game, but I have the feeling that some of the Noles decided that NC State was not worth worrying about after how they started the season and the game. They were wrong and once they went in the tank they couldn't get the momentum back...I guess. It's gut check time for the boys from North Florida...do they come out angry, or stay in the tank? They have winnable games to get back in the swing, but they are still going to get everyones' best shot, so they had better get ready.
10. West Virginia Moutaineers 3.69
What a game in Austin!!! The Mountaineers' offense impressed people who weren't sold yet, but their defense gave us exactly what we were afraid it would. You are not a title contender if you can't stop people. But damn can they score the ball.
11. Kansas State Wildcats 3.51
It was a convincing win after a back and forth first quarter, but I just can't give them much credit for beating the sad-sack Jayhawks. If anything came out of this game, it's the blueprint for attacking the Wildcats defense. Deep patterns from the outside receivers with swing passes and wheel routes underneath if you have a running back quick enough to make it work. The JayHawks were being very effective with that approach before Tony Pierson went out. But then again, Bill Snyder is the kind of coach will have that sorted by the time it matters again.
12. Texas A & M Aggies 3.49
The Aggies played their worst game of the year, but they managed to win an SEC game. That is a very good sign for them going forward, but they had better have many more games like that in the weeks to come. Their next five games include a very good Louisiana Tech team and 4 SEC games highlighted by their renewed rivalry with LSU and a trip to Bama. The Aggies would be wise not to overlook Auburn or Mississippi State as well. It's a tough stretch, but I think the Aggies are good enough that they should win 3 and the way LSU is playing, they have an outside shot at 4. Bama, well not yet.
13. Clemson Tigers 3.34
Clemson is not a first tier team this year. FSU made the world well aware of that a few weeks back. They do look to be a high second tier team though, and this next couple weeks give them chances to win games that they should if they are going to seize that position. Va. Tech is up next with a couple lower conference games before NC State and their rivalry game with South Carolina to close the season. This should be a 2 loss team, but they have to handle their business.
14. Texas Longhorns 3.32
The Horns need not take any shame from their loss to West Virginia. Their defense played the best game against West Virginia all year. Those Gino threw for 4 TD's they caused a couple of fumbles by the Heisman candidate and held him well under 300 yards passing. The problem is that they got gashed by sophomore running back Andrew Buie for 207 yards. On the other side, their offense proved that it could score in bunches too This is probably about as high as the Longhorns will deserve this year, but they are definitely on their way back.
15. USC Trojans 3.11
USC was not impressive against Utah. They came out flat before showing why so many people were high on them and Matt Barkley, in particular, coming into the season. They were better at nearly every matchup than Utah, and it looked like they were very confident in that to start the game. They just forgot to prove it BEFORE you act like you are sure of it. But, a conference win against a solid team is never a bad thing.
16. Stanford Cardinal 2.99
The Cardinal defense was exposed by RichRod's spread attack and Josh Nunes saved their bacon. That's the long and short of their OT win against the Wildcats. They should not have the same issues on defense against Notre Dame, but will still be the underdog. Nunes is about to face his toughest test since he went to Palo Alto when they face off with Mante Te'o and the Irish. As tough as this next game is, if you are a Stanford fan looking forward, I would be very worried about that Oregon game. Arizona's offense is not on the same level as the one the Ducks are going to trot out, and the Cardinal are going to need to figure something out to have a shot.
17. Oregon State Beavers 2.83
I have got to find a way to catch an Oregon State game. This team just forces you to play their style and controls the ball, but that's all from stats and recaps. Damn this 2 hour time difference.
18. Cincinnati Bearcats 2.81
This is a very good team that noone knows about. If you get a chance to watch them, do it. They flat out hustle are quite likely the class of the Big East.
19. Texas Tech Red Raiders 2.80
I was sitting with a buddy watching a few minutes of Tech's game with the Sooners and it hit us both at the same time how strange it was to see the Red Raiders running the football. They would have had a shot if Seth Doege hadn't 3 Int's. This is very much Tommy Tuberville's team, and no longer Mike Leach's and it is becoming apparent.
20. Nebraska CornHuskers 2.71
The Huskers had their chance to take the lead in the Big 10, but their defense just does not deserve their black shirts. Ohio State ran all over them. They need to find a way to improve their run defense, it has been their downfall all year long.
21. Penn State Nittany Lions 2.68
Say what you want about the Nittany Lions, they have rallied behind Matt McGloin and coach Bill O'Brien. They recovered after early losses to move to 4-2 after beating prior-unbeaten Northwestern. That's the good news. The bad news is that Ohio State, Nebraska, and Wisconsin are still on the schedule.
22. Arizona State Sun Devils 2.59
The Sun Devils have one more tune up against Colorado before taking their shot at Oregon. They have a hell of a second half of the schedule that is going to kick off with their game against the Ducks. They have Oregon, UCLA, Oregon State, USC, and Arizona in their lasat 6 games. There is a lot of excitement in Tempe, but if they limp to a 8 win season that excitement will be tempered.
23. Iowa State Cyclones 2.55
A few weeks ago I said that the Cyclones were going to have to steal some wins that are not expected if they are going to be bowl eligible, let alone stay on this list. Well, a double-digit win against TCU is one hell of a start.
24. Washington Huskies 2.54
The Huskies just don't have the horses to run with the big boys. Thashings at the hands of LSU and Oregon are proof to that. Now, they get the chance to show if they are even in the second tier as the run head long into the rest of the challengers in the Pac-12. If they can steal another win against USC, that would give them a great start, but I can't see USC coming out flat against after the scare they got against Utah.
25. Boise State Broncos 2.53
A offense sighting has been reported from the Boise State football team. 72 points in 2 games against mediocre opponents should not be anything to crow about, but with the performance their offense had put up to this point, it is worth notice.
26. Toledo Rockets 2.53
Toledo has been having a sneaky-good season. They need to win their games against Cincinnati and run the table in the MAC if they want to get any talk about a decent bowl though. Expect to see their strength of schedule drop them further down this list as the season goes. Actually, there is not much more dropping until they are no longer visible....so never mind.
27. BYU Cougars 2.52
These are not your daddy's BYU Cougars. This is probably the most athletic team I have ever seen out of Provo, but they are not as polished as the teams we grew up watching. They are wildly inconsistent, and seem to be a team that plays to the level of their competition. With Oregon State, Notre Dame, and Georgia Tech up next, we get to see if they can truly play up to the level of good competition, or if their inconsistency will kill them.
28. Nevada Wolfpack 2.49
The Wolfpack is a decent team, but frankly, they are here because while the big boys were playing cupcakes, they were playing anyone they could get a game with. They are not a top 30 team this year, and I expect to see that statement justified as the season goes.
29. Mississippi State Bulldogs 2.48
I do sincerly hope that the Bulldogs enjoyed their hors d'oeuvres because the main course is on the way. They control their own destiny, but with Bama, LSU, and the Aggies left to come on the schedule, it's not going to be an easy road. Frankly, it's not one that they will be able to run.
30. Fresno State Bulldogs 2.47
Fresno squeaked in because they are willing to go play games, and they have some big-time talent on offense. That offense will get a solid test against a stout Boise defense this next week. One of them is going to drop like a stone.
BIG EAST: 1
BIG TEN: 3
BIG 12: 5
It's still very obvious which conferences are at the top of this list. The SEC is king with the PAC-12 AND BIG-12 close on it's heels. It's interesting that the MWC has as many teams as the ACC and one less than the BIG TEN. Take that for what it's worth, but it is very interesting.