Johnny Football and the G*@ D@#$ Texas Aggies introduce themselves to the SEC like any proper interloper should...by taking the King's head off. Myself, and a few others had voice concerns about the lack of SoS for Bama and the chinks that had been exposed in their armor. To be honest, it did take a very good team, led by a special player to knock them off, and then just barely...but it happened. Bama is not the best team in the country, but they are still a damned good team. And.....they are not going to lose a ton between this year and next like they did in the last draft. They are going to back on top next year, and deservedly so, but for now we have a very interesting argument between 3 teams from outside the SEC as well as the question of how much will that one more high quality win help either Bama or Georgia from the SEC title game.
One thing is for sure, with each of the leading teams having at least one game remaining against a ranked team and Oregon playing 3 more, it's far from over.
Here are this week's rankings.
1. Kansas State Wildcats 8.940
This weeks win against a solid TCU ball club was probably the best performance by a Wildcat defense in this iteration of the Miracle in Manhattan. They held a TCU team that scored just shy of 34 points a game for season to 10 measly, garbage-time, points. TCU had 154 yards through 3 quarters before the Cats took their foot off the gas in the 4th to preserve their starters. Now, KSU needs the Horned Frogs to make some noise the last 2 weeks against Texas and OU. The Cats have a defense-weak Baylor team and the mercurial Texas Longhorns left to play. Baylor is no great concern, but the Texas has the talent to give them a puncher's chance...if they can avoid the mistakes that have plagued them all year, especially against the run. Both are favorable matchups for Snyder's boys.
2. Oregon Ducks 8.663
As impressive as the scoreboard looked after the Ducks were done with Cal, the Bears may have given the blueprint for defenses to slow down the Ducks. They played a zone shell, like you would play against a passing team, which allowed their secondary to help against the run more successfully than normal. This allowed them to slow the Ducks down for more than a half. It is important to note that the Bears were able to run the ball with the ENTIRE STARTING D-LINE for the Ducks being injured and out of the game. This will not be the case for other opponents. They were able to force the Ducks to throw the ball though, which is more than anyone else had been able to do, and if a better team is able to do it, they might give themselves a shot.
3. Alabama Crimson Tide 8.508
The Tide was given a lot of credit for last season, and it appears that they are much like last years team. They are good enough to win with time to prepare, but if they don't have the time to scheme, they are beatable. Say what you want about the talent on the roster, Nick Saban and his coaching staff are the Tide's greatest strength. They had back to back games against tough team and had to focus on LSU or the second wouldn't matter. That didn't give them time to successfully prepare and recover in time for the Aggies. They are going to need to blow out everyone left with their next 2 teams being poorly regarded in Western Carolina and Auburn. If they don't win those by a combined 70 and beat Georgia by 2 TD's there should be no way they play their way back into the conversation for the title game.
4. Notre Dame Fighting Irish 7.590
I know, Fighting Irish fans are going to be pissed about Bama still being in front of them, but I don't buy the SoS that is assigned to the Irish schedule. Their Big Ten wins are over-rated and were largely unimpressive. But, if they run the table in an impressive manner, they could easily catch and pass the Tide. Wake Forest is better than Auburn or Western Carolina, and that end game against USC is their chance to make a statement. If they can beat them convincingly, to separate themselves from Oregon by use of the common opponent theory, they should get their shot.
5. Texas A and M Aggies 7.416 Gig'Em Johnny Football!!! Welcome to the SEC indeed. The Aggies played a hell of a game, and I can't wait to see how this sets them up to wreak havoc on the recruiting roads. They just put themselves up front as the most exciting football program in the state of Texas, and that is huge. Oh, they also got themselves set up for a very nice bowl game, with what should end as a 10 win season set up. 6. Florida State Seminoles 7.135
First thing first, credit is due to the Virginia Tech Hokies. They played their best game of the season against a superior FSU team. They caused turnovers and pushed the Noles into playing a rather poor game. But, in the end, EJ Manuel had too much nerve and too many weapons to let his team take a second conference loss. This is still a very balanced team. They have talent and playmakers all over the field, and have dealt with injuries that would have crippled most teams without, seemingly, missing a beat.
Game breaking running back - out with a knee
All-American D-End - out
All-Conference CB and All-American Returner - kicked off the team for violations
They are still a top 11 offense and top overall defense in yardage, while being 4th overall in points both ways. If they hold court against the Gators in 2 weeks, which will be very difficult, the ACC is going to get some respect that it has not gotten nationally.
7. Florida Gators 6.984
The Gators can be surprisingly mortal for a team that has won the games that it has. This is a team that beat Johnny Football in College Station as well as beating LSU and South Carolina, the latter handily. How do they have to return a blocked punt to COMEBACK against Louisiana Lafayette? The only answer is that they are playing to the level of their competition, which is a dangerous way to live. They have a week to heal up against Jacksonville State before their visit to the Doak.
8. Georgia Bulldogs 6.626
You can say what you want about the Bulldogs, but they did enough to get in the SEC title game again, and they are peaking at the right time. Their defense has really stepped up the last 3 weeks and they look like a team that deserves to be in the title game, though I am sure Gamecock fans would disagree. They need to continue to dominate through these next 2 games, but their focus needs to be staying healthy so they will have a shot at the SEC title. It's going to be an outside shot, to be sure, but they are a very talented bunch.
9. Ohio State Buckeyes 6.580
Very quietly, these Buckeyes are still unbeaten. We aren't hearing much since they are not in the title hunt, due to NCAA punishments, but this is a very good, young, team. They are going to be very much in the picture and hunt next year.
10. LSU Tigers 6.580
A convincing win over Mississippi State confirmed what we all thought about the pecking order in the SEC West. We aren't sure who the best team is, but it is either the Aggies, the Tide, or the Tigers. With Ole Miss and the Hogs left, The Tigers should end with 9 wins.
11. South Carolina Gamecocks 5.973
The Gamecocks are still a good team, and beat the Hogs by 18 just to prove it. They leaned heavily on Connor Shaw and got a defensive touchdown in a game that was not as close as the 18 points spread made it look. Their game against Clemson at the end of the year is going to be a very interesting contrast in styles, but why in the hell are they playing Wofford?
12. Stanford Cardinal 5.969
Stanford is the only team left that can rain on Oregon's parade, after knocking off Oregon State last week. They have had this game circle all year long, and it is here. Personally, I will shocked if the Cardinal can stay in this one, but they have shocked us before haven't they.
13. Clemson Tigers 5.895
Another week, another blowout of a team who is not Florida State. This offense cannot be stopped, or has not anyway. Even in their one loss, they scored 37 points. It is their defense which has been occasionally exposed, bu that hasn't happened in over a month. Over their last 4, they are only giving up 12.5 a game. That is very much qualified by the level of the opponents though. The Wolfpack and Gamecocks will test their mettle a bit more.
14. Texas Longhorns 5.555
Texas looked very good against a solid Iowa State squad, dominating the game from start to finish.
We get to see how much better they are after a couple solid wins with TCU and KSU lined up, with their vaunted defense, to end up the season. The biggest challenge is going to be the Wildcat rushing attack for a defense that has been gashed at times by the run this season.
15. Michigan Wolverines 5.302
The Wolverines are not the same team without Denard Robinson, but they are still winning. Admittedly, Minnesota and Northwestern are not traditional powers, but both are going bowling this year. Devin Gardner brought them back from a double-digit second half deficit to get a win, and that is something to smile about for the Maize and Blue fans.
16. Cincinnati Bearcats 5.162
With Louisville's loss to Syracuse, the door is cracked open for this Bearcat club to sneak in and get the conference title. They will need some help, but have to beat Rutgers this week to have a shot.
17. UCLA Bruins 5.130
These young Bruins have been a pleasant surprise to the College Football world. They already have 8 wins and a couple solid wins in the books. Now, they have the big game against the 'other' LA team. USC is coming to the Rose Bowl, and this ought to be a good one with UCLA dynamic rushing attack trying to keep Matt Barkley on the sidelines. The winner goes to the Pac-12 title game.
18. Texas Tech Red Raiders 5.126
Tech almost got caught in a trap game by a surprising Kansas team. Since Dayne Crist got benched, the Jayhawks offense seems to have found an identity. That hard rushing identity was difficult for Tech to deal with, but they found a way to make it out with a win. They have a tough road game at Stillwater before a trip to face Baylor at the end of the year.
19. Oklahoma State Cowboys 5.056
OSU started their third QB of the year, and the third to be making his first career start, and they have all won their games. That tells me a couple things. First, this team is deep at the QB positions which speaks very well for the recruiting overall. Second, this offense is deadly in scheme and supporting staff. They have Texas Tech, OU, and Baylor left with the last 2 being on the road. Don't assume that they won't win out. Their defense is going to have to step up, especially against OU, but they can score with any of these teams and are confident after winning 4 of their last 5.
20. Fresno State Bulldogs 5.035
You don't hear much about Fresno, but they have 8 wins on the season with their only losses being Oregon, Boise, and a 1 point loss at Tulsa. Those 3 teams are 24-4. This is not a bad team They put together a decent schedule, which is tough to do when you are playing in the Mountain West.
21. Louisiana Tech Bulldogs 5.024
Speaking of small conference schools making good. This offense is one of the few who could argue with Oregon about who is the most explosive. Their only loss is to those boys from College Station who just handed one to Bama, and they have only been held below 50 points twice this season. These defense is not great however, and their SoS is lacking, but that is a given playing is C-USA. Give them credit for playing the Aggies and Virginia out of conference though.
22. San Diego State Aztecs 5.015
You may have noticed that the talk about Boise State crashing the BCS dance has faded away a bit. This Aztec team is why. Brady Hoke built a monster on the west coast and they don't feel like fading away just because he left.
23. Nebraska Cornhuskers 4.997
Nebraska is in the catbird seat in the Big Ten with 2 very winnable games left before the Big Ten title game against whoever is in third place in the 'Leaders' division. It looks like that is going to be Wisconsin.
24. Boise State Broncos 4.986
After losing to San Diego State, it looks like the Broncos are going to be on the outside looking in for both their conference and the BCS. I didn't seem to bother them last time out at Hawaii though as they blew out the Warriors.
25. USC Trojans 4.972
They have their 2 biggest rivalry games to end the season. If they win them, they will save a season and ruin to title sets of hopes. UCLA has dreams of the conference title, and Notre Dame of the national title. If the Trojans win out, they spoil them both, and end the season with a smile.
26. Wisconsin Badgers 4.830
Wisconsin has locked up a spot in the Big Ten title game, even if they lose to the 2 best teams in it to end the season. Is just sad.
27. Louisville Cardinals 4.824
Louisville still controls it's own destiny to an extent. If they beat Rutgers, they can tie for the top spot in the Big East. That is a disapointing state to be in though, after playing so well all season. They were never a top 10 team though, the talent is too young and thin at this point.
28. Oregon State 4.795
Their loss to Stanford makes that 3rd in the Pac-12 north at best, but that is much more than was expected out of Corvallis this year. They have a chance to wreak havoc at best, and finish with 9 wins at worst. A nice year.
29. UCF Knights 4.667
The Knights are another team that hasn't gotten much ink this year. They are 8-2 and unbeaten in C-USA, with themselves solidly in the drive seat to face off with Tulsa in their conference championship. They have not done much out of their own conference, but have the chance for a solid win this week with their game against Tulsa.
30. Penn State Nittany Lions 4.356
Coach O'Brien and the Nittany Lions have experienced an astounding turn around after slumping to a 0-2 start. They are the #3 team in the Big 12 behind a stout defense and the passing of Matt McGloin.
BIG TEN: 4
BIG EAST: 2