College Football Power Rankings
Special shout out to David Lombardi for inspiring me to do this.
Your constant whining about Stanford’s ranking in this week’s AP poll was all the motivation I needed to make my own power poll. Don’t worry, I will be gentle with the Cardinal.
It was a bit of a letdown in college football last weekend. Each of our big matchups turned into a blowout, and only die-hard fans of the teams involved were watching after halftime. Oklahoma continued a trend of the favorite winning comfortably in the Red River Rivalry against Texas. Seriously, the Longhorns were only ranked 11th to make this game look intriguing, right? In the other supposed “heavyweight bout” of the weekend, Florida wilted in Death Valley against a loaded LSU team that simply manhandled the Gators.
Hopefully this weekend brings a bit more drama, and with key matchups in the Big 12, Big Ten and Pac 12, it certainly should. Without further ado, here are the rankings and your weekend preview.
The Tigers killed Florida last week by doing what they do. They suffocated the Gators’ ground game to make them one-dimensional, teed off on the Florida quarterback(a true freshman making his first start. Yikes!), ran the ball to control the clock, took the occasional shot down the field and employed some special teams trickeration. Don’t feel bad Florida, the Tigers did the same thing to Oregon to start the year.
The Crimson Tide also smacked Florida, and they have quality wins over Arkansas and Penn St. as well. Both offenses run the ball well, but I think LSU’s defense is a microstep faster.
I really like Landry Jones and that offense, but the defense really impressed me last week against Texas. Still, the Sooners aren’t in the same universe as the top-2 teams defensively, and the speed of LSU and Alabama lead me to believe they would be able to matchup with Oklahoma’s skill players.
4. Boise St.
You can make the strength of schedule argument at the end of the year, but right now, Boise isn’t that far behind the curve. Their opening weekend smacking of Georgia in Atlanta was one of the season’s most impressive victories and they have been flawless ever since. Toledo, Tulsa, Nevada and Fresno St. are not exactly cup cakes, but Boise sure made them look that way, winning by a combined score of 203-74.
The Badgers have flat-out clobbered everybody they’ve played. Now, the pre-conference slate wasn’t exactly daunting, but a 35-0 win over Oregon St. was nice to see, and they opened Big Ten play with a bang by crushing new conference foe Nebraska 48-17. Russel Wilson sure looks like he was the missing piece of that puzzle in Madison.
It honestly is a coin flip between the Cardinal and the Badgers. Stanford looks every bit as good as the team that easily won the Orange Bowl last year, but Wisconsin looks significantly better than the team that lost the Rose Bowl. Both teams have great quarterbacks that can beat you with their arms and their legs, and both teams can run the ball right down your throat. My tie-breakers were who has the most impressive win, which goes to the Badgers, and which defense I trust more, Stanford lost their leading tackler Shayne Skov for the rest of the year with a knee injury. Don’t feel slighted Lombro, wins over Oregon and USC will cure what ails ya.
The Tigers had a three-game stretch that no other team in the country could touch. Clemson ended Auburn’s 17-game winning streak three weeks ago, and then decided to follow that performance with wins over pre-season ACC favorites FSU and Virginia Tech in the next two weeks. This seems to be the year all that talent breaks through for Clemson, but an injury to quarterback Tajh Boyd provided a scary moment in an otherwise easy win over Boston College last week. The Tigers do, however, expect him to return.
The Ducks will not miss LaMichael James as much as people think. Kenjon Barner is pretty much the same player, and De’Anthony Thomas could be a potentially lethal player in the slot. A big game looms this weekend with Arizona St. After that, the Ducks will play three conference bottom dwellers before the Pac 12’s main event in Palo Alto where a revenge minded Stanford team awaits them.
9. Oklahoma St.
They only have one quality win, and that was a second-half choke-fest by Texas A&M, but you still have to love a team that can sling it like the Cowboys. Defense is still a concern, but when you’re leading the nation at over 50 points a game, it alleviates that a bit.
10. Georgia Tech
Paul Johnson’s triple option attack makes for the most dominating ground game in college football. Sure Georgia Tech is one-dimensional, but they’ve shown that they can win games 66-24(Kansas), or 21-16(Maryland). I like teams that can win shoot-outs and grind it out.
The Razorbacks were beaten convincingly by Alabama a few weeks ago, but I think that speaks more to the strength of the Crimson Tide. Last week’s thrashing of Auburn shows that Arkansas is for real, but they still have pretty much no shot in a loaded SEC West that features ‘Bama and LSU.
Denard Robinson is one of the most dynamic athletes in college football, but we’ve seen this team start hot and fizzle the past few years. I tried to rank them lower, but there’s just no other team with a great quarterback, a solid receiving corps, athletes on defense, and no losses to drop them.
13. South Carolina
No Stephen Garcia? No problem. South Carolina dismissed their troubled quarterback after his backup, Connor Shaw, slung it all over Kentucky. As far as I can tell, the Gamecocks are still the favorites in a less than stellar SEC East.
The Huskers were welcomed to the Big Ten with a brutal trip to Madison where they were obliterated by the Badgers. So much for this Big 12 team coming in and dominating. Last week they got behind a depleted Ohio St. team but came back to win. Tyler Martinez is a great option runner, but we’re seeing that against Big Ten defenses he isn’t nearly as effective as he was last year.
15. Kansas St.
The Wildcats scored a huge victory over Baylor two weeks ago, and followed that with a win over Missouri last week. K-State runs the ball better than anybody in the country not named Georgia Tech or Wisconsin, but their borderline inept quarterback play will cause them trouble against schools from Oklahoma that score on everybody.
16. West Virginia
Geno Smith looks like Pat White running the ball, and he’s already better throwing it. With all the shake up in the conference, West Virginia remains the favorite.
17. Virginia Tech
This is about where Virginia Tech should be every year. Good D, good special teams and a solid ground game. In years where they have a viable quarterback they take the next step.
The defense is now a major concern with the showing against Kansas St, but you just can’t rank a team much lower than this when they have a play maker like Robert Griffin III at quarterback.
I don’t know what to make of this team. We know Ron Zook can recruit, so they have talent. We also know, however, that Ron Zook cannot coach, so where does that leave us? Well, the Illini have an impressive win over Arizona St. under their belt and a talented dual-threat quarterback in Nathan Scheelhaase under center, so I guess they deserve some props.
They’re not getting much love this year, but Case Keenum and his gang are once again putting up video game numbers. I can see why people are not high on them, their defense gave up 34 and 42 points to Louisiana Tech and UTEP, respectively. Still, they opened the year with a win at UCLA, and are probably a win this weekend against Marshall away from an undefeated season.
The Longhorns showed they are a long way away from contending for a national title Saturday. The offense is sputtering amid quarterback issues, and the defense is, well, a Big 12 defense. Still, Texas will always be one of the most talented teams in the country and a house-broken dog should be able to coach them to nine wins.
22. Arizona St.
Their accomplishments tell me they should be ranked higher. The Sun Devils have two wins over ranked opponents and only a near loss at Illinois is keeping them from perfection. But, I’m just not sold on any of their “good wins” like USC and Missouri right now, and it remains to be seen how good Illinois actually is.
The defending champs are the only two-loss team on the list, and I’m not sure if they belong. But, they’ve lost to two good teams in Clemson and Arkansas so I don’t want to hold it against them. Plus, we have a quota of SEC teams that need to be on this list.
The Huskies started the year slow, nearly losing to Eastern Washington, but have rebounded well to open Pac 12 play with back-to-back wins. Washington’s only loss came at Nebraska, and it has not been held below 30 points this season.
25. Penn St.
Joe Pa’s boys have done almost nothing to be ranked. But, they’re 5-1 with only a loss to Alabama and a win over a surprisingly good Temple squad. I give them the nod over Michigan St. for this spot.
Game I’m Definitely Watching
Western New England University at MIT
Ok, so I have to watch this game because I am now MIT’s play-by-play guy. Still, it will be an interesting New England Football Conference showdown featuring an Engineer squad looking to recover from back-to-back close defeats at the hands of UMass-Dartmouth and Plymouth St, respectively. WNEU comes in fresh off a 37-20 victory over conference power Curry and brimming with confidence. Should be a barn-burner!!
Game I Will Be Watching Later
Arizona St. at Oregon
Should be a ton of points and a wild environment in Autzen. If the Sun Devils can pull this win out it will not only legitimize them, it will also put them in the driver’s seat of the Pac 12 South.
Most Interesting Betting Line
Indiana at Wisconsin(-38.5)
Yes, you read that line correctly. A Big Ten team is favored by 38.5 over another Big Ten team. It isn’t supposed to be cup cake time in college football anymore, but the conference slate gives the Badgers one more to feast on. Wisconsin has been dominant, as we’ve gone over, while Indiana has been putrid. The Hoosiers have lost to Ball St, Virginia and North Texas. I was thinking to myself, “how high would this line have to be for me to actually bet on Indiana?” The answer: Higher than this. If Wisconsin was favored by 45 I might be inclined to take the Hoosiers, but Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema takes a sick pleasure in running up the score and Wisconsin put 83 on Indiana last year, so I still don’t know. Even if you made this line 75 I would still only take Indiana semi-confidently.