College Football Power Rankings 3: Season of the Witch
This week’s cheesy movie reference comes to you courtesy of the worst film in the entire “Halloween” franchise(and that’s saying a lot, because one of them had Busta Rhymes in it). Obviously, I chose it because Halloween is coming up, but it also made me realize how lucky I am that I didn’t start doing this power rankings in week 1, or I would really be struggling down the road. I mean, how many movie franchises have over 10 installments? Other than the “Friday the 13th” franchise, which features 12 movies if you count “Freddy vs Jason,” I can’t think of any. But, as always, feel free to tell me how dumb I am in the comments.
Moving on to the football part of this entry, it was definitely the most exciting weekend of the season so far, with national title contenders Oklahoma and Wisconsin falling in dramatic fashion. Oklahoma couldn’t overcome a slow start at home against the fighting Tommy Tuberville’s of Texas Tech, while Wisconsin scored a late touchdown to tie it in East Lansing, only to see the Spartans convert a 44-yard Hail Mary on the game’s final play. With these two unbeatens going down, it opens the door for Clemson and Stanford to make their case, while only making it a more interesting scenario for Boise State to inevitably be screwed in the end.
On a final note, that I know will scare and anger everyone outside of SEC country: There could be an all-SEC BCS championship game. Not saying that it is particularly likely at this point, but it is a real possibility. When the college football equivalent of “Judgment Day” occurs November fifth and Alabama battles LSU, one team will have to lose. But, it is possible that if both teams run the table the rest of the way after that, they could meet again for the national title. If Stanford stumbles against USC, Oregon or Notre Dame, Oklahoma State loses to Oklahoma and Clemson gets tripped up, to you actually think the BCS will allow undefeated Boise or any other one-loss team to play for the title?
I think not. Again, at this point, it is not that likely, but it is not out of the question either. Ok, with that out of the way, here are this week’s rankings.
1. LSU: 8-0
I have been flip-flopping the top-two in my head for a while. LSU scored an incredibly convincing victory over Auburn while three of its top players sat out. That’s good enough to give them the leg up this week.
2. Alabama: 8-0
Like LSU, Alabama is on a bye this week. The Crimson Tide is the latest SEC power to victimize a re-building Tennessee. November 5th, they will not be facing Tennessee.
3. Stanford: 7-0
The Cardinal’s first real test of the season ended up being a laugher against Washington. The schedule cranks up this weekend as they head to LA to face USC. This is where Stanford begins its push for the title game and Andrew Luck can really begin to make his case for the Heisman Trophy.
4. Boise State: 7-0
For once, I came away less than impressed with the Broncos. Yes, Boise was able to overcome a slow start to defeat a decent Air Force team 37-26, but the defense looked weak against the run and Kellen Moore looked human for the first time this season. Also, let’s not forget, this is the same Air Force squad that Notre Dame put 59 point on, so it’s not like they’re the ’85 Bears.
5. Oklahoma State: 7-0
It seemed like every analyst on ESPN had the Cowboys on upset alert as they headed to Missouri. Oklahoma State made them all look foolish, lighting up the Tigers 45-24 in a game that was not as close as the score makes it look.
6. Clemson: 8-0
For the first 30 minutes of Clemson’s game against UNC, I thought I may have been wrong about their poor performance against Maryland being nothing more than a mental letdown. The Tigers held a tenuous 24-17 lead and seemed to be incapable of stopping the Tar Heels’ offense. Then, Tajh Boyd ignited the Tigers and led them to a 35-point third quarter on the way to a 59-38 win.
7. Kansas State: 7-0
The Wildcats have been one of college football’s biggest surprises, but their legitimacy will be severely tested the next two weeks as they welcome Oklahoma, then travel to Oklahoma State.
8. Oregon: 6-1
The Ducks have been rolling since a week 1 loss to LSU in Dallas despite pre-season Heisman candidate LaMichael James being limited by injuries. Last week, the defense out-shined Oregon’s famed “blur” offense by pitching a shutout against Colorado. Only a safety got the Buffalos on the board in Oregon’s 45-2 win.
9. Michigan State: 6-1
The Spartans started fast and finished with a bang against Wisconsin. They now control their own destiny in their quest for a spot in the inaugural Big Ten championship game.
10. Arkansas: 6-1
Saturday’s less than dominant performance against Ole Miss has many cooling on the Hogs. I still think Arkansas has the defense and skill players to beat anybody not named Alabama or LSU.
11. Wisconsin: 6-1
Let’s make one thing clear: Wisconsin is still REEEAALLY good. They still have an outstanding defense, superb offensive line, and a play-maker at quarterback in Russell Wilson. But, they were simply not ready to play in East Lansing early, forcing them to mount a late comeback, which they did. But, Michigan State’s Hail Mary, however “flukey” it may have been, still eliminated the Badgers from national title contention.
12. Oklahoma: 6-1
Like Wisconsin, I still think Oklahoma is very good, but Texas Tech really exposed their defensive flaws. What’s worse, they did it in Norman, and the Bob Stoops haters are once again coming out of the wood work. In my opinion, they have a point. This team is far too explosive to lose to a “pretty good” team like Texas Tech at home.
13. Nebraska: 6-1
The Huskers smacked Minnesota last week, joining the elite company of North Dakota State and Purdue as schools that have done so. Still not sure where to rank them, but I will have a much better idea after they host Michigan State this weekend for first place in the Big Ten Legends division.
14. Virginia Tech: 7-1
The Hokies’ schedule is so boring it is literally causing me stress. They play NOBODY! Well, except for Clemson, who beat them 23-3. Still, Virginia Tech is dominating, and they will likely win the rest of their games and set up a rematch with Clemson. Don’t believe me? Who out of Duke, Georgia Tech, North Carolina and Virginia is going to beat them?
15. Michigan: 6-1
Michigan’s loss to Michigan State is suddenly looking a whole lot more excusable. The Wolverines had the week off and will welcome Purdue to the Big House Saturday, where the Boilers have only won once since 1966. For a point of reference, Purdue has had three times as many graduates walk on the moon as they have wins in Michigan Stadium in that span.
16. Houston: 7-0
The Cougars passed their biggest test of the season against Marshall Saturday. Quarterback Case Keenum became the NCAA’s all-time leader in total yardage in the game and it appears to be smooth sailing the rest of the way for coach Kevin Sumlin’s squad.
17. Penn State: 7-1
The Nittany Lions have jumped out to a 4-0 start in the Big Ten by feasting on conference bottom-dwellers. Rougher waters lie ahead for Penn State, which closes the year with Nebraska, Ohio State and Wisconsin all in a row. This week’s opponent is a desperate Illinois squad that is reeling after last week’s loss at Purdue.
18. USC: 6-1
The Trojans legitimized themselves last week by physically man-handling Notre Dame. Give Lane Kiffin credit, it only took him three high-profile head coaching jobs over five years to score a moderately impressive road win over a team with only slightly inferior talent.
19. Texas A&M: 5-2
The Aggies host a mediocre Missouri team this week, but then face Oklahoma and Kansas State away. Of course, they close the season hosting Texas, and would love to leave the Big 12 by kicking the Longhorns on their way out.
20. South Carolina: 6-1
I feel like I am ranking this team here because I have to. They only have one-loss and lead the SEC East, but that division is so easy to win, even a Georgia Bulldog could do it. Without Marcus Lattimore or Stephen Garcia, I give the Gamecocks less of a chance, but I just couldn’t bring myself to rank a two-loss Georgia team above them.
21. Texas Tech: 5-2
The Red Raiders are riding high after a victory over Oklahoma. We shall see how good they are as their conference schedule picks up in the coming weeks.
22. Arizona State: 5-2
Their loss to Illinois does look pretty bad now, but I just don’t know who to rank here.
23. Cincinnati: 6-1
Same as Arizona State. A bad loss to Tennessee has me doubting the Bearcats, but they do have a nice win over NC State. The next two weeks will tell us a lot about this team and their chances for a Big East title as they face Pittsburgh and West Virginia.
24. Auburn: 5-3
Call me an apologist, but I refuse to drop Auburn from my rankings, even after they were throttled at LSU. All three of Auburn’s losses have come against current BCS top-10 teams(Clemson, Arkansas, and LSU) and they have scored some big wins over Mississippi State, South Carolina and Florida.
25. Georgia: 5-2
The Bulldogs have won five in a row, but you will have to excuse me if names like Coastal Carolina, Ole Miss, Tennessee and Vanderbilt don’t exactly “WOW” me. They do have a nice win over Mississippi State though, and this weekend’s game in Jacksonville against Florida will reveal whether Georgia’s explosive offense is for real, or the product of poor competition.
Game I will definitely be watching
Michigan State at Nebraska
The Spartans are red-hot and this game will actually give me some insight into how good Nebraska is. So far, they have beaten a bunch of bad teams and fell to the only good team on their schedule(Wisconsin). Even their win over a depleted Ohio State squad left much to be desired as they fell into a big hole early. Now that the Spartans have slowed Denard Robinson and Russell Wilson in consecutive weeks, what can Taylor Martinez hope to do?
Games between unranked teams that could crash the BCS
Connecticut at Pittsburgh and West Virginia vs Rutgers
The big East is usually bad, but this year is crazy. We have to rank Cincinnati because they have beaten a team with a pulse and only have one loss, but even West Virginia has disappointed by getting rocked by Syracuse. This weekend’s game between Pittsburgh and Connecticut will give the winner a real shot at catching Cincinnati and a totally underserved trip to a BCS bowl. But, more importantly, it will pit a team from New England against a team from Pittsburgh in Heinz Field for the first time this weekend.
In the other game, both teams have one conference loss, but still are right in the thick of the Big East race. Now the only thing we know about this terrible conference is that USF(0-3 in Big East play) will not win it. This shocking revelation coming after an entire week of ESPN telling me they would following their win over Notre Dame.
Most interesting betting line
Baylor at Oklahoma State(-18.5)
I know the Cowboys are rolling and Baylor is struggling, but the Bears still have Robert Griffin III running their offense, do they not? So, if you despise defense, and loathe tackling, this is the game for you! However, I am very intrigued by this line. One side of me says it will start as a shoot out, but Baylor will fade, while the other part of me thinks a disrespected Baylor team could actually pull off this upset. I am genuinely torn on this one.