Sunday, August 31, 2008

ACC Falls Hard, while Alabama, Utah and East Carolina Score Big Wins

Bearcatmark’s Top 25 after the first Saturday of College Football:

1. USC- USC was very impressive in dominating Virginia this weekend, not that Virginia is that great a team. USC has the most talent in the country and will be very difficult to beat this season.

2. Oklahoma- Another team loaded with talent, they took care of business this weekend, but will have a much tougher time with the Bearcats next week.

3. “One of the” Ohio State Universities (the one in Columbus) - OSU falls from the top spot due to injury. They are still incredibly good on defense. Terrell Prior looked solid in his debut, but with an injured Beanie Wells I cannot justify keeping them in the number 1 spot.

4. Georgia- The AP preseason number one. I still just do not trust them to take care of business week in and week out like I trust the top 3.

5. West Virginia- Pat White threw more and was efficient doing so. WVU’s offense will not be a question, but the defense still has some work to do. ECU should provide a nice test this week.

6. Florida- The SEC is really good.

7. Missouri- Offensively they were very impressive in one of the more marquee games of week one. Chase Daniels and Jeremy Maclin proved to be two of the more explosive players in the country. Still any time you give up 42 points that is cause for concern. Missouri cannot win the Big 12 playing defense like that.

8. Auburn- Tony Franklin was unhappy with how Auburn looked in their new offense. They still managed to run for over 300 yards against Louisiana Monroe.

9. Texas Tech- Giving up 17 second quarter points to Eastern Washington is not good. If Texas Tech wants to take the next step this year and be a top 10 team they are going to have to play better. They did manage to throw for over 500 yards as usual.

10. LSU- The defending champs did what they were supposed to do (and what Michigan could not do last season) and handled Appalachian State. Their schedule is pretty much a cakewalk non-conference, but they have plenty of tests once they get into the absolutely loaded SEC.

11. Arizona State- A very businesslike first game. They jumped out to a 27-0 halftime lead and the game was really never in doubt.

12. Cincinnati- Yea I am very high on the Bearcats and we will have a pretty good idea of how smart that is after this weekend. Grutza played very well against EKU, but still seemed to hold onto the ball a bit long too at times. He is going to have to make quicker decisions in Norman for the Bearcats to be successful. I think the key to the Bearcats will continue to be the defense. They did not force turnovers against EKU, but did not show much either. I think they have to make some plays if the Cats are going to steal one this week.

13. Wisconsin- The Badgers were not overly impressive against Akron, who is generally picked to finish dead last in the MAC East. Wisconsin struggled to stop the shotgun spread, something that bothered the Badgers throughout 2007. This team definitely has some questions to answer.

14. South Florida- The Bulls puts 28 points on the board in the first quarter and dominated all aspects of the game this week. They should have more of a test next week against UCF, before a big game against Kansas.

15. Kansas- Kansas and USF are side by side in my poll. Should make for a very good matchup in two weeks.

16. Tennessee- Picked behind both Georgia and Florida, it was the Vols that actually won the SEC East last year. The SEC is really good.

17. Texas- Not much to say about the Long Horns yet. They did handle a fairly decent Florida Atlantic team, but I remain a bit skeptical of them because of last season.

18. Alabama- They make the biggest jump this week after their dismantling of Pre-Season ACC favorite, Clemson. Clemson makes the biggest fall dropping out of the polls completely. Bama is going to be in a fight to finish in the top 3 in the SEC West… The SEC is really good.

19. Oregon- Good start to the season for the Ducks.

20. Illinois- I really did not penalize Illinois for losing to a team they were supposed to lose to. That is one of my biggest pet peeves with top 25 polls; teams dropping in the rankings after losing to teams ahead of them. Missouri was ranked 7 in my poll, Illinois was ranked 19, a ten point loss seems pretty reasonable. They drop 1 spot because of Alabama’s impressive performance against Clemson, but Illinois still seems like a top 20 team to me. Their offense certainly looked tough to stop last night.

21. Wake Forest-
They are the only ACC team I have ranked this week.

22. Penn State- They put up 38 points in the first half this week, but lets face it Coastal Carolina is really bad.

23. Rutgers- I am anxious to see their game against Fresno State on Monday. I do not understand how so many people could sleep on the Bearcats and the Scarlet Knights going into the season, but be gung ho about Pitt. Rutgers has an explosive offense and a very talented defense. Their schedule worries me once they get to Big East play, but I think you are going to see them really play well in the non-conference.

24. Utah- They beat Michigan in the Big House and while that is not quite the feat it was a few years ago it is still a big time win. For now, I am ranking them ahead of BYU for that very reason.

25. ECU- They beat Virginia Tech on what essentially was a neutral field (A few of my friends were at the game and said it was about 75% Hokie fans for this “home” ECU game). That’s a good win. In all honesty they looked like the better team throughout that game, but really gave some gifts to VT in the form of turnovers. ECU played from behind all game long, but I really felt they were better throughout. They have a tough one this week against WVU, so we will know more about them next week.

Clemson and VT both dropped out after dreadful performances. VT is clearly lacking in playmakers on the offensive side of the ball. They also allowed the Pirates to run all over them. Clemson is a very talented team and if I were a betting man I would say they get back in the top 25 at some point, but after this weeks performance I cannot in good faith justify it by what I saw on the field.

Pitt was, well what any fan who actually follows the Big East expected. I want Pitt to take a step up this season for the sake of the Big East. Pitt and Syracuse are basically the only schools in the conference that can be defined in any sense as traditional powers. I think the media clamors for tradition powers and immediately jumped the shark on Pitt based on 1 game. What that one game showed was that Pitt is talented and therefore dangerous, but what the rest of the season showed was that Pitt is not a good football team. They were just awful in the second half against Bowling Green. Their receivers could not catch anything and their defense could not stop anyone. Pitt was a trendy pick to win the Big East and even make a BCS bowl. In reality they are a 5-7 team from last year with an immensely talented running back and nothing else. I was baffled how a team like Pitt could be preseason top 25 and a team like Cincinnati which went 10-3, finished the year ranked 17 in the country, and returned a ton of experience particularly on defense could be sitting outside in nearly all major polls. I think what it shows is the lack of knowledge the media really has about the Big East Conference.

I just had no room for BYU this week. I thought Utah, Alabama, and ECU played their way into the top 25. If Rutgers or Penn State played BYU on a neutral cite I would not be picking the Mormons. So as of this week they are out.

No comments: