Sunday, October 12, 2008

Can Anyone Run the Table?

It has been a few weeks since I gave a top 25 write-up. Since that time there have been numerous upsets. We have seen USC, Oklahoma, Wisconsin, Auburn, LSU, South Florida and many other teams falter. As of right now no more than 3 BCS conference teams will run the table (and really I think Penn State is the only team with a good shot at doing so). This is shaping up to be a college football season very similar to last season For a hypothetical what happens if everyone has two losses except and unbeaten Penn State and an unbeaten BYU? Does BYU get a shot at the National Title? Will that scenario convince the major conference that a playoff is indeed necessary?

  1. Texas- If you beat number one you have probably earned your spot at the top of the rankings. Colt McCoy should be the early Heisman trophy favorite. Yesterday against Oklahoma he completed 80 percent of his passes, took care of the football and rallied the Long Horns from 11 down. I do not think Texas can make it through a very difficult upcoming stretch unscathed. I think eventually their suspect passing defense will catch up to them, but this team has to be the favorite to win the Big 12 South Right now and could definitely be in the National Title.
  2. Alabama- They may have a more complete resume than Texas at this point in the season. The Crimson Tide defense has been absolutely killing opponents this season. The more I look at Alabama’s schedule the more I think they could make it to the SEC Championship without a loss. Every week is tough in the SEC, no doubt about that, but I am not sure the SEC is as dominant as we all thought it was going to be. Tennessee, Auburn and Mississippi State are all games the Tide should win. Next week against a pesky Ole Miss is a big test and then there is the trip down to LSU on November 8. I still do not Alabama will run the table, but their schedule really does set up nicely for them down the stretch.
  3. Penn State- Is Penn State the third best team in the country? I do not know. I do think Penn State is the major conference team most likely to run the table a reach the National Title game. The game at Ohio State in two weeks promises to be enormous and likely will decide the Big Ten. I know Penn State has had problems beating Michigan in recent years, but something tells me that game is going to get ugly next week. Penn State was incredibly impressive against Oregon State and Wisconsin and looked very impressive against Illinois as well. If Penn State runs the table and makes the National Title game it will be well earned.
  4. Oklahoma- I still think they are the best of the 1 loss teams and probably the best team in the country, but they were exposed some against Texas. I know they were banged up on defense, but the Sooners have looked suspect against good passing attacks this year. In a conference with so many potent passing offenses that could be a cause for concern. The other area where Oklahoma has struggled this season is kickoff coverage. This loomed large yesterday as Texas really started to change the game with a kickoff return for a touchdown. The loss to Texas pretty much takes their destiny out of their hands.
  5. USC- The Trojan defense has been a force since the Oregon State loss. They put on a clinic yesterday. In a very down Pac Ten conference the Trojans are in prime position to run the table. They could be playing for a national title before it is all said and done.
  6. Florida- Perhaps the most impressive team yesterday was the Florida Gators. Their offense made a very good LSU defense look stupid. I think Florida’s offense separates them from the rest of the SEC. If Florida plays like they did yesterday they are going to be tough to beat.
  7. Georgia- The Bulldogs were not very impressive against Tennessee yesterday. They will need to play better the rest of the way if they are going to win the SEC East.
  8. Oklahoma State- Probably the biggest jumpers seeing as I had not ranked them in any polls I have done this season. Oklahoma State is unbeaten and that road win against Missouri is about as good a win as a team can get. The most impressive thing about that game was the way their defense forced the brilliant Tiger offense into so many bad plays (and held Missouri to their first 3 and out of the season). They are going to have to do more to stay up here, but at 6-0 with a win on the road against Missouri they have earned a top ten spot.
  9. Texas Tech- Here is where I am starting to have some trouble grouping teams. Texas Tech was not that impressive against Nebraska yesterday, but for the most part I like this Red Raider team. They play better defense than they have in the past (not saying too much) and that offense is going to light people up week after week. They play Texas A&M before getting games against Kansas and Texas. After that three game stretch we will know much more.
  10. Ohio State- I flat out have not been impressed with Ohio State in any game this season and yet I still have them at number 10 because they always find a way to win games. Their defense had a great performance yesterday, but the Buckeye offense is far from potent. Still, with the game against Penn State at home I think Ohio State is going to have another shot at a Big Ten title.
  11. Missouri- In the end they may be better than both Ohio State and Texas Tech, but I do not trust their defense. Until this week their offense had just been abusing teams. My biggest issue with Missouri is if an opposing defense can slow down their offense at all, Missouri is very vulnerable.
  12. LSU- I am not very confident in either of their quarterbacks. The defense got abused by the Florida Gators yesterday, but I think that probably has more to do with that Gator offense finally clicking than the LSU defense. Bottom line, LSU is good enough to beat some people, maybe good enough to win the west, but they have too many weaknesses to be considered an elite team.
  13. BYU- The Cougars are a team I struggle to rank. They have looked impressive enough week in and week out for me to put them around 13, but I do not think I can rank them much higher unless they really look great against the likes of TCU and Utah. I would love to see what they can do against top notch competition (and good for them they will go to a BCS bowl if they keep taking care of business)
  14. South Florida- Their banged up defense struggled to stop the Pittsburgh running game. They still have great balance on offense and can really get after the quarterback on defense. I think their win over Kansas is a very good win and I think they have been impressive throughout the season.
  15. Michigan State- They are just a solid football team. They run the ball and play very good defense. Fifteen might end up being a little high for them, but with solid wins over Notre Dame and Northwestern this seems reasonable.
  16. North Carolina- The Tarheels got another big win this time against Notre Dame. Their defense continues to make plays. Butch Davis has to be a favorite for coach of the year.
  17. Virginia Tech- They have been an entirely different team with Taylor at the quarterback position. They have not been overly impressive but keep finding ways to win games. Another BCS bid and an ACC championship are very much in reach.
  18. Kansas- Kansas has won the games they need to win. They were impressive in the second half against Colorado. They have a hungry Oklahoma team this week followed by a date with Texas Tech…these are the regular season tests Kansas seemingly avoided last season and will tell us a lot.
  19. Cincinnati- Six games, 4 different quarterbacks have seen the field. The Bearcats have continued to take care of business. This is the most talented team I can remember at UC and they have continued to battle through adversity. The Bearcats get to the bye and now have an extra week to get healthy before heading to UCONN. Tony Pike should be back to lead the cats into battle. The Bearcats still have the best receivers in the conference, they have a solid offensive line, and the running game has started to get going. The Bearcat defense has started to really put pressure on opposing teams and UC certainly has no shortage of playmakers in the secondary. All that combined with special teams units that are second to none and this Bearcat team is more likely to move up than go down.
  20. Boise State- Their BCS fate likely hinges on Utah and BYU both losing, but the Broncos are once again having a special season.
  21. Utah- We are getting closer and closer to an undefeated battle between Utah and BYU with a conference title and BCS bid on the line. Either will be a well deserved representative from the Mountain West Conference which has certainly looked like a BCS caliber league this season.
  22. Wake Forest- I may be judging Wake Forest too harshly for their loss to Navy. Their other wins are certainly noteworthy. They have already beaten the preseason conference favorite and seem to have the upper hand in the ACC Atlantic.
  23. Pittsburgh- I do not trust Pittsburgh, but if they play to their talent level they are definitely a top 25 team. They still have yet to demonstrate the consistency I think will be necessary for winning the Big East.
  24. California- They have a really bad loss to Maryland and a really good win over Michigan State. I think they are the clear number two in the Pac Ten at this point, but at this point I am not sure how impressive being number two in the Pac ten is.
  25. Ball State- I will give the class of the MAC some love. They have looked impressive and I do not particularly like my other options for this spot.

Best of the Rest (in no order): Tulsa, Florida State, Boston College, Tulsa, Notre Dame, Oregon, Vanderbilt

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