My College Football Top 25
RANK - LAST WEEK - TEAM - RECORD
1 (1) - LSU - (4-0)
The Tigers stood up to a strong South Carolina team today and picked up a solid win, which was not as close as the final score indicated. LSU remains in the driver's seat to win the best conference in college football, so I continue to rank them on top.
2 (2) - USC - (3-0)
A conference win over Washington State is nice, but is not as impressive as LSU's win and so is not enough to move USC into first in my book.
3 (3) - Oklahoma - (4-0)
Oklahoma has been untested so far against mostly weak opponents, but a matchup with Texas is coming up on October 6.
4 (5) - West Virginia - (4-0)
Win this week against East Carolina wasn't surprising, but WVU's generally dominant play so far this season gets them an extra spot in the rankings, with an interesting matchup against upstart South Florida on the docket for next Friday night.
5 (6) - California - (4-0)
Cal faces Oregon next week for the right to be considered the #1 contender to USC in the Pac-10.
6 (4) - Florida - (4-0)
The Gators won this week, so why the lack of love in my pole? Essentially, this is a spanking for not blowing out Ole Miss, a weak opponent that the Gators should have blown out. I suspect Florida just looked past Mississippi, but a 6 point win in this game, even on the road, is a disappointment.
7 (7) - Ohio State - (4-0)
Northwestern isn't much of a Big Ten test for the Buckeyes, and Ohio State delivered. This team easily looks like the class of the conference, especially after today's results.
8 (8) - Texas - (4-0)
A win against Rice does nothing for the team's resume, but the aforementioned battle royal with Oklahoma is just two weeks away. The Longhorns can't afford to look past Kansas State next week.
9 (11) - Boston College - (4-0)
Alright, so all they did this week is beat Army, which isn't all that significant. Nonetheless, the Eagles look very good, and don't have a bump in the schedule until they play Virginia Tech on October 25. At that point, they should be a solid 7-0.
10 (10) - Wisconsin - (4-0)
A narrow win today against Iowa following last week's meager first half performance against The Citadel is cause for concern -- but at least the Badgers are pulling out wins, and that has to count for something.
11 (12) - Rutgers - (3-0)
The only team in last week's top 25 to get a rest this week, the Scarlet Knights return to action next week against tough luck Maryland. Rutgers hasn't beat anyone of any note to this point, so this #11 ranking is, in many respects, completely artificial -- but a win against the Terps would go a long way towards legitimizing the ranking.
12 (14) - Oregon - (4-0)
It doesn't get any better than next week's matchup with #5 California. The Ducks have looked very strong so far this season, but Cal will be the first true test (unless you count Michigan).
13 (15) - Clemson - (4-0)
The Tigers are staying close to BC in the ACC Atlantic division -- the two teams meet up on November 17 in a game that could determine who the Atlantic rep in the ACC title game will be.
14 (13) - South Carolina - (3-1)
When does a loss cost you just one spot in the rankings? When the loss comes to the #1 team in the country (in my opinion) on the road.
15 (16) - Virginia Tech - (3-1)
It's hard to tell how good the Hokies really are -- they've blown out the three bad teams they faced, and were themselves blown out by LSU in their one loss. Battle with Clemson on October 6 will prove a lot.
16 (19) - Hawaii - (on the way to 4-0)
Hawaii is still playing as I write this, but I have no reason to believe that this team won't be 4-0 when the night is over. If they go undefeated, do they make a BCS Bowl? Schedule is awfully weak, but the offense is unbelievable. I'd love to see them face a USC or Texas.
17 (24) - South Florida - (3-0)
For this week, I'm a believer -- but let's see how the Bulls handle the fearsome Mountaineers next Friday night. A win in that would end WVU's national title hopes, and give some strength to USF's BCS hopes.
18 (20) - Georgia - (3-1)
Too close for comfort, but overtime win against Alabama keeps Georgia's hopes in the SEC alive.
19 (NR) - Kentucky - (4-0)
Alright, I admit it -- I didn't rank Kentucky after last week's win against Louisville because I didn't think they were for real. Mea Culpa. The Wildcats are good -- but the schedule is brutal. After facing Florida Atlantic next week, Kentucky plays at South Carolina, then at home against LSU and Florida. Yowsers. Still, if they could steal just one win in those three games, it would put Kentucky right in the thick of the SEC, and put them in great position to go to a bigtime (although not BCS-level) bowl game.
20 (18) - Nebraska - (3-1)
Yes, winning is the most important thing -- and the 'Huskers did win tonight. However, they needed late heroics to beat a plucky Ball State squad, and that should never happen.
21 (17) - Alabama - (3-1)
One loss against a tough SEC foe (Georgia) shouldn't cost a team too much. It will be important to get back on the horse with a win against Florida State next week, though.
22 (NR) - Purdue - (4-0)
The Purdue offense is pretty stout, and should give Big Ten competition some problems all year. The Boilermaker schedule so far hasn't been particularly strong, but with Top 25 teams dropping like flies this week, Purdue deserves to crack the rankings.
23 (NR) - Michigan State - (4-0)
Same story as Purdue -- in fact, Michigan State has played a tougher schedule so far than Purdue has. Nonetheless, Purdue gets the benefit of the doubt with a higher ranking simply because they would appear to be the better team. Can either one keep up a high level of play and knock off Wisconsin or Ohio State to get to the top of the conference, though?
24 (NR) - Michigan - (2-2)
Michigan, you say? Really? Well, yes. The Wolverines have looked a lot more like a top 10 team in the past two weeks than a team that's unranked. I'd rank them higher if it weren't for the two ugly losses that opened the season. I think the Wolverines have turned things around, and in a Big Ten that doesn't seem to have any dominant teams (although Ohio State is trying awfully hard to make that statement look foolish), I think Michigan will start marching their way back through the rankings. At 2-2, I can't go higher than 24th -- but they belong in the top 25.
25 (10) - Penn State - (3-1)
Yes, I realize I'm finishing my top 25 with 4 consecutive Big Ten teams. Nonetheless, I wanted to leave the Nittany Lions ranked, but couldn't justify placing them above Michigan after they just lost to the Wolverines. The first three games of the season for Penn State were against very weak opponents, and they didn't look all that special today. They have winnable games against Illinois and Iowa coming up in the next two weeks before facing Wisconsin on October 13 -- and that game now looks very much like a must win.
Louisville (21), Georgia Tech (23), and Arkansas (25) for losing 2 in a row; Texas A&M (22) for getting pasted in Miami.