Taylor's Twins Talk

Focusing on the Twins, with a few ramblings on other things that catch my attention

Saturday, October 13, 2007

My College Football Top 25

Rankings in college football are always a bit dubious, but this season they've been even less relevant than usual. After watching LSU lose to Kentucky, Cal lose to Oregon State, and USC struggle against Arizona, I'm really not sure what to think. I will say one thing -- I legitimately believe that Ohio State will run the table, and that they'll probably be the only program that is undefeated at the end of the year. If a team like Boston College or South Florida could find a way to avoid losing, however, we could be looking at a very unusual national championship game. With the BCS rankings set to come out tomorrow, here's my version of the top 25:


1 (2) - Ohio State (7-0)
The Buckeyes would seem to have little to fear from the rest of the Big X schedule, with once alluring matchups against Michigan State, Penn State, Wisconsin, and Illinois now looking less compelling since each of those teams has two losses. However, the season ending battle at the Big House against Michigan on November 17 suddenly looks much more interesting with the Wolverines having won their last 5 ballgames. At this point, I wouldn't be remotely surprised if that game was for the Big X's BCS berth.

2 (4) - Boston College (7-0)
After four straight games against Army, UMass, Bowling Green, and Notre Dame, the Eagles suddenly have to travel to Blacksburg to face Va Tech with a chance to grab firmly ahold of the ACC.

3 (5) - South Florida (6-0)
The Bulls have won just one conference game this year, but of course it was two weeks ago against the Mountaineers. Now, the season will end with six straight conference games, starting with back-to-back road challenges against Rutgers and UConn. This team clearly seems to be the class of the Big East, but with all of the insanity this year, I don't think SFU should feel too comfortable with their position in the top 3.

4 (6) - Oklahoma (6-1)
The Sooners have rebounded nicely after being shocked in Boulder by Colorado, winning back-to-back games against Texas and a strong Missouri club. Now, the schedule gets quite a bit easier, with Iowa State due to be sacrificed next week. If Oklahoma doesn't sputter again this year, a chance at the national title may be forthcoming.

5 (1) - LSU (6-1)
I really struggled with how far I should drop the Tigers after their triple OT loss to Kentucky. On the one hand, Kentucky had just lost to South Carolina, a team that LSU handled efficiently back in September. On the other hand, Kentucky has shown themselves to be a pretty solid team and the game was in Lexington. In the end, I just couldn't move LSU down further than 5th -- does anyone really believe they're not a top 5 team? The murder's row SEC schedule made finishing undefeated a virtual impossibility -- but it also should mean that LSU will continue to get poll love, and that they still have a great shot to end up in the national title game.

6 (7) - South Carolina (6-1)
Speaking of South Carolina, how much bigger does that win over Kentucky last week look now? SC's only loss this season game in LSU, and they look like a legitimate threat to win the SEC East. Of course, Florida will have something to say about that -- and both the Wildcats and Gamecocks have games left against the Gators. Things should stay very, very interesting in the SEC for the rest of the year.

7 (8) - Virginia Tech (6-1)
As mentioned above, the Hokies next game is at home against BC. They haven't lost since the second week of the season, when LSU blew them out. Interesting matchups against Georgia Tech (who just took out Florida State), the Seminoles, Miami, and a suddenly interesting Virginia squad remain on the sked after the BC game -- and any of those games could easily be traps, making next week even more important for VT.

8 (9) - West Virginia (5-1)
Things worked out right for the Mountaineers this week, as they were idle. With Cal's loss to Oregon State, WVU still moved up. Next week, West Virginia will ease back into action at home against Mississippi State, with key matchups against Rutgers, Louisville, and Cincinnati to follow.

9 (10) - USC (5-1)
The Trojans didn't look particularly good in beating a not-very-good Arizona Wildcat squad today, but as with WVU above, circumstances conspired to move the Trojans up. That won't last long if USC can't play a bit better in the coming weeks. An easily overlooked game against Notre Dame is up next for the Trojans, with Oregon up the week after. Games against Cal-killer Oregon State, Cal, a surprisingly strong Arizona State squad, and UCLA finish things up for the Trojans -- and they could lose several of those games if they play like they did today.

10 (11) - Florida (4-2)
The Gators had the week off, and had to be pleased to see LSU tumble, putting Florida back in the SEC title picture (although a Kentucky loss might have been a little better in the long run). The fact remains, however, that the Gators have lost two in a row, and have to face those very same Wildcats next week in Lexington.

11 (17) - Kentucky (6-1)
It's awfully hard to find fault with what the Wildcats have done this year, with their one loss coming in South Carolina and good wins against Louisville, Arkansas, and now LSU. I said two weeks ago that if Kentucky could win at least one game against the trio of South Carolina, LSU, and Florida that they would have done accomplished something significant. Mission accomplished -- with a chance for a whole lot more.

12 (12) - Oregon (5-1)
I guess the Ducks didn't take their loss to Cal too seriously -- they pounded poor Washington State today 53-7, continuing a season that has been pretty remarkable. If the bounces had gone just a bit differently against the Golden Bears, Oregon could be 6-0 and in position to win the Pac-10.

13 (13) - Hawaii (7-0)
It didn't look pretty, but the Warriors again got it done on the road with another remarkable performance from Colt Brennan. Hawaii often struggles on the road, but the good news for them is that they have just one more game on the mainland this year, against Nevada on November 16. With the explosive offense they have on display, I legitimately think they're a top 15 team, and so long as they keep putting wins on the board I'll keep them up here.

14 (14) - Arizona State (7-0)
The Sun Devils are at the top of the Pac-10 following Cal's loss this week. However, as I mentioned last week, ASU now has to face Cal, Oregon, UCLA, and USC following next week's bye. Anybody want to pick them to run that gauntlet undefeated? Yeah, me neither.

15 (3) - California (5-1)
If this season has demonstrated anything, it's that one loss does not kill your season. However, a loss to a mediocre Oregon State ballclub, at home, was legitimate cause to drop Cal down significantly. Next week brings UCLA on the road, with ASU up the week after. Cal needs to buckle down quickly, or they'll be out of the rankings quickly.

16 (18) - Kansas (6-0)
I legitimately thought at the beginning of the year that the Jayhawks wouldn't even be good enough to make a bowl game this year. Guess I was wrong about that -- Kansas is already bowl eligible, and looking pretty solid. Simply put, Kansas blows out bad competition (as they did today to Baylor), and is good enough to have defeated Kansas State on the road. They also avoid Oklahoma, Texas, and Texas Tech this season, and Nebraska is on the schedule but isn't very good. Suddenly, a Big XII North title is a distinct possibility.

17 (NR) - Texas Tech (6-1)
The Red Raiders have been on my short list for a couple of weeks now, but they really hadn't won an impressive game until they beat Texas A&M today. The one loss on Texas Tech's resume came at the hands of Oklahoma State on the road back on September 22, and they've bounced back strongly since that game. I suspect that Tech will struggle agaisnt Texas and Oklahoma (in the last two games of the season), but they should be able to hang with Missouri, Colorado, and Baylor in the next three weeks.

18 (NR) - Virginia (6-1)
Here's another team that I've considered placing in the rankings for a few weeks but just haven't been able to pull the trigger on. Partly, that's because of the narrowness of some of their victories -- 2 points at UNC; 2 points at Middle Tennessee State; 1 point today against UConn. Still, the only loss this season game in week 1 at Wyoming, and even if most of the wins haven't been spectacular, they've still been wins. The next five weeks are tough, however, and it's not out of the realm of possibility that Virginia could finish the season 6-6.

19 (16) - Missouri (5-1)
Missouri fell only three places despite losing today for a couple of reasons -- firstly, because they were beat by Oklahoma, a top 5 team; and secondly, because so many of the teams from 15-25 also lost this week. Mizzou still has a good chance to finish strongly in the Big XII North. A matchup with Texas Tech next week should help set the pecking order in the conference.

20 (NR) - Michigan (5-2)
Convinced yet? The Wolverines were, of course, horrible in the first two weeks of the season, losing to Appy State and Oregon in the Big House. Since then, however, Michigan has reeled off five straight wins and find themselves at the top of the Big X along with Ohio State. The last five games of the season will provide some serious challenges -- games on the road at Illinois, Michigan State, and Wisconsin, and a home game to end the season against Ohio State -- but the Wolverines legimitately have a shot at a BCS bowl bid.

21 (23) - Auburn (5-2)
The Tigers have won four in a row since losing to South Florida and Mississippi State on the 8th and 15th of September. I probably would have moved them up farther, but they barely managed to beat Arkansas today by the anemic score of 9-7. Next up: LSU in Baton Rouge.

22 (25) - Tennessee (4-2)
The Volunteers made it back into my top 25 last week after beating Georgia. Today, they managed a solid if unspectacular win over Mississippi State on the road to move up a bit. Remember, Tennessee's only two losses this season are on the road to Cal and Florida -- and while the Cal loss doesn't look as respectable this week as it did a week ago, it's still not a terrible loss. This team is, I think, better than a lot of people think.

23 (NR) - Texas (5-2)
I took the Longhorns out of my top 25 last week after their second consecutive loss, but with so many top 25 losses again this week I've moved them back in. Really, though, this teams only good win all year was against a TCU team that turned out not to be very good -- so I think the Longhorns are probably in trouble moving forward when they play Nebraska, Oklahoma State, Texas Tech, and Texas A&M to finish the season -- I just don't think they're going to win more than 2 of those games.

24 (19) - Illinois (5-2)
It's not a sin to go on the road and lose, even if it's to an inferior Iowa team. Of the ranked Big X teams that lost this week (the Illini, Wisconsin, and Purdue), I think Illinois is the best -- hence, they stay in the rankings. Unfortunately, next week brings the rejuvenated Wolverines to town.

25 (NR) - BYU (4-2)
Heck, no one else wants to stay in the polls, so why not give the Cougars a chance? BYU's two losses this season came at UCLA and at Tulsa (55-47). They have no particularly impressive wins, although beating Air Force 31-6 should count for something, and beating New Mexico on the road isn't too shabby. I don't particularly expect BYU to stay here (and there's no way that the national polls will have BYU anywhere near a top 25 ranking), but I don't really like my other available options, so BYU gets the nod.



  • At Sun Oct 14, 07:35:00 AM , Blogger WWB said...

    What on earth is Oregon doing at #12?!

    They were #9 in the AP rankings, then demolished an unworthy opponent while teams ahead of them lost. And you move them four spots *back*?

    Needless to say, I don't think much of your rankings. And I'd probably find this just as ridiculous if I wasn't an Oregon fan, although I might not be moved to leave a comment about it.

  • At Sun Oct 14, 07:39:00 AM , Blogger WWB said...

    Oh, wait. I see you never had the Ducks any higher than #12. That's dumb, especially considering their one loss was a near-miss vs. Cal.

    Meanwhile I see you've moved USC up one spot from last week.

    Yet USC struggled sgainst a weak opponent, beating Arizona by a touchdown, while Oregon absolutely pounded the similarly-weak Arizona.

    What gives?

  • At Sun Oct 14, 11:17:00 AM , Blogger JST said...

    WWB -

    I'm glad that you felt motivated to leave a comment. Rankings are pretty much useless for any purpose other than generating debate, especially in a season as bizarre as this one. The basic answer to your question is that I think USC is a better team than Oregon -- and the Ducks will have a chance to prove me wrong later this season.

    To be fair, I should probably rank Oregon higher, because I think they're a pretty good team. However, the "Oregon pounded Arizona while USC squeaked out a victory" kind of logic is not the basis for my rankings. Eventually, that's a snake that eats its own tail -- for example, look at the Big XII: Oklahoma lost to Colorado while Kansas State had no trouble with the Buffs. Does that mean K-State should be higher than the Sooners in my rankings? I don't think there are very many people who would say so.

    Once again, thanks for the comment -- and I'll actually be rooting for your Ducks when they face the Trojans.

  • At Sun Oct 14, 11:56:00 AM , Blogger WWB said...

    Whoops, I meant to say that Oregon pounded WSU. We haven't played Arizona yet, but I assume we will pound them as well.

    So, all I meant was that this week, Oregon and USC both faced weak opponents, and while the Ducks dominated, USC struggled.

    It certainly is a crazy season, though.


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