Taylor's Twins Talk

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

Saturday, October 20, 2007

My College Football Top 25

The crazy college season continued this week, as yet another top 5 team went down (as did a couple more top 10's). I've read plenty of articles this week about the guessing game being made by those who are filling out polls -- but honestly, when is it not? Anyway, here's my weekly attempt at filling out a top 25 ballot. As always, feel free to let me know when you think I've messed up.


1 (1) - Ohio State - (8-0)
The really ironic thing about Ohio State being at number 1 is that this is a year in which everyone is down on the Big X -- and with the way the conference has played this season, that really isn't much of a surprise. Nonetheless, Ohio State is at the top of the polls despite having a non-conference schedule that included wins over Youngstown State, Akron, @ Washington, and Kent State. The only good wins the Buckeyes have racked up have come against Purdue, and today against Michigan State. If they go undefeated, I fully expect that they'll be in the National Championship game -- but that 8-0 record is pretty flimsy, and any of Ohio State's last four opponents (@ Penn State, Wisconsin, Illinois, and @ Michigan) could easily pull off an upset win.

2 (2) - Boston College (7-0)
The Eagles didn't play this week, which should mean that they'll be fully rested when they head to Blacksburg next week for the most important game they'll play during the regular season. If they beat Va Tech, BC will be in the drivers seat in the ACC, and will have an excellent chance to finish the season undefeated.

3 (5) - LSU (7-1)
The SEC is brutal, and LSU nearly saw its National Championship hopes disappear tonight against Auburn. In the end, though, the Tigers pulled out the victory, and they can now say that they're through the toughest part of their schedule. LSU's remaining games are against Alabama, Louisiana Tech, Mississippi, and Arkansas -- and they should win each of those. I still think that this team is pound-for-pound the best in the country, and I expect at least Ohio State to lose a game at some point this season. In other words, I expect to see LSU playing for the National title in January.

4 (4) - Oklahoma (7-1)
For most of the day, Oklahoma let Iowa State hang with them. In the end, the Sooners emerged with a 17-7 win against the Cyclones. That was enough for me to move LSU ahead of them, but Oklahoma is still a very good, and very dangerous, team. Games remaining on the schedule include Texas A&M, Baylor, @ Texas Tech, and Oklahoma State -- and while everyone except for Baylor is a potential threat, I expect the Sooners to emerge unscathed to claim the Big XII South crown.

5 (7) - Virginia Tech (6-1)
Just like BC, VT had an off week to prepare for next week's ACC showdown. This will be Tech's chance to show the pollsters (and wannabe pollsters such as myself) that we've been overvaluing BC all season and taking too much away from the Hokies because of the week 2 loss to LSU.

6 (9) - USC (6-1)
The Trojans rebounded nicely from a mediocre performance last week against Arizona by beating up on Notre Dame this week. Pete Carrol better hope that this is a springboard to strong play, because next up is a very good Oregon team, in Oregon. With Cal plummeting and Arizona State still an unknown, the matchup with Oregon could be for the Pac-10 championship, and possibly for a berth in the national title game.

7 (8) - West Virginia (6-1)
The Mountaineers have been able to rebound from their loss on September 28 against South Florida by beating up on Syracuse and Mississippi State in their last couple of games, but a trip to New Jersey to face Rutgers is next on the list. As the Scarlet Knights proved by beating South Florida this week, that will not be an easy trip. WVU still has a shot at the Big East title, but they need to win out and hope that South Florida stumbles once more this season.

8 (12) - Oregon (6-1)
With Cal's aforementioned fall from grace, next week's Oregon/USC tilt looks to be the highlight of the Pac-10 season (all apologies to Arizona State). The Ducks could very easily have defeated Cal on September 29 to come into this game undefeated, but the breaks went the other way in that game. They've looked very good in each of their wins this season, and I should probably rank them higher than 8th -- but they'll have to chance to prove me wrong by taking out the Trojans next Saturday.

9 (10) - Florida (5-2)
Can we just give 5 BCS slots to the SEC? For years, fans in the South have been saying how great SEC-style football is, and most seasons I dismiss it out of hand. This season, though, I'm drinking the kool-aid. If you stuck Florida or LSU in the Big X, they'd go undefeated in conference play this year. I think that Auburn and Kentucky would have a crack at doing the same. South Carolina and Alabama aren't too shabby either. The point of all this is that I feel perfectly justified in placing a two-loss team in the top 10 when the two losses were to SEC teams by a combined 7 points.

10 (3) - South Florida (7-1)
I bought the hype on the Bulls, and thought that they were clearly the best in the Big East. Unfortunately, they ran into a very good Rutgers team this week, and finally have a blemish on their record. The conference is still theirs for the taking, but they'll need to rebound quickly as they have to play at 1-loss UCONN next week. Don't forget, either, that for all of the love that South Florida has received this season, they have just a 1-1 conference record -- so the Big East really is still wide open.

11 (16) - Kansas (7-0)
Can the Jayhawks really be good? As I mentioned last week, Kansas' road to the Big XII championship game is as easy as it gets in this conference, and so far they've taken care of business. Nonetheless, I still have a pretty strong feeling that the games at Texas A&M and at Oklahoma State (not to mention the season finale against Missouri) could be trap games -- and Nebraska, due to be played on November 3, is always dangerous (even in a down year such as this). Bottom line -- I just don't think Kansas is a good enough team to claim the Big XII North -- but while they're winning, they might as well dream big.

12 (14) - Arizona State (7-0)
Arizona State hasn't proven much yet other than that they're in the top half of the Pac-10 and are capable of beating the teams that they should be beating. Next week's matchup against a suddenly struggling Cal program will be by far the biggest measuring stick this season for Dennis Erickson's Sun Devils. With games at Oregon and UCLA and at home against USC and Arizona to end the season, you have to think ASU is going to fall back to the pack awfully quickly. At least that 7-0 record looks nice and shiny for now.

13 (13) - Hawaii (7-0)
Yes, I had Hawaii ranked one spot ahead of ASU last week. Yes, both teams were idle this week. How, then, is it possible for Hawaii to have fallen behind ASU in this week's rankings? Simply put, I experienced a bit of "ranker's remorse." Hawaii is an interesting story, and they have a chance to go undefeated this season -- if they can beat Fresno State, Boise State, and Washington, that is -- but I simply couldn't put them in my top 12. Fact is, they've done nothing to deserve a ranking even as high as 13, but like most rankers I see a "0" in the loss column and my mind short-circuits. For now, then, I'll keep them up here, but as the season wraps up I reserve the right to change my mind on them, even if they stay undefeated.

14 (19) - Missouri (6-1)
All of the attention being paid to Kansas has to feel the Tigers feeling a bit left out. The only loss for Mizzou this season is at the hands of Oklahoma, and they've now defeated Texas Tech and Nebraska (which, I guess, isn't worth much anymore). In other words, Mizzou is a pretty solid team, and should match up well with anyone in the Big XII North. The season ending battle at Kansas on November 24 could very well be for a shot in the Big XII championship game, and I think Mizzou would stand an excellent chance of winning that matchup.

15 (20) - Michigan (6-2)
Convinced yet? Believe me, I know how bad Michigan's season opening losses were -- but since then, they've defeated Penn State, Purdue, and Illinois (amongst others) to get to 6-2 with a 4-0 conference record. To me, they're clearly the second best team in the Big X. Forget about the losses to Appy State (embarrassing) and Oregon (excusable) -- this team is legit.

16 (18) - Virginia (7-1)
Under the theory that wins are ultimately all that matter, I'm giving Virginia the benefit of the doubt and ranking them based on their 7-1 record. Nonetheless, is there a less meaningful -- or trustworthy -- record in college football this season? Since losing in Wyoming to open the season, the Cavaliers have won 4 games by 2 points or less, and another by 5 points. Their only blowout win of the season came against my alma mater, the Pittsburgh Panthers, and the only other win that wasn't close was an 11 pointer against Duke. A 7-1 record has to mean something, but when you've won three in a row by a combined 4 points, how good is that record, really?

17 (6) - South Carolina (6-2)
I still think that the Gamecocks are a good team, but today's loss against Vandy was just bad. The South Carolina offense mustered just 6 points, and with games against Tennessee and Florida still on the schedule, you have to think that a third loss is a virtual certainty. All of a sudden, a team that had a chance to go to a top tier (albeit non-BCS) bowl game is probably going to be stuck heading someplace far less appealing when the season ends.

18 (11) - Kentucky (6-2)
It's kind of harsh to drop the Wildcats this far after losing to a very good Florida team, but South Carolina beat Kentucky fairly decisively earlier this season, and I was reminded of that when they both lost this week. Kentucky's losses are to better teams, so I think they'll rebound to a greater extent than will South Carolina -- but for this week at least, my inner-ranker told me to put Kentucky a spot behind the Gamecocks.

19 (23) - Texas (6-2)
It has to be nice to get back-to-back creampuffs on the schedule. Texas just finished pounding Iowa State and Baylor (both on the road) over the last two weeks, and now gets to welcome a weakened Nebraska team into town next Saturday. Oklahoma should run away with the Big XII south, but Texas can at least still salvage a very good bowl game if they can finish off the last four weeks with wins against Nebraska, @ Oklahoma State, Texas Tech, and @ Texas A&M.

20 (NR) - Rutgers (5-2)
If you beat a top 5 team and have a legitimate record, you get back in the polls. Next week will be telling -- if they beat WVU, they'll easily be in my top 15. If they lose, they'll once again be unranked.

21 (NR) - UCLA (5-2)
UCLA's win over Cal wasn't quite as impressive as Rutgers win over South Florida, but it was still a quality win, and it took the Bruins to 4-0 in the Pac-10. This is a team that still has a chance to claim the Pac-10 title, with a horrifying three-game gauntlet against Arizona State, Oregon, and @ USC to finish off the season. Which UCLA squad will show up for those games -- the one that beat Cal 30-21 today, or the one that handed Notre Dame their first win on October 6?

22 (15) - California (5-2)
I just couldn't bounce them from the rankings just yet -- although I came fairly close. Clearly, the Oregon State loss carried with it some kind of hangover. The Golden Bears better find the remedy, and quick -- they face undefeated Arizona State next week on the road. Three losses in a row would be devastating for a program that thought it was a legitimate contender for a National Championship when the season started.

23 (25) - BYU (5-2)
Very few people will put BYU on their ballot this week, but I stuck them in at #25 last week, and circumstances dictated that they get a little bump up from me this time around. They beat Eastern Washington today -- not exactly a powerhouse -- but I think they're a legitimate top 25 team (that 31-6 win over Air Force is starting to look pretty solid, for instance). They could make me look good by winning out, so I'll be rooting for them the rest of the way.

24 (17) - Texas Tech (6-2)
The Red Raiders lost at Mizzou tonight, but that's not a sin. Ultimately, while I considered replacing them with several other teams (Penn State, Clemson, Wisconsin, Purdue, Alabama, and UConn all received serious consideration), I decided to keep the boys from Lubbock in the top 25. In the next two weeks, Tech will face Colorado and to Baylor -- so they should be 8-2 when the season ending matchups at Texas and at home against Oklahoma roll around.

25 (21) - Auburn (5-3)
Remember what I said about the SEC earlier in this post? Auburn is a big part of why I think that conference is something special. The Tigers are very good, but the schedule has been fairly brutal. Two of Auburn's three losses have come against South Florida and LSU, and both were very close. Their only other loss was a five pointer against Mississippi State. Bottom Line: Auburn is a very good team, and I'm stubbornly going to keep them in my top 25.



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