Taylor's Twins Talk

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

Sunday, October 28, 2007

My College Football Top 25

I'll have my thoughts on the World Series up tomorrow afternoon (short version -- really, truly, honestly, I thought the Rockies would win tonight and make a series of it by winning tomorrow, but the magic seems to have worn off). However, after another unbelievable week of college football, I present to you my weekly top 25. As always, feel free to criticize or offer support in the comments.


1 (1) - Ohio State (9-0)
The naysayers kept saying that the Buckeyes hadn't beaten anybody all year (and they were right), and that as soon as Ohio State faced a real test, they'd be done. Normally, facing Penn State on the road would count as a "real test." Ohio State didn't flinch in passing that test, however, winning 37-17 in Happy Valley. Just three games remain on the Buckeyes season (Wisconsin, Illinois, and at Michigan), and each of them presents the possibility of a loss -- but don't be in the least surprised if November 17 pits an undefeated Ohio State against a 9-2, 7-0 in the Big Ten Michigan squad for the Big Ten title.

2 (2) - Boston College (8-0)
Like Ohio State, many pundits thought that the Eagles had built a gaudy undefeated record against inferior opponents, and would fold when pushed. On Thursday night, BC faced Virginia Tech in Blackburg, and came out with a narrow, miraculous win. Even though things were close at VT, a win is a win is a win, and BC deserves to stay at #2 this week. Games against Florida State, at Maryland, at Clemson, and home against Miami remain on the schedule, but each of those games is winnable. A rematch with Tech in the ACC title game (quite possibly for a chance to play for the National Championship) may be in the cards.

3 (3) - LSU (7-1)
LSU was idle this week, but there's no reason to move them down the rankings. If LSU wins out, I'll probably place them back at the top of my rankings -- but for now, I can't justify placing them ahead of Ohio State or BC, who have both taken care of business. If push came to shove, though, I'd lobby for LSU to be in the national title game over BC, and probably over Ohio State as well. These things have a way of working themselves out -- I'm guessing at least one of these three teams will lose in the last few weeks to make less of an issue out of it. If LSU loses, though, it will be to a surprising team -- games at Alabama, vs. Louisiana Tech, at Mississippi, and vs. Arkansas remain, and all are very winnable.

4 (4) - Oklahoma (7-1)
Another idle one-loss team. I'm keeping them here for now, but several teams below them (Oregon, West Virginia, Arizona State, and arguably Kansas) could easily be put here in their place. The Sooners have games vs. Texas A&M, Baylor, at Texas Tech, and vs. Oklahoma State remaining on the schedule -- which should translate to an 11-1 record and a trip to the Big XII championship game, and maybe to a berth in the National Championship game, if the pieces fall into place the right way.

5 (8) - Oregon (7-1)
Alright, they're good. Last week, I got razzed a bit for having the Ducks too low on my rankings, and the case could be made that they still are. Nonetheless, for now I'm going to leave them here in 5th, recognizing that they have a very interesting game coming up against Arizona State next week that should play a very significant role in determining who will win the Pac-10. The loss against Cal is starting to look like a missed opportunity, though, after the Golden Bears have dropped 3 games in a row. After the ASU game, Oregon travels to Arizona and then UCLA, and finishes up at home against a suddenly interesting Oregon State team.

6 (7) - West Virginia (7-1)
I leapfrogged Oregon over WVU this week because even though the Mountaineers had an impressive victory (31-3 in Rutgers against a Scarlet Knights program that just knocked off South Florida the week before), the Oregon win over USC was better. Still, with South Florida tumbling, WVU is in the drivers seat to win the Big East and get a BCS bowl berth -- remaining games are against Louisville, at Cincinnati, vs. Connecticut, and vs. Pittsburgh, which is a pretty favorable schedule this year. The smart money is now on WVU to run the table.

7 (12) - Arizona State (8-0)
The Sun Devils run has been impressive, and normally beating Cal (even at home) by 11 points would be enough to get an undefeated program some love. While I moved ASU up 5 spots, though, I still left them behind several once-beaten teams on the rankings, and mostly that's because I'm not yet a true believer, and think each of those teams is better than the Sun Devils. Next week's game at Oregon will be the last true test I need, though -- if they win that game, they'll be in my top 5, and probably in my top 3. After finishing with the Ducks, ASU will travel to UCLA, and then finish off the season at home against USC and Arizona; that's not an easy schedule no matter how you slice it, but it's hard to look at Dennis Erickson's first season as anything but a success, no matter what happens from here.

8 (11) - Kansas (8-0)
Yet another hard-to-believe undefeated ballclub. Kansas today waltzed into College Station and held onto an early lead to beat A&M 19-11 to stay undefeated. Next week's game against Nebraska no longer looks particularly daunting (what a mess the Cornhuskers are!), and games at Oklahoma State and vs. Iowa State the two weeks following shouldn't be too bad -- but the season ender at home against Missouri could be where Kansas' dreams of an undefeated season come to an end. If not, it will mean Kansas is going to the Big XII Championship, probably for a shot at Oklahoma -- and I don't see them surviving that unscathed.

9 (14) - Missouri (7-1)
Speaking of Missouri, they had a tuneup game against Iowa State today and won by 14 points. Next week, they travel to Colorado to face an up-and-down Buffaloes squad before returning home to face Texas A&M, with games at Kansas State and at Kansas waiting at the end of the season. If I had to put money on either Kansas or Missouri to win the Big XII North, I'd go with Missouri.

10 (5) - Virginia Tech (6-2)
For 57 1/2 minutes on Thursday night, Tech looked to be on the way to reinserting themselves into the National Title picture. Instead, the Hokies are left putting the pieces back together after a devastating sideshow loss. All is not hopeless, however -- if the Hokies win out (remaining schedule has VT playing at Georgia Tech, vs. Florida State and Miami, and at Virginia), they'll win the ACC Coastal Division and likely get a rematch against Boston College. While the National title hopes are gone, then, the chance for revenge remains at hand.

11 (6) - USC (6-2)
I'm not sure what to think of the Trojans now -- they just got beat by a very good Oregon team, on the road, so I can't fault them too much. Nonetheless, they just don't seem to have the mystique around them that we've all become used to in the last 5 or 6 seasons. With games against Oregon State, at Cal, at ASU, and vs. UCLA left on the schedule, the Trojans have no gimme games left -- and if they want to get into a decent bowl game (such as the Holiday Bowl) they better perk up and win out.

12 (13) - Hawaii (soon to be 8-0)
The Warriors still haven't beaten anybody of note, but games against Fresno State, at Nevada, vs. Boise State and vs. Washington should at least beef up the strength-0f-schedule a little bit. That game against Boise State is particularly nasty, and I suspect will spell the end of Hawaii's undefeated season. For now, though, Hawaii's done everything you could ask (except for that narrow win on September 8 over Louisiana Tech).

13 (15) - Michigan (7-2)
Beating Minnesota at home isn't all that impressive -- but coming back in style from two early-season defeats is. Michigan is a very good team that will be under-ranked all year because of the two early losses; in a season as crazy as this one has been, though, that seems a bit ludicrous. If Michigan wins out and takes the Big X crown, they'll have won themselves some sweet vindication.

14 (19) - Texas (7-2)
Here's another team that benefited this week largely from all of the losses surrounding them. Texas' 28-25 win at home vs. Nebraska isn't that impressive in a season where Nebraska might not even become bowl eligible (seriously, it's a distinct possibility). Remaining games at Oklahoma State, vs. Texas Tech, and at Texas A&M should be interesting, but ultimately the Longhorns should come out on top in each. Unfortunately, they're now just playing for second-fiddle in the Big XII South, and the top-flight-but-not-BCS Bowl game that comes with that post.

15 (NR) - Georgia (6-2)
I snubbed Georgia in my poll last week, and that proved to be a big mistake. Georgia's two losses have come to South Carolina and Tennessee -- two teams that are right in the middle of a round-robin series of beatings that's infesting the SEC and leading to somewhat mediocre looking numbers. Georgia has a tough schedule remaining -- home vs. Troy, Auburn, and Kentucky before finishing the season at Georgia Tech -- and if they go undefeated they'll likely face LSU in the SEC title game. A BCS Bowl bid is by no means out of the question for the Bulldogs.

16 (NR) - Connecticut (7-1)
Fine! I give in! Here's another team that I thought was a joke, but UCONN beat South Florida today to remain the Big East's last conference unbeaten. Suddenly, it doesn't seem impossible that the Huskies could beat Rutgers, win at Cincinnati, and beat Syracuse at home before traveling to West Virginia on November 24 with a conference title and a BCS bowl bid on the line. Somehow, though, I'm still expecting to trip up somewhere -- and next week against Rutgers seems like a very probable spot for it to happen.

17 (9) - Florida (5-3)
I can't dump them from the poll after so many teams from the top 25 lost this week. The SEC is a meat-grinder, and the Gators have now lost 3-of-4 against Auburn, at LSU, and against Georgia (with the lone win in that stretch coming at Kentucky). Games against Vanderbilt, at South Carolina, and vs. Florida Atlantic and Florida State are left on the schedule -- which means Florida should finish 9-3. If Georgia trips up, Florida could still find themselves in the SEC title game.

18 (NR) - Wisconsin (7-2)
I didn't have many options for who to put in these last 8 spots, so I had to start recycling teams that had already fallen out of the poll earlier this year. Wisconsin has rebounded nicely from loses at Illinois and at Penn State by pounding Northern Illinois last week and Indiana this week -- but the party will come crashing to a halt next Saturday when the Badgers travel to Ohio State. Looks like this ranking isn't going to last too long . . .

19 (10) - South Florida (7-2)
Another team that I couldn't bring to drop out of the top 20. The Bulls need to rebound quickly if they want to still have a shot at a BCS bowl berth -- a loss by West Virginia and two losses by UCONN would do the trick -- with games left against Cincinnati, at Syracuse, vs. Louisville, and at Pittsburgh. Couldn't ask for a friendlier finish to the season if you were USF.

20 (25) - Auburn (6-3)
Another of the SEC teams that keeps having to scrap for victories. Auburn has a bizarrely scheduled game against Tennessee Tech next week before traveling to Georgia on November 10 and facing Alabama at home on November 24 to finish off the season. Victories in those two games could make things very interesting at the top of the SEC ladder.

21 (NR) - Boise State (7-1)
What is there to say? Everybody else is losing, Boise State is still a reasonably good team, and at 7-1 I fell comfortable slipping them into the rankings, even as high as 21st. The only real test left for the Broncos will be on November 23 at Hawaii (the other three games on the schedule are vs. San Jose State, at winless Utah State, and home against Idaho). I'm predicting that they run the table to finish 11-1 and hand Hawaii their lone defeat of the year.

22 (NR) - Purdue (7-2)
Much like Wisconsin, I'm retreading Purdue because there have to be 25 teams in the rankings (even though it seems as if an awfully lot of teams would prefer the anonymity of being unranked, based on the rate that ranked teams are losing this year). Purdue has winnable games at Penn State, vs. Michigan State, and at Indiana to finish off the season.

23 (23) - BYU (5-2)
Not much to say this week -- the Cougars were supposed to play at San Diego State, but the fires caused the game to be postponed. No idea when it will be replayed, but I'm guessing BYU will be ready for it.

24 (NR) - Clemson (6-2)
Nice win at Maryland this week for the Tigers, but three very challenging games to round out the schedule will determine whether Clemson will have any staying power in the polls -- the remaining games are against Wake Forest, Boston College, and at South Carolina -- and all three could end up being losses.

25 (16) - Virginia (7-2)
Virginia has been a fraud for most of the season, but since wins are the bottom line I fell into position and dutifully ranked the Cavaliers pretty high on my list. This week, though, there were no miracles for Virginia -- they lost 29-24 at NC State -- and things could get ugly the rest of the way, as Virginia will face Wake Forest, Miami (in Miami) and Virginia Tech to round out the season. I nearly booted UVA from the rankings entirely, but in the end thought that they made a fitting #25 squad. I have a feeling we'll all be waving good bye to them soon enough.



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