My College Football Top 25
RANK - LAST WEEK - TEAM - RECORD
1 (3) - Missouri (11-1)
Missouri wanted a rematch with Oklahoma, and they'll get a rematch with Oklahoma. Thanks to the continual upsets that rocked the sport this season, Missouri has found themselves at the top of the pile, and if they succeed in getting revenge in the Big XII Championship next week, they'll be in the National Championship game come January. I was rooting for Kansas tonight, but Missouri is an equally great story, and I'm now pulling hard for them to beat Oklahoma next week.
2 (5) - West Virginia (10-1)
The Mountaineers moved past Kansas and LSU by virtue of those two teams losing, but I also moved them past Ohio State this week. Last week, I went against the tide and had the Buckeyes ahead of WVU, but that was mostly because Ohio State had two extra wins in the bank at 11-1 versus the then 9-1 Mountaineers. Today's convincing win over a reasonably good (though vastly overrated) Connecticut squad to win the Big East convinced me to fall into line with the national polls and put West Virginia at #2. If they beat Pitt next week -- and really, it would be inexcusable not to (this coming from a Pitt alum) -- they'll be playing for the national title for the first time since they lost to Notre Dame in the 1988 Fiesta Bowl.
3 (4) - Ohio State (11-1)
Ohio State will almost certainly be on the outside looking in when the BCS rankings come out tomorrow -- but they're still in a very good position. If West Virginia trips up against Pitt (unlikely) or Mizzou loses to Oklahoma (very possible), the Buckeyes will be the beneficiaries. The consolation prize would be a trip to the Rose Bowl, most likely against USC. Either way, Ohio State is in pretty good shape after another Big Ten title.
4 (1) - LSU (10-2)
I still look at LSU as a great team -- certainly the best in the SEC. I was nonetheless very tempted to move Virginia Tech, Oklahoma, and/or USC ahead of the Tigers, because Friday's loss against Arkansas sticks in the mind since it was so recent. Nonetheless, LSU has several advantages over the other teams -- they play in the SEC, their two losses both came in overtime situations, and they have a win over Virginia Tech (not just any win, either, but an absolute drubbing). That's good enough for me.
5 (6) - Virginia Tech (10-2)
One of Va Tech's two losses this season came to LSU in Baton Rouge, and the other was the result of a fluky comeback by Boston College in a game that the Hokies were in control of for about 58 minutes. Virginia Tech, like Missouri, will now have a chance to revenge their earlier conference loss in the conference championship -- unlike Missouri, however, I fully expect Tech to take advantage of the situation to get revenge and claim a BCS berth.
6 (8) - USC (9-2)
I had USC behind Oklahoma in last week's pull, but upon further reflection I think that was a mistake -- and this week's action didn't convince me otherwise. USC convincingly took out an over-rated (and over-ranked) Arizona State team this week, while Oklahoma handily dispatched Oklahoma State. All things considered, USC's win was more impressive. Nonetheless, it was a comparison of the teams to which these two sides have lost that convinced me to flip USC and Oklahoma in my rankings. Yes, USC has a horrid loss to Standford on the schedule, but that was aided by quarterback injury woes and was relatively fluky. Oklahoma's worst loss was to a 6-6 Colorado squad -- but in my recollection they were pretty much healthy when it happened. USC's second loss, of course, was on the road against a then very good Oregon team, while Oklahoma's second loss was against Texas Tech. To me, that gives USC a stronger claim -- and they can shore up my view by beating UCLA next week to claim the Pac-10 title and a trip to the Rose Bowl.
7 (7) - Oklahoma (10-2)
See above for my reasoning on moving USC ahead of Oklahoma this week. As for next week, a win over Mizzou would probably be good enough for me to move them somewhere into the top 5, depending on how the rest of the leaders do.
8 (10) - Georgia (10-2)
Get ready for a back-door BCS berth -- Georgia's loss to Tennessee earlier this year keeps them out of a showdown with LSU in the SEC title game, and while that deprives Georgia of a chance to rack up an impressive win, it also prevents them from losing a third game. The SEC clearly deserves a second BCS team, and unless Tennessee pulls off the unthinkable and beats LSU (in which case, I imagine the 3-loss Tigers will beat out Georgia), the Bulldogs are the obvious choice.
9 (2) - Kansas (11-1)
This one was tough. For most of the game, I had no problem moving teams like USC, LSU, and Georgia ahead of the Jayhawks. After all, they looked simply overmatched against Mizzou, and if that were true they certainly didn't belong anywhere near this high. The way Kansas finished, however, was truly impressive, with touchdowns on four straight possessions to put the game seriously in doubt with 3 minutes left to go. Now the real intrigue begins -- if Missouri gets blown out by Oklahoma, will Kansas get the second Big XII BCS big that's virtually certain to be offered? If Missouri wins, will a one-loss Kansas team be chosen over a three-loss Oklahoma club (one would have to think yes)? It's too bad the dream season couldn't continue, but 11-1 for a team that was viewed as a bottom-feeder at the start of the year is pretty impressive.
10 (11) - Hawaii (11-0)
There is no team that I've pulled harder for since about mid-October than Hawaii. I'm a big fan of BCS crashers -- I was even before last year's unbelievable Boise State performance in the Fiesta Bowl -- and for most of the season, Hawaii has been the team with the best chance to make magic happen this year. The hardest part is over now for the Warriors -- Washington will play tough, but they should be eminently beatable. If Hawaii beats the Huskies next week, I have very little doubt that they'll get that coveted BCS berth, with a chance to shock us all (and if you haven't been paying attention, right now a trip to the Sugar Bowl to face *gulp* LSU would be the most likely destination for a BCS-bound Hawaii squad).
11 (14) - Florida (9-3)
They're good. They play in the SEC. Tim Tebow will be a Heisman finalist. What more do you want? Easily the best three loss team in the sport.
12 (9) - Arizona State (9-2)
It wouldn't be fair to penalize Arizona State too much for losing to a very good USC team. They should beat Arizona next week to get to 10 wins, and a BCS bowl is a possibility if the cards fall the right way. Nonetheless, this team has never been as good as their record indicated, and would probably be in too deep if picked for a BCS Bowl.
13 (19) - Tennessee (9-3)
Big jump for the Volunteers this week is due not only to the incredible endurance victory in Kentucky, but also to the fact that so many teams in the teens lost this week. If LSU had been playing up to their potential, I'd say Tennessee would get crushed next week. Instead, LSU has been playing down to their opponents, so I'm not counting Tennessee out of this thing just yet.
14 (16) - Illinois (9-3)
As with Tennessee, Illinois' jump is due to attrition. Perhaps more interesting, if the Illini find themselves experiencing a similar bump in the BCS, they could find themselves presenting an attractive target to a Bowl looking for an at-large competitor (like, say, the Rose Bowl if Ohio State makes its way into the National Championship game).
15 (18) - Boston College (10-2)
Win today over Miami was nice (not being a fan of Miami, I was pretty thrilled to see them finish 5-7 and ineligible for a bowl game), but BC will be in for a rude awakening against Virginia Tech next week in the ACC Championship game if they play as lethargically as they did through a lot of today's game.
16 (15) - Virginia (9-3)
They lost to Virginia Tech today, but I'm not going to drop them very far. They were supposed to lose to Va Tech, after all, being ranked lower. Considering all of the other (much worse) losses that went on around them, I thought they were worthy of sticking around just outside the top 15.
17 (20) - BYU (9-2)
It wasn't particularly pretty, but BYU picked off rival Utah to win the Mountain West Conference today. I was on the Cougar's bandwagon before a lot of the national voters, and I doubt anyone in the real polls will rank them as high as I am. Still, this is a team that should finish up with 10 wins, and they'd have a legitimate shot of beating just about anybody that decided to face them. To me, they're worthy of this ranking.
18 (22) - Wisconsin (9-3)
As with Illinois, they moved up because other teams lost. A four spot jump is particularly nice, but there weren't a lot of other options.
19 (23) - Clemson (9-3)
A win is a win, but needing a field goal at the last second against an underperforming South Carolina team was a bit disappointing. Clemson has to be wondering what could have been in a season in which they just didn't seem to get up for every game and still picked up 9 wins.
20 (12) - Texas (9-3)
The Longhorns were exposed against Texas A&M on Friday, and accordingly fell pretty far this week. A trip to a mediocre bowl (probably as the 4th Big XII team taken) would seem to be forthcoming.
21 (24) - UCF (9-3)
Yep, I'm riding Central Florida. I put them in at 24 last week (and they received 2 points in the AP poll, so either 2 voters picked them 25th, or one other schmuck stuck them at 24 like I did), and I'll keep drinking the kool-aid being put out by the likely Conference USA champs.
22 (21) - Connecticut (9-3)
As with Virginia, UCONN lost to a pretty good team this week. The penalty is a one-step drop in my rankings. Who could have seen the Huskies picking up 9 wins? This truly has been a bizarre year.
23 (NR) - Cincinnati (9-3)
Yet another Big East team at 9-3 -- I could have just have easily put South Florida here, but Cincy beat USF, so I figured they deserved first dips at a ranking.
24 (17) - Boise State (10-2)
Hawaii is a good team, and a tough place to play. Boise State remains a very good team with a very good offense, and I see no reason to remove them from the top 25.
25 (25) - Texas Tech (8-4)
Alright, now I'm just being stubborn. South Florida (9-3) and Arkansas (8-4) have legitimate claims at this spot, but with Oklahoma destroying Oklahoma State today, last week's Red Raider win over the Sooners looks just as good to me as it did last week. I might as well keep them here.