Monday, October 25, 2010

College Football Week 8 Rankings: Justifying What the Top 10 Should Look Like

Just like the AP voters and the coaches who vote in the USAToday Poll, I am also a human voter, but unlike the AP voters and coaches, I allow sound logic to define my rankings.

I am not sure what some of those voters base their rankings off of—The flip of a coin perhaps, or maybe they ask their wives which teams have the the prettiest colors?

Here's a real man's top 10, not based on heads, tails, excellent color coordinating, or just plain idiocy...

No. 10 - Alabama (7-1)

Alabama was No. 8 in last weeks BCS standings and will likely move up at least one or two slots after their win over Tennessee, combined with LSU's loss at Auburn.

What the national poll voters are ignoring is that after Alabama lost by 14 points to South Carolina (5-2), the Gamecocks then went on to lose at Kentucky (4-4), and they struggled until late in their 21-7 win against Vanderbilt (2-5) last evening.

Also last evening, Georgia (4-4) took the Wildcats out behind the woodshed to the tune of a 44-31 pounding in Lexington.

Only one of Alabama's wins have come against a team still currently ranked in the top 25 (Arkansas) and the loss to South Carolina continues to look worse and worse with each passing week.

No. 9 - Ohio State (7-1)

Like every other team, Ohio State is not perfect, but they are a solid top 10 team.

In the national polls, Ohio State is 10th, while Alabama is 6th, but those voters have it wrong. The Buckeyes deserve to be ahead of the Tide for several reasons.

Ohio State has one win over a team currently in the top 25 (Miami-Fl (5-2)), but their 13-point-loss in Camp Randall Stadium to now-No. 9 Wisconsin (7-1) looks much better than Alabama's loss at South Carolina.

It's true that no loss is a "good loss", but Ohio State losing at Wisconsin was much less of an upset than Alabama losing at South Carolina.

The Badgers only loss this year was in East Lansing to No. 5 Michigan State (8-0).

The Gamecocks have two losses—to Auburn (8-0) and Kentucky (4-4).

Ohio State is also the only team with a loss in the FBS that ranks in the top in both scoring offense (6th, scoring 40.8 ppg) and scoring defense (9th, allowing only 14.0 ppg).

The only other teams in the nation that have a top 10 scoring offense and scoring defense are Boise State, TCU, and Utah.

No. 8 - Wisconsin (7-1)

As mentioned above, the Badgers only defeat was to the No. 5 Spartans in East Lansing.

Last night, Wisconsin won their second huge game in as many weeks when they traveled to Iowa City and took down the No. 18 Hawkeyes, 31-30, one week after beating then-No. 1 Ohio State.

The case could be made by others and even myself that Wisconsin is too low sitting here at No. 8, but the top 10 will become much more clear in the next two to three weeks and they could find themselves in the top five when that dust settles.

No. 7 - Utah (7-0)

Utah might be a slot or two too high, but you have to respect an unbeaten team and not punish them just because the other teams in their conference mail it in every year.

Also, you may remember from above that Utah is one of only four FBS teams ranked in the top 10 in both scoring offense and scoring defense.

They opened the season with a win over then No. 15 Pitt and have not really been tested since then, but that will all change starting next week.

It is possible, although unlikely, that the Utes could go from 7-0 to 7-5 to finish off the season with remaining games at home against AP No. 4 TCU and BYU and road games against Air Force, Notre Dame, and San Diego State.

Coming out of the mine field unscathed and still unbeaten would be an absolute miracle for Utah.

No. 6 - Michigan State (8-0)

The Spartans last started a season 8-0 in 1966 and ended up winning a share of the national title. In the corrupt system that is the BCS, they might not get the chance to play for a title this season even if they finish 12-0.

[rant]Everyone with a half-functioning brain can tell you that the BCS is all about selling tickets and making money, period. If you don't believe that, just ask Boise State, Utah, and TCU who all have done well in games against BCS-conference schools, yet have continually been shutout when it comes to having a chance to play one of the "big boys" for the BCS title.

Michigan State doesn't have that problem in that they are a member of the Big 10, but they do share the same problem that gets those teams repeatedly passed over—they are not a traditional football power that has a huge national following like a Texas, USC, Ohio State, Alabama, or Notre Dame.

The BCS would gladly invite a 1-loss Alabama to play in one of it's games over an unbeaten Spartans team. Hell, they'd probably take Texas, who may end up with 4 or 5 losses this year over Michigan State if they could get away with it...[/rant].

The bottom line is MSU is 8-0, they have two wins over teams that were ranked in the top 20 when they defeated each (then-No. 11 Wisconsin, and then-No. 18 Michigan), and they have a very good QB, two excellent running backs, a tough-as-nails coach, and a solid defense.

This week they travel to Iowa to face the No. 18 Hawkeyes. If they win that game, an unbeaten season is nearly a lock.

Now all they need should they finish the season 12-0 is a fair shake from the BCS, but don't hold your breath.

No. 5 - Missouri (7-0)

In a lot of ways, 2010 feels like 2007 all over again.

No. 1 ranked teams were dropping like flies that year, and so far this year.

It's also the last time the Tigers were this high in the rankings. They actually made it to No. 1, only to lose to Oklahoma in the Big 12 title game and missed a huge opportunity to play in the BCS championship game.

This time around, Mizzou took it to the BCS's No.1 ranked Sooners, handing them a 36-27 defeat.

Oklahoma, however, was as usual over valued. They did blowout then-No. 17 Florida State earlier in the year and they also narrowly beat a then-overrated Texas team by eight points in the Red River Rivalry, but close wins over Utah State, Air Force, and Cincinnati revealed the real Sooners.

So, not to take away too much from what Missouri did to the Sooners, they do move up into the top five, but they could be even higher if Oklahoma were really as good as some blind voters believe they are/were.

Missouri faces the same problem as Michigan State. This week should be their final legit test as they face No. 14 Nebraska (6-1) and then their schedule, and lack of a huge national following will likely hurt their ranking.

They have one saving-grace which will be the Big 12 championship game should they win out.

Not in their favor if that scenario plays itself out is the fact that the Big 12 South representative will probably be Baylor, Oklahoma State, or Oklahoma and a win over any of those three probably won't do much to help the Tigers move ahead of anyone.

No. 4 - Boise State (6-0)

Last week I had Boise State at No. 1 and the only reason they are not No. 1 this week is because they were idle again, while Oregon, Auburn, and TCU all played and played well.

Oddly, everyone else has played seven or eight games to their six.

Anyway, Kellen Moore is one of the best quarterbacks in the country and if ever a team was truly a "team" in every sense of the word, the Broncos are it.

There are no selfish egomaniacs on the Broncos. They play together and all they do it win, and win, and then win some more.

They have two wins this season over previously ranked BCS member schools Virginia Tech (6-2) and Oregon State (3-3). Their remaining schedule has only three games against Hawaii, Fresno State, and Nevada where they might face some competition, but they will be favored in each of those contests.

It's not fair to punish a non-AQ team like Boise State just because the majority of the teams in their conference mail it in early every year. That is not their fault, and neither is the fact that they have a standing offer to play any BCS team in that teams home stadium, or at a neutral site, but have very few takers.

If Boise State keeps winning, you can take it to the bank that no team with a loss will ever jump ahead of them in this guys' top 10.

No. 3 - TCU (8-0)

TCU may have the best chance of the non-AQ schools to play for the title this year and here's why.

They beat then-No. 24 Oregon State 30-21 to open the season.

In week three, they rolled over Baylor, who is now ranked at No. 25 in the BCS standings, by a score of 45-10.

After pitching back-to-back shutout wins over Colorado State and Wyoming, and a 31-3 blowout of BYU, the Horned Frogs crushed Air Force 38-7. Yes, the same Air Force team that leads the nation in rushing and the same Air Force team that former No. 1 Oklahoma only beat by three points.

On November 6th, TCU will travel to Provo to face No. 7 Utah. If both are still unbeaten going into that meeting as expected, the winner of that game should benefit greatly, despite the fact that the BCS is designed to keep them down.

TCU would obviously benefit the most since they are already currently in the top five, but Utah could do just as well with a win and a few losses by other key teams currently ahead of them.

Should TCU finish the year 12-0, I will have a hard time not giving them my No. 1 ranking based on their entire 2010 body-of-work.

No. 2 - Oregon (7-0)

As a Buckeye fan, I couldn't put Oregon at No. 1 this week. I heard all about Oregon's speed and talent and how unstoppable they were on offense last year before the Rose Bowl.

Everyone said Ohio State would do well to keep within 25-30 points. Oregon was going to score at least 50 and Ohio State would lose yet another BCS bowl.

Ohio State 26, Oregon 17.

Here it is 2010 and Oregon, minus thugs Jeremiah Masoli and LeGarrette Blount, are otherwise pretty much the exact same team.

So what makes them legit now?

The same thing that had everyone fooled in 2009—style points.

Never mind the fact that they are averaging over 55 points per game solely because six of their seven games have been against horrible teams with terrible defenses.

AP voters love style points, even when all the competition are doormats.

And even in beating Stanford, the Ducks lone victory over a ranked opponent this year, they didn't exactly face a defensive juggernaut.

The Cardinal are 60th in scoring defense, giving up over 24 points per contest. Even hopeless Washington State scored 28 on the Stanford "D".

Oregon is 7-0 and they have talent, but if they lose this week to USC like I think they are going to, they can almost certainly kiss this top 10 ranking goodbye.

No. 1 - Auburn (8-0)

Let me start off by saying I hate the SEC and every SEC team as much as I hate that team up North, so you better believe that it pains me to rank any SEC team No. 1.

That being said, in a season where there appears to be no dominant great team, but many very good teams, no other team has proven to me that they belong in the top spot this week than the Auburn Tigers.

Their defense could end up being their Achilles heel, but they have faced, and defeated, five teams of the eight teams they have played that are, were, or could be ranked in the top 25, so the 23.5 points they are allowing per game isn't as bad as it seems when you consider the level of competition they have faced.

Having Cam Newton as their QB doesn't hurt either. He is leading the nation in rushing and much like Vince Young at Texas in 2005, could be on his way to leading his team to the BCS title. Unlike Young, he may also being home the Heisman too.

After beating then-No. 6 LSU this past Saturday, moving Auburn up to No. 1 was a no-brainer.

Mississippi and Chattanooga will provide little resistance as Auburn should easily move to 10-0, with surging Georgia and former No. 1 Alabama left on the schedule at the end of the year, plus a potential SEC title game appearance.

With their rankings in the human polls and the love the computers will show them, there is no way the Tigers don't play for the BCS title if they win out.

With their SOS, they might still get a shot at the BCS title even if they lose one of the next four games.

We'd all like to see what a non-AQ team could do vs. one of the best from a BCS conference, but if Auburn or even Alabama plays in and wins the SEC title game, it's almost a guarantee that the BCS will do what they always do and screw the unbeaten little guy, aka Boise State, TCU, etc.

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1 comment:

  1. I am a Buck fan as you and I agree with most of what you have here, but I live in the heart of SEC country and watch SEC football regularly. At this point in time the SEC is still the best conference and Boise and TCU are a joke. Now that we have other Big ten teams stepping up like Whisky, Iowa, Mich st. the B ten as we saw last year in the bowlshas gained some significant ground. With Nebraska coming inand if we can get Penn st to return to forumand get a real coach to return itchagain to return to forum the Big ten will take its righful place among the top of college football Go Bucks


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