Monday, November 16, 2009

TOP 25, WEEK 11

And the upsets keep rolling in. For the second straight week, seven teams on my list lost. To their credit, however, Iowa, USC, South Florida, and Utah all played other ranked teams, but Utah was the only one to lose to a higher ranked team. Let's stop to reflect on the top 6. Number 1, TCU, has won every game by more than 15 points except for two. Those were both road games. One was against a very talented Clemson squad that is one win away from playing in the ACC title game. The other was a conference game in a snow storm against a traditionally strong Air Force club that has 7 wins and has not lost by more than 7 points (two losses were in overtime). Furthermore, TCU has played the 16th ranked team (by the major polls) twice this year and has won both games by a score of 93-35. No team in the country, let alone the other 5 undefeated teams has dominated its top ranked opponents like TCU has. The Horned Frogs have a potent offense to match their traditionally elite defense. Cincinnati is number 2 because they continue to exceed expectations. They opened the season with a 47-15 win at Rutgers who is now 7-2 (the only other loss was a 7 point decision against #8 Pittsburgh) and coming of a 31-0 beat down of South Florida (who was ranked at the time). Starting quarterback Tony Pike was injured a month ago, but the offense has not skipped a beat. Cincinnati might not have the name recognition that some of the other schools in the rankings, but with their performance on the field they have proven they are legit. Brian Kelly has to be one of the top 5 coaches in college football, and I like his team's chances against anyone. Alabama, like TCU and everyone else, had a conference foe give them a scare (Tennessee, 12-10), but three other games were solid, not dominant, wins. Although the Crimson Tide has a stout defense, I think they lack the offensive firepower necessary to beat the two teams ahead of it. I have moved Texas into a tie with Alabama at number 3. (Yes, I know they shut down the Arkansas offense, but the Razorbacks are really at least a year away from being the high octane Bobby Petrino offensive attacks that we saw at Louisville.) After struggling at times, the Longhorns offense appears to be hitting on all cylinders, while the defense has not allowed more than 14 points since week 3. I cannot justify ranking Texas higher because the rankings intend to represent the season long performance of a team, and the top two have played more consistently all year. Florida has lost a lot of offensive fireworks from last year, but their defense and the it factor that Tim Tebow has is getting it done. However, after Louisiana Tech played LSU so close, I like Boise State's chances against the Gators. Boise State is inching closer to that number 5 spot, and I think a Boise State vs. Florida match up in a bowl game would be intriguing. Would the Bronco defense shut down Florida's offense like it did Oregon, and would the high execution of Boise State on offense be enough to put points up against Florida's suffocating defense? I like Boise State, but the close games against Louisiana Tech and Tulsa, as well as the unimpressive win against UC Davis make me unable to rank the Broncos higher than any of the others. As for the rest of the field, LSU continued to be unimpressive. They are the most overrated two loss team in the country. Oregon edged out Ohio State as the top two loss team by virtue of its win over USC, whereas Ohio State lost to USC. Rutgers made a big jump from 23 to 15, for the reasons cited above. Stanford made the biggest jump--nine spots from 25 to 16. Stanford is an exception to the rule. If you go back and read my initial Top 25 rankings, I explained that my philosophy was that teams with a better overall win-loss record would be ranked higher than teams with a worse record, and only on very rare occasions would this philosophy not be followed. Stanford has been so impressive the last two weeks beating Oregon and USC that the Cardinals merit being ranked above some two loss teams. Anyone care to argue? Although Iowa lost its second straight, the Hawkeyes only fell two spots, since they have head-to-head wins over Wisconsin and Penn State.

1. TCU (10-0)

2. Cincinnati (10-0)

3. Alabama (10-0)

3. Texas (10-0)

5. Florida (10-0)

6. Boise State (10-0)

7. Georgia Tech (10-1)

8. Pittsburgh (9-1)

9. Oregon (8-2)

10. Ohio State (9-2)

11. Houston (8-2)

12. Iowa (9-2)

13. Wisconsin (8-2)

14. Penn State (9-2)

15. Rutgers (7-2)

16. Stanford (7-3)

17. Oklahoma State (8-2)

18. Utah (8-2)

19. LSU (8-2)

20. Temple (8-2)

21. Central Michigan (8-2)

22. Clemson (7-3)

23. North Carolina (7-3)

24. Navy (8-3)

25. Nevada (7-3)

OTHERS TO WATCH: Troy, West Virginia, Oregon State, Virginia Tech, Miami (FL), USC, Boston College, Nebraska, Mississippi


  1. I don't think Houston should be as high as they are. I would move both Iowa and Penn State (and maybe Wisconsin) ahead of them after this week end.

  2. Ah, Neal, the fair weather fan. Houston lost, yes, but you can't convince me that all those Big 10 teams would beat Houston. The last few years have shown that the Big 10 defenses cannot keep up with high powered spread offenses. I think Houston would beat Iowa, Penn State, and Wisconsin.

  3. Scott, how do you justify ranking Oregon above Standford, when Stanford won the head-to-head? Are going to stick to the BYU ban all the way through the remainder of the season?

  4. That's a fair question, Devin. Should I have also left USC in the rankings ahead of Ohio State? The rankings are designed to reflect the season as a whole. If Stanford and Oregon had the same overall record, then Stanford would definately be ranked ahead of Oregon. Just as Stanford, USC is 7-3 and beat Ohio State this year, but for all of the 10 games played, Ohio State has been a better team than USC. Stanford is playing lights out right now, but teams must be accountable in November for what they did in September. As for BYU, yes, I must be a man of my word and keep BYU out. Perhaps that was an overly harsh knee-jerk reaction to the TCU loss. I have had some new insights that I will share at the proper time (the season review for following the bowl game) to more accurately assess this BYU squad and the direction of the program. BYU will be in properly ranked in the end. However, they also have a chance to lose my trust again in the Utah game. That will be when they really earn their ranking.