College Football Rankings Week 7: 4 Teams That Will Plummet
A glimpse at the Week 7 college football rankings will reveal many unheralded underdogs who are still pushing for national glory. Conversely, it will also reveal several preseason contenders who seem likely to plummet into obscurity.
Last weekend saw seven ranked teams knocked from the undefeated ranks.
While it undoubtedly will serve as a setback, it’s early enough—the first BCS standings have yet to come out—for a team to regroup and march their squad back into contention for a conference title and maybe more. One loss is surely no time to panic.
However, it also serves as warning that they’re walking a fine line.
From this point out, each weekend will serve as a do-or-die affair for these teams. Unfortunately, for some of them, this weekend marks the end of the rope.
Here are four teams who will drop substantially following this the completion of this coming weekend’s games.
Matchup: vs. No. 3 South Carolina, 8 p.m. EST (ESPN)
How They Got Here: Riding a defense ranked No. 3 overall, the LSU Tigers got off to a 5-0 start.
The defense made a living making it miserable for their opponents. The Tigers only allowed opponents 221 total yards per game and 12.8 points per game.
However, the offense failed to pull their own weight—the Tigers ranked No. 76 in total offense, averaging 394 yards per game.
Junior quarterback Zack Mettenberger had been anemic, with only six touchdowns to three interceptions in the five contests. He’s been sacked a total of 15 times.
While the defense ranked No. 10 in turnovers with 14, the offense was No. 75 in turnovers lost with 11—including a staggering eight fumbles lost.
The Tigers didn’t face any stiff competition in their first five weeks, yet their sluggish play led to them losing points in both polls over the weeks. They even received a couple of wake-up calls with sloppy performances against Auburn and FCS opponent Towson.
With a trip to the Swamp to play then-No. 10 Florida, the Tigers hoped they could get a spark from the offense.
However, LSU only managed two field goals and 200 yards of total offense as they fell to the resurgent Gators 14-6.
The defense held up their end of the bargain, forcing two turnovers and allowing 237 yards. However, Mettenberger only threw for 158 yards and an interception—one of three turnovers for the Tigers—while only going 1-13 on third downs.
The loss dropped the Tigers to No. 9 in the polls.
Why They’ll Plummet: After facing opponents with a combined record of 7-19 in their first five games, the Tigers will face four straight ranked opponents with a combined record of 20-1.
Talk about turning the tables.
Next up, the Tigers play host to No. 3 South Carolina.
The Gamecocks,—who are coming off a 35-7 thrashing of then-No. 5 Georgia—will bring in a stout, No. 10 overall defense of their own. It will mark the first meeting between the two teams since 2008.
After losing a hard-fought battle to the Gators, the Tigers will have to quickly turn things around if they want to keep their title hopes alive. They will most likely have to play their best football for three-straight weeks.
One slip-up and it’s better luck next year.
Prediction: 21-10 South Carolina
Matchup: at Washington, 7 p.m. EST (FOX)
How They Got Here: The AP preseason No. 1 USC Trojans were sitting pretty after two weeks.
Senior quarterback Matt Barkley was backing up early Heisman talk with 10 touchdown tosses and only one interception, all while leading the Trojans to a 2-0 start.
Sophomore wide receiver Marqise Lee was the main beneficiary of Barkley’s stellar play, catching 21 balls for 263 yards and four touchdowns.
Nothing could stop the Trojans. Not even a trip to face then No. 21 Stanford—a team that had beaten the Trojans the previous three years.
So they thought.
The Cardinal exposed the Trojans as pretenders with a 21-14 victory. The Stanford defense forced Barkley into two interceptions and held him without a touchdown. It marked the first time in 15 games that Barkley had failed to record a touchdown pass.
The loss sent the Trojans spiraling to No. 13 in the rankings.
Why They’ll Plummet: The Trojans may be 2-0 since the loss, but they’ve looked anything but convincing in doing so.
After relying on a fourth quarter outburst to put away 1-2 California, the Trojans struggled mightily against a 2-2 Utah squad, trailing 21-10 midway through the second quarter before turning it around.
Since the first two games, Barkley has been somewhat unimpressive. He has only thrown five touchdown passes, compared to four interceptions, in his last three games.
Needless to say, USC has been pretty fortunate that their national title hopes haven’t dwindled away along with Barkley’s Heisman chances.
However, with a trip to face a very good 3-2 Washington squad this week, that knockout punch very well might be coming sooner than expected.
Take away two blowout losses to then-No. 3 LSU and No. 2 Oregon—both on the road—and the Huskies have allowed opponents an average of 12.67 points per game. That includes an impressive 17-13 victory over then-No. 8 Stanford.
The Huskies are powered by sophomore running back Bishop Sankey, who’s averaged 117 yards per game on the ground, while scoring five touchdowns in the last three games. That could pose a problem to a shaky Trojans rush defense that allowed 202 yards rushing in their defeat to Stanford.
The Huskies are 3-0 at home this season and have won 10 straight at home overall against opponents outside of the Top 10. The Trojans on the other hand are 1-1 on the road this season, struggling in both contests.
It all adds up to disaster for the Trojans.
Prediction: 17-14 Washington
Matchup: vs. No. 13 Oklahoma, 12 p.m. EST (ABC)
How They Got Here: The Longhorns surprised most of the nation by getting off to a 4-0 start, but even more surprising was the quarterback play of sophomore David Ash, who recorded 11 touchdowns and only one interception.
They’ve also been aided by strong play from the running back pair of Joe Bergeron and Malcolm Brown, who’ve combined for 545 yards and 12 touchdowns.
Minus a 45-0 blowout over New Mexico, Texas has made a living through the mantra that the best defense is a good offense—opposing teams have averaged 32.3 points per game against the Longhorns.
The lapse in defense almost cost them against Oklahoma State, where they escaped with a 41-36 victory, largely in part to a 300-yard, three touchdown performance by Ash.
However, the Longhorns weren’t as lucky against Heisman favorite Geno Smith and No. 8 West Virginia, falling 48-45. The Longhorns allowed 14 points in the fourth quarter.
The loss dropped them to No. 15 in the polls.
Why They’ll Plummet: While many were surprised by the Longhorns quick start, they really shouldn’t have been.
Since 2007, the Longhorns have started out at least 3-0 in every season.
But as we all know, it’s not about how you start, it’s about how you finish. Over the last two seasons, the Longhorns are living proof of that.
After starting out 3-0 in 2010, the Longhorns went 1-6 the rest of the way to finish a disappointing 5-7. 2011 was more of the same, as they started out 4-0 before finishing at 8-5.
With a date with rival No. 13 Oklahoma on tap this weekend—a clash the Longhorns have lost the previous two years—the Longhorns will look to put away history and prove that this year is different.
The Sooners rebounded from an early loss of their own, drubbing Texas Tech 41-20 on the road. The offense looked scary good, while the secondary continued its strong play—No. 9 in pass defense.
That's only bad news for the Longhorns and their struggling defense.
Prediction: 31-24 Oklahoma
Matchup: at No. 7 Notre Dame, 3:30 p.m. EST (NBC)
How They Got Here: Replacing Andrew Luck is not an easy task.
It’s a fact that Cardinal quarterback Josh Nunes is quickly beginning to learn.
The junior has thrown for eight touchdowns and four interceptions in five starts. However, his 230.2 yards per game isn’t scaring many defensive coordinators and only ranks No. 62 in the nation. Furthermore, his 54.1 percent completion rate is downright troublesome.
Regardless, the Cardinal managed to do quite fine with Nunes at the helm, winning their first three games capped off by a monumental 21-14 upset over then-No. 2 USC.
However, following a bye week, the Cardinal couldn’t continue their success, falling to Washington on the road.
The loss dropped them to No. 18 in the polls.
Why They’ll Plummet: Up until the Cardinal’s matchup against Arizona this past weekend, the defense had looked pretty stout. They only allowed 13.9 points per game to opponents.
Then the Wildcats came into town and completely picked apart the Cardinal defense.
The Cardinal relied on two late fourth quarter touchdowns just to take the game into overtime. They eventually won a thriller 54-48, but the damage was done. The defense was torched for 617 yards—including 491 yards through the air.
Now, the Cardinal must make a trip to South Bend to take on undefeated No. 7 Notre Dame.
The Irish boast the nations No. 13 defense and are second in the nation in points per game allowed—opponents only average 7.8 points.
With a suddenly shaky defense and an average-at-best quarterback, the Cardinal are about to find out just how difficult life without Luck really is.
Prediction: 24-7 Notre Dame
Teams That Should Be on the Lookout
These teams are also on the brink of plummeting their way out of the rankings:
No. 4 Florida - The jury is still out on the Gators, who play host to No. 3 South Carolina in Week 8. While they beat LSU, the offense was sluggish, and they were really carried by the defense.
To be an elite team you have to have an offense that is somewhat capable of putting up points against a good defense. The Gators lack that.
Look for them to lose to the Gamecocks and then be faced with a challenging matchup against rival No. 15 Georgia.
They also have an end-of-season clash with No. 12 Florida State.
No. 16 Clemson - The Tigers are coming off a bye after winning two straight following a defeat to then-No. 4 Florida State in a 49-37 shootout.
However, their defense just may be their downfall. The Tigers rank No. 73, allowing 27.3 points per game to opponents.
With a matchup against Virginia Tech, look for the Tigers' season to unravel. The Hokies have won two of the three previous contests between the two.
No. 22 Texas A&M - After beginning the season with a loss to Florida, the Aggies have won four straight. However, the competition hasn't been anything to brag about.
That will change quickly for the Aggies.
Including this weekend's showdown with No. 23 Louisiana Tech, the Aggies will play four of their next five against ranked opponents.
Expect the Aggies to drop at least two of those contests.
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