College Football Rankings Week 10: Biggest Surprises in the Top 25
We're 10 weeks into the college football season, and the contenders have been separated from the pretenders.
As expected, preseason No. 1 Alabama has held on firmly to its place at the top of the food chain. But after them, the season is full of surprises.
Eleven Top 25 teams currently stand undefeated in this week's poll. Another nine have suffered only one loss. Predicting this season's outcome could prove to be a daunting task. You'd have a better chance pointing out Waldo inside the locker room of the US men's national soccer team.
There is a very likely scenario where we could see up to five undefeated teams vying for only two spots in the BCS title game. A nightmare situation for the BCS would see all 11 undefeated teams fall, leaving the computers to decide among a plethora of one-loss teams.
Either way, this is setting up for one heck of a finish to the season.
Here are the five biggest surprises in college football thus far.
Kansas State's Rise
The Kansas State Wildcats (8-0) are No. 3 in the rankings and No. 2 in the BCS standings.
Who outside of Manhattan, Kan., saw this coming?
The Wildcats are coming off two dominating performances over ranked teams and are looking to make it three straight when they face No. 24 Oklahoma State on Saturday. The Wildcats are 3-0 this season against ranked opponents, after going 2-8 against them from 2003-2011.
However, the biggest surprise has to be the sensational play of senior quarterback Collin Klein.
The Heisman trophy favorite has a 70.9 percent completion rate, while passing for 1,630 yards to go along with 12 touchdowns and only two interceptions. He has now gone five games without throwing an interception.
While Klein has been efficient through the air, he’s been downright dominating on the ground.
Klein has 16 rushing touchdowns and 634 yards on 122 carries. He has eclipsed the 100-yard mark twice this season and has run for at least three touchdowns three times.
Paired with junior running back John Hubert—722 yards on 128 carries and 10 touchdowns—Klein gives the Wildcats one of the most formidable backfields in the country.
Dismissed as an early-season fluke, who’s doubting the Wildcats now?
Notre Dame's Resurgence
No. 4 Notre Dame (8-0) went into last weekend’s clash with then-No. 8 Oklahoma as double-digit underdogs. All week long they had to endure talks of being overrated and questions on the strength of their schedule.
The Irish responded with a 30-13 drubbing of the Sooners on their home turf—a feat only five teams have accomplished since 1999.
How’s that for being overrated?
With only a Nov. 24 road trip to play No. 17 USC standing in their way of a perfect season, it’s time we start seeing the Irish as a real possibility to be included in the BCS title game.
While Notre Dame’s offense isn’t known for its firepower, its defense has made a name for itself by dousing out the firepower of opposing offenses.
The Irish are ranked No. 11 in total defense and No. 2 in scoring defense—opponents have averaged only 9.9 points per game.
Much of the credit for their strong defensive play belongs to senior linebacker Manti Te’o.
With 78 tackles, one sack and five touchdowns, Te’o has rightfully found himself in the thick of the Heisman Trophy discussion.
He provided his “Heisman moment” in the victory over Oklahoma by grabbing a crucial late-fourth-quarter interception that put an end to a game-tying drive by the Sooners.
With the Irish on a roll, it’s time we start taking this program for real.
Gene Chizik Is Still Employed
Auburn head coach Gene Chizik has a lot for which to thank former Tiger Cam Newton.
Not only does Chizik have to thank Newton for a national championship in 2010, but also for his job.
As it stands, Chizik is currently 31-17 during his four-year tenure at the helm for Auburn.
Take away the Newton-led season—a 14-0 record—and Chizik’s mark falls to a dismal 17-17.
Add to that the fact that the Tigers are currently 1-7 on the season and 0-6 in SEC play after starting the season at No. 25 in the polls. It’s Auburn’s worst start since going 1-7 in 1952. Furthermore, the Tigers are on pace for a winless SEC season for the first time since 1950.
So how on earth does this man still have his job?
Luckily for Chizik, his championship-winning season has many in the athletic department at the university blinded.
Unfortunately for Auburn, its entire fan base and the rest of the nation can see the truth.
Chizik hasn’t accomplished one thing in the three non-Newton seasons that has given us any signs to believe that the program is on the right track.
Instead, the Tigers are sinking fast, and the rest of the SEC is passing by them. That even includes Ole Miss, which snapped a 16-game SEC losing streak with a victory over Auburn earlier in the year.
Talk about passing the torch.
Sorry, Gene. Your time is up.
After a 49-24 victory in Week 1, the Arkansas Razorbacks were as high as No. 8 in the polls.
The team responded by losing four straight and five of their next seven.
To their credit, the five teams they’ve lost to have a combined record of 32-8. However, Arkansas came into this season as a team that was expected to win most of those types of games.
At 3-5 and 2-3 in SEC play, the Razorbacks have obviously failed to live up to these expectations.
While they rank No. 17 in passing offense—led by senior quarterback Tyler Wilson—Arkansas ranks No. 103 in rushing offense and averages only 27 points per game. Combine that with a defense that allows 30.9 points per game, and you can see why Arkansas has faltered thus far.
Another reason for Arkansas' terrible play this season can be credited to its poor ball control.
The Razorbacks have totaled 19 turnovers. Their minus-10 turnover margin ranks No. 111 in the nation.
That’s not going to win you many games.
With three top-15 opponents remaining on the schedule—two on the road—don’t expect Arkansas to turn this surprisingly bad season around any time soon.
Geno Smith's Fall from Grace
If you had polled Heisman Trophy voters three weeks ago, West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith would have been the near-unanimous choice to win the trophy.
However, a lot can change in three weeks.
After helping the Mountaineers average over 52 points per game in their first five games, Smith has seen his team produce a total of 28 points in the last two games.
In the first five games, the senior signal-caller recorded 1,996 yards through the air—399.2 yards per game—and 26 touchdowns and no interceptions.
In the last two games Smith has thrown for only two touchdowns and two interceptions while averaging 210.5 yards per game.
Maybe Smith has burned out or maybe teams have finally figured out the playmaker.
Either way, Smith has seen himself fall almost completely out of contention in the Heisman race.
With five games remaining—two against ranked opponents—it’s not too late for Smith to vault himself back into the race.
However, with the offense reeling and the defense giving away points like they’re hot cakes, it doesn’t look likely.