College Football Top 25 Rankings: Michigan Wolverines and Other Risers, Fallers
Rich Rodriguez is silencing the faithful University of Michigan alumni and boosters, winning his first two games that many analysts predicted he would lose. With the help of emerging superstar Denard Robinson, the Michigan Wolverines are looking to crack the Top 25 rankings.
And while the Wolverines may be the biggest story of season so far, they are not the only team to have risen or fallen in the first two weekends.
Riser: Stanford Cardinal
The Stanford Cardinal showed the college football world two things with their 35-0 victory over the UCLA Bruins.
First, they can win a football game without quarterback Andrew Luck at his best. And second, they should seriously be considered as one of the top three teams in the Pac-10 and have a very good shot at playing in the Rose Bowl on New Year's Day.
They followed up their 52-17 trouncing of Sacramento State with an impressive victory at the Rose Bowl. In fact, Stanford had not won a game in Pasadena since 1996.
Luck was not at his best, completing just 11 of his 24 passes for 151 yards, but threw for two touchdowns and scampered for 63 yards. He is undoubtedly still up for the Heisman Trophy, especially if he keeps winning games.
Stanford's schedule will only get harder from here. The Cardinal visits Notre Dame, Oregon, and host USC in a row after next week's matchup against Wake Forest. Regardless of what the future holds, Stanford definitely deserves to rise in the college football rankings.
Faller: Virginia Tech Hokies
So the Virginia Tech Hokies lost to the Boise State Broncos in the first week of the season. Big deal? Boise was projected to run the table and potentially play in the BCS National Championship Game.
Well, by now I'm sure you are all aware that the Hokies lost to the lowly FCS James Madison Dukes. Talk about a free fall. This was the team that was supposed to win the ACC, and some analysts even predicted them to go all the way to the BCS Championship Game.
Tyrod Taylor and company had long drives on just about every possession, but could not put points on the scoreboard. They had four drives go into James Madison territory that resulted in no points.
Either Frank Beamer's squad is vastly overrated, or the Dukes need to be seriously considered as a team to join the Big Ten. Regardless, a loss is a loss and the Hokies' loss should drop them out of the Top 25 in the college football rankings.
Riser: Michigan Wolverines
Call them a one-man team if you want, but that one man is certainly special. After the first two weeks of the season, quarterback Denard Robinson has to be the Heisman Trophy favorite.
He has accumulated over 900 yards in his first two games, including 502 yards against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. He showed maturity and poise as he led the Wolverines to a come-from-behind victory with a 72-yard drive with 3:41 left in the game. On that drive, he completed five of his six passing attempts and scored the game-winning touchdown on a two-yard scamper.
Sure, the defense looked suspect against the Irish, and when Dayne Crist was in the game, he picked the secondary apart. If he weren't injured for most of the first half, there probably would have been a different outcome and I would not be writing this slide.
But he was injured, and Michigan did capitalize. Rich Rodriguez has saved his job for another week. And if the rest of the season goes anything like the first two weeks, he may have saved it for a few more years.
Faller: Georgia Bulldogs
The Georgia Bulldogs took on the South Carolina Gamecocks in a crucial week two matchup between SEC East contenders. And at the end of the day, they could only muster a measly six points and 253 yards.
Quarterback Aaron Murray performed well enough to put his team in a position to win the game, but the Bulldogs' defense could not stop the Gamecocks' running game.
Freshman Marcus Lattimore ran over and around Georgia's defense for 182 yards and two touchdowns. He was one of the best running-back recruits out of high school and was Mr. Football in the state of South Carolina in his senior season.
The Bulldogs will most likely move out of the Top 25 simply because they were near the bottom of the rankings before the loss. That is not to say, though, that they can't move back. There is still plenty of football left to play and the Bulldogs are a very talented team that will make some noise in the SEC.
Riser: Oregon Ducks
The Oregon Ducks made a statement against the Tennessee Volunteers, completely dominating on all sides of the ball. With the game tied at 13 at half time, the Ducks erupted in the second half outscoring the Vols 35-0.
LaMichael James successfully returned from his one-game suspension, running for 134 yards and a touchdown. What was especially impressive, though, was the plethora of backs available to carry the rock. Running backs James, Kenjon Barner, Remene Alston Jr., and quarterback Darron Thomas all had at least seven carries.
The defense and special teams both scored long touchdowns through a 76-yard interception return and an 80-yard punt return.
While the Ducks may not move up in the rankings because they are already seventh, they have solidified themselves as the favorites in the Pac-10 and moved into the discussion for BCS Championship Game representatives.
Faller: Florida Gators
Yes, the Florida Gators are 2-0. And yes, they are transitioning from the Tim Tebow Era to the John Brantley Era. But those two wins have not been pretty.
At one point in the fourth quarter against Miami of Ohio in the first week, they were only leading 21-12. This is the same Miami team that has won three games in the past two seasons.
And at half time of this weeks game against the South Florida Bulls, they were tied at seven. Sure, they ended up winning 38-14, but the Gator run defense had as many holes as Swiss cheese, giving up 244 yards on the ground.
After two weeks, they are ranked 104th and 50th in passing and rushing, respectively. If they are going to have a shot at making this era as good as the previous one, they are going to have to dominate these early games and work out the kinks in the transitioning offense.
The Gators might move down a couple of spots in the rankings, but will be SEC contenders by the end of the season.