College Football Rankings: What The Top 25 Should Be

Chris Vafinis@ChristFamNolesContributor IIISeptember 22, 2010

College Football Rankings: What The Top 25 Should Be

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    The new polls have been revealed.  Not many people agree with the rankings and everyone has their own opinion.  I will break down the team's performance in the previous week's game, preview the match upcoming, and rank where I believe they should be in the polls.

    Will Alabama retain its place as number one team in the country?

    Do the new crop of teams to enter the Top 25 deserve to be there?

    Who was left out that should be in?

25. Penn State

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    Lack of offense with a true freshman quarterback and heavy defense is the game that Penn State plays.  They have only played one quality game, against Alabama, and were soundly defeated.  Penn State ranks on the bottom half of every offensive statistic; however, they are ninth best in points allowed.

    As with many Big Ten teams, Penn State has a very simple out of conference schedule (Youngstown State, Kent State).  They will have a very tough matchup with Temple.  The Owls play very similar football to Penn State - not much offense but heavy defense.  It should end in a low score.

24. West Virginia

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    West Virginia combines a very good offense with one of the nation's best defenses.  With senior leadership behind Noel Devine, the Mountaineers have averaged close to 30 points per game while allowing less than half of that.

    West Virginia has not played any true quality opponents yet.  They had a great comeback against Marshall and will be tested when they travel to LSU this weekend.  LSU has allowed less points than West Virginia.  The team that wins will only need to score around 17 points based on the two tough defenses.

23. Florida State

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    Florida State had a very difficult game at Oklahoma and bounced back in high form against BYU.  The Seminoles are led by a very experienced offense and are hoping for some young playmarkers on defense. 

    Thus far they maintain a top 25 ranking in points for and finding most of their success rushing the ball.  Defensively they are allowing around 20 points per game and need that number to decrease if they plan to run through the ACC. 

    Next week they have Wake Forest coming in.  The Demon Deacons are the first ACC test and are one of the weaker defensive teams in the conference following a 68-24 thrashing by Stanford.  However, they have no trouble putting up many points.  The Seminole defense will be tested here.

22. Nevada

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    Nevada has Colin Kaepernick and one of the best offenses in the country.  They have defeated every team by at least 20 points.  I hesitated to put them so high in the rankings until I saw how soundly they defeated California in week three.

    Nevada has one of their best chances to win the WAC with only Boise State at the end of the year standing in their way.  The Wolfpack does not have a tough schedule all season and play many lackluster teams.  The win against California propelled them into the top 25 and hopefully they can sweep the early games before facing Boise State for the WAC title.

21. Miami (FL)

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    There is still much to learn about Miami.  After a thrashing of FCS Florida A&M, Miami laid an offensive egg at Ohio State with Jacory Harris not living up to the preseason Heisman hype.  Were it not for the special teams, the score would have been much more lopsided.

    Miami has a week and a half layover before travelling to Pittsburgh Thursday evening.  This will be a true test for the team since the Panthers are one of the top 30 teams in the country.  They will need to slow down Dion Lewis to have any hope of winning.

    Miami opens ACC play with Clemson and Florida State, two of the tougher teams in the conference.

20. Michigan

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    Michigan has Denard Robinson.  There is not much more that they need.  A defense would help.  Two close games against mediocre opponents (one of which is FCS UMass) have shown the need for improvement.

    The offense has had no trouble as their star quarterback has racked up over 1100 yards in three games.  As long as he stays healthy, Michigan has a good shot at causing trouble in the Big Ten.  The Wolverines face another subpar opponent in Bowling Green and need to focus on allowing as few points as possible before facing Iowa, Michigan State, and Penn State.

19. Auburn

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    Cameron Newton is proving his worth by getting a chance to start after sitting on the bench at Florida.  However, in Auburn's previous two matches against Clemson and Mississippi State, they have not looked as dominant as once thought.

    Auburn won both games by three points and some luck.  Auburn needs to work on defense to allow fewer points before hitting the hardest stretch of the season.  They continue SEC play against a very tough South Carolina and move from there to face Arkansas and LSU.  The plus is all three games are played at home.

18. Arizona

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    So far I am not totally sold on Arizona.  Many times, the Pac-10 teams have strong offense and lack on defense.  However, against Toledo and The Citadel, the Wildcats allowed only eight points.  Their passing offense is ranked in the top 10 of the country and they score over 40 points per game.

    Last week, Arizona made a name for themselves by beating Iowa, but only by a touchdown after leading 27-7 in the second quarter.  Arizona has to prove more by beating better quality opponents. They have a Pac-10 stretch against California, Oregon State, and Washington State.

    They will continue to move up the polls if they win decisiviely like in week three.

17. Iowa

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    Iowa is another Big Ten team with a very light out of conference schedule.  Many had said the Hawkeyes have the best defensive line in the country.  Some say the best defense overall. 

    The defense looked stout for the first two games against Eastern Illinois and Iowa State.  However, against a quality opponent such as Arizona, Iowa looked pitiful.  Apart from a second half comeback, the Hawkeyes were outmatched.

    Iowa has lowly Ball State before a brutal stretch against four top 25 opponents in Michigan, Michigan State, Penn State, and Wisconsin.

16. Utah

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    Utah had an opening weekend game that put them on the map of the top 25 teams in the country.  Since then, they have easily walked over weak opponents such as UNLV and New Mexico.

    Utah plays no quality teams until the final games of the year against TCU, Notre Dame, and BYU.  It is hard to tell how good Utah is since not much is known about the team they beat early on - Pittsburgh.  Much will be decided after Pitt's game against Miami.

    Utah needs to keep up with how they have started the season by scoring over 40 points per game and allowing only 16.

15. Southern Cal

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    USC is not usually this far down on the polls.  However, this truly is a rebuilding year.  With a new coach and many young players on defense, the Trojans are allowing over 23 points per game and have yet to face significant talent.

    USC will have their hands full this season in the Pac-10 and may fail to reach a January bowl game.  They have Washington State next which should be an easy win.  Following that, they see an under-rated Washington, Stanford, Oregon, Arizona, and Oregon State before finishing with Notre Dame and much-improved UCLA.

14. Wisconsin

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    Wisconsin is ranked lower than the AP Poll has them due to lack of strength in games played thus far.  Moreover, none of the wins have been that impressive.  While they have a great running back in John Clay, there is not much known about this team.

    Early wins against UNLV and San Jose State by a small margin and a one-point victory at home against Arizona State do not scream top 10.  Even better, they play their final out of conference game against FCS Austin Peay.

    Wisconsin will be tested early against Ohio State, Michigan State, and Iowa.  It will be difficult for them to win games by having averaged a victory margin around 10 points to very low-ranked teams.

13. Arkansas

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    I am definitely drinking the Ryan Mallett kool-aid.  However, I am not totally sold on the Razorbacks team.  Arkansas had very easy wins to FCS Tennessee Tech and Louisiana Monroe. 

    In week three, they squared off with a Georgia team who, without A.J. Green, is offensively-challenged.  Even then, it took a last minute drive to seal the win.  Mallett is an NFL-ready quarterback with a shaky defense backing him up.

    If Arkansas can show any signs of keeping up with Alabama in week four (which I believe they will do), Arkansas is definitely then a top 10 team.  For now, it is hard to rank them any higher without a true quality win.

12. LSU

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    LSU plays one of the toughest schedules in the country since half of their opponents are ranked teams.  Opening week one with an impressive defensive stand against North Carolina was a huge confidence builder for the Tigers.

    They then beat two SEC competitors by a combined tally of 56-10.  Right now, their defense is ranked fifth in the country for points allowed and are playing their best football before facing West Virginia, Tennessee, and Florida.

    LSU needs to work on their passing game to maintain a balanced offense.  Currently, they are only a few spots ahead of last place for passing yards per game. 

11. South Carolina

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    The leadership of Stephen Garcia and the talent of young Marcus Lattimore have sparked a high ranking for the resurgent Gamecocks.  Garcia has struggled over the years to find his place as the team's quarterback and leader.  With an established running back, Garcia is playing with much more confidence.

    The defense of South Carolina is ranked ninth in the country, allowing just under 13 points per game.  The true test for South Carolina will come with trips to Auburn and home against Alabama.  These will be low-scoring affairs.

10. Stanford

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    Stanford had its eye-opening moment when they shut out UCLA 35-0 on the road.  Andrew Luck is having no problem reading the defenses and has 10 touchdowns on the season.  In week three, the Cardinals put up 68 points on Wake Forest.

    Stanford averages over 51 points per game and allows only 14.  It is not only the skill of Andrew Luck on offense but the defense who is allowing the offense multiple chances to score. 

    Stanford has a three-game stretch that will make or break the season.  First, they travel to Notre Dame and Oregon before coming home to see Southern Cal.

9. Florida

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    The post-Tim Tebow era has not gone well offensively for the Florida Gators.  The only thing keeping them in their games thus far is the defense giving time for the offense to get in gear.

    John Brantley ranks 103rd in passing and it shows as the scores do not do justice to the closeness of the game.  In almost all three of their opening games, the score and statistics were much closer all the way to the fourth quarter.

    Florida faces stiff competition by travelling in two weeks to Alabama and then facing LSU at home.  The match coming in a few days against Kentucky will determine how ready they will be.

8. Texas

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    The Longhorns are no different from Florida.  Both have no young, inexperienced quarterbacks who are struggling to lead the offense but have major defenses who keep the team in the game long enough for the offense to score.

    Texas, as with Florida, allows close to 13 points per game but has only one quality win by holding Texas Tech on the road to 14 points - by far their best-played game.

    Texas, again as with Florida, faces two ranked teams backo-to-back when they meet Oklahoma for the Red River Shootout and then travel to Nebraska.  Defense alone can not win against these types of teams.  Garrett Gilbert has to develop a strong offense this weekend at home against UCLA.

7. TCU

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    TCU is another team that has blown out its competition without having played anyone of any quality.  The best win so far is a nine-point win over Oregon State, a team who is overrated to begin with.  The Horned Frogs, offensively, have focused more on the rushing attack over Andy Dalton's passing game.

    They are ninth in the country with an average of almost 280 rushing yards per game.  Plus, their defense is averaging allowing only 12 points in each contest.  TCU has no top 25 opponents until late in the season against Utah; however, they do have trap games against Air Force, SMU, and San Diego State.

    Their defense will need to be sharp against a high-power offense at Southern Methodist.  Can they keep winning and have their name in the national title contention?

6. Oklahoma

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    Oklahoma has had some problems with teams they should not have.  Ultimately, though, they have won with heavy offense and just enough defense.  The game against Florida State was the only one that stands out as a complete massacre.

    Oklahoma travels to Cincinnati before seeing Texas in Dallas.  They will definitely need to improve defensively before facing Big 12 opponents who live on scoring many points.  With the talent they have, their top 10 ranking is well deserved.

5. Boise State

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    People differ on Boise State.  Whether they do or do not get enough respect is a very tough question.  Honestly, they deserve top five ranking but nothing more.  They have a very respectable offense and are improving defensively in each game.

    As much as no one wants to admit it, the win against Virginia Tech lost some luster with the way the Hokies performed after that.  It also hurts that Boise State does not play anyone of quality outside of Oregon State and Nevada toward the end of the year.

    Boise State needs to win convincingly in week four against the Beavers to have any chance of retaining their spot and possibly moving up.

4. Nebraska

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    The Cornhuskers and Taylor Martinez are putting together an impressive final season in the Big 12.  Not to mention their quarterback is merely a freshman.  Nebraska is having no trouble putting up big points behind the legs of their star quarterback.  Now the Cornhuskers rank fourth for most rushing yards per game at 344.

    This team is reminiscent of the 90s behind Tommy Frazier.  Very stout defense and plenty of rushing attack.  Nebraska has one quality win at Washington and will need more since they have a Big 12 schedule that does not face Oklahoma or Texas Tech.  They have one top 25 opponent getting Texas at home.

    Nebraska has a very easy match against FCS South Dakota State before meeting Kansas State and Texas.

3. Oregon

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    Oregon is doing what they should be doing in very convincing style.  Facing two weak opponents (New Mexico and Portland State), they pitched both shutouts, combined for 141 points, and 1400 yards.  This is what a top three team is supposed to do against lesser competition.

    On the road against Tennessee they did the same thing by winning 48-13.  Oregon has speed at every position and uses it well.  The Ducks start Pac-10 play at Arizona State before seeing Stanford.  Oregon needs to not look ahead to Stanford and be concerned with Arizona State who took Wisconsin to a 20-19 final.

    If the Ducks can keep this pace, they will be ready for a national title shot.

2. Ohio State

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    The Buckeyes are flying high from a victory against Miami and a beating of Ohio University.  They have a well balanced offensive attack from both 200+ yards rushing and passing per game.  However, as with most Big Ten teams, there is a definite lack in quality of out of conference opponents.

    The Buckeyes had one quality win over Miami at home and will have their final game before Big Ten play against Eastern Michigan.  This should be easy since Eastern Michigan has lost 15 straight games dating back to 2009.  The Buckeyes do not see the bulk of their competition until the final three games against Michigan, Iowa, and Penn State.

1. Alabama

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    No question the best team in the country is riding a 17-game winning streak and has not had much difficulty thus far in 2010.  Alabama is scoring over 44 points per game and allowing close to six.  With an offense that is gaining over 250 yards rushing and passing per game, there is an argument to be made that this team is better than last season's championship group.

    Alabama demolished Penn State at home before seeing the return of Mark Ingram at Duke.  He made his presence felt by hitting over 100 yards on three carries.  With the improvement of Greg McElroy's passing attack, the Crimson Tide will need all the help they can get as they face Arkansas, Florida, and South Carolina in the next three games.

    Travelling to Arkansas will not be easy as Alabama needs a big game defensively to hold off Mallett's offensive power.