College Football Rankings: What The BCS Should Look Like
We are six weeks through the college football season, and already preseason favorites have dropped off, and programs expected to struggle have stepped up their game and returned to the top 25.
Teams like Virginia Tech, Notre Dame, Florida, and Pittsburgh have sputtered early, but are trying to claw their way back into contention. On the other hand, Michigan State and South Carolina have outplayed expectations and find themselves right in the mix for a BCS bid.
First, I will give you a list of the teams ranked 25 to 11 in my eyes—all teams that can definitely find themselves in the middle of things with some key wins down the road. I'll give you a more in depth look at the top 10 teams—who in my opinion—all have a legitimate shot at playing in a BCS game this season.
All of these teams are a lot more even than usual, as you normally have a handful of teams that are clearly above the rest and have championship written on their foreheads during the preseason. With Alabama losing in South Carolina this week, it opens the door for a lot of teams to claim their spot in the BCS Title Game as well.
Here are my rankings, enjoy!
25. Michigan Wolverines
They lost their first true test against rival Michigan St. and the road from here just gets harder and harder. The game next week vs. Iowa will tell us a lot about if Michigan is the real deal or not.
24. West Virginia Mountaineers
This team had an easy schedule to begin with, and losing the game to the only ranked team on that schedule—at LSU 20-14—doesn't help your cause. I think earning an auto bid is the only way they—and any Big East team—can get into a BCS bowl game.
23. Air Force Falcons
Call me crazy, but I think the Falcons have a legitimate shot against TCU in two weeks. They boast the nations best rushing attack, posing a problem for any defense. If they win that game, they can make a big splash in the college rankings.
As the only multi-loss team in my rankings, Florida needs to bounce back from two straight losses and poor play from QB John Brantley. He had no touchdowns and three picks in the games against Alabama and LSU.
The Wolfpack is a team to watch for the rest of the season. They have a fairly easy schedule leading up to a late season matchup with Boise St. on November 26th. Let's just hope they don't overlook any teams on the way to that game.
20. Missouri Tigers
Blaine Gabbert is no Chase Daniel, but he is a leader and has his team playing well. After this weeks matchup with Texas A&M, Mizzou gets Oklahoma at home, and has to travel to Nebraska to battle the Cornhuskers the week after.
19. Arizona Wildcats
After the loss to Oregon State, I don't know if they have the firepower to compete with a Stanford or an Oregon, and they may struggle with USC as well. Gunslinger Nick Foles can keep them in any game, but has yet to finish a game without throwing an interception.
18. Oklahoma State
With the second ranked scoring offense in the NCAA, the Cowboys can beat anyone. They see Nebraska and Oklahoma in Stillwater as well, which gives them a great shot at beating these teams and making their mark on the BCS rankings.
17. Wisconsin Badgers
The No. 1 ranked Buckeyes come to town next week and if the Badgers can control the ball on the ground with their stud John Clay, this could be a dandy.
16. Iowa Hawkeyes
Ricky Stanzi is a great quarterback and Adam Robinson is a load to bring down. They also sport the best defense in football—in points against. With Michigan, Wisconsin, and Michigan State on the schedule the next three weeks, we will get to see what the Hawkeyes are made of.
15. Florida State Seminoles
After Saturday's dominant performance in Miami, Christian Ponder and FSU look like the team to beat in the ACC. I don't see them losing a game in their conference, although consistency has always been a question with this team
14. Utah Utes
At 5-0, I still don't buy into Utah being a legitimate contender just yet. A win against Air Force and/or TCU and my mind would change very quickly.
13. Stanford Cardinal
They barely escaped their second straight loss with a late second field goal against USC, but when you have Andrew Luck behind center, you can beat anybody. Stanford is a contender against any team in any game.
12. Arkansas Razorbacks
Ryan Mallett and the Razorbacks have a big test this week in Auburn. A big win here and they are right back in the thick of things in the SEC.
11. Michigan State
With two straight wins against ranked Big Ten Opponents and no Ohio State on the schedule this season, we will probably see an undefeated Michigan State team visiting Iowa three weeks from now.
10. LSU Tigers
After LSU's big victory in the Swamp—college football's most hostile environment—the Tigers look to keep on rolling.
Two weeks from now, they travel to Auburn before hosting Alabama the next week. Jordan Jefferson has really struggled throwing the ball, opening the door for Jarrett Lee to show Les Miles what he can do.
Lee had a great game against Florida, tossing two touchdowns, including the game winner to Terrence Toliver with six seconds left in the game to shock Urban Meyer and Gator faithful across the country.
These next two weeks will spell feast or famine for the Tigers and they will really need to get consistent play from Jefferson and Lee to have a chance against the SEC powerhouses.
9. South Carolina Gamecocks
Steve Spurrier earned his biggest win at South Carolina after his team trounced No. 1 ranked Alabama this past Saturday.
Stephen Garcia played unbelievable and the Gamecocks controlled the ball throughout the duration of the game.
Alshon Jeffery has proven he is one of the top receivers in the nation, catching 15 passes for 319 yards and four touchdowns in the past two games—@ Auburn, vs. Bama—against top 10 opponents.
This is a complete football team that plays hard on both sides of the ball. They have weapons all over the field on offense and a good enough defense to get the job done. South Carolina is a real contender and I am excited to see what they do against Arkansas and Florida later this season.
8. Auburn Tigers
The Tigers really got a steal when they convinced quarterback Cam Newton that he could revive his career at Auburn.
Newton has been playing out of his mind and definitely in the middle of the Heisman race. So far, Newton has 1,821 total yards—1,138 passing and 672 rushing—to go along with 21 total touchdowns.
With all the buzz that surrounded Terrell Pryor, the rave should really be about Newton, and I think he has Auburn in the driver's seat in the SEC for now.
They have tough matchups against Arkansas and LSU coming up, but get both teams at home. The game at Alabama the final week of the regular season could be one for the ages, and could determine who plays in the SEC championship and who has to pray for an at-large bid into a BCS bowl game.
7. Alabama Crimson Tide
Although Alabama lost their first game since Greg McElroy became quarterback, I wouldn't panic Tide fans. This is a great football team in a great conference with a very tough schedule.
They still have the fifth ranked defense and two of the best running backs in the nation in Trent Richardson and Mark Ingram.
Nick Saban is going to have these guys playing even better after this loss, and I fully expect 'Bama to have only this one loss going into the match up against Auburn. They do travel to LSU in three weeks, but I can't see them losing to a team getting inconsistent quarterback play. LSU's defense is also mediocre in my opinion, so 'Bama shouldn't struggle at all.
This is an elite football team who had a slip up against a formidable opponent in South Carolina. This team will come out motivated and hungry for revenge, and they will take it out on any team who gets in their way.
6. TCU Horned Frogs
The knock on TCU in the past has been their strength of schedule. They already took care of Oregon State and have Air Force at home and Utah on the road left this season.
Andy Dalton and Jeremy Kerley are one of the better QB-WR combinations and Ed Wesley is averaging seven yards a carry.
The offense is high powered and can beat you by itself, but TCU is no slouch on defense either.
While the offense is ranked eight in points scored, the defense ranks second this year in points against. This could be the Horned Frogs year, and if they win out, I think a BCS championship game is within their grasps.
5. Oklahoma Sooners
Bob Stoops' boys have had an odd season so far.
Although they aren't ranked the top 35 for points scored or points allowed, the Sooners are undefeated and have a moderately easy schedule ahead of them.
With Missouri and Oklahoma State as the only ranked teams that stand in Oklahoma's way for the reast of the year, the Sooners have an easier road than most to the National Championship. But could this weaker schedule hurt them in the BCS rankings down the road? I think it will.
Look for the Sooners to most likely be stuck around five or six in the rankings for the rest of the season, and I think their only hope of playing for the title is teams losing in front of them or beating Nebraska in the Big 12 title game perhaps.
4. Nebraska Cornhuskers
Even more so than the Sooners, Nebraska has had a fairly easy road so far this season. The difference between these two teams is that the Cornhuskers have dominated their competition and Oklahoma has struggled against multiple opponents.
Taylor Martinez is an exciting young player and the defense is ranked fourth in the nation, even after losing Ndamukong Suh to the NFL draft.
With such a consistent performance from this team on both sides of the ball, it is easy to see why they are so high on this list. If they face off against Oklahoma for the Big 12 Championship, the winner could very well be in the title game.
3. Boise State Broncos
Boise State just can't get a break. Even when they get some "tougher" games on their schedule, teams like Virginia Tech trip up and end up out of the top 25 completely, which in turn hurts the Broncos strength of schedule, something that has kept them out of the Championship game for years now.
Let me tell you this. Kellen Moore is the real deal and he commands a Boise State offense that can play with anyone. Combine that with the 11th ranked defense in the country and you have a team that deserves to play for a BCS title.
With such a balanced team, I would love to see them compete for the title, but I still don't know if their SOS is quite up to par with the other contenders.
Their biggest challenge for the rest of the season is when they travel to Nevada in late November, and that could be the determining factor for their BCS fate.
2. Ohio State Buckeyes
The Buckeyes are very, very good. They haven't really had a problem with any opponent thus far, and they have looked dominant on both sides of the ball.
Terrelle Pryor still doesn't look like he has put everything together, but he is an electrifying player with the tools to beat you on the ground and through the air. Brandon Saine and Daniel Herron complement Pryor nicely in the rushing attack, and Dane Sanzenbacher along with DeVier Posey make a great wide receiving combo.
Nathan Williams heads a defense that ranks 6th in the country in points allowed, and this unit as a whole is always a nightmare to play against.
OSU has a road test this week when they travel to Wisconsin, but I think they will have little trouble with the Badgers on their way to an undefeated season. As long as they don't slip up, it is the Buckeyes National title bid to lose.
1. Oregon Ducks
The Ducks have earned this spot atop the rankings.
With a convincing victory over Andrew Luck and Stanford, as well as all of their other opponents, Oregon is the team to beat this year.
Scoring 54.3 points per game, LaMichael James and Darron Thomas lead the best offense in football and the Ducks are relentless with the ball in their hands.
James has 848 yards rushing and nine touchdowns, even after missing the first game of the season due to suspension. He has rushed for over 225 yards twice this season, and a combination of burst, speed, and power that is comparable to Mark Ingram.
Darron Thomas has been fantastic this year, throwing for 1,213 yards with 14 touchdowns and only five interceptions. He has filled in the void left by Jeremiah Masoli well, and even his backup—Nate Costa—has performed well when called upon.
Oregon is the best team in football right now, but they have games at USC and Oregon State, as well as Arizona at home remaining on the schedule. They will make the title game if they win out, but they need to stay focused each week and stick to their game plan if they want to have a chance to play for that championship trophy at the end of the year.
Phil Lombardo is a Bleacher Report writing intern and a senior journalism/mass communications major at St. Bonaventure University.
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