College Football Rankings: What the Polls SHOULD Look Like
This much is certain: There should be a new number one.
However, who falls where in the rankings is still up for debate. With conference play in full swing, now is the time a clearer picture comes into focus. The teams with soft non-conference schedules start to get weeded out and the real contenders begin to emerge.
Sure, the glaring mistakes of the preseason, including Texas and USC, have been revealed, but still some pretenders have managed to survive. Meanwhile, other teams have circled the wagons to reclaim their spots in the college football world.
So how SHOULD the College Football rankings play out this week? Let’s break it down and decide.
No. 21- No. 25
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25. Oregon State
The AP got this one right and the USA Today got it wrong. The Beavers should be in the Top 25. They have two losses, but both were to teams currently in the Top Five. According to teamrankings.com, the Beavers have the second-toughest schedule in the country thus far. A win on the road over Arizona cemented their place. The problem is with all the high-flying offenses in the Pac-10 this could be a short stay if Jake Locker gets hot at Washington. Still, the Beavers have an intriguing set of playmakers and have always closed the season well under Mike Riley. Of all the teams in the Top 25 the Beavers could climb the most from where they are now to the end of the season.
24. West Virginia
This one’s a bit iffy. A blowout over UNLV isn’t impressive, but with other teams sliding the Mountaineers step in. They beat a 4-1 Maryland team, but the Terps haven’t played anybody and the Mountaineers only real challenge, at LSU, they couldn’t quite pull out. West Virginia has a good defense…we think, but the truth of the matter is they could be the best team in the Big East, as they appear to be, or they could be the third-best. We won’t know for another couple weeks at least.
23. Air Force
The Falcons beat another sub-par opponent in Colorado State. Sorely lacking a key win, they head to San Diego to take on the Aztecs next before taking on Mountain West kingpins TCU and Utah. Having the top rushing offense in the country is a feather in your cap, but we need to see more from the Falcons if they wish to climb higher.
Many people have the Gators out of the Top 25 and they may be there soon. They manage to stay in because their only two losses are to teams in the Top 10. The Gators are a young team, but still a talented team that was a bounce away from being 5-1.
The Tigers took a much-needed step from pretender to contender by shutting out Colorado. Not that the Buffaloes are anything special, but they proved their defense wasn't a total fabrication. Despite struggling to put away Illinois and needing a late touchdown to beat San Diego State, they are still undefeated. The Tigers certainly shouldn’t be any higher, but they’ve done enough to fit in at 21.
No. 16- No. 20
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20. Oklahoma State
The Cowboys were losing at halftime to La-Lafayette, but managed to reapply themselves in the second half to coast to victory. The main reason the Cowboys are ranked 20th is because other teams, like Florida, fell. We know the Cowboys can score points, but their defense is still rather shaky giving up a little over 29 points a game.
Missing a marquee win and still having a first half at Arizona where they were thoroughly dominated, the Hawkeyes actually slide despite not playing. It’s easy to point to the Hawkeyes defense giving up a little over 10 points a game, but they’ve only been tested against one competent offense. Next week at Michigan will tell us a lot about the Hawkeyes.
Other than Alabama, no team took a bigger tumble than the Wildcats. It’s not that Oregon State is bad team, they aren’t as previously mentioned, but it was a game a Top 10 team was supposed to win. After holding off the Iowa Hawkeyes at home and pulling out a one-point win over the Cal Bears, it's easy to question how good the Wildcats really are, but they have a chance to get healthy next week at Washington State.
The Badgers win over Minnesota was nothing special, but their rushing offense is special. Still fortunate to win against Arizona State, Wisconsin retains a high ranking because of their dynamic backfield. However, the Badgers may deserve to fall completely out of the Top 25 if they don’t at least show well against Ohio State.
This may be the surprise of the rankings, but hear me out. They’ve scored at least 44 points four times this season and have two running backs averaging over seven yards a carry. Not to mention they rank in the top half of the country in passing and the top-third in scoring defense. The problem is their schedule, but the dominating win over Pac-10 Cal counts for something. One of the more anticipated games of the season is beginning to look like Boise State’s trip to Reno in late November.
No. 11- No. 15
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There’s a lot to like about the Razorbacks, but failing to finish off Alabama is still hurting them in the rankings. They can pass it and defend, but their win over Georgia isn’t looking so impressive anymore and a win over Texas A&M is nice, but far from a poll buster. We’ll find out a lot about the Razorbacks at Auburn next week. Are they a Top 10 team or just a nice complement in the SEC?
14. Florida State
The Oklahoma loss keeps the Seminoles grounded somewhat for now, but you could argue they’ve been one of the most impressive teams the past four weeks. The ‘Noles have rung up at least 31 points in each of the past four weeks, including a dominating win over the Miami Hurricanes this past Saturday. Looking at their schedule it’s not unrealistic to think they could run the table and play in the ACC Championship game.
13. Michigan State
The Spartans remained undefeated after a thorough beating of in-state rival Michigan. This may be a little high, but the Spartans are a well-rounded team with a favorable schedule the rest of the way. They could win the Big Ten, but traps remain as well as a ranked Iowa team.
Beating USC on a last-second field goal was a needed notch for the Cardinal who are still very much alive for a BCS berth. There is little to nitpick about the offense, but their defense has been disappointing the last two weeks. Still the Cardinal are a force with a top quarterback and room to impress voters.
It was in the Gamecocks backyard, but it’s too hard to put Alabama ahead of South Carolina. The Tide were beaten, giving a new hope to a bunch of contenders. The Tide could still rally and win the SEC West and the SEC, but right now they fall and fall below the team they just lost to.
No. 6- No. 10
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10. South Carolina
Despite the growing skepticism that Steve Spurrier would never be able to replicate what he did at Florida, South Carolina pulled off their biggest win in school history. That’s not say a national title is waiting in the wings for the Gamecocks, but they are rewarded as being one the biggest climbers this week. The Gamecocks may in fact be better than this, but the loss at Auburn is holding them down. One wonders though if they might’ve been able to hold on against the Tigers or gotten the Tigers at home if they could be in the Top Five right now.
Keeping their Cal Ripken-like streak alive of winning by the nose of the ball…and a hand of the clock, the Tigers beat Florida in the final seconds last weekend. Many think, the writer included, that the Tigers are prime-pickings for an upset, but as long as they keep winning it’s hard to put them down.
One of the most underrated teams in the country, the Utes beat up the Big 12’s Iowa State. The Utes still have dreams of playing in the national title and, well, they should. The problem is that only one opportunity, against TCU, exists to really impress voters. However, they get the Horned Frogs at home in one of the most anticipated games remaining this season.
Like LSU, the Tigers keep finding ways to win. That being said Cam Newton continues to get more impressive each game. Finding their stride and momentum early by winning, the Tigers have put themselves in the national title conversation. The problem is wins don’t come easy in the SEC and, as witnessed this past weekend against Kentucky, the Tigers still have a rough road ahead.
If Oklahoma played like they did against Florida State every week they may be ranked number one. An extremely talented group, the Sooners disposed of Texas this past weekend. But let’s face it; many people are looking forward to a Big 12 Championship between the OU and Nebraska. Still many potential pitfalls remain including at ranked opponents Missouri and Oklahoma State.
No. 1- No. 5
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One of the more impressive teams last week, the Huskers rolled up 450 yards on the ground at Kansas State. At the beginning of the year, their matchup with the Longhorns was one of the most anticipated games of the season, but don’t think the Longhorns struggles have dampened anticipation in Lincoln. The ‘Horns have won eight of the last nine contests between the two. Nebraska is a national title contender and may take the Big 12 on their way out.
Still undefeated and standing proud, the Horned Frogs haven’t given up a point in two weeks. TCU’s only good win came against Oregon State, but they’ve been so dominate in the other games they’ve earned the right to be here.
3. Ohio State
The Buckeyes aren’t the top team in the country. Their two wins in conference came over Illinois and Indiana, who are both likely to finish in the bottom half of the conference. They had a nice win over Miami (FL), but after watching the ‘Canes get dominated by Florida State that win looks far less impressive.
2. Boise State
Looking a bit more impressive than their non-BCS partner TCU, the Broncos come in at number two. Perhaps no one benefited more by the Alabama loss. The Broncos rank in the Top 11 in scoring offense and defense and their wins over Virginia Tech and Oregon State are beginning to look more impressive with each team’s resurgence. If the Broncos run the table it’ll be hard to keep them out the title game.
Tempted to put Boise State here, I’ll give a slight nudge to the Ducks. This pick is more out of default as I’d be surprised if they finished here. The Ducks may not be as good as the three teams below them, but they have an impressive win over underrated Stanford and rank first in scoring offense. Their defense is also in the Top 20 as well. However, if their game against Arizona State was any indicated the Ducks have tough road ahead in the high-flying Pac-10. After Washington State, there doesn’t appear to be any gimmes.
AP Top 25
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Ohio State (34)
Boise State (8)
USA Today Top 25
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Ohio State (49)
Boise State (1)