Reviewing and Ranking the FBS Top 25

William DonnellyContributor IOctober 12, 2008

This college football season has not quite matched 2007 for the blockbuster upsets that marked that topsy-turvy year, but week 7 provided a few surprises as three top-5 schools suffered defeat.

Here's my edition of the Top 25 rankings reflecting this week's games.

1. Alabama (Previously #2)

With Oklahoma falling, there's no reason for No. 2 Alabama not to move up.  Texas would have leapfrogged to No. 1 if they were ranked right behind 'Bama at No. 3, but I couldn't justify the jump from No. 5.

2. Texas (5)

If you beat the No. 1 team, you're probably better than your ranking, and they're probably worse.  So you can't move up to No. 1 by beating No. 1 unless you're already in the Top 3.  If the Longhorns can beat ranked Mizzou this week, they'll probably jump to No. 1 even if Alabama beats unranked Ole Miss.

3. Penn State (6)

The Nittany Lions chalked up another impressive win. Unless they stumble, the only thing preventing them from reaching the top spot is Texas or Alabama running the table, as they both could play conference championship games while the Big Ten sits idle.

4. Texas Tech (7)

The Red Raiders have a knack for winning any shootout, so I can't knock them for giving up 31 points to conference foe Nebraska.

5. Southern Cal (8)

All the Trojans did was shut out an overmatched Arizona State team.  They climb into the top 5, jumping over losing Oklahoma and Mizzou.

6. Oklahoma (1)

If No. 1 loses to an unranked opponent, they ought to take a huge hit in the rankings, but you can't knock them too far down for losing to conference rival and AP No. 5 Texas.

7. Florida (11)

Urban Meyer's Gators notched an impressive victory over LSU, sending the Tigers out of the Swamp with their tails between their legs.  Almost good enough to jump over former No. 1 Oklahoma, but the Sooners didn't deserve a six-place drop.

8. Mizzou (3)

These Tigers very nearly pulled out the win over No. 17 Oklahoma State. Chase Daniel completed an amazing 27-for-31 passes (just in the second half) but also threw three interceptions as the Cowboys held on to win.

With the impressive offensive show, Daniel showed that Missouri has the firepower to climb back into the Top 5 if any of those unbeaten teams falls.

9. Louisiana State (4)

Yeah, the other Tigers got beaten by 30 points, but on the road, in a conference matchup against the No. 11 Gators.  This is still a pretty powerful LSU team.

10. Brigham Young (9)

The Cougars drop one spot, because Florida leapfrogged into the top 10 with their win over No. 4 LSU.  Had BYU beaten someone from a BCS conference, I probably would have left them at No. 9 with LSU at No. 10.

11. Georgia (10)

The Bulldogs slide for the same reason.  This is not a good Tennessee team they defeated, and they only put up 26 points with Matthew Stafford throwing for 310 yards and Knowshon Moreno over 100 rushing yards.  They will need to be more efficient with points if they hope to get back to the top of the SEC East.

12. Oklahoma State (17)

The Cowboys pulled out a strong win against Mizzou, so they climb a few spots, but their defense was absolutely torched by Chase Daniel in the second half.  It's a good win, against a highly ranked team, but this squad still has room for improvement.

13. Ohio State (12)

The Buckeyes are another leapfrog victim, as their sluggish victory over unranked Purdue is not enough to prevent being passed by Oklahoma State.  If they need a blocked punt to knock off the Boilermakers, then Jim Tressel has some work to do, especially with games against ranked Michigan State and unstoppable Penn State over the next two weeks.

14. Utah (14)

The Utes stay put with a 40-7 win over Wyoming.  Good enough to avoid losing ground, but a win over Wyoming is also not enough to climb in the polls, as compared to some of the other big wins this week.

15. Boise State (15)

Away from the blue turf, the Broncos were good enough to defeat Southern Miss, but as with Utah, it's not impressive enough to help them move up in the rankings.

16. Kansas (16)

The 5-1 Jayhawks jumped to No. 1 in the Big 12 North with Missouri's loss, but their ordinary 30-14 home win over the lowly Colorado Buffaloes won't move them up in the polls.

17. Virginia Tech (18)

Idle this week, the Hokies slide up a spot as No. 17 Oklahoma State moved up, and No. 13 Vanderbilt fell.

18. South Florida (19)

The Bulls were idle, and they needed the extra week to regroup after a loss to Pittsburgh last week.  The past few years, this team has gotten off to a terrific start, only to falter against Big East competition.  They should be able to get back on track next week at home against Syracuse.

19. Wake Forest (21)

Although they only squeaked out a 12-7 win over unranked Clemson on Thursday, remember that Clemson has been ranked this season, and is still a tough football team.  However, the Demon Deacons only climb two spots due to losses by No. 13 Vanderbilt and No. 20 Auburn.

20. North Carolina (22)

Luckily for the Tar Heels, a win over Notre Dame is not as worthless as it would have been in 2007.  The Fighting Irish aren't champions yet, but are back on track, and the win by UNC shows they can win when the pressure is on.

21. Michigan State (23)

Had unbeaten Northwestern been able to beat the ranked Spartans, they almost certainly would have replaced Michigan State in the Top 25, but Javon Ringer ran away from their defense for 124 yards, and the Wildcats failed to produce a turnover.

Michigan State might have deserved a higher ranking, but I think this game showed us more of Northwestern's flaws than MSU's prowess.

22. Pittsburgh (24)

The surprising Panthers had this week off to prepare for Navy's dangerous triple option next week.  They rise two spots due to the aforementioned losses.

23. Vanderbilt (13)

I had high hopes for the Commodores, but they were unable to mount a comeback against Mississippi State's potent defense.  Second-half turnovers are the sort of thing that cause you to drop ten spots in the rankings.

24. Ball State (25)

The Cardinals did not hurt themselves with a pedestrian 24-7 win over Western Kentucky.  Their 7-0 record may include some cream puffs, but they have also beaten Navy, and Indiana on the road.

The rest of their schedule is against MAC rivals, and their only true tests should come against Central Michigan (4-2) and Western Michigan (6-1) in Weeks 12 and 13.  Unless some higher ranked teams fall, they may have a hard time cracking the top 12 for BCS bowl eligibility, even if they go undefeated.

25. Minnesota (NR)

The Golden Gophers went on the road to defeat Big Ten rival Illinois, and their only loss has been to Ohio State.  That puts them ahead of the other one-loss unranked teams, as they gain a No. 25 ranking.

Honorable Mention:

There is only one unranked, unbeaten team in the FBS: Tulsa.  Unfortunately, the Golden Hurricane has not beaten a team from a BCS conference, has given up over 24 points per game to Conference USA, Sun Belt and Mountain West opponents, and gave up 34 points to Central Arkansas of the FCS. 

Their only BCS opponent will be Arkansas on November 1.  With this schedule, Tulsa has a chance to go unbeaten and not even be ranked.

Unranked One-Loss Teams:

Georgia Tech: Lost to Virginia Tech, and two wins are against FCS teams.
Florida State: Lost to Wake Forest, and two wins are against FCS teams.
Boston College: Lost to Georgia Tech, and two wins are against FCS teams.
Cincinnati: Lost to Oklahoma, but barely beat lowly Rutgers.
UConn: Lost to North Carolina, and has not beaten anybody good except Virginia.
Western Michigan: Lost to Nebraska, has not beaten a BCS conference team, and needed OT to beat Buffalo.
Texas Christian: Lost to Oklahoma, but beat Stanford.  The Horned Frogs may have their best chance to move up if they beat BYU next week.
California: Lost to Maryland, but beat Michigan State.  May have a chance to move up with more wins.


Auburn (20)

With a tough loss to Arkansas, Auburn (4-3) drops out of the rankings.  If they run the table they will regain their ranking, but it is too early in the season for a three-loss team (even from the SEC) to be ranked in the top 25.


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