College Football Rankings 2011: 4 Teams That Belong in the AP Top 25
This week’s AP Top 25 poll left some college football royalty out in the cold. Georgia, USC, Notre Dame and Northwestern all deserve to be included.
One game is not enough to determine the rankings. This week’s rankings should be based on each team's true talent level, as well as its initial performance. For these teams, the pollsters have failed to strike that balance.
Boise State is a national title contender. There is no shame in losing to the Broncos. Yet, no matter how many BCS-level teams Boise beats, the voters still treat their victims as second-class citizens.
The Bulldogs kept pace with Boise State in terms of total yardage, and actually outgained the explosive Broncos on a per-play basis. Georgia moved the ball well, but was ultimately doomed by poor efficiency on third and fourth down, converting a first down in just 18 percent of those situations. A couple more conversions in those situations would have led to a very different result in the GeorgiaDome.
Aaron Murray and Isaiah Crowell are well-equipped to lead Georgia through the rest of the season. There’s no reason that the team shouldn’t still be the favorite to win the SEC East. In my book, that warrants a spot in the Top 25.
Replacing: No. 19 West Virginia Mountaineers
Under new head man Dana Holgorsen, West Virgina was an unknown quantity entering this season. A rain-shortened win over Marshall doesn’t change that.
Unlike most of the top teams in the country, USC played a team from a BCS conference in Week 1. The Trojans struggled to put Minnesota away, but held on to tally a win over the Gophers.
Matt Barkley and Robert Woods combined to form the explosive passing attack that sparked the Trojans to a 19-3 lead. After halftime, USC just didn’t have the horses to close out the game.
Specifically, they didn’t have Marc Tyler.
While Barkley delivered a strong 6.8 yards per pass attempt, the ground game could only churn out 2.4 yards per rush. Tyler’s career average is 5.6. With Tyler returning to the team, USC regains the ability to close out games.
Minnesota’s comeback was an aberration and certainly not enough reason to drop the Trojans from the Top 25.
Replacing: No. 21 Missouri Tigers
Scoring just 17 points against Miami (OH) at home doesn’t merit a spot in the Top 25.
Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Gut-wrenching though it may have been, Notre Dame’s loss to South Florida didn’t reveal any major weaknesses.
The offense moved the ball at will, amassing 508 total yards, including 391 through the air. The defense was stout, allowing only 254 total yards and just one offensive touchdown. Though it wasn’t borne out in the score, the yardage totals show that Notre Dame was clearly the better team.
The Irish made more than enough mistakes to tilt the scoreboard back in South Florida’s favor, but as maddening as the interceptions, fumbles, dropped passes and penalties were, they are all completely correctable.
Notre Dame will be just fine over the long haul, and that should be reflected in their ranking.
Replacing: No. 23 Penn State Nittany Lions
The Nittany Lions deserve no credit for hammering Indiana State at home. They’ll have every opportunity to earn their way back in next week when Alabama comes calling.
Northwestern took on the challenge of an opening game on the road at Boston College, one of the toughest leadoffs of any BCS conference school. Though it wasn’t part of the plan, Northwestern also faced this challenge without its star quarterback, Dan Persa.
Even amid all that adversity, backup Kain Colter stepped in and rode an efficient ground attack to lead the Wildcats to a hard-earned road win.
ESPNChicago is reporting that there is no timetable for Persa’s return, but even so, it’s fair bet that he’ll be back at the helm when Northwestern begins its Big Ten slate.
Northwestern is a contender in the Big Ten and deserved to be treated as such by the AP pollsters.
Replacing No. 25 TCU Horned Frogs
A team that has built its reputation on defense cannot surrender 50 points to an unranked opponent and expect to stay in the Top 25.