2011 College Football National Top 25, Week 5: Wisconsin Makes a Statement

Dan Hope@Dan_HopeContributor IIIOctober 7, 2011

2011 College Football National Top 25, Week 5: Wisconsin Makes a Statement

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    The biggest statement of the week was made by the Wisconsin Badgers, who continued not only their ways of winning but ways of dominance, in a blowout 48-17 victory over new in-conference rival Nebraska.

    This moved Wisconsin up the rankings. Would it be enough to move them into the top 5? Read on to find out.

    Teams listed with Rank. School Name (Record) - This Week's Result - Change from Last Week's Poll

The Top 5

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    1. LSU (5-0) - Win vs. Kentucky, 35-7 - Same
    LSU had an easier opponent last week in Kentucky, but they certainly did not take it easy on them. It was yet another stifling performance from the Tigers defense, holding the Wildcats to just 155 yards of total offense, led by Tyrann Mathieu, who forced a fumble, then returned it for a touchdown. While some other undefeated teams came up with huge wins this week, LSU is not losing the top spot if they keep playing at the level they currently are.

    2. Alabama (5-0) - Win at Florida, 38-10 - Same
    If any team has a case for unseating LSU at the top of the rankings, Alabama sure has a strong case. In consecutive weeks now, they have won, in blowout fashion, over tough SEC foes Arkansas and Florida. This week’s win over Florida was particularly impressive, for they were playing at a tough road venue in The Swamp.

    After falling behind 10-3 in the first quarter, the Crimson Tide never gave up another point, while rolling to victory. Running back Trent Richardson had a tremendous performance, running for 181 yards, while conversely, the defense shut down Florida to just 15 yards. The Crimson Tide are dominating everyone in their path and are setting up for setting up for quite a clash on November 5th.

    3. Oklahoma (4-0) - Win vs. Ball State, 62-6 - Same
    Ball State never had a chance against the Oklahoma Sooners, who absolutely rolled last week. Throwing for 425 yards and five touchdowns, Landry Jones had his way with the Ball State defense, leading the way to a 655-yard offensive day from the Sooners. This game was nothing more for a tune-up for Oklahoma’s clash this upcoming week with Texas, for they were not even tested by Ball State.

    4. Wisconsin (5-0) - Win vs Nebraska, 48-17 - Up 3
    Wisconsin was completely dominant, but there was the lingering question of whether the Badgers could continue to be dominant against top competition. The Badgers squashed any doubters last week, as they rolled to yet another blowout victory, but this time over a very formidable foe, Nebraska, who may be the second-best team in the Big Ten.

    It was a close game early, but once the Badgers established control late in the first half, they never looked back. The Badgers came up with three interceptions defensively, while fantastic running back Montee Ball led the way with 151 rushing yards and four touchdowns offensively. The Badgers made it clear that they absolutely are one of the nation’s elite teams with a dominant win over a very legitimate opponent.

    5. Boise State (4-0) - Win vs. Nevada, 30-10 - Down 1
    I hate doing this to Boise State, but it is necessary. After starting the season atop the rankings following an impressive victory over Georgia, the Boise State Broncos have been on a steady decline, falling one spot in the rankings each week. Again, this is of no fault of the Broncos, but simply put, there are teams establishing themselves as better by playing tougher competition.

    The Broncos keep taking care of their own business: This week, while the final score over Nevada may not look overly impressive, they scored all 30 of their points in the first three quarters, shutting out the Wolfpack through that time. Kellen Moore actually had one of his worst games ever, only completing 19-of-33 passes for 142 yards while throwing two interceptions. But led by Doug Martin running the ball and stifling defense, the Broncos got the win as a team, which is all that really matters.

Nos. 6-10

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    6. Oklahoma State (4-0) - Idle - Down 1
    After a big comeback win over Texas A&M, the Oklahoma State Cowboys got a week off. They only dropped due to the dominant performance by Wisconsin that vaulted them into the top five.

    7. Stanford (4-0) - Win vs UCLA, 45-19 - Down 1
    The Stanford Cardinal had no problems at all with UCLA. Andrew Luck led the way once again, primarily with an impressive 23-for-27 passing performance, which accounted for 227 yards and three touchdowns. However, Luck also had one of the week’s top highlights with an impressive one-handed catch he made on a trick play! Stanford has yet to play a tough opponent who would really test them, but so far, they have been rolling on all cylinders.

    8. Clemson (5-0) - Win at Virginia Tech, 23-3 - Up 3
    The Clemson Tigers are on a real roll right now, with the wins getting more impressive each week. After beating Auburn and Florida State in consecutive weeks at home, the Tigers went on the road to Blacksburg and had a dominant victory over conference power Virginia Tech.

    The Tigers’ offensive studs, running back Andre Ellington and wide receiver Sammy Watkins, did not have big days, but by holding the Hokies to three points, the dominant defense by the Tigers led the way to another big victory, and the Tigers have established a currently-safe spot in the top 10.

    9. Georgia Tech (5-0) - Win at North Carolina State, 45-35 - Up 6
    While most of us expected the two-team race in the ACC to be between Florida State and Virginia Tech; it may instead come down to Clemson and Georgia Tech. Tech’s triple option is looking better than ever this year, and they got it done again with 296 rushing yards against NC State.

    What is really getting the Yellow Jackets offense going this season is the emergence of a passing offense. While Tevin Washington is a sloppy pocket passer, junior receiver Stephen Hill is an emerging stud, and when Washington and Hill are able to connect, it is almost always a big play. As the list of undefeated teams gets pared down week by week, the Yellow Jackets have been steady risers in the rankings.

    10. Texas (4-0) - Win at Iowa State, 37-14 - Up 10
    Ever since the Texas Longhorns changed up their quarterback depth chart, they have been on a roll. The combination of Case McCoy and David Ash at signal-caller has worked out very well thus far, and the Longhorns really proved themselves this week, as they dominated a previously-undefeated Iowa State team.

    The Longhorns are going to have to play at their absolute best in order to upset the Oklahoma Sooners this upcoming Saturday, but if they can come up with the big win, they could go from a shaky start to a top contender.

Nos. 11-15

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    11. Michigan (5-0) - Win vs. Minnesota, 58-0 - Up 8
    The Michigan Wolverines seem to play better and better every week. Last week, the Wolverines appeared to be at a whole different level of football against in-conference foe Minnesota, putting up 58 points while allowing no scoring. The Wolverines put up 580 yards of total offense, while allowing only 177 yards. The Wolverines’ complete domination this past week earned them up a big rise up the rankings.

    12. Arkansas (4-1) - Win vs. Texas A&M, 42-38 - Up 6
    Coming off of a tough loss against Alabama last week, the Razorbacks’ defense had a really tough first half against Texas A&M, giving up 35 points. But in the second half, the Razorbacks finally got things turned around and did it in a big way. Trailing 17 to 35, the Razorbacks scored 18 unanswered points to tie the game and went on to win 42 to 38.

    It was an awful day for the rushing defense, giving up 381 yards and five touchdowns to the A&M rushing combination led by Christine Michael and Cyrus Gray. However, it was an even better day for the passing combination of Tyler Wilson and Jarius Wright; Wilson finished the day with a school-record 510 yards, while Wright was on the receiving end of more than half of those yards, finishing with a school-record 281 yards.

    When one receiver goes for 281 yards, that team typically wins the game, and the Razorbacks did that in dramatic fashion against a tough opponent in this game. Showing this resiliency earned the Razorbacks clout to rise back up the rankings.

    13. Oregon (3-1) - Idle - Up 4
    After being jumped by a few teams the previous week, the Oregon Ducks did the jumping this week, even though they did not play. That was a direct result of the six top-15 teams which lost games this past week, enabling the Ducks to make a big rise up the rankings without even playing a game.

    14. Kansas State (4-0) - Win vs. Baylor, 36-35 - Up 11
    The Kansas State Wildcats are undefeated and have won consecutive games against Miami and Baylor, so they must start to be taken seriously. Quarterback Collin Klein struggled passing the ball, only completing 13 of his 28 pass attempts for 146 yards, but he did also rush for 113 yards. Nothing stands out about Kansas State as a team, but if they keep rolling off the victories, they will maintain a high position in the rankings.

    15. Florida (4-1) - Loss vs. Alabama, 10-38 - Down 7
    The Florida Gators had a very tough time against Alabama this week. The Gators were already falling out of the game late in the first half when they lost quarterback John Brantley to a leg injury, and from there, they had no chance.

    The Tide stacked the box, and the Gators finished the game with a net rushing total of 15 yards. Unfortunately for the Gators, they are likely destined to drop in the rankings and possibly out of them altogether, after this upcoming Saturday’s game. Things are only going to get tougher as the Gators play LSU on the road, with Brantley unable to play. The chances of an upset in that game are very slim, especially without their quarterback.

Nos. 16-20

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    16. Illinois (5-0) - Win vs. Northwestern, 38-35 - Up Seven
    The Illini went absolutely down to the wire with Northwestern, but when they needed him to, quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase delivered, scoring on a touchdown run with 13 seconds left in the game, resulting in a three-point victory. Northwestern certainly did not make it easy on the Illini, but it was a huge day for wide receiver A.J. Jenkins.

    Of Scheelhaase’s 391 passing yards and three passing touchdowns, all three of the scores and 268 yards were on Jenkins receptions. It is unclear how good the Illini actually are, considering they have won each of their last three games by three points. However, they remain undefeated, and with a win over Arizona State leading the resume, the Illini are rising up the rankings.

    17. Houston (5-0) - Win at UTEP, 49-42 - Up Four
    UTEP took Houston to the wire, but in an absolute shootout in which the two teams accounted for 91 points and 1,248 yards of offense, the Cougars came out on the better end, with 49 points and 710 yards.

    Most of those yards, 471 to be exact, came from the ever-prolific passing attack led by Case Keenum. It was a poor performance by the Houston defense, which allowed 240 rushing yards to Joe Banyard, but the Cougars got the important win and remain undefeated, enabling them to move up in the rankings.

    18. South Carolina (4-1) - Loss vs. Auburn, 13-16 - Down Nine
    The South Carolina Gamecocks came into this past week’s game against Auburn undefeated, but they had not looked too impressive in getting their wins, so it did not come as a huge surprise to me that they fell in defeat.

    It was yet another rocky game for quarterback Stephen Garcia, who only completed 9-of-23 pass attempts while throwing two interceptions, and it has since been announced that Connor Shaw will take back the starting job following this loss. The Gamecocks still have a great chance to win the SEC East, but they are going to start playing up to their ability to do so.

    19. Texas Tech (4-0) - Win at Kansas, 45-34 - Into Top 25
    To be fair, the Texas Tech Red Raiders have not beaten anyone of significance. That being said, with all the other undefeated teams ahead of them, they have to slot in here. The Red Raiders did not dominate against a very weak Kansas squad, while only beating their toughest opponent, Nevada, by one point.

    More than likely, the Red Raiders will lose their first game to Texas A&M this weekend, which would knock them out of the top 25. However, if the Red Raiders manage to pull off the victory at home, they will really be taken seriously.

    20. Arizona State (4-1) - Win vs. Oregon State, 35-20 - Into Top 25
    Ever since a disappointing loss to Illinois, the Arizona State Sun Devils have been terrific. Brock Osweiler did not have one of his better games against Oregon State, throwing three interceptions, but the defense made up for it with four interceptions of their own. With Osweiler and running back Cameron Marshall leading the offense and stud middle linebacker Vontaze Burfict on defense, the Sun Devils are hanging around as Pac-12 contenders.

Nos. 21-25

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    21. West Virginia (4-1) - Win vs. Bowling Green, 55-10 - Up One
    After suffering a tough loss the week before against LSU, the Mountaineers rolled, as they should have, over Bowling Green. In this game, Dustin Garrison was the star, rushing for a tremendous total of 291 yards.

    Meanwhile, the defense had a field day, forcing five turnovers and holding the Falcons offense to 217 yards of total offense. As of now, the Mountaineers are the Big East’s team to beat, with a loss to the nation’s top team as their only blemish.

    22. Nebraska (4-1) - Loss at Wisconsin, 17-48 - Down 10
    Nebraska had not been looking all too impressive in their first four wins of the season, and then they were absolutely dismantled by Wisconsin last week. Quarterback Taylor Martinez completely lost his composure as Wisconsin gained momentum in this game, throwing three interceptions, while the Blackshirts defense had another tough day, giving up 486 yards of offense to their opponent. As the Cornhuskers continue on with their Big Ten schedule, they are going to have to start playing much better to win games.

    23. Baylor (3-1) - Loss at Kansas State, 35-36 - Down Nine
    Robert Griffin III had another huge day, throwing for 346 yards and five touchdowns, with star wide receiver Kendall Wright on the receiving end for 201 of those yards. The Baylor Bears outplayed Kansas State. However, they gave up a nine-point lead in the final six minutes of the fourth quarter to lose this game.

    A late-game collapse is always a bad sign for the team and certainly a momentum-killer for the Bears. Baylor has some serious kinks to work out as they start hitting some very tough teams on their schedule, but there are still enough positives to keep Baylor in the top 25.

    24. South Florida (4-1) - Loss at Pittsburgh, 17-44 - Down 14
    I was wrong in believing South Florida was a top-10 team last week. After a very strong start to the season, the Bulls laid an egg against Pittsburgh. They were actually only down by three points at the half, but then, their offense was shut out in the second half.

    Every aspect of the South Florida offense went cold in the second half of this game, while the defense allowed Ray Graham to run all over them for 226 yards. With such an awful performance against a subpar Pittsburgh team, the Bulls nearly fell completely out of the top 25. There will be more losses to come if the Bulls play that poorly again.

    25. Virginia Tech (4-1) - Loss vs. Clemson, 3-23 - Down 12
    There is not much to be positive about for the Virginia Tech Hokies right now. The one shining point of the Hokies has been running back David Wilson, who ran for 123 yards in the loss to Clemson.

    However, the Hokies offense still only managed just three points in a home game, which is dismally awful. Quarterback Logan Thomas is really struggling. The Hokies have not had an impressive season thus far, and whether they are even a contender in the ACC is questionable at this point.

Out of Top 25

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    Texas A&M (Last Week - No. 16) - Loss vs. Arkansas, 38-42
    For the second consecutive week, the Texas A&M Aggies blew a significant halftime lead to lose their second straight game. The week before, they lost a 17-point halftime lead to Oklahoma State, and last week, they dropped an 18-point halftime lead to Arkansas.

    To their defense, both Oklahoma State and Arkansas are top-12 teams. However, the Aggies clearly have a major problem finishing games, as they have lost a combined lead of 35 points in the second halves of the past two weeks. The Aggies need to learn to play 60 minutes of football, not 30, to get back on the winning track.

    Iowa State (Last Week - No. 24) - Loss vs. Texas, 14-37
    Not only did Iowa State suffer their first loss of the season to Texas last week, they were completely dominated, and looked to be far from a top-25 team. It is unlikely they make it back into the rankings in the near future.