2011 College Football National Top 25, Week 6: Oklahoma Makes Case for Top Two

Dan Hope@Dan_HopeContributor IIIOctober 15, 2011

2011 College Football National Top 25, Week 6: Oklahoma Makes Case for Top Two

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    The Oklahoma Sooners were absolutely dominant over the Texas Longhorns in the Red River Rivalry Game, making a big statement. Would that be enough to move them up into the top two spots of the rankings? In another better-late-than-never edition of the rankings, 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 (6-0) - Win vs Florida, 41-11 - Same

    With John Brantley out with an ankle injury, the Florida Gators had no chance coming into Death Valley. LSU’s dominance has gone unhindered thus far. This was another strong performance on both sides of the ball. The defense held Florida’s offense to just 213 yards; cornerback Tyrann Mathieu led the way once again with an interception.

    Offensively, quarterback Jordan Jefferson made his return, and came off the bench to provide a spark as second-string quarterback. After Alabama beat Florida soundly the previous week, LSU followed directly in their footsteps by beating them equally soundly, and maintaining their hold on the No. 1 spot in the rankings.


    2. Alabama (6-0) - Win vs Vanderbilt, 34-0 - Same

    Alabama did not slip up at all against Vanderbilt. A.J. McCarron was on point, completing 23-of-30 passes for 237 yards and four touchdowns to lead the offense, while the defense held the Commodores to just 190 total yards.

    Alabama should not have had any problems with Vanderbilt, and they did not. The Tide’s continuing dominance keeps them in the second spot nationally.


    3. Oklahoma (5-0) - Win vs Texas, 55-17 - Same

    If there was ever an argument for Oklahoma to jump ahead of two dominant SEC teams, they certainly put up a good one on Saturday, when they not only beat Texas, but dismantled them. Texas came into the game undefeated, but Oklahoma made them look completely inferior.

    The defense came up absolutely huge, setting a school record with three defensive touchdowns, forcing five turnovers and holding Texas to a net total of 36 rushing yards. Oklahoma did not have a great day running the football, but Landry Jones had another tremendous performance, passing for 367 yards and three touchdowns.

    With how strong LSU and Alabama have been this season against a stronger overall schedule, this win could not move the Sooners up into the top two, but the top three teams are all really close, with this huge win making the gap much smaller.


    4. Wisconsin (5-0) - Idle - Same

    After a tremendously dominant win over Nebraska the week before, Wisconsin had a week off. With only one strong win on their resume thus far, they are not quite at the level of the top three teams on the nation, but they currently have a strong hold on the fourth spot in the rankings.


    5. Boise State (5-0) - Win at Fresno State, 57-7 - Same

    Fresno State has been known in recent years to be one of the toughest non-BCS teams to play, but Boise State made them look like a FCS team last Friday night. The Broncos completely overwhelmed the Bulldogs by putting up a 50-point margin on them.

    The Broncos gained nearly 200 more yards than Fresno State, while forcing four turnovers and losing none. After dropping one spot in the rankings for four consecutive weeks, there was no way the Broncos could drop again this week after a 50-point victory over a notoriously tough Fresno State team.

Nos. 6-10

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    6. Oklahoma State (5-0) - Win vs Kansas, 70-28 - Same

    Oklahoma State is currently being locked out of the top five, but they certainly have a great argument to be there. The Cowboys have the highest-scoring offense in the nation with 51.4 points per game, and are second only to Houston in yards per game with 577.4.

    The Cowboys had one of their best offensive performances yet last week against Kansas, gaining even numbers of 70 points and 600 yards of offense. As typical, Brandon Weeden was on his game, completing 24-of-28 passes for five touchdowns.

    The Sooners certainly set the bar for the Big 12 with their big win against Texas last Saturday, but when the Cowboys play the Longhorns this Saturday, they will have the chance to make a similar statement with a big win.


    7. Stanford (5-0) - Win vs Colorado, 48-7 - Same

    Colorado has looked overwhelmed in their first season in the Pac-12, but they have not looked more overwhelmed yet than getting blown out by the Stanford Cardinal last weekend.

    For Stanford, the leader in that effort as always was quarterback Andrew Luck, who completed 26-of-33 pass attempts for 370 yards and three touchdowns.

    The Cardinal have yet to go up against any real tough competition, but they have not any problems going undefeated thus far.


    8. Clemson (6-0) - Win vs Boston College, 36-14 - Same

    The Clemson Tigers won 36-14 last Saturday, but it was not all good. Star quarterback Tajh Boyd suffered a strained hip during the third quarter of the game, and had to exit. Fortunately for the Tigers, they had a 23-7 lead at halftime, and had no problems keeping their lead.

    The offense combined for a total of exactly 500 yards, with Sammy Watkins catching seven balls for 152 yards, and Andre Ellington running 22 times for 117 yards and a score.

    Boyd is expected to play against Maryland, but if he is not at 100 percent, it is going to make the game much more difficult for the Tigers.


    9. Michigan (6-0) - Win at Northwestern, 42-24 - Up 2

    Michigan got off to a slow start against Northwestern, trailing 24-14 at the half. However, it was a tale of two halves for the Wolverines, who scored 28 unanswered in the second half to win the game convincingly.

    It was another sloppy but productive game for Denard Robinson, who threw three interceptions, but threw for 337 yards and two touchdowns, while running for 117 yards and two touchdowns.

    The Wolverines will have their toughest test yet of the season this weekend when they take on the Michigan State Spartans, but so far, they have passed all tests easily.


    10. Georgia Tech (6-0) - Win vs Maryland, 21-16 - Down 1

    The Yellow Jackets’ win over Maryland last Saturday was certainly not pretty, but a win is a win, and Georgia Tech remains undefeated through six games. As the competition got tougher, Georgia Tech’s offense did not have the same sizzle as it did the week before; Tevin Washington had very little success passing, completing only 6 of 19 attempts, and only 21 points were scored.

    Fortunately for Tech, the Maryland passing offense only managed 87 yards, and the Yellow Jackets managed to escape with victory.

    However, as the season rolls along, the Yellow Jackets’ offense needs to play more like they did in the first five weeks, not like they did in this game. Although they remain undefeated, the Jackets did drop a spot in the rankings because of their subpar winning performance.

Nos. 11-15

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    11. Arkansas (5-1) - Win vs Auburn, 38-14 - Up 1

    The Arkansas Razorbacks are the best one-loss team in the nation, the only one worthy of splitting up the undefeated teams at the top. Arkansas’s only loss came to No. 2 Alabama, and they got a huge win last weekend by blowing out Auburn.

    Arkansas did not allow Auburn to score after the first quarter, while their offense came up with consistent production. Arkansas may take a back seat to LSU and Alabama in the SEC West, but they remain a contender for a BCS bowl if either of those teams is to slip up.


    12. Kansas State (5-0) - Win vs Missouri, 24-17 - Up 2

    Of all the teams currently undefeated, Kansas State may be the biggest surprise. They haven’t rolled through cupcake teams either: in the past three weeks, the Wildcats have come up with victories over Baylor, Miami and Missouri. They have not done anything spectacularly, and were actually outgained by 40 yards against Missouri.

    However, the Wildcats have had a way with being efficient when they need to be, and playing winning football. The Wildcats may be underdogs to keep their undefeated run going much longer, but they are off to an impressive start.


    13. Illinois (6-0) - Win at Indiana, 41-20 - Up 3

    Illinois has yet to face any real tough competition, but nonetheless, they are undefeated and off to an impressive start.

    Leading the charge has been A.J. Jenkins, an emerging star wide receiver who last week caught six passes for 182 yards and two touchdowns, leading the way to a 518-yard offensive game against Indiana. As the Illini remain undefeated, they continue to rise up the rankings.


    14. Houston (6-0) - Win vs East Carolina, 56-3 - Up 3

    Boise State is certainly not the only non-BCS team worth keeping an eye on this season. The Houston Cougars may not play the toughest opposition, but it is about time they start getting some respect. With more than 600 yards of offense per game, led by history-making quarterback Case Keenum’s passing attack, the Cougars are a tough team to stop.

    East Carolina is a typically tough Conference USA team, but the Cougars absolutely overwhelmed them last weekend. The Cougars were dominant on both ends of the ball, putting up 56 points and 572 yards, 304 which came from Keenum’s passing, but they also held the Pirates to just 3 points and 21 rushing yards.

    Now undefeated halfway through the season, the Cougars demand to be taken seriously.


    15. Oregon (4-1) - Win vs California, 43-15 - Down 2

    Oregon won last Thursday night against California, but they suffered a much greater loss. The team’s superstar player, running back LaMichael James, dislocated his elbow in this game, and is likely out for multiple weeks.

    The Ducks remain one of the nation’s best teams, but the loss of James cannot be taken lightly. James is as good as any running back in the nation, and while the Ducks have other big weapons in Kenjon Barner, DeAnthony Thomas and Josh Huff, the loss of James will cost the Ducks some of their offensive firepower.

    With a tough matchup coming up with Arizona State, the Ducks will really have to step up in his absence to remain a one-loss team.

Nos. 16-20

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    16. South Carolina (5-1) - Win vs Kentucky, 54-3 - Up 2

    After a bad loss the week before, the Gamecocks bounced back to completely dominate Kentucky. Connor Shaw regained the starting quarterback job (and now has it permanently thanks to Stephen Garcia’s dismissal from the team), and performed well, completing 26-of-39 pass attempts for 311 passing yards and four touchdowns.

    Overall, the Gamecocks put up a whopping 639 yards, while Kentucky managed just 96 yards. To call this game lopsided would be an understatement, but while Kentucky is the worst team in the SEC, still an impressive showing for South Carolina.


    17. Arizona State (5-1) - Win at Utah, 35-14 - Up 3

    Since slipping up against Illinois, the Arizona State Wildcats have bounced back completely, and continue to look like a dangerous team in the Pac-12.

    While the Wildcats struggled on the ground against Utah last Saturday, only managing 74 rushing yards, Brock Osweiler picked up the slack by throwing for 325 yards and three touchdowns, while the defense, led as always by Vontaze Burfict, forced five turnovers.

    The Wildcats are the team to beat in the Pac-12 South, and a legitimate threat to contend for the conference championship.


    18. West Virginia (5-1) - Win vs Connecticut, 43-16 - Up 3

    The West Virginia Mountaineers made easy work of Connecticut last weekend. Quarterback Geno Smith continues to light it up, throwing for 450 yards and four touchdowns in this game, leading the way to a big victory.

    In another weak year for the Big East, the Mountaineers appear to be the team to beat, with their only loss coming against No. 1 LSU.


    19. Baylor (4-1) - Win vs Iowa State, 49-26 - Up 4

    Baylor’s offense lit up the Iowa State run defense last week, putting up 391 yards on the ground. An even 200 of those came from running back Terrence Ganaway, who also scored three touchdowns. With quarterback Robert Griffin leading the way, the Baylor Bears are always a threat to win any game, and they are on their way back up the rankings.


    20. Texas (4-1) - Loss vs Oklahoma, 55-17 - Down 10

    Texas not only lost to Oklahoma last Saturday, they got absolutely embarrassed. The two young quarterbacks, who had been impressive, both performed horribly: Case McCoy only completed 9-of-16 passes, while David Ash threw two interceptions. Both quarterbacks also fumbled the ball once, and the ground game had a net total of 36 rushing yards.

    Of the offense’s five turnovers, three resulted in defensive touchdowns, while the Longhorns defense had no answer for Landry Jones’s passing. Texas is going to have to play much better than they did in this game to have a chance at upsetting Oklahoma State.

Nos. 21-25

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    21. Nebraska (5-1) - Win vs Ohio State, 34-27 - Up 1

    Nebraska could be commended for a great comeback, emerging from a 27-6 deficit in the third quarter to score 28 unanswered points and win this game. However, Nebraska did not play particularly well in this game.

    Their defense continued to struggle: with how futile the Ohio State offense has been in this game, the Blackshirts should not be giving up 351 yards of offense and 27 points to them.

    And while the Cornhuskers had begun their comeback prior to Braxton Miller’s game-ending ankle injury, the fact that Miller was injured certainly helped Nebraska’s cause.

    Coming back from a large deficit against a conference powerhouse should definitely boost momentum, but they need to play better than they did in this game to continue winning.


    22. Virginia Tech (4-1) - Win vs Miami, 38-35 - Up 3

    Virginia Tech got pushed all the way back against the ropes in their matchup with Miami, but with the game on the line, quarterback Logan Thomas, who had a career game, completing 23 of 25 pass attempts for 310 passing yards and three touchdowns, ran for a touchdown from 19 yards out in the game’s final minute to win this game for the Hokies.

    Thomas had struggled until this game, so his tremendous play is certainly encouraging. Virginia Tech’s defense had a hard time in this game, giving up 519 yards to the Hurricanes offense, including 166 yards to Lamar Miller.

    However, while the win was unimpressive, a win is a win, and keeps the Hokies in the mix in the ACC.


    23. South Florida (4-1) - Idle - Up 1

    After a horrible loss to Pittsburgh the week before, a week off to regroup was probably a good thing for the South Florida Bulls. The Bulls moved up one spot in the rankings due to two other teams dropping out altogether, but the Bulls have to play better to remain a top-25 team.


    24. USC (4-1) - Idle - Into Top 25

    The USC Trojans did not play last week, but with other teams falling out of the Top 25, the USC Trojans had a strong enough resume to move in. The Trojans have not been great to this point, but remain one of the most dangerous teams in the Pac-12 with just one loss.


    25. Penn State (5-1) - Win vs Iowa, 13-3 - Into Top 25

    Penn State lacks an explosive offense, but by holding the Iowa Hawkeyes to 253 yards of offense and only three points, the Nittany Lions defense got the job done once again.

    The Nittany Lions’ only loss has come to No. 2 Alabama, a defeat in which they should certainly take no shame. Penn State is not blowing anyone away, but they deserved the final spot in this ranking.

Out of Top 25

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    Florida (Last Week - No. 15) - Loss at LSU, 41-11

    It has been a tough two-week span for the Florida Gators. The Gators ran into the toughest possible two-game span in college football, first against No. 2 Alabama, then this past week against No. 1 LSU.

    In the midst of it all, the team’s top two quarterbacks, starter John Brantley and freshman phenom Jeff Driskel, were both injured, leaving third-string quarterback Jacoby Brissett as the starter against the best defense in the nation last week. That is simply unfair.

    Unfortunately, having been blown out for two consecutive weeks, and without any impressive wins on their resume, the Gators had no place in the top 25, even if they cannot be blamed for what has happened to them the past two weeks.


    Texas Tech (Last Week - No. 19) - Loss vs. Texas A&M, 45-40

    It was tough to leave Texas Tech out. The Red Raiders played the Texas A&M Aggies very tough, putting up 523 yards of offense and only losing by five points.

    However, the Red Raiders do not have a single impressive win on their resume. A home upset over Kansas State this upcoming week would likely get the Red Raiders back into the rankings.