BCS Rankings 2011: Grading the Top 25 as Too High, Too Low or Just Right
The first BCS Rankings of the year are out, and the LSU Tigers grabbed the top spot in the coveted poll to no one's surprise. The Tigers are No. 1 in the Associated Press rankings and No. 2 in the USA Today Coaches' Poll.
That seems just right.
But what of the other 24 teams in the initial rankings? Who's too high or too low?
As always seems to happen with the first poll, there were some surprises when the rankings were announced.
So let's run through each of the Top 25 teams and determine whether every team was too high, too low or just right.
No. 25 Washington
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One of the biggest surprises of the season has to be the 5-1 start that Washington has put together after losing star quarterback Jake Locker to the NFL.
Dating back to last season the Huskies have won nine of their last 10 games and have only dropped a road game to Nebraska over that stretch.
No. 24 Texas
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Coming off of two straight losses it's hard to see how Texas is still in the Top 25, especially when the Longhorns have already dropped out of the AP Poll and the Coaches Poll.
Granted, the losses came against Oklahoma (3) and Oklahoma State (4), but it isn't as if the Longhorns have a single victory of note this season, either.
No. 23 Illinois
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Right up there with Washington has got to be the Fighting Illini as one of this season's shockers.
No one had this team starting the year unbeaten. If not for an upset, yes upset, against Ohio State, Illinois would still be undefeated and we'd be talking about them as a top-10 team.
No. 22 Georgia Tech
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The last thing Georgia Tech fans expected was for the Yellow Jackets to be given their first loss of the season by Virginia, of all teams.
The Cavaliers were coming off a one point overtime win against Idaho—this isn't a good football team. With Miami, Clemson and VT up next, GT is soon to be out of the top 25.
No. 21 Penn State
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Penn State is a tough team to nail down.
Right on the cusp of the AP Top 25 and sitting at No. 21 and No. 22 in the BCS and Coaches Poll, respectively, there's a decent argument in favor of this 6-1 team. Alabama is the only competitive team the Lions have played though and we all saw how that turned out.
No. 20 Auburn
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Auburn might be 5-2, but you can't judge an SEC team like you would any other.
The Tigers' only losses on the season have come against Clemson (8) and Arkansas (10), while they've beaten Mississippi State, South Carolina and Florida. Either way LSU (1) is up next so it's a moot point.
No. 19 Houston
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While a 6-0 record is something to be proud of, doing it against mid-majors isn't the same thing as doing it in the big leagues.
UCLA is the only team from a major conference Houston has played this year and the Bruins aren't exactly a great measuring stick of success.
No. 18 Michigan
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You have to get a sense of déjà vu watching this Wolverines team after their hot start was ended by Michigan State.
Now we'll see if Michigan can rebound with a record that justifies its early success or watch its season snowball out of control like it did a year ago.
No. 17 Texas A&M
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Texas A&M has lost a couple of brutal games this season, first in a shootout against Oklahoma State and in Tyler Wilson's epic comeback against Arkansas.
The Aggies found redemption against Baylor and made a serious statement with a 55-28 victory. This is a good team.
No. 16 Michigan State
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After the Spartans victory over Michigan you have to wonder if the loss to Notre Dame was a hiccup or a truer assessment of this team.
We haven't made up our minds yet, but with Wisconsin and Nebraska coming up next you're looking at a three-loss team come November either way.
No. 15 West Virginia
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West Virginia might be 5-1 with its only loss coming against the No. 1 team in the country, but let's face it, the Big East is basically a mid-major outside of the Mountaineers.
This team's most impressive win came against UConn and worse-yet, they don't play anyone of note the rest of the season.
No. 14 South Carolina
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The Gamecocks are a three-point loss against Auburn away from being an undefeated SEC team so you'll find the pickings hard if you're trying to pin an overrated sign on this door.
But with Marcus Lattimore out for the year and Stephen Garcia dismissed, the vultures won't be long now.
No. 13 Nebraska
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Nebraska is a very good team, but let's be real here. If it weren't for a lot of love in the preseason polls you wouldn't consider the Cornhuskers a top-15 team.
Wisconsin wiped the floor with the Huskers and an overrated Ohio State team is their biggest victory yet. In this case, we're going to say Nebraska hasn't earned it yet, but they will.
No. 12 Virginia Tech
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Virginia Tech is the third-highest one-loss team in the country behind No. 9 Arkansas and No. 10 Oregon, and even that seems a little high. I'd put them behind Nebraska and South Carolina.
Truly, who has Tech played? The Hokies had a great win against Miami, but that team is suspect right now, and wins over...um...East Carolina? Arkansas State?
C'mon. When Va Tech had its chance against a big boy, it was completely dominated, at home, against Clemson.
No. 11 Kansas State
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There's a great story going on in Manhattan, Kansas, as the Wildcats are undefeated under senior citizen coach Bill Snyder.
Just look at the last three games—they beat nationally ranked Baylor, Missouri and Texas Tech. If this were purely an AP-style vote, I'd put K-State ahead of a one-loss Oregon team.
We'll know more about K-State when it hosts Oklahoma in two weeks.
No. 10 Oregon
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With all due respect to the man who runs the football program at Oregon—no, not Chip Kelly. Phil Knight of Nike—I'm not sold on the Ducks.
They lost their Heisman Trophy candidate running back, they got whacked by No. 1 LSU, the only decent win was a home victory over Arizona State—which doesn't impress me, either—and the meat of the schedule is yet to come.
Says here Oregon loses to both Washington and Stanford on the road.
No. 9 Arkansas
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The Razorbacks' only loss was to No. 2 Alabama, on the road, although it was somewhat embarrassing at 38-14.
Still, Arkansas has good, solid wins over Texas A&M and Auburn, and with Ole Miss and Vandy on the road, and South Carolina, Tennessee and Mississippi State at home, the Razorbacks could be looking at 10-1 heading into the regular-season finale at No. 1 LSU.
No. 8 Stanford
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Four words: Who. Have. They. Played?
San Jose State? Duke? Really? Really?
Stanford is benefiting incredibly from its high preseason ranking in the human polls, which has allowed it to maintain a presence in the Top 10 all year. Worst part is, other than Oregon and maybe at USC, the schedule isn't that much of a bear so I'm not sure if we'll ever see the Cardinal truly tested this year.
No. 7 Clemson
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JUST RIGHT (for now).
Love, love, love this team. Clemson has put aside its usual tease in which it starts out great, only to falter. The Tigers had a stretch of three consecutive games against teams that all won 10 games or more last year—Auburn, Florida State and Virginia Tech—and won them all.
Great combination of an electric offense and solid defense. This is a true sleeper team that, with the right combination of teams knocking each other off (LSU vs. Alabama, Oklahoma vs. Oklahoma State) and upsets, might just end up in the top two if it stays unbeaten.
No. 6 Wisconsin
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Everybody is screaming that Wisconsin is going to be this year's poster child for finishing unbeaten and getting screwed out of a BCS National Championship Game bid.
The Badgers have played one good team in Nebraska (sorry, Wisky fans, South Dakota State doesn't count) and still have to go to Michigan State, Ohio State and Penn State. Let's talk after that.
No. 5 Boise State
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Still don't know why the pollsters are in love with this team. Yeah, the Broncos have had some great wins in the past over BCS teams, but I don't see it with this team.
Sorry, sports fans. The win over Georgia in the season opener does nothing for me. Good win over an average SEC team this year.
But, the Broncos will go unbeaten this year because there's nobody left on the schedule (TCU's at home) and everybody will scream bloody murder when they don't get into the title game. This is a 9-3 team, at best, in a real conference.
No. 4 Oklahoma State
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The Cowboys are 6-0 and have looked very good this season. In fact, they might have the most prolific offense of any BCS Top-25 team.
Of course, the defense is a question mark. The real test will be, of course, Oklahoma.
No. 3 Oklahoma
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Coming into the year as the preseason No. 1 overall team there's no reason to doubt Oklahoma as a top-three team.
Unfortunately for the Sooners, Florida State has fallen off completely so the Sooners' marquee victory doesn't look that impressive anymore though.
No. 2 Alabama
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At this point in the season there's really no question that LSU and Alabama are the two best teams in the country and when they play each other in a couple of weeks we won't need to debate who's No. 1 anymore.
For now, slight edge goes to the Tigers.
But Bama is at home in that game on Nov. 5, and Trent Richardson is just coming into his own as one of the premier backs in the country.
No. 1 LSU
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Alabama might be steamrolling the competition, but the Tigers already have four victories over top-25 teams this season and the wins have all been very, very impressive.
Quarterback issues or not—and right now it appears it's not—this is the best team in the nation.