2011 College Football National Top 25, Week 7: More Undefeated Teams Fall

Dan Hope@Dan_HopeContributor IIIOctober 21, 2011

2011 College Football National Top 25, Week 7: More Undefeated Teams Fall

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    The number of undefeated teams is shrinking each week.

    Last weekend, Michigan, Georgia Tech, and Illinois all lost their first games of the season, and all dropped sharply in the rankings as a result. How far did they fall? Read on to find out.

    Teams Listed with:

    Rank. School Name (Record) - Last Week's Result - Change from Last Week's Ranking

The Top 5

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    1. LSU (7-0) - Win at Tennessee, 38-7 - Same
    LSU has held a continuous air of superiority over its opponents, and as a result, they remain in the top spot of the rankings.

    With Tyler Bray sidelined for the Tennessee Volunteers, they had no chance against the Tigers’ dominant secondary. Tennessee’s fill-in at quarterback, Matt Simms, only competed 30 percent of his passes and threw two interceptions, and LSU’s defense held the Volunteer offense to 239 total yards and seven points.

    LSU does have a potential roadblock coming up this upcoming week; they are going up against the defending champion Auburn Tigers, and will be without star cornerback Tyrann Mathieu, top running back Spencer Ware, and nickel cornerback Tharold Simon.

    Mathieu has been LSU’s best player on the field this year, and Ware and Simon are also key players, so their losses should not be understated. However, if LSU can keep playing at a high level without them, they will be able to maintain their top-ranked status.

    2. Alabama (7-0) - Win at Ole Miss, 52-7 - Same
    For as good as LSU has been, Alabama has been just as good. Every week, it becomes a tougher decision about whether LSU or Alabama should be ranked No. 1.

    Just like LSU did over Tennessee, Alabama dismantled an SEC opponent on the road last week, making Mississippi look completely inferior. Offensively, Trent Richardson was not to be stopped, averaging more than 10 yards per carry and scoring four touchdowns.

    Defensively, the Crimson Tide absolutely smothered the Rebels’ offense to only 141 total yards and seven points. It is almost unfair to Alabama to be second to anyone, but if they win out, they will be atop these rankings at the end of the regular season.

    3. Oklahoma (6-0) - Win at Kansas, 47-17 - Same
    The Oklahoma offense was as explosive as ever against Kansas, putting up 610 total yards of offense. Leading the way was superstar wide receiver Ryan Broyles, who caught 13 of Landry Jones’s passes for 217 yards.

    Oklahoma may not be able to crack into the top two yet, but they are in a comfortable position: if they keep doing what they are doing and win out, they will get to the top two and a berth in the national championship game.

    4. Wisconsin (6-0) - Win vs Indiana, 59-7 - Same
    Wisconsin came up 24 points short of its absurd 83-point effort over Indiana last year, but they still defeated the Hoosiers by a 52-point margin.

    The Badgers stifled the Hoosiers’ passing offense to just 64 yards, while Montee Ball led the way offensively with 142 rushing yards and three touchdowns. The Badgers have been dominant in every single win this season, and they did not look back at all in this game.

    5. Boise State (6-0) - Win at Colorado State, 63-13 - Same
    Since their big win in Week 1 over Georgia, Boise State has fallen out of the national spotlight, and with a strong core of undefeated teams at the top, they are currently very much on the outside looking in of the national championship picture.

    That being said, they still deserve a top-five ranking, as they continue to take care of business. That is exactly what they did in a 50-point win over Colorado State.

    Kellen Moore was tremendously efficient against the Rams' defense, connecting on 26 of 30 pass attempts for 338 yards and four touchdowns. One hundred-eighty of those yards and two of those touchdowns were on connections with Tyler Shoemaker, while Doug Martin ran for an even 200 rushing yards on 20 carries, with three scores of his own. With 742 total yards of offense, the Rams got completely overwhelmed by a very strong Boise State team.

Nos. 6-10

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    6. Oklahoma State (6-0) - Win at Texas, 38-26 - Same
    It was actually a modest performance for Oklahoma State over Texas. They ONLY scored 38 points and had 420 total yards of offense, which is a strong performance for anyone else, but actually below-average for the Cowboys.

    That being said, they got an important win against one of the top teams in the Big 12, which is all that really matters in that instance. While the Cowboys are still the sixth-best team in the nation in my opinion, they ultimately could be ranked fourth, because if they win out, which would include an upset victory over Oklahoma, it is almost a certainty they will play for the national championship.

    7. Stanford (6-0) - Win at Washington State, 44-14 - Same
    Stanford has yet to face a serious test, but they have kept right in line with that. They showed no vulnerability against Washington State with a 30-point victory, led by 336 passing yards and four touchdowns from Andrew Luck.

    The Cardinal are currently a significant step behind the top six teams because they have yet to play any tough opposition, but the top seven consists of all of this year’s national championship contenders in my opinion, and if Stanford keeps winning, there will be opportunity to rise up the rankings.

    8. Clemson (6-0) - Win at Maryland, 56-45 - Same
    Clemson got into quite a shootout in Maryland last weekend. Tajh Boyd had been injured the weekend before, but he looked fine in this game, passing for 270 yards and four touchdowns.

    The star offensively in this game was Andre Ellington, who ran for 212 yards and two touchdowns, but what really looked to be injured for the Clemson Tigers was its defense. The Tigers had trouble against dual-threat quarterback C.J. Brown, who completed less than half of his passes for only 177 yards and three touchdowns, but also ran for 162 yards and a score.

    The Tigers were fortunate that Boyd, Ellington, and Sammy Watkins came up big offensively, because the defense certainly would not have won them this game. By remaining undefeated, the Clemson Tigers remain in the eighth spot, but the gap between the seventh and eighth positions in the rankings certainly widened this week.

    9. Kansas State (6-0) - Win at Texas Tech, 41-34 - Up 3
    No undefeated team in college football comes as a bigger surprise halfway through the season than the Kansas State Wildcats. They are not a team loaded with star talent by any means, but they have rolling off wins over quality opponents week after week. Kansas State had no easy time with Texas Tech, and were actually outgained by a whopping 241 yards.

    That being said, this is a team that once again played winning football. They forced four turnovers while never turning the ball over, and got both a defensive and special teams touchdown. Those are the big plays that win and lose games, and Kansas State came up with the plays on the winning end.

    In two weeks, the Wildcats enter a murderous part of their schedule, in which they will consecutively play Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, and Texas A&M, which could shatter the Wildcats’ beautiful season in its tracks. That being said, until the Wildcats drop a game, they remain safely inside the top ten of the rankings.

    10. Arkansas (5-1) - Idle - Up 1
    As two teams dropped out of the top ten, the Arkansas Razorbacks move into the top ten for the first time this season, even though they did not play last week. With only a loss to Alabama, Arkansas remains the nation’s best one-loss team, and a major contender in the SEC.

Nos. 11-15

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    11. Oregon (6-1) - Win vs Arizona State, 41-27 - Up 3
    Arkansas still ranks as the top one-loss team, but Oregon has made that gap very miniscule. Even without star running back LaMichael James, the Ducks' offense was still effective against Arizona State, putting up 327 rushing yards and 41 points.

    Filling in very nicely for James was Kenjon Barner, who stepped up in a big way to take the load of carries, rushing 31 times for 171 yards and a touchdown. The Ducks proved against the Arizona State defense that even without their best offensive player, they can still be explosive, and that goes a long way in showing how good the Ducks are, so they moved up the rankings nicely this week, and should continue to rise if they keep on winning.

    12. Houston (6-0) - Idle - Up 2
    Houston did not play last week, but with three teams suffering their first defeat of the season, the Cougars’ undefeated status became that much more prestigious.

    Case Keenum is on pace to rewrite the record books in the major passing categories, and the Cougars keep on lighting up opposing defenses. They are failing to get the respect they deserve for their undefeated status from the polls, but if they keep winning they will keep on rising.

    13. West Virginia (5-1) - Idle - Up 5
    With many teams in the middle section of the top 25 losing last weekend, the West Virginia Mountaineers made a big move up the rankings without even playing.

    West Virginia does not have any great wins on record, but what makes them No. 1 team. If they can get through the season with only one loss, they will give the struggling Big East conference a credible football team.

    14. Virginia Tech (6-1) - Win at Wake Forest, 38-17 - Up 8
    Wake Forest has actually established themselves as a legitimate contender in the Atlantic Coast Conference this year, but after falling down 10-0 in the first quarter of this game, the Hokies went on a 28-point run to take control of the game and defeat them last weekend.

    As usual, running back David Wilson led the charge, gaining 136 yards on 17 carries. The Hokies are not a spectacular team, but as it gets into the second half of the top 25, there are many unspectacular team, so 14th is where they currently fall into place, with their only loss coming against undefeated Clemson.

    15. Nebraska (5-1) - Idle - Up 6
    After a dramatic comeback victory over Ohio State the week before, the Nebraska Cornhuskers got a week off.

    The Cornhuskers’ level of play has been very disappointing based on what was expected of them this season, so head coach Bo Pelini should have been working very hard in the week off to make adjustments and get this team ready to play better football in the second half of the season, to remain a contender for the Big Ten Championship.

Nos. 16-20

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    16. USC (5-1) - Win at California, 30-9 - Up 8
    After a slow start to the season, the USC Trojans seem to finally be turning their talent into results. The Trojans played their best game of the season yet against California, winning by three touchdowns.

    Oddly enough, the Trojans were outgained by 16 yards, and their three offensive stars had poor performances: Matt Barkley only completed 19 of his 35 pass attempts, Marc Tyler ran for only 30 yards, and most surprising of all, Robert Woods only had 36 receiving yards. T

    he defense picked up the slack for the offense in this game, forcing five turnovers. That being said, if USC can beat a legitimate Pac-12 opponent by three scores with their top three skill-position players struggling, they can do big things if Barkley, Tyler, and Woods are all on their games.

    17. South Carolina (6-1) - Win at Mississippi State, 14-12 - Down 1
    South Carolina managed to pull out a victory over Mississippi State, but they did not make it easy on themselves, scoring a touchdown with 3:50 to play to go ahead in this game, a lead they would hold onto.

    And in the win, the Gamecocks suffered a much greater loss: unfortunately, superstar running back Marcus Lattimore suffered a torn ACL, sidelining him for the rest of the season. Connor Shaw was not too impressive in this game, throwing mostly check-down passes, and without Lattimore, the Gamecocks offense loses its most productive player.

    The Gamecocks’ defense is keeping them atop at the SEC East, but the Gamecocks’ chances of actually winning an SEC title are dwindling, even though they only have one loss.

    18. Michigan State (5-1) - Win vs Michigan, 28-14 - Into Top 25
    With their biggest win over struggling Ohio State, and with a loss to Notre Dame, Michigan State had no place being in the top 25 prior to this week. Last Saturday, the Michigan State Spartans got the big win they needed, handing their in-state rivals their first loss of the season.

    Quarterback Kirk Cousins’s play has been disappointing this season, and that did not change in this game, only throwing for 120 yards. However, Edwin Baker stepped up in a big way, running for 167 yards and a score.

    The key to this win, however, was that the Spartans' defense became the first this year to effectively shut down Denard Robinson, holding him to only 42 yards rushing, which in turn made his passing ineffective.

    If a defense finds a way to stop Denard, they will beat Michigan, and that is exactly what Michigan State did for a big win.

    19. Michigan (6-1) - Loss at Michigan State, 14-28 - Down 10
    Michigan rolled through the first half of their season schedule, but faced their toughest competition last weekend at Michigan State, and suffered their first loss.

    As just mentioned, Denard Robinson’s game was shut down by the Spartans' defense, and the Wolverines could not come up with another source of offense to get things rolling. Denard Robinson is a multi-dimensional quarterback, but he may be the only dimension the Michigan offense has. If that is the case, there will be more losses to come this season.

    20. Georgia Tech (6-1) - Loss at Virginia, 21-24 - Down 10
    After a tremendous start to the season for the Georgia Tech offense, the wind seems to have come out of their sails. The connection between Tevin Washington and Stephen Hill had started a re-emergence in the Yellow Jackets passing game, but in a loss at Virginia, the duo never connected, with Washington completed just two passes.

    Washington did run for 115 yards to lead the rushing offense, but the defense also struggled, giving up 407 total yards to an underwhelming Virginia offense. The Yellow Jackets remain in the ACC picture, but are starting to fall behind.

Nos. 21-25

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    21. Illinois (6-1) - Loss vs Ohio State, 7-17 - Down 8
    Illinois’s passing defense allowed Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller to complete just one pass for 17 yards.

    That said, the Illini still lost by 10 last Saturday. That is an embarrassing statistic, and a hard way to fall to the first loss of the season. Nathan Scheelhaase was ineffective in this game, passing for only 169 yards and throwing two very bad interceptions.

    The Illini did start out the season with six-straight wins, but it was against a very favorable schedule. The Illini will lose many more games if they are as futile offensively as they were against Ohio State.

    22. Texas A&M (4-2) - Win vs Baylor, 55-28 - Into Top 25
    Even after Texas A&M suffered its second loss of the season two weeks earlier, the Aggies were never too far out of the top 25. After a dominant performance over Baylor last weekend, the Aggies are back in the rankings.

    Quarterback Ryan Tannehill was absolutely superb against the Bears, throwing for 415 yards and six touchdowns. On the receiving end, Ryan Swope gained 206 of those yards, and four of the scores. That duo led the way to a tremendous 55-point, 681-yard offensive performance.

    The defense was still shaky, giving up 430 passing yards to Robert Griffin III, but the 27-point win was impressive overall, and enough for the Aggies to get back into the rankings.

    23. Auburn (5-2) - Win vs Florida, 17-6 - Into Top 25
    After a horribly slow start, the Auburn Tigers seem to resemble last year’s team a little bit more each week. Last Saturday, against the Florida Gators, who were still without John Brantley, the Tigers’ defense was dominant, holding the Gators to just two field goals on 194 yards of offense.

    Auburn is having problems of its own at the quarterback position, with Barrett Trotter struggling and Clint Moseley now stepping up to start, but the Tigers took care of business against a tough SEC opponent to keep their season on track.

    Unfortunately for Auburn, they are now faced with the extremely tough task of traveling to Baton Rouge and playing LSU. This could knock them right back out of the top 25, but if they can pull off the big upset, they will be a team on the rise.

    24. Penn State (6-1) - Win vs Purdue, 23-18 - Up 1
    Penn State only has one loss, and it came against No. 2 Alabama, so they cannot be knocked for that. However, none of Penn State’s six wins have been particularly impressive, and this past game against Purdue was certainly no exception.

    While Purdue is playing better football this year, the Nittany Lions struggled to take care of business in this game, and with games coming up against tougher Big Ten opposition, they are going to have to step up their level of play to remain a top-25 team.

    25. Washington (5-1) - Win vs Colorado, 52-24 - Into Top 25
    The transition from Jake Locker to Keith Price at starting quarterback has gone much more smoothly than I would have expected for Washington.

    Price was very impressive this past weekend against Colorado, completing 21 of 28 passes for 257 yards and four touchdowns, leading the way to a 52-point, 562-yard offensive game. Colorado may not be a very strong opponent, but the Huskies only have one loss this season, which came against Nebraska.

    The Huskies will have to upset Stanford to remain in the top 25 next week, but if they can find a way to do that, the Huskies will be in for a big rise up the rankings.

Out of Top 25

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    Arizona State (Last Week - No. 17) - Loss at Oregon, 27-41
    Arizona State was the first team out of this week’s top 25. After a tough two-touchdown loss to the LaMichael-less Oregon Ducks last weekend, the Sun Devils came up short of the rankings by one spot.

    That being said, Oregon is a very tough opponent, and the Sun Devils cannot be faulted too much for losing to them, but now with their second loss of the season, the Sun Devils really have to become consistent winners.

    Baylor (Last Week - No. 19) - Loss at Texas A&M, 28-55
    The Baylor defense was completely exposed by Texas A&M. As previously mentioned, the Aggies put up 681 yards of offense on the Bears, a number which is bad no matter how you spin it.

    Robert Griffin III’s play continues to be tremendous, as he did throw for 430 yards in this game, but the Bears only managed to run for 50 yards in this game, and the defense is going to have to play much better for the Bears to win against more tough Big 12 opposition.

    Texas (Last Week - No. 20) - Loss vs Oklahoma State, 26-38
    Texas had the tough task of going up against the two powerhouses from the state of Oklahoma in consecutive weeks, and could not come up with the upset against either team.

    The Longhorns made a game of it against Oklahoma State, and considering how prolific the Cowboys’ offense has been, their defense actually did pretty well in holding them to 420 yards.

    Malcolm Brown also had a very good game, running for 135 yards and two touchdowns; what killed the Longhorns is inconsistent quarterback play from David Ash, who only passed for 139 yards and threw two interceptions.

    South Florida (Last Week - No. 23) - Loss at Connecticut, 10-16
    After a tremendous start to the season for the South Florida Bulls, they have lost two consecutive games to subpar Big East competition, and I am confident in saying that the Bulls would not be back in the top 25 at any time the rest of the season. T

    he Bulls have fallen meteorically over the past three weeks, and are not nearly as good as they looked to be in their first four games of the season.