Sunday, September 30

James' week 5 rankings


1. LSU
(prev #2, +1 spot)
The first half play was sloppy but in the end it was another double digit win where they allowed a single digit point total. Florida's loss to Auburn is going to make this weekend's game all the more difficult, as the Gators won't accept losing two in a row.

2. USC (1, -1)
I wouldn't be too worried about the closeness of the Washington game as it was uncharacteristic offensive penalties that kept them out of the high 30s.

3. Ohio State (5, +2)
The Buckeyes are allowing the 3rd-fewest points in the NCAA, and you have to figure that Kansas's 5.8 is going to skyrocket when they start conference play.

4. Cal (7, +3)
By what they've accomplished, you could rank Cal #1. I don't like the fact that they've only managed to hold one opponent out of five to under 20 points.

5. South Florida (20, +15)
This was a weird one for me. On the one hand, I don't think they're even one of the ten best teams in the country. On the other, winning at Auburn and vs West Virginia is more of a statement than most teams other than Cal can make. The defense is pretty good and Groethe seems composed and a solid leader if nothing else.

6. Kentucky (13, +7)
Who thought they'd see the day when Kentucky was ranked in the top 10? Enjoy it while you can, Cats, your next three opponents are South Carolina, LSU, and Florida.

7. Boston College (14, +7)
Ryan's looking like a much improved QB and they keep winning, but I have to wonder how much BC's schedule is responsible for their record.

8. Wisconsin (12, +4)
Yet another week where Wisconsin didn't look so great. At least they won.

9. Florida (4, -5)
Auburn seems to have Florida's number. They overcame that loss last season, can the Gators turn things around next week against one of the nation's top two?

10. Oregon (10, +0)
I never thought I'd say this, but I kinda... sorta... feel a little bad for the Ducks. For three quarters they played winning football against Cal before choking the game away with turnovers.

11. Oklahoma (3, -8)
I'm shocked that it came against Colorado. But this shows why teams with freshmen QBs have never won a BCS championship.

12. South Carolina (15, +3)
The Cocks are clearly a team who's performing well above their talent level - credit that to Spurrier as a coach. They can prove that a win over Georgia was no fluke by upsetting Kentucky.

13. Missouri (16, +3)
The close win over Illinois now looks like a pretty decent road victory. The offense is averaging well over 500 yards per game but the defense is still giving up a lot.

14. Cincinnati (17, +3)
Though their schedule has been easy, Cincinnati features the #4 scoring defense in the country and the #6 scoring offense.

15. Georgia (19, +4)
Brown turned in a dominating performance against Ole Miss.

16. Virginia Tech (18, +2)
For those hoping Tyrod Taylor was the cure for VT's offensive woes, a 17 point 241 yard total performance against North Carolina is not what you wanted to see. Once again, the defense rose to the occasion.

17. Hawaii (21, +4)
I don't know what went wrong with Brennan, but fortunately Idaho's QB was worse.

18. Arizona State (25, +7)
Though I'm weary of ASU based on past performance, Erickson does seem to have instilled a defensive mindset in the team's... uh, defense. Which is a good thing.

19. Texas (8, -11)
The sophomore slump is now official. Despite the score reading 41 points, UT's defense played well but the offense and special teams were atrocious.

20. Clemson (11, -9)
Just a horrific offensive performance by Spiller and Harper. Let's hope it was a fluke for their team's sake.

21. West Virginia (6, -15)
It was weeks in the making. The WVA offense is completely one-dimensional and their defense isn't strong enough to win games where they don't score 30.

22. Florida State (unranked)
The Jimbo Fisher offense, which in week 1 managed to replace interceptions with 3-and-outs, is now actually scoring double-digit point totals, and with this defense that's good enough.

23. Nebraska (unranked)
The defense is still very suspect but I'm running out of teams who have anything resembling a quality win.

24. Kansas State (unranked)
I'm not really sold on this team, but if nothing else they certainly have Texas's number.

25. Rutgers (9, -16)
Rutgers really needs to prove themselves against Cincinnati.

On the Cusp:

The win over Florida is of course impressive and suddenly the USF loss doesn't look as bad. It'll still take some more quality wins to overcome the loss to Miss State, though.

The Illini finally got a quality win over Penn State. Granted, Penn State's woes as a road team are well known.

A 4-0 record and all their gaudy stats don't mean much given the schedule they've faced so far. Beating Kansas State would earn them a spot in the top 25.

Miami FL
Not an impressive win over Duke.

The Wolverines faced their third I-AA team (I'm counting Notre Dame, who has yet to win, and Northwestern, who lost to Duke) and didn't look too good in their first road game. They've got another cupcake with EMU but of their final six games, five of those teams have at least shown life.

Michigan State
Sparty lost a close road game to Wisconsin, but has yet to beat anyone of note. Their style of offense should cause problems for most Big Ten defenses, but the question is whether they can stop anybody with a decent offense.

They're unbeaten, but their most difficult opponent (Notre Dame) has yet to win. We'll see what they're made of in back to back games against Ohio State and Michigan.

Ugly, ugly, ugly dogs.

Texas Tech
How do you respond to losing a game in which you managed to score 45 points? By putting 75 up on a I-AA team!

They've yet to face anybody good and that's certainly not going to change next weekend. Four of their final six games are against ranked teams and honestly I don't see them winning more than one of those games.

Week 6 T25

This weekend was a mess for ranked teams. 5 in the top ten fell, many of them had too close of games (Cal, Wisconsin, Virginia Tech), and up and rising teams have come into the fold. This week showed that there is so much parity in College football now that it's difficult to know who will be ranked by the media and coaches.

However, here is my Top 25:

1. LSU - Now the clear #1 in my poll. They have a tough contest against Florida next week, and should they win they become the overwhelming favorite to win the crown.

2. USC - Against Washington they looked more vulnerable than they have in weeks past. How will they face up against a fiery Oregon team that has more team speed and talent? Or a Cal team that's burning everything along the way?

3. Ohio State - A convincing win against Minnesota makes this the team to beat in the Big 10 this year. However they get their next big challenge next week against a consistent Purdue, who is rising in the ranks.

4. Cal - The last second clinching against Oregon shows that they have what it takes to win the close ones. Oregon won't fall far in the rankings either...

5. Boston College - the biggest jump in my rankings due to Wisconsin's poor showing against MSU, and Matt Ryan continues to impress.

6. Kentucky - Woodson is for real, and being undefeated to start their SEC play is great.

7. Wisconsin - a poor showing against MSU. But they rise due to 5 of the top 10 dropping. However, they don't rise far.

8. South Carolina
9. Florida
10. South Florida
11. Virginia Tech
12. Georgia
13. West Virginia
14. Hawaii
15. Oklahoma
16. Oregon
17. Missouri
18. Texas
19. Cincinnati
20. Nebraska
21. Arizona State
22. Purdue
23. Kansas
24. Illinois
25. Kansas State

Monday, September 24

college football - James' week 4 rankings


1. USC
(last week #2, +1 spot change)
What started out looking like a track meet instead turned into a woodshed beating. The Trojans dominated literally every aspect of the game and even at 7-7 you could tell how this was going to end up.

2. LSU (1, -1)
Nothing wrong with the Tigers, USC just looked a little better this weekend. The stat on every opposing starter QB getting benched against this defense is yet another testament to how good they are, but unfortunately they've let me down by already allowing 23 points in 4 games, meaning they'll have to shut out Tulane for that bet to push. On the other hand, I'm not sure that Flynn is actually better than Perilloux, but it might now matter.

3. Oklahoma (3, +0)
The Sooners showed their first semi-weakness against Tulsa getting shredded in the secondary. The offense, however, broke 50 yet again and appears to be basically unstoppable.

4. Florida (4, +0)
Maybe they got caught looking past the worst team in the SEC, or maybe the statement than any conference game can go either way almost came true this weekend. Tebow showed toughness rushing the ball 26 times, but I don't know that they'll want him doing that against a bigger, more athletic team like LSU.

Really, isn't this season just begging for a 4-team playoff?

5. Ohio State (5, +0)
After two weeks of floundering, the Buckeye offense may have found its groove. Granted, Northwestern did lose to Duke and Washington wound up unable to stop UCLA. Still, I like how Boeckman is progressing and they certainly have a great defense and solid RB.

6. West Virginia (8, +2)
Though I continue to doubt their actual legitimacy as a title contender, at this point they've proven that they can consistently beat down the weaklings they'll be facing most of the season.

7. California (6, -1)
I'm not impressed by Longshore's performance this week, but the somewhat close score is the result of garbage time points. Cal's doing what they need to do on both sides of the ball.

8. Texas (7, -1)
Finally, Texas annihilated a crappy team the way a top 10 team with a joke of a nonconference schedule should week in and week out. They've got one conference warmup game to get that level of play cemented before going up an Oklahoma team who's still playing like they think they should be ranked #1.

9. Rutgers (10, +1)

10. Oregon (11, +1)
Dixon has almost officially turned over a new leaf. (no pun) At this point there's no denying Oregon's offensive prowess, but can the defense perform better against Cal than they did against STanford?

11. Clemson (15, +4)
We finally got the dual HB performance from Spiller and Davis that was expected to rival McFadden and Jones for best in the nation.

12. Wisconsin (12, +0)
The Badgers simply looked shaky against weak opposition yet again. Basically, if you run the spread offense or if you can tackle Hill, you're going to give this team problems with their lack of defensive speed and Donovan's continually declining stats as QB.

13. Kentucky (16, +3)
Woodson & Co showed that if the Wildcats need 40+ points to win a game, they'll get those points. While the defense appears weak, they did just face the best QB in the nation for week 3 followed by the best RB in week 4.

14. Boston College (14, +0)
Matt Ryan continues to pass for massive yardage, multiple TDs, and a few picks. It's the latter that will keep this team out of the top ten, but they're unquestionably a conference contender.

15. South Carolina (13, -2)
The score made the game look closer than it was, but I'm still impressed by South Carolina's play against a vastly superior team in LSU. Already having gone on the road to LSU and Georgia, they'll host three more ranked teams this season in addition to going on the road to Tennessee and Arkansas, giving them one of the more brutal schedules out there.

16. Missouri (17, +1)
4-0, with two nonconference road wins over BCS conference teams. But at the same time, vs four pretty weak teams. They get a bye next week before the Nebraska-Oklahoma-Tech stretch that will pretty much determine the success of their season.

17. Cincinnati (19, +2)
The Bearcats keep mauling every opponent they face. Suddenly that visit from Louisville in October looks a lot more winnable... can they beat Rutgers on the road and WVU at home?

18. Virginia Tech (21, +3)
I don't care that he's done it against horrible opposition; Glennon would still be leading them to 20 point games even against William & Mary. Tyrod Taylor was absolutely the right choice for QB and he has breathed life back into this offense.

19. Georgia (25, +6)
Though you don't like a team who twice gives up ten point leads, you do have to admire the fact that they still won the game in spite of it... on the road, vs Alabama, vs Nick Saban.

20. South Florida (unranked)
They didn't get a new kicker like I suggested, but Alvarado went 4-4 on PATs and 3-3 on FGs. That'll do.

21. Hawaii (23, +2)
Without Brennan, they scored 66 points despite 3 TOs. Sitting their star was absolutely the correct decision vs a very overmatched team.

22. Penn State (9, -13)
Against a very mediocre Michigan defense, Morelli showed just how overrated he is. Penn State actually has a very strong defense, but when you can't break 10 points against even the slightest resistance, that's not going to get you through the tougher games in a season. Last season PSU lost every game against a ranked team during the regular season, I'd expect similar this year.

23. UCLA (unranked)
The win over Washington was every bit the conference statement UCLA needed to climb back into the lower rungs of the top 25.

24. Alabama (18, -6)
A tough, tough loss to Georgia. Saban's clearly getting more out of his players than might be expected, but they just might not have the talent to move much higher in the rankings this season. A neutral site game with FSU should be telling.

25. Arizona State (unranked)
To say I'm skeptical would be an understatement. If I wasn't submitting a "top 25" to Rotojunkie, I would have just made a top 24 list. But they are unbeaten, and I put more into them than any of the other unbeatens outside my top 25.

On the Cusp

Despite having one of the two best RB duos in the nation, Arkansas has a terrible QB and a weak defense. They've now blown two excellent performances by McFadden thanks to it. A cake schedule for the next month-plus should have them fattened back up before a visit from South Carolina.

I don't for one second think this team is really one of the top 25 in the country. But four weeks in, you have to start looking at the unbeatens as at least having something right.

Florida State
The better Clemson looks, the less you can fault FSU for a close loss to them. They'll get a good test against Alabama.

I don't for one second think this team is really one of the top 25 in the country. But four weeks in, you have to start looking at the unbeatens as at least having something right.

Louisville (20)
Losing to Syracuse, Louisville might be on course to be a bigger disaster than Michigan. Brohm's Heisman hopes are over and they haven't stopped anybody in three weeks.

Miami FL
I wouldn't get too exicited about blowing out a very overrated A&M team, but the Canes finally shoed offensive poise.

Truthfully I think they're more deserving than ASU. But when you're 2-2 with all of your games at home including a loss to a I-AA school and a blowout loss to a Pac 10 school not named USC, one of your two victories is against Notre Dame who could lose 10 games this season and the other you had to dig out a victory against a team who didn't win a conference road game all last season*, you need to break .500 to get considered for the rankings. Michigan, regardless of whether they're any good or not, could end up 8-2 going into their final two games because their midseason schedule is just that easy.

Michigan State
I don't for one second think this team is really one of the top 25 in the country. But four weeks in, you have to start looking at the unbeatens as at least having something right.

Nebraska (25)
Something is clearly wrong with Nebraska's defense for them to get into a shootout with Ball State.

I don't for one second think this team is really one of the top 25 in the country. But four weeks in, you have to start looking at the unbeatens as at least having something right.

Do the Vols really face SIX ranked teams this season? I thought it would get easier after the two top tens, but apparently only slightly.

Texas Tech (24)
If they could only get one or two stops a game, they'd be good. If only..

Paul Smith is one of the best QBs in college football. For him to throw for 350 yards, 2 TDs, and run another one in vs the Oklahoma Sooners is just a fantastic performance - probably good enough to beat everyone else they'll face this season.

A week after taking Texas to the wire, Kevin SMith & UCF unloaded on poor Memphis. Back-to-back games at USF and hosting Tulsa could put a number beside the school's name.

* OK, that's not true. But the fact that you probably either believed it or checked it out speaks volumes of how bad PSU is as a road team. For the record, PSU's road record in the BCS era:
2006: 2-3 (1-3 vs above .500)
2005: 3-1 (1-1 vs above .500)
2004: 1-4 (0-4)
2003: 0-5 (0-4)
2002: 2-2 (1-2)
2001: 2-3 (1-2)
2000: 0-4 (0-3)
1999: 4-1 (3-1)
1998: 2-3 (0-3)

Sunday, September 23

Week 5 T25

1. LSU
2. USC
3. Oklahoma
4. Florida
5. Texas
6. West Virginia
7. Ohio State
8. Cal
9. Clemson
10. Wisonsin
11. Oregon
12. Rutgers
13. Boston College
14. Virginia Tech
15. Kentucky
16. Georgia
17. USF
18. Hawaii
19. Missouri
20. Purdue
21. Nebraska
22. Cincinnati
23. Kansas
24. Arizona State
25. Penn State

Wow. Starting from #9 down was really, really tough. Nobody has claimed real leadership other than the top 8. The middle of the pack continues to disappoint, and there are very few up and rising teams that are performing well enough to be ranked. The SEC stalwarts are taking each other out, and it's getting harder to see whether they really are that good, or whether it's just parity. The Big 10 is doing the same thing, but the view is that the conference just doesn't match up athletically against the SEC. The Big 12 has Oklahoma and then everyone else. Pac 10 is fielding a very strong conference, where we can say that ASU, UW, Cal, UCLA, Oregon, and USC are all valid, possible top 25 teams. Big East is a bust.

What the hell is happening in college football this year?

Week 4 Recap

Game of the Week - GEORGIA @ ALABAMA - turned into one of those nailbiting finales. Georgia was up 10-0 prior the Saban and the tide comes back to tie it. Both of these teams have young quarterbacks, decent defenses, and not too many game makers on wide receiver. The fact that this went into overtime shows just how both of these programs are starting their fight up the SEC ladder. These two will likely switch spots in the T25.

South Carolina @ LSU - this game ended up a lot closer than I thought it would be - a touchdown less than what I thought. SC's defense really stepped up against a potent LSU offense... of course LSU hadn't seen a defense as concrete as SC's up to this point. However the fact that SC put up two against this defense says a lot about the fact that LSU's defense, though fantastic, still has holes that can be taken advantage of.

Penn State @ Michigan - Michigan is another big win from entering the top 25. Penn State's defense has always been good - however Anthony Morelli has never been able to get a hang of winning the big games when it's needed. PSU is overrated, and Michigan is underrated... but somehow the Blue defense came out and kept the big receivers in check.

Kentucky @ Arkansas - Is Woodson for real? Yes, very much for real. How about McFadden and Jones? Yes, they're real. However, running 200 yards on the ground, most of it by McFadden, still doesn't win games unless you score offensive touchdowns. And Woodson is rising in the NFL stocks - poise in the 4 quarter and coming back for the win. However, looking at the box score is more telling - Arkansas had 500 yards and only 29 points. That many yards should be at least 5 touchdowns, so they're getting much fewer points per yard than they should. They are not going to go anywhere in the SEC - 500 yards against UK is one thing but it's highly unlikely that they'll get 500 against anyone else.

Disappointments for Week 4 -

Florida 30, Ole Miss 24: Where is the vaunted Florida offense? You are bigger and faster than your competition, but poor execution (not to mention a very hungry Ole Miss defense) made you look human.

Nebraska 41, Ball State 40: Face it, Callahan. You ESCAPED with a win. You didn't win anything, they handed you a W. You better hope the voters forget by the end of the season if you get a chance to compete for the Big 12 Championship.

Wisconsin 17, Iowa 13: What happened, Badgers? Iowa is good, yes. They have a pretty darn good running game, but their defense has been crap since Hodge & co left a couple of years ago. I think this really shows that Ohio State may be the only valid B10 team in the top ten.

Tuesday, September 18

Games of the Week

The ones James forgot:

Illinois @ Indiana - the battle for the Big 10 middle of the pack is on. It's Kellen Lewis vs The Juice. Two young, fast quarterbacks with big arms to boot. Illinois, with Juice and the addition of 5 star recruit Arrelious Benn, have the potential to be a breakout offense with youth and speed. Indiana, with the loss of Hoeppner, have a lot to play for but still have a while to become strong enough to compete against yearly favorites in the Big 10. Both are likely bowl-bound teams, and this win would be a big step towards a 7-10 win season.

GT @ Virginia - the Yellowjackets come off of a disheartening loss to Matt Ryan and BC - creamed for over 400 yards in the air. The defense looks to stiffen up as it heads towards the bulk of their conference play. Virginia escaped with a win over North Carolina, and will have a lot ahead of them to stop Tashard Choice. However all they need to do is to look at the tape from the BC game - Choice was limited to 31 yards. GT needs to pull this one out and prep themselves for Clemson.

Texas A&M @ Miami (FL) - the same Miami that got blown to bits by Oklahoma... well, that's Oklahoma for you. They have a chance to reclaim their fame if they can stop McGee and Lane and win against another Big 12 foe. However, the change in the level of play that is needed for that to happen is huge, but you can never write out the Miami team. Too much talent, need more discipline...

Oregon State vs Arizona State - Pac 10 opening weekend, and a contest between two mid-conference teams. Oregon State lost to a very good Cincinnati team, and looks better with a win over Utah - the team that beat UCLA to a pulp last week. ASU needs a defining win in conference to have a chance to be 7-0 by the time they meet up with Cal on 10/27 (or Washington the week before). If ASU can prove its mettle against Oregon State, WaSt, and Stanford, they could be in the top 25 before they face the meat of their schedule for the five following weeks (Washington, Cal, Oregon, UCLA, USC).

Blowout watch:

Oklahoma vs Tulsa
Florida vs Mississippi
WVU vs E Carolina
TT vs Oklahoma State
Oregon vs Stanford

Monday, September 17

college football - hodgepodge

Conferences, title outlook, trivia, games of the week...

Comparing the Conferences

At this time, it's pointless to nitpick schedules as it's uncertain how exactly most of these teams will wind up. However, at this point it may be possible to guage conference strength:

Elite Teams: none
Ranked Teams: #14 BC, #15 Clemson, #21 Va Tech (in my rankings)
Good Unranked Teams: Florida State, Georgia Tech, Miami
Bad Teams: Duke, North Carolina, Virginia, NC State
Key OOC Wins:
Week 1:
Week 2:
Week 3: Florida State > Colorado, Duke > Northwestern
OOC Losses:
Week 1: UCF > NC State, Wyoming > Virginia, Connecticut > Duke
Week 2: LSU > Va Tech, Nebraska > Wake Forest
Week 3: West Virginia > Maryland

RANKING: 6 - With victories over Colorado and Northwestern highlighting their nonconference play, the ACC once again has done nothing.

Big East:
Elite Teams: #8 West Virginia
Ranked Teams: #8 WVA, #10 Rutgers, #19 Cincinnati, #20 Louisville
Good Unranked Teams: South Florida
Bad Teams: Pittsburgh, Syracuse
Key OOC Wins:
Week 1: Connecticut > Duke
Week 2: Cincinnati > Oregon State, South Florida > Auburn
Week 3: West Virginia > Maryland
OOC Losses:
Week 1: Washington > Syracuse
Week 2: Iowa > Syracuse
Week 3: Kentucky > Louisville, Michigan State > Pittsburgh, Illinois > Syracuse

While Texas has been on the verge of collapse for the Big XII, Louisville actually did collapse for the Big East, and Miss State's win over Auburn makes South Florida's a little less impressive. Half the conference is ranked but one of their two big dogs fell sharply, and their bottom two are just awful. Syracuse may be the worst team in a BCS conference - Duke and Stanford posted victories this weekend.

Big Ten:
Elite Teams: #5 Ohio State, #9 Penn State
Ranked Teams: #5 Ohio State, #9 Penn State, #12 Wisconsin
Good Unranked Teams: none at the moment...
Bad Teams: Minnesota, Northwestern (winning record, but lost to Duke)
Key OOC Wins:
Week 1: Wisconsin > Wash State
Week 2: Iowa > Syracuse
Week 3: Ohio State > Washington, Michigan State > Pittsburgh, Illinois > Syracuse
OOC Losses:
Week 1: Appa State > Michigan, Bowling Green > Minnesota
Week 2: Oregon > Michigan
Week 3: Iowa State > Iowa, Duke > Northwestern, FIU > Minnesota

Many Big Ten teams have 3-0 or 2-1 records without having faced anyone even remotely good. All that's clear is that Michigan is a lot worse than expected, Minnesota is a little worse than expected, but Ohio State and Penn State are a bit better than expected. While weeks 1 and 2 had this group battling for the worst conference, a big win by Ohio State and two victories over Big East schools in battles of sub-mediocres make them clearly better than the ACC.

Big XII:
Elite Teams: #3 Oklahoma, #7 Texas
Ranked Teams: #3 Oklahoma, #7 Texas, #17 Missouri, #22 Nebraska, #24 Texas Tech
Good Unranked Teams: Texas A&M
Bad Teams: Colorado, Iowa State, Oklahoma State
Key OOC Wins:
Week 1: Missouri > Illinois
Week 2: Oklahoma > Miami, Texas > TCU, Nebraska > Wake Forest, Missouri > Mississippi
Week 3: Iowa State > Iowa
OOC Losses:
Week 1: Kent State > Iowa State, TCU > Baylor, Georgia > OK State, Auburn > Kansas State
Week 2: Arizona State > Colorado, Northern Iowa > Iowa State
Week 3: USC > Nebraska, Troy > OK State, Florida State > Colorado

When all is said and done, Oklahoma might be the only top ten-worthy school in this conference. However, five or six may end up ranked and either of the Kansas schools could be a surprise. The bottom three are pretty bad but ISU did post a victory over Iowa.

Pac 10:
Elite Teams: #2 USC, #6 Cal
Ranked Teams: #2 USC, #6 Cal, #11 Oregon
Good Unranked Teams: Arizona State, UCLA, Washington
Bad Teams: Arizona, Stanford
Key OOC Wins:
Week 1: Cal > Tennessee, Washington > Syracuse,
Week 2: Washington > Boise State, Oregon > Michigan, Arizona State > Colorado
Week 3: USC > Nebraska
OOC Losses:
Week 1: Wisconsin > Wash State, BYU > Arizona
Week 2: Cincinnati > Oregon State
Week 3: Ohio State > Washington, Utah > UCLA, New Mexico > Arizona

As has become routine, USC carries the torch and has already knocked off one of the better teams from another BCS conference, Nebraska. Cal's victory over Tennessee and Oregon's over Michigan give the conference some major cred, but with upcomer Washington losing big to Ohio State and UCLA getting run over by a nobody, they fall short of #1.

Elite Teams: #1 LSU, #4 Florida
Ranked Teams: #1 LSU, #4 Florida, #13 South Carolina, #16 Kentucky, #18 Alabama, #25 Georgia
Good Unranked Teams: Arkansas, Tennessee
Bad Teams: Mississippi
Key OOC Wins:
Week 1: Georgia > OK State, Auburn > Kansas State
Week 2: LSU > Va Tech
Week 3: Kentucky > Louisville
OOC Losses:
Week 1: Cal > Tennessee
Week 2: South Florida > Auburn, Missouri > Mississippi
Week 3:

LSU knocking off a top ACC team was expected. Middle of the pack Kentucky upsetting Louisville? It's not completely unreasonable to believe that LSU and Florida are the two best teams in the country - certainly they're two of the top four - while Kentucky and South Carolina could be two of the bigger surprises this season. Only Auburn is truly disappointing (Tennessee's record was expected given their early schedule), and Alabama may end up picking up their slack.

Somebody's Getting Their Second Trophy

Nine different teams have won the BCS championship in its nine years of existence. It's been remarkable in promoting equal treatment for teams that might have been otherwise overlooked... for comparison sake, I think that if the old bowl system had been used we only would have had six schools winning titles (98 Tennessee, 99 FSU, 00 Oklahoma, 01-02 Miami, 03-05 USC, 06 Ohio State). Repeating is a lot more difficult... now that you actually have to beat the #2-ranked team instead of just getting more votes than them.

Here the BCS champions are listed by year of title and my current ranking:

1998 - Tennessee - unranked, 2 losses
1999 - Florida State - unranked, 1 loss
2000 - Oklahoma - #3, unbeaten
2001 - Miami FL - unranked, 1 loss
2002 - Ohio State - #5, unbeaten
2003 - LSU - #1, unbeaten
2004 - USC - #2, unbeaten
2005 - Texas - #7, unbeaten
2006 - Florida - #4, unbeaten

Every team in my elite top four... actually, all top five and six of my top seven... have already won a BCS title. The teams who have never won it and have the best shot of doing so are California, West Virginia, and Penn State. Think any of those teams will run the table? Realistically, only the Mounties have a credible shot of even being in the title game. And how would they hold up against any team in the top four, or even Ohio State?

This season will feature somebody's return to the top, possibly even Florida for a repeat.


When was the last time Duke, Illinois, Kentucky, and Stanford all won on the same day?
Answer in next week's edition.


Texas A&M @ Miami FL
Both of these teams have something to prove after Miami was humiliated by Oklahoma and A&M nearly lost at home to Fresno State. The winner could wind up near the bottom of the top 25 in my book, if it's a well played game.
Pick: Miami

Oklahoma @ Tulsa
Sure, it'll probably be ugly. But we've thought that about midmajors in big games before. Tulsa is one of the top non-BCS schools this year and it'll be interesting if they have anything near what it takes to be the next 06 Boise State.
Pick: Oklahoma

Michigan State @ Notre Dame
You only have to look back to 2001 for the last time the Irish started out 0-3, with losses to BCS title loser Nebraska and bowl game winners Michigan State and Texas A&M. 0-4? It's never happened. For everyone who thought Jimmy Clausen would be a record-setter at Notre Dame, this Saturday is your chance to see him set his first of many to come!
Pick: Michigan State

Penn State @ Michigan
Two seasons ago, a Penn State team that finished #3 in the country lost just one game all season - to Michigan in Ann Arbor. The Nittany Lions haven't been a good road team in recent years, and the Wolverines desperately need to continue the positive momentum from their victory over Notre Dame. Lloyd Carr's slim chances of saving his career probably rest on the team finishing with no more than three losses this season - sweeping the Big Ten and winning their bowl game is a safer bet. Their backs are against the wall and the team has a lot of offensive firepower in a home game. Potential upset.
Pick: Michigan

Georgia @ Alabama
This will be a completely different kind of test for Saban's Tide as Georgia has nowhere near the offensive firepower of Arkansas but better defense, special teams, and discipline than the Hogs. Mark Richt cannot afford an 0-2 start in conference play.
Pick: Georgia

Kentucky @ Arkansas
Two explosive and contrasting offenses, not the defense you'd expect in an SEC matchup. You'll think you were watching a WAC game by the scoring.
Pick: Arkansas

Rice @ Texas
It's Texas against a weak team from a non-BCS conference, so it figures to be close.
Pick: Texas

Iowa @ Wisconsin
Iowa had their boat rocked by previously winless Iowa State. They need to avoid dropping down to .500 if they want to be taken seriously. At the same time, Wisconsin has struggled for two straight weeks and this is their chance to make a statement at home to start conference play.
Pick: Wisconsin

South Carolina @ LSU
Beating Georgia is one thing, but when South Carolina lines up against LSU they may be overmatched at every position. How much can Spurrier get out of his players to prove that they belong in the middle of the top 25?
Pick: LSU

Washington @ UCLA
Both of these teams were sharply thrown from their high horses last weekend. Now one of them faces a .500 record as their schedules start to pick up.
Pick: Washington

Sunday, September 16

Week 4 T25

1. LSU
2. USC
3. Florida
4. Oklahoma
5. Texas
6. West Virginia
7. Ohio State
8. Wisconsin
9. Cal
10. Rutgers
11. Penn State
12. South Carolina
13. Oregon
14. Alabama
15. Virginia Tech
16. Clemson
17. Boston College
18. Louisville
19. USF
20. Texas A&M
21. Kentucky
22. Nebraska
23. Georgia
24. Missouri
25. Arkansas

General notes:

The Saban era in Alabama has begun. A signature win against Arkansas catapults them into the middle of the Top 25. Louisville plummets after a wild loss to their intrastate rival. Everything outside of the top 10 continues to shake and bake to uneven proportions. In fact, outside of the top 8 it's still up for grabs. So much so that there are probably 20 teams on the cusp of being ranked.

James' Week 3 Rankings

Shake it, baby! As in, yet another week of major shakeups in the top 25.


1. LSU (week 2 #1, +0 change)
Let's get this straight - it doesn't matter who runs the offense, and with the way the defense is playing if they'd scored just a field goal in each game they could be 2-1.

2. USC (2, +0)
They've got the feel of the 2004 squad - a team who has a good offense but a great turnovers-based defense.

3. Oklahoma (3, +0)
Outstanding all-around performances in all three games we've seen them. They have a good shot at the title game with the way they're playing and the strong possiblilty of UF and LSU squaring off twice.

4. Florida (4, +0)
Suddenly UF looks like they might have the best offense in the country. Not surprising, with Urban Meyer finally getting his vision of a QB.

5. Ohio State (8, +3)
I'll place them highest outside of the top four because they have the best defense of anybody not named LSU, USC, or Oklahoma. Winning a road game against Washington is going to appear a lot more impressive at the end of the season, if it doesn't already.

6. California (9, +3)
They're a threat to score before the offense even touches the ball. The Bears have an amazing wealth of speed and athleticism.

7. Texas (6, -1)
You've got to like a team that finds ways to win, but you've got to question a team that keeps having to. The OU game looks more and more unwinnable if they don't start playing to potential.

8. West Virginia (7, -1)
The offense continues to put up smaller numbers than I'd expect, and the defense is still questionable.

9. Penn State (12, +3)
At this point, they may very well win the Big Ten.

10. Rutgers (13, +3)
With Louisville down and WVA scheduled as a home game, now is the time for Rutgers to make a move in the Big East. The way they're playing, a BCS game is a possibility.

11. Oregon (17, +6)
Dixon's decision making has made all the difference.

12. Wisconsin (10, -2)
The defense played a poor first half and I'm beginning to question whether Donovan is the same kind of leader as Stocco.

13. South Carolina (18, +5)
They're making a believer out of me.

14. Boston College (unranked)
Ryan is definitely the best passer in the ACC, and the defense rose to the occasion against GT.

15. Clemson (19, +4)
The offense was a little sluggish this week, but the defense has been fairly good in all weeks.

16. Kentucky (unranked)
Coming off a bowl win season, Kentucky's off to a 3-0 start with a win over a highly ranked opponent. Woodson's stock is rising.

17. Missouri (22, +5)
If the defense maintains their focus, this team could wind up in the top 15.

18. Alabama (unranked)
Excellent display by the offense. They won't have to worry about facing many backfields as good as Arkansas'.

19. Cincinnati (21, +2)
The Bearcats continue to blow out clearly lesser opponents.

20. Louisville (5, -15)
Bad defense finally caught up with them. Sheer offensive firepower still makes UL a formidable opponent.

21. Virginia Tech (unranked)
I don't know that 28 points against Ohio University is a great statistic, but at least they're doing better with Taylor than with Glennon.

22. Nebraska (15, -7)
Lots of good teams have fallen hard against the Trojans.

23. Hawaii (24, +1)
Should coast through their WAC schedule, but I still have doubts about their legitimacy after week 2.

24. Texas Tech (unranked)
Harrell is blossoming as a senior.

25. Georgia (unranked)
A close loss to #13 South Carolina doesn't look so bad.

On the Cusp:

Arkansas (11)
Just like last season, the QB and penalties killed this team. Only unlike last season, the defense looks very weak.

Florida State
The defense, for the most part, has looked strong and the offense, for the most part, has looked weak.

Georgia Tech (16)
While Bennett is clearly an improvement over Ball, GT still needs to find a QB and a passing game to beat top 25 teams.

Miami (FL)
Still struggling to find the passing game.

Great performance but they'll need to do something big in conference play before moving back into the top 25.

South Florida (25)
I hope they took my advice and found a kicker during the bye week.

Tennessee (20)
The Vols had an unlucky early season schedule, but that's no excuse for how badly they were blown out by Florida. Special teams may be an issue and defense is clearly an issue.

Texas A&M
Visions of Frenso State still linger. A&M needs to face real opposition before they are rankings-worthy.

UCLA (14)
Though I thought UCLA was overrated, even I didn't expect them to lose to Utah.

Washington (23)
I think the team showed that they are for real in weeks 1-3... unfortunately, Ohio State showed that they are also for real.

college football - week 3 in review

From my week 2 rankings:

1. LSU
The Tigers still can't decide whether they like shutouts or blowouts more, so they keep doing both. The 44 points in three quarters came in a game where they rested starting QB Flynn, so apparently this offense is just as good with Perrilloux.

2. USC
The Trojans showed both firepower and the ability to respond in Lincoln. Trailing 10-7 they promptly drove down the field to score the go-ahead TD, their first of 35 unanswered points. They faced adversity - two straight fumbled kickoffs (a pseudo-turning point being the one they recovered and returned beyond midfield) and at least two injuries. And in the end, they dominated the 15th-ranked Cornhuskers.

3. Oklahoma
Bradford averaged 10 yards per passing attempt, two running backs gained at least 100 yards, and the defense gave up a mere field goal. Same old story in Norman.

4. Florida
The Gators continue to answer everybody's questions. Who scores 59 points against Tennessee anyway? With Tim Tebow as starter, this is the offense that Urban Meyer ran in Utah and wasn't quite able to run with Leak for the last two years in Florida. Tigers beware.

5. Louisville
Bad defense finally caught up with the Ville as Brohm & Co were "only" able to score 34 points today. Losing to Kentucky is going to mean a huge drop in the rankings.

6. Texas
Half full or half empty? Texas is 3-0 having faced their biggest non-conference challenge last week. They've managed to get into 4th quarter games with two opponents they should have walked all over, and one who's a bit more worthy but shouldn't have been shutting the Horns out at halftime. They've managed to dig deep and win three straight fourth quarter games. You can spin it any way you like, and when it comes down to it they posted W's while Louisville and UCLA weren't even able to hold off unranked teams, but right now that 6 spot seems a bit high.

7. West Virginia
Managed to get into a bit of a dogfight with Maryland before pulling away in the second half.

8. Ohio State
The first half at Washington was very competitive, as both team moved the ball but failed to put many points on the board. Six minutes into the second half, Ohio State had already blocked a field goal, scored a touchdown bomb, recovered a fumble, and scored a touchdown run as they pulled away in a tough environment.

9. California
It was a semi-interesting game when La Tech lined up for 2 trailing 28-12 in the third quarter. That was as close as it ever got. Cal scored yet another special teams TD and the defense shut down an offense which had put up big numbers last weekend.

10. Wisconsin
A week after having a game come down to the wire against UNLV, huge warning signs start flashing when The Citadel has them knotted at 21 at halftime. 24 unanswered points allay those worries somewhat, but you still have to question how this team will hold up against an Ohio State or a Penn State.

11. Arkansas
You've got to feel for a team who comes back from 31-10 to take the lead, only to see that lead disappear in the closing seconds. It was everything you'd expect from Arkansas - McFadden gaining nearly 200 yards on the ground, Jones pitching in close to 100 of his own, Dick completing less than half of his passes, and 81 yards in penalties possibly providing the difference in a game decided by just 3 points.

12. Penn State
Morelli continues to be at least better than last season. The defense continues to make it easy for him. Don't give much weight to those 21 garbage points, this was another easy win for the Lions on both sides of the ball.

13. Rutgers
Not a lot to be gained from watching Rutgers destroy Norfolk State. I didn't even know Norfolk had become a state since I left Virginia. Weird.

14. UCLA
If you're wondering if the Utes were some mid-major powerhouse surprising a BCS team - they started the season 0-2 with losses to Oregon State and Air Force. I could analyze a 38 point loss to Utah, but instead when I say over, you say rated: OVER! ________! OVER! ...

15. Nebraska
How you judge a team who just got dominated against a team that is clearly among the elite? Look for the little things. After giving up a long TD drive that included two 40+ yard plays, Nebraska came right back down the field to tie things up. They took the lead and had terrible luck on what could have been a major turnover for USC on the following kickoff. The talent differential wouldn't have allowed them to win, but I like the fact that they picked up yards and at least made one stand before getting rolled over, unlike say Virginia Tech.

16. Georgia Tech
When Boston College force the Jackets to the air, Bennett proved that being better than Reggie Ball isn't saying a whole lot. Teams facing GT are going to watch that tape and realize how one-dimensional this offense is.

17. Oregon
I like a team that can get the job done on the ground, and that's what the Ducks did against Fresno State. Dixon's passing was consistent if not spectacular, and consistent is what this team needs from him as conference play comes around and the Pac 10 is looking strong this year.

18. South Carolina
How exactly do you turn the ball over 6 times against South Carolina State? At least they forced their share in return, easily won the yardage battle, and dominated the scoreboard.

19. Clemson
The Tigers actually got outgained in yesterday's game, but a +3 TO differential makes up for that. Beneath the radar, Harper attempted 19 passes but was sacked 5 times. I don't know that they'll be moving a whole lot as the game was a comfortable but not too impressive win against Furman.

20. Tennessee
Ouch. Florida and Tennessee have each won a BCS title, and in those seasons their games against each other were decided by a combined 4 points. The average margin of victory in this series the BCS era has been 6 points. I don't think I've EVER seen this game look so effortless for one team.

21. Cincinnati
I know from EA Sports' NCAA Football 2004 that the annual Cincinnati-Miami game is played for some bell trophy, and since the BCS started the Redhawks actually held a 5-4 lead in the series. That was knotted convincingly by the Bearcats this weekend, as UC continues to blow opponents out of the water.

22. Missouri
Tigers fans have come to expect the monster performances by an underrated Chase Daniel, but this weekend they finally got what they were hoping for on the other side of the ball. Missouri built yet another big first half lead, and this time they didn't give it away on defense in the third quarter. In fact, their defense allowed just 3 points up until the 4th quarter when the game was basically over. Of the three they've played, this was their closest to a complete game.

23. Washington
I liked Washington in the first half against Ohio State. They had some breaks go against them but they still had the lead against a very tough team. The low ranking is probably accurate; if they do end up falling from my final rankings, watch for them to pop back up in a couple of weeks.

24. Hawaii
This was more of the comfortable victory we'd expect from the Warriors for pretty much the entire regular season, given their schedule. Brennan dominated a game that was only close for one quarter.

25. South Florida

You'd generally think that if a team playing under the name "Alabama Crimson Tide" can score 41 points, they'll win the game. And this Saturday you'd be right, but barely. Wilson played well, Hall dominated, and despite getting run over by McFadden & Jones, the Tide came up with what it took to win.

Losing to a surging USF was half-expected. Losing to Mississippi State? Where oh where have things gone wrong for the War Eagle?

Boston College
For the most part, they shut down a Yellow Jackets' offense that had been just rolling. Despite the modest point showing by their own offense, BC drove the ball all game and turned it over just once. The impressive victory puts them atop the ACC.

Florida State
Despite a non-conference road win, beating Colorado should be expected of most BCS conference teams and their offense was yet again anemic.

If South Carolina's a bit too tough, you can always try their directional sister. Not a lot to really get out of this game as the opposition was simply too weak.

I know there were people out there who thought the 2-0 Hawkeyes deserved top 25 consideration - that they were stepping up for a slouching Michigan to give the Big Ten their fourth pillar. Giving Gene Chizik his first victory as HC isn't that bad, until you realize that the Cyclones had lost their opening two games against Kent State and Northern Iowa.

Kentucky's a team who you're so used to seeing them at the bottom of the SEC, it's easy to forget that they went 8-5 last season, won their bowl game, and have the best QB in the conference. After winning a shootout with Brian Brohm, you have to wonder just how good is Andre Woodson?

Miami (FL)
Though I think they made the correct call with Kyle Wright, the offense was unimpressive against FIU.

Have the Wolverines found their spark, or is Notre Dame just that bad? I won't think about ranking them until they've got a winning record, or if they're able to defeat Penn State this weekend.

Texas A&M
Three different backs averaged 10+ ypc, but after last week's squeaker I'm waiting until they face some Big XII opposition.

Texas Tech
Harrell completed 75% of his passes for 11 yards per attempt, over 400 yards total and 6 touchdown passes. Okay, the opponent was Rice.

Week 3 Recap

Oh red, oh red, where were you last night? There was a sea of red in Lincoln, but that sea was nowhere enough to stop the Trojans in the first three quarters. The score may has shown that it was closer, but it really wasn't that close. A bunch of 4th quarter junk touchdowns does not a game make. Nebraska, we hardly knew ye. You'll still be in my top 25, but you looked weak against good competition.

And dear Ohio State - next time have some offense in the FIRST half, please. Gaining 200 yards with 1 missed field goal, 1 blocked field goal, and 1 made field goal is weak. And the vaunted defense? Yes, you came away with some very important turnovers in important times, but you can't allow 100 yards rushing to the quarterback and be considered a great defense. A good, opportunistic one, but not a great one. And remember, you got lucky that there were two picks that didn't go the other way.

And Notre Dame sucks just about as much as we thought they would, and Michigan doesn't suck nearly as much as we all thought they did. Mallett had a good first outing, mainly because they had Hart to run it down the Golden Domes throats.

Tennessee made it a good game in the first half, coming back near the end to make it a 28-14 game... but the second half was all Gators. As Cowherd says, the sign of a well coached team is whether they are better in the second half than they were in the first, and, well, the Gators are a well coached team.

UCLA is overrated. They lost to Utah. They don't deserve more than three sentences for their complete implosion on the field to a mid-major.

Brian Brohm - now you know how it feels to be Peyton Manning. Have all of the weapons on offense that any quarterback could ever dream of, but not have the defense to get you that signature win that you would need. Well, in the intrastate rivalry, your foes bought billboards all across your fair town, and I guess they were right. You can't lift the entire team on your shoulders - Manning proved that when for five years he had playoff teams but could never make it to the big game. This year isn't your year for BCS glory. Sorry.

Boston College vs GT - two good ACC teams going at each other. I would have thought GT with Tashard Choice would have faired a lot better, but BC shut them down. 15 rushes for 31 yards for Choice - the Yellow Jackets aren't going to win unless Choice gets at least 100/game.

T25 list will be posted soon.

Monday, September 10

Russell's T25, Week 2

1. LSU
2. USC
3. West Virginia
4. Florida
5. Texas
6. Oklahoma
7. Louisville
8. Wisconsin
9. Ohio State
10. Cal
11. UCLA
12. Rutgers
13. Penn State
14. Arkansas
15. Nebraska
16. Virginia Tech
17. Tennessee
18. Georgia Tech
19. Oregon
20. Clemson
21. Hawaii
22. Washington
23. Cincinnati
24. South Carolina
25. USF

To be honest, I didn't watch any games this past weekend, so this ranking is purely based upon box scores and stats at the moment. Even then I haven't been able to see all the scores and stats so this may change in a couple of days (if I have time to actually make the modifications).

However, in the recaps that I've read, here are a few sounding points:

#1 - Michigan is a sorry example of the Big 10. This is a huge down year for the Big 10 - but they're still competitive enough. But to have a team as overhyped as Michigan is both humiliating and devastating for the conference. Unless the play of Minnesota or Illinois improve drastically this year, the Big 10 may well end up as the least of the BCS conferences.

#2 - Are the Gamecocks really ready for the SEC? A big win against Georgia proves that unlike last year where they kept it close and lost this year they have the winning mindset. However, this is not their year - I see the 'Cocks coming around as a serious contender in a year or two.

#3 - Colorado was up 14-0. Then they got shut out the rest of the way. I was so hopeful for the Buffs this year...

#4 - The SEC is getting really muddled right now. Other than LSU and Florida it's really hard to see where all the other pieces fall. I believe these two will once again be battling it for the SEC title, but maybe Arkansas will make a push for it.

#5 - While we're talking about LSU, how about that victory against Va Tech? VT still has one of the best defenses (see 1st half) however LSU was better coached. The reason why I say that? LSU made the adjustments necessary to pull away in the second half. VT's offense sputtered and died. -10 for VT this week in my rankings (well, almost 10).

Sunday, September 9

James' Week 2 Rankings

While Chris has developed a formula for predicting how the AP's rankings will change from one week to the next, the actual ranking of college football teams is not an exact science - surprisingly. This week though is more of a problem than usual.

The way I see it, there's three teams who are clearly playing better football than the rest and who don't have any trouble areas on their rosters. Then there's four teams who have an outside shot at running the table, followed by three teams who have their problems but pretty clearly top off the top ten.

And then it's a giant mess. Ranked teams who should have won lost (see Georgia, Auburn). Ranked teams who should have lost got utterly annihilated (see Va Tech, Miami). Unranked teams who should have won destroyed decent opposition (see Cincinnati). Unranked teams who should have lost won (see South Carolina, South Florida). Tack on Washington's victory over Boise State, Oregon's blowout win over Michigan, UCLA's lackluster performance against BYU, A&M nearly blowing a 19-0 lead on Fresno State... yikes. Even the top teams saw their share of problems, as Louisville, Texas, West Virginia, Ohio State, Wisconsin, and Cal all got involved in strange games in week 2.

At this point, I'm throwing shit at the wall and hoping it sticks:


1. LSU (week 1 #1, +0 change)
LSU is averaging 46.5 ppg, which works out to just over 23 points a half. I'm taking bets on whether they give up 23 points in their five September games combined. That means Middle Tennessee, South Carolina, and Tulane have to score 16 on em.

2. USC (2, +0)
Rest does a dinged-up receiving corps good.

3. Oklahoma (5, +2)
The numbers this offense is putting up are scary. The defense is locking everything down. A third title contender has arrived.

4. Florida (4, +0)
Though they're playing very well, it's hard to shake the idea of having nine defensive starters. (2006 Ohio State?) I'm hesitant about this team, but they are playing top 5 football.

5. Louisville (3, -2)
This may be the best offense in the country, and it might not even be close.

6. Texas (6, +0)
Every half should be played like the second half of week 2. The defense did play well for the entire game.

7. West Virginia (7, +0)
The addition of Devine gives West Virginia, not Michigan or Texas, the scariest offensive trio in college football.

8. Ohio State (8, +0)
Some things never change - Ohio State can still hang their hat on their defense.

9. California (10, +1)
Despite suffering an obvious hangover week, the Bears have established a powerful running game and a passable defense.

10. Wisconsin (9, -1)
QB Tyler Donovan came back down to earth and the Badgers got into a highly competitive game with UNLV. Pat Hill is still the kind of back I want carrying my team, and the defense has had two solid but not great performances.

11. Arkansas (11, +0)
The best runningback duo in college football can show what they're made of against Alabama.

12. Penn State (14, +2)
The defense is good, no doubt. Week 1's offensive outburst may have been a fluke.

13. Rutgers (15, +2)
I'm getting mixed signals about this team.

14. UCLA (18, +4)
I'm getting mixed signals about this team, part deux.

15. Nebraska (12, -3)
I'm getting mixed signals about this team III.

16. Georgia Tech (unranked)
Choice and the offense make this team tops in the ACC.

17. Oregon (unranked)
The offense is just plain scary. I want to see this team in three or four weks, though.

18. South Carolina (unranked)
Somewhere out there, Phil Steele is thinking "I told you so."

19. Clemson (unranked)
Harper may have found his groove.

20. Tennessee (21, +1)
Definitely a second half team.

21. Cincinnati (unranked)
Flying below everybody's radar, they're going to knock somebody off this year I can feel it.

22. Missouri (23, +1)
Strong offense but serious questions about defense and their ability to play a 60 minute game.

23. Washington (unranked)
Boise State was overrated and the offense did nothing in the second half. Still, nice defense + mobile QB.

24. Hawaii (19, -5)
Bad showing this week, even Brennan made numerous mistakes.

25. South Florida (unranked)
Gutsy performance by Groethe but for the love of g-d find a kicker.

On the Cusp:

Chance for Saban's team to prove their mettle against Arkansas.

Auburn (24)
The offense needs to wake up, but they did actually move the ball against USF. Turnovers killed them.

Boston College (unranked)
Powerful offense, but Ryan is still mistake-prone.

Georgia (17)
Spurrier has always had Georgia's number and the defense did play well in both games so far.

Miami FL (20)
After a loss like they I can't possibly rank them now. Things can only get better for the Canes.

Michigan (16)
Nothing, I mean nothing, they've done on the field so far indicates that they deserve a ranking. The talent is there, at least on offense, and should they decide to flip that switch I don't think it would be too tough for them to climb back into the top 25, particularly with the state of the Big Ten.

Texas A&M (22)
I don't really know why they're even on the cusp list, other than the fact that they were ranked last week and did wind up getting a W this week.

Texas Tech
If anybody in the country isn't out of a game after giving up 21 first quarter points, it's TTU and the Air Raid offense.

Virginia Tech (13)
After a loss like that and struggling to beat ECU, they don't deserve a spot in the top 25. Watch out for Taylor to take over the starting QB spot and give this team an option offense. If they happens they could wind up ranked... even ranked in the top 15.

college football - week 2 in review

From my week 1 rankings:

1. LSU
At the end of the first half, LSU had built at 24-0 lead and a 327-40 edge in yards offense. Going into the 4th quarter, both of VT's quarterbacks had thrown for 36 yards combined while Ryan Perrilloux had thrown one pass for 34 yards and a TD. In the end, the score was 48-7 with the lone poins allowed coming right after VT burned Taylor's redshirt to get an option QB in the game which LSU got caught unprepared for... to the tune of one scoring drive. Final yardage 600-149. It was just ugly. Right now they are deserving that #1 spot.

2. USC

3. Louisville
The defense frankly didn't even show up against Middle Northern Tennessee State Tech. However, Brian Brohm had a career performance with 400 yards and 5 TDs, and Allen rushed for 275 yards. This offense is actually averaging 700 ypg and 65 ppg thus far this season. Defense wins championships but an out of this world offense can get you into the BCS.

4. Florida
59-31 says shootout, but this game was over at halftime 49-7. Florida probably got "caught" losing focus with the Tennessee game looming large next week. Tebow and Moore continue to be the dynamic duo in what is looking like the SEC's best offense, with Ingram and Murphy providing nice targets for Tebow's now fully accredited arm.

5. Oklahoma
Um... lol? Miami just gave up their second-highest point total since the inception of the BCS, and the Sooners had questions about their quarterback? All Bradford did was take the Sooners to a TD on their first possession and wind up with 5 TDs on 205 yards passing (19-25-0). The Sooners dominated both sides of the ball and you might want to add them to your list of title contenders... memories of Jason White notwithstanding.

6. Texas
No matter what the score says, this was an ugly, ugly win. McCoy and the offense actually get a negative score for the first half, putting 0 points on the board while giving up two interceptions for a TD return and to set up a short FG. The offense roared to life in the second half and were helped by a TCU kickoff fumble with the score just being tied at 10. After last week, I thought that we'd see the Real McCoy but that the defense would be problematic; I was wrong on both counts as the defense basically saved the day. In all, it wasn't a strong enough performance to even think of moving them up in the rankings but with the way the teams below them played against even lesser opposition, I wouldn't move them down either.

7. West Virginia
When you run a gimmick offense, it's going to happen. "It" being some team figuring you out or things just not clicking, even if only for a half, and the defense having to keep you in the game. Fortunately for West Virginia, Marshall chose to stall out on three drives in the end zone or they could be looking at 1-1. I still can't picture this team finishing the year "-0," but give credit to White & Co for figuring something out in the second half.

8. Ohio State
The offense was absolutely horrible against Akron, managing 20 points but 17 in the second half. Boeckman reminded us why he was third-string just a season ago. The defense, however, did about all it could in pitching a shutout, as the only points the Zips scored were on a safety.

9. Wisconsin
Somehow got taken to the wire by UNLV. I didn't really follow this game until the 4th quarter so I can't say a lot about it, but the box score shows a game that was competitive throughout the game and in all regards... Wisconsin even won the turnover battle. This just doesn't sound like a team ready to contend for the Big Ten.

10. California
The 34-28 score over Colorado State is deceptively close as it was 34-14 late in the 4th quarter. Call it a hangover game after a thrilling victory over Tennessee; Cal's schedule is in a bit of a lull until they travel to Oregon at the end of the month and they may have lost focus. Check back on them in two weeks.

11. Arkansas

12. Nebraska
Sam Keller looked like the QB who lost his starting role at Arizona State, and that worked out pretty well for a Wake Forest team who plays stout defense. The Husker D rose to the occasion and they'll hang on to their mid-rankings spot for another week.

13. Virginia Tech
Awful, just awful. Yes, LSU is playing like they're the best team in the country right now. But while their offense has been pretty bad, VT is a proud defensive team. They ranked #1 in scoring last season, so giving up 48 points and 600 yards to anybody is unacceptable. The game was so bad, they had to burn a redshirt at QB because Glennon was so ineffective. At least Taylor gives them some offense, which was looking like they'd be stuck at 50 yards until he came in.

14. Penn State
The offense came back down to earth, failing to top 300 yards total and giving up an interception return for a TD, one of three turnovers. But they scored a PR TD and the defense completely shut down the Irish under Jimmy Clausen.

15. Rutgers
Navy runs a creative, intelligent offense that's tough to handle, so I don't fault the defense too much for the Midshipmen keeping the game interesting through three quarters. Tell had a solid performance at QB, Rice was a workhorse at RB, and the defense came up with turnovers when they needed stops.

16. Michigan
What are they going to tell their children they did in college? Clamor for a rematch with Ohio State, only to have both teams get embarassed in their bowl games? Become the first ranked team to lose to a I-AA opponent? Suffered your school's worse loss since 1968? Become the first Michigan team since 1959 to start off 0-2 at home? Their wife ran away with the drummer and she's not coming back. (Thank you, Lou Holtz.)

17. Georgia
For one week, Matt Stafford threw the ball to players on his own team, who in turn caught his passes for what are known as "receptions." In week 2, it was business as usual in Georgia as Stafford went 19-44-1, leading the team to an impressive four field goals.

18. UCLA
When they were up 20-0 un BYU, it was looking like they'd be moving up in the rankings. Next thing you know it's 20-17. They scored the decisive score on a ground-heavy possession that nearly ran out the clock, but BYU controlled the game (almost twice as much yardage) and only blew it with three turnovers, one of which was returned for a TD. This game doesn't really say much... or rather, it says a lot of conflicting things about UCLA.

19. Hawaii
On the one hand, Brennan threw for 546 yards and accounted for 5 TDs. On the other, had had three turnovers. The defense got toasted by Louisiana Tech and the offensive line did a really poor job in pass protection. A win's a win, but this was not a strong showing.

20. Miami FL
Nothing to do after a game like this but to move on. Oklahoma is great on both sides of the ball and right now it could be argued (not that I really would) that they're playing like the #1 team in the country. It wasn't a game the Canes could win. Actually, there is one thing to do. Freeman is NOT your starting QB. Wright could be it, if he's not throwing off his back. But if you need a mobile QB because the line can't hold, then either find another guy to do it or get Freeman to run option, because he isn't a good passer.

21. Tennessee
It was a struggle for a half, but in the end they won by 20. The Vols have got to like the fact that both the ground and air game looked good and they gave up just 105 yards rushing.

22. Texas A&M
When Fresno State scored a TD to open the second overtime, I'd already decided that A&M was falling from the top 25. The fact that they eventually won on a failed 2-pt attempt is of little consequence as far as the early rankings go. Every time Fresno needed to score, they were able to. McGee averaged a shade over 3 yards per attempt passing. Luckily the Bulldog defense is a little undersized to stop Javorskie Lane.

23. Missouri
I don't like the fact that Missouri has played two BCS conference cellar-dwellers and has gotten into two shootouts. However, I do like the play of Chase Daniel in both games so far. Once again, the defense gave up most of its points after the Tigers had built a lead of over 20 points, so it may be an issue of staying focused.

24. Auburn
Not only did they lose at home to an unranked team, but they did so despite said team missing 4 field goal attempts. Simply pathetic on offense as Cox threw more int than TD and completed under 50% of his passes against a team not known for its defense. Both runningbacks were held to 60 yards. The defense repeatedly stiffened in the red zone but was porous on the rest of the field.

25. Boise State
Welcome back to the life of a midmajor. When you lose as much talent at Boise State as the Broncoes did in 2007, you don't just reload. Give them credit for fighting and staying in the game, but against a Washington defense that doesn't stand out as anything special, they were simply shut down on offense. Having the schedule of a midmajor could mean a return to the top 25 as long as they don't lose more than 1 or 2 more games, but even a 1-loss season looks very unlikely at this point.

Others worth noting:

Boston College
It was an off week for Matt Ryan, but the ground game had his back. Though they gave up over 400 yards, the defense forced SEVEN turnovers for a +6 net. Out of seven punts, five got NC State started inside their own 20, so the special teams are clearly a plus.

I've thought of Cincinnati being a sleeper team for the Big East title, if you look at their 8-5 record from last season it includes road losses to Ohio State, Va Tech, Louisville, and West Virginia. The nonconference schedule doesn't get much tougher than Oregon State this year, and Thursday nights' game was a blowout that was only close for about a half. If they can win at Rutgers, they face both Louisville and West Virginia in home games this season so watch out for an upset.

The defense gave up a lot of yards but not too many points, and the offense just rolled all game. Unfortunately, I'm not sure if Florida State looks like a good enough opponent from week 1 to justify a top 25 ranking just yet, but in not then they're certainly on the short list.

Florida State
Over 500 yards offense... but they nearly lost to UAB.

Georgia Tech
OK, scoring 69 against Samford isn't THAT impressive. But that does make two straight high-output weeks, and coupled with GT's defense that may warrant a top 25 spot. Tarshard Choice has officially crashed the early season Heisman party, and he's looking to stay on in December. The defense gave up 14 garbage-time points after the game got to 62-0, which means they've given up 3 meaningful points in two gams.

Notre Dame
Clausen's final stats:
17-32-1, 145 yards, 5 sacks for -46 yards, lead team to 3 points offense on a drive that started on the PSU 7.

I know, it's September and they're Oregon. Wait till the four-week midseason stretch that includes Cal, Washington, and USC. Right now, though, Dennis Dixon is a completely different QB than has was last year and that means trouble for opposing defenses. Oregon's defense is a bit of a question mark, but not enough to keep them unranked with the kind of firepower they're showing on the other side of the ball.

Oregon State
For those who thought a great halfback and a strong defense would be enough to contend for #2 in the Pac 10 - first of all, let me ask you where that defense was Thursday night? And secondly, their QB situation is so awful that teams can stack 8 or 9 to stop the run and they're still not able to pass out of it. The Beavers are in trouble.

South Carolina
They finally beat Georgia. Not a pretty game, but winning in Athens by even 1 is impressive. That'll move them back up into the top 25.

South Florida
Were it not for terrible kicking, they would have won comfortably on the road at Auburn. The offense moved the ball very well against a solid defense, and their own defense calmed down after the first quarter to keep them in the game which the special teams continually misfired. OK, here's what you do. Post fliers around campus asking for anyone to try out for placekicker. Hold tryouts next weekend, when there's a bye. Take a good look at the top one or two and try to get some kicks in against North Carolina. By the time WVA comes to town on Sept 28, they should have found their man. Assuming that they can in fact pull this off, the Bulls are a top 25 team.

No offense! Overrated! Attention AP, please remove whatever number you had beside their name and replace it with a nice blank. Thanks.

The offense stalled out in the second half and they got outgained, but Washington beat Boise State 24-10. The defense forced 4 TOs, held Ian Johnson to 81 yards rushing, and Locker's mobility was able to control the first half which wound up being enough. Keep in mind that, as a program, Boise State had lost just 6 games in their last 4 seasons, so this is impressive.

Wednesday, September 5

Russell's top 25, Week 1

My new top 25:

1. USC
2. LSU
3. West Virginia
4. Florida
5. Texas
6. Wisconsin
7. Louisville
8. Oklahoma
9. Virginia Tech
10. Ohio State
11. Cal
12. Georgia
13. UCLA
14. Rutgers
15. Penn State
16. Auburn
17. Nebraska
18. Arkansas
19. TCU
20. Hawaii
21. Tennessee
22. Michigan
23. Boise State
24. Texas A&M
25. Georgia Tech

There is a significant difference in how I will rank my teams vs James - namely, I'm going to try to guess which teams voters will have in their final rankings as well as my personal assessment. However, there are a few things to note about this week's rankings:

#1 - Michigan dropped out of the official polls, but they're still a better offensive team than pretty much anyone below #15. If you look at the box score and recaps, they lost due to their defense being sucky and their special teams failing. Two blocked field goals! Everyone knows how huge special teams is - if they had made both they would still be in the top 10.

#2 - Tennessee had a quality loss on the road to Cal, but by a little too much. At least they didn't get blown out of the water like Cal did last year.

#3 - The mid rankings were the hardest - too many of them played really weak teams and didn't show how they would handle a quality opponent.

#4 - My top 10, should they continue the season in the fashion they showed this week, should remain relatively unchanged.

Monday, September 3

Week 1 Rankings

It's still way too early to tell who's better than who, but here's my guesswork:


1. LSU (preseason #1, +0 spot change)
They got off to a slow start, but you can't ask for much more from a team in a conference game on the road in poor weather conditions.

2. USC (2, +0)
Minor injuries probably kept the offense out of rhythm and I didn't see anything to make me think anyone but LSU would defeat this team.

3. Louisville (5, +2)
Brohm appeared in postseason form. The Cardinals were firing on all cylinders.

4. Florida (8, +4)
Everyone who needed to step up did. Tebow showed that he has the skillset Urban Meyer is looking for.

5. Oklahoma (11, +6)
The biggest question was at QB, and I think that one was answered.

6. Texas (3, -3)
McCoy's performance can be written off as a fluke, at least for one week. The questionable defensive performance causes the drop.

7. West Virginia (7, +0)
Excellent offense, questionable defense. About exactly what I expected.

8. Ohio State (10, +2)
Boeckman isn't Troy Smith, but he'll be a competent Buckeye QB.

9. Wisconsin (9, +0)
Donovan may actually wind up producing better stats here than Stocco. Had Hill produced a better game and they not struggled in the first quarter, I'd be ready to call Wisconsin the Big Ten favorite.

10. California (16, +6)
Longshore and the entire offense were all very impressive, and of course Jackson on special teams. Defense will again be a question and I wouldn't be surprised to see them lose their top ten spot... but for now, defeating Tennessee is a better accomplishment than anything anyone other than Appalachian State pulled off this weekend.

11. Arkansas (12, +1)
The defense didn't perform as well as the Hogs would like, but the offense put a lot of points on the board. Looked like more or less the same team as last year.

12. Nebraska (14, +2)
Very strong performance and what could be their best QB since 2001.

13. Virginia Tech (6, -7)
The offense hasn't improved as much as advertised. Scoring points will still be an issue for them.

14. Penn State (19, +5)
Morelli and the offense were great, beyond what I expected even against such an inferior opponent.

15. Rutgers (17, +2)
Teel's improvement is huge for Rutgers. They are the legitimate #3 team in the Big East and have an outside shot at winning the conference title.

16. Michigan (4, -12)
Based on their performance they shouldn't even be ranked, but I can't honestly picture any of the teams below them winning five out of nine games against the Wolverines. There is too much talent on offense and they'll bounce back.

17. Georgia (unranked)
Very impressive on both sides of the ball, particularly defense.

18. UCLA (23, +5)
The offensive outburst was reminiscent of the early BCS-era Bruin teams, with the exception of the fact that this team can play defense.

19. Hawaii (15, -4)
Nothing Hawaii did or didn't do made them drop four spots, but Cal, Rutgers, Georgia, and UCLA simply looked like better teams.

20. Miami FL (24, +4)
The pride and swagger were back, at least for one week.

21. Tennessee (18, -3)
A loss on the road to Cal in a game that was competitive from start to finish isn't a horrible thing, particularly since two bad breaks led to the decisive non-offensive touchdowns. The defense needs some patching up but 8-9 wins this season isn't out of the question.

22. Texas A&M (22, +0)
That was about what you'd expect given the opposition.

23. Missouri (20, -3)
The offense was perhaps even stronger than I would have expected, at least the passing game, but this defense looked horrible against a mediocre-at-best offense.

24. Auburn (21, -3)
The offense looked weaker than even I had expected.

25. Boise State (unranked)
Strong all-around game but they will have to do more than annihilate Weber State to show that they are the same force without Zebransky.

Dropped Out:

Florida State (13)
Clearly, Jimbo Fisher alone cannot save this offense. Their final two possessions ended:
incomplete, incomplete, incomplete, sack
sack, incomplete, incomplete

South Carolina (25)
Lackluster play against a clearly overmatched Louisiana Lafayette team.

Others to Watch:

Boston College
If BC can cut down on the turnovers, they could actually win the ACC.

At halftime, I was prepared to rank them around #20. Then they completely fell apart in the second half and were lucky not to give up the game with a fumble while trying to run out the clock. Still it's a good conference win and we'll see where they go from here.

Georgia Tech
I want to rank the Yellow Jackets just for putting such a whoopin on Notre Dame. At the same time, leaving them unranked is an even greater slap in the face of the Fighting Irish. And more importantly, it's probably true. I think any team in my top 25 would have little difficulty with Notre Dame at this point in the season.

Oregon State
I like the defensive play, running game, and hard play despite losing one of their two best players. But the QB play will need to improve.

Week 1: My impressions of some teams...

Week 1: My impressions of some teams...

(number in parenthesis is my pre-season ranking)

Appalachian State
Is there any question that the Mountaineers are the best team in division I-AA? Their victory over Michigan was probably the greatest upset in the history of NCAA football. Armanti Edwards looked like a slightly slower but better throwing Pat White. The receivers got open and, with one dropped TD aside, appeared to have good hands. The defense gave up a lot of points, but this is against one of the best offenses in div I-A we're talking about. I have to mention that it was really baffling to see the Mounties kick a FG on first and goal from the 5 with 26 seconds left, and as I expected it gave Michigan more than enough time to try a winning FG of their own. Fortunately ASU blocked the attempt to preserve this amazing upset. This team has great talent and determination; I think they would be among the top 25 teams in the country and I will be shocked if they don't win their division's championship.

Arkansas (12)
Against overmatched Troy, McFadden and Jones each topped 100 yards rushing, Jones topped 100 yards returning and scored a 90 yard TD, and McFadden threw a 42 yard TD pass. I don't like the fact that the game was close at halftime, but Troy has played big teams tough last season as well and the game was won decisively in the second half.

The Wildcats' offense is in trouble. Against Brigham Young, they couldn't even score until the game was already over at 20-0 with just a minute to go in the 4th quarter. Tuitama completed 70% of his passes but at just 6 yards a toss and couldn't convert third downs. The rushing game was nowhere to be found. Defense kept them in it through three quarters, but they're going to have to be able to put up points to be successful in the Pac 10.

Auburn (21)
Cox looked terrible and the ground game had no traction -- against Kansas State! Yes KSU was a playoff team and beat Texas last year, but not with outstanding defense. Now the fact that Auburn held the Wildcats to 13 points despite not being able to keep their own offense on the field is impressive, but this merely confirms my suspicion that the Tigers are very sound defensively but lack the offensive punch to put teams away.

Boise State
The post-Zebransky era began this weekend and the offense has hardly lost a step. Replacement QB Tharp completed almost 75% of his passes at nearly 10 yards per attempt, Ian Johnson dominated the ground game and Avery stepped up to rush for 100 as well. Weber State was simply overmatched in every facet of the game.

Boston College
It all came down to Matt Ryan. The Eagles' QB opened Saturday's scoring with an interception returned for a 7-0 Demon Deacons' lead. He went on to throw another pick, but oh yeah 400 yards and 5 TDs to go with that. If he can avoid the mistakes, the Eagles can contend for the ACC. Neither team found much success rushing the ball, but Wake Forest's 2 net yards rushing stands out a little bit more. BC won the turnover battle 4-3, but I wouldn't be happy with giving up the ball three times for two defensive TDs to keep an opponent in the game. Sid Vicious continues to enjoy the success he had as a former walkon with a perfect game kicking.

The Cougars looked good in every part of the game against a middle-of-the-pack Pac 10 foe. Hall gave a promising first performance at QB and the rushing game topped 100 against one of the better defenses in the westernmost BCS conference. The BYU defense also held Arizona in check both on the ground and in the air. Overall, a strong opening performance that says they are ready to repeat last season's double digit win total.

California (16)
I think we learned more about Cal than anybody else in week 1. This offense is the real deal and deserves to be mentioned among the best scoring units in the country. Longshore's play was fantastic, they've got two legit RBs, and the receiving corps has great hands and athleticism. They'll be scoring 30+ points against just about everyone they face, and most teams just can't keep up with that. Again, though, defense is going to be a problem. Tennessee's receiving corps rose to the occasion, but I guarantee that they are not actually as good as last year's unit - which means, the Bears are again going to be giving up a lot of points. I also don't like them giving up a TD immediately after scoring a defensive TD, giving up a long KO return after their first offensive TD which set up another Tennessee score, and then giving up the tying TD shortly after DeSean Jackson's brilliant PR TD. You don't let a good opponent take the momentum back three times and have a BCS season. To be honest, I think if the game had been played in Knoxville they might have lost in the second half.

(plays 9/3)

Yeah they struggled to beat a midmajor, but at the same time it is a rivalry game and all bets are off in those. Hawkins looked good at QB and the offense actually moved the ball! Recall that last season these guys lost game after game in September by struggling to put 10 points on the board, seeing them score 31 against anybody is a welcome sign for Buffs supporters.

Florida (8)
It's hard to judge a team playing against Western Kentucky, but Florida looked good. Tebow looks like he can be more than just a change-up runner at quarterback, and the offense is loaded with speed and talent. I couldn't get a read on the defense as the opposition was just too inferior.

Florida State (13)
(plays 9/3)

This will be the first team I'll say I may have been wrong about. The defense was good as expected, and holding Oklahoma State to 14 is an accomplishment. Offensively, Stafford was a very different QB from last season, completing a high percent of his passes and more importantly not making dumb turnovers trying to force things. The receivers only dropped two or three passes which is incredible by Georgia standards.

Georgia Tech
In completing less than half of his passes but still leading a Calvin Johnson-less Georgia Tech offense to 33 points, Taylor Bennett further demonstrated that losing Reggie Ball was the best thing that has happened to the GT offense in years. Choice had a monster game on the ground and the Jackets threw eleven more completions than interceptions... I'm not sure that ever happened last season. These completions were coming without a receiver who could dive fifteen yards while doing a double backflip and catching it with two fingers, so it's safe to say that the QB situation is a big plus in the sense that it's no longer a huge minus. And while it may not vault them into the top 25 just yet, beating Notre Dame by 30 will make just about any fan of college football smile.

Hawaii (15)
Against clearly inferior opposition, Colt Brennan passed for 400 yards and six TDs in under two quarters. Not much in the way of rushing yards, but they didn't exactly try there either. Five receivers had at least 4 catches and five receivers scored a TD.

The traditional Big Ten bottom-feeder fought ferociously against a team expected to finish second in the Big XII North. The Illini came back from 24 down to close within 6 and had the ball with a chance to win, which shows great heart and determination. Unfortunately, they had 5 TOs for a -3 net turnover margin. This has been the downfall of Illinois for the past few seasons and it looks like it'll be an issue in 2007.

Iowa State
Gene Chizik is a masterful DC who typically gets the best out of his defensive players, particularly cornerbacks. However, Iowa State was hammered by Kent State for 202 yards rushing so this will clearly be an area of concern. Bret Meyer looked horrible passing, but he is a proven QB so I think that will improve. Still, anybody who thought that having a coach whose teams went unbeaten in 2004 and 2005 was going to suddenly turn this program around... got a wake-up call on Saturday.

Kansas State
Despite losing, the Wildcats played a good game on the road against a ranked SEC foe. Two interceptions by Freeman nullified an otherwise good performance by him, but the rushing game was nowhere to be found with a mere 27 yards total. Granted, Auburn is very tough defensively against everything except for the extremely physical rushing attack of a team like Arkansas, and KSU simply doesn't have that kind of an offense. The KSU defense looked solid, although I think Auburn's anemic offense had something to do with that.

Louisville (5)
The Cardinals look poised to win another Big East title. Brian Brohm was outstanding and the committee of running backs will be strong as well. How will they fare against West Virginia and Rutgers - I have no idea. But I wouldn't be surprised to see Brohm lead this team to an undefeated season.

LSU (1)
The Tigers answered any questions about their secondary with a 6-int performance. The offensive line is a question mark, as is who will be the second go-to receiver after Doucet. But this is championship caliber defense and a quality QB.

Miami (24)
An expected victory, but for Miami the important thing is that the swagger is back. Freeman really needs to improve his passing, but this rushing attack and defense make the Hurricanes worthy of their top 25 ranking.

Michigan (4)
It would be easy to proclaim Michigan overrated and not top 25-worthy after losing to Appalachian State. (and sure, they were overrated to be in the top 5) But in reality, a lot of defenses would have trouble containing their QB Edwards, and I expected Michigan's defense to struggle at the start of this season. The offense looked good, and after this wake-up call they should win at least three of their remaining games in September.

Michigan State
The post-Drew Stanton era begins with an offensive outburst against a team who finished 2006 with a losing record in a midmajor conference. While the offense has lost its dual-threat QB style, MSU has two good RBS, a solid receiving corps, and what looks like an adequate new starter at QB.

Pinnix showed that he can be the workhorse for the Gopher offense as usual. But the passing defense was aboslutely shredded by a foe from the bottom half of the MAC. Fortunately for them, you can still be successful in the Big Ten by stopping the run and rushing well yourself, but I expect a losing season for the Gophers. They were fools to get rid of the coach who turned their program from 90s Big Ten bottom-feeder into a team who could expect 7-8 wins a season.

Missouri (20)
Chase Daniel had a commanding performance with over 350 yards passing and three TDs thrown. Five receivers/TEs gave significant contribution, but Tony Temple was held in check for a mere 33 yards rushing. Of concern is a defensive unit that gave up 435 yards to Illinois' offense. However, this already marks one more close win than the Tigers had all of last season, so give them credit for pulling one out at the end.

NC State
A year ago, NC State was embarassed in a stunning last drive victory by the Akron Zips. This year, UCF held on to an early 25-3 advantage to win 25-23 on a failed 2-point conversion. The former ACC middleweight continues to be a disappointment to the conference.

Nebraska (14)
Sam Keller had a decent first start in almost two years, and the Nebraska rushing attack dominated a Nevada team who, although a midmajor, has been to bowl games the past two seasons. The Air Wolf/Pistol offense was held in check. Next week will tell if the Huskers belong amongst conference title contenders and the following week will reveal their outside hopes of national title contention.

Notre Dame
The Jimmy Claussen era has officially begun, and I fully expect that things will still be this good four years from now!

Ohio State (10)
The Ohio State offense appears to be in capable hands with Todd Boeckman at the helm. Unfortunately, Chris Wells struggled heavily running the ball against a Championship Division foe. Maurice Wells had more success, so we'll have to see if this becomes a trend and eventual change in starting position. The defense refused to yield 100 yards against the run of the pass.

Oklahoma (11)
Damn. I know the opponent was North Texas, but 79-10 is 79-10. Sam Bradford looks like the QB OU has needed for the past two seasons to break back into the elite of college football.

This victory had its share of upsides and downsides. Dennis Dixon had a strong performance, gaining 100 yards both on the ground and in the air, and did so with no turnovers. However, Houston gained 545 yards and was mostly stopped by their own mistakes. I question a team who is tied with such a lowly foe in the third quarter, but Oregon did close out the scoring 28-7 to show late game strangth.

Oregon State
Sure, a victory over Utah was to be expected, but when you lose your star player and the heart & soul of your team just a week earlier, the win alone is important. Canfield was shaky at QB, but Bernard and the defense did their part.

Penn State (19)
The shutout was expected, but Penn State's offense never looked this good last season. Morelli lived up to his preseason expectations for at least one week, and the Lions may have two good runningbacks to fill Tony Hunt's shoes.

Rutgers (17)
The annihilation of Buffalo was to be expected. Seeing Teel complete 70% of his passes and throw for two TDs has to give Scarlet Knights fans some hope that their offense can improve upon last season.

South Carolina (25)
The other USC didn't exactly look like a team who is supposed to be a sleeper in the SEC. Two QBs played and neither topped 150 yards passing. The rush defense gave up 252 yards to Louisiana Lafayette.

South Florida
Who is Elon? I've never even heard of them. This game was a lot closer than it should have been for a team who wants to win the Big East. Matt Grothe and Mike Ford had good games but the offense repeatedly stalled out against an overmatched defense, confirming that while they may spoil somebody else's season, the BUlls are not likely to wear the conference crown in 2007.

Tennessee (18)
Losing to Cal isn't horrible - it merely confirms that Tennessee will not be contending for a national title in 2007. If I'm a Vols fan, I'm excited to see that the offense hasn't gone into a shell despite losing pretty much the entire receiving corps, but I'm worried about a defense that showed absolutely no ability to stop a good offense when it needed to. In other words, I'm excited about the Vols 2007 defense.

Texas (3)
A win's a win, but this win gives me lots to worry about. The only real positive was the play of the receiving corps, especially Jones who really stepped it up in Pittman's absence. Other than that, McCoy looked like a wide-eyed freshman all over again and the defense gave up nearly 400 yards against a Sun Belt foe. Luckily for Texas, Arkansas State missed two FGs or it could have come down to the wire.

Texas A&M (22)
The wrecking crew defense yielded massive amounts of yardage but just seven points against Championship subdivision Montana State. Sam McGee led the offense rushing the ball but the RBs contributed very little. It's hard to know what to make of the Aggies yet but Fresno State will be a slightly better indicator.

Texas Tech
This blowout was what you'd expect from a good system team. Harrell completed close to 75% of his passes despite throwing the ball 58 times, and the occasional run averaged better than four yards which is good enough for the Red Raiders' offense. Texas Tech starts out most seasons by blowing out a clearly overmatched foe, so there's little predictive value in this weekend's performance.

UCLA (23)
Stanford kept the game close for a half at home, but in the end UCLA's 624 yards total offense, including 338 on the ground and 5 TDs through the air, was just too much. Bell dominated the ground and, while their secondary was torched, the UCLA defense refused to yield ground yardage to the Cardinal.

USC (2)
To be honest I would expect better than this against Idaho from a national title contender - no RB topped 70 yards and no WR topped 50 - but USC dealt with several key (and fortunately, not expected to be lengthy) injuries in Saturday's game. The Trojans did have three turnovers, but they also gave up only 3 points up until garbage time. With LSU blowing out and shutting out Mississippi State, Texas struggling against Arkansas State, and Michigan losing to Appalachian State, the Trojans have nowhere to go but to stay in second place in my rankings. When Patrick Turner returns, the offense should be able to keep up these numbers when playing conference foes.

Virginia Tech (6)
Rumors of Sean Glennon's improvement and a resurgent Va Tech offense were greatly, greatly exaggerated. What wasn't exaggerated was the Hokie defense, which scored as many points as it allowed and provided the go-ahead TD. Ore was held to 70 yards rushing and everyone else was held to 0 or less. The offense turned the ball over three times. It'll be hard to keep this team in the top ten, as I can't help but wonder if they too would have fallen victim to Appalachian State.

Wake Forest
At this point, it's safe to call Wake Forest's 2006 ACC crown a stroke of fortune. With luck on the other side of the field, a four turnover performance of their own negated 14 defensive points in a 38-28 conference setback. The secondary was torched for 408 yards, and while the Deacons passed for 266 of their own that came with four interceptions! The special tems had a 31 yard punting average - not net punt, just the kick. The lone star in this game does to WR Moore, whose 15 catch 126 yard performance topped all receivers. They'll make a bowl game but I don't think we'll be seeing WF ranked in 2007.

Jake Locker ushered in a powerful new Husky offense that scored six rushing TDs against an overmatched Syracuse team. Washington rushed for 302 yards and passed infrequently but efficiently. The defense scarcely allowed a yard on the ground, allowing Washington to dominate throughout the contest. Locker's dual-threat ability combined with Rankin's skills at RB make the Huskies a threat to climb up the Pac 10 rankings.

Washington State
After getting off to a promising 14-7 lead, Washington State was defeated soundly by Wisconsin. There's not much to say about this because that was the expected outcome. I thought Brink could have had a more productive game, starting out well but cooling off for the final three quarters. The defense seemed to do alright against Pat Hill, but allowed Tyler Donovan to destroy them in the air. Overall neither impressive nor disappointing given the expectations on this team.

West Virginia (7)
Pat White looked good in both aspects of his game, Steve Slaton topped 100 yards and had 3 TDs, and Noel Devine scored in his first collegiate game. But I really-really-really-really-really-he-he-he-heally don't like a defense giving up 24 points to Western Michigan. Nobody has won a BCS championship without a strong defense, and if the Mountaineers have that as a goal then they need to figure out how to become an elite defensive team.

Wisconsin (9)
Fears that the offense would crumble and become one-dimensional without Stocco were dispelled as the Badgers passed for 300 yards and 3 TDs against Washington State. The rush defense could have used a little work, but the secondary did good to hold a Pac 10 foe to 170 yards passing. With Michigan's loss to Appalachian State, the Badgers will become the favorite to win the Big Ten, so they need to step up this season to take their program back to the level they were at in 1998-99.