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)