Sunday, October 7

James' Week 6 rankings


1. LSU (prev #1, +0 change)
No more debating and seesawing now that USC has been upset. The Tigers were pushed to the limit against Florida and dug deep for the win. This was not the same Gators team that putzed around against Auburn - the whole offense and Tebow in particular came to play. It was the kind of win that can define a season, or even a champion.

2. Ohio State (3, +1)
If the knock on Ohio State was not having a quality win, how does going into a 5-0 team's house and handing out a massacre sound? Purdue entered the game with a top ten scoring offense but time and time again it was the nation's new #1 scoring defense which prevailed. A good running back and a great defense is a proven formula for Ohio State.

3. Cal (4, +1)
The Golden Bears watched games during their bye week, and watched themselves become front runners for the Pac 10 title and a slot in the BCS Championship game. Defensively they are clearly a notch below LSU and Ohio State, which is why I have them at #3, but with the number of play makers they have they are a clear title contender.

4. South Florida (5, +1)
It was a classic trap game after a huge win over WVU and before a rivalry game with UCF. The Bulls have some holes on offense that will probably keep them from running the table.

5. Missouri (13, +8)
As Illinois continues to knock off Big Ten foes, the argument that Missouri does not have any quality wins continues to hold less water. (in fact, their week 1 victory was also on the road) Now having blown out Nebraska, Missouri appears to be for real. Chase Daniel is having a great season with a QB rating of 149, 15 TDs, and just 4 picks.

6. Boston College (7, +1)
Georgia Tech looked like a quality win at the time, but less so now. The Eagles get a matchup with no longer winless Notre Dame (yes, Lou, they're back!) then a bye week before their first real test at Virginia Tech.

7. Oregon (10, +3)
With Stanford having pulled off the upset, the Ducks have to like their chances for an unbeaten October. Realistically, Oregon has a very strong shot at going 10-2 as the Pac 10 appears to have a sharp dropoff after the top four.

8. Oklahoma (11, +3)
Following a devastating loss to Colorado, the Sooners played top ten football in the Red River Shootout against Texas. Bradford threw three TD passes in a big rivalry game but Missouri may be the Sooners' biggest challenge yet.

9. South Carolina (12, +3)
Spurrier just doesn't lose to Kentucky. But seriously, give credit to a great coach for getting top ten-level play out of a team who many didn't think could finish this season ranked. Now they're atop the SEC East!

10. Florida (9, -1)
Despite losing for the second straight week, the Gators played top ten football in one of the toughest road environments in the NCAA. Had the Tigers not been able to pull off five 4th down conversions, the Gators may have gone into the Bayou and won.

11. USC (2, -9)
Despite giving up two straight 4th down conversions to lose the game, the blame cannot be placed on the defense here. Booty threw 4 INTs, giving him 6 in the last two games (8 Trojan turnovers total in those games). Yardage-wise they have dominated those games, but thanks to TOs the scores have not reflected that. The offense will improve when Johnson and Gable return, but the players USC may be missing the most are departed NFL receivers Jarrett and Smith.

12. Cincinnati (14, +2)
If conference championships are won by getting tough road wins, then Cincinnati took a big step towards claiming the Big East title with a hard-fought win at Rutgers. Louisville now appears to be a very winnable game, but Brohm and the Cardinals have too much pride to fall below .500 without a fight.

13. Arizona State (18, +5)
ASU is one of the last teams that I can't really figure out, as they continue to win but haven't played anyone of note. The Washington State game this weekend was very close, but blowing out Stanford and Colorado is more impressive considering what they've done these past two weeks.

14. Virginia Tech (16, +2)
On the road at Clemson, the Hokies gave up more points (23) than they have in the last three games but also put up 41. 21 of those came on defense and special teams. I'm still not really sold on this team, but they're 5-1 having lost only to LSU.

15. Kentucky (6, -9)
We knew the wheels were going to fall out on a team whose defense is this bad. Surprisingly, it was Woodson turnovers that provided most of the difference in points. UK still has a very explosive offense and have found ways to win two big games, so don't forget about them just yet.

16. Hawaii (17, +1)
The Warriors continue to be an unimpressive unbeaten, and with their schedule that might be good enough.

17. Illinois (unranked)
After back to back wins over Penn State and Wisconsin, Illinois has a great shot at winning 9 or 10 games. If they win out or lose only to an unbeaten Ohio State (coupled with a LSU or Cal loss), they'll be in the Rose Bowl. Next week the Illini face Iowa, an overrated team in a stadium overrated for its difficulty. Hosting Michigan will be the key to their season, and the spread option offense that the Illini now run has given the Wolverines fits this season.

18. West Virginia (21, +3)
When WVA shot up in the official rankings this week, did people not remember how awful Syracuse is? I'll wait to see if they can win both at Rutgers and at Cincinnati.

19. Florida State 19, +0)
It's funny how a team can fool you. I definitely thought this was the same ol Noles after a week 1 loss at Clemson... a month later and they're 4-1. November will be a brutal month though.

20. Kansas (unranked)
One of the quieter teams to still be unbeaten, the Jayhawks won at Kansas State for the first time since 1989. They're 5-0 and feature the nation's #4 scoring offense and #3 scoring defense. Amazingly they avoid both Texas and Oklahoma in regular season play, so KU has a chance to finish with very few losses.

21. Tennessee (unranked)
Erik Ainge certainly has the Georgia defense's number. The Volunteers won't admit it, but making it through the first half of their schedule at 3-2 is pretty good considering, and more importantly they control their own destiny in the SEC East.

22. Texas (19, -3)
It hurts to lose two games in a row, but unlike the KSU debacle Texas did play a solid game against Oklahoma; the Sooners are simply a good team. If McCoy keeps playing at just this level, the Longhorns' streak of 10-win seasons should remain intact.

23. Wisconsin (8, -15)
It's been weeks in the making, and Wisconsin finally couldn't pull the game out at the end. Realistically they were going to lose one of their two games at Illinois and at Penn State... so now they need to win next week in order to stay on track.

24. Auburn (unranked)
It's somewhat of a ranking by default, but the Tigers have played three good to decent teams and managed to win one. If they win one of their next two games (at Arkansas, at LSU) they'll have done more to earn the spot.

25. Connecticut (unranked)
I thought about this one a while. Is Purdue, who's still only lost one game to my #2 team, more deserving? How about Georgia, with two losses both to ranked teams and having played four conference games already. Michigan, who's rebounded since starting 0-2? Texas Tech, a dropped pass away from 6-0? Nope. And six weeks into the season, winning all of your games starts to count for something.

On The Cusp

Clemson (20)
Clemson's annual October tailspin appears to have begun. Can Spiller & Davis turn it around?

Georgia (15)
A loss like that is just embarrassing for a defense that was embarassed by the same team last season. Georgia needs to find more consistency on both sides of the ball to match their talent level.

Well hey whaddaya know, they're 5-1. And starting 7-5 in the face.

Back to back good wins at Rutgers and hosting Georgia Tech.

Against Appalachian State, Northwestern, and now Eastern Michigan, the Wolverines have continued to play to the level of their opposition. Too bad they didn't do that against Oregon.

Purdue was clearly a product of their schedule and Ohio State erased any doubts about that. However if the Boilermakers can win at Michigan, they'll have accomplished something rankings-worthy.

Rutgers (25)
The State Universise of New Jersey has now lost two straight home games, and both can be blamed on the defense as Teel has thrown for over 300 in both games. They must stop the losing streak at Syracuse before facing USF and WVU after that.

Texas A&M
The Aggies have an impressive win, but look at how back-loaded their schedule is. Their final four opponents (two road, two home) are all currently ranked, and their next two are road games against teams with a combined 9-3 record. Is 7-5 optimistic?

Texas Tech
Michael Crabtree has caught 17 touchdowns in six games - already breaking the NCAA freshman record held by Mike Johnson and a few others. Ironically it's his dropped TD against OK State that has kept this team from being 6-0. Next week's game vs A&M should vault one of these teams into the top 25.

Of the teams who are actually on my radar, UVA is near the bottom of that list. Nonetheless, after getting embarassed by Wyoming in week 1, they've responded by winning 5 straight. Should they give UConn their first loss next week, we'll have to think about ranking the Cavs.