Tuesday, October 7

Week 5 Joint T25

1. Oklahoma
Sam Bradford is the best QB in the country, in the opinion of these blogwriters. No disrespect to Daniel, Harrell, McCoy, Tebow, or the few others worthy of comparison, but the big difference is Bradford's cannon of an arm. The ratio of 18 TD to 3 INT is even more impressive when you consider that he's averaging 11.4 ypa and his last five TD passes have all come from 40+ yards. (the only one under 50 came while rolling out to his left, so we'll forgive the fact that it wasn't from beyond midfield) The ability to stretch out a defense vertically like that while maintaining high accuracy is one of the best attributes a QB can have, especially in a balanced offense like Oklahoma's which features a powerful running attack to compliment the aerial assault.

2. Missouri
Missouri jumps to #2 because they have been consistent week in and week out. Thanks to Illinois losing to Penn State, they don't really have the same signature win that Alabama does (although this week's opponent, Oklahoma State, looks legit). However the QB, overall offense, and special teams are both among the national elites. What really stood out last weekend, though, was the killer instinct. With 3 minutes remaining in the 3rd quarter, Missouri led Nebraska 38-10... usually, this becomes run out the clock and play prevent time for the Tigers. Instead, they hit a 43 yard TD run, force a turnover, then throw a TD pass on the next play - all in the span of about a minute. That's the mentality, at least, of a champion.

3. Alabama
It has been said that you can really only get the best out of your team - it's "A game" - five or six times a season, tops. If that's the case, Nick Saban has certainly chosen the right weeks to get that top level performance - against Clemson and Georgia, both of whom were ranked in the top 10 when the Tide faced them. Unfortunately, there have been flat-out fail games against weaker opposition. Last weekend's surprisingly close game with Kentucky was one of them. Games at LSU, vs Auburn, and the possible SEC championship will require an A game effort.

4. LSU
Auburn's failing offense continues to cast the meaning of that victory into doubt, but for what it's worth we've come to expect LSU to have a strong defense, Charles Scott is proving himself at RB, and they've finally settled on a QB. That keeps them here for now, and beating Florida would cement their legitimacy.

5. Texas
Texas has absolutely done everything they could have been asked to, yet a schedule whose toughest opponent was Colorado casts things into doubt. The Longhorns are one of ten teams in the country allowing under 12 ppg, and that unit will really be put to a test against an Oklahoma team who scored under their season average when they destroyed Baylor 49-17. A victory would mean some leapfrogging for sure, but a solid performance shouldn't see them fall too far.

6. Penn State
The Nittany Lions' offense derailed against Purdue, but it was the defense that won the day, holding one of the more explosive offenses in the Big Ten scoreless until the final minutes of the game. It was pointed out that the last time PSU started out 6-0, they finished 11-1. That's nice. Also the last time PSU started 6-0, Texas won the national championship. I can live with that.

7. USC
When Oregon drove the length of the field to take a 7-0 lead on USC, I momentarily wondered if the mighty Trojans could actually go 0-for-Oregon. Eight hundred yards and 96 points later, that thought had long been washed from my mind. The Oregon State game may have re-awakened a sleeping giant, and the rest of the Pac 10 must be sweating this.

8. BYU
Apparently not holding the same burning red hatred for Utah State as for UCLA, the fightin' Mormons called off the dogs at 34-0 this weekend. Much like the '84 team, this open offense is gunning all over everyone, and much like that great team, the schedule is aboslute bunk. We like the way they're playing, but it'll be tough for them to crack the top 5 before facing Utah.

9. Georgia
The Bulldogs had a week off to let their humiliating loss to Alabama sink in. We can expect them to come out eager to redefine their image against Tennessee, but to really turn the corner, the line is going to need to block a little better for both Stafford and Moreno, and more passes are going to have to start going AJ Green's way.

10. Ohio State
Chris and I differed greatly here, in that I wanted to put Texas Tech at #10 while he thought that a team who hadn't beaten anyone tougher than Kansas State didn't deserve a spot that high. In the end he's right, but dammit I will fight against this as long as I possibly can. We all know what's going to happen is that OSU is going to plow through the Little Ten once again, and everyone (in Ohio) will be saying how they would have beaten USC if only Pryor had played the whole game and Wells had been healthy. And it'll work. The sooner you accept this fact, the sooner you can begin to appreciate how awesome the Don't Cry Out Loud video featuring Sam Bradford throwing two 50+ yard TD passes per quarter is going to be.
(No idea what I'm talking about? Go to youtube and search for ohio state don't cry out loud. You'll thank me later - and be sure to watch both versions!)

11. Texas Tech
Since the Nevada game, the offense has shown improvement every week, which means by late October 60 points will be considered a poor outing in Lubbock. This week's game vs Nebraska will be out first primer to guage how good TTU really is.

12. Florida
Don't let the score fool you - the Gator offense once again looked assy even against the lowly Arkansas, up until a 21-point 4th quarter explosion. Beating LSU is critical for UF to re-establish themselves as both conference and national contenders.

13. Utah
The Utes squeeked by Oregon State on the fault of poor special teams play by the Beavers. Considering that this was a team who just knocked off USC, we'll take it. We'll definitely take holding Jaquizz Rodgers to "just" 100 yards on the ground after what he did 9 days before.

14. Vandy
We don't want to take away from yet another Commies' win, but right now it looks like anyone who can break 10 points against Auburn has a good chance of winning that game. Don't underrate great special teams' play and an offense that doesn't turn the ball over. These guys should be hanging around the rankings all season.

15. Boise State
The offense looked as wide-open as ever in an easy Wednesday night win.

16. Oklahoma State
Crushing Texas A&M was just what we'd expect out of a team in the middle of the top 25. Though the Aggie defense is perpetually overrated, scoring 50+ on them is a sign of offensive legitimacy.

17. South Florida
The last hope of the Big East fell in craptacular fashion against a Pittsburgh team who... um... well, who beat Syracuse by 10 the week before in what for them qualifies as a statement win. Yeah, not buying the 4-1 yet, Panthers. This offensive letdown was everything we've sadly come to expect from the inconsistent play of Matt Grothe.

18. Kansas
Coming back from 0-20 was nice, but why are you even down by that much against Iowa State? And once they scored 28 straight, how did it come down to the final play? This was an ugly outing by Kansas; that plus the USF game has left real questions about this defensive unit.

19. Virgina Tech
They're getting outgained by 20 ypg, they've only scored 3 more offensive TDs than their opponents, and yet they're 5-1 (2-0). Welcome to ACC "football." They're not good enough to run through their own conference 8-0, but they are clearly the "class" of the group.

20. Tulsa
With an easy 63 point outing, Tulsa's offense moved further ahead of the pack.

21. North Carolina
The Sexcannonton didn't get it done through the air, but the UNC special teams came up big (another mark of a Butch Davis team) to route UConn. Handing the Huskies their only loss in dominating fashion gets the Tar Heels on the radar. Unfortunately it appears that beating Notre Dame will be more of an accomplishment this season than it was last, so the Heels can confirm this ranking with a home win this weekend.

22. Ball State
Not only is the word "Ball" in their name (we think it refers to the male anatomy, not the "quarterback" who singlehandedly kept Calvin Johnson from becoming an earlier Michael Crabtree), but they're 6-0 and have won all their games by double digits. The schedule's not super-quality, but it does include Navy. This team has the talent to run the table.

23. Illinois
For Juice Williams to set a total yardage mark at Michigan is the flagrant slap in the face we love to see for a Wolverines' team in a transition period. Though they've got two losses, both were against top 6 teams, and both were competitive games.

24. Cal
Having proposed the Black Hole Theory of how Maryland routinely gets killed by horrible teams (MTSU, Virginia) while somehow getting decent opposition to play to their level (Cal, Clemson), we've decided that we're tentatively okay with the loss to a crappy team on the other side of the country. Since that anomaly, Cal's picked up where they left off with a blowout win over Colorado State and a solid conference win against Arizona State. We're not sure when Jahvid Best will get back, but the week off before facing Arizona has to help.

25. Michigan State
Since opening the season with a 10-point loss to Cal, they've gone on to win five games including giving Notre Dame their only loss. Yes, MSU is the reason Weis and Clausen are not ranked #1 in the AP right now, and for that we thank them.

Keep an eye on:

Arizona - After a bad loss to New Mexico, they're winning conference games with ease.

Auburn - They're more here for explanation. Right now, it looks like Auburn would have no chance of beating a team who can score 20 on them. The offense clearly has not bought into (or really even implemented) Franklin's system, so they either need to do that or go to a run-heavy pro style attack. Whatever they're trying now... is just awful.

Georgia Tech - Everyone's talking about Wake Forest, but I'm looking at the ACC team that doesn't appear to just be freaking lucky to have their record. GT won a close game to give Boston College their only loss, lost a very close game against Virginia Tech, and have won every other game easily. I don't know at what point I'd start considering them (next game: Gardner-Webb) but if they make it past Clemson they will technically be 7-1, fwiw.

Minnesota - We think they're a complete farce, but a win over Illinois would put them at 6-1 and deserving of a ranking.

Northwestern - Beating MSU would be a statement.

Notre Dame - Dammit, we have to be fair. Or at least, as fair to them as we are to Ohio State. If Notre Dame beats North Carolina this weekend, that will be added to a list of victories that includes Michigan and Purdue.