Sunday, October 12

Week 7 Joint Rankings

Week 3 was circled on our calendars, but it was week 7 that delivered the best games so far. Both battles of Big 12 unbeatens ended up going down to the wire, and three teams in the top 5 were upset. Toledo pulled a shocker (or at this point, is it?) over Michigan thanks to a generous bounce off the crossbar, Arkansas and Mississippi State pulled off huge SEC upsets in nail-biters there, and the SextonCannon kept Jim-may! out of the rankings. In all, a great weekend... not least of all because we got to say FACK YOO SOONAHS! YOO FACKIN SACK! YOO AH NAWT THE BEST TEAM IN THE HAHTLAND, YOO FACKIN ANKLEGRABBAHS! Thank you, Tommy.

1. Texas
After dominating five questionable opponents, the Longhorns finally had an opportunity to prove themselves against an Oklahoma team that nearly everyone had at the top of the rankings. As expected, Sam Bradford outplayed Colt McCoy, but Bradford's passing was the only thing Texas didn't shut down while McCoy got help from Chris Ogbonnaya, Cody Johnson, and Jordan Shipley on special teams. Speaking of special teams, not only did the Longhorns get a kickoff return TD immediately after falling behind 14-3, but they were also 3/3 field goals and tacked on a two-point conversion. In a day where Missouri lost in part due to missed FGs, don't underestimate this.
Additionally, credit the Texas defense for shutting down the Sooner offense over the final 27 minutes. After trailing 28-20, Texas gave up just one more score and that drive needed a roughing the punter penalty at midfield.

2. Alabama
The Tide had a bye week and remained at #2, but not without seeing a new #1 and #3 around them. Bama's victory over Georgia remains a strong statement.

3. Penn State
The Nittany Lions opened up the offense to thrash Wisconsin in a road victory. Penn State is seven games into their season and have given up over 20 points just once, themselves scoring less than 40 just twice. A 3-3 Illinois team is the best they've faced, but aside from Ohio State and Michigan State, they do not have a particularly tough remaining schedule either.

4. Oklahoma
The Red River Shootout was such a great game that we can't really penalize the team that barely lost it. Sam Bradford showed that he's the best pocket passer in the country, torching the Texas defense but also throwing a pair of interceptions - one on a meaningless heave as time expired. Of greater concern would be the complete lack of a running game. I'm not reading too much into the kick coverage units being a disaster, as Texas's four kickoff returns that didn't go for a TD averages under 18 ypr, and the Longhorns had a negative total punt return yardage.

5. USC
Joe McKnight and the USC defense were enough to beat Arizona State, which is fortunate because Mark Sanchez had a pretty awful outing. Still, the defense nearly equalized the turnover game despite USC giving away five, and in fact they outscored the opposing offense 7-0! USC's defense is in the same league as Alabama's and Penn State's - arguably better - but Sanchez has been mysteriously absent from two games now.

6. Florida
If we were ranking based on week 7 alone, Florida would be in the top 3. But ah yes, we remember some pretty poor performances in other games, and sixth feels about right. What we saw is what Tebow and the offense are capable of if the line provides protection - which we really didn't expect to see against a tough LSU front four.

7. BYU
The Cougars were obviously looking ahead to their Thursday night trip to TCU (and admitted as much) but still dominated New Mexico 21-3. There's not a lot to take away from this one, but we're looking forward to seeing them play in Fort Worth in a national broadcast.

8. Oklahoma State
Oklahoma State's questionable schedule led many to doubt their status as an unbeaten. No longer. The Cowboy defense picked off Chase Daniel three times and their special teams kept Jeremy Maclin in check all night. Sure, it helped that the conference's most accurate kicker had a 1-3 night, as Missouri actually outgained OSU, had a higher yards per play, and penalties/turnovers were even. This was a tough road win, give the Cowboys credit for pulling it out.

9. Georgia
The Bulldogs failed to turn a +249 yardage, including a 148-1 edge on the ground, performance into a comfortable win, but at the end of the day we'll take the victory. Stafford was intercepted twice and Moreno held to 3.7 ypc as the offense struggled yet again. However the defense made moving the ball nearly impossible, and both the kicking and punting was excellent.

10. Utah
Dominating Wyoming, Utah moved to 7-0 and reminders that there's more to the MWC than BYU. The Utes have posted four road wins and two wins over BCS teams, good enough to move into the top ten.

11. Missouri
Chase Daniel turned in his worst performance of the season in a heartbreaking loss to Oklahoma State. Credit the Tigers' defense for giving them multiple chances to win at the end, but on this night their star QB could not come through. Derrick Washington's running was completely shut down and Jeff Wolfort missed two easily makeable field goals! The bright spot here is that despite playing so poorly, UM still had the chance to win. It's unlikely that they'll turn in a similarly sloppy effort when they travel to Texas this Saturday.

12. Texas Tech
Yet again, the Red Raiders turned in a half-effort, and this time it nearly cost them. After allowing Nebraska to make a 14 point comeback, the Red Raiders missed the extra point in the first overtime! Fortunately the defense came up with an interception to prevent Nebraska from winning on the strength of a missed kick.

13. Ohio State
For those who think Pryor and Wells would have made the difference against USC, we invite you to review this game in which Terelle Pryor and Beanie Wells ran the Buckeye Spread. Nothing doing. On the plus side, it looks like the OSU defense will shut down every offense they see in November; it's a small question of stopping Michigan State and a larger question of shutting down Penn State's "Spread HD."

14. LSU
In a battle of the last two BCS champions, it was the Gators fans who got to sing "Don't Cry Out Loud" as Tebow repeatedly burned a strong LSU defense. As Auburn continues to tumble, we give less and less credit for that ballsy win a few weeks ago. LSU needs to close October on a high note against South Carolina and Georgia.

15. Boise State
Boise State won an odd game over Southern Miss in which all 31 points were scored in the second quarter. On to less trivial matters, though the Broncos have played just five games, their defense has surrendered 10 points just once - in a road win at Oregon. Of the potential BCS Busters, this is the strongest group on that side of the ball.

16. Kansas
Special teams allowed Colorado to stay close through three, but ultimately Todd Reesing was too good for the Buffs to stop. This is clearly not the Kansas team who went on to win a BCS bowl last season, but they are still a good team.

17. Virginia Tech
In their bye week, Virginia Tech looked better than ever. A!C!C!

18. South Florida
USF had a week to let their loss to Pitt sink in before facing.... Syracuse.

19. Michigan State
Javon Ringer was the workhorse yet again as the Spartans handed Northwestern their first loss of the season. Since losing to Cal, MSU has looked strong against weak opposition. This weekend they host Ohio State and have a chance to prove themselves as a legit top 25 team.

20. North Carolina
The Sexton Cannon thrust himself into the end zone North Carolina overcame a -150 yard deficit to beat Notre Dame. Jimmy Clausen threw three touchdowns this game and two of them were to his own teammates!

21. Tulsa
The nation's #1 offense overcame three turnovers by putting 602 yards together in all, winning a closer-than-expected game against SMU. When that many yards and 37 points is an off week, you're still pretty good.

22. California
The Bears had a week off to heal before travelling to Arizona to face a Wildcats team that can't be happy about losing to Stanford.

23. Ball State
The BSU offense clearly misses Dante Love, but their defense has stepped up in the meantime. The Cardinals are 7-0 and should expect double-digit wins this season.

24. Vanderbilt
Reality rained on Vanderbilt's parade as this week's lesson was that you can't get outgained in almost every game and expect to win. Indeed indicative of how lucky they've been getting, Chris and I both called the upset along with Phil Steele, which really makes it not an upset.

25. Minnesota
Give the Gophers credit, they're 5-1 with their only loss being to Ohio State. True, Minny did make it look like the Buckeyes actually have an offense, but to the defense's credit they held Juice Williams completely in check until it was all but over at 20-6 in the 4th quarter.

Keep an eye on:

True the Bearcats are 5-1 with a road loss to Oklahoma, but it's also tough to argue for a team whose statement win is 13-10 at home over Rutgers. This weekend they travel to UConn looking to earn some respect.

Georgia Tech
We're still amused by the possibility of a team winning the ACC simply by installing an option offense, but GT did not look good in squeaking by Gardner-Webb!

Following a loss to Duke, we'd written Navy off, but they responded with road wins over Wake Forest and Air Force. Pitt has at least won their games since the opener; if Navy pulls off another tough win they may be sitting at 24 or 25.

The team again did not look good as they barely got past UCLA, as Masoli completed just 26% of his passes for 42 yards! Oregon really needs the week off to take a look at their quarterback situation and recover from numerous injuries.

After being embarassed by Bowling Green, Pitt has rebounded to reach 4-1. They have road games at Navy and at Notre Dame in the next three weeks, ample time to prove themselves.

It's rough being the #3 team in the best non-BCS conference (better than the ACC, Big East, and the Pac 10 if it didn't have USC). TCU lost to a tough Oklahoma team for their only blemish, and should they upset BYU this weekend they would easily jump back into the rankings.

Wake Forest
Not only has Wake beaten nobody of consequence, but they don't even face Virginia Tech or North Carolina! We presume that they will waltz into the ACC Championship game completely untested and with 10 wins whether the team's any good or not. Speaking of December 6th, the ACC gives us a real treat that afternoon as Duke travels to Michigan. Tipoff 3:30 eastern.