Sunday, October 3, 2010

Week 5: Top 25

Hobbitcore's Top 25 (based on equal consideration of teams' resumes and how good I think they actually are...also stole collegefootballnews.com's gimmick of "Why the Ranking Should Be Higher"/"Why the Ranking Should Be Lower")

1. Alabama
Why the Ranking Should Be Lower: They did just blow away the Gators but they had a couple turnovers practically gift-wrapped. Still, it probably shouldn't. The secondary has grown up before our eyes after showing weakness against Ryan Mallett in the first half and they won't face another quarterback within a stone's throw of being that good the rest of the year unless Boise State gets the nod for the BCS title game.

2. Oregon
Why the Ranking Should Be Higher: Granted, Autzen Stadium is hostility defined but this team took a 21-3 deficit against one of the best offenses in the country and parlayed it into a 52-31 dismantling. For those of your scoring at home, the Ducks outscored the Cardinal 49-10 in the final three quarters.
Why the Ranking Should Be Lower: It shouldn't. The offense is scorching hot and the defense is rock solid when they need to be. The gut-check win over the Cardinal might be the most impressive victory for any team all year.

3. Boise State
Why the Ranking Should Be Higher: It's not the Broncos' fault the rest of their schedule sucks. They did exactly what they were supposed to do, swamping New Mexico State 59-0.
Why the Ranking Should Be Lower: The rest of the Broncos' schedule sucks. It's gonna be hard to keep caring about this team the rest of the season while everyone else is racking up signature wins against ranked opponents (like Oregon just did). With a little luck, Nevada will run the table and stay ranked all the way to their showdown with the Broncos in Reno.

4. Ohio State
Why the Ranking Should Be Higher: The offense is putting up tons of points and the defense is an Ohio State Defense. They have a great win over a very good Miami team that has looked better and better each of the last two weeks.
Why the Ranking Should Be Lower: Other than beating the Canes in Columbus, OSU hasn't proven much. They've blown away a heaping helping of whatever and let Illinois stay within a score until 1:49 left in the game. Indiana's offense gave Michigan fits today (yeah, I know, big whoop) so the Buckeyes can't get caught looking ahead to Wisconsin.

5. TCU
Why the Ranking Should Be Higher: They're not doing anything sexy but they do have a very nice win over a talented Oregon State team and they destroyed a vastly underrated Baylor team. The defense hasn't missed a beat after losing Jerry Hughes and Daryl Washington, allowing just 12.4 points per game.
Why the Ranking Should Be Lower: If the Broncos can't get into the BCS title game with their schedule, TCU doesn't have a prayer. They do have the showdown with Utah and Air Force might end up being ranked by the time they and the Horned Frogs hook up but when your signature win is over Oregon State, that's not exactly impressive.

6. Oklahoma
Why the Ranking Should Be Higher: Landry Jones has found his stride and the running game is rolling. A win over Texas is still a win over Texas, even if it doesn't have the luster it once did, the dismantling of Florida State is looking pretty good, and the win over Air Force is underrated--the Falcons lead the nation in rushing offense.
Why the Ranking Should Be Lower: This is Oklahoma. They don't beat Utah State, Air Force, and Cincinnati by a combined 12 points. The Sooners will be favored in every game from here on out so there's no excuse not to enter the Big 12 championship game undefeated and playing for a possible national title shot.

7. Nebraska
Why the Ranking Should Be Higher: Tyler Martinez has the offense humming and the defense hasn't lost a step after replacing the irreplaceable Ndomakung Suh. They drove Jake Locker's dark horse Heisman candiacy and NFL stock into the Husky Stadium grass and look like a shoe-in to return to the Big 12 title game.
Why the Ranking Should Be Lower: The Huskers have yet to play a team with a pulse. It's not like they need to throw the ball but they're among the bottom in the NCAA in pass offense and that kind of one-dimensional attack could be a problem when the Longhorns come to town.

8. Auburn
Why the Ranking Should Be Higher: The Tigers notched two of the more impressive wins of the season so far with brutal gut-check, comeback wins over Clemson and South Carolina. Cam Newton looks more like a dark horse Heisman candidate every week and the defense is vintage Auburn
Why the Ranking Should Be Lower: It shouldn't. Everything is coming together at just the right time for Auburn. After travelling to Kentucky next week, the Tigers get Arkansas and LSU at home in back-to-back weeks. If they make it through that, they'll likely find themselves in the top 5, setting up a monumentally huge Iron Bowl.

9. Michigan State
Why the Ranking Should Be Higher: The Spartans have quietly compiled a very impressive resume of nice wins over Notre Dame and Wisconsin. They aren't putting up the stats of an Oregon or a Stanford, but the offense is perfectly balanced, not only between the run and the pass but this is truly a team offense with the ball being spread around to many different receivers and two very good backs sharing the load on the ground and both averaging close to 100 yards a game.
Why the Ranking Should Be Lower: The defense is decent but they have given up 55 points combined to Notre Dame and Wisconsin, the only two clinically alive teams they've played. They're also only converting 37.1% of their 3rd downs which is one of the most underrated stats in football.

10. Arizona
Why the Ranking Should Be Higher: Nick Foles may be the most underrated quarterback in the country. There's also an impressive win over a very good Iowa team and a pretty good win over a decent California squad. The defense is ranked 3rd in the country in points allowed.
Why the Ranking Should Be Lower: The Wildcats barely had to generate any offense to take a 20 point lead over the Hawkeyes--a lead that evaporated by midway through the 4th quarter against an offense that isn't exactly known for scoring fast or often. Also putting up 10 points on a Cal team that yielded 52 to Nevada isn't very respectable either.

11. Arkansas
Why the Ranking Should Be Higher: Ironically, I wasn't convinced of how good this team was until they lost a game. Ryan Mallett and company pushed Alabama to the limit in Fayetteville which, to me, was their most impressive performance of the season--even more impressive after seeing what the Tide did to the Gators.
Why the Ranking Should Be Lower: When your signature performance is a home loss (albeit one against the best team in the country) and your next best game is a last-second escape over a Georgia team that's now 1-4, you have some work to do.

12. Stanford
Why the Ranking Should Be Higher: No shame in losing to Oregon in Autzen Stadium. The Cardinal took command early with opportunistic defense and even in a 21 point loss they proved they belong. Andrew Luck's arm gets all the attention but the running game (including Andrew Luck's legs) is actually a bit more productive. They destroyed UCLA and Notre Dame and remain in the top 5 in points per game.
Why the Ranking Should Be Lower: Great teams don't give up 21-3 leads on the road. They certainly don't get outscored 49-10 in the final three quarters. Granted, they would have a hard time stopping Oregon's offense with 12 or 13 guys on the field but they do have the ability to keep that offense off the field for extended periods of time.

13. Miami (FL)
Why the Ranking Should Be Higher: As poorly as the Canes played in the Horseshoe, the defense and special teams kept them in it until the end. Then they rolled into Heinz Field and blasted the Panthers and held on to beat a very good Clemson team in Death Valley. The defense is playing out of its mind and if Jacory Harris could cut out the mistakes, this team would be almost unstoppable. They still haven't played their best and yet they're 3-1 and ranked 13th.
Why the Ranking Should Be Lower: There are way too many mistakes on offense. Even against Pittsburgh and Clemson, there were penalties, dropped passes, and, of course, Jacory Harris interceptions. The Hurricanes dominated Clemson most of the game but barely escaped with the win and even against the Panthers, they could have won by 40 if they hadn't kept shooting themselves in the foot.

14. Utah
Why the Ranking Should Be Higher: In what was supposed to be a rebuilding year, the Utes have built on a big opening night win over Pittsburgh to quickly reassert themselves as a contender in the Mountain West. The offense and defense are both top ten squads, even after losing a bunch of starters.
Why the Ranking Should Be Lower: The Pittsburgh win doesn't exactly look too impressive anymore and the rest of the schedule has been a lot of whatever. They also needed overtime to beat a team at home that the lower-ranked Hurricanes obliterated on the road (and without even playing particularly well).

15. LSU
Why the Ranking Should Be Higher: It hasn't always been pretty but the Tigers keep winning. They beat a short-handed North Carolina team and an unremarkable West Virginia team but those are still better wins than a lot of teams have. They may be in the bottom 10 in pass offense but they're still winning games the way LSU always has: with defense and power running.
Why the Ranking Should Be Lower: As the old saying goes, if you have two quarterbacks, you really don't have any. The Tigers haven't had a quarterback since Matt Flynn left and Ryan Perrilloux was dismissed (I hate to remind LSU fans of this but what a gut-wrenching tragedy that situation was--imagine what the Tigers could have been with Perrilloux under center the last two years). There hasn't been an impressive win yet and they needed an extra play to beat a Tennessee team that needed overtime to take care of UAB

16. Florida
Why the Ranking Should Be Higher: It shouldn't. The Gators haven't looked right on offense all year (with the exception of Trey Burton running over an unsuspecting Kentucky) and all their problems came to a head in Tuscaloosa. The defense has been bailing them out all year but they got smoked by one of the most balanced offenses in the country.
Why the Ranking Should Be Lower: If the Gators don't fix their issues and find an identity on offense, they're going to struggle with South Carolina, LSU, and Florida State. Everyone is still penciling them into the SEC title game because of the defense and the logo on their helmets but I wouldn't be so hasty. Luckily, they don't have to face Auburn or Arkansas while South Carolina does (the Gamecocks also face Alabama this week) so if the Gamecocks can't beat either Alabama or Arkansas, the Gators will have the inside track, assuming they beat LSU. If the Gamecocks win one of those games then the two teams will be playing for the East on 11/13 in the Swamp.

17. Wisconsin
Why the Ranking Should Be Higher: It shouldn't. The Badgers needed a blocked extra point to beat the only BCS conference team they played until the loss to the Spartans. The running game is as good as advertised but there is very little about this team that has been impressive.
Why the Ranking Should Be Lower: The Badgers finally faced a team with a pulse and they blinked. They only have to wait two weeks for their chance at redemption when the Buckeyes come to town but they'll have to work out some issues on defense the week before against Minnesota.

18. Iowa
Why the Ranking Should Be Higher: The defense is ranked #2 in the country in points allowed and Ricky Stanzi has thrown for over 1200 yards already. They almost fought back to beat Arizona on the road, which shows a lot of character, especially after a pick-six and a 100-yard kickoff return TD. There was also an impressive win over Penn State yesterday.
Why the Ranking Should Be Lower: Penn State doesn't exactly look like a world-beater right now and the running game is feeling the loss of Shonn Greene, ranked 49th in the country, an uncharacteristic ranking for a Kirk Ferentz coached team.

19. South Carolina
Why the Ranking Should Be Higher: Marcus Lattimore is a stud, the defense is improved, and Stephen Garcia has been solid. They jumped on Auburn early on the road and were 4 late turnovers (and a questionable decision to pull Stephen Garcia late in the final quarter) away from a huge road win.
Why the Ranking Should Be Lower: Stephen Garcia is still inconsistent and Marcus Lattimore was a non-factor against Auburn. The best win was a defensive struggle against a dismal Georgia team and they aren't rated higher than 33rd in any major category of team stats

20. Michigan
Why the Ranking Should Be Higher: Have you seen Denard Robinson? Much like Tim Tebow in 2007, Michigan won't even need to win the Big 10 (or even win 10 games) for him to run away (literally) with the Heisman. It already seems like it's his to lose. Not only that, but when he left with an injury against Bowling Green, the offense hummed right along without him behind the most improved offensive line in the country.
Why the Ranking Should Be Lower: At some point, this team is going to have to start playing some defense. UMass and Indiana have underrated offenses but this is still Michigan and Michigan doesn't beat UMass and Indiana by a combined score of 84-72. We'll learn a lot about this team Saturday when the Spartans roll into town.

21. Florida State
Why the Ranking Should Be Higher: Christian Ponder is one of the most supremely talented quarterbacks in the country and has incredible poise. The running game has actually been more productive than the passing game, with three backs already over 250 yards, all averaging over 6 yards per carry, and each with a TD run of over 50 yards.
Why the Ranking Should Be Lower: The only team with a pulse the Noles faced (Oklahoma) completely dismantled them. The defense is getting better but still has a long way to go.

22. Nevada
Why the Ranking Should Be Higher: Colin Kaepernick is one of only two guys in the country with over 1,000 yards passing and over 500 yards rushing (take a wild guess who the other one is). The Wolf Pack is ranked in the top five in the nation in rushing offense and points per game and they have good wins over California and BYU.
Why the Ranking Should Be Lower: They haven't done a whole lot besides beat mediocre teams. The schedule, like Boise State and TCU before them, isn't all that exciting. It'll be a while before they have a game anyone will care about but if they can stay ranked until then, they'll be in good shape to steal a non-AQ automatic BCS bid.

23. West Virginia
Why the Ranking Should Be Higher: The defense is ranked 12th in the nation in points allowed and Noel Devine is still one of the most dangerous backs in the country when he wants to be.
Why the Ranking Should Be Lower: The Mountaineers are struggling a little too much with inferior teams for a squad that's supposedly the favorite to win the Big East. They lost to an LSU team that doesn't play offense and barely beat Marshall and Maryland. Noel Devine only has 391 yards rushing through 4 games which isn't even 100 yards a game and that's disappointing for a guy as explosive as Devine. Fortunately, they won't have to do much more than they're doing to win the Big East.

24. Oklahoma State
Why the Ranking Should Be Higher: 2nd in the nation in points per game and 3rd in passing offense. Nice Thursday night win over Texas A&M. Justin Blackmon may be the most underrated receiver in the nation.
Why the Ranking Should Be Lower: 91st in the country in points allowed, having only played Washington State, Troy, Tulsa, and A&M is a problem.

25. Air Force
Why the Ranking Should Be Higher: 373.6 rushing yards per game. Yeah. Per game. That's the most in the country, in case you're wondering. They also came within 3 points of Oklahoma, which isn't too shabby.
Why the Ranking Should Be Lower: You know the drill. Mountain West. Call me after you've played TCU and Utah.

No comments: