Archive for October, 2008

The CFB season rolls on into the far turn, where final positioning for the home stretch run begins.  Several teams this week have a chance to either play havoc, or cement their future. Now, we admit these are few and far between, but we’ll run down the Kathman-Patton Top 25 and their games, and see what we think. Sorry that we posted both our rankings and predictions on the same day, but hey, things happen.5

#1 Texas (8-0) at #5 Texas Tech (8-0). Just about everyone is talking this game up this week, but we think its overhyped. The only thing bad for Texas going into this game, is that it’s not in Austin. Otherwise, all the signs and symbols point the Longhorns’ way.  UT has taken the best teams on this year and comfortably handled each one. First there was Missouri, with Heisman candidate Chase Daniels. Disposed easily and soundly. Then, Oklahoma State… while the the score was 28-24, the game was never in doubt. Now comes Texas Tech, enjoying probably the best year they have enjoyed in years, at 8-0. But wait a minute. We have to remind ourselves of the top teams that they’ve played….uh… none.  Ok, well #20-something Kansas maybe counts a little. Other than that, nada.  Not only that, but until last week, they have struggled to win in several games in which they were profound favorites.  It’s not that we think TTU lacks the talent or the capability to beat Texas, but history hasn’t been kind. In order to do so, the Raider offensive line will have to put forth a Herculean effort to keep the Texas defensive line away from Graham Harrell. If they can, then Harrell may have time to make the plays he needs to, as the Texas secondary has shown vulnerability to good passing games giving up huge passing yards in the aforementioned games. Conversely, however, throttling Colt McCoy’s offense will take pressure…pressure that to now the Raider defense hasn’t shown in any game. And Lord help the Raiders if it gets down to a kicking game. We like Texas, comfortably in this showdown. No upset watch here.  Longhorns by 18.

#2 Penn State (9-0). Does not play.

#3 Alabama (8-0) hosts Arkansas State (4-3). Are you kidding me?  Is there some sort of mistake here…let’s double check.  Well, yeah, sure enough, the Tide put a mid-season pansy from the Sun Belt on the schedule. Let’s igore the fact that A-State is a decent 4-3, but … oh my!  Now we haven’t seen Alabama line up and kick the other team into oblivion since their 49-14 thumping of, oh yeah, Arkansas back in September. Well, looks like that state’s put up another punching bag.  Tide by 28.

#4 Oklahoma (7-1) hosts Nebraska (5-3). This isn’t the 70s, so the showdown feel is way gone. Oklahoma’s offense will certainly be way too much for the Nebraska defense so we’d expect lots of Sooner points.  Whether the Cornhuskers can mount a ball control offense to keep them thwarted, as they did against Texas Tech, remains to be seen.  The Nebraska defense isnt giving up 40 points/game anymore, for sure, but they arent scoring that much either.  The Sooners should make it to 8-1 fairly easy hosting this in Norman. Oklahoma by 24.

#5 Texas Tech (8-0) hosts #1 Texas (8-0). See above comments.  Texas by 18.

#6 Florida (6-1)  at #8 Georgia (7-1). Easily the REAL game of the week, and the winner of this game, probably going to the SEC Championship against Alabama, and most likely to the NCAA Title Game against Texas, barring way unseen circumstances. Florida has finally resurrected their offense from the doldrums witnessed by their thrashing of LSU 51-21 two weeks ago.  When you can crank that much offense against one of the best defenses in the country, you’ve got talent. What LSU couldn’t muster, however, was much offense to keep Florida’s offense off the field. This is something that Georgia should be able to do, and in so doing, will keep Florida’s possessions down and the score lower. This also plays into the hands of the Georgia defense, but they haven’t seen a team like Florida yet.  The Gators have outscored their opponents 152-33 since losing a heartbreaker to Mississippi. Upset watch isnt really the name of the game here, as 6 v 9 isnt our idea of an upset watch, but suffice it to say that there is equal chance for either team to win. However, Georgia relies on their defense to help it win games, and we think both teams will try to play ball control. Overall, assuming that both offenses can and will be effective, we like the fact that Florida is just playing better ball that just about anyone right now, and comes to the contest hitting on all cylinders. Gators by 4.

#7 USC (6-1) hosts Washington (0-7). We would take arguments, but the Pac-10 must be the weakest conference in the country this year. While Oregon, California, and even Arizona State have been in the T25 at one time or another, its USC and not much else there. Thanks to their loss at Oregon State, the Beavers control their own destiny, which might be fairly bad.  USC has turned into a giant enigma this year, as they’ve turned from being an offensive dynamo (led by the likes of Matt Leinart and John David Booty) into a defensive juggernaut. QB Mark Sanchez has struggled to find a consistent handle on a variable offense that has just not found any consistency. In some games their running game just dominates, but when stopped on the ground, Sanchez has faltered dramatically.  All this being said there’s not much need for alot of offense with the Huskies coming to town. Washington’s defense has given up 44 to Oregon, 55 to Oklahoma, 48 to Arizona and no less that 33 on 3 other occasions. The last three weeks UW hasnt put up more than 14, and no more than 28 all season. This might be a game where even Mark Sanchez will find some success, finally.  USC by 20.

#8 Georgia (7-1) hosts Florida (6-1). See above.  Florida by 4.

#9 Ohio State (7-2) does not play.

#10 Oklahoma State (7-1) hosts Iowa State (2-6). Let’s agree now that OK State is more than just a spoiler team. They can play ball and play well. Despite their loss to #1 Texas, the Cowboys are playing at a level that very well could earn them a BCS bowl, especially if they manage to take out Texas Tech and Oklahoma along the way. They can, and the latter is a home game. This week however, another home game against the lowly Cyclones. Barring some unusual circumstance, like, the bus breaking down on the way to the game, the Cowboys ride again!  Oklahoma State by 24.

#11 TCU (8-1) at UNLV (3-5). The Frogs have only lost to Oklahoma early in the season, and in about every other contest have dominated their opponents, including a 32-7 shellacking of then top-10 BYU. They get their chance on the National stage in two weeks when they take on Utah, which may be a trap this week. UNLV, even with their 3-5 record, have proven to be pesky.  In their last two games, the lost to Air Force by 1 and BYU needed a late rally to win by a TD over the Rebels. So, TCU can’t be looking to Utah just yet. We think this might be a closer game than it may indicate.  TCU by 10.

#12 Utah (8-0) at New Mexico (4-5). The undefeated Utes certainly have gotten the nod over TCS by the pollsters, but we remain a bit more partial to the Frogs.  We understand the respect for the 0 vs 1 loss however, Utah hasnt played a team of the caliber of Oklahoma either. In fact, Utah hasn’t played a ranked team all year, and frankly, hasn’t just blown people away either. So, we’re not at all convinced. However, we are sure that the Utes do have enough to take care of New Mexico…more than enough.  Utah by 21.

#13 Boise State (7-0) at New Mexico State (3-3). The WAC still pretty much revolves around the Broncos, and this week should be more of the same. The Broncos have won 49 of their past 51 conference games and all eight meetings against New Mexico State. We can’t imagine this changing this week. The pollsters love BSU and actually have them ahead of both TCU and Utah which would target them for a BCS bowl. Though Boise State’s defense ranks fourth in the nation by allowing 11.3 points per contest, it will face a New Mexico State team that leads the conference by averaging 324.1 passing yards a game. However, we’ll take the Broncos comfortably.  Boise State by 14.

#14 Missouri (6-2) at Baylor (3-5). Ooo. Ouch. Tigers and Bears oh my.  After giving up 993 yards and 84 points in consecutive losses, the Tigers defense rebounded with its best performance of the year in a 58-0 victory over Colorado, handing the Buffaloes their first shutout loss since 1988. Bears freshman quarterback Robert Griffin has 1,405 yards passing and 554 yards rushing, accounting for 65.8 percent of his team’s 2,977 total yards. He also has had a hand in 18 of Baylor’s 29 touchdowns — nine rushing and nine passing. So the task should be that Missouri controls Griffin and that should be the end of it.  Uhm..it is.  Missouri by 24.

#15 LSU (5-2) hosts Tulane (2-5). Next to USC, we nominate LSU as being another enigma. We knew from the outset that LSU was going to have problems with their offense, and with Dorsey gone on the D-Line, we were pretty sure that there would be holes to fill.  This year, LSU has just befuddled everyone. At times they have looked brilliant, at least defensively, but then comes Florida and Georgia laying 50+ point and all of a sudden they dont look so hot.  However, Tulane comes in with real consistency issues, and well, into Baton Rouge and…well, we think LSU takes this one just by sheer will. Tigers by 21.

#16 Brigham Young (7-1) at Colorado State (4-4). We had been really skeptical of BYU almost all season as they hadn’t performed up to par, and sure enough TCU walloped them good. Now the Cougs need to fight back to position themselves for a decent bowl.  Colorado State is fighting for their lives to get bowl eligible, and its foreseeable.  Look for C-State to fight a good fight here and maybe to the point of marginally nudging an upset watch.  We expect a BYU win here, but not by much and watch out!!  BYU by 6.

#17 Florida State (6-1) at Georgia Tech (6-2). Florida State aims to stay atop the ACC Atlantic standings when the Seminoles visit Georgia Tech. Bobby Bowden will be looking to improve to 13-0 all-time against the Yellow Jackets. Georgia Tech’s most recent win over Florida State was a 30-0 victory in 1975 in Atlanta. We think this is a hidden gem for the weekend.  The ACC is definitely a mixed up bag of tricks. FSU has games coming up in the next few weeks against Atlantic Division rivals Boston College and Maryland that will determine who goes to the ACC Championship. Georgia Tech is currently eyeing North Carolina for the Coastal Division crown, and is tied there. Both teams have to focus. GT isnt ranked, but we think this could be a huge game for them. so this is an Upset Watch.  GT was on a 4-game winning streak until they faultered last week against Virginia. FSU is on a 4-game win streak. Despite the home field advantage, we’re going to edge this one toward the Seminoles, but anything goes.  Florida State by 3.

#18 Tulsa (8-0) at Arkansas (3-5). Here we go.  The C-USA vs. SEC.  No question that Tulsa is for real folks. QB David Johnson has a passing record of 205.34, and his last two game he’s gone over 240. He’s simply passed for over 2600 yards and 32 TD…to date. We dont care what conference or opponents you play thats just amazing. This all seems like a runaway right?   Nope. The Golden Hurriance boast the nation’s top-ranked offense, but face a foe they’ve had little success against. The Razorbacks have a 16-game winning streak against Tulsa, dating back to 1976. Playing in Fayetteville wont help either.  We still think that Tulsa has too much offense and just enough defense to overcome the Razorbacks tho.  Tulsa by 10.

#19 Michigan State (7-2) hosts Wisconsin (4-4). At the beginning of the year, we might have never predicted the Badgers to be 4-4 and out of the running for the Big-10. But that’s the way it’s shaken out. MSU has proved to be the surprise of the Big-10, falling only to Ohio State in conference play, which means that they still have a chance for the title when they meet PSU in a couple of weeks. First its Wisconsin. Despite the record, the Badgers DO have a potent running game with P.J. Hill and have put together some pretty amazing efforts. We think this game could be a trap for MSU, and are putting this one on Upset Watch. The only thing we like here is that MSU is at home, and that may be enough to push this one in their favor. Michigan State by 3.

#20 Ball State (8-0) does not play.

#21 Minnesota (7-1) hosts Northwestern (6-2). Another critical Big-10 game. Minnesota has no record against Penn State and won’t play them in the future, yet they are only 1 game out.  If PSU were to lose, the Big-10 is in a major uproar, and as such, the Golden Gophers certainly would like to stay alive.  To do so, they’ll have to get by a stubborn Northwestern team thats played consistently well all season, losing to Michigan State and last week to Indiana by 2 pts.  We’re thinking that Minnesota should win the game but with Northwestern playing so well, we’re putting this one on Upset Watch.  Gophers by 10.

#22 North Carolina (6-2) does not play.

#23 Oregon (6-2) at California (5-2). This should be a titanic battle in the Pac-10 on the second tier order. Both teams seem to be in the hunt with proper talent, but theoretically, far below USC. There’s a logjam of one-loss teams in Pac-10 play, and this meeting of Oregon and Cal will thin the herd. Oregon ranks fifth in the nation in rushing at 278.8 yards per game. The Ducks, though, will be facing a California defense that’s holding opponents to 95.7 yards on the ground. California has won three of the past four meetings and two straight. At Cal, we have to put this one on Upset Watch, but lean toward Oregon  Ducks by 2.

#24 Maryland (6-2) does not play.

#25 Connecticut (6-2) hosts West Virginia (5-2). Despite losses to UNC and Rutgers, a win over Cincinnati has put UConn back in the Top 25. But it will be a challenge to stay there with West Virginia coming to town. The Mountaineers have won all four meetings with the Huskies. This one definitely goes on Upset Watch, and we actually edge this one toward WV.  Mountaineers by 3.

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Week nine proved to be a little anticlimactic, but nonetheless significant in the composition of the Top 25. Most teams in the top 10 remained there, while some notable teams in the lower tier moved out due to poor performances, allowing some new blood to permeate in the lower ranks.

Texas dispatched Oklahoma State in a game that was actually not as close as the 28-24 score might indicate. The Longhorns used a ball-control offense to score when needed, and relied on their strong defensive front four to pressure Zac Robinson into constantly being in catch-up mode. Texas Tech, on the other hand, scored at will against Kansas, and got an impressive showing from their defense.  The two wins set up the last big hurdle for Texas next week in Lubbock.

Meanwhile, the Big-10 showdown ended up being a test of defenses, as Penn State won the showdown in what, by all intents and purposes, should have been the Big-10 Championship. Georgia, similarly dispatched LSU from any hopes of getting to the SEC Championship.

Check out the lower ranks for a few new teams and some old ones that dropped out.  Here’s our Top 25 for this week:

#1 Texas (8-0). Defeated #10 Oklahoma State (7-1) 28-24 at home. Next week: At #6 Texas Tech (8-0). Clearly two of the best teams in the Big-12, the Longhorns executed a terrific ball-control offense against the Cowboys, keeping the ball away from Zac Robinson and company.  Defensively, Texas rose to the occasion when needed. Both defenses performed admirably, holding each other to nearly 20 pts under their averages. There’s not much stopping Texas now going to Miami for a title game.

#2 Penn State (9-0). Defeated #10 Ohio State 13-6 at Columbus. Next week: Bye. We keep asking Penn State to step up and prove themselves, and so they did. In this year of the top-heavy offenses and little defenses, its a bit refreshing to see a hard nosed defensive game as this one was. The key in this game was the inexperience of Tyrelle Pryor at QB in a big game.  The other key was just pure intensity of the defense of Penn State. Kudos to the Nittany Lions for gritting out a very hard victory against a very good team.

#3 Alabama (8-0). Defeated Tennessee (3-5) 29-9 at Tennessee. Next week: Arkansas State (4-3) at home. This game was certainly competitive early, but as the game wore on, the Tide gradually took control.  QB John Parker Wilson had a modest night going 17/24 for 188 yards, but Alabama running backs combined for 188 to wear down the Tennessee defense. Alabama certainly looks solid defensively and does enough on offense to win.

#4 Oklahoma (7-1). Defeated Kansas State (4-4) 58-35 at KSU. Next week: Nebraska (5-3) at home. The Wildcats made a game of it, tied 28-28 at one point, but the Sooners went on a tear toward the end of the first half leading 55-28. The second half was pretty stayed, but was decided by then. OU QB Sam Bradford was workman-like, if not unimpressive,  going 13/32 for 256 yards and 3 TDs.

#5 Texas Tech (8-0). Defeated Kansas (5-3) 63-21. Next week: #1 Texas (8-0) at home. The Red Raiders finally put a complete game together, both offensively and defensively against a worthy opponent. Tech scored on 8 of the first 9 possessions under Graham Harrell’s 34/42, 386-yard day and 5 TDs. TTU’s Darcel McBath got three interceptions in the 3rd quarter against KU’s Todd Reesing, as the Raider defense turned up the heat.  The blowout sets up the huge showdown next week vs. #1 Texas.

#6 Florida (6-1). Defeated Kentucky (5-3) 63-5 at home. Next week: At #9 Georgia. Florida is beginning to look pretty unstoppable now that their offense is in gear. Poor Kentucky lost for the 22nd consecutive time as Florida took a 28-0 1st quarter lead and never stopped. Gators quarterback Tim Tebow threw for two TDs and rushed for two more, tying Emmitt Smith’s school record of 36 career rushing touchdowns.

#7 USC (6-1). Defeated Arizona (5-3) 17-10 at Arizona. Next week: Washington (0-7) at home. Despite the win here, we are still worried about the Trojans.  They are very impressive from a defensive standpoint.  They have allowed 10 points in the last 15 quarters of play, which says alot. However, we get the idea that the USC Offense just isnt clicking well. Interestingly enough, if the Oregon State Beavers win out, they go to the Rose Bowl, and NOT USC!

#8 Georgia (7-1). Defeated LSU (5-2) 52-38 at Baton Rouge. Next Week: #7 Florida at home. Georgia QB Matthew Stafford went 17/26 for 249 yards and two TDs, while RB Knowshon Moreno ran for 163 yards and a 68 yard TD run that sparked a late game runaway.  LSU stayed close, but again, the offense failed to perform when it was needed.

#9 Ohio State (7-2). Lost to #2 Penn State (9-0) 13-6. Next week: At Northwestern (6-2). See above.

#10 Oklahoma State (7-1). Lost to #1 Texas (8-0) 28-24. Next week: Iowas State (2-5) at home. See above. The Cowboys put up a valiant effort.  They could be Cotton Bowl bound!

#11 TCU (8-1). Defeated Wyoming (2-6) 54-7. Next week: At UNLV (3-5). The Frogs started a little slow, but fell in behind QB Andy Dalton’s 16/22 for 334 yards and 4 TD night. Wyoming lived up to its < 10 pt/game average. We have consistently rated TCU over Utah in the Mountain West, and in two weeks we’ll find out if we’ve been right all along.

#12 Utah (8-0). Did not play. Next week: At New Mexico (4-5).

#13 Boise State (7-0). Defeated San Jose State (5-3) 33-16 at San Jose. Next week: At New Mexico State (3-3). Ian Johnson ran for two touchdowns to give him a school-record 51 in his career and Kellen Moore threw for two scores on the way to a 26/40 244 yard night. Despite the outstanding performance by BSU, San Jose State hung around through the 3rd quarter, down by only 7, but a closing 10 by BSU in the final period sealed the deal.

#14 Missouri (6-2). Defeated Colorado (4-4) 58-0 at home. Next week: At Baylor (3-5). Chase Daniels get the game ball in this one throwing for 302 yards and 5 TDs.  This one was rather predictable. Missouri still is the class in the Big-12 North, and chances are they’ll get another chance at Texas for the Big-12 Championship. It may be their only chance at a BCS Bowl this year.

#15 LSU (5-2).Lost to #9 Georgia (7-1) 52-38. Next week: Tulane (2-5) at home. See above. LSU is very nearly out of contention in the SEC West. They’ll need a huge win over Alabama  in two weeks and hope for some help to salvage a season.

#16 Brigham Young (7-1). Defeated UNLV (3-5) 42-35. Next week: At Colorado State (4-4). The Cougars rallied for a late touchdown and 2-point conversion, then intercepted a pass in the end zone as time expired in the victory. QB Max Hall threw 4 TDs on the way to a 247 yard night.

#17 Florida State (6-1). Defeated Virginia Tech (5-3) 30-20. Next week: At Georgia Tech (6-2). We’re still not completely convinced anyone wants to win the ACC this year, but FSU at least is doing its part to make a bid. Three Hokie turnovers allowed the Seminoles the opportunity to fight back from a 10-0 deficit and take control in the second half. Otherwise this game was nearly even.

#18 Tulsa (8-0). Defeated Central Florida (2-5) 49-19 at home. Next week: At Arkansas (3-5). The Golden Hurricanes of Tulsa, seemingly get no love from the pollsters. QB David (212.82 Passing rating) Johnson, had another stellar evening going 17/27 and 264 yards. The game was marred by 6 turnovers, 3 a side.

#19 Michigan State (7-2). Defeated Michigan (2-6) 35-21 at Ann Arbor. Next week: Wisconsin (4-4) at home. After being trounced by Ohio State the week before, the Spartans went on the road and took a tough win from the Wolverines. MSU put up almost 500 yards of total offense behind the gaudy stats of QB Brian Hoyer (17/29, 282 yds, 3 TDs) and RB Javon Ringer (37 carries, 194 yards, 2 TDs).

#20 Ball State (8-0). Defeated Eastern Michigan (2-7)  38-16 at home. Next week: Bye. The Cardinals continue to pace the MAC ad putting up over 400 yards of offense, and no penalties. Ball State only allowed 67 yards rushing in the game to the Eagles.

#21 Minnesota (7-1). Defeated Purdue (2-6) 17-6 at Purdue. Next week: Northwestern (6-2) at home. Purdue at home is always a tough outing for anyone. The trouble is, the Boilermakers can’t seem to score at home. They scored 6 against Penn State, 3 against Ohio State and only 6 here. That will almost always assure you a bad ending. However, Purdue seems to throttle their opponents too. Minnesota was able to put the game away in the 4th quarter after only leading 10-6.

#22 North Carolina (6-2). Defeated Boston College (5-2) 45-24 at home. Next week: Bye. The Tar Heels bounce back this week after losing an OT heartbreaker to Virginia last week. QB Cameron Sexton had a big night going 19/30 for 238 yards and 3 TDs. Boston College gace the ball away 3 times on interceptions.

#23 Oregon (6-2). Defeated Arizona State (2-5) 54-20 at ASU. Next week: At California (5-2). In the first of two tough road tests, the Ducks came away with an impressive thumping. Oregon’s offense amassed 537 yards of offense paced by a bevy of rushers amounting for over 300 yards on the ground. The Ducks will have a tough test next week to see if they can climb back into the Pac-10 race.

#24 Maryland (6-2). Defeated No. Carolina State (2-6) 27-24 at home. Next week: Bye. It gets to be thin pickings at the bottom here this week, so the 2-loss teams get more attention.  Maryland comes off two wins, one against Wake Forest last week, and a tough, grit game this week.  Maryland QB Russell Wilson threw for 187 yards and 2 TDs. The Tar Heels controlled the ball on a 92 yard drive, consuming 11 minutes to kick the winning FG with 6 seconds remaining.

#25 UConn (6-2). Defeated Cincinatti (5-2) 40-16 at home. Next week: West Virginia (5-2) at home. The Huskies looked especially tough this week knocking off a creditable Cincy team in impressive fashion. RB Donald Brown was the big stat leader with 150 yards rushing on 29 carries and 2 TDs.

Dropped Out: Kansas,  Pittsburgh, Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech.

On the Bubble: West Virginia, California

Most Impressive: Penn State, Florida, Texas Tech

Least Impressive: USC, LSU

Top 25 Composition: Big-12 (5), SEC (4), Big-10 (4), ACC (3), MWAC (3), PAC-10 (2), Big East (1), MAC (1), C-USA (1), WAC (1)

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Week 9 will be our first make or break week of the season. While we’ve had some key games already, this week tends to be a conglomeration of alot of pivotal games that quite literally could shape the rest of the season for all of CFB, as well as some teams.

So, lets get after it:

#1 Texas (7-0) hosting #9 Oklahoma State (7-0). After OKST “upset” Missouri, they turned alot of heads. We had pegged the Cowboys to be spoilers at least in the B12 this year, and they’ve certainly done that.  Now they’ll try to be even more  It’s safe to say that if OKST can beat Texas, that throws the whole B12-South into a mess. However, we don’t see this happening.  Why?  Well, all the things that went wrong for Missouri, just arent apt to happen at Texas. Colt McCoy isnt likely to be throwing 3 interceptions, and the Texas defensive line is apt to play a bit more havoc than Missouri’s did.  However, it might now be a runaway for once, and how Texas handles this aspect, could be interesting.  Texas does have a very vulnerable secondary that can be exploited.  The question is whether Zac Robinson will have time to throw.  OKST also relies on its running game to complement the pass, and Texas has good strong tackles to stop that. We look for a tight game, but in Austin, it’s nearly impossible to win in a close conference game.  Texas by 8.

#2 Alabama (7-0) at Tennessee (3-4). On paper this doesn’t look like much of a test for the Tide.  Nick Saban’s bunch has a habit of buckling down and winning, even if its not all that compelling. One thing we just hate though, is that Alabama is making a habit of playing down to the level of competition.  We’d like to think that Tennessee has a complete game in them somewhere, but they just haven’t proved it yet.  When the defense plays over its head, the offense just misfires and vice versa. So, we can’t really see much of a scenario of the Vols being competitive here, unless Tennessee plays the game of their life, and Bama is looking two weeks ahead to LSU…doubtful.  Alabama by 17.

#3 Oklahoma (6-1) at Kansas State (4-3). The Sooners have some issues to get by to get where they need to be.  The least of which is their special teams performance of late allowing WAY to many yards. The second, is the replacement of their LB Ryan Reynolds who fell victim to an season-ending knee injury. Thirdly, the team needs to get back to running the ball effectively, which they have failed to do in their last two outings. Lastly, they need to shore up what seems to be a very porous pass defense. Despite these things, OU has the talent and speed to contend. but they have to rely on two Texas losses between now and the end of the season…not likely. K-State has the capability to put up big numbers in the passing game with Freshman sensation Josh Freeman, but at the same time their defense gives up more than the offense scores. This isnt a real good situation, and should lead to an easy day for Bob Stoops’ crew.  Oklahoma by 24.

#4 Penn State (8-0) at Ohio State (7-1). Perhaps the game of the year with regard to bowl implications so far.  Penn State has been playing at a fairly high level all season, and performed up to expectations, if not exceeding them. However, this week’s game is without a doubt their toughest test. Ohio State has steadily improved each week since their thrashing by USC early on. Tyrelle Pryor has taken over the offense there and with a healthy Beanie Wells at RB, forged a very productive offense. However, at times they have been erractic…having to come from behind at the last minute to beat an underachieving Wisconsin, and only putting up 16 against a less than impressive Purdue. But then hanging 45 on a pretty good Michigan State team. The Nittany Lions lead with QB Daryll Clark who passes and runs effectively, and then pile on with RB Evan Royster.  They have a very balanced offense, and a really stubborn defense.  Its hard for us to pick one here, but with OSU #9 and PSU #2, we’re VERY comfortable to put this one on Upset Watch, tho we’re not sure that qualifies for the term.  Whoever wins this probably wins the Big-10 and at LEAST a trip to Rose Bowl. For Penn State, a victory could help them run the table to a possible title match. So what decides it?  Perhaps tradition? The Nittany Lions are looking to snap a 10-game road losing streak against ranked opponents and beat OSU in Columbus for the first time since 1978. The Buckeyes have won 12 of their last 13 conference home games against ranked opponents. With that on their side, we are edging toward the Buckeyes. Ohio State by 3.

#5 USC (4-1) at Arizona (5-2). The Trojans seem to have found their level against after their disastrous defeat at Oregon State. This is a top notch defensive team, but prone to allowing big runners to dominate them. The Trojans have outscored their opponents 141-10 since falling to Oregon State, while the Wildcats are riding high after taking out Cal last week. USC has won six straight over Arizona also.  We think this probably would be a rout if played in the Colliseum, but in Arizona, it might be another story. Against Cal. the Wildcat defense allowed 315 yards passing with simlar numbers in other games this year.  One thing that Arizona will try to do, is make USC one dimensional by stopping their running game, which they HAVE done well this year.  This game might be closer than everyone thinks, but we still like USC.  Trojans by 10.

#6 Texas Tech (7-0) at #20 Kansas (5-2). Heres maybe the biggest trap game for TTU this year. Next week they host Texas in what will probably decide the Big-12 South, so it might be easy to look past a #20 team. However, TTU has lots of problems that could come home to roost this week.  First, the defense has been allowing way to much yardage. They were much better last week against A&M, but turned the ball over twice and gave the Aggies 10 points. Secondly, the Tech defense must find a way to rush Todd Reesing or this game degenerates into an air show. What may decide the game is the kicking.  The Raiders have perhaps the worst T25 kicker, and maybe the worst in the country. Just this week Coach Leach actually pulled the winner of a kicking contest in for a tryout and decided to start HIM instead of his two scholarship players. Kansas has a very potent offense and an improving defense.  This one for SURE goes on Upset Watch, and we actually lean towards that upset. But, we’re hoping that the Raiders will prevail to set up the showdown with Texas.  Texas Tech by 7.

#7 Florida (5-1) hosting Kentucky (5-2). As much as we’d like to think this could be interesting, it probably wont. The Gators aim to continue their dominance of Kentucky and its at home in the Swamp. Florida, who comes off a bye week, has won 21 straight against the Wildcats. Kentucky, which is 3-24 in this series when the Gators are ranked, has not defeated a top-10 opponent on the road since beating No. 4 Penn State 24-20 in 1977. That kind of record bodes no good.  Gators by 18.

#8 Ohio State (7-1) hosting #4 Penn State (8-0). See above analysis.  Buckeyes by 3.

#9 Oklahoma State (7-0) at #1 Texas (7-0). See above analysis.  Texas by 8.

#10 Georgia (6-1) at #11 LSU (5-1). Here’s another huge game for both teams.  Both unexpectedly lost earlier in the season, and both humiliated.  Georgia has bounced back from the Alabama game, but LSU looks to find some face after being humbled by Florida two weeks ago. LSU has struggled all season with a consistent offense while Georgia has gradually improved. The loser of this game has a really tough hill to climb but certainly not out of it. A loss for LSU would be more catatrophic seing that Alabama is undefeated. Playing in Baton Rouge may make a difference, but we think that Georgia has too good an offense, and LSU doesn’t.  Edge to the Dawgs. Georgia by 9.

#11 LSU (5-1) hosting Georgia (6-1). See above analysis.  Georgia by 9.

#12 TCU (7-1) hosting Wyoming (2-5). Quite simply this is very good Horned Frog team, both offensively against a really bad Wyoming teams that averages less than 10 pts a game.  After TCU destroyed BYU last week, we can’t imagine what they’ll do against Wyoming.  Frogs by 31.

#13 Utah (8-0) does not play.

#14 Boise State (6-0) at San Jose State (5-2). BSU still is the cream of the WAC and they should have very little trouble disposing of SJS even though the Spartans are enjoying a very successful year. The key here will be defense. Points could be hard to come by for SJSU as they rank 94th in the country in scoring, while the Broncos rank 2nd in scoring defense.  Ouch.  Boise State by 17.

#15 Tulsa (7-0) hosting Central Florida (2-4). Tulsa quietly is building quite a name for itself this year. The game promises to be a contrast in offenses as Tulsa is No. 1 in the country at 56.6 ppg and UCF is No. 108 at 17.7. Tulsa QB David Johnson has one of the best passing rating in the country at 212.82 (266.5 last week against UTEP!) and 31 TDs this year!  Though UCF won twice last year, we’re pretty sure that won’t happen this year.  Tulsa by 14.

#16 Missouri (5-2) hosting Colorado (4-2). Two humbling losses by Oklahoma State and Texas have pretty much put Missouri out of any title chases, but they are still the name of the game in the Big-12 North. A loss to Colorado would necessiate drastic actions, but Colorado is only one game out.  Playing at home, its hard to think that the Tigers cant’ outscore an underperforming, inconsistent offense in Colorado. We like Missouri to get back on track this week, perhaps in a big way.  Tigers by 24.

#17 South Florida (6-1) at Louisville (4-2). This is a big game in the Big East. The Bulls’ only loss came at the hand of Pittsburgh, but both have 1 loss. UConn, Louisville, and West Virginia are all two-loss teams so USF doesnt want a part of that group right now. Playing in Louisville could certainly make things harder also since Papa John’s isn’t very cozy to visiting teams. The Bulls lead the all-time series with the Cardinals 3-2, winning the most recent matchup 55-17 at home Nov. 17. Both of South Florida’s losses to Louisville, however, have come on the road. These are the Big-East’s two best offenses, but we think that So Florida has the better defense.  Bulls by 6.

#18 Brigham Young (6-1) hosting UNLV (3-4). After being humiliated by TCU, the Cougars have to be feeling a bit down and out.  Fact was, they had been underperforming for a couple of weeks, and you could almost see the fall coming. Even so, there wont be much resistance when the Rebs come to town.  Look for BYU QB Max Hall to have a big day.  Cougars by 24.

#19 Florida State (5-1) hosting #23 Virginia Tech (5-2). Another pretty pivotal game at this point of the season. The ACC is the weakest we’ve seen in years, and to say these two teams make up the best might be close to true, but its hard to tell.  To be truthful, these two teams could switch place in the rankings and it might be just as right. FSU’s lone loss was to a now unranked Wake Forest, which VT has loses against ECU (remember them?) and last week at Boston College. So its anyone’s guess.  Last season the Hokies blew out the Seminoles, ending Bobby Bowden’s 15-0 run against Virginia Tech. The Seminoles lead the all-time series with the Hokies 21-11-1. We like FSU’s chances this year, but are putting this game on Upset Watch.  Seminoles by 4.

#20 Kansas (5-2) hosting #6 Texas Tech. See above (#6) for our analysis. Texas Tech by 7.

#21 Pittsburgh (5-1) hosting Rutgers (2-5). Pitt looks to strengthen their Big East standing by hosting the Scarlet Knights, in what should be a rather easy test.  Rutgers, from the git-go this season, just hasn’t found the success as in previous years.  They sorely miss a good running game and the defense has been humbled in almost every game.  There’s not much more to say.  Pitt by 21.

#22 Georgia Tech (6-1) hosting Virginia (4-3). GT has had a rejuvenation over the past few weeks and quietly here they are a 1-loss team leading the ACC Coastal. Virignia has no problem getting up for games and if they can play as well as the last three weeks (one of which was a 31-0 shutout of Maryland) then the Yellow Jackets will have their hands full.  This game also goes on the Upset Watch list, with us edging toward GT.  Georgia Tech by 3.

#23 Virginia Tech (5-2) at # 19 Florida State (5-1). See analysis above. FSU by 4.

#24 Michigan State (6-2) at Michigan (2-5). We can’t figure out why both polls dropped MSU in favor of unproven teams. They did get dominated by OSU, but dropping them out seems a bit ridiculous. Now going to Ann Arbor, won’t be a walk in the park, but MSU has plenty enough talent to take care of the Wolverines, unless there is a total breakdown somewhere. Michigan has been vulnerable against the run all year and with Javon Ringer doing those honors, this could mean a long day for Michigan.  Spartans by 10.

#25 Ball State (7-0) hosting Eastern Michigan (2-6). The Cardinals are led by QB Nate Davis, the nation’s 9th-leading passer. Eastern Michigan is 0-3 versus Top 25 squads since 2002. We’ll take Ball State in a runaway.  Cardinals by 18.

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We’re happy to say that for the most part we were spot on this week in the games. Those that we put on upset watch, were indeed there for a reason, and those we thought would be blowouts, well, they were. There were a few mild surprises, buton the whole we weren’t particularly astonished by any of the results this week.  Outside of BYU collapsing against TCU (which we aluded to), there weren’t that many shockers.  The lower portion of the Top 25 did get shuffled, with 4 teams dropping out, the most of any week so far.

The interesting thing about this part of the season, is that usually that low hanging morning fog that lingers over the first 6 weeks, begins to lift and the future begins to take shape. Next week will be a tremendously critical week for many teams, so pay close attention to the “Next Week” games as you read through. Now on to the new Kathman-Patton top 25.

#1 Texas (7-0). Defeated Missouri (5-2) 56-31 in Austin. Next week: Oklahoma State (7-0) at home. This game went down like we thought, only to a greater degree. Missouri still has offense, but not much defense. Texas, showed vulnerability defensively, as they did against Oklahoma, but their defensive line dominated enough to get the win. Colt McCoy looked like a legit Heisman candidate going 29/32 for 237 and 2 TDs.

#2 Alabama (7-0). Defeated Mississippi (3-4) 24-20 at home. Next week: At Tennessee (3-4). The Tide struggled and had to stifle a late comeback by Ole Miss to win at home. We drop Alabama this week, strickly because we still haven’t seen this team perform well except for one half against Georgia. Alabama QB John Parker Wilson threw for 218 yards and 2 TDs.

#3  Oklahoma (6-1). defeated Kansas (5-2) 45-31 at home. Next week: At Kansas State (4-3). OU, as expected, came out and performed well, but still showed a pretty vulnerable pass defense. Sooner QB Sam Bradford was 36-for-53 for 468 yards and three touchdowns. Kansas QB Todd Reesing was 24/41 for 342 yards, 2 TDs but two costly interceptions.

#4 Penn State (8-0). Defeated Michigan (2-5) 46-17. Next week: At Ohio State (7-1). Penn State started slow in this game, trailing 17-14 at halftime, but outscored Michigan 32-0 in the second half. The Nittany Lions had a near perfect balanced offense, 251 passing and 231 rushing. Showdown time next week.

#5 USC (4-1). Defeated Washington State (1-7) 69-0. Next week: At Arizona (5-2). As advertised, we expected this to get ugly fast, and it did. The story is sweet and simple. Mark Sanchez threw for 253 yards and 5 TDs…in the first HALF.  Nuff said.

#6 Texas Tech (7-0). Defeated Texas A&M (2-5) 43-25. Next week: At Kansas (5-2). The Raiders looked somewhat lackidasical in the first half against A&MM, turning the ball over twice leading to 10 Aggie points, but the defense looked much better. However, Ruffin McNeil’s bend but not break defense might not hold up in the next 4-game stretch against Kansas, Texas, Oklahoma State and Oklahoma. The Raiders offense pretty much abandoned the running game and looked like teams of year’s past, with QB Graham Harrell going 44/56 for 450 yards and 3 TDs.

#7 Florida (5-1). Did not play. Next week: Kentucky (5-2) at home. We’re not as convinced about the Gators as the pollsters are, apparently, so we’ll wait until next week to see if they can put back to back games together.

#8 Ohio State (7-1). Defeated Michigan State (6-2) 45-7 at MSU. Next week: Penn State (8-0) at home. The Buckeyes continue their turnaround by dominating a previously impressive Spartan team on the road. Frankly, this was probably the only huge surprise on the day, as we thought this game would be closer.  We don’t think we overvalued MSU, but probably undervalued Tyrelle Pryor and the OSU defense. Chris “Beanie” Wells had another big rushing day, going for 140 yards and 2 TDs. Next week’s clash with PSU will be THE game of the year for both teams.

#9 Oklahoma State (7-0). Defeated Baylor (3-4) 34-6 at home. Next week: At #1 Texas (7-0). OSU came back strong again after the emotional win over Missouri last week. The Cowboys scored on four straight possessions beginning in the 1st Quarter, and never looked back. QB Zac Robinson was 13/20 for 238 and two TD’s to pace the offense. OkSt plays perhaps the biggest game of their program next week in Austin.

#10 Georgia (6-1). Defeated Vanderbilt (5-2) 24-14 at home. Next week: At LSU (5-1). The Bulldogs continue to do workman-like performances, but lack impressiveness. We expected a bit of a bigger victory here but were satisfied with their effort. Georgia freshman receiver A.J. Green had 132 yards on 7 catches to lead the offensive performances.

#11 LSU (5-1). Defeated South Carolina (5-3) 24-17 at SC. Next week: #10 Georgia (6-1) at home. LSU bounced back after their less than mediocre outing against Florida a couple of weeks ago, but still remain an enigma. Down 17-10 at the half, the Tigers were able to hold SC scoreless and get 3 turnovers to spark a rally. QB Jarett Lee continues to struggle, going 16/26 for 189 yards and 2 intereceptions. Showdown this week with Georgia either makes or breaks LSU’s season.

#12 TCU (7-1). Defeated Brigham Young (6-1) 32-7 at home. Next week: Wyoming (2-2) at home. We’ll go on record saying we thought this game was ripe for upset, and sure enough, we saw the real BYU come out.  TCU dominated both on offense and defense the entire game. The real story was not necessarily the great play of TCU, but the true colors of BYU.  It’s obvious their ranking has been exaggerated. However, let’s DO hand it to TCU for a solid overall performance.

#13 Utah (8-0). Defeated Colorado State (3-4) 49-16 at home. Next week: Bye. Utah continued its consistent play soundly defeating a lackluster Ram team. The Utes put up almost 550 yards of total offense, with RBs Corbin Loucks (109 yards, 2 TDs) and Matt Asiata (49 yards and 2 TDs) led a 327 yard rushing attack.

#14 Boise State (6-0). Defeated Hawaii (3-4) 27-7 at home. Next week: At San Jose State (5-2). BSU remained undefeated at home against a stubborn Hawaii team.  QB Kellen Moore had another big night, throwing for 256 yards and 3 TDs.

#15 Tulsa (7-0). Defeated UTEP (3-4) 77-35 at home. Next week: Central Florida (2-4) at home. QB David Johnson had a field day against UTEP going 21/27 (78%) for 434 yards and 5 TDs for a passing rating of 266.50.  The Golden Hurricane continues to raise eyebrows.

#16 Missouri (5-2). Lost to#1 Texas (7-0) 56-31 in Austin.  Next week: Colorado (4-3) at home. How the mighty have fallen!. Early in the season we became concerned about Missouri’s pass defense, but thought that it would eventually get better. Seems it hasn’t.  There’s not much wrong with Chase Daniels and the offense, but oh my, this team will need to get its defensive act together, or we’re back to normal in the Big-12 North with no team capable of rising to the South’s dominance. However, all is not lost, there’s not much more challenge for the Tigers, which means we’ll see them in the Big-12 Championship game where they could play spoiler to a possible National Championship.

#17 South Florida (6-1). Defeated Syracuse (1-6) 45-13 at home. Next week: At Louisville (4-2). Nice to see the Bulls put a good game together, even it was against the hapless Orangemen. QB Matt Grothe was 19/26/fr 248 yards and 3 TDs,  and ran for another 72 yards and a TD.

#18 Brigham Young (6-1). Lost to #12 TCU (7-1) 32-7 in Fort Worth. Next week: UNLV (3-4) at home. We can’t emphasize enough how we were disappointed in BYU’s collapse.  We’ll have to see if this is the real Cougar team or just an anomaly.

#19 Florida State (5-1). Defeated North Carolina State (2-5) 26-17 at NC State. Next week: #25 Virginia Tech (5-2) at home. Nothing has really turned heads in the ACC this years, each week producing disappointments and disbeliefs.  However, we like the direction that FSU is going. The Seminoles seem to have found a productive leader in QB Christian Ponder who threw 23/35 for 254 yards and 1 TD. Credit also a tough defense to the mix. Coach Bowden may be on to something, if something is to be flaunted in the ACC this year.  We’ll see next week against VT.

#20 Kansas (5-2). Lost to #4 Oklahoma (6-1) 45-31. Next week: #6 Texas Tech (7-0) at home. Kansas did their best to keep up with Oklahoma, and very nearly did. However, whereas the Jayhawks had been able to come from behind their last two games, coming from behind against OU was a totally different story. Next week, they’ll play host to TTU, where we hear that the local airports will be grounding all air traffic to avoid conflicting with Harrell and Reesing.

#21 Pittsburgh (5-1). Defeated Navy (4-3) 42-21 at Navy. Next week: Rutgers (2-5) at home. In the Big East this year, it’s anyone’s game really, but certainly South Florida and Pitt are emerging as the top dogs. Pitt won the earlier match up, and they get a really nice win against a tough Navy squad.  The Panthers generated right at 500 yards of offense to spark a solid win that saw Pitt jump out to a 35-14 halftime lead and turn it over to the defense.

#22 Georgia Tech (6-1). Defeated Clemson (3-4) 21-17 at Clemson. Next week: Virginia (4-3) at home. Here’s yet another ACC team attempting to make some noise, but in a soundproof conference, even a little noise can be deafening. This was a sloppy game, but GT forced 6 Tiger turnovers to eek out the win.

#23 Virginia Tech (5-2). Lost to Boston College (5-1) 28-23 at BC. Next week: At Florida State (5-1). The Hokies had won 5 straight before this tough loss to BC.  Most pols dropped the Hokies out, but we still believe that they might possibly be one of best of the ACC (not saying muh tho).

#24 Michigan State (6-2). Lost to #9 Ohio State (7-1) 45-7 at home. Next week: At Michigan (2-5). We honestly dont know what happened to the Spartans this week, other than the fact that Ohio State just hit the ground going 200 mph and didnt stop. All isnt lost for Michigan State tho, since a 2 loss team certainly could be in play toward the end of the Big-10 season. However, there’s not alot of room at the top.

#25 Ball State (7-0). Did not play. Next week: Eastern Michigan (2-6) at home. The Cardinals finally got our attention, perhaps because we keep looking for teams that deserve to get into the Top 25.  We hardly think, like the pollsters, they deserve to be too high, however, a 7-0 record even in the MAC deserves note.

Dropping out: Vanderbilt, Wake Forest, North Carolina, California

On the Bubble: Arizona (5-2), Northwestern (6-1), Minnesota (6-1)

Most Impressive: Texas, USC, TCU

Least Impressive: BYU

Top 25 Composition: Big-12 (6), SEC (4), Big-10 (3), ACC (3), MWAC (3), Big East (2), WAC (1), MAC (1), C-USA (1), PAC-10 (1)

Special Note: Congratulations to the authors’ Alma Mater, Abilene Christian Univeristy Wildcats, the #2 Div II team in the nation, defeating the #4 West Texas A&M over the weekend 52-35. Running Back Bernard Scott, perhaps the top running back in Div II, ran for 259 yards.

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Week 8 on the surface looks to be somewhat of a breather week, compared to past ones, since only a few major top 25 head-to-heads  are on tap. However, all conference games for our elite teams are important, and in the world of college football, as we’ve seen, anything goes.

After last week’s earthquake, where 3 of the top 5 teams in the nation were defeated, it’s almost as if we’re starting all over again in preseason trying to figure out which end is up. The national polls for the AP writers continue to baffle most everyone in their 25-year traditional bias, but we’re sure they have as little clue as anyone else.  However, some key games should solidify the hopes of some teams, while providing true grit tests for others. Here we go.

#1 Texas (6-0) at home v. #11 Missouri (5-1). Had Missouri taken care of business last week against Oklahoma State, this might have been the marquee game of the week. Surely its no less than a game of interest. Texas comes off a less-than decisive win over OU, but because of Alabama’s bye week, jumped to #1.  Both of these teams have shown that they consistently have the offensive power to win games, but in the same manner, showed that they can give up alot of points. Certainly we’ve amplified our concern since week 1 with Missouri’s pass defense that’s shown no sign of getting better against potent offenses.  This is a Heisman showdown also between Texas QB Colt McCoy and his Missouri counterpart Chase Daniels, who, in most eyes, has been the leading candidate. The difference in this game will be mistakes. The Longhorns tend to be opportunistic, and Daniels threw 3 interceptions against an aggressive Cowboy defense last week. In a turnover-less game, we’d take Texas by a touchdown, but we’re almost sure that won’t be the case. There may be a slight let down after such an emotional win.  Playing at home, its hard for the Tigers. Texas by 13.

#2 Alabama (6-0) at home v. Mississippi (3-3). While we think that Nick Saban’s Crimson Tide has all the potential to be the top dog, we haven’t really seen it yet.  For those of you yelling “But what about their win over Georgia!”  let’s review. In week 1, everyone was astonished when Alabama rolled over a ranked Clemson team (allegedly the best in the ACC) 34-10 in primetime. Well, big whoop at 3-3 and a kicked coach, Clemson looks like an also ran.  They then ran off solid victories over Tulane (2-4). Western Kentucky (2-5) and Arkansas (3-3). Then came the crucial Georgia game. They blew out the first half jumping to a 31-0 halftime lead, but got outscored 30-10 in the second half. Two weeks ago, they escaped with their lives against a 4-2 Kentucky team. 17-14.   What we’re saying is, eh, we’re still not sure about Alabama. Now, this is a fine team, and certainly has found the efforts each week getting the job done.  Mississippi, however, even at 3-3 provides some tough competition, having beat Florida a few weeks ago in the swamp (almost unheard of ) 31-30, so its not even a stretch to think that Alabama could be walking into a trap. We’re putting this oneon Upset Watch, but a rested Tide should take care of business.  Alabama by 7.

#3 Penn State (7-0) at home v. Michigan (2-4). In any other year, this might have been a huge game of interest, but not so this year.  The Nittany Lions are playing perhaps the most consistent, solid, fundamental football of any team in the nation right now, and have proved it week in and week out. They take care of the teams they should beat, and then last week, get a lopsided victory on the road over a Wisconsin team that was a preseason top 10. The key for PSU this year has been a solid defense averaging only 11 points per game.  In three of the last four games, they’ve held teams to a touchdown or less.  Add to this, a balanced offense under the leadership of Daryll Clark (averaging close to 200 yds throwing/game) and RB Evan Royster (averaging 7.3 yds/carry).  This week, they are back at home against a rebuilding Wolverine team that has been, at best, erratic. They too, beat Wisconsin in a nail biter, but other than that have been vulnerable defensively, something we’re not used to seeing from the Ann Arbor residents. The good news is that history is on Michigan’s side, as they have won 9 in row when visiting Happy Valley. While it might be tempting to classify this as a trap game for the Nittany Lions (looking ahead to Ohio State next week), we think that streak stops Saturday. Penn State by 18.

#4 Oklahoma (5-1) at home v. #15 Kansas (5-1). How big is the season-ending knee injury to MLB Ryan Reynolds for OU?  Immense.  The whole game for OU changed on Saturday when Reynolds went down, and quite possibly led to their defeat.  OU, however, is a talented team, and there are other LBs ready in wating, but it might take a few games. Despite the loss, these Sooners are still a top 5 team on paper.  QB Sam Bradford might have dropped a notch or two, but he’s still one of the top three QB’s in the Big-12 along with Chase Daniels and Colt McCoy, especially in accuracy. Never mind the corps of WRs he has. OU has to worry though about their lack of running offense against Texas last week, and overcome that this week against the Jayhawks.  Kansas has had a propensity to play to the level of their opponent lately, getting behind, and having to rally to win.  That’s NOT a winning strategy against OU. You get behind against the Sooners and you might as well hit the showers.  For that reason alone, we can’t see any scenario where OU doesn’t rebound with a vengeance.  Sooners by 17.

#5 Brigham Young (6-0) at #22 TCU (6-1). This will be the first real test for the Cougars, and should prove telling.  TCU isn’t a high power offense, but they do have a solid defense. Their only blemish this year was a 35-10 loss on the road to Oklahoma (understandable). BYU’s most impressive win has been…well…there really hasn’t been one yet.  They average 38 points per game but against teams that are a combined 12-25. The only team they’ve played with a winning record was Northern Iowa  at 4-2. So, while we’re certainly impressed that BYU has taken care of business, which is the mark of a great team, we are waiting to see the results of this game to see how truly competitive they are.  The MWAC seems to be a footrace this year between TCU, Utah and BYU, all of which are in the top 25. We’ll put this on the board as an upset watch, but think BYU will cruise. Cougars by 14.

#6 USC (4-1) at Washington State (1-5). For those of you that just keep saying that USC isnt as good as everyone says they are, well, you’re wrong.  USC is as good as they say, when they are focused. USC is better than most, even when they play poorly, case in point last week against Arizona State where they turned the ball over 5 times, and still won by four touchdowns…FOUR TOUCHDOWNS FOLKS! Those watching that game would have seen pretty much a practice game and in no way was that indicative of a sharp Trojan team. QB Mark Sanchez has been erratic at times, but there’s no doubt when the offense gets in a rhythm, they just can’t be stopped. The key to it all is NOT Sanchez, though, but the stable of running backs that USC employs. When USC runs well, look for a lopsided victory. Washington State, well isn’t a very good team. The Cougars come into the game giving up an average of 45 points per game, while USC averages 36 points/game offensively. WSU has given up 63 or more points to three Pac-10 teams this year alone (Cal, Oregon and Oregon State). With focus, this game gets ugly quickly and deteriorates to a rout. Trojans by 27.

#7 Florida (5-1) does not play.

#8 Texas Tech (6-0) at Texas A&M (2-4). At the end of last season, over the final 7 games, nobody in the Big-12 had a better defense than Texas Tech. So, understandably, going into 2008 the analysts saw a vastly improved defense to go along with an already high-powered offense, equalling a tough competitor in the Big-12 this year. Unfortunately, the Red Raiders defense hasn’t lived up to its billing, but we can’t fully fault them. There are inherent dangers in having a quick-score, spread offense. Not controlling the ball with a balanced attack of both run and pass, puts immensely more pressure on the defense to stop the opposition. The game plan becomes to admit the Tech can score within 3 minutes of getting the ball, but to control the next 8 minutes going on a sustained drive with the run and short passing game. Nebraska proved this last week, and thus setup the blueprint for everyone else. So in a game that would seem to be a walk on paper, suddenly A&M poses as much of a threat as Nebraska.  A&M sports a dangerous running attack, and a more than adequate passing game. This could be very precarious for Tech in the same way the Cornhuskers all but won the game last week. There are a couple of other intangibles here also. The Aggies are the last unranked opponent for the Raiders for the next 4 weeks, as TTU must play Kansas, Texas, Oklahoma State and Oklahoma in perhaps the hardest schedule of anyone in the country, so if ever there was a trap game, this one is! Secondly, traveling to Kyle Field is no picnic. The Red Raiders have won 7 of the last 8 meetings against the Aggies, but we’re going out on a limb and putting this one on upset watch. Tech should win big, despite these factors, but we’re betting they dont meet expectations again.  Texas Tech by 8.

#9 Ohio State (6-1) at #17 Michigan State (6-1). It’s hard to call any game the most pivotal game at this point in the season, but certainly this one comes close.  The winner here, gets the shot at Penn State for the Big-10 title plain and simple.  Of course that’s assuming PSU can take care of business.  However, you really have to think that with Penn State’s easy disposal of Wisconsin last week they certainly the favorite. OSU on the other hand is still undefeated in conference play as is Michigan State. One of these two will have a loss on Saturday which sets up the show down later on.  Both teams have solid offensive teams with tough defenses. Since the early season loss to USC, the Buckeyes have rallied behind Freshman QB Tyrelle Pryor and won four straight. The Spartans will attempt to win their 7th straight for the first time in 30 years hopefully behind the tough running of start RB Javon Ringer.  The key in this game, we think, will be whether the OSU offense shows up. In last Saturday’s 16-3 home win over Purdue, the Buckeyes faced the 11th-worst defense in the nation, but gained only 222 yards of offense and scored their only touchdown on a blocked punt return. They’ll need to do much better. We think that OSU’s defense will bottle up Ringer, which is a step in the right direction, but might not be enough.  We’ll see. Ohio State by 3.

#10 Georgia (5-1) at home v. #23 Vanderbilt (5-1). The Cinderella season of Vanderbilt took a very unsuspected downturn last week at the hands of an inspired Mississippi State team in Starkville.  The Commodores  just couldn’t muster enough offense, and when they did, turnovers plagued drives. They travel on the road to a Georgia team that played a hard fought win over Tennessee last week. This one seems reasonably simple in that Vandy is still struggling to find a consistent offense and has had to rely on their defense to keep them in the game. Georgia on the other hand, has an equally good or better defense, but more than enough offense.  In the end, we think Matt Stafford and Knowshon Moreno have a big day and start a run in the SEC East. Bulldogs by 14.

11. Missouri (5-1) at #1 Texas (6-0). See above.  Texas by 13.

12. Oklahoma State (6-0) at home v. Baylor (3-3). Coach Mike Gundy engineered what might have been the perfect storm for his team last week against Missouri. The offense, under QB Zac Robinson, picked holes in the Missouri defense all night, both running and passing. The defense picked Daniels 3 times, and came up with key stops when needed.  We predicted a few weeks ago that OKST could be the spoiler in the Big-12 and sure enough, they sure are. However, we’re believing that we have a serious contender rather than merely a spoiler. Baylor, while improving, just wont have the defensive  muscle to hold the Cowboys down for long. This one probably gets really ugly. Oklahoma State by 31.

13. LSU (4-1) at South Carolina (5-2). BRRRRRRRRING!!!  Good morning LSU, this is your wake up call. The Tigers got their heads handed to them on a platter by a declining Florida Gator team last week, annihilating a previously thought-to-be strong LSU defense 51-21. What is becoming very obvious in Baton Rouge, is that Coach Les Miles hasn’t found a solution to his QB woes. The Gamecocks on the other hand, seem to be moving up, quietly so. After back-to-back losses to Vanderbilt and Georgia by a total of 14 points, they have peeled off 4 straight wins, and now sport the #3 offense in the nation.  You can’t get much better coaching matchup either with Les Miles going against Steve Spurrier.  We’re not only putting this one on the upset watch, but going all out and saying that SC pulls it off. Gamecocks by 4.

#14 Utah (7-0) at home v. Colorado State (3-3). The Utes continue to play consistently, albeit in a weak conference. Let’s face it there’s TCU and BYU in their class, and that’s about it. The Rams are vastly improved over last year, equalling their win total already. The Utes have won 15 of their last 16 overall and eight of nine in the league, while Colorado State looks to snap a 5-game losing streak against ranked opponents. Probably not this week. Utah by 24.

#15 Kansas (5-1) at #4 Oklahoma (5-1). See above.  Oklahoma by 17.

#16 Boise State (5-0) at home v. Hawaii (3-3). BSU continues to be the team to beat in the WAC, but they haven’t been convincing the last few weeks. Last week versus Southern Miss, the Broncos scored all 24 points in the second quarter for instance. However, the good thing for the smurfs this year has been a solid, fast defense. For instance, last week, Boise State held Damion Fletcher, the nation’s fourth-leading rusher, to just 69 yards, well below his 142 average. Hawaii is recovering this year after losing coach June Jones to SMU, and QB Colt Brennan to graduation. As such there has been a drop off in point production, which has hurt the Warriors, since the defense was alrady iffy.  Look for BSU to have a steady offense with a couple of picks to win handily.  Broncos by 18.

#17 Michigan State (6-1) at home v. #9 Ohio State (6-1). See above. OSU by 3.

#18 Virginia Tech (5-1) at Boston College (4-1). It seems forever that we were talking about ECU upsetting VT in Week 1. But don’t look now, but that same Hokie team has run off 5 straight victories. It’s done this by playing solid defense, using opportunistic special teams, and a resurgent offense under the leadership of Tyrod Taylor.  The Hokies lone ACC road loss since joining the conference came at BC in 2006, so the road trip isn’t insignificant.  Boston College has won three straight at home over ranked opponents, which makes the matchup even more intriguing.  However, there’s no Matt Ryan at BC anymore either. Add to this fact that BC’s wins have been against rather unimpressive opponents. We think VT should be able to survive a trip to Chestnut Hill, and come away with a win.  Hokies by 10.

#19 South Florida (5-1) at home v. Syracuse (1-5). The Bulls haven’t played in over two weeks since suffering their first loss of the season against Pitt, but the Bulls will likely get back on track with Syracuse in town. USF ranks 25th in the nation in offense while the Orange come in at 105 in defense. This bodes no good for the Orangemen. ‘Nuff said.  Bulls by 21.

#20 North Carolina (5-1) at Virginia (3-3). The Tar Heels seemed to have found that the ball need not be perfectly round to provide satisfaction in athletic competition. Certainly the surprise of this young CFB season, NC’s success has been due, in part, through the efforts of WR Brandon Tate, who injured his knee in last week’s game and won’t be available. Virginia is enjoying an in-season renaissance, beating Maryland and East Carolina. North Carolina hasn’t beaten Virginia on the road since a 17-14 victory in 1981. With bit of a vulnerability in the pass defense, we think Virignia could still have their hands full. However, playing at Virginia, might help things. We believe this one could be very close.  Tar Heels by 4.

#21 Wake Forest (4-1) at Maryland (4-2). We’ve seen enough of the Demon Deacons to know that their defense is stacked. We also know that they have been struggling on offense lately, scoring a high of only 17 points in the last three games. Yet, they are 2-1 in those games.  Maryland has been up and down, beating two ranked teams while getting shutout by Virginia last week. So its anybody’s guess how this goes. We might put this one on Upset Watch, knowing that if WF can’t generate some offense, it might be a long day for them.  This one is too close to call, so we’ll edge with the ranked team in a low scoring affair.  Wake by 2.

#22 TCU (6-1) at home v. #5 BYU (6-0). See above.  BYU by 14.

#23 Vanderbilt (5-1) at #10 Georgia (5-1). See above. Georgia by 14.

#24 California (4-1) at Arizona (4-2). The Pac-10 might still look like its the big 1 and little 10, but not so fast. The Golden Bears return to play after a 12-day hiatus, taking on a surprising Arizona team.  Don’t look now, but Cal is the Pac-10’s only unbeaten team in conference play. In Arizona’s two losses, its defense got run over by a big back: New Mexico’s Rodney Ferguson and Stanford’s Toby Gerhart, a pair of 230-pound bruisers. California is not a power-rushing team with Jahvid Best, who’s expected to return after dislocating his elbow on Sept. 27, and Shane Vereen neither of whom pushes the scale past 200 pounds. Moreover, the Bears have two injured starting linemen, tackle Mike Tepper and guard Chris Guarnero. Without Best, the Bears rushed for just 79 yards at home against Arizona State, and playing on the road makes it harder to use a variety of run audibles. So, the Bears will need a good balanced attack, which they have failed to produce, as the passing game has been erratic.  Add to this the fact that the Wildcats’ pass defense is holding opponents to just a 55.3 completion percentage and has grabbed eight interceptions. We’re putting this on on Upset Watch.  Cal by 1.

#25 Tulsa (6-0) at home v. UTEP (3-3). Up until last week, Tulsa had averaged 56 points per game against opponents. Beating SMU 37-31 put a little damper in their stat, but nonetheless, this is an explosive teams that puts up lots of points.  UTEP runs a similar offense, with not much defense, so we don’t see Tulsa’s output doing anything but going up from last week. Tulsa has been giving up an average of 26pts/game while UTEP averages 31.  So, we’re pretty sure this will be a high scoring affair, but the Golden Hurricane will get the upper hand in the end.   Tulsa by 13.

Enjoy the games!

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Well, it just goes to show you that you have to play em all. The top 10 (and the top 25) turned itself on end this week with some very impressive performances as well as some important upsets. Lack of performance by others added to the mix.

In the marquee game, Texas and Oklahoma battled hard offensively, producing the most points scored in the series. Texas, however, pulled away late, being able to take advantage of a late Sam Bradford interception. As far as OU is concerned, their defense dropped off perceptibly after their MLB went out with a season-ending knee injury.  It’s hard to tell if the sub will be fine in the long run (likely) or if their defense is permanently reduced to merely above average.  We certainly never envisioned Texas putting up 45 on ‘em.  McCoy played probably the best game of his life at just the right time.  OU could find themselves in that odd position Kansas did last year; a one loss-top ten team but not even in the conference title game.

The Mizzou outcome surprised us, though we knew their defense scared no one.  We had expected the Tigers to win a 48-35 kind of game, kinda like Texas-OU turned out. But kudos to Coach Gundy and his QB Zac Robinson for exploting the Tiger defense where Illinois couldn’t in week one, and forcing Chase Daniel into a gunslinger mode, rather than the calm, cool Heisman candidate.

In another key matchup, Penn State did take care of business in Wisconsin, winning a critical road game over the Badgers to get to 7-0. Coach Paterno, even from the booth seems to still have it goin on!. Interesting to note that in his first 18 games, Coach Bielema was 17-1; since then he’s 7-7.  That has all the earmarks of not being able to sustain the recruiting level.  He’ll finish out this year, and probably be fine next year as well, but if he keeps coaching .500 ball after that, it’s gonna get uncomfortable in Madison.

Where did MissSt muster enough offense to score 17?  LSU got a wake up call.  While one of their DE’s stayed home with injury, the rest of the defense was there & held Tebow in check from a running standpoint.  But Fla finally got enough contributions from others to bust out offensively, limited the turnovers, and revealed the Bayou Bengal offense to be…well…merely above average.  That’s one trend you can’t tell about by getting to see them once or twice a year; their defense quite often gives them a short field, so you don’t know if the offense can regularly sustain long drives.  Turns out they can’t, at least against a really good defense.

Oh, and while they aren’t anyone’s idea of a Top 25 threat, note that Ol’ Miss upset a Top 25 team for the second consecutive week.  Houston Nutt continues to convert new disciples to the Rebel cause, while Razorback fans spend yet another week trying to remember what it was about him they didn’t like.

On a bit of a somber note, Cinderella-would-be Vanderbilt was unable to go 6-0 for the first time since 1928, as they lost to Mississippi State.

So, on to the new rankings. When so many things happen in one week, it causes all of us pollsters to give a thought about the state of things overall, and re-evaluate. We are sure that many of you will have a couple of eyebrows curl, but keep in mind that when so much happens in one week, and the BCS rankings iminent, its time for everyone to re-evaluate and re-rank according to where we are right now.

#1 Texas (6-0). Defeated #4 Oklahoma (5-1) 45-35 in Dallas. Next week: #11 Missouri at home. We’ll admit that the Longhorns are much better than we ever thought they’d be this year. We’ll also admit that we must begin to think of the combo of Colt McCoy, Quan Cosby and Jordan Shipley, might be superior to anything that Missouri or Texas Tech or anyone else can put up. Credit also the Texas Defense in rising to the occasion when it had to. Too many losses in the top 5 make Texas’ ascension natural.

#2 Alabama (6-0). Did not play. Next week: Mississippi (3-3) at home. Well, with the implosion by Missouri, the Crimson Tide can stay here for another week, but we’re still skeptical.

#3 Penn State (7-0). Defeated Wisconsin (3-3) 48-7 in Wisconsin. Next week: Michigan (2-4) at home. for those of you (and you know who you are) that have been waiting for the Nittany Lions to play a tough team on the road, I wonder if this might qualify? While we don’t think that Wisconsin is anywhere near a top 25 team, they were ranked high earlier, and with P.J. Hill, always are a threat. In this game however, it was perhaps one of the most impressive performances overall by a top 10 team we’ve seen this year. Daryll Clark was 16/25 for 244 yards and a TD, and added two more rushing TDs.

#4 Oklahoma (5-1). Lost to Texas (6-0) 45-35 at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas. Next week: #15 Kansas at home. Despite a 387-yard passing day by Sam Bradford, the Sooners can’t stop Texas. The OU Defense needs much improvement. This is still a very dominant team, and good enough to get to the title game despite the loss.

#5 Brigham Young (6-0). Defeated New Mexico (3-4) 21-3 at home. Next week: At #22 TCU (6-1). BYU was business-like in disposing of New Mexico, with QB Max Hall going 22/34 for 258 yards. Slightly underachieving by the Cougars, but there was never any doubt in the game.

#6 USC (4-1). Defeated Arizona State (2-4) 28-0 at home. Next week: At Washington State (1-5). In a game marred by 9 turnovers (5 by USC), the Trojans dominated and throttled the Sun Devils in every possible way. All in all it was a bit of a lackluster performance, but ASU has fallen so far, it was not only a poor game, it was a low energy game also. Sanchez, who was questionable for most of the week, was 13/26 for 179 yards but three interceptions. The Stars of the game were the USC defense who perhaps played the best game of their year.

#7 Florida (5-1). Defeated #12 LSU (4-1) 51-21 at home. Next week: Bye. The Gator offense finally erupted, and did so in a major way against an inept LSU Tiger team. The once defensive juggernaut of LSU had no answer to the vicious assault of a well balance offensive attack. Tebow pulled a modest 14/21 for 210 yards, while Freshman RB Jeffrey Demps ran for 129 yards and scored on a 42-yd run. With a rejuvenated offense, and Kentucky and Georgia still on the schedule, who would have thought that the Gators could still make a run at the SEC East and perhaps a title.

#8 Texas Tech (6-0). Defeated Nebraska (3-3) 37-31 in overtime at home. Next week: Texas A&M (2-4) at home. The Raiders move down, yes down, following what we thought was a pure lucky win, and a scary defense that merits their drop more. The pure magnitude of how Nebraska dominated the Tech defense was remarkable. The Raiders, giving up 471 yards of offense, had no defensive answers, except a gimme interception in overtime that sealed the win. Graham Harrell was 20/25 for 284 yards (we can’t remember the last time he threw for less than 300) and Michael Crabtree had 89 yards receiving and 2 TDs.  We think that Coach Leach needs to teach his high-power offense how to be a defensive weapon by staying on the field longer so that his D won’t be gassed at the end of the game. One thing is for sure, however, if Tech doesn’t find a defense, they’ll finish 4th in the Big-12 South and way out of the top 25. Oh by the way, get rid of Corona…easily the worst kicker in the country.

#9 Ohio State (6-1). Defeated Purdue (2-4) 16-3 at home. Next week: At #17 Michigan State (6-1). OSU had a hit and miss offense, but the defense was solid and special teams got a blocked punt returned for a touchdown to allow the Buckeyes

#10 Georgia (5-1). Defeated Tennessee (2-4) 26-14 at home. Next week: #23 Vanderbilt (5-1) at home. The Bulldogs generated over 450 yards of total offense, and though the Volunteers defense got 2 interceptions of Matt Stafford, the Georgia offense was too much. The Dawg defense held Tenn to 209 total yards.

#11 Missouri (5-1). Lost to #12 Oklahoma State (6-0) 28-23 at home. Next week: At #1 Texas. Watching this game was truly painful. We’ve been harping on the fact that in week 1 Illinois exposed a very vulnerable Missouri defense. Each week, Missouri has been scoring enough to win, but this was the first quality opponent since the Illini, and our doubts still aren’t allayed. Cowboy QB Zac Robinson used a variety of receivers to pick apart the Mizzou defense. Chase Daniels had a statistically significant night going 39/52 for 390 yards, but had three interceptions.

#12 Oklahoma State (6-0). Defeated #11Missouri (5-1) 28-23 in Columbus. Next week: Baylor (3-3) at home. We commented above on the game above, and we’ll see which team goes up in the next few weeks

#13 LSU (4-1). Lost to #8 Florida (5-1) 51-21. Next week: At South Carolina (5-2). See above under #8 Florida. Not a great night for LSU.

#14 Utah (7-0). Defeated Wyoming (2-5) 40-7 at Wyoming. Next week: Colorado State (3-3) at home. The Cowboys came into the game averaging 9 points per game, and they underachieved. Utah was perhaps one of the few top 25 teams to do exactly what was expected. Statistically it was a draw however, with the Cowboys actually out gaining the Utes in total offense. However, they gave up 2 fumbles and 3 interceptions that helped the runaway Ute train.

#15 Kansas (5-1). Defeated Colorado (3-3) 30-14 at home. Next week: At #4 Oklahoma (5-1). Todd Reesing again had to rally the Jayhawks from an early deficit. However, this one was much less (7 points). The KU QB was 27/34 for 256 yards, a TD and no interceptions. Jayhawk RB Jake Sharp had 119 yards on 31 carries and 3 TDs.

#16 Boise State (5-0). Defeated Southern Mississippi (2-4) 24-7 at So Miss. Next week: Hawaii at home (Friday). BSU QB Kellen Moore threw three touchdown passes leading the Broncos to an easy win, with a scoring flurry in the second quarter. There’s not alor more to say, except that Southern Mississippi fell to 1-8 all-time at home against ranked teams.

#17 Michigan State (6-1). Defeated Northwestern (5-1) 37-20 at Northwestern. Next week:#10 Ohio State (6-1). Despite 459 yards of total yards by the previously undefeated Northwestern Wildcats, MSU took advantage of 3 turnovers and a 124 yard performance by Javon Ringer (2 TDs) to pace the victory.

#18 Virginia Tech (5-1). Did not play. Next week: At Boston College (4-1).

#19 South Florida (5-1). Did not play. Next week: Syracuse (1-5) at home.

#20 North Carolina (5-1). Defeated Notre Dame (4-2) 29-24 at home. Next week: At Virginia (3-3). We can only say that this was an epic win for NC over a much improved Notre Dame team. The Tar Heels had to rally from a 17-9 halftime deficit, and then survive a last minute drive that came down to a recovered fumble to end the game. Quan Sturdivant had the momentum-changing 32-yard interception return to start the third quarter, only to be answered by a TD by the Irish. NC scored the winning TD at the beginning of the 4th quarter and their defense held on.

#21 Wake Forest (4-1). Defeated Clemson (3-3) 12-7 at home. Next week: At Maryland (4-2). There was a thought in putting the Demon Deacons into the top 25 last week, but we just couldn’t do that on a loss. The fact is that WF has played solidly every week and sports a mean, fast defense. QB Riley Skinner has had his ups and downs, but certainly his 4th quarter leadership and TD makes up for alot of ills. We’re still not seein a clear cut leader in the ACC, but at least defensively the Deacons have got to be at the top.

#22 TCU (6-1). Defeated Colorado State (3-3) 13-7 in Fort Collins. Next week: #5 Brigham Young (6-0) at home. In a less than inspiring performance, TCU found a way to put up 317 yards of total offense and only 13 points. Turnovers seemed to keep the game score low (2 for TCU and 3 for CSU).

#23 Vanderbilt (5-1). Lost to Mississippi State (2-4) 17-14 in Starkville, MS. Next Week: At #10 Georgia. As previously mentioned, the Commodores couldn’t snuff the 80 year old curse and go 6-0. This was a game where Vandy could only manage 107 yards of total offense, and MSU still only won by three. Two costly interceptions hurt scoring efforts.

#24 California (4-1). Did not play. Next week: At Arizona (4-2).

#25 Tulsa (6-0). Did not play. Next week: UTEP (3-3) at home. With the drop out of a couple of teams, its gotten down to looking for teams to fill the lower places, and Tulsa has it locked here.  We like the Golden Hurricanes a bit more than Pitt (4-1) and Ball State (7-0) right now, though that could change in a heartbeat.

Dropped from Top 25: Auburn, Wisconsin.

On the Bubble: Pitt (4-1), Ball State (7-0), Minnesota (6-1).

Most impressive: Texas, Florida, Oklahoma State

Least impressive: Texas Tech, LSU

Top 25 Composition: Big-12 (6), SEC (5), Big-10 (3), ACC (3), MWAC (3), Pac-10 (2), WAC (1), Big East (1), C-USA (1).

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For those of you wondering where the weekly post has been, we do apologize for the inconvenience.  Last Friday Korky came down with a rather nasty bout of pneumonia and was put in the hospital for 5 days.  Not to fear, he’s out and writing again.  My thanks to my great friend Steve for visiting and keeping his spirits high during the downtime.

Enough of that. Since we are already a bit late on this, we’re going to combine the weekly posts. Usually we have one post just announcing the results and ranking, then another around Wednesday to predict the following weeks’ games. So we’ll just combine the two here this week.

Week 6 ended up almost exactly the way we thought it would, except for the lackluster performance of South Florida, who seems to be repeating their nose-dive act of 2007. Maybe we’ll all learn not to run them up to the top 10 so soon….oh wait, we do that with Georgia every year too don’t we. But as for general comments we have a few regarding this week’s rankings.

Since Florida State seems to have settled on a QB they look a lot better, but we’ll wait for them them to win another game at least before ranking.  The ACC and Pac 10 are causing most of the heartburn this year it seems.  The former is nearly flat lining this year, and the latter is so topsy-turvy you never know who’s gonna beat whom any week.  Plus, the Big 10 has become the Big 2 again, but not the ones we usually think of.  PSU has replaced Michigan and Wisconsin has taken over the occasional interloper role Iowa and Michigan State shared for decades.

And because of the change in who the power teams are in some of those conferences, several schedules are back-loaded this year, even though they’re playing the same schools on the same weeks as in years past.  You’d think some would be easy, like OSU-Mich not being for all the marbles this year, but USC thought the same last year vs. a mediocre UCLA, and that didn’t turn out so well.  So some of those year end rivalry games can still have an impact.  Auburn is perfectly capable of biting ‘Bama in the backside, though I don’t see A&M beating Texas no matter what.  And keep in mind that OU has struggled with the Stillwater crowd in recent years.

In any case, there were some minor surprises but nothing that we didn’t allude to.  We did mention that we were high on the Vandy-Auburn game and sure enough the Tigers did fold under the pressure. We were a bit disappointed in Fresno State not taking care of business against Hawaii too.  So, here we go…the new Kathman-Patton Top 25 with a look toward some pretty important games here in Week 7 that may prove to disrupt the list rather drastically next week.

#1 Oklahoma (5-0). Defeated Baylor (2-3) 49-17. This week: #5 Texas (5-0) in Dallas. Oklahoma pretty much did what they were supposed to do against Baylor, seeing that the Bears haven’t had a winning season since perhaps Mike Singletary was an All-American there.  Needless to say this week’s Red River Rivalry with Texas will take on a special importance with both in the top 5. The real facts are here, that neither team has played a gamely opponent yet. OU’s opponents are a combined 12-15 on the season while Texas’ are 11-16. OU has outscored their opponents 248-69 (avg 49.6 – 13,8) while Texas has outscored their opponents 236-57 (avg 47.2 to 11.4), so hardly a demanding schedule so far. But, of course that all changes on Saturday. This will be the 10th time that this matchup has seen two top-5 teams contesting for supremacy, with Oklahoma winning the last 3 times both were ranked in the top 5. We dont see this changing much.  Texas has been able to easily overwhelm their opponents with an oversized defensive line that stops the running game and then eventually drowns the opposing QB.  However against the OU offensive line, they’ll have no such luck. Sooner QB Sam Bradford, one of the most accurate and highly ranked QB’s in the country, should have a field day against a very inexperienced Texas secondary that has given up HUGE passing yardage (over 300 against Rice and over 400 against UTEP).  On the flip side, OU’s defense is very fast, and the secondary has been outstanding. The OU defense allowed only  36 total yards against Chattanooga, and not a single 300 yard passing day.  With OU tending toward big first quarters (over 100 pts of their 248 came in the 1st) its possible that this game could be over fast.  Sooners by 17.

#2 Missouri (5-0). Defeated Nebraska (2-3) 52-17. This week: #17 Oklahoma State (5-0) at home. We must admit that the Mizzou-Nebraska was a disappointment.  After being the staunch defensive coach at LSU, everyone was expecting more from the Nebraska D which averaged well over 40 pts/game last year. Such was not the case. Missouri scored at will, and easily all night long. So we credit a great Missouri offense, but perhaps not as much as a really bad Nebraska defense, and almost inept offense.  We think that the Tigers are in for a much tougher game this week with Oklahoma State. With the Mizzou defense still somewhat suspect from a pass defense standpoint, this could be a perfect storm with Cowboy QB Zac Robinson riding into town. Robinson very simply is one of the top ranking QB’s in the nation with a 72% efficiency and with a 204.58 passing rating (compare this to OU’s Sam Bradford at 204.97 and Tiger QB Chase Daniels at 196.28). Robinson also can add an extra dimension by running the ball as he did last week against Texas A&M when he ran for 66 yards and 2 touchdowns.  All in all OKST averages 530 yards per game and about 53 points, so you do the math (yes 1 point per 10 yards gained), which is pretty phenomenal. We think both defenses could get a workout.  This is definitely an upset watch game for us this week, but we’ll edge with the home team. Missouri by 4.

#3 LSU (4-0). Did not play last week. This week: At #12 Florida (4-1). It’s been 18 years since there has been a meeting of the former two national champions, so in the first of many SEC showdowns, this one should go a long way to help clear up some lingering doubts on both teams. To say that Florida has been an enigma this year would be an understatement. Last year’s Heisman winner, Gator QB Tim Tebow has been a bit throttled this year in efforts by Coach Urban Meyer to reduce his hits (he had well over 200 last year).  As such, Tebow has been somewhat relegated to more of a pocket passer, with some escapism allowed on rare occasions.  WR Percy Harvin has also had some injury issues.  However, Florida DID put a nice game together this past week in dominating a mediocre Arkansas team. LSU is in its familiar setting, atop the SEC West along with Alabama (while Florida sits a game behind Vanderbilt and tied with Georgia). But LSU relies on its defense, and its a very good one.  The offense has had its ups and downs this year as Coach Les Miles seems to have finally settled on Sophomore QB Jarrett Lee who has been impressive in his last two games. LSU has won 4 of the last 6 meetings between the two ball clubs, and in the battle of “former” champions, the home team has never lost.  While we’re not always so respectful of such stats, in this kind of battle you can’t ignore them either. LSU by 6.

#4 Alabama (6-0). Defeated Kentucky (4-1) 17-14 at home. This week: Bye. After coming off a mixed-view victory over Georgia the week before, the Crimson Tide almost let one slip away on the last play of the game. But, good teams find a way to win when they play below par, and so they did against Kentucky. It seemed that the Tide was playing the whole game the way it did in the second half against Georgia, showing defensive vulnerability in both run and pass.  The game was won when the Kentucky QB literally dropped the ball and it rolled into the end zone and was recovered for an Alabama TD.  Hence we still don’t buy into the #2 ranking that the AP writers seem to have magically manufactured.

#5 Texas (5-0). Defeated Colorado (3-2) 38-14 in Boulder. This week: #1 Oklahoma in Dallas. See analysis and prediction under Oklahoma. Sooners by 17.

#6 Penn State (6-0). Defeated Purdue (2-3) 20-6 at Purdue. This week: At #20 Wisconsin. PSU-Purdue is always a tough rivarlry, especially when played in Indiana. However, the Nittany Lions controlled the game in most every way. It was a typical PSU game, with a solid, tough defense leading the way so that an consistent offense could rack up yet another 400+ yard offensive day and put up points while eating the clock.  QB Daryll Clark posted 18/26 for 220 yards while RB Evan Royster ground out 141 yards on the ground. Wisconsin lost a heart breaker to Ohio State. The Badger defense allowed the Buckeyes to drive down the field with less than 2 minutes left, to hand over the victory.  All of a sudden, Wisconsin is sitting at 3-2 with back-to-back conference losses. With the shape of the Big-10 this year, the Badgers have to make a stand and it has to be THIS week against conference co-leader Penn State.  The bright spot for Wisconsin however is still that P.J. Hill is nearly unstoppable and the Offensive Line is reall stellar. We think the Nittany Lions could be in for a tough Saturday. However, with a questionable defense, the Badgers may just be in the same kind of matchup, if not worse, as they just had with Ohio State. Penn State by 10.

#7 Texas Tech (5-0). Defeated Kansas State (3-2) 58-28 at KSU. This week: Nebraska (3-2) at home. The Red Raiders had all cylinders clicking against the Wildcats in a showing that was worthy of their high ranking. Graham Harrell led the TTU offense to yet another 600+ yard offensive day going 38/51 for 454 yards and 6 touchdowns, two of which were to Michael Crabtree. Perhaps hidden under the gaudy passing numbers was the fact that the Red Raiders ran the ball for almost 140 yards again, with both Shannon Woods and Byron Batch sharing the load. The Tech defense gave up some significant yards on its first drive, but after that shut the Wildcats down to nil, until a blocked punt and a late TD made the score much higher than was actually endured.  We’ve already lamented Nebraska’s poor defensive performance against Mizzou (see above).  While we’re really sure that Nebraska couldn’t possibly be so bad two weeks in a row, we also remember that TTU went to Lincoln last year and hung 70 on the Cornhuskers. We’re pretty sure that won’t happen, but comfortable in saying that Tech rolls.  Red Raiders by 21.

#8 USC (3-1). Defeated Oregon (4-2) 44-10 at home. This week: Arizona State (2-3) at home. After a very tacky loss to Oregon State, the USC Trojans went home and apparently had a revitalization treatment, Pete Carroll style. The game started eerily familar, with the Ducks running game really taking it to the Trojan D. This didn’t last long however, as the USC offense was NOT comotose as it was against the Beavers. QB Mike Sanchez found seven different receivers for 341 yards and 3 TDs. The turning point was just prior to halftime when the USC offense/defense exploded for 19 point in the last 40 seconds to go up 27-10.  Arizona State is another team that has fallen from grace rather quickly having been originally a top 10 contender. Things just haven’t come together for ASU the way they had hoped, and after losing to Cal 24-14 (their third loss in a row) things don’t look promising. The Sun Devils have lost 4 in a row against USC and that string could be easily extended. USC might have to bring in backup QB Mitch Mustain since Mike Sanchez endured a bone bruise against Oregon. It shouldn’t matter tho.  Trojans by 13.

#9 Brigham Young (5-0). Defeated Utah State (1-4) 34-14 at Utah State. This Week: New Mexico (3-3) at home. We’re pretty sure that everyone in the country was looking for a blowout in the BYU-Utah State game, but it didn’t happen, unless you call a 20 point win a blowout.  While BYU had a solid game, Utah State had allowed 66, 58 and 42 hung on them in the previous 3 weeks by non-ranked teams. We expected much more from BYU, but perhaps they rested too much. BYU probably has one of the easier schedules of top 10 teams right now. TCU and perhaps Utah could be their only ranked opponent tests the rest of the year, so BYU must put pedal to the metal and annihilate their opponents if they look to advance. Once BCS rankings come out, we’re figuring the Cougars could drop a few spots. New Mexico will provide token resistance this week. Cougars by 24.

#10 Ohio State (5-1). Defeated #20 Wisconsin (3-2) 20-17 at Wisconsin.  This week: Purdue (2-3) at home. Watching last week’s OSU-Wisconsin game gave us the deja-vu that we were watching one of the classic Big-10 games of the past, except that the ball was in the air too much. But nevertheless, the Buckeyes showed some real character going down 17-13 late in the game when they gave up chunks of rushing yardage to P.J. Hill and the go ahead TD.  Terrelle Pryor took hold of the OSU offense and marched the length of the field for the go-ahead score with 1:08 left. The defense held the rest of the game. Chris (Beanie) Wells also had a big day rusing for 168 yards and a TD. With the maturation of Pryor and a healthy Wells, we’re sure that OSU can evolve into a contender in not only the Big-10, but also nationally. Purdue, on the other hand, looks to play the spoiler role.  They played well against Penn State, but lacked consistency against a tough defense. Purdue might find the going even tougher against OSU.  Buckeyes by 10.

#11 Georgia (4-1). Did not play last week. This week: Tennessee (2-3) at home. The Bulldogs have had an extra week to get rid of the bad taste of a 41-30 thumping by Alabama. They hopefully watched film of the second half of that game and if so, can draw tremendous confidence. The Georgia defense is as strong as any when they focus, and they’ll be at home. Tennessee has struggled against itself all season. The Vols can move the ball when they have to, but have been characterized with large-scale defensive lapses, and untimely offensive gaffes.  They played Auburn very well, but could never get things going offensively, though their defense was outstanding. A similar story occurred in the UCLA game earlier in the year.  If this game was being played in Tennessee, we’d be a bit more contemplative, but since its not, we don’t see much way that Georgia doesn’t bounce back with a vengeance.  Bulldogs by 24.

#12 Florida (4-1). Defeated Arkansas (2-3) 38-7 at Arkansas. This week: #3 LSU at home. See analysis under #3 LSU.  Tigers by 6.

#13 Vanderbilt (5-0). Defeated #22 Auburn (4-2) 14-13 at home. This week: At Mississippi State (1-4). There aren’t too many in the CFB community that would have thought that the Commodores would have been atop the SEC East six weeks into the season.  The fact of the matter, is that if Vanderbilt can beat Mississippi State on the road this weekend, they’ll be off to their best start in 80 years. They are already at their highest ranking in 50 years, so this team really has the impetus. To prove that, they lost their 1st string QB last week (Chris Nickson) so backup Mackenzi Adams stepped in and threw 13/23 for 153 and 2 Touchdowns against one of the stingiest defenses in the country. they also gave up two quick TD’s to Auburn and fought back to win. Hapless Mississippi State is yet again the cellar dweller in the SEC West, but they seem to be a team rebuilding.  Despite their 1-4 record they have averaged giving up only 21 points per game, and even lost to Auburn only 3-2.  The trouble is on the offensive side of the ball where they are averaging only 16 points/game.  That could be a bad sign against a very tough Vandy defense. We think this might be closer than alot of people think, because the Commodores are coming off a tremendously emotional victory, so its normal to play down a little. We still think its definable for them tho. Vanderbilt by 13.

#14 Utah (6-0). Defeated Oregon State (2-3) 31-28 at home. This week: At Wyoming (2-4). Utah has been consistently good this year, and proved it by rallying with 8 points in the final 89 seconds to beat Oregon State just one week after the Beavers had upset USC.  While the Utes seemed to move the ball, their defense was plagued all day, giving up over 400 yards of total offense to the Beavers  However, against Wyoming this shouldn’t matter much. Wyoming’s offense is averging only 9 points per game. Utes by 28.

#15 Kansas (4-1). Defeated Iowa State (2-3) 35-33 at Ames, IA. This Week: Colorado (3-2) at home. Kansas has struggled all year despite great efforts by Todd Reesing and his offense. However, they had to rally from 20 points down to win last week, and that begins to be a warning sign.  Kudos to the Jayhawks to come back from that deficit, but whoa did they get exploited early on. Reesing and company generated 436 yards of offense but gave up 4 turnovers,including 1 interception.  Colorado seemed poise to make a stand against Texas but found themselves out of their league. Kansas isn’t in the same league, but they’re certainly higher than the Buffaloes.  Jayhawks by 10.

#16 Boise State (4-0). Defeated La Tech (2-2) 38-3 at home. This week: At Southern Miss (2-3). Let’s not kid ourselves, BSU is a force to be reckoned with and are a near shoe-in to win the WAC this year. The Broncos generated 564 yards of total offense in obliterating Louisiana Tech, led by Kellen Moore who threw for 2 TDs and D.J. Harper who ran for 2 more. Up next is Southern Miss, who comes off of a tough 40-37 overtime loss to UTEP. Look for the Broncos to score at will. Boise State by 23.

#17 Oklahoma State (5-0). Defeated Texas A&M (2-3) 56-28. This week: At #2 Missouri (5-0). Actually we think that this game could be one of the key matchups of the week. Read about it under #2 Missouri. Tigers by 4.

#18 Michigan State (5-1). Defeated Iowa (3-3) 16-13 at home.  This week: At Northwestern (5-0). It does seem a bit weird ranking a 5-1 MSU and not ranking the 5-0 Northwestern Wildcats but we can either declare our brilliance or wallow in our humility at the end of this game. Save for a comeback that stalled against Cal in week one, we’d be having two undefeateds here, but such is not the case. MSU continues to make some noise worthy of a ranking while Northwestern just pretty much gotten fat on some easy pickings. Both teams disposed of a common foe, Iowa the last two weeks, MSU winning 16-13  and Northwestern winning 22-17. MSU sports the better offense with RB Javon Ringer, while Northwestern has a great defense (allowing only around 12 points per game. We think that the Spartans should be able to push the Wildcats around and work for a methodic offensive win Michigan State by 11.

#19 Virginia Tech (5-1). defeated Western Kentucky (2-4) 27-13 at home. This week: Bye. The Hokies are beginning to play the kind of ball that everyone hoped they would. They’ve always been characterized by a strong defense, outstanding special teams, but a rather mediocre offense that spun games away at times. Now firmly entrenched Sophomore QB Tyrod Taylor has lead his team to four straight victories after being humiliated by East Carolina in week 1.  The interesting thing is that Taylor has settled in the last few weeks at around a 60-62% accuracy and 170+ yards, which is what is expected of the offense for Tech. He’s even put QB ratings in the high 150’s, which is darned good.  Watch for a rise from VT as they seem to be emerging as the team to beat in the ACC.

#20 Wisconsin (3-2). Lost to Ohio State (5-1) 20-17.  This week: #6 Penn State at home. Read analysis under #6 Penn State.  Last stand for Wisconsin before being labeled a “spoiler”.  PSU by 20.

#21 South Florida (5-1). Lost to Pittsburgh (4-1) 26-21. This week: Bye. To say that the Bulls were uninspired and disappointing would be an understatement. They’ll need to buck up quickly so that don’t repeat their 2007 dive.

#22 Auburn (4-2). Lost to Vanderbilt (5-0) 14-13 at Vanderbilt. This week: Arkansas (2-3) at home. Poor Tommy Tubberville. He’s got to be thinking how long does it take to learn a new offense?  But thats just what’s going on.  There’s absolutely nothing wrong with the Tiger Defense, but we imagine push came to shove when Offensive Coordinator Tony Franklin was fired because his offense was 104th in the nation. So, maybe this is a good move.  We’ll see as an underachieving Arkansas comes calling. Arkansas just doesnt seem to have all the pieces in the right spots right now.  QB Casy Dick is making all kinds of mistakes, and most have been terribly costly. The truth is though, that if the Razorbacks could have ONE good game it could be interesting. It’s very hard for us to predict this one, but our hunch is that Arkansas won’t be able to do anything against the Auburn defense, and that the AU offense, in whatever mode, should be able to capitalize.  Auburn by 8.

#23 TCU (5-1). Defeated San Diego State (1-4) 41-7 at home. This week: At Colorado State (3-3). Don’t look now, but here’s comes TCU again. After getting dumped hard by Oklahoma a few weeks ago, TCU didn’t let that settle in. They have managed to pick up the pieces and move on with the same tough defense. On the offensive side of the ball, TCU does it mostly on the ground. For instance in their drubbing of SDSU, backup QB Marcus Jackson threw for 115 yards and a TD, but also ran for 131 yards and 3 TDs. Their opponent this week, Colorado State, comes off an impressive victory over UNLV where their offense generated over 500 yards of offense. QB Billy Ferris was 15/21 for 294 yards and a TD, while RB Gartrell Johnson steamrolled through the UNLV defense for 191 yards and 3 TDs.  So what we seem to have is two very good offenses going at one another. TCU might have the upper hand in defense which could make the difference.  Horned Frogs by 8.

#24 North Carolina (4-1). Defeated UConn (5-1) 38-12 at home.  This week: Notre Dame (4-1) at home. In a conference that’s certainly not impressing anyone this year, North Carolina somehow has found a way to make things exciting. In last week’s game they kept sending a linebacker at the punter, kept handing off to a former safety and somehow put its bulky defensive tackle in position to intercept a pass. The Tar Heels’ defense got offensive — and for that matter, so did the offense and special teams — and that led to a statement victory. They’ll host a rebuilding, but much better Fighting Irish team that seems to be playing better each week. The Irish have an identical record at 4-1 but aren’t ranked, the first time in 28 occasions the Irish have started a season with only one loss through five games and still been unranked. This game proves to be season maker or breaker for North Carolina though, much more so than for ND.  As such we wonder if Butch Davis’ team is up to the challenge.  We’re putting this one on upset watch, and giving the edge to the Irish.  Notre Dame by 6.

#25 California (4-1). Defeated Arizona State (2-3) 24-14 at home. This week: Bye. The Bears round up the top 25 this week and enter after a pretty nice win over ASU. Cal has gradually seemed to emerge as at least a player in the Pac-10 now. They can put lots of points on the board (over 40 in two of their last 4 games) or they can grind out victories as they did over the Sun Devils. QB Nate Longshore was 17/28 for 198 yards and 3 TDs last week for instance. Of note tho, the Cal defense forced 3 turnovers that fueled the overal victory.

Dropping out: Oregon, Connecticut, Fresno State

On the Bubble: Northwestern, Florida State

Most Impressive: Missouri, Penn State, Texas Tech, USC

Least Impressive:  South Florida, Auburn

Top 25 Composition: Big-12 (6), SEC (6), Big-10 (4), MWAC (3), ACC (2), PAC-10 (2), WAC (1), Big-East (1)

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