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Posts Tagged ‘Big-12’

Last year, in 2007, the upsets began the first week of November and continued through to the end of the season.  It looks as if we are in for another down to the wire run again this year too. Everything is getting bunched up early and its for sure that the BCS system will again come under fire when all is said and done.

Week 10 of 2008 will go down as a week of great games and great performances. It started early with Florida’s impressive, unexpected, 49-19 blowout of Georgia. It has seemed now for a few weeks that Florida was emerging as one of the best 1-loss team in the nation and they proved it.  Northwestern intercepted a pass with time running out, to snatch a victory over a recently charging Minnesota.  Georgia Tech did the same against Florida State, and even some non T25 games were thrilling, such as last minute wins by Purdue over Michigan and Illinois over Iowa.

Of course the game of the week, was the shootout in Lubbock between two undefeated Big-12 teams, #1 Texas and #5 Texas Tech. We’ll own up to the fact we thought this game was way overhyped, but we and most of the world had no idea that TTU’s defense would play the game of their lives, and Texas would totally underperform.  The win by Tech will most certainly get them to the top 3 in the country, and from there, they are in control of their destiny. The variations on just the Big-12 South are unbelievable.  There are scenarios that could see three teams be 11-1 at the end of the regular season. We aren’t even exactly sure how they break that tie, but four Big-12 South Teams all have shots at not only a BCS Bowl Game but also a National Championship.

A handful of games seem to point the way to the remainder of the season.  Texas Tech has Oklahoma State and Oklahoma on it schedule the next 2 weeks. If they run the table, there’s a compelling case for title bid, since they would have beat, in succession #23, #1, #8 and # 4.   We don’t know how the pollsters or BCS computers could keep them out of a title bid if they also beat Missouri in the Big-12 championship. However things could shape up to be very scrambled, should TTU beat Oklahoma State and lose to OU (and beat Baylor), and both OU and Texas win out.  That would put 3 Big-12 South teams at 11-1. Or consider if OU beats Tech, and loses to Oklahoma State?  The mind boggles!

Penn State and Michigan State will lock up in a few weeks, that could position the Nittany Lions for a Title invitation, but chances are, they’d need some help to get there, even if they were undefeated, due to their non-competitive schedule. Florida, Texas Tech, and probably Alabama would all have to lose for PSU to be considered for a title bid. Not out of the question, however.

Florida, after trouncing Georgia, now has clear sailing to the SEC Championship from the East side, while Alabama has some work to do against LSU in Baton Rouge next week and then Mississippi State and Auburn.  If Alabama runs the table (including the SEC Championship) there’s no one going to keep them out of a title bid.

Oklahoma and Texas both have paths to BCS Bowls, with possible title game hopes. OU gets Texas Tech in Norman. However they must end with Oklahoma State in Stillwater, and anything could happen there. Because of the prior loss to Texas, OU would need for Texas to lose once more, which is unlikely against very mediocre teams. So, Texas has the easiest freeway to the Big-12 Championship against Missouri.

So with all the hubbub, let’s take a stab at the new rankings.

#1 Alabama (9-0). Defeated Arkansas State (4-4) 35-0 at home. Next week: At #13 LSU (6-2). On a day that saw most all the top 10 teams perform well, the Tide did their job in workman-like manner. Alabama improved to 9-0 for the second time in the last four years (2005). Dating back to their bowl game last season, the Crimson Tide has won 10 straight games. It is the 21st double-digit winning streak for Alabama, an NCAA record. Alabama freshman RB Mark Ingram rushed for 113 yards on just 12 carries, his first career 100-yard game. Freshman RB Mark Ingram rushed for 113 yards on just 12 carries, his first career 100-yard game.

#2 Texas Tech (9-0). Defeated #6 Texas (8-1) 39-33 at home. Next week: #8 Oklahoma State (8-1). Tech gets to 9-0 for the first time since 1938 on the strength of a brutal defense in the first half, and riding the Harrell-Crabtree train in the final 1:29. The numbers in the game were staggering on both sides, as 854 yards of offense were put up.  Harrell ended up 36/53 for 474 yards and 2 TD, while Michael Crabtree had 10 receptions for 127 yards and the game winning TD. Special recogntion goes to Texas WR Malcolm Williams who had 4 receptions for 182 yards and a 91-yard TD. The Tech running duo of Shannon Woods and Baron Batch accounted for 122 yards rushing. The Tech defense had better put equal effort next week against OSU.

#3 Penn State (9-0). Did not play. Next week: At Iowa (5-4). Playing in a weak conference with no conference championship game will hurt the Nittany Lions down the road, even if they finish undefeated. Probably just as hurtful was their non-conference schedule. Too many other teams, if successful, will keep PSU out of any title hopes barring some freakish circumstances.

#4 Oklahoma (8-1). Defeated Nebraska (5-4) 62-28 at home. Next week: At Texas A&M (4-5). Despite his defensive prowess at LSU, Nebraska coach Bo Pelini must be wondering what his team can do to show up against ranked opponents.  OU put up 14 points inside the first 3 minutes of the game on the way to a 35-point 1st quarter, and never looked back. QB Sam Bradford put up 311 yards and 5 TDs. OU has a narrow path to a title bid, but they would need to run the table (against 2 Top 10 teams) and hope that Texas loses. Best bet for them is a BCS bowl game, but thats only guaranteed if they win out.

#5 Florida (7-1). Defeated #15 Georgia (7-2) 49-10 at Georgia. Next week: At Vanderbilt (5-3). Any other day in college ball, the Gators would be headed upward. Clearly we have a log jam of 1-loss teams now that could easily be ranked in all 6 possible permutations.  Florida, however, has to be playing the best overall and improves more each week. Heisman winner Tim Tebow accounted for 5 TDs (3 Passing, 2 Running), and the Gator defense just hounded Georgia all day.  Florida does have a problem down the stretch, playing very marginal opponents, so the BCS system won’t be kind to them. However, it looks more and more like an Alabama-Florida SEC Championship, the winner, going to the National Title game.

#6 Texas (8-1). Lost to #3 Texas Tech (9-0) 39-33 in Lubbock. Next week: Baylor (3-6) at home. The road gets much easier for Texas now, who could be in the driver’s seat while they stand back and watch OU, Tech and Oklahoma State beat up on each other the next few weeks.

#7 USC (7-1). Defeated Washington (0-8) 56-0 at home. Next week: California (6-2) at home. It wasn’t a great miracle that the Trojans rolled over the Huskies, but the fact is that they did win big, which was vital to their possible title hopes. Like Penn State, they are a victim of a weak conference, and as such, will have a tough time moving up unless they put lots and lots of points up against the weaklings. SC did the job against Washington mostly on the ground, using 7 different backs to rush for 297 of their 485 yards of offense. C.J. Gables lead the way with 108 yards and 2 TDs. By the way, don’t look now, but the Trojans have recorded shutouts in 3 of the last 4 games.  That’s a pretty impressive stat. They look Rose Bowl bound.

#8 Oklahoma State (8-1). Defeated Iowa State (2-7) 59-17 at home. Next week: At #3 Texas Tech (9-0). the Cowboys took a 28-10 halftime lead and rode that to an easy victory. QB Zac Robinson had 395 yards passing and 5 TDs on the night, while RB Kendall Hunter ran for 104 yards on 13 carries. OSU stll can get to a Big-12 Championship, but it wont be easy.  They’ve alrady lost to Texas, so if both win out, Texas gets the nod. So, OSU must win out to go 11-1, then they must hope that Texas loses. A pretty remote possibility. However, if they DO win out (over TTU and OU) they’ll probably get a BCS bid.

#9 Ohio State (7-2). Did not play. Next week: At Northwestern (7-2). We might be the only rankings that place OSU ahead of a a few non-BCS teams, but we’re still pretty sure that Ohio State has what it takes to finish out in a good position for a bowl bid.  Keep in mind that Penn State must still get by Iowa and Michigan State to get to the Rose Bowl. So, things aren’t over yet in the Big-10.

#10 TCU (9-1). Defeated UNLV (3-6) 44-14 at UNLV. Next week: At #12 Utah (9-0). Again we break with tradition here and put the 1-loss Frogs ahead of a couple of undefeated teams. We simply think that TCU is just a better overall team than BSU and Utah, but we’ll see next week. In the meantime, TCU  used its powerful running game and stifling defense to easily tame the Rebels. Next week’s game v. Utah could be the biggest game of TCU’s history, and a ticket to a BCS bowl, but probably only if the pollsters somehow fall out of love with Boise State.  However, a Frog win over a ranked Utah team, might bolster them in the BCS rankings enough to get by, as BSU has no ranked teams remaining on their schedule.

#11 Boise State (8-0). Defeated New Mexico State (3-5) 49-0 in Las Cruces, NM. Next week: Utah State (2-7) at home. BSU keeps on track for a bowl bid, and perhaps even a BCS bowl, if Utah and TCU both fail down the stretch.  QB Kellen Moore threw for 246 yards and 3 TDs.

#12 Utah (9-0). Defeated New Mexico (4-6) 13-10 at NM. Next week: #10 TCU (9-1) at home. This week was a good example as to why we still don’t get on board the Ute bandwagon. Were it not for a last minute tackle to end a driving New Mexico, Utah could easily have come to an abrupt end. However, that being said, there’s little doubt that next week’s game against TCU will be a BCS bowl-qualifier for one of the two teams.

#13 LSU (6-2). Defeated Tulane (2-6) 35-10 at home. Next week: #1 Alabama (9-0) at home. The Tigers pretty much walked their way to a victory over their cross-town rival.  LSU generated almost 2/3rds of their offense on the ground, with RB Charles Scott running for 114 yards on 12 carries, but highlighting the continual problems with their QB situation.  Defense was solid, but after getting torched by Georgia and Florida for over 50+ each, an improvement was in order!  We’re wondering if Alabama will hang 50 on LSU next week?

#14 Missouri (7-2). Defeated Baylor (3-6) 31-28 in Waco. Next week: Kansas State (4-5) at home. Perhaps one of the tragic stories of the year. The Tigers will probably win the Big-12 North, but only because they play in a division that’s the weakest of any teams in the country.  They are now 1-2 against their South opponents, and had a tough time getting by an ever-improving Baylor Bear team. The Tigers needed a late FG, and a good defensive effort to thwart a comeback. Once Heisman worthy Chase Daniels threw for over 300 yards, and 3 TDs, but keeping with recent trends, had 2 interceptions. Mercifully, Missouri has a breeze schedule to get to the Big-12 Championship game against either Texas, Oklahoma, Texas Tech or Oklahoma State. Ouch.

#15 Georgia (7-2). Lost to Florida (7-1) 49-10 at home. Next week: At Kentucky (6-3). It was a nightmare come true for the Bulldogs.  It was clear from post-game comments, that the little (very little) stunt last year that Georgia coach Mark Richt orchestrated by having his entire team storm the field after their 1st TD, was remembered and remembered with a vengeance. There’s no place in College Football for a no-class organization, and Urban Meyer’s group went to Georgia, laid them in ruins like Sherman did. Maybe Richt will think twice about the shenanigans and concentrate on trying to get his team to avoid choking, as they’ve done the last two years.

#16 Brigham Young (8-1). Defeated Colorado State (4-5) 45-42 in Colorado. Next week: San Diego State (1-8) at home. The Cougars again had to rally with a 17 yard TD to Dennis Pitta with 22 seconds left to beat the Rams, again showing some signs of vulnerability as they did when TCU took them to the woodshed 3 weeks ago. However, this one turned out a bit different. QB Max Hall had a huge night, going 28/35 for 389 yards and 5 TDs.

#17 Michigan State (8-2). Defeated Wisconsin (4-5) 25-24 at home. Next week: Purdue (3-6) at home. Spartan kicker Brett Swenson kicked a 44-yard field goal with 7 seconds left to give the Spartans a come from behind win in a thriller. Wisconsin out-offensed MSU, but sheer determination won this game for MSU. WR Blair White had the big day with 7 receptions for 164 yards.  Javon Ringer was held to 54 yards, but scored twice.

#18 Ball State (8-0).  Did not play. Next week: Northern Illinois (5-3) at home.

#19 North Carolina (6-2). Did not Play. Next week: #23 Georgia Tech (7-2) at home.

#20 Maryland (6-2). Did not Play. Next week: At Virginia Tech (5-3).

#21 West Virginia (6-2). Defeated Connecticut (6-3) 35-13. Next week: Cincinnati (6-2) at home. Its taken a while, but the Mountaineers came up with a great game against the Huskies, and are vying for the Big East Title again. QB Pat White ran for two TDs (109 rushing yards) and threw for one (121 passing yards).

#22 California (6-2). Defeated Oregon (6-3) 26-16. Next week: At USC (7-1). Nate Longshore was the star of the game going 13-for-27, 136 yards and a TD, and filled in for the injured Kevin Riley. With a driving rainstorm prevailing most of the game, it was a slop-fest where there were a combined 8 turnovers.

#23 Georgia Tech (7-2). Defeated Florida State (6-2) 31-28 at home. Next week: At #19 North Carolina (6-2). In another thriller, the Yellow Jackets snatched victory from the jaws of defeat, when  FSU’s Marcus Sims fumbled on second-and-goal and the ball was recovered by Tech in the end zone with 0:45 left. GT will have a bit of a showdown next week against NC for possibly a trip to the ACC Title game representing the Coastal division.

#24 Northwestern (7-2). Defeated Minnesota (7-2) 24-17 in Minnesota. Next week: #9 Ohio State at home. Another thrilling ending to go along with many this weekend. Minnesota had controlled the game, but Northwestern fought back to tie. As the clock wound down in regulation, Northwestern’s Brendan Smith returned an interception 48 yards for a TD with 12 seconds remaining to give the Wildcats the win. Give the game ball, tho, to NU’s backup QB, Mike Kafka who ran for 217 yards and threw for 143 yards and 2 TDs.

#25 Pittsburgh (6-2). Defeated Notre Dame (5-3) 36-33 in 4 overtimes at South Bend. Next week: Louisville (5-3) at home. In still another nailbiter, the Panthers took 4 OT’s to beat an inspired Notre Dame team that lead most of the game.  RB LeSean McCoy had 169 yards rushing on the night and a TD. The Panthers won, despite committing 3 turnovers.

Dropped out: Oregon, Connecticut, Minnesota, Tulsa, Florida State

On the Bubble: Florida State, Kansas, Minnesota.

Most Impressive:  Texas Tech, Florida.

Least Impressive: Missouri, Georgia.

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

Personal Authors Notes:  The ACU Wildcats haven’t been able to lay claim to a Lone Star Conference championship in football since 1977. Saturday night in Javelina Stadium, the second-ranked Wildcats won at least a share of the title with a 42-17 win over Texas A&M-Kingsville.  The Wildcats are now 9-0 overall for the first time since 1950, but more importantly improved to 8-0 in the LSC and 5-0 in the LSC South Division.

The Wildcats – ranked No. 1 in NCAA Division II Super Region Four – can clinch the program’s first outright LSC football championship since 1973 next Saturday when they close out the regular season at 2 p.m. at home against Midwestern State.  ACU can win the title with a win over the Mustangs or a Tarleton State win over West Texas A&M.

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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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