Saturday, November 26, 2005

College Football Rankings: November 27th

As part of my on-going audition for the AP and/or Harris Polls, here's my take on the Top 25 teams in College Football. I'm happy to note that they're up and available hours before any other poll - at least for this week.

This is the way things shape up heading into the final weekend before the bowls. A few regular season games, plus the Conference Championships are all that's left, so there won't be a lot of change from this week to next. And don't forget Army vs Navy next Saturday, always one of the highlights of the year.

Without further ado, the Top 25 for this week:

1. USC
2. Texas
3. Penn State
4. LSU
5. Virginia Tech
6. The Ohio State University
7. Notre Dame
8. Auburn
9. West Virginia
10. Oregon
11. UCLA
12. Miami-FL
13. Alabama
14. Georgia
15. TCU
16. Florida
17. Texas Tech
18. Louisville
19. Clemson
20. Boston College
21. Wisconsin
22. South Carolina
23. Georgia Tech
24. Michigan
25. Fresno State

Other Notes

• Some movement in the rankings this week: I flipped Notre Dame and OSU in the 6 and 7 spots, which had less to do with ND’s performance at Stanford, and more to do with the realization that while ND lost to my #1 team, they also lost to a mediocre Michigan State team. On the other hand, OSU lost to my #2 and #3 ranked teams, and appeared to play a tougher schedule overall. At the bottom, lots of movement as teams in the bottom half of the poll lost. Some dropped down, others dropped off. There would have been more movement but many teams who were knocking at the door (especially the Big 12 boys –*cough* Colorado and Iowa State *cough*) were upset as well.
• On the topic of Notre Dame, I caught the 4th Quarter of their game this week. I’m not going to pretend for a second that they were impressive, but I won’t hold their performance against them because every team puts up a sub-par performance now and again, especially on the road. When they fell behind by 1 in the final 2 minutes, I thought to myself “this is the test to see if they’re different”. Over the past ten years, I’ve seen Notre Dame teams squander countless winnable games. It’s been one of the things that’s kept them out of the top (or at times) second tier of college programs. Whenever things are going well, they always seem to be derailed by a loss to a Boston College, or a Syracuse. But Saturday night, they came back. And looked great doing it. After going up by 8 (a TD and a 2), their defense shut the Cardinals down. And here’s what encouraged me: they beat a team they should have despite almost letting the game slip away. As an Irish fan, I wasn’t surprised to see Stanford take the lead, because I’ve seen games like this before. I was surprised to see the Irish roar back, because I haven’t seen that happen very often in recent years. This team showed some mettle which I haven’t seen from the Irish in years, and THAT more than anything is an encouraging sign. Now with that being said, I still can’t believe they lost the MSU game.
• Props to Nevada for their win over Fresno State. Between this upset, and their eliminating Gonzaga in the 2nd Round of the College Hoops Tournament 2 years ago, they’ve officially earned the moniker of “mid-major killer”, stealing the crown that had long been held by Roy Kramer and the Bowl Championship Series.
• The Bowl Championship Series is shaping up: Notre Dame will receive one of the at-large bids, and The Ohio State University has the inside track on the second one. The only way I could see the Buckeyes getting shut out of the BCS is if a higher ranked team (Texas, LSU, or Virginia Tech) loses in their conference championship game this weekend. I don’t see it happening, though out of the 3 challengers (Colorado, Georgia, Florida State), I think the Dawgs have the best chance of pulling an upset. Bet on the three favorites joining fellow conference champions USC, Penn State, and West Virginia in the big-money games.
• My predictions for the BCS are as follows: Rose, USC vs. Texas; Fiesta, Penn State vs. Notre Dame, Orange, Virginia Tech vs. Ohio State; Sugar, LSU vs. West Virginia.
• Vince Young didn’t do anything spectacular against A&M (who had success running the option!), so I’m still thinking Reggie Bush has the Heisman in his grasp. Gamblers seem to agree; at, his odds were down to 1-6 earlier this week.
• One person who the media seems to have written off this week is the defending champ, Leinart. Most of the columnists I’ve read this week believe that the battle for the Heisman is now down to Bush and Young. I’m almost rooting for Leinart to win it at this point, since he’s become the true underdog in the race. And let’s be honest, lines like “the Texans just can’t find a way to protect Matt Leinart”, and “Matt Leinart just can’t seem to find any rhythm with these Houston receivers” will be a lot more amusing if you could throw “two-time Heisman winner Matt Leinart” in there.
• While I won’t predict an upset, I will note that UCLA has a similar high-octane offense to those of Notre Dame and Fresno State, the two teams who have given USC their biggest scares. If they do well, and especially if they pull an upset, Maurice Jones-Drew could stage an 11th hour bid for the Heisman. He’ll need a Bush-like performance to come within a Hail Mary of winning, but a big day in front of a national audience should earn him a trip to New York along with Bush, Leinart, Young, and Notre Dame QB Brady Quinn.
• Finally, can anyone keep track of all the bowl bids that are being sorted out? It seems like they add 5-10 new bowls a year, which if I’m correct means we’re over the 150 mark this year. Confounding things even more is the fact that at least half of them seem to switch sponsors annually as well. On the bright side, it makes me think that it’s not too hard to be able to sponsor a bowl game. I think it could be great publicity for this site if we could find a way to pull it off. I especially like the ring of the “Sports Matters Emerald Bowl”. I’m even willing to kick in $100 of my own money to make this happen.


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