Before I start, I wanted to remind people of my LSU/Florida rivalry blog. I update these(the records anyway) after each game. The two teams have played one another for about 40 years in a row, and they were the first two teams to win two BCS titles apiece, so itís been an interesting last 10 years especially.
This is the week (the week before the first computer ratings) every year where people try to destroy me and everything I stand for sports-wise because I try to be objective, which is bound to ruffle feathers in small doses, so itís really big when the whole football world is shaken up if one goes by my rankings. Also, people donít like that this is a change from going more with the flow in prior weeks. Weíve played nearly half a season, time to take the training wheels off, and if there are scraped knees, spray some antiseptic on it and move on. After all, weíre not talking about shuffleboard, weíre talking about football.
Iím going to start with my rankings since I donít want to confuse people into thinking Iím giving primary importance to what the voters do, but being unhappy with the voters goes all the way back to 1994 for meóand LSU wasnít even a team at much risk of having a winning record that yearóand thatís what got me started with my own rankings system, which started as purely subjective until it got too difficult to be consistent.
I still use subjective measures early in this season, but as is typical, I try to phase out things like preseason projections, historical strength of programs, and margin of victory before I turn it over to my arithmetical rankings system. This happens every year, it has nothing to do with LSU having less-than-impressive score lines the past two weeks.
So how I did it this year was to basically use a blind resume. I looked at which teams have been beaten and when relevant, I looked at losses. I went ahead and put a couple teams in there with more than one loss, because I couldnít say any of the unranked undefeated or 1-loss teams fall into the category of having beating someone who at this point seems worth much of anything. Iím going to list the rankings now (after three more sentences). Iím going to go on to give some basic responses to things Iím expecting people to say, and then Iím going to talk about how silly it is to keep moving LSU down. I understand this is mostly just preliminary quibbling with so many teams still undefeated, but if LSU is fortunate enough to win this week and someone complains it was too close, they should be laughed at. If LSU loses, I will just have to be grateful that unless itís like a Spurrier-era score, we will still look better than USC.
rank / team / prior
1 Alabama 1
2 LSU 2
3 Kansas St. 5
4 Oregon St. 16
5 Florida St. 6
6 Notre Dame 15
7 W Virginia 8
8 Washington Ė
9 Stanford 10
10 Georgia 3
11 S Carolina 7
12 Cincinnati 17
13 Oregon 4
14 Florida 14
15 Ohio St. 22
16 UCLA 24
17 Nebraska Ė
18 Texas 13
19 Miss. St. 19
20 Clemson 20
21 Mich St. Ė
22 Arizona Ė
23 Missouri Ė
24 Wisconsin 18
25 Baylor 21
Out of rankings: (9) USC, (11) Oklahoma, (12) TCU. (23) Michigan, (25) Tennessee
Note after UW-Stanford: The last time the Huskies defeated a top 10 team was in 2009 over USC, just a couple of weeks after losing to LSU.
(This is obviously the page that inspired this blog.† Sorry to liberally paraphrase the argument, but I wanted to get to the point in a somewhat concise way.)
Iím glad I post things in places where I get some feedback. It reminds me that the opinions of even dedicated sports fans donít always take into account hard facts but rely in large part on perceptions.
I didnít have anything special to post this week in addition to my rankings blog and my update to the LSU/Auburn series, so Iíll talk a little more about the change at #2 in the major polls.
Again, let me reiterate that Iím not upset with people having seen the Auburn game or having seen how close the Auburn game was having less confidence in LSU. But I am annoyed with not looking at all the facts and being consistent.
Oregon deserves to be #2, the logic goes, because they beat Arizona. Arizona is good because they were ranked. (this leaves out that Arizona was ranked because they beat Oklahoma St., which was ranked because they were good last yearÖ might as well rank LSU higher for beating Oregon last year, but I digress.)
LSU beat Auburn, who had two prior losses (by 7 on a neutral field against Clemson and by 18 @ Mississippi St.) and was not ranked. LSU does not have a good schedule, people claim, because the week before Auburn, they played Idaho and in the following week, they play Towson.
I think this analysis is extraordinarily flimsy, but it seems enough for a lot of people.
The schedule portion is the most problematic, so Iíll address that first. I ask this. Which of the following is more difficult to navigate undefeated?
Alabama stays #1 and seems to have widened the gap over the competition.
Some may have expected LSU to continue the dominance it had shown in earlier games, the closest of which was the Tigersí 41-14 win over North Texas in Week 1.
Although a win by a touchdown or so would have been preferable, I didnít expect it to be an easy win at all. This was an SEC road game for the Tigers of LSU (in a pretty intense series of late at that), and wins at Auburn donít come easy in these situations. As good of a program as LSU has had the last 12 years or so, it has not won by more than 5 points (which occurred in 2008, the 5-7 year that ended the Tuberville era) at Auburn since 1998 despite going to Auburn every other year since then. The prior instance of an LSU win of more than 5 points at Auburn was 25 years before that.
LSU wasnít completely inept on offense, it just couldnít turn field position into points or turn gaining a decent number of yards into first downs very reliably. LSU had 15 first downs to Auburnís 9 and 351 total yards to Auburnís 183. Auburn was 2/12 on third downs while LSU was 6/18. LSU was penalized about twice as much and had one fewer turnover, but Auburnís third turnover was on the last play, so that wasnít really a determining factor.
Both turnovers by the Bayou Bengals were fumbles by Zach Mettenberger (one of them with an assist from the center) in the first quarter. The first was when LSU had the ball at the Auburn 2. LSU kicked the ball at 4th and 2 or fewer four times, one field goal (which was good) and three punts.
I understand that there are normal fluctuations of a few points in the polls and either LSU will be undefeated and get a bit more support or will have a loss and will have to climb back up anyway, but Iím really annoyed that Oregon has been put ahead of LSU. I can understand if someone wants to say Auburn hasnít started well, and some teams that clearly arenít top teams have done better against them (though not at Auburn). Thatís if youíre consistent about applying that standard and youíll punish Stanford, for instance, for only beating San Jose St. by 3. Few are consistent though.
As an aside, thatís one reason I donít have the Cardinal ahead of USC. USC had the somewhat shaky game against Syracuse, but it was much better than Stanford/SJSU, and at least the Trojans were impressive against somewhat of a lightweight at home. Another reason is the USC/Stanford game was at Stanford. Also, there seems to be something unique about the combination of the two teams that favors Stanford that might not indicate, for example, that Stanford would beat Oregon but USC wouldnít.
I wonder if many pollsters who moved the Ducks ahead of LSU even bothered to look to find out Oregon scored 21 of its points in the fourth quarter and 36 of its points in the second half. I wonder how many of them realize that Arizona really should have been ahead at halftime after it had the ball at the Oregon 4, the Oregon 18, and the Oregon 2 on consecutive drives in the first quarter. In the second quarter, the Wildcats had the ball at the Oregon 13 on one drive and at the Oregon 30 on another.
I guess weíll have to hope the Washington Huskies can do more with their opportunities than Arizona did and this will make LSU (who beat Washington, 41-3) look better, but that would require that the pollsters remember. Iím not betting on it.
This is only an anecdotal example of the problem, but I do take some comfort in the notion that pretty soon their opinions will just be advisory. Itís just too bad that there it still really matters this season and next what the pollsters (officially just those in the coachesí and Harris polls, though both are influenced by the AP) believe.
If LSU wins easily at Florida in a couple of weeks, that might trump the Oregon situation. There is a lot left to play out of course.
Continue to full blog for thoughts and rankings of other teams.
The past couple of years when I've written about the #11 Notre Dame/ #18Michigan game, I've found myself writing about the incredible performances put on by Michigan QB, Denard Robinson...Well, not this time...Once again the Notre Dame defense played a great game...And just like last week, the Defense was lead by Manti Te'o...Te'o had 2 of the 4 interceptions that Robinson threw...Robinson made it clear that he's Michigan best running back, gaining 90 yards on the ground...But I'm not sure if he's their best QB....
The Notre Dame offense didn't make things easy on the defense, as Everrett Golson threw 2 interceptions in his own end of the field, early in the game...But the Irish defense kept Michigan off the board until the 4th quarter, giving up just two field goals...Golson was yanked, for the second time this year for Tommy Rees...While Rees kept the mistakes to a minimum, the offense was pretty conservative, relying on the defense's strong play, and holding on for a 13-6 victory...
I hated seeing Golson looking so dejected on the sidelines...The kid has great talent, and you don't want him to lose his confidence...Coach Kelly said after the game, that Everrett Golson is still their guy, and from time to time, they will look for Rees to get them through a tough spot...I'm not going to bitch right now...They're winning...And whatever gets you the win is okay with me...
And you can't say enough about Manti Te'o...Two weeks in a row, after dealing with the deaths of his grandmother and his girlfriend, there he is, leading his team...Playing great football...He hasn't made an INT during his time at Notre Dame...He now has 3 in the last 2 games...Watch this kid play people...Come April, he'll be a first round pick!
Who wants highlights? I do!
Now if you like College Football like I do...Then Saturday night is your kind of night...Beside Notre Dam and Michigan in prime-time...You also had Florida State playing Clemson, and Kansas State visiting Oklahoma both in Prim-time...Oh, and Auburn facing LSU...Good stuff...
Lets start at Auburn...I'm so sick of people talking about how great #2 LSU is...So far they have played nobodies, and have blown them out...And stupid LSU fan thinks they're the shit...Well, this is how great they are...The beat Auburn 12-10...That's right, not 49-10...12-10...1-3 Auburn, had LSU sweating bullets...And that 1 win was an OT win against ULM...Let me just say this LSU fans...Your team better knuckle up for next weeks game against Towson...
Now, I have to talk about #15 Kansas State going to face #6 Oklahoma...This game was a hard-hitting battle...Now when I did my pre-season predictions, I said Oklahoma would win the Big-12, but I warned people about Kansas State, who gets no respect, and I had K-State QB Collin Klein as a Heisman sleeper...Well, the Wildcats didn't disappoint...They went into a hostile environment...Played tough defense, and gritty offense and managed to upset the Sooners 24-19...The biggest thing that kept the Sooners from winning was 3 turnovers...Almost 4, but one was overturned by review...Also 4-10 on third downs makes life hard too...
Klein's numbers weren't outstanding, only passing for 149 yards, and rushing for 79 and a TD...But he did what his team needed, as K-State beat Oklahoma in time of possession by almost ten minutes, and didn't turn the ball over...
Then there was #10 Clemson at #4 Florida State, in a huge ACC match up...I had picked Clemson to win the ACC, and I was liking what I was seeing early in this game...Their offense was looking good, finishing with 426 total yards, and 37 points, seems like a good day at the office...But the Seminoles turned it on in the late in the third quarter, racking up a total of 667 yards and putting 49 points on the board...It became clear as the game went on, that FSU had too much depth, size and strength, took the lead, and wore Clemson out...
Saturday afternoon, there was another good game...Two PAC-12 teams that have been surprising people...Oregon State at #19 UCLA...This game was about offense, and two QB's who can sling it...UCLA's Brett Hundley who passed for 372 of their 444 total yards...And Oregon State's Sean Mannion threw for 379 of their 501 total yards...Surprisingly, it wasn't a 49-45 game...Oregon State pulled out the victory and their second upset of the year, winning 27-20...
There was another PAC-12 game that many of us were looking forward to, as #22 Arizona visited #3 Oregon...Everyone knows about Oregon's awful, constantly changing uniforms, and their high-powered offense...But after Arizona beat up on Oklahoma State, people started taking them seriously...Well, looks like they need to go back to the drawing board, as Oregon has spent the evening showing people that they are the class of the PAC-12, destroying Arizona 49-0...
In the SEC I was looking forward to the Missouri / #7 South Carolina game...While Missouri is 2-2 (0-2 in the SEC) they've played hard, and stayed in games...And let's be honest, you never really know what's going to happen with Steve Spurrier and his Gamecocks...Well, let's put it this way...Missouri is having a rough first season in the SEC, as South Carolina beat them 31-10, and it didn't even seem that close...
Now I don't know if anyone else has noticed this, but it's really getting under my skin...So far this season, ESPN/ABC has televised every one of Penn State's games...Has it become ESPN's personal crusade to keep Penn State slightly relevant while they are under NCAA sanctions?
Is it just that they want to keep a spotlight on the child rape that took place there? I'm not getting that...They sure love showing the blue ribbons...Hey dummies, blue ribbons don't fix the lives that have been ruined by what happened there, and what was covered up there...And ESPN likes showing the dumb-ass fans/students/alumni that still have their undying loyalty to Joe Paterno, and feel he was wronged, and that they are the victims...I truly hate that place...But I really hate ESPN/ABC for continuously putting them on the air...Oh, PSU won 24-13 over Temple, if anyone cared...Burn in hell!
That's it for this week...Feel free to add your College Football highlights...See ya Monday!
Iím not one of those ďhomerĒ types who likes to dwell on how great my team is, but I am impressed with the fact that LSU hasnít lost a regular-season non-conference game since opening the 2002 season with a road loss to Virginia Tech (then ranked #16). The streak of 40 wins in such games broke the mark completed by Kansas St. in 2003.
Although there are certainly more daunting non-conference schedules around, LSU has put forth a serious effort to have at least one non-conference opponent that at appears to be formidable on paper every year.
The other record is more of a ďpersonal bestĒ as LSU has won 20 consecutive home games since the 13-3 loss to Tim Tebowís #1 Gators in 2009. This is the only time in its history that LSU has won so many consecutive home games.
I wanted to go through them and talk in detail about some of the close calls and big games (some of which were not so close) during the longer streak.
This piece at ďNola.comĒ covers several of them, but Iíll mention a few more...