I just realized I'd forgotten to post this here.
2013 Final Top 25
rank / team / prior
1 Florida St. 2
2 Auburn 1
3 Mich. St. 4
4 Missouri 7
5 UCF 10
6 Stanford 3
7 S Carolina 11
8 Oklahoma 12
9 Ohio St. 5
10 Baylor 6
11 Alabama 8
12 Clemson 17
13 Oregon 16
14 Louisville 18
15 Arizona St. 9
16 UCLA 19
17 LSU 20
18 Okie St. 15
19 USC 25
20 N. Illinois 13
21 Fresno St. 14
22 TX A&M –
23 Notre Dame 24
24 Washington –
25 Duke 21
Out of rankings: (22) Wisconsin, (23) Georgia
Many of you probably know where to find my other blogs (such as more detailed rankings discussion) by now, but if you need specific directions, let me know. Everything is published there first.
Some people might think I’m upset about the SEC’s dominance over the BCS title game coming to an end (as is the game itself of course), but I’m really not. Like I said initially, I’m glad it’s not Saban or Meyer with another trophy.
I am indeed happy for Jimbo Fisher. He had his fingerprints on the development of a lot of quality programs, especially in the SEC, over the years. Even if Florida St. had lost, it’s really a tribute to him that they were in the game in the first place. Even though the ACC wasn’t great by any measure, it’s remarkable to win 14 games and only really have two in doubt much into the second half.
I’m not really a huge Malzahn fan, but I have gained some respect for him as well. I initially thought he was just a silly high school coach whose goofy plays would be exposed, but I’ve learned that his ideas are rooted in the study of the game’s history. I’ve also learned that he’s not just presenting the same plays over and over again. He finds new wrinkles and ways of running the offense that keeps defenses offguard. Whatever one has to say about the differences in competition, Auburn was the team that was luckier to be there, so I don’t feel it’s a huge injustice that they lost, although I’m not sure there has been a team in the title game that has faced that level of competion in the history of the BCS championship apart from that 2011 LSU team that also lost.
I don’t think Florida St. would have made it through the 9 SEC teams Auburn faced without a loss, but I also don’t necessarily think they would have lost more than once. Had the ’Noles played in the SEC, they may well have ended up BCS champions anyway. I don’t think that’s true of any of the other challengers the SEC has faced over the last few years.
Florida St.’s win should serve to remind some hardcore SEC fans that maybe one or two of those semifinal slots should go to non-SEC teams every year.
I’m in no way soft-pedaling the fact that this was a great year for the SEC though, and I don’t just mean going 7-3 in bowl games (one of the three was with a backup quarterback).
I have South Carolina 7th partly because I consider the loss to Tennessee pretty bad, but whether it’s top five or top seven, having three SEC teams in that group is about as good as you can hope for. I also have Alabama in the top 10, as do both polls. So that’s twice as many top 10 teams as the Big XII and four times as many as the other BCS conferences. I have Texas A&M a bit lower than the polls, but LSU and A&M are also consensus top 25 for a total of six. I also have the Pac-12 with six, but they’re mostly toward the bottom, and there aren’t teams like Vanderbilt (which is ranked in both major polls), Georgia, and Ole Miss with strong arguments in the Pac-12 either. If you look at the top 50 (or simply consider all those receiving votes in either major poll), the SEC has ten teams to the Pac-12’s seven.
The ACC and Big XII only have 5 teams apiece in the top 40, although both polls had Texas Tech #30. Even if you count them, a larger percentage of SEC teams is still in the top 40 than Big XII teams. Also to look at the lower teams, this is how I rank SEC and Big XII teams that fell outside of the top 70:
83. Florida (SEC)
89. TCU (Big XII)
96. Arkansas (SEC)
101. West Virginia (Big XII)
102. Iowa St. (Big XII)
103. Kansas (Big XII)
104. Kentucky (SEC)
So of the group above, 40% of the Big XII is there but only 21.4% of the SEC. I think that makes a big difference on the schedule, especially since every Big XII team who’s not among those four faced them. South Carolina was the only team to play all three SEC teams on the list above, which is another reason I only have them 7th in the overall rankings.
Anyway, I’ll have more to say another time, but these were just my first thoughts upon the completion of bowl season.
By turkey, of course I mean football and the coming bowl season. The bird isn’t anything to get excited about really, but it can make an excellent sandwich to accompany football-watching.
LSU-Arkansas (Friday on CBS) will be an afterthought among all the interesting games in the next few days, but I originally wrote this blog back in 2006, and it’s what touched off my successful (for me, anyway) Rivalry Series. So if you have any interest at all, please check it out.
Sometimes I wonder if articles are written for Bleacher Report just to annoy me. I used to suspect the same thing of Sporting News. Not me in particular, but they want to get under fans’ skin to get more hits. Brian Pedersen is a “Featured Columnist” on the site, and based on the way his “Which Teams Got Screwed in Week 14 Standings?” column is written, he doesn’t understand how the BCS rankings work after 15 years. The rankings will cease to exist in a couple of weeks. Have some respect.
• explain why Clemson (10-1) got passed by Missouri in the latest standings, despite both teams winning? Yes, Clemson moved up from seventh to sixth
> So let me get this straight. Getting “screwed” means not moving up ENOUGH after beating an FCS opponent? Does it not occur to him that Missouri beat a ranked Ole Miss team. Maybe there are times when beating a ranked team should move you ahead of someone even if that other team doesn’t lose. Is that so hard to imagine? I know a few other teams beat Ole Miss, but let’s review who they were: Alabama, Auburn, and Texas A&M. Ole Miss has beaten LSU, Texas, and Vanderbilt. Even if you’re not convinced Ole Miss is a good win, let me float this idea: Maybe Clemson shouldn’t have been ahead of Missouri in the first place. This doesn’t convey a highly fundamental misconception of the BCS. Maybe he figured the pollsters would penalize Missouri for what they knew would be a boost in the computers, I don’t know. But wait for it.
> He then mentions South Carolina didn’t lose ground after a similar game. NEITHER DID CLEMSON! He also mentions LSU climbed after beating an FCS opponent “and not just because teams above it lost”. Staying at 13th isn’t climbing. Missouri lost to a team called South Carolina. Guess what Clemson can do if they belong ahead of Missouri?
• But did the (Baylor) Bears‘ loss to Oklahoma State—arguably the hottest team in college football right now and currently ranked seventh—justify dropping from fourth to ninth?
>> Falling 5 spots after being blown out seems reasonable to me. LSU was in the Alabama game until the fourth quarter, and they fell 8 spots. This is the same guy who tries to argue there is a double standard in favor of the SEC. If anything, if you’re further down to begin with, losing to a top team shouldn’t hurt you as much.
>> Another big complaint seems to be that Stanford—which beat Arizona St., Washington, UCLA, and Oregon—passed up the Bears. Let’s review Baylor’s best four wins: Oklahoma… Texas Tech, Buffalo, Kansas St. Utah went downhill since beating Stanford, but they’ve played all the best teams of both divisions (not to mention BYU and Utah St., both of whom they beat) and some of the losses were very close. Stanford just happened to be their lucky game. South Carolina might pass Baylor if they beat Clemson (which would at worst be their second win over a 2-loss team). I think that MAYBE trumps Oklahoma and Texas Tech perhaps?
• Michigan State (10-1) is locked into the Big Ten title game, where it will have a chance to earn an automatic BCS bid if it were to beat Ohio State in Indianapolis in two weeks.
>>> And best of luck to them. What’s the problem? Oh, they DIDN’T pass up the likes of Clemson and Baylor. So, the team that stays behind Clemson and Baylor got screwed. Clemson and Baylor also got screwed by not staying ahead of all the teams they had been ahead of. Wow. South Carolina is also ahead. He then mentions how Michigan St. should get more credit for winning its division. Baylor isn’t in a division. Michigan St., unlike Clemson, isn’t in a division with Florida St. Maybe he has a point with South Carolina (which won’t win its division unless Missouri loses to Texas A&M), but not if South Carolina beats Clemson.
• Fresno State (10-0) gave its home crowd a powerful sendoff by putting up 69 points against New Mexico on Saturday, getting 820 yards of total offense and seven touchdowns from superstar QB Derek Carr [but fell behind Northern Illinois]… You can probably chalk that up to NIU getting ESPN exposure on weeknights the past two weeks, while FSU was on the lesser-watched CBS Sports Network.
>>>> This is that one shining moment you’ve been waiting for. I seriously doubt a whole lot of voters dropped Fresno St. In fact, their points in both of the BCS polls went UP (maybe a little less than Northern Illinois’); but you know those computers? They don’t get impressed by scores, because the NCAA mandated that the computers couldn’t factor that in. They also don’t care what channel the games were played on. They care that Northern Illinois beat a team with only one other loss (Ball St.) and then another (Toledo) who had been 7-3. Before beating New Mexico (3-8), Fresno St. had a bye week. Those mean computers want you to prevail over actual competition. For shame!
There was some griping about Central Florida and Duke, not completely without merit. But it’s just reality that when it’s 2/3 human polls, they’re not going to start supporting teams that have been out of the spotlight as quickly as you might like.Central Florida wasn’t realistically going to go ahead of undefeated Northern Illinois and Fresno St., but they don’t have to worry about that since all they have to do is win their conference anyway. Duke (with two losses) is behind a few teams with three losses. Maybe they have an argument to be ahead of USC, UCLA, or both; but do we have to pretend the SEC West is roughly equivalent to the ACC Coastal?
Finally, he complains about Cincinnati, with the worst schedule in college football other than possibly Old Dominion, which played mostly FCS schools. Cincinnati was absolutely destroyed by Illinois. The Illini have three other wins, but none of those victories were against teams with a single FBS win of their own. The Bearcats also lost to South Florida, whose one other FBS win was over Connecticut. Cincinnati did beat SMU, Rutgers, and Houston in consecutive weeks, but that doesn’t make up for those losses. The best win before those? 3-7 Memphis.
The same guy also did the bowl projections for this week. I know this will come as a shock to fans of the Stanford Cardinal, but even if they beat Notre Dame, the chances of playing for a national championship are approximately 0. He also assumes Texas will beat that great Baylor team he complains about and play Texas A&M in the Cotton Bowl since LSU has three losses. Uhhh, Texas A&M does too; and furthermore, he projects Missouri to beat the Aggies! I had been wondering who to cheer for in this game since I think I might like to see South Carolina play Auburn or Alabama more than Missouri, but it’s clear now. The thought of LSU getting passed up for the Cotton Bowlagain despite beating A&M again is a bit frustrating for me, so I’ll be cheering for all three SEC Tiger teams.
Many of you probably know where to find my other blogs (such as more detailed rankings discussion) by now, but if you need specific directions, let me know. Everything is published there first.
rank / team / prior
1 Alabama 1
2 Stanford 4
3 Ohio St. 5
4 Florida St. 3
5 Oregon 6
6 Auburn 7
7 Missouri 2
8 Miami 9
9 Oklahoma 11
10 Clemson 8
11 Fresno St. 14
12 Baylor 12
13 Michigan 15
14 LSU 16
15 N. Illinois 17
16 S Carolina –
17 Va. Tech 13
18 TX Tech 10
19 TX A&M 25
20 Mich. St. –
21 Houston –
22 Notre Dame 21
23 UCF 18
24 Louisville 22
25 Arizona St. 19
Out of rankings: (20) Oregon St., (23) UCLA, (24) Georgia
Many of you probably know where to find my other blogs (such as more detailed rankings discussion) by now, but if you need specific directions, let me know.
Holy shit…the college football season is half-over already?
Indeed! And Irish Shu is here with his mid-season review to look back at the first 6 games for his beloved Fighting Irish of Notre Dame as they enjoyed their bye week.
The short version? Well, they’re a step below what I expected. 4-2 is a game below what I predicted they’d have at the halfway mark and, honestly, I’m surprised it’s not any worse. Why? Well, the team has something in-common with how it played last year – the defense is carrying an under-performing O to the wins they have gotten thus far…but this years’ defense is not nearly as dominating as last years’ was. After the first 6 games last year, Manti Te’o and company had yielded only 52 points. Pretty damn impressive when one considers that 3 of the teams they beat were ranked in the top 25. This year? The Irish D have yielded 153 points after 6 games – 3 of the teams they played were ranked again – and they lost 2 of those. OUCH. The D lost only 4 starters from last year but Te’o, Zeke Motta and Kapron Lewis-Moore were HUGE losses, not only for how they performed statistically, but for their leadership. Clearly the Irish are missing that.
With that, let’s recap the first half game-by-game:
TEMPLE: Well, I expected a win and got one…not much more can be said. The Irish scored on their first 2 possessions – both TD passes to receiver Davaris Daniels - and then put it in cruise control against the outmatched and currently-winless Temple Owls to win 28-6. It was a game that had kind-of a “blah” feel to it that one gets when a team is keeping some plays and some effort in the back pocket. After the game, it was announced that Head Coach Brian Kelly had signed a new 5-year contract to stay with the Irish. Not too surprising considering the teams’ results from the previous year.
MICHIGAN: I predicted this as a loss and so it came to pass…still hated it, though. Michigan QB Devin Gardner donned jersey number 98 to honor long-ago Heisman winner Tom Harmon and tore through the Irish D for 460 yards including 82 rushing as Meat Chicken downed the Irish 41-30. Gardner connected with receiver Jeremy Gallon for 184 yards, 3 touchdowns and a career night, thus exposing the Irish D as, well, not what they were last year. Gardner did throw a pick-6 to Stephon Tuitt in what was his only huge error of the game, but in the end it didn’t matter. Since then, Meat Chicken has had milquetoast showings in the games that followed – after closer-than-expected wins over the likes of the Akron Zips and U Conn, the Wolverines finally did lose last weekend to Penn State in 4 overtimes. HA!
PURDUE: The Purdue Boilermakers have won only one game this year…you wouldn’t know it from how they played against the Irish that night. Notre Dame needed a bounce-back win and got it over the inspired Boilers 31-24. It took some late-game heroics in the form of 2 TD passes from Tommy Rees to Daniels and then a pick-6 from cornerback Bennett Jackson for the Irish to seal the deal. Rees looked as good as he ever has as he went 20 of 33 for 309 yards, 2 TD’s and no interceptions and made it 3 games in a row with over 300 yards passing…an effort that, sadly, would not repeat against the stronger defenses in the games that followed.
MICHIGAN STATE: An UGLY game in which defenses ruled…but the Irish prevailed in the end 17-13 over a Spartan team which hasn’t lost before or since…of course, Sparty still has yet to face the meat of their Big Ten schedule but it’s still a nice thought, nonetheless! The Irish mainly exploited 2 things in this win: an inexperienced quarterback in Cameron Cook who hadn’t faced the kind of defensive pressure the Irish would bring to him, and a sloppily over-aggressive Spartan defense that would be flagged 4 times for pass interference and once for defensive holding (I have to admit a couple of those were bullshit calls – but I’ll take em!). Between that and the Irish offense doing just enough, Coach Kelly got his 10th home win in a row.
OKLAHOMA…or as the Steve Martin character “Rupricht” from the movie “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels" would say: “OKLAHOMA-OKLAHOMA-OKLAHOMA-OKLAHOMA!!!”:
Rees dropped back twice in the first 3 minutes of the game and said: “here Sooners! CATCH!...here Sooners! CATCH AGAIN!” Well, to be fair, those first 2 picks weren’t entirely on him. On the first one, a blocking assignment was missed and Rees was hit from behind as he threw the pick-6 and on the second one the ball hit TJ Jones’ arm but glanced off for the 2nd interception. Both picks, however, got the Irish in a 14-point hole that made them play catch up the rest of the game and led to the 35-21 loss to the Sooners. The loss cast a shadow over what was a career day for running back George Atkinson III who ran for 148 yards and a touchdown in the losing effort...he was about all the Irish had offensively that day. The Sooners, meanwhile, suffered their first loss last weekend – to a Texas team whose fans, up until today, had been calling for Coach Mack Brown’s head on a stick…and who knows? They still might.
ARIZONA STATE: For the second week in a row, Rees threw a pick 6…fortunately for him, so did ASU quarterback Taylor Kelly. The Sun Devils had 2 other turnovers that were the difference in the game and the Irish won what may have been their best-played game thus far this season 37-34. Rees had a decent night as he threw for 279 yards and 3 touchdowns. Another big difference in this one was that, in spite of yielding 34 points, the Irish D finally showed some domination with 6 QB sacks – 3 by linebacker Prince Shembo – and did a good job of keeping ASU’s powerful offense at bay by limiting their time of possession and bottling-up their running game…I can only hope their effort in this one represents a “turning of the corner”.
So with the first 6 games in the books, we look ahead to the last 6. The second-half opponents don’t appear to be quite the “gauntlet” the first 6 were, but there are a couple tough ones. Their next opponent in USC, even with Coach Lane Kiffin being fired recently, always comes at the Irish hard and I expect that BYU and Stanford will, too. Stanford was upset by Utah last weekend for their first loss, but that may end-up being their only loss this year if they use the wake-up call as motivation. I do think a 10-win season and BCS bowl spot is possible for the Irish, but not likely. I see at least one more loss in there before it’s all said and done, which means they’ll have to settle for a bowl bid a step down from a BCS…but as I always say, I’ll be elated if I turn out to be wrong about that!
My big concerns are in 2 areas. The first is at quarterback. Tommy Rees is, and has always been, good at times. That’s all. For his career, the senior has 508 completions in 837 attempts (just over 60% completion percentage) for 47 touchdowns and 30 interceptions. Not bad for a QB who cannot run…but that’s the problem; he cannot run and opposing defenses know that and plan accordingly. He’s done fairly-well against teams that box-up the running lanes and force him to throw for the most part, but has also made mistakes. I should point out, though, that it really isn’t Rees’ fault that last year’s starter in Everett Golson made poor choices to neglect his grades and get suspended from the team after all the plans and preparations went into him being the starter well-past Spring drills before he was kicked-out, but I really wish Andrew Hendrix (a better running QB than Rees) would get a better shot than he’s been allowed so far...with the season half-done I wonder if he ever will.
The other concern is with team health – the Irish already had to start the season without several key defensive players including starting outside linebacker Danny Spond (retired due to chronic migraines) and backup d-lineman Tony Springmann (knee injury during fall drills that ended his season). Now add to that: defensive end Sheldon Day missing several recent games with a high ankle sprain, their leading tackler in linebacker Jarrett Grace breaking his leg in the ASU game, backup receiver Daniel Smith also breaking his ankle in the same game, highly-touted frosh running back Greg Bryant having tendonitis in his knee (he likely won’t play again as the coaching staff has decided to seek a medical redshirt for him, instead) and a couple others, and you have injuries piling-up. Irish depth WILL be tested as the season continues.
One other bright spot does encourage me, though; that of true frosh linebacker Jaylon Smith.
I’m not saying this kid is going to be another Manti Te’o...that is possible...but he’s going to be damn good. He already has had some moments, particularly against ASU; he broke into the backfield and disrupted several plays in that game. Smith is very quick and very aggressive – he just needs to get some reads and assignments down with experience and he’s gonna be something!
We’ll see how the last 6 games play out! GO IRISH!!!