Normally I wait until I publish my top 25 to go into detail about the previous week, but I think an exception is in order here.
If you want to see my rankings of all 124 teams, go here.
Before I go into that, a few things about LSU. I wanted to mention that Iíve updated and revised my LSU/Ole Miss ďGo to HellĒ rivalry entry or go here for the summary of most-recent games (at the bottom).
This link compares Beckhamís punt return to Cannonís and also shows part of the Les Miles press conference. Unfortunately, the beginning of Danielsonís comments was cut off. But he pointed out the end (I believe Jalen Collins) routed the outside members of the kicking team toward the middle and then directed Beckham to go around his left side and back toward the middle of the field.
If you havenít seen it yet, Les Miles was on a particularly hilarious emotional rollercoaster after the game. A two-minute clip is included in the link above, but here is the whole thing (link may require scrolling to the Ole Miss game).
BCS Title Race
Some might be shocked by Oregonís and Kansas St.ís losses, but Iím not really. I told people they didnít need to cheer for Alabama against LSU in order to keep an SEC team in the mix, and they just wouldnít listen.
Oregon seems to run into a wall on offense at least once or twice a season. In 2009, they struggled against Boise St., UCLA (whose offense was so bad they couldnít capitalize), and Ohio St., scoring 8, 24, and 17, respectively. In 2010, they struggled against Cal and Auburn, scoring 15 (in a win) and 19, respectively. Then last year, they only really struggled against LSU, scoring a respectable 27 points; but 14 of those points were scored in the final 10 minutes of the game.
Although theyíre not completely out of it, it would require a few strange results to get them into the BCS championship game. First of all, I donít see any way they make it without being conference champion, so this would mean that in addition to beating the Beavers, Oregon would need Stanford to lose to UCLA. UCLA has had its ups and downs and I would anticipate it wonít have the same intensity this coming week as it had Saturday in winning a sloppy game over USC.
Also, they would need the eventual SEC champion or Notre Dame to lose. That might be possible in some years, but I donít see any way Alabama loses to Auburn or Georgia loses to Georgia Tech. Georgia Tech has some chance (but then Georgia would have to beat Alabama afterward), but Auburn is just too consistently bad lately to pull that one out. I give USC a fair chance to beat Notre Dame. Barkley may be out, but Iím sure USC has a QB or two to take his place. And itís not as if you have to be a good team to test Notre Dame. USC is clearly better than BYU, Pitt, or Purdue, all of whom were within a field goal of the Irish. And those three teams were on the road.
Even if one of those two lose, itís still not guaranteed. Voters could pick Florida instead. I mentioned the Gatorsí qualifications already. Florida St. is #5 in the AP poll, so that may be more impressive than even a combination of Oregon St. and UCLA (who has clinched the Pac-12 South). Maybe if Oregon beat UCLA impressively enough, they would pass up the idle Gators, but donít forget that Florida is #2 in the computers right now, so even if voting is close, Florida would probably still prevail.
I think itís over for Kansas St. barring some 2007-like scenario. Itís one thing to lose by a lot or to lose to a team that isnít very good, but to do both in the same game in mid-November is too much.
The only other team I can see making a case is Florida St., which can beat Florida and win the ACC to finish with only a single one-point loss (to N.C. St. on October 6). Some SEC fans and tough-schedule enthusiasts may say that a two-loss SEC team (of which there will almost certainly be at least one) or maybe Kansas St. should go ahead in that instance, but LSU, Texas A&M, and South Carolina all lost to Florida while Oklahoma, Kansas Stís best win, has lost in its only games against top teams. We donít know if Georgia Tech is in the ACC title game, but either way if the Wreck beat Georgia, thatís going to make the ACC champion look better. Alabama canít have two losses in the last few weeks of the season. But you have to scratch out so many teams to even get to this point, itís far-fetched to even talk about.
Iíll talk about teams lower on the list and out of BCS-championship contention later in the week.
Before my usual top 25 run-down and other notes, I wanted to express my condolences to the University of Texas and its fans for the passing away of Darrell Royal yesterday. I had mentioned him less than two weeks ago in my blog about records and winning percentages of Les Miles and other prominent coaches. Many of the coaches on my list of historic greats are long gone, but some of the ones still alive (most of whom, unlike Royal, made their names in the 1980s and 1990s) are Lou Holtz, Dennis Erickson, Jimmie Johnson, Tom Osborne, and Barry Switzer. At least a couple of the honorable mentions are still around too. For example, Vince Dooley turned 80 a couple of months ago, and Frank Broyles (about 6 months younger than Royal) is expected to turn 88 next month. Broyles and Royal were close friends despite the rivalry at that time, and Royalís career also overlapped with Switzerís.
I was also interested to note that Royal attended the University of Oklahoma, where he played for Bud Wilkinson, another coach on my list. Royal intercepted 18 passes in his career with the Sooners, still a school record, particularly impressive given the reluctance of many to employ the forward pass at that time. Perhaps not coincidentally, he is famous for the statement, ďThree things can happen when you pass, and two of Ďem are bad.Ē He also was a successful part-time quarterback.
Before becoming the head coach of Texas, where he was known for installing the wishbone offense, Royal briefly coached at Mississippi St. (whose series against LSU I profiled here) and Washington. In his 23 seasons as a college head coach (1954-76), none of his teams ever had a losing record.
I thought I would give a few reactions and explain a couple of things this week now that we are starting to have just a little bit of context.
Obviously week 1 was half of the season so far, but now that prior opponents also have another game under their belts, there is more reason to reward and punish teams based on Week 1, so some of the rankings are partly a result of improved perspective.
I have moved a couple of teams as a result of close games, which I think is appropriate this early. Last week, I took out Wisconsin and Stanford. I definitely feel vindicated about Wisconsin. I donít know about Stanford, but I guess weíll see this week against USC.
Speaking of the Trojans, they didnít look too good against the Orange of Syracuse, but Iím not seeing anything too troubling yet. Northwestern may well be a decent team, and theyíre 2-0. They beat the Orange by a single point in Week 1, followed by defeating Vanderbilt by 10. Northwestern did better against Vandy than did South Carolina, although the Gamecocks played the Commodores in Nashville. Not that thatís the most intimidating place in the SEC (or even the Northern SEC East).
I moved South Carolina down a single spot, but I will keep an eye on both USCís and also on Vandy, Syracuse, and Northwestern.
Going back to the top, now that LSU beat Washington just as easily as they did North Texas, I think that provides enough information to knock Oklahoma down a spot for the UTEP game (17-point win in Week 1). Even if UTEP and Washington are equal (a dubious proposition), Iím comfortable giving LSU the edge for #2 this week.
Kansas St. benefited for taking a chance scheduling and still beating the tar out of the team (the Miami Hurricanes). This is an instance of giving the benefit of the doubt to an impressive score against a historically strong program, although that wonít (and shouldnít) carry any weight later. Last year, Miami finished 6-6, beating Ohio St. and just barely losing to Kansas St. Also, the íCanes appeared to improve in Week 1 by beating Boston College, to whom theyíd lost in their prior game back in November. Nos. 8-12 certainly hadnít done anything to justify continuing to rank them ahead of K-State.
Why did I put Mississippi St. roughly where Kansas St. used to be? Well, they played Auburn and beat them more easily than Clemson had. Rather than baselessly concluding Auburn is bad, I thought the solution was to move Mississippi St. up. They both get credit for having played what appeared to be a decent team going in but not so much that the move ahead of the teams I liked enough going in to put them higher than Clemson. I didnít want to knock Michigan St. down either, although I donít think Boise St. will have a good season by their standards.
I donít have to explain why Arkansas is no longer ranked. As for ULM, they were on their way to losing and got breaks with a couple of injuries. They took advantage and thatís nice, but would you really rather your team have to beat them or a team I did rank?
Why did I just take out Oklahoma St. and not rank Arizona. Simple. Arizona had to go to OT to beat Toledo in Week 1. Maybe Oklahoma St.ís losses, at least at this point, have made them not deserving of a spot instead of the game making Arizona deserving of one.
I donít know if Nebraska going to the Rose Bowl and losing is so bad until we have more information about UCLA. Knocking them down 11 spots seems sufficient. USM was a decent team last year too, and Nebraska beat them by 29 in Week 1. Also, UCLA did a good job by dominating Rice on the road on the first Thursday of the season. Iím not saying Rice is good, but a more mediocre team could have struggled more in that situation. There was a bad stretch on defense in the Rice game (17 points given up in 8 minutes, with a turnover given up by the UCLA punt-receiving team), but I think that by itself isnít cause for alarm enough not to rank the Bruins after the win in Week 2. UCLA is two games above .500 for the first time since Oct. 2009.
The new Nos. 17-23 got the two-spot bumps for Arkansas and Oklahoma St. getting out of the way. Notre Dameís win over Purdue wasnít impressive, but just like my policy with similar teams, Iím not going to conclude a close result is a negative just yet. I was tempted to move Florida up even more for going to A&M and winning, but since that was close too, I thought it was more fair not to. For all we know, Purdue may be better than A&M is.
Texas was between Clemson and Virginia Tech, and I just didnít see a reason to change this.
† With all the games in College Football, who thought we'd be starting off with UL Monroe shocking #8 Arkansas? Yes, the Warhawks took down the Razorbacks in overtime, winning 34- 31...The star of the game was UL Monroe QB, Kolton Browning, who passed for 412 yards, and 3 TD's...He also racked up 76 yards and another TD on the ground...But the Warhawks defense needs some love too, as they knocked Arkansas' over-hyped QB, Tyler Wilson out of the game at halftime...Wilson was taken out after suffering a head injury, brought on by the numerous hits he was taking...Arkansas is going to be in for a long season going against SEC defenses, if they can't figure out how to block...
I'd like to thank the Razorbacks for showing us how useless the pre-season/early season rankings are...These guys were suppose to be the 8th best team in the land, and they just got taken to the wood shed by UL Monroe...
Another team not living up to their pre-season billing, was #13 Wisconsin, who went to Oregon State, and didn't get a very friendly welcome, as the Beavers defense smothered the Badgers...Wisconsin expected to use their ground game and start back Montee Ball, were shut down, Only gaining 72 yards on the ground...61 from Ball, who's 21 games with a TD streak was snapped...The Beavers were also blitzing QB Danny O'Brien non-stop...No one was expecting much from the Beavers this year...Should we be paying more attention?
My sleeper team, Kansas State destroyed Miami 52-13...And it wasn't even that close...One of my Heisman favorites, K-State QB, Collin Klein rushed for 3 TD's and 71 yards, while also passing for 210 yards and another TD...
Texas A&M and Missouri got a not-so friendly welcome to the SEC this week...A&M fell to Florida 20-17...The Aggies went to the half with the lead but got out played in the second half...&8 yards in penalties will never help your cause either...
Georgia paid Missouri a visit, and for 3 quarters it was a really good game...But Georgia took control in the fourth, and blew it open, winning 41-20...
How about ESPN's favorite program...Penn State was trying to bounce back from their loss to Ohio University last week...And wow, they really miss their kicker who transferred to Texas right now...The Nittany Lions place kicker, Sam Ficken missed 4 field goals Saturday at Virginia, in what must have been a real mother fucker for PSU fans to watch, losing 17-16...Guess what...As much as ESPN is rooting for you, the rest of us aren't!
And since I brought up the Ohio Bobcats...They won again Saturday, beating New Mexico State 51-24...Ohio QB, Tyler Tettleton passed for 257 yards and 2 TD's...Running back Beau Blankenship picked up where he left off, putting up 168 yards, and 2 TD's on the ground...
The Nebraska/UCLA game ended up being better than I expected...Nebraska put up 439 yards of totall offense...You'd think that would be good against UCLA, which hasn't been much to write home about for more than a few years now...Well then the Bruins go ahead and put up 653 total yards of offense...WTF!?! And somehow UCLA only won 36-30....Well they did have 126 yards in penalties...We've all headed into the season only really looking at USC and Oregon out of the Pac-12...With what the Beavers and Bruins did Saturday, maybe we need to look deepr...
Then of course there the Fighting Irish, taking on Purdue...
The Irish pulled out the20-17 win with a late field goal, after a drive lead by Tommy Rees...Tommy Rees...No! Coach Kelly said Everett Golson's hand was dinged up, and was having trouble gripping the ball...I hope that's the truth, and it wasn't a lack of confidence, for a late game drive...I want to see Golson get that experience...The kid is a real talent...Plus I hate Rees, who was a turnover machine the last couple seasons...Plus I would have thrown him off the team after he took a swing at a cop...Kelly also said after the game that, "Golson is still our starting Quarterback."
The Irish struggled to get their running game going all day...Notre Dame had no trouble running the ball against Navy last week...But there's a difference when you face a front seven that has some real size...The O-line wasn't blowing Purdue off the line the way you'd like to see...Better get to work on that, since the schedule gets tougher next week...
Here's the ND highlights...
That's it for this week...See ya for Monday moaning!
In keeping with the consensus of computer ratings systems, Alabama is #1 on my ratings site. The numbers right now indicate that Arkansas and Penn St. are better than Oregon and West Virginia and also that Vanderbilt is better than Mississippi St. Alabama also has more credit because Alabama is one of two teams (Michigan is the other) with 6 wins against FBS opponents. Although Alabama does have Georgia Southern on the schedule, that game will not take place until November 19.
Iím keeping LSU #1 here on my blog, however, for four reasons. (1) LSU was #1 before I began using the computer system, and has not given any cause for concern since, (2) LSU has already played its game against an FCS opponent, so this is one reasons the numbers havenít caught up yet, (3) I believe that as we progress into the season, Penn St. and Vanderbilt will count less as opponents than West Virginia and Oregon, and (4) LSU itself rates higher as an opponent because its average FBS opponent is better than Alabamaís.
As to the third point, I didnít mention SEC West opponents Mississippi St. and Arkansas. I think it just so happens (like with the FCS opponent) that LSU happens to have played the easier of the two at this point. LSU will not play Vanderbilt. But keeping with the discussion of the SEC schedule, LSU faces Tennessee next week while Alabama faces Ole Miss. Tennessee has a winning record and Ole Miss has a losing record, so I expect that this will help LSU.
Itís also important not to overlook opponentsí opponents. Arkansas beating Auburn was a big key in Alabama moving into #1. Georgia beating Tennessee helped out Boise St., who passed up Oklahoma also because Florida St. and Missouri (two of Okla.ís opponents) lost. Clemson slipped partly because of losses by Florida St. and Auburn. UCLAís win over Washington St. (donít laugh, WSU has three wins) helped to keep Texas from falling too far and also helped Houston to move up.