Monday, November 17, 2008
Walker-Sports Top 25 Poll: The Calm Before The Storm
The College football landscape remained mostly quiet over the weekend, with only one top twenty five matchup on the schedule. This means that many of your top teams saw little to no movement in their rankings. However, that should be considered the calm before the storm. The next three weeks will prove to be a mad dash to the finish, and it is anyone’s guest who will end up being the leader entering the clubhouse. But before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s take a look at how the top 25 shapes up for this week.
1) Alabama: Alabama must remained focused coming down the stretch of the season. They have a big rivalry game with Auburn coming up. And while Tommy Tuberville may be on his way out and Auburn is horrible, it is a rivalry game, and if Bama gets caught up in looking ahead to the SEC Championship game and Florida, it could all be thrown away in a heartbeat with a lost to Auburn.
2) Texas Tech: The Red Raiders are almost through the fire, but they have another major test on Saturday night when they take on the Oklahoma Sooners. If Texas Tech can hold off the Sooners, they will be a lock for the Big 12 South title, and a spot in the Big 12 Championship against Missouri.
3) Florida Gators: The Gators once again proved they are the hottest team in college football by dismantling the South Carolina Gamecocks. Once again Florida found itself dominating on defense and proving to be simply too fast for anyone to keep up with. Florida finds itself in a similar position that Alabama is in. They cannot look ahead, with the Florida State Seminoles coming to town. They must remain focused on that instate rival. Once they take care of business there, they can focus on the SEC Championship and Bama.
4) Oklahoma Sooners: The Sooners will be forced to lay it all on the table in the upcoming weeks. Saturday Oklahoma host Texas Tech and if the Sooners can pull off the upset, they will slingshot themselves right into the thick of the National Title hunt, and probably cause the BCS computers to explode at the same time. All of which I would consider good things.
5) USC: Like several other teams in this poll, USC presents a number of interesting variables to consider when picking the BCS games. USC does not control their own fate in the Pac-10. Oregon State holds a tie breaker over them. However, at the same time, if the BCS turns into a jumble because Missouri knocks off any of the Big 12 South teams then you can bet USC will start clamoring for the right to play in the national title game. Make any else? Good I didn’t think so either.
6) Utah: the Utes have the best chance of being the team from a non BCS conference to make a BCS game. As it stands a team ranked inside the BCS top12 is automatically qualified to make the big show. Currently the Utes are seventh in the poll, and they are preparing for a big game against BYU. You can also bet that if Utah goes undefeated, and they can get some of the Missouri love they will want to at least throw their hat in the ring for a claim to play for a national title.
7) Texas Longhorns: The Longhorns have played some great football this season, but sadly there is a good chance they may not be rewarded for their effort. If there is a three way tie in the Big 12 South, the tie breaker goes to the team with the highest BCS ranking. The BCS computers tend to slam the team with the most recent lost. That means that despite beating Oklahoma in the Red River Shootout, the Longhorns could miss out on the Big 12 Championship and a national title because they lost to Texas Tech more recently thus allowing Oklahoma to leapfrog them in the standings. I told you this could get real screwy.
8) Boise State: Boise State presents another interest BCS scenario much like their buddies Utah. Boise State is most likely to run the table and win another WAC title. And currently they are ranked ninth in the BCS poll this means they would also likely qualify for a BCS bid. In a perfect world Utah would lose to BYU which would put Boise in the BCS game without a doubt, but the world and the BSC especially are far from perfect. Boise State will need to win out, and get a little luck if they want to make it to the big show.
9) Penn State: Penn State is back on track after their misstep against Iowa a couple weeks ago. Now they are preparing to take on Michigan State in what will be a must win game. If Penn State loses the game, they are out of the Big 10 title hunt and likely out of the BCS. If they can knock off Michigan State, then PSU can punch their tickets to the Rose Bowl.
10) Ball State: The BCS gives this team no love. They dropped from 14-17 despite beating Miami of Oh. A shame really. Ball State did everything they were asked to do, and will get no love. I am sure Jason Whitlock will be complaining about this for years to come. Anyways, at least it has been a great story to watch this season.
11) Missouri Tigers: The Tigers have the chance to play the biggest spoiler roll in BCS history. It does not matter which one of the Big 12 South teams they play for the conference championship, all they need to do is win. If they do, the entire BCS will automatically go into overdrive in an effort to figure out who is the second ranked team in the country.
12) Ohio State: It’s Michigan vs. Ohio State week, and there is barely a buzz circulating around. That just goes to who you how far Michigan has fallen. OSU is out of the Big 10 title hunt, but there is an outside chance they can steal a spot in a BCS game. Especially if it can boil down between them and say a Boise State. The one thing hurting the Buckeyes will be their horrible performances in the last two BCS games and well any game out of conference as of late.
13) Georgia Bulldogs: Georgia had a good season, and a spot in the Capital One Bowl is nothing to be ashamed of. Just not exactly were they wanted to end up at when, they originally had hopes of winning a national title. The Georgia front office may want to start looking at their head coach as well, as his name is becoming a hot topic for many NFL GM’s.
14) BYU: The hopes for BYU’s perfect season are long gone, but they can still play a big roll on the national scene when they face off against instate rival Utah. A win against the Utes will knock them out of the BCS and allow Boise and probably OSU or another BCS Conference team to sneak into a game. BYU is on the clock as a spoiler team.
15) Michigan State: Despite being ranked this low, Michigan State has had a great year. Not many would have thought that coming down the stretch of the season, the Spartans would have the opportunity to win the Big 10 Championship. Their game against Penn State is as big as it gets. A win there and they are Rose Bowl bound.
16) Oklahoma State: Oklahoma State has had a great season. In many ways they are where Texas Tech has been for the past several years, a very good team but not ready to compete with the big boys in the Big 12 South. However, they will get one last crack at it, when they take on the Oklahoma Sooners. The outcome of the Texas Tech vs. Oklahoma game will determine how important the Oklahoma vs. Oklahoma State game is. No matter what, it looks like the Cowboys will be in the Gator Bowl and that’s not a bad place to finish things up.
17) TCU: TCU has had a great season with their only two losses to teams within the top 10. They are not in the running for any competition for any national or even conference glory, but they can be proud of the season they have had.
18) LSU: It just was not the year for the Bayou Tigers. The SEC just proved to be too tough for them. Now LSU needs to focus on finishing strong and letting things end on a high note.
19) Cincinnati Bearcats: The best in the Big East. The Bearcats are not a bad team, but it will be hard to swallow seeing them in a BCS game especially if they get stuck playing one of the Big 12 cast offs.
20) Pittsburgh: Pitt is in the exact same position as Cincinnati. The showdown between the two schools will determine who wins the Big East. It will also determine who will be the sacrificial lamb of the BCS.
21) Oregon State: Hanging out near the bottom of the top 25, the Beavers control their own destiny and that is important. With games against Arizona and instate rival Oregon the Beavers are primed to take home a Pac-10 title and in doing so, claim a trip to the Rose Bowl.
22) Maryland: The Terps have had an up and down season, but somehow they have clung around and fought themselves back into the top 25. The ACC is an absolute mess, and it is difficult to tell who will win, or who will do what. But out of a bunch of mediocre teams, Maryland appears to have the edge for the last twenty minutes.
23) Oregon: The Ducks are playing solid football. While they do not factor into the Pac-10 title hunt, they can play the roll of spoiler. They will travel to Oregon State to play in the Civil War. A win there and the Ducks can consider it a good season.
24) Miami: After a two year hiatus, the Canes are back. Miami is in the midst of a six game winning streak, and this team is beginning to look like your fathers Miami Hurricanes. They are tough on defense and have speed on the edges on the offense. The Canes may be young, but you better get used to seeing them in the top 25.
25) UNC: The Tar Heels lost to Maryland in a close one on Saturday, but they didn’t fall too far in the rankings. And considering that the next three teams I would rank are also all average ACC teams, I saw no harm in giving the Heels the spot.