College Football 2007: There are poll hopefuls, 9 of the top 25 teams get a reality check
(Editor’s note: All rankings used in this article are from the AP Top 25 survey and all equipment rankings used are from Sagarin, the gold standard among ranking services.)
In the world of college football there are hopefuls and hopefuls. Nine of the top 25 AP teams and 3 of the top 5 received a reality check over the weekend.
Was I surprised by this annual occurrence? Hardly. When you start to analyze how some of the teams started the week 4-0 and ended it 4-1, it’s as easy to see as your face in a mirror. Reality has a way of revealing all wrinkles and weaknesses.
For the former, there are the No. 3 Oklahoma Sooners who lost a Big 12 Conference game 27-24 by a last-second field goal in Colorado to the Buffalos. Oklahoma fell to No. 10 in the Top 25.
The Sooners rose to their lofty No. 3 spot by beating No. 170 in North Texas, 145 in Utah, 58 in Tulsa and 44 in Miami, FL. His offense scored great for everyone, but his schedule strength was only the 100th best in the country.
Urban Meyer and his defending national champion Florida Gators did not fare better. They lost 20-17 by a home field goal to Auburn in an SEC Conference game. Florida was behind 17-3 entering the fourth quarter.
The loss snapped an 11-game winning streak for the Gators who suffered their first loss at home to Urban Meyer. Meyer’s team had won 18 straight home games, 17 since Meyer took office in 2005.
The Gators reached their No. 4 ranking by getting the best of No. 110 Western Kentucky, No. 85 Mississippi, No. 77 Troy and No. 32 Tennessee, an SEC opponent. Beating Tennessee is what lifted Florida up the rankings. Florida fell to No. 9 in the rankings.
No. 5 West Virginia collided with No. 18 South Florida in a Big East matchup in South Florida and lost 21-13. Coach Jim Leavitt and his South Florida Bulls are fast becoming the team no one wants to face and the history of college football season.
West Virginia fell from No. 5 to No. 13 in the rankings, while South Florida climbed from No. 18 to No. 6.
West Virginia rose to its No. 5 spot by defeating No. 129 Marshall, No. 94 in West Michigan, No. 74 in East Carolina and No. 51 in Maryland. Mountaineer fans who hoped West Virginia would remain undefeated this year and win the national title must regroup.
No. 7 Texas really got caught and embarrassed at home against Kansas State in another Big 12 game when the Wildcats dropped the Longhorns, 41-21. I have been questioning the stature of Texas since the beginning of the year and now my suspicions have been validated.
Texas went 4-0 by defeating Rice No. 162, Arkansas State No. 100, Central Florida No. 73 and TCU No. 54. Particularly revealing was Central Florida, which Texas beat by a field goal while yielding 32 points. Texas, which is ranked 25th by Sagarin, fell to 19th, a much more realistic place for the Longhorns to relax.
No. 10 Rutgers, the Big East favorites, were upset at home by Maryland 34-24, and fell to No. 21. I think Rutgers will soon come out of the Top 25 as two 5-0 teams in the Big East. -No. 20 Cincinnati and Connecticut not ranked – are being overlooked.
Rutgers rose to No. 10 by beating No. 208 AA Norfolk State, No. 142 Buffalo and No. 68 Navy. Good grief, talk about an unconvincing schedule. They have what they deserve.
Sagarin ranks Rutgers 38th; even that seems high to me right now.
No. 11 Oregon played host to No. 6 California in a Pac 10 showdown and led 14-10 going into the 4th quarter, but the Bears scored three touchdowns in the final 15 minutes to knock them out, 31-24.
Worse still, the Ducks’ Cameron Colvin scored what appeared to be the tying touchdown in the closing seconds, but fumbled and the ball went out of the end zone, giving California a touchback and a win when reviewed. the play. Duck fans at Autzen Stadium realized that the errant play could have cost them a national championship down the road.
Oregon fell to No. 14 in the Top 25 and California climbed from No. 6 to No. 3.
No. 13 Clemson traveled to Georgia Tech and watched his dream season begin to unravel as the Yellow Jacket defense held the Tigers on a field goal to win, 13-3. Clemson fell to number 22.
The Tigers broke into the Top 25 by managing No. 154 AA Furman, No. 133 Louisiana-Monroe, No. 87 from North Carolina State and No. 21 from Florida State. Clemson rose through the ranks by beating No. 21 Florida State 24-18 in his first game.
Sagarin ranks Clemson 34th, nowhere near the Top 25. Clemson could break out of the Top 25 in no time.
Joe Paterno’s No. 21 Penn State Nittany Lions started the season 3-0 before losing to a rejuvenated Michigan at the Big House, 14-9, and now loses his second Big 10 game to Illinois 27-20 in Illinois.
Going on the road in the Big 10 Conference games has suddenly become difficult for Penn State as it came out of the Top 25.
Again, Penn State began its season by racking up scores in the Division 1-A worst school in college football, No. 171 Florida International, the seventh worst team in Division 1-A, No. 142 Buffalo and the seemingly hapless No. 95 and Winless Notre Dame. What were those Happy Valley fans thinking? A national championship? Think again.
No. 22 Alabama was the ninth of the top 25 teams to lose when first-year coach Nick Saban and his Crimson Tide visited Florida State and lost 21-14. Alabama dropped out of the Top 25 after arriving just a week earlier. Sagarin now ranks Alabama at 39th.
I thought Saban could have kept Alabama on the rise; Now I have to readjust my expectations for Crimson Tide.
And so the nasty 9s (Oklahoma, Florida, West Virginia, Texas, Rutgers, Oregon, Clemson, Penn State, and Alabama) all fell, but the USC No. 1 Trojans managed to escape by just defeating Washington at Husky Stadium. with a field goal 27. -24.
USC committed 16 penalties, threw 2 interceptions, fumbled and suffered a blocked punt, yet prevailed to retain their perfect 5-0 record. The 2-3 Washington Huskies aren’t exactly a powerhouse, however they are ranked No. 27 by Sagarin, not bad at all.
Being so unimpressive, USC slipped to No. 2 when the LSU Tigers took first place.
LSU edged out Tulane, their No. 144 state rival, 34-9, after smashing No. 57 Mississippi State 45-0, No. 28 Virginia Tech 48-7 and No. 125 Middle Tennessee 44-0. LSU’s best win came at home against No. 17 from South Carolina 28-16. Sagarin ranks LSU No. 1 in the country.
Only one other game really caught my eye and that was Wisconsin No. 9, which saw Michigan State 34 points and then won by a field goal at home. The Badgers rose to No. 5 in the top 25.
I still think Wisconsin is not that great. Sagarin ranks Wisconsin 24th. The Badgers still have road games at Illinois, Penn State and Ohio State, and then host Michigan. After those 4 games, I doubt Wisconsin is 11-0 in their last game in Minnesota.
Teams in the Top 25 start to lose at this point in the season because they deliberately schedule weak teams early on to give their players confidence, climb the Top 25 rankings, give their boosters hope, and draw attention to their programs.
Once the conference game starts, the mess is over, as the nasty 9 discovered over the weekend.
Copyright © 2007 Ed Bagley