2009 NCAA College Football Week 2 Top 25
Week 2 Football Top 25 Rankings
This might have been the biggest opening week shakeup in a long time. No less than three teams dropped out of the top 25 and a number of shocking affairs led to massive amounts of movement throughout the ledger. Well, except at the top where Florida and Texas took care of business early and moved on.
SIX THINGS WE LEARNED THIS WEEK
The ACC ran up a shocking 4-6 record during the season’s opening week! Now, a 4-6 mark can be deceiving, especially when the conference’s marquee affair was a hard-fought 34-24 loss for Virginia Tech. Unfortunately, the 4-6 record in no way is deceiving, as there were some truly horrific losses for the conference. Duke and Virginia both fell at home to D-1AA teams, Maryland was dominated at Cal, and Wake Forest and NC State bumbled their way to ugly home losses against Baylor and South Carolina. The ACC won exactly one game against a Division One opponent and that was Clemson’s win over minnow Middle Tennessee State! In short, it was an ugly week for a conference that appears to have a long way to go to catch up with the big boys.
The two biggest non-BCS developments of the weekend involved victories for Boise State and BYU over ranked BCS conference opponents. While Boise State’s 19-8 win over Oregon was overshadowed by LeGarrette Blount’s despicable postgame actions, the simple fact is that the Broncos are going to be huge favorites in every single game the rest of the year and are a very good bet to finish 12-0. Meanwhile, BYU knocked off Oklahoma at a neutral site and immediately jumped to the top of the queue among the BCS Busters. While tough games against Florida State, Utah and TCU loom, the Cougars have the defense and talent to finish ranked ahead of Boise State, even with a loss on their resume, and earn the automatic spot in the BCS.
If you had asked an Oklahoma fan what their worst case scenario was going into their season opening game against BYU, their most likely response would have been losing Sam Bradford and the game. Unfortunately, that’s now their reality and Bradford could miss at least a month, possibly two. That’s horrible news as the Sooners have to travel to Miami, host Baylor and Tulsa and play Texas before the start of November! Without Bradford, this could be a three or four loss team.
The offseason mantra from SEC fans in the Big XII-SEC debate: The Big XII only scores points because they don’t play defense. After this weekend that argument is patently false. Oklahoma State shut down Georgia 24-10 in a game that would have had SEC folks crowing about their defensive prowess had the score been reversed. Oklahoma held a high powered BYU attack to only 14 points, Missouri shut down the vaunted Illinois passing attack and allowing only 9 points, and even Baylor held Wake Forest to 21 in a road victory! The average production for Big XII opponents in Week 1: 13 points. The Big XII’s record in Week 1: 10-2, including a 4-0 record against ranked and BCS conference opponents. So to all of the Big XII’s detractors, the argument that the conference doesn’t play defense simply doesn’t hold water.
Speaking of the 37-9 victory for Missouri to begin the season, I believe it is officially time to re-open FireRonZook.com for business. Let me say this: Zook is a great recruiter. He’s convinced reams of highly talented players to attend a college located in the middle of nowhere that hasn’t done anything notable since Red Grange was their star in the 20s. That’s a feat in itself. It is well documented that he recruited the majority of Florida’s National Title team in 2006. With such excellent recruiting on his resume, he’ll make a great recruiting coordinator at a BCS conference school next year because Zook has done next to nothing with that talent at Illinois. Were it not for a shocking win over an Ohio State team looking ahead to Michigan in 2007 and the Rose Bowl’s cast in stone desire for a Pac 10-Big 10 matchup after six different teams blew games late in the year to move the Buckeyes into the National Title game, Illinois wouldn’t have even come close to giving Zook his one great season in Champaign.
Here are some facts for you: Zook’s career record at Illinois is 18-31 and he has a career record of 10-22 in Big Ten play. His first four years have only produced one bowl appearance and he appears on course to blow another extremely talented team. In short, the Illini are one of the twenty most talented teams in America but appear in line to play like one of the twenty most talented teams to miss a bowl game for the second consecutive season. Zook’s time is almost up at Illinois.
While we’re on the subject of Ron Zook, his team’s defeat was the only blemish on the Big Ten’s resume during the season’s opening weekend. However, the Big Ten’s 10-1 record was quite deceiving as there were a lot of struggles across the board. However, those struggles will quickly be forgotten if the Big Ten pulls out a few big wins this weekend. Look at the lineup: Syracuse at Penn State, Fresno State at Wisconsin, Iowa at Iowa State, Notre Dame at Michigan, Purdue at Oregon and, most importantly, USC at Ohio State!
Obviously, if the Buckeyes can pull out a win against the Trojans then conference’s reputation will get a major boost but the other intersectional matchups (especially ND-Michigan and Purdue-Oregon) will also have a big impact on the Big Ten’s perception around the country. If the Big Ten is as good this fall as many of its backers claim, myself included, then a strong showing is simply a must.
This week, follow everything with me on Twitter @MattBaxendell as I travel up to Columbus, Ohio for the sights and sounds of one of the biggest games of the season! As always, I appreciate your feedback at email@example.com. Now, on to this week’s top 25 ranking!
THE NATIONAL TITLE SHORT LIST
#1)Florida Gators (1-0, #1 Last Week)
Week 1 Result: 62-3 Victory at Home versus Charleston Southern
The only interesting storylines going into this game were 1) could the Gators stay healthy? and 2) Would the Gators top the unofficial line set at 73 by one sportswriter last week? Well, apparently Tim Tebow was merciful and the Gators only won by 59! Things get slightly more interesting this week but you can bet that all eyes will on Sept. 19 th when Tennessee and loudmouth coach Lane Kiffin comes to town by the middle of the second quarter.
Week 2: Home versus Troy, Noon EST
#2)Texas Longhorns (1-0, #2)
Week 1 Result: 59-20 Victory at Home versus Louisiana-Monroe
Not too much to say about some of these early season tune-ups for the big boys. Much like Florida, Texas took care of business in a major way and avoided any serious injuries. Texas continues its weak non-conference schedule this weekend by traveling to face Wyoming at the highest altitude of any Division One field. How the Horns react to the thinner air should be more exciting than the actual game.
Week 2: At Wyoming, 3:30 PM EST
#3)Oklahoma State Cowboys (1-0, #4)
Week 1 Result: 24-10 Victory at Home versus #8 Georgia
Of all of my preseason picks, this was the one that earned me the most grief. Anyone doubt the Cowboys now? After allowing an opening touchdown to the Bulldogs, Oklahoma State absolutely shut them down the rest of the game. This isn’t last year’s porous Okie State defense anymore; this is a mean defensive machine. After their impressive win, the Cowboys are officially on the National Title short list.
Week 2: Home versus Houston, 3:30 PM EST
IN THE NATIONAL TITLE DISCUSSION
#4)California Golden Bears (1-0, #6)
Week 1 Result: 52-13 Victory at Home versus Maryland
Cal certainly looked like a top five team on Saturday, demolishing Maryland in every aspect of the game. Kevin Riley threw for 298 yards and 4 touchdowns against zero interceptions and star tailback Jahvid Best had 137 yards and two touchdowns on only ten carries! This game was 31-6 at halftime! The Golden Bears are very much a player on the National scene this year.
Week 2: Home versus Eastern Washington (D-1AA), 5:30 PM EST
#5)Southern California Trojans (1-0, #7)
Week 1 Result: 56-3 Victory at Home versus San Jose State
USC actually was losing 3-0 going into the second quarter. Then reality set in and the Trojans rode a powerful running game that racked up 342 yards and six touchdowns to an easy win. True freshman Matt Barkley looked poised at quarterback but he has a much stiffer test this week as the Trojans travel to one of the country’s loudest stadiums to face the Buckeyes in a game that could define each team’s season.
Week 2: At #7 Ohio State, 8:00 PM EST
#6)Alabama Crimson Tide (1-0, #10)
Week 1 Result: 34-24 Victory in Atlanta versus #13 Virginia Tech
Alabama was very impressive in their opening win against a very tough Virginia Tech team. The Tide blew the game open with eighteen 4 th quarter points to seal the victory and left the Georgia Dome for the second consecutive year with a victory over a highly ranked ACC team. The most impressive stat of the game was that Tech only had 155 yards of offense! Alabama’s defense is clearly one of the best in America this year.
Week 2: Home versus Florida International, 7:00 PM EST
#7)Ohio State Buckeyes (1-0, #5)
Week 1 Result: 31-27 Victory at Home versus Navy
This game was 29-14 with 6:30 remaining in the game before Navy scored twice to make the closing minutes very nerve-wracking for Buckeye fans. I wonder if OSU wasn’t starting to look ahead to USC but either way this game shouldn’t have been as close. In short, Navy is an underrated team despite six straight bowl appearances but Ohio State should have played better. The Bucks can expect USC to pick on safety Anderson Russell all day after he was beaten twice in single coverage for Navy touchdowns and more famously blew a tackle in the final seconds of last year’s Fiesta Bowl against Texas. The Buckeyes have to keep Russell out of single coverage and play better across the board if they want to get the big game monkey off their back against USC this weekend.
Week 2: Home versus #5 USC, 8:00 PM EST
#8) Penn State Nittany Lions (1-0, #9)
Week 1 Result: 31-7 Victory at Home versus Akron
The score doesn’t properly show how dominant Penn State was in this game. The Nittany Lions outgained poor Akron 334-8 in the first half! Penn State also appeared to find some solid receivers as Darryl Clark threw for 353 yards and 3 touchdowns. That said, we won’t really know how good the Nits are until the Iowa game in three weeks. However, they had better take plucky Syracuse serious this weekend after the Orange took Minnesota to overtime last Saturday.
Week 2: Home versus Syracuse, Noon EST
#9)Oklahoma Sooners (0-1, #3)
Week 1 Result: 14-13 Loss in Dallas to BYU
There is one positive in Oklahoma’s disastrous opening day performance: The defense was as good as advertised. However, a dozen penalties and two untimely turnovers led to their shocking loss. Can the Sooners rebound despite losing Bradford? Their defense will certainly keep them in every game the rest of the way as long as they stay disciplined.
Week 2: Home versus Idaho State, 7:00 PM EST
#10) Louisiana State Tigers (1-0, #14)
Week 1 Result: 31-23 Victory at Washington
A lot of people are giving the Tigers grief for ‘only’ beating Washington by eight points. Well, Husky Stadium is a really intimidating venue and the Tigers played over 2,000 miles away from home. Furthermore, Jake Locker is a very good quarterback and the Huskies are moving in the right direction under their new coaching staff. LSU displayed an opportunistic defense which forced two key turnovers and Jared Jefferson played well under center. Give UW credit for playing a great game but give LSU more credit for earning a tough win.
Week 2: Home versus Vanderbilt, 7:00 PM EST
#11) Virginia Tech Hokies (0-1, #13)
Week 1 Result: 34-24 Loss in Atlanta versus #10 Alabama
The Hokies impressed me a lot in their losing effort. While Tyrod Taylor is clearly not going to be a gamebreaking passer, freshman tailback Ryan Williams is going to be an exceptional replacement for the injured Darren Evans and he was the brightest spot on offense. Simply put, the Hokies are a very good team that lost a very hard fought game against one of the best teams in the country. No shame in that and they’re still my favorites in the ACC.
Week 2: Home versus Marshall, 1:30 PM EST
#12) Ole Miss Rebels (1-0, #11)
Week 1 Result: 45-14 Victory at Memphis
Ole Miss’ 31 point victory at Memphis might be the most deceiving result all weekend. This was a hard-fought 17-7 affair going into the 4 th quarter before Ole Miss started scoring points left and right to make this a blowout. Perhaps it was opening day jitters for quarterback Jevan Snead early but he flat out stunk for three quarters. Kudos to the Rebels for their strong late surge but this wasn’t an ideal beginning.
Week 2: Off Week
#13) Georgia Bulldogs (0-1, #8)
Week 1 Result: 24-10 Loss at #4 Oklahoma State
What a tough loss for the Bulldogs. One of the two standard-bearers for the SEC this weekend, Georgia went into Oklahoma State expecting a shootout and ran into a defensive wall. Their first drive went 80 yards for a touchdown but the rest of the game only produced 177 yards and a field goal! Furthermore, starting tackle Trinden Sturdivant tore his ACL again, leaving the Dawgs with another shuffled line. However, not all is lost: Georgia held Okie State to only 307 yards of offense and should be a pain in the neck to play against all season. Can they take care of business opening SEC play against South Carolina this weekend?
Week 2: Home versus South Carolina, 7:30 PM EST
OUTSIDE THE NATIONAL TITLE DISCUSSION BUT DANGEROUS
#14) Miami Hurricanes (1-0, #15)
Week 1 Result: 38-34 Victory at Florida State
The bright side of Miami’s opening week was that their offense performed spectacularly while beating their biggest rival on the road. Quarterback Jacory Harris threw for over 400 yards! The downside was that their secondary was torn apart by FSU’s Christian Ponder and they allowed way too many points. Still, Miami won the first of four major tests to begin their season.
Week 2:Off Week
#15) Brigham Young Cougars (1-0, Not Ranked)
Week 1 Result: 14-13 Victory in Dallas versus #3 Oklahoma
BYU’s victory over Oklahoma might have been the school’s biggest win since their National Championship season in 1984, making the Cougars very interesting to watch the rest of the year. They’ve scheduled very aggressively as they host Florida State in two weeks, and if they run the table then they’ll get some support for a shot at the Big One. If there’s a 2007-like season where nearly everyone has two losses, the Cougars could find themselves in the middle of the perfect storm to get to the National Title game. However, that’s a long way away and they’re still only 1-0. BYU can’t overlook Tulane this week before FSU comes to town.
Week 2:At Tulane, 3:30 PM EST
#16) Oregon State Beavers (1-0, #16)
Week 1 Result: 34-7 Victory at Home versus Portland State (D-1AA)
The Beavers had a pretty boring opening affair. They played a weak opponent and took care of business. The Rodgers brothers stayed healthy, Sean Canfield looked solid as the new starting quarterback and the first team defense didn’t allow a point in their rout. They need to continue the solid play this week as they travel to Sin City to take on an improved UNLV squad.
Week 2:At UNLV, 11:00 PM EST
#17) North Carolina Tar Heels (1-0, #17)
Week 1 Result: 40-6 Victory at Home versus The Citadel
North Carolina was another team that played a weak opponent to begin the year and quietly took care of business. There’s not really much to glean from this game aside from a slightly worrisome performance from quarterback Tyler Yates, who only completed 9 out of 20 passes. The Tar Heels have a tougher test this week as they visit rebuilding UConn.
Week 2:At Connecticut, Noon EST
#18) Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (1-0, #18)
Week 1 Result: 37-17 Victory at Home versus Jacksonville State (D-1AA)
Don’t let the 17 points for Jacksonville State fool you. The Jackets have a huge Thursday night ACC opener against Clemson on tap and most of the starters were out of this game when it was 31-7 at halftime. The second year of the option at Tech will face an early stiff test in the first of two consecutive Thursday night games.
Week 2: Thursday Night at Home versus Clemson, 7:30 PM EST
#19) Kansas Jayhawks (1-0, #19)
Week 1 Result: 49-3 Victory at Home versus Northern Colorado (D-1AA)
Much like Oregon State and UNC, Kansas did a good job quietly pasting a D-1AA team to start the year. Todd Reesing had four touchdowns and the Jayhawks took care of business early, leading 28-0 at the half. This week’s game against UTEP will be moderately interesting but Kansas doesn’t really play anyone until the conference season begins.
Week 2:At UTEP, 7:30 PM EST
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#21) Notre Dame Fighting Irish (1-0, NR)
Week 1 Result: 35-0 Victory at Home versus Nevada
Speaking of the Irish, they enter my rankings this week after a dominant effort against a Nevada team that is far better than they showed in South Bend. Jimmy Claussen had another big game pasting a weak opponent, tossing four touchdown passes and accounting for over 300 yards through the air. What really impressed me was the Irish defense, which held a very powerful Nevada attack to 300 yards of total offense and zero points. Next up: Road trip to what appears to be a much improved Michigan team. A win in Ann Arbor would be much more impressive than last week’s result.
Week 2: At Michigan, 3:30 EST
#22)Pittsburgh Panthers (1-0, #23)
Week 1 Result: 38-3 Victory at Home versus Youngstown State (D-1AA)
Most would ignore the Panthers’ 38-3 victory over a weak opponent but after being upset on opening day last season by lowly Bowling Green, you can bet that Panther fans are happy. Dion Lewis ran for three touchdowns and Pitt’s defense held the Penguins to 157 yards of total offense, which makes it obvious that Dave Wannstedt is planning on the same formula for victory this fall that earned the Panthers nine wins a year ago: Run the ball and play defense. Don’t expect them to overlook Buffalo this week thanks to the aforementioned Bowling Green disaster of 2008.
Week 2: At Buffalo, Noon EST
#23) Nebraska Cornhuskers (1-0, #24)
Week 1 Result: 49-3 Victory at Home versus Florida Atlantic
So Nebraska decked a mid-major opponent to start the year. That’s what Nebraska is supposed to do! However, after scares in recent years against this type of opponent, it must be nice for Husker fans to enjoy their team pounding the football on the ground for 259 yards and forcing a bevy of turnovers. This team might not be the Big Red Machine quite yet but they looked pretty good to start the year.
Week 2: Home versus Arkansas State, 2:00 PM EST
#24) Boise State Broncos (1-0, NR)
Week 1 Result: 19-8 Victory at Home versus #21 Oregon
I’m torn on putting Boise State in my top 25 for two reasons. The first is that I can’t decide if the Broncos were really that good on defense or if Oregon was just that bad on offense. The second is that I’m not going to get an answer to that question because Boise State doesn’t play anyone else the entire rest of the season who has a chance in hell of beating them and Oregon has to play the rest of the season without their best tailback thanks to LeGarrette Blount’s idiocy during the postgame handshake! So the net result is that Boise State gets a grudging entry from me into the top 25 because I reward strong performances but they’re going to be largely defined by Oregon’s success this fall more than their own because we don’t have anyone else to measure them up against. If Oregon falls to a seven or eight win year, Boise State’ perception will suffer.
Week 2: Home versus Miami ( Ohio), 8:00 PM EST
#25) Iowa Hawkeyes (1-0, #22)
Week 1 Result: 17-16 Victory at Home versus Northern Illinois (D-1AA)
Speaking of rewarding performance on the field, I really feel like I should drop the Hawkeyes out of the top 25 entirely after pulling out a squeaker against D-1AA Northern Iowa. I don’t care if UNI is a really good D-1AA team, it was still inexcusable. However, I kept the Hawkeyes here for one big reason. When the game was on the line at the end and UNI lined up for a possible game-winning field goal, Iowa blocked the try. However, one blocked kick does not a top 25 team make. UNI actually got to try again because the ball didn’t cross the line of scrimmage and Iowa blocked the kick for the second consecutive play! That showed a lot of fortitude and I’m not willing to drop the Hawkeyes entirely because of it. That said, they’ve got archrival Iowa State and a visit from Arizona before a trip to Happy Valley closes September and we’re going to find out exactly how good this team is in the next few weeks. For now, I’ll chalk this one up to overlooking their opponent but Iowa has to earn my respect from this point on.
Week 2: At Iowa State, 12:05 PM EST
TEN MORE TO KEEP AN EYE ON
The top two represented conferences in the top 25 were the SEC and Big XII, both of whom continued to have five ranked teams. The Big Ten dropped down to four ranked teams thanks to Illinois’ implosion, tying them with the ACC this week. The Pac Ten also lost a team thanks to Oregon’s sad effort in Boise and checked in with three representatives. The WAC, Big East and Mountain West all checked in with one ranked team and Notre Dame (who should be in the Big Ten but that’s another discussion for another day) was the lone independent entry.
By Matt Baxendell
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