2009 NCAA College Football Week 4 Top 25
Week 4 Football Top 25 Rankings
In a crazy season, this week might have been the most ridiculous that we’ve seen yet. Seriously, how many ups and downs have there already been and we’ve only had three weeks’ worth of games! This season is rapidly beginning to resemble the 2007 season, which was undoubtedly the oddest in the past 20 years. Remember that year? When the top six teams all lost in the last two weeks and seemingly every single week had a top five team upset? 2009 sure fits the script early. Also, be sure to check out Matt's weekly college football bowl projections as we take a look at the expected bowl matchups this winter.
SIX THINGS WE LEARNED THIS WEEK
After proclaiming two weeks ago that we would have a BCS buster, I’m going to make a complete 180 turn on that proclamation. BYU was blown out a home by Florida State, Utah lost at Oregon and Boise State showed a complete lack of defense in a closer-than-the-score-indicates 51-34 win at Fresno State. I’m not even ranking the Broncos after they allowed THREE touchdown rushes of more than 60 yards! In short, there’s not a single non-BCS team that deserves a BCS bowl bid if they go undefeated outside of perhaps Houston, who has a tough schedule ahead. The question is: Are pollsters stupid enough to rank Boise State high enough if they win out?
After a 2008 season that was dominated by parity league wide, it is becoming abundantly clear that the league has a large portion of haves and have nots this fall. Miami blew out erstwhile contender Georgia Tech, who has looked shaky in two straight weeks, Virginia Tech defeated a ranked Nebraska team and Florida State blew out wannabe BCS contender BYU. However, the other end of the spectrum includes losses by Maryland and Virginia to non-BCS foes and Duke seems in for another terrible year. That leaves a middle tier of Georgia Tech, Clemson, North Carolina, Boston College, NC State, and Wake Forest, and only NC State and UNC appear to have the potential to step up and challenge the top three. I think it is highly likely that we’ll see the winner of this week’s huge Miami-Virginia Tech matchup against Florida State in the ACC Title Game.
The Big East had a very strong week, finishing with a 6-2 record this week. Even better, the league had wins over Big XII, Big Ten, and Pac Ten foes along with a very impressive win over Navy. This comes with two barnburner losses to SEC teams at SEC venues. While no one thinks that the Big East is one of the country’s most elite leagues, they’re certainly not the punching bag that the national media has made them out to be.
The Gators are going to blow out Tennessee by 50 points, right? Oops. Only in Gator country is a 23-13 win against an archrival a disappointment. Despite all of the talk from both sides in the past six months, this was a hard fought football game and I have to say that I lost a little bit of respect for Urban Meyer, who came out after the game and implied that the game was close because some of his players had flu-like symptoms during the week leading up to the game. Hey Urban, maybe Tennessee’s excellent defense had more to do with the game being close than a few guys with the flu. At last check, Tim Tebow was healthy and you only put up 23 points, so maybe you shouldn’t have let your team start to think that they were going to blow the Vols out.
Unfortunately, I’m not ready to call the Pac Ten great. Don’t get me wrong, the Pac Ten had a decent day on the national stage. But Oregon State’s 26 game home non-conference winning streak was snapped against Cincinnati, Arizona lost at Iowa and #2 USC was upset at Washington, who just broke a 15 game losing streak last week! That’s three tough losses in the perception battle. However, there were a few bright spots: Cal persevered through a tough Minnesota comeback effort to win on the road against the Gophers behind 5 Jahvid Best touchdowns, Oregon ended Utah’s winning streak and UCLA knocked off Kansas State from the Big XII. However, their 2-2 mark against BCS opposition out of conference leads me to believe that the Pac Ten is a pretty good conference, not a great one.
I touched on this above, but look at the similarities: There have been three top 5 teams upset already this year in three weeks as Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and USC all lost in consecutive weeks! We’ve had BCS busters jump up early and then get knocked right back down and we’re not even out of September. Six of my top 15 teams already have a loss! Another interesting similarity: I have four new top 25 teams this week. I’m sure you’re wondering who they are, so let’s get to the rankings!
THE NATIONAL TITLE SHORT LIST
#1)Florida Gators (3-0, #1 Last Week)
Week 3 Result: 23-13 Victory at Home versus Tennessee
The Gators finally played a real opponent and they struggled much more than 99.9% of the country expected. In fact, the difference in this game wasn’t athleticism or coaching, it was the simple fact that Tim Tebow is a better quarterback than Jonathan Crompton. Perhaps Florida was too expectant of a blowout, I’m not sure, but they showed that this year won’t be the cakewalk that many expected. You think that Florida missed Percy Harvin right now?
Week 4: At Kentucky, 6:00 PM EST
#2)Texas Longhorns (3-0, #3)
Week 3 Result: 34-24 Victory at Home versus Texas Tech
Texas’ victory over Texas Tech was the tale of two halves. The first half was a 10-3 defensive struggle and the second half was a 24-21 shootout. The Horns showed a good attacking defense and an explosive offense but Colt McCoy didn’t play at the level that most expected of him and threw two picks. However, a tough rivalry win is their reward and the Longhorns are now 1-0 in conference play.
Week 4: Home versus UTEP, 3:30 PM EST
#3)California Golden Bears (3-0, #4)
Week 3 Result: 35-21 Victory at Minnesota
Cal’s victory over Minnesota was impressive for three reasons. The first is that Cal was only 1-4 on the road last year and began to make those memories fade by beating a solid team halfway across the country. The second reason is that Minnesota punched them in the mouth and tied the game up at 21 in the second half and gave the Bears a huge gut check. Finally, the Bears were impressive because Jahvid Best jumped to the front of my Heisman list with a 5 touchdown performance. The next two weeks will decide the Bears’ Pac Ten fate as they travel to Oregon before hosting USC.
Week 4: At Oregon, 3:30 PM EST
IN THE NATIONAL TITLE DISCUSSION
#4)Alabama Crimson Tide (3-0, #6)
Week 3 Result: 53-7 Victory at Home versus North Texas
Alabama smoked another patsy in impressive fashion. That’s about all the analysis anyone can really offer on that game. Looking ahead, it will be interesting to see how their touted defense performs against an impressive Arkansas offense that put up 41 points last week against Georgia.
Week 4: Home versus Arkansas, 3:30 PM EST
#5)Penn State Nittany Lions (3-0, #6)
Week 3 Result: 31-6 Victory at Home versus Temple
The Nittany Lions continued their trend of beating lesser opponents by three touchdowns with last week’s win over Temple. Frankly, I’m getting tired of seeing Penn State play patsies. Luckily, that changes this week when Iowa comes to town to start Big Ten play. Penn State has run into a lot of trouble recently against the Hawkeyes, especially last season’s upset in Iowa City which cost the Nittany Lions a shot at the National Title.
Week 4: Home versus #18 Iowa, 8:00 PM EST
#6)Southern California Trojans (2-1, #2)
Week 3 Result: 16-13 Loss at Washington
When I previewed USC-Washington last week, I said that this game would be far closer than expected. Well, it turns out that USC was far more beat up from the Ohio State game than I expected and they continued their trend of losing an early road game in Pac Ten play. What’s worse, they still have to travel to Oregon, Cal and Notre Dame before the end of October. With Cal flying high, a trip to Strawberry Canyon in two weeks looks very scary for the suddenly vulnerable Trojans.
Week 4: Home versus Washington State, 10:15 EST
#7)Ohio State Buckeyes (2-1, #7)
Week 3 Result: 38-0 Victory versus Toledo in Cleveland
The Buckeyes rebounded well from their loss to USC (which is even more disappointing considering USC’s failure at Washington) by shutting out a Toledo team that was coming off of a 54 point showing against Colorado the week before. Ohio State rung up 522 yards of offense and Terrelle Pryor scored four touchdowns in the rout. Big Ten play begins with enigma Illinois this week.
Week 4: Home versus Illinois, 3:30 PM EST
#8)Miami Hurricanes (2-0, #14)
Week 3 Result: 33-17 Win at Home versus #20 Georgia Tech
The Hurricanes are rocketing skyward after their second win against a ranked opponent this season. Miami blew out Georgia Tech with a combination of tough defense and overwhelming offense. This week’s game at Virginia Tech is huge because it would give the Hurricanes a 3-0 start in ACC play and a tiebreaker advantage over two of their biggest divisional contenders. Miami would also get serious consideration from me as the country’s top team because this would be their 3 rd victory over a ranked team and 2 nd on the road.
Week 4: At #9 Virginia Tech, 3:30 PM EST
#9) Virginia Tech Hokies (2-1, #8)
Week 3 Result: 16-15 Victory at Home versus #23 Nebraska
Tech is a team that has some issues. Despite a 16-15 win over a very tough Nebraska team, I’m suddenly much less bullish on the Hokies because Tyrod Taylor simply can’t pass the football. Virginia Tech’s passing offense consisted of one bomb late in the game. To make matters worse, they couldn’t run the ball against Nebraska either! Tech is going to have to hope for some turnovers if they want to beat the Hurricanes this weekend.
Week 4: Home versus #8 Miami, 3:30 PM EST
#10) Oklahoma Sooners (2-1, #10)
Week 3 Result: 45-0 Victory at Home versus Tulsa
Say what you want about Sam Bradford and Jermaine Gresham’s injuries hurting Oklahoma, but their defense has been unbelievable this year. After allowing only 14 points against BYU, they’ve posted back to back shutouts! Oklahoma has the week off before playing at suddenly potent Miami and you can bet that their defense is going to come to play.
Week 4: Off Week
#11) Cincinnati Bearcats (3-0, #18)
Week 3 Result: 28-18 Victory at #22 Oregon State
Anyone want to question the Bearcats? They just broke Oregon State’s 26 game unbeaten streak against non-conference opponents with a strong road victory. While the Beavers did a good job against the explosive Cincinnati offense, Brian Kelly’s defense was nothing short of excellent. This team is now the favorite in the Big East. Enjoy Kelly while you have him, Bearcat fans, because he’s on to greener pastures next season.
Week 4: Home versus Fresno State, Noon EST
#12) Louisiana State Tigers (3-0, #9)
Week 3 Result: 31-3 Victory at Home versus Louisiana-Lafayette
Remember when people were questioning LSU’s win at Washington earlier this year? It looks a lot better now, doesn’t it? That said, I’ve still been underwhelmed by LSU thus far this season. Maybe it is their average passing game but I just haven’t been as impressed as I expected to be. Still, this is a great football team and they’ll look to go to 2-0 in SEC play this week.
Week 4: At Mississippi State, Noon EST
#13) Ole Miss Rebels (2-0, #11)
Week 3 Result: 52-6 Victory at Home versus Southeast Louisiana (D-1AA)
Ole Miss drops because of their pathetic non-conference schedule. Seriously, two D-1AA teams? The Rebels FINALLY play a real team this week when they travel to South Carolina for a dangerous Thursday night affair with the suddenly potent Gamecock offense.
Week 4: Thursday at South Carolina, 7:30 PM EST
OUTSIDE THE NATIONAL TITLE DISCUSSION BUT DANGEROUS
#14) Oklahoma State Cowboys (2-1, #12)
Week 3 Result: 41-24Victory at Home versus Rice
The Cowboys defense has gotten worse every week this year. Seriously, how do they hold Georgia to ten points but give up 45 to Houston and 24 to Rice? I’m still impressed with this team’s offensive production but I’m becoming more convinced by the day that they won’t be able to slow down the big boys in the Big XII South.
Week 4:Home versus Grambling State (D-1AA), 7:00 PM EST
#15) Georgia Bulldogs (2-1, #13)
Week 3 Result: 52-41 Victory at Arkansas
There are two ways to look at the Bulldogs. The first is that they have one heck of an offense, scoring 89 points in the last two weeks. The other is that they have one terrible defense, having allowed 102 points in three games this year! Georgia is in the midst of a very tough schedule stretch and they had better fix their defense before upcoming clashes with LSU, Tennessee and Florida.
Week 4:Home versus Arizona State, 7:00 PM EST
#16) Kansas Jayhawks (3-0, #16)
Week 3 Result: 44-16 Victory at Home versus Duke
The Jayhawks continued their winning ways with a blowout victory over hapless Duke. I continue to maintain that their newfound strength on defense likely makes them the favorites in the Big XII North as their offense is still one of the best in the country behind senior QB Todd Reesing.
Week 4:Home versus Southern Mississippi, Noon EST
#17) Pittsburgh Panthers (3-0, #17)
Week 3 Result: 27-14 Victory at Home versus Navy
Pitt played really well against Navy in victory. In fact, the score really doesn’t show how much of a disparity there was between these two teams in this game. Were it not for a few untimely turnovers that killed Pitt drives, this would have been a blowout. Pitt has the best defense in the Big East and could be the only team in the league which has the ability to slow down Cincinnati’s impressive attack.
Week 4:At North Carolina State, 3:30 PM EST
#18) Iowa Hawkeyes (3-0, #21)
Week 3 Result: 27-17 Victory at Home versus Arizona
Iowa is on the verge of something special right now. After blocking two field goals at the end of the game against a D-1AA opponent, Iowa has woken up and defeated a Big XII and Pac Ten team in the past two weeks. Their defense has been excellent and they finally seem to have found a running game. So, it looks like they’re peaking just in time to play Penn State, whom they’ve owned in recent years. A Hawkeye win could put them in the top ten.
Week 4: At #5 Penn State, 8:00 PM EST
#19) Houston Cougars (2-0, #20)
Week 3 Result: Off Week
The Cougars had the week off and are now the lone non-BCS team in my top 25. However, their status as such will be tested this week when Texas Tech comes to town. If the Cougars can defeat their second Big XII South opponent in as many tries, they’ll continue to have my favor as a potential BCS buster.
Week 4:Home versus Texas Tech, 9:15 PM EST
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#20) Florida State (2-1, Not Ranked)
Week 3 Result: 54-28 Victory at #15 BYU
The Seminoles have been rather hot and cold thus far in the early going. After nearly beating Miami to open the year, they nearly lost to D-1AA Jacksonville State last week! However, they absolutely dominated BYU on their home field and appear more athletic than any time in the last five years. While FSU’s defense is still young and prone to mistakes, I think that the Seminoles are officially the team to beat in their division in the ACC.
Week 4: Home versus South Florida, Noon EST
#21) Michigan Wolverines (3-0, #25)
Week 3 Result: 45-17 Victory at Home versus Eastern Michigan
Michigan had another great day offensively but I have to say that their defense concerns me. While the Wolverines have earned their ranking, they allowed 17 points to Eastern Michigan in the first half and I will be very interested to see how they hold up once Big Ten play starts. However, don’t expect any answers this week when doormat Indiana comes to the Big House.
Week 4: Home versus Indiana, Noon EST
#22)North Carolina Tar Heels (3-0, NR)
Week 3 Result: 31-17 Victory at Home versus East Carolina
I can’t figure the Heels out. One week they look terrible and need a gift safety call to beat UConn and the next the come out and dominate East Carolina. I guess we’ll get more answers this week when they play at Georgia Tech. However, UNC provided the initial blueprint on how to beat the Yellow Jackets last year in a 28-7 win and I think that UNC could emerge as a division title contender with a win this week.
Week 4: At Georgia Tech, Noon EST
#23) Nebraska Cornhuskers (2-1, #23)
Week 3 Result: 16-15 Loss at #8 Virginia Tech
Nebraska deserved better against Virginia Tech. Much like Ohio State the week before, they had a late 15-10 lead that evaporated in the fnal minutes after a dominating showing defensively. Thus, I’m not dropping the Huskers because frankly I think they’re one of the best 25 teams in the country. This team WILL make some noise in the Big XII North this fall.
Week 4: Home versus Louisiana-Lafayette, 7:00 PM EST
#24) Washington Huskies (2-1, NR)
Week 3 Result: 16-13 Victory at Home versus #2 USC
Overreaching? Perhaps, but consider their resume: 2-1 record, victory over #2 USC and an excellent showing against a top 10 LSU team to start the season. If you go just by what has happened on the field, Washington has been one of the 25 best teams in the country thus far. Put the 0-12 mark from last season in the rearview mirror and remember that Jake Locker missed most of the year. He’s back and the Huskies are suddenly a threat in the Pac Ten. Let’s see how they do this week on the road for the first time in 2009.
Week 4: At Stanford, 9:00 PM EST
#25) Notre Dame Fighting Irish (2-1, NR)
Week 3 Result: 33-30 Victory at Home versus Michigan State
I struggled with this final selection because I really think that Notre Dame should have lost against Michigan State. On top of that, I haven’t been remotely impressed by their defense. However, Jimmy Claussen has been incredibly impressive in the early going, completing 68 percent of his passes for 9 touchdowns and zero interceptions. So, I’ll give the Irish credit (for now) but let’s see how they do on the road this week against rival Purdue without Michael Floyd.
Week 4: At Purdue, 8:00 PM EST
TEN MORE TO KEEP AN EYE ON
Unsurprisingly, the Big XII and SEC both boast five teams in the rankings to lead the country’s conferences. The Big Ten and ACC follow behind with four teams while the Pac Ten checks in with three. The Big East has two representatives while Notre Dame and Houston round out the top 25.
One final note: This is the final week that I’m taking any preseason thoughts into account. After next week’s games, I’m reworking the rankings to completely represent what has happened on the field. That means that if your favorite team hasn’t played anyone or has looked terrible but boasts an unbeaten mark, they might drop and the rankings will probably look decidedly different.
By Matt Baxendell
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