For a moment, I thought that the 2009 season had set a record: Georgia had taken a late lead against LSU and it appeared that the season would begin with 5 straight weeks with at least one team in the Associated Press Top 5 losing. Alas, the streak was broken with a late gift from the officials and the upset was avoided, preventing this season from officially usurping 2007’s claim to the most ridiculous season in recent memory, at least for now.
However, there were still a lot of losses among ranked teams. Seven of my top 25 from last week all fell, including every team from 22 through 25! Needless to say, there will be a lot of change and a lot of new faces in the rankings.
SIX THINGS WE LEARNED THIS WEEK
The Dream Is Over For Houston
Houston had a fairytale September, besting two Big XII South foes en route to a 3-0 record and a national ranking. Heck, their accomplishments earned my #8 overall nod last week! However, their defense must have missed the flight because the Cougars lost 58-41 at Texas-El Paso. Thus, for all intents and purposes, Houston’s BCS dreams are officially over. It’s a shame, really, to beat two Big XII teams then blow it against a C-USA team with a losing record.
AJ Green Should Get Serious Heisman Consideration
I don’t think I’ve seen a better player this year at any position. I think that the true measure of a Heisman Trophy candidate is that he makes his team significantly better and I would bet money that Georgia would be 1-4, at best, without their superstar wideout. Were it not for an unbelievably bad personal foul for non-existent taunting after his amazing leaping and snatching the ball away from the defender go-ahead touchdown grab, Georgia would have been 4-1! Green has done everything from dominate in the passing game to block field goals! His block against Arizona State led to Georgia’s game-winning kick in the final seconds two weeks ago. Through 5 weeks, he’s been the best and most valuable player in the entire country.
Refs Need To Stop Unnecessarily Impacting The Game
Speaking of that Georgia-LSU tilt, I’m still in shock that the officials threw a celebration flag on Green’s touchdown with less than a minute left. Green had just made an otherworldly play and he decided to celebrate with his teammates while pointing at the Georgia fans who were celebrating with him. Somehow, that is a 15 yard penalty? He wasn’t taunting LSU players, he wasn’t taunting LSU fans, he was celebrating a score that appeared, by all intents and purposes, to have ended the game. Thus, a frivolous call had Georgia kicking from their 15 yard line with a one point lead and LSU was practically in field goal range to start off their final possession. Then the refs tried to make up for it by throwing a flag on LSU’s celebration with thirty seconds left! Come on, College Football is an emotional game, don’t penalize kids for celebrating in a reasonable manner.
Notre Dame Truly Has the “Luck Of The Irish” On Their Side
Their 37-30 overtime victory marks three straight weeks of nail-biting victories for the Irish. However, this one might have been the most incredible of all. Washington moved the ball seemingly at will but the Irish defense managed to mount not one, not two but THREE goal line stands to prevent Washington from scoring touchdowns! The Irish even got help from the refs when the final stand was blown down just as Washington QB Jake Locker was surging across the goal line. Notre Dame is 4-1 now but the only way that they can maintain their high-wire act with their porous defense is to fall back upon the schools foundation: Start praying.
Miami Is A Legitimate Top Ten Team
Miami just navigated the most difficult stretch to begin the year in the entire country. The Hurricanes faced four ranked opponents and beat three of them! Their final win, against Oklahoma, was perhaps the most impressive of all. Virginia Tech had dominated the Canes the week before and there were some big questions about their ability to bounce back. Well, they were extremely impressive in pulling off the victory and now have the hardest-earned 3-1 record in the country.
Next Week’s Florida-LSU Showdown Is The Biggest Game Yet
While Ohio State-USC was an enormous game early in the year, LSU-Florida will supercede that affair this weekend. Both teams are undefeated and both are ranked in the top five in the majority of polls. Yet, there are some major questions surrounding both teams. Florida hasn’t been able to really stretch the field this year and the status of Tim Tebow is in serious doubt. That’s not a good combination going into Death Valley at night. Meanwhile, LSU’s offense has been fairly putrid this year and they’re coming off of a game at Georgia that they were fortunate to win. Both of these teams have some flaws that need fixed but one of these teams is going to emerge next week with a significant claim to the #1 ranking in the country.
NEW FEATURE: BOWL PROJECTIONS
Now that we’ve had five weeks of action, I think we’ve got enough information to start projecting what the postseason is going to look like. Unlike my rankings, this is how I expect the season to play out into December and January and obviously these are going to fluctuate in a serious way for the foreseeable future.
Without further ado, here are the newest top 25 rankings…..
IN THE NATIONAL TITLE DISCUSSION
#1)Alabama Crimson Tide (5-0, #1 Last Week)
Week 5 Result: 38-20 Victory at Kentucky
Alabama added to their resume by traveling to Kentucky and dominating the Wildcats. Greg McElroy looks even better than most people expected and he’s probably a stronger player at this point than John Parker Wilson was last season. Alabama can continue to make a huge claim to their #1 ranking with a victory at Ole Miss this week.
Week 6: At Ole Miss, 3:30 PM EST
#2)Louisiana State Tigers (5-0, #9)
Week 5 Result: 20-13 Victory at #11 Georgia
Well, LSU jumps all the way up from number nine because they now have a 4-0 record against BCS opposition and are 3-0 away from Death Valley. Yes, I have some serious concerns about this team, especially on offense, but they’ve done more at this point in the season than almost any other team in the country.
Week 6: Home versus #7 Florida, 8:00 PM EST
#3)Virginia Tech Hokies (4-1, #3)
Week 5 Result: 34-26 Victory at Duke
Tech had a relatively close game against Duke last week, but it was honestly not a surprise after playing back to back emotional contests against Nebraska and Miami. The Hokies still had a 15 point lead late in the game and they honestly only look better after Miami beat Oklahoma this past week. The Hokies have another big test this week against surprising Boston College.
Week 6: Home versus Boston College, Noon EST
#4)Iowa Hawkeyes (5-0, #2)
Week 5 Result: 24-21 Victory at Home versus Arkansas State
Iowa is confusing, to say the least. They’ve dominated three BCS conference opponents but have looked average, at best, against non-BCS opponents. Perhaps Iowa was looking ahead to a visit from Michigan next week, but the combination of their weak opponent and their so-so showing drops them two spots this week.
Week 6: Home versus Michigan, 8:05 PM EST
#5)Southern California Trojans (4-1, #6)
Week 5 Result: 30-3 Victory at #23 California
So USC now looks like the best team in the Pac Ten. The Trojans dominated California with an exceptional showing on defense and a diverse attack on offense. The Trojans rallied around injured tailback Stafon Johnson and look really good on both sides of the football. They’ve got the week off before traveling to South Bend in two weeks and they should crush the Irish.
Week 6: Off Week
#6)Miami Hurricanes (3-1, #12)
Week 5 Result: 21-20 Victory at Home versus #14 Oklahoma
The Hurricanes are the only team in the country who has faced four ranked opponents this year and they’ve beaten all but one of them. At this point, no one has played a tougher schedule than Miami and honestly I’m not going to dock them next week after playing Florida A&M this week. This is a very talented football team but remember that they’re still very young and a slip up at some point wouldn’t be shocking.
Week 6: Home versus Florida A&M (D-1AA), 7:00 PM EST
#7)Texas Longhorns (4-0, #4)
Week 5 Result: Off Week
The Horns dropped because their resume stayed the same while a number of other teams improved theirs. On that note, Teas is still one of the most talented teams in the country and they’re not going to fall any further unless they lose. Texas hosts flailing Colorado this week and that means that the Horns will probably start 5-0.
Week 6: Home versus Colorado, 7:15 PM EST
#8)Florida Gators (4-0, #5)
Week 5 Result: Off Week
This is judgment week for the Gators. Their offense had some questions about its ability to stretch the field in their first two SEC games and then Tim Tebow was knocked silly. His health is a major concern: The Gators are favored with him and underdogs without him, he’s that good. Two years ago, a defending national champion Florida team was given their first loss of the season in Death Valley and this edition of Gators will have to fight through adversity if they don’t want to repeat history.
Week 6: At #2 LSU, 8:00 PM EST
#9) Ohio State Buckeyes (4-1, #7)
Week 5 Result: 33-14 Victory at Indiana
I really didn’t like dropping the Buckeyes this week. They blew out a Big Ten team on the road by 19 points. Their defense dominated again despite captain Kurt Coleman’s suspension and their offense continued to evolve along with Terrelle Pryor. The only reason that the Buckeyes fell in the rankings is because Miami and LSU really augmented their resumes with wins against ranked opponents. This is still one of the best teams in the country and if they keep winning then they’ll move right back up.
Week 6: At Home versus #14 Wisconsin, 3:30 PM EST
#10) Auburn Tigers (5-0, #16)
Week 5 Result: 26-22 Victory at Tennessee
Auburn finally took their show on the road this week and knocked off the Tennessee Volunteers in Neyland Stadium. While the final score showed a four point victory, this game was nowhere near as close as the score would indicate thanks to a dominant performance on both sides of the ball for three quarters. Auburn was very impressive in victory and they deserve to be recognized for a 5-0 start. Can they win back to back road games when they play Arkansas next week?
Week 6: At Arkansas, Noon EST
#11) Oklahoma State Cowboys (3-1, #10)
Week 5 Result: Off Week
No game this week for the Cowboys and that’s why they were jumped by Auburn, whose resume exceeded that of the Cowboys. That said, they start Big XII play off this week with a visit to College Station and the Cowboys will need to show well on defense against Texas A&M’s surprising attack. There’s a lot of time left for Okie State to make a big run in the Big XII.
Week 6: At Texas A&M, 12:30 PM EST
#12) Cincinnati Bearcats (5-0, #13)
Week 5 Result: 37-13 Victory at Miami (Ohio)
I really didn’t want to move the Bearcats up this week. Yeah, they won 37-13 against Miami but consider that Miami has been shut out twice this year already! Miami had more first downs, passing yards and time of possession (by nearly 20 minutes)! Cincinnati was inexplicably moved ahead of Ohio State this week in the national rankings despite a far less impressive road win and if the Bearcats want to actually live up to their ranking then they need to play a lot better against South Florida in two weeks.
Week 6: Off Week
OUTSIDE THE NATIONAL TITLE DISCUSSION BUT DANGEROUS
#13) South Carolina Gamecocks (4-1, #15)
Week 5 Result: 38-14 Victory at Home versus South Carolina State (D-1AA)
South Carolina continued their strong play after a lackluster start this week. In all reality, it isn’t a surprise since they are a young team coming off of an emotional victory against Ole Miss. The Gamecocks need to continue to progress offensively against Kentucky this week to maintain their lofty standing.
Week 6: Home versus Kentucky, 12:30 PM EST
#14) Wisconsin Badgers (5-0, #19)
Week 5 Result: 31-28 Victory at Minnesota
Wisconsin notched their first road win of the season on the strength of their powerful rushing attack. The Badgers have been significantly stronger at quarterback this season and it has made a big difference in their 2-0 start in Big Ten play. We’ll get a real measure of Wisconsin’s strength this week when they travel to Columbus to face the mighty Buckeyes.
Week 6: At #9 Ohio State, 3:30 PM EST
#15) Stanford Cardinal (4-1, Not Ranked)
Week 5 Result: 24-16 Victory at Home versus #24 UCLA
Guess who is on top of the Pac Ten standings? That’s right, Stanford is 3-0 in conference play to start the season. The Cardinal had a strong victory over UCLA last week with a strong rushing attack and a very good defensive showing. The next big test comes at Oregon State and a 4-0 run would be incredible for the Fighting Harbaughs.
Week 6:At Oregon State, 7:00 PM EST
#16) Oregon Ducks (4-1, #21)
Week 5 Result: 52-6 Victory at Home versus Washington State
Remember when we left this team for dead after they started the year? Well, Oregon has now beaten three BCS teams and last year’s BCS buster, Utah, in the last four weeks. I don’t know what Jeremiah Masoli did to prepare to start the season, but it took him four games to finally show up and he’s been excellent in each of the past two weeks. Let’s see how the Ducks react on the road in conference for the first time this year at UCLA. Remember, if they keep winning, they could possibly get starting tailback LeGarrette Blount back for the stretch run this season and that would only make them even more dangerous.
Week 6:At UCLA, 3:30 PM EST
#17) Penn State Nittany Lions (4-1, #20)
Week 5 Result: 35-17 Victory at Illinois
Penn State rebounded well from their loss against Iowa. They dominated Illinois on the road and it is important to remember that Illinois beat them the last time the two teams met in Champaign. However, Penn State’s season still hasn’t really begun and it we won’t learn anything next week with a D-1AA team in Happy Valley. Big Ten play consumes the final six weeks of their season.
Week 6:Home versus Eastern Illinois (D-1AA)
#18) Nebraska Cornhuskers (3-1, #17)
Week 5 Result: Off Week
Nebraska had the week off so some teams with better resumes hopped them. The Huskers still haven’t beaten a BCS conference team, mostly because their only BCS game was a one point loss at Virginia Tech. They can beat their first big boy team this week when they travel to Missouri on Thursday night.
Week 6: Thursday at Missouri, 9:00 PM EST
#19) Kansas Jayhawks (4-0, #18)
Week 5 Result: Off Week
The Jayhawks are in the same situation as Nebraska, except their only BCS game was a win over Duke. That’s not really impressive. Kansas still really hasn’t played anyone and will likely move to 5-0 with Iowa State coming to visit this week.
Week 6:Home versus Iowa State, 12:30 PM EST
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#20) Georgia Bulldogs (3-2, #11)
Week 5 Result: 20-13 Loss at Home versus #9 LSU
The Bulldogs qualify as the best two loss team in the country. They haven’t played against a non-BCS conference team all season and their two losses have come against ranked foes. Meanwhile, their three wins have come against two SEC teams and a Pac Ten team! Georgia’s season is now at a crossroads as they travel to Tennessee this week in what is becoming a must-win game for the Bulldogs.
Week 6: At Tennessee, 12:21 PM EST
#21) Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (4-1, NR)
Week 5 Result: 42-31 Victory at Mississippi State
Georgia Tech is jumping way up my own personal rankings. The Jackets’ only loss came on the road at Miami and the Hurricanes appear to be a pretty darn good team. Meanwhile, Tech has now beaten three BCS conference teams despite their defensive questions. If the Jackets can go to Tallahassee next week and defeat the reeling Seminoles, they’re looking at the possibility of another big season.
Week 6: At Florida State, 8:00 PM EST
#22)Texas Christian Horned Frogs (5-0, NR)
Week 5 Result: 39-14 Victory at Home versus SMU
TCU moves into my rankings despite beating another patsy. The Horned Frogs have two wins over BCS teams but Clemson and Virginia aren’t exactly world beaters. That said, TCU plays great defense and both of those wins came on the road. A 5-0 TCU squad at this point deserves to be ranked.
Week 6: At Air Force, 7:30 PM EST
#23) Houston Cougars (3-1, #8)
Week 5 Result: 58-41 Loss at UTEP
Houston might have begun to read their press clippings, especially the defense, which was singled out for praise last week after the Cougars’ upset over Texas Tech. Well, that defense is going to be singled out this week for playing possibly the worst game of the season. How the heck do they allow TWICE as many points as they did against Texas Tech at the hands of a team that had only scored more than 17 points ONCE in its first four games? Houston still has two great wins on their resume and that will keep them in my rankings for a while but if they don’t beat MSU this week then they’re out for good because their remaining schedule isn’t strong enough to vault them back in.
Week 6: At Mississippi State, 12:30 PM EST
#24) South Florida Bulls (5-0, NR)
Week 5 Result: 34-20 Victory at Syracuse
I felt it was simply an oversight not to include a BCS conference team with a 5-0 record in my rankings. The Bulls have beaten two BCS foes on the road this season and their victory at Florida State two weeks ago officially moves the Bulls into on the top tier of college football in the Sunshine State. USF has to prove now that they can handle success, something they’ve struggled with in the past few years. Two weeks from now they host Cincinnati and a win would vault the Bulls into the National Title discussion.
Week 6: Off Week
#25) Oklahoma Sooners (2-2, #14)
Week 5 Result: 21-20 Loss at #12 Miami
So, I know I’m violating my rules here. I’m supposed to rank teams based upon what they’ve done on the field up to this point and Oklahoma has two losses and has lost to the only BCS team they’ve played. But can anyone really tell me that the Sooners aren’t one of the 25 best teams in the country? When I look at the next ten teams below, I can’t see a single team that I realistically believe has more than an outside chance of beating Oklahoma. Furthermore, their backup quarterback has run the team in the first month of the year and as good as Landry Jones has played, he’s no Sam Bradford. I’m breaking my rules here because despite their record, Oklahoma is one of the best 25 teams in the country, period.
Week 6: Home versus Baylor, 3:30 PM EST
TEN MORE TO KEEP AN EYE ON
Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Boston College Eagles
Ole Miss Rebels
Boise State Broncos
West Virginia Mountaineers
The SEC reigns supreme this week, as it is the only conference to boast six teams in my rankings. Meanwhile, the Big XII sits alone with 5 teams, though they almost dropped down to four with Oklahoma’s loss. The Big Ten is third with 4 teams, with the biggest mover being Wisconsin this past week. Meanwhile, the ACC and Pac Ten each have two teams in the top 25 while the Big East rounds out the BCS conferences as it moves up to two ranked teams. The Mountain West and Conference USA round out the rankings with one representative apiece.
Matt Baxendell is collegesports-fans.com’s football writer. Keep an eye out all fall for his multiple weekly articles discussing everything college football. If you want to get in touch with him, email him at Matt.Baxendell@gmail.com or follow him on Twitter @MattBaxendell
By Matt Baxendell
CollegeSports-fans.com Staff Writer
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