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2008 NCAA College Football Top 25: Top 25 After Week #11

For the all the people who line up and complain about the BCS, the system seems to be getting it right again. In fact, I think that a rule should be made which states that no one can complain about the BCS before Thanksgiving in any given year. First of all, Penn State ran into their personal kryptonite (Iowa) and lost to the Hawkeyes for the sixth time in their last seven games! That brings up down two just two major conference unbeaten teams: Texas Tech and Alabama and avoids the Armageddon scenario which hit in 2004 with three unbeaten BCS teams.

Furthermore, there might be a couple of other 1 loss teams waiting behind them, but this season seems destined to play out to be a National Title matchup between the SEC champ and the Big XII Champ. Florida-Alabama is already set for the SEC Title game and that sure looks a lot like a National Title semifinal game to me. On the Big XII side, Texas Tech and Oklahoma will battle it out in two weeks. Now, if Oklahoma wins and we have a 3 way tie atop the Big XII South, guess what the tiebreaker is to go to the Big XII Title Game? The BCS Standings! Thus, it is another playoff game, because it seems unlikely that Tech would remain above Oklahoma in the BCS Standings if they lose and Texas sure has to like where they stand at this point with a win over the Sooners earlier this year in their pocket. Thus, the regular season continues its major job of being a defacto playoff, just like the system intended. Love it or hate it, the BCS has gotten things right more often than not and there hasn’t been a misstep since the formula was changed to reduce the computers’ impact on the standings before the 2002 season.

Of course, if we have a surprise (like Florida losing to South Carolina and then beating Bama in the SEC Title Game), USC and Penn State will be waiting in the wings for a chance to move up from the Rose Bowl. However, I wouldn’t expect a huge shakeup next week: We only have two games this weekend matching up top 25 teams. Is this the calm before the storm?

 

THE NATIONAL TITLE SHORT LIST

#1) Texas Tech Red Raiders (10-0, #2 Last Week)

Texas Tech affirmed their status as a deadly serious National Title Contender by blowing away a pretty talented Oklahoma State team by 36 points! Simply put, the only people who could stop the Red Raiders on offense were themselves. Tech’s huge O-Line makes it very difficult to get to Graham Harrell and if he gets even a split second of time, then it is a big gain. The Oklahoma game in two weeks will be decided in the trenches and Texas Tech will give the Sooners all that they can handle.

Week 12: Off Week (At #5 Oklahoma Week 13)

 

#2) Alabama Crimson Tide (10-0, #3)

Alabama survived at LSU to win the SEC West and virtually assure themselves of an unbeaten record going into the SEC title game with only terrible Mississippi State and dissapointing Auburn left. Survived is probably the appropriate word to use here, as Alabama was underwhelming in beating a decent at best LSU squad that hasn’t had any decent QB play all season. Alabama will be the underdog to the Gators in three weeks, but they sit in pole position to play for the National Title thanks to their unbeaten mark.

Week 12: Saturday, 7:45 versus Mississippi State



IN THE NATIONAL TITLE DISCUSSION

#3) Florida Gators (8-1, #4)

Florida is absolutely dominating teams this season. However, the Gators enter a pretty tough stretch the next three weeks, facing South Carolina, Florida State and Alabama. If the Gators run the table, they’ll be playing for their second National Title in three seasons. In a down year for the SEC, Florida has played by far the toughest schedule and would be a strong favorite in the National Title Game.

Week 12: Saturday, 3:30 PM EST versus #23 South Carolina

 

#4) Texas Longhorns (9-1, #5)

Texas finds itself in the strange position of rooting heavily for Oklahoma in the upcoming weeks. The Longhorns have a relatively light stretch left, playing Kansas and rival Texas A&M but it is the Sooners that control their destiny. If Oklahoma beats Texas Tech in two weeks and then defeated Oklahoma State the week after, there will be a three way tie between the Sooners, Longhorns, and Red Raiders for the Big XII South crown and the BCS standings are likely to favor the Horns. So, Texas fans take a deep breath and repeat after me: “Boomer….”

Week 12: Saturday, 12:30 PM EST at Kansas

 

#5) Oklahoma Sooners (9-1, #6)

Oklahoma has been absolutely killing teams since losing to rival Texas and still has its own chance to play for the Big XII and National Titles. However, the Sooners absolutely have to knock off Texas Tech in two weeks for any of that dream to become reality. While Oklahoma will probably score 40 points on the Red Raiders, their defensive line absolutely has to pressure Graham Harrell to let them win. Oklahoma will have the week off to prepare for an enormous game in Norman.

Week 12: Off Week (Versus #1 Texas Tech Week 13)

 

#6) Penn State Nittany Lions (9-1, #1)

Penn State can’t beat Iowa. It is simple fact: Six of the last seven in this series have gone the Hawkeyes’ way and the Hawkeyes took advantage of home field and bad weather to knock off the Nittany Lions 24-23. Penn State is still an excellent team and they still control their own destiny to play in the Rose Bowl. The Nittany Lions should get healthy very quickly when minnow Indiana comes to town this weekend.

Week 12: Saturday, 12:00 PM EST versus Indiana

 

#7) Southern California Trojans (8-1, #7)

Southern Cal played a tough game against a pretty good California team and pulled out a close victory by a 17-3 score. I think that it is very safe to say that USC’s defense is the country’s best this season. However, the Trojans’ Achilles heel in the postseason this year could be their offense, which has underwhelmed at times this year. This week, USC should destroy an improved Stanford team after last season’s stunning upset in the Coliseum.

Week 12: Saturday, 7:00 PM EST at Stanford



OUTSIDE THE NATIONAL TITLE DISCUSSION BUT DANGEROUS

#8) Ohio State Buckeyes (8-2, #9)

Ohio State rebounded nicely from losing to Penn State two weeks ago as the Buckeyes defeated their third ranked opponent on the road this season. Terrelle Pryor was particularly impressive as the Buckeyes scored 45 points on a good Northwestern defense. The Buckeyes were also very good on defense, holding a good Wildcat attack to 10 points in freezing temperatures. This week, the Buckeyes will have revenge on their minds as they travel to Champaign to face a massively disappointing Illinois team that ruined the Buckeyes’ unbeaten season and senior day a year ago. Expect the Buckeyes to beat up on the Illini.

Week 12: Saturday, 12:00 PM EST at Illinois

 

#9) Utah Utes (10-0, #11)

Utah won yet another close game, defeating a very good TCU team 13-10. Now, TCU shut down the Utes all game on offense and it took a last gasp TD drive for the Utes to pull out the victory, not to mention two short missed TCU field goals. The Utes’ season now comes down to the Holy War in two weeks. Win and Utah is probably going to the Fiesta Bowl.

Week 12: Saturday, 8:00 PM EST at San Diego State

 

#10) Oklahoma State Cowboys (8-2, #8)

Losing by 36 points is a tough pill for the Cowboys to swallow, especially when their excellent defense held Texas and Missouri to less than half of the Red Raiders’ 56 point tally. Oklahoma State is still a very good team and their season is far from over, though their Big XII Title hopes now are. Oklahoma State’s entire season will be defined by the Bedlam game in three weeks, so long as they don’t stumble against Colorado this Saturday.

Week 12: Saturday, 8:00 PM EST at Colorado

 

#11) Missouri Tigers (8-2, #10)

Missouri has continued to play well following their two game hiccup at midseason against top Big XII South opposition. The Tigers will have a chance at redemption later this season as they’re the favorite to win the Big XII North a win over Iowa State combined with a Texas victory against rival Kansas would cement the Tigers’ spot this Saturday.

Week 12: Saturday, 6:30 PM EST at Iowa State

 

#12) Michigan State Spartans (9-2, #13)

Michigan State’s defense played well again in a 21-7 victory over Purdue, another Big Ten game played in bad weather this past weekend. The Spartans will be playing for a shot at a share of the Big Ten title in two weeks at Penn State, though they’re unlikely to win a trip to the Rose Bowl. Still, Michigan State’s strong defense and good running attack will give Penn State a tough game and the Spartans’ worst case scenario appears to be the Capital One Bowl in Orlando.

Week 12: Off Week (At #6 Penn State Week 13)

 

#13) North Carolina Tar Heels (7-2, #14)

North Carolina took a huge step towards playing for the ACC Title by knocking off Georgia Tech this past weekend. The Heels also are looking at a very favorable stretch run that features NC State and Duke after this week’s matchup with a good Maryland team. If UNC wins this game, odds are in favor of Butch Davis’ team playing in Tampa in December.

Week 12: Saturday, 3:30 PM EST at Maryland

 

#14) Florida State Seminoles (7-2, #22)

Florida State rebounded with authority and defeated a very desperate and pesky Clemson team to move to the top of the ACC Atlantic Division standings. Unfortunately for the Seminoles, they don’t control their destiny in the division, thanks to their loss earlier in the season to Wake Forest. FSU has a tough close to the season, with Maryland and archrival Florida State waiting in the weeks to come.

Week 12: Saturday, 8:00 PM EST versus Boston College

 

#15) Georgia Bulldogs (8-2, #15)

Georgia was a tough team for me to rank after this past weekend. On one hand, the Bulldogs went into a hostile atmosphere, one that they had lost in the last time they played there, and won a close game in comeback fashion. However, they also barely beat an average Kentucky team and their vaunted defense was nowhere to be found until the game’s final play. Simply put, I could not move the Bulldogs up in the standings despite their 42-38 win because they haven’t shown an ounce of defense the past three weeks, allowing 38 points to LSU, 49 to Florida, and now 38 to Kentucky. If Auburn gets healthy on offense this week against the Bulldogs, then this team is officially a fraud. On the plus side, Georgia’s offense won this game and kept the Bulldogs alive for a Capital One Bowl berth.

Week 12: Saturday, 12:30 PM EST at Auburn

 

NON-BCS TEAMS THAT COULD PLAY IN A BCS BOWL

#16) Texas Christian Horned Frogs (9-2, #12)

TCU has to be absolutely sick right now. They missed two easy field goals and had two sacks which moved them out of field goal range during the game and blew a 10-0 lead against Utah. Simply put, this TCU team is going to be in any game that they play against this bowl season and is looking at a very solid ten win season.

Week 12: Off Week (Versus Air Force Week 13)

 

#17) Ball State Cardinals (9-0, #19)

Ball State rode an emotional high after injured receiver Dante Love, whose broken neck earlier in the season ended his football career, walked out with the team captains for the pregame coin flip. The Cardinals ran over Northern Illinois and are now 9-0 with their toughest stretch in the season to go, beginning with a Veteran’s day affair at Miami of Ohio.

Week 12:Tuesday, 7:00 PM EST at Miami (OH)

 

#18) Boise State Broncos (9-0, #21)

Boise State continues to beat up on bad WAC teams as they rolled over Utah State 49-14. Next up is supposed rival Idaho, who is 2-8 on the year. Boise State could go unbeaten and miss out on a BCS bowl if Utah finished the year undefeated thanks in large part to the down year that the WAC is having.

Week 12:Saturday 5:00 PM EST at Idaho

 

FLAWED BUT TALENTED: TOP TEAMS BEWARE!

#19) Louisiana State Tigers (6-3, #16)

LSU fans have to be sick to their stomachs right now. First off, the Tigers blew numerous opportunities to ruin archvillian Nick Saban’s return to Baton Rouge and his Crimson Tide’s perfect season as they fell in overtime. The Tiger fans also have to be sick about the prospect of Jarrett Lee playing the rest of the season after he threw three more interceptions, including his unfathomable 6 th interception returned for a touchdown this season in the loss. LSU has to find better quarterback play before next season.

Week 12:Saturday, 8:00 PM EST versus Troy

 

#20) Oregon State Beavers (6-3, Not Ranked)

Oregon State blew out UCLA and enters the home stretch of their season. In a very interesting twist, the Beavers control their Pac Ten destiny after knocking off USC earlier this year. However, they have to face three strong teams down the stretch if they want to smell the Roses, as Arizona and archrival Oregon await them after this weekend’s clash with a good California team.

Week 12: Saturday, 3:30 PM EST versus #24 California

 

#21) Pittsburgh Panthers (7-2, NR)

Pittsburgh is young but they are getting better every week. The Panthers have lost two games this year at home that they absolutely should not have lost ( Bowling Green and Rutgers) but have gone undefeated on the road and have a very good chance of winning the Big East. Pitt has a good physical team and tailback Shady McCoy is the best player in the Big East. If Pitt beats Cincinnati in two weeks, everything will be on the line in the Backyard Brawl.

Week 12: Off Week (At Cincinnati Week 13)

 

#22) Iowa Hawkeyes (6-4, NR)

Iowa is the only four loss team that I have ranked in the top 25 right now. Why is that? Well, first of all, the Hawkeyes did just defeat my #1 team in an incredibly physical game. However, here are some statistics for you: Iowa’s four losses have come by a combined total of 12 points, three of those losses have been on the road and all four losses have come to teams either currently ranked (Michigan State, Pitt) or have been ranked at some point this season. Iowa has the Big Ten’s best pair of Defensive Tackles in Mitch King and Jason Kroul and running back Shon Greene has run for a hundred yards in every game this season. The Hawkeyes look like a good bet to finish the year 8-4.

Week 12: Saturday, 12:03 PM EST versus Purdue

 

#23) South Carolina Gamecocks (7-3, NR)

The Steve Spurrier Bowl is back with round four this weekend and it is again a huge game in for the Gators. Like the last time that South Carolina traveled to the Swamp, Florida’s National Title hopes will be on the line and if South Carolina plays the Gators as close as they did in 2006, this game will be fantastic. If you don’t remember, South Carolina was lined up to kick a game winning field goal as time expired and Florida managed to block the kick and continue their run to a National championship. Expect the Ole Ball Coach to pull out all the stops to beat his alma mater.

Week 12: Saturday, 3:30 PM EST at #3 Florida

 

#24) California Golden Bears (6-3, #25)

Cal, like most opponents this fall, struggled to move the ball against USC. However, California’s defense was impressive in holding USC to only 17 points. California is a pretty good football team and they could continue to impress me this week if they go on the road and beat an Oregon State team which has everything to play for.

Week 12: Saturday, 3:30 PM EST at #20 Oregon State

 

#25) Oregon Ducks (7-3, NR)

Oregon is another Pac Ten team that plays after most of the East coast goes to bed and doesn’t really get a lot of love. While they’ve struggled with a lot of injuries this fall, their only three losses are against currently ranked teams and the Ducks are impressive. If they win their last two games, they will have one of the more quietly impressive 9 win seasons in America.

Week 12: Saturday, 3:30 PM EST versus Arizona

 

 

TEN MORE TO KEEP AN EYE ON

  • Northwestern Wildcats
  • Cincinnati Bearcats
  • Arizona Wildcats
  • Brigham Young Cougars
  • Virginia Tech Hokies
  • Maryland Terrapins
  • Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
  • Minnesota Golden Gophers
  • Nebraska Cornhuskers
  • Tulsa Golden Hurricane

 

CONFERENCE BREAKDOWN

The Big XII still is the top conference in my rankings, as they occupy five total spots, all of which are in the top 12. The SEC took a step up this week with South Carolina’s entry and now holds five spots as well. The Big Ten checks in next with four total teams, including two in the top ten for a good showing. Most improved this week is the Pac Ten, which features four teams, though USC is the only team ranked higher than #20. The ACC and Mountain West feature two teams apiece in our Top 25, while the Big East and WAC only have one.

 

 

By Matt Baxendell
CollegeSports-fans.com Staff Writer

Matt Baxendell is collegesports-fans.com’s newest staff writer. If you’d like to join his college football therapy group, email him at matt.baxendell @ gmail.com with all your questions, comments, and anything else you would like to share. Also be sure to check out Matt's 2008 conference previews here at CollegeSports-fans.com!

 


 


 

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