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2008 NCAA College Football Top 25: Top 25 After Week #14

The Big XII South controversy resolved itself in the manner which I expected: An Oklahoma victory over Oklahoma State on the road was enough for the computers to boost the Sooners ahead of Texas and into the Big XII Title Game. However, I’m pretty confident that it wasn’t the correct decision. See, Texas will be watching a Big XII Title Game that features two teams that they beat by double digits. That’s a raw deal. I don’t really care what arguments Sooner fans want to make for their team, the fact of the matter is that Texas got the screws. If Oklahoma loses against Missouri (highly unlikely) then I’m going to go against the Georgia rule and say that Texas deserves a chance to play the SEC champ for the National Title because, unlike Georgia last year, Texas lost their shot in a beauty contest and not on the field.

On to my rankings leading up into the conference championships…

 

THE NATIONAL TITLE SHORT LIST

#1) Alabama Crimson Tide (12-0, #1 Last Week)

Alabama finished up an unbeaten regular season by finally removing the Auburn monkey from their back in dominating fashion. The Tigers never really stood much of a chance in a 36-0 rout and Alabama now sits a game away from the impossible becoming possible: A chance to play for the National Title.

Week 15: SEC TITLE GAME, Saturday, 4:00 PM EST versus #2 Florida



IN THE NATIONAL TITLE DISCUSSION

#2) Florida Gators (11-1, #2)

Florida romped rival Florida State in a monsoon to move Urban Meyer’s record to 4-0 against Bobby Bowden. The Gators simply outclassed a decent FSU team that is at least a year away from competing at Florida’s level. Now Florida finds itself sitting in position to play for the National Title if they can knock off #1 Alabama. Losing star wideout Percy Harvin and a couple of key defensive linemen will hurt their cause but they’re still much more talented than the Tide.

Week 15: SEC TITLE GAME, Saturday, 4:00 PM EST versus #1 Alabama

 

#3) Texas Longhorns (11-1, #3)

The only way to sum up the Longhorns’ season is this: They got screwed. Texas will get to watch a Big XII Title Game featuring two teams that they beat by double digits. Think about that for a moment. This is just a stupid repeat of the BCS idiocy of 2000, when Miami beat Florida State head to head, finished with the same record and then watched the Seminoles lose in the National Title game. If Oklahoma stumbles against Mizzou, Texas deserves a shot at the National Title.

Week 15: Regular Season Completed

 

#4) Oklahoma Sooners (11-1, #4)

Oklahoma went out the road and won a shootout with Oklahoma State. The ABC announcers certainly got it right: Bedlam absolutely described the game. That said, Oklahoma had a lot of lucky bounces and Oklahoma State seemed to forget how to play defense in the second half. Oklahoma’s defense concerns me, especially if they get by Missouri and find Tim Tebow and company waiting for them.

Week 15: BIG XII TITLE GAME, Saturday, 8:00 PM EST versus #18 Missouri

 

#5) Penn State Nittany Lions (11-1, #5)

Penn State’s Rose Bowl challenge just got a lot more difficult with Oregon State’s loss. However, the Beavers’ loss is college football’s gain, as I’m really excited about the prospect of a USC-Penn State game. In fact, the entire BCS looks a lot better now that the Beavers aren’t included. Penn State is getting a really raw deal sitting at #8 in the BCS rankings.

Week 15: Regular Season Completed

 

#6) Southern California Trojans (10-1, #8)

USC laid the wood to Notre Dame and held the Fighting Irish under 100 total yards of offense? You want to talk a schematic advantage, Charlie Weis? Look no further than Pete Carroll and his excellent defense. This game was such a mismatch that it wasn’t even funny. USC now only needs a win over rival UCLA to win their seventh consecutive Pac Ten Title.

Week 15: Saturday, 4:30 PM EST at UCLA

 

#7) Texas Tech Red Raiders (11-1, #7)

Texas Tech’s season nearly went up in flames against Baylor as the Bears led 28-14 in the second half. To make matters worse, Michael Crabtree hurt his ankle pretty badly and quarterback Graham Harrell’s non-throwing hand was broken in a couple of places in the first half. However, Harrell really gutted it out and Texas Tech rode their running game to a comeback 35-28 win to close out the best regular season in school history. Tech needs to root really hard for Oklahoma to lose because that probably bumps them up to a BCS bowl game. If the Sooners win the Big XII, Tech looks Cotton Bowl-bound to face Ole Miss.

Week 15: Regular Season Completed


OUTSIDE THE NATIONAL TITLE DISCUSSION BUT EXCELLENT

#8) Ohio State Buckeyes (10-2, #8)

Ohio State was probably the biggest beneficiary of Oregon State’s loss, moving the Buckeyes up from a date with Georgia in the Capital One Bowl to a BCS Bowl. Expect the Buckeyes to wind up in either the Fiesta or Sugar Bowl. As for Boise State, who some will claim deserves a BCS berth more than the Buckeyes, consider this: Ohio State has played the #9 Strength of Schedule in the country, Boise State has played the #76 Strength of Schedule in the country. Ohio State has beaten five teams with winning records, three of which were ranked at the game time and their two losses have come to top six teams. Boise State’s only win of note was over Oregon, who can’t play defense and was down to their fourth string quarterback. The Broncos have only played (and beaten) five teams with winning records but only Oregon has more than seven wins. Simply put, Boise State doesn’t deserve a BCS berth.

Week 15: Regular Season Completed

 

#9) Utah Utes (12-0, #9)

Utah remains unaffected by all the turmoil surrounding them and is probably going to end up in the Sugar Bowl against the SEC runner up, though a Fiesta Bowl berth isn’t out of the question.

Week 15: Regular Season Completed

 

#10) Cincinnati Bearcats (10-2, #14)

Cincinnati officially clinched the Big East title with a win over hapless Syracuse and their players smartly celebrated on the field by eating oranges, signifying their likely landing spot in the Orange Bowl. Back to back ten win seasons is a huge reason to celebrate. Tennessee passing over Head Coach Brian Kelly is another. The Bearcats now have a reward 13 th game in Hawi’i to close out the regular season.

Week 15: Saturday, 11:30 PM EST at Hawai’i

 

#11) Oklahoma State Cowboys (9-3, #10)

Oklahoma State certainly gave it their all against Oklahoma, battling repeatedly to within a field goal before their defense finally collapsed and allowed the Sooners to pull away late in the 61-41 setback. That said, Oklahoma State has had one heck of a season and I don’t think losing a hard fought game like they did means that I have to drop them very far. Oklahoma State is going to be a load for whoever they play in a bowl game, probably Oregon in the Holiday Bowl.

Week 15: Regular Season Completed

 

 

NON-BCS CONFERENCE POWERS

#12) Ball State Cardinals (12-0, #15)

Ball State finished up an undefeated regular season and now must only defeat an average Buffalo team to finish up a 13-0 season. As for a bowl destination, expect Ball State to find a way to play Boise State, maybe even in the Motor City Bowl.

Week 15: MAC TITLE GAME, Friday, 8:00 PM EST versus Buffalo

 

#13) Boise State Broncos (12-0, #17)

Boise State romped Fresno State and is now unbeaten for the 2 nd time in three years. Rumors swirl now that the Broncos want to face off against Ball State in their bowl game to have a big matchup of unbeaten teams. With the Big Ten moving up a slot in all their bowl games now that it appears that Ohio State is going to a BCS bowl, the Motor City Bowl could be a likely destination. It is a smart move for the Broncos, who face a win-win proposition with a matchup against Ball State. Either way, a non-BCS team will emerge unbeaten and allow the Broncos to continue getting ranked very high despite a Strength of Schedule that ranks #76 in the country. I am not sold on the Broncos whatsoever right now. In fact, if Boise State was in a BCS conference, do you know who they would be? Colorado. The Buffaloes are currently coached by Boise State’s program architect, Dan Hawkins, and feature as much, if not more, talent than the Broncos. Yet they play a much tougher schedule and have to battle attrition throughout the season. Boise State is Colorado with an easier schedule.

Week 15:Regular Season Completed

 

#14) Texas Christian Horned Frogs (10-2, #16)

TCU has been finished for a week and awaits their bowl bid. Expect the Horned Frogs to be a tough matchup for anyone because of their excellent defense.

Week 15: Regular Season Completed

 

 

THE BEST OF THE REST

#15) Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (9-3, #23)

Georgia Tech ran for over 400 yards Between the Hedges at Sanford Stadium on Saturday and in the process ended a seven year losing run to archrival Georgia. As I predicted leading into the game, I felt that Georgia Tech’s offense would run all over a Georgia run defense than had struggled during the last month and would prevent Matthew Stafford and company from getting into a lot of rhythm. Tech won this game in the 3 rd quarter, when they scored 23 points, controlled the ball for most of the quarter and outrushed Georgia 203-1. Georgia Tech might not be the ACC champion this year but they are the conference’s best team and will get to play another SEC foe in a virtual home game in the Chik-Fil-A Bowl.

Week 15: Regular Season Complete

 

#16) Michigan State Spartans (9-3, #18)

Michigan State probably moved up from the Outback Bowl to the Capital One Bowl with Oregon State’s loss. That means that instead of running into a struggling SEC foe like South Carolina or LSU, the Spartans get to play a pretty good Georgia team. However, Michigan State’s solid rushing attack could match up well against Georgia’s struggling run defense. A ten win season is on the line for both teams January 1 st.

Week 15: Regular Season Complete

 

#17) Georgia Bulldogs (9-3, #12)

Georgia fans are not happy right now. After a summer of expectation, the Bulldog faithful expected nothing less than a run at a National Title. Instead, the Bulldogs sit at 9-3 and have lost to rivals Florida and Georgia Tech. Georgia now finds itself backing into the Capital One Bowl and could make my preseason prediction of a four loss season come true if they don’t handle Michigan State in a game where the Bulldogs will be favored.

Week 15: Regular Season Complete

 

#18) Missouri Tigers (9-3, #11)

Missouri battled archrival Kansas in a snowy and cold Arrowhead Stadium last Saturday. Despite spotting Kansas a big early lead, Mizzou fought back and had the Jayhawks down to their last play before Kansas scored on a 4 th down play to take a three point lead. With less than a minute left, Chase Daniel drove the Tigers into position for a long tying field goal but the Jayhawks got a piece of the ball and Missouri fell 40-37. The Tigers still have a chance to wash the bad taste out of their mouth when they get a rematch of last year’s Big XII Title Game against Oklahoma. However this year the roles are reversed and Missouri now has the chance to play spoiler. The Tigers will look to return the favor to the Sooners and ruin Oklahoma’s chance to play for the National Title.

Week 15: BIG XII TITLE GAME, Saturday, 8:00 PM EST versus #4 Oklahoma

 

#19) Northwestern Wildcats (9-3, #19)

Northwestern, like the rest of the Big Ten’s bowl eligible teams, moved up in the pecking order. The Wildcats are probably ticketed for an Outback Bowl matchup with LSU a week after an Alamo or Champs Sports Bowl seemed more likely.

Week 15:Regular Season Complete

 

#20) Pittsburgh Panthers (8-3, #20)

Pittsburgh did their best to beat themselves but somehow pulled out a 19-15 win in the Backyard Brawl against archrival West Virginia. Untimely and stupid turnovers combined with an officiating crew which seemed to have it out for the Panthers nearly cost them the game but Pitt has now won two in a row against their hates rivals. A win this week against UConn probably sews up a Gator Bowl bid for Dave Wannstedt’s team.

Week 15: Saturday, 12:00 PM EST at Connecticut

 

#21) Oregon Ducks (9-3, #22)

Oregon fans have to be jubilant right now. Their victory in the Civil War absolutely ruined their archrival’s season and their dominating 65-38 win probably puts them into the Holiday Bowl against Oklahoma State. We could see 100 points in that game between the two teams.

Week 15: Regular Season Complete

 

#22) Iowa Hawkeyes (8-4, #23)

Iowa continues the Big Ten trend of moving into better bowl position thanks to the Ducks’ victory. The Hawkeyes now seem to be a virtual lock to play in the Alamo Bowl against Missouri unless the Tigers stun everyone against Oklahoma. Iowa was one of the country’s hottest teams down the stretch and will definitely be a difficult bowl opponent.

Week 15: Regular Season Complete

 

#23) Boston College Eagles (9-3, #25)

Boston College has definitely been a huge surprise this year. In my ACC preview, I picked them to finish last in their division yet the Eagles will face off against Virginia Tech in the ACC Title Game for the second consecutive season and could win ten games for the third consecutive season. Coach Jeff Jagodzinski definitely has built a solid program in Chestnut Hill.

Week 15: ACC TITLE GAME, Saturday, 1:00 PM EST versus Virginia Tech

 

#24) Ole Miss Rebels (8-4, Not Ranked)

Ole Miss is the lone new entrant into the rankings this week, coming off of a 45-0 thumping of archrival Mississippi State in the Egg Bowl. While I had the Rebels finishing 5-3 in SEC play during the preseason, very few other people expected much from Houston Nutt in his first season in Oxford. The Rebels are a virtual certainty to play in the Cotton Bowl and have been a bright light for the SEC in a what has been a difficult season for many of their big name programs.

Week 15: Regular Season Complete

 

#25) Oregon State Beavers (8-4, #13)

Oregon State’s defense forgot to show up for their biggest game in half a century. Literally half of a century since the Beavers played in the Rose Bowl and a defense that allowed mighty USC to score only 21 points and held Arizona’s explosive offense to 17 points last week gives up SIXTY FIVE points AT HOME? Oregon State has had a great year but it will take a very long time to get the bitter taste of this Civil War blowout out of their mouths.

Week 15: Regular Season Complete

 

 

TEN MORE TO KEEP AN EYE ON

  • California Golden Bears
  • Nebraska Cornhuskers
  • Virginia Tech Hokies
  • BYU Cougars
  • West Virginia Mountaineers
  • Florida State Seminoles
  • Maryland Terrapins
  • Tulsa Golden Hurricane
  • Air Force Falcons
  • Rice Owls

 

CONFERENCE BREAKDOWN

The Big XII will have to share the headlines this week as the conference championships approach. The SEC boasts a #1 vs #2 match up in their title game and despite a tough weekend improved its standing in the top 25. The tally now stands at 4 ranked teams for the SEC with the entry of Ole Miss at #24. The Big XII and Big Ten still hold court with five teams apiece while the Pac Ten has three. The Big East, Mountain West, and ACC each boast two teams while the MAC and WAC each have one.

 

 

By Matt Baxendell
CollegeSports-fans.com Staff Writer

Matt Baxendell is collegesports-fans.com’s top 25 guru. Feel free to tell him how wrong his rankings are by emailing him at matt.baxendell @ gmail.com with all your questions, comments, and anything else you would like to share.

 


 


 

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