2008 NCAA College Football Top 25: Top 25 After Week #2
This week was supposed to be boring, eh? Well, with the myriad of scares and upsets, week two turned out to be a rather exciting weekend. The biggest upset of the day was no doubt in Greenville, North Carolina, where East Carolina upset West Virginia to move to 2-0 against BCS competition this season. Don’t be surprised if ECU ends up in a BCS game this fall, as they’ve likely played their toughest opponents already.
However, the most meaningful game, to me, was Penn State’s thrashing of Oregon State. All the ingredients were there for an upset: Suspended players, distractions with off-field incidents leading up the game and a hungry and angry opponent coming to town off of a tough loss. Yet, the Nittany Lions absolutely demolished the Beavers after seemingly half of the national media called for the upset and I’m even more certain that I was correct in giving them a very lofty early ranking.
THE 2008 NATIONAL TITLE SHORT LIST
#1) Oklahoma Sooners (2-0, #1 Last Week)
Oklahoma acquitted itself well in the first week atop my rankings, downing visiting Big East opponent Cincinnati by a 52-26 margin. As usual, Sam Bradford was excellent, throwing for 395 yards and 5 TDs to fuel the rout. Oklahoma has begun the year with 109 points in two games at home and is more than ready to hit the road for their first game of they year away from the friendly confines of Memorial Stadium.
Week 3: Saturday, 7:45 PM EST at Washington
#2) Florida Gators (2-0, #3)
Florida was fairly underwhelming against Miami on Saturday night, nursing a 9-3 lead into the 4 th quarter before waking up to turn the game into a 26-3 rout. However, I move them up over the Buckeyes because an underwhelming win against Miami is better than an underwhelming win against Ohio. Florida’s defense was also very impressive, allowing only 140 total yards of offense to the Hurricanes. Still, the Gators’ inability to run the ball with anyone not named Tebow or Harvin is a bad omen for the Swamp Things.
Week 3: Off Week (at Tennessee Week 4)
#3) Ohio State Buckeyes (2-0, #2)
Ohio State came out very flat against the Ohio Bobcats and was actually losing at half by a 7-6 margin before waking up and finishing with a 26-14 victory. There are two opinions that you can have on this game: 1) Ohio State is vastly overrated and is a terrible team that will get murdered this week by USC or 2) Ohio State spent far too much time looking forward to USC and didn’t give Ohio the proper respect they deserved. I’m fully in camp two, as Ohio State’s defense came out and played quite well and once the offensive line woke up in the second half, the Buckeyes dominated even though they ran the ball nearly every play. Ohio State should head out to USC fully aware of the effort and preparation required to win a game in which the winner surely will emerge as the #1 team in the country.
Week 3: Saturday, 8:00 PM EST at Southern California
#4) Southern California Trojans (2-0, #4)
USC had a nice week off to watch Ohio State struggle against not-so-mighty Ohio. The real question is whether USC will now underestimate the Buckeyes after their weak showing at home. I would expect Pete Carroll to nip that in the bud real quick and focus on his offensive line’s protection schemes because the OSU D-Line versus the USC O-Line is the matchup that will define this week’s game.
Week 3: Saturday, 8:00 PM EST versus Ohio State
#5) Missouri Tigers (2-0, #5)
Missouri romped against D-1AA Southeast Missouri by a 52-3 margin behind a near-flawless performance from Chase Daniel (16-17 passing for 245 yards and 3 TDs). However, the only major point that can be taken from this game is that Mizzou’s superstar Mr. Everything, Jeremy Maclin, is healthy and ready to go the rest of the season. That’s very good news for the Tigers.
Week 3: Saturday 12:30 PM EST versus Nevada
#6) Penn State Nittany Lions (2-0, #6)
Like I said above, Penn State’s rout of Oregon State is the biggest news of the weekend to me and with that win I’m officially vaulting them into the National Title shortlist category. Penn State rang up 45 points and 240 yards rushing mostly in the first half! Darryl Clark was impressive again, passing for over 200 yards and 2 TDs and rushing for 61 yards and another TD. Tailback Evan Royster ran for 140 yards and 3 TDs. America is officially on notice: Penn State is for real. Expect the Nittany Lions to drill Syracuse this weekend.
Week 3: Saturday, 3:30 EST at Syracuse
IN THE 2008 NATIONAL TITLE DISCUSSION
#7) Texas Longhorns (2-0, #8)
Texas was again impressive, this week on the road at UTEP. Colt McCoy dominated for the second straight week as the Longhorns reeled off a 42-13 victory in El Paso. Texas’ defense was again solid and has impressed me after I had such low expectations for them entering the year. Texas has their first BCS test this weekend when historical rival Arkansas rolls into town.
Week 3: Saturday, 3:30 EST versus Arkansas
#8) Texas Tech Red Raiders (2-0, #7)
Texas Tech did a lot of good things in Week 2. They won a game on the road. They ran up 35 points. They ran for three touchdowns. However, their defense, the reason I expected this year to be so good in Lubbock, allowed nearly 500 yards of offense and 16 points to a decent-at-best Nevada team! Star QB Graham Harrell only threw for 1 TD versus two picks. Texas Tech hasn’t really impressed me in the first two weeks and as a result, they drop.
Week 3: Saturday, 7:00 PM EST versus SMU
#9) Wisconsin Badgers (2-0, #9)
Wisconsin started off slow against Marshall at home, spotting the Thundering Herd a 14-0 lead before running off 51 unanswered points to finish the rout. The Badgers had a somewhat disappointing day running the ball, finishing with only 160 yards on the ground, but senior QB Allan Evridge threw for well over 300 yards and the Badger receivers made a lot of plays. Wisconsin will have to be careful not to spot Fresno State a two touchdown lead this week when they travel to California for one of the weekend’s biggest games.
Week 3: Saturday, 10:30 PM EST at Fresno State
#10) Georgia Bulldogs (2-0, #10)
Georgia had a good week, beating two time defending MAC champion CMU 56-17. Even better, Georgia appeared to stay healthy after losing DT Jeff Owens last week. Knowshon Moreno was impressive in the blowout, running for nearly 170 yards and 3 TDs. The Bulldogs now embark on one of the most difficult stretches on their schedule, traveling to South Carolina and Arizona State in back to back weeks before returning home to face the Alabama Crimson Tide. Good luck, guys.
Week 3: Saturday, 3:30 PM EST at South Carolina
#11) Oregon Ducks (2-0, #11)
So, remember when I was worried about Oregon’s offense? Well, the Ducks scored 66 points this week while beating hapless Utah State and nearly racked up 700 yards of offense! That’s absurd, folks. Oregon’s first team defense only allowed seven points and the Ducks look like one of the more complete teams in the country just in time for a big road test at Purdue.
Week 3: Saturday, 3:30 PM EST at Purdue
#12) Auburn Tigers (2-0, #14)
Auburn kicked off the year with two similar games. In both, the Tiger offense struggled while the defense suffocated the opposition. Auburn defeated Southern Miss 27-13 but the big news seems to be that Chris Todd might have won the starting position at quarterback after taking the lion’s share of the snaps. Auburn’s defense will keep them in every game and their offense should begin to grow if they’ve finally decided on a quarterback.
Week 3: Saturday, 7:00 PM EST at Mississippi State
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OUTSIDE THE NATIONAL TITLE DISCUSSION BUT DANGEROUS
#13) Louisiana State Tigers (1-0, #13)
LSU didn’t play this week after their matchup with Troy was postponed due to damages in the Baton Rouge area from Hurricane Gustav. As always, our thoughts and prayers go out to the people of Louisiana and I hope that the city will be ready for the Tigers to play this upcoming weekend.
Week 3: Saturday, 8:00 PM EST versus North Texas
#14) California Golden Bears (2-0, #14)
Cal was very impressive in their Pac Ten opener, dominating a terrible Washington State team on the road by a 66-3 score. Jahvid Best ran for 200 yards and the team ran for nearly 400 as a group while dominating the line of scrimmage. In short, Cal has scored a lot of points and is in for another big test this week as they fly across the country to face a decent Maryland team coming off of a bad loss to Middle Tennessee State.
Week 3: Saturday, 12:00 PM EST at Maryland
#15) Alabama Crimson Tide (2-0, #15)
It is only human to have a slight letdown after achieving success like the Tide did last week against Clemson. Thus, the Tide won an underwhelming game against Tulane by a 20-6 margin. While the game was never in doubt, Alabama struggled on offense, especially throwing the football and looked very little like the team that killed Clemson. Frankly, they looked a lot more like the team we all expected to see in the preseason. However, Bama still has time to get the offense back on track and a matchup with lightweight WKU this weekend should help.
Week 3: Saturday, 7:00 PM EST versus Western Kentucky
#16) Illinois Fighting Illini (1-1, #19)
Illinois rebounded from their season-opening loss to Missouri by shellacking D-1AA Eastern Illinois 47-21. Even better news for the Illini is that 14 of the EIU points were in the 4 th quarter, so the defense played well. Juice Williams had a big game running and passing his team should continue to shake off that season-opening loss this week when they host Louisiana-Lafayette.
Week 3: Saturday, 12:00 PM EST versus UL-Lafayette
#17) Kansas Jayhawks (2-0, #20)
Kansas geared up for their Friday Night showdown with USF by putting in a very workmanlike performance against Louisiana Tech, winning 29-0. Todd Reesing was again impressive with 3 TDs and 400+ yards passing and the defense was exceptional. Unlike last year, Kansas has a good non-conference game scheduled and their performance against USF could define the way the rest of their season goes.
Week 3: Friday, 8:00 PM EST at South Florida
#18) South Florida Bulls (2-0, #15)
Unlike Kansas, USF did not have an impressive warm up for their game as the Bulls struggled to a double overtime victory against rival UCF, a 31-24 margin. South Florida might have let up late, as they allowed two TDs in the final three minutes to let UCF draw even, something they certainly cannot afford to do this upcoming week against Kansas.
Week 3: Friday, 8:00 PM EST versus Kansas
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#19) East Carolina Pirates (2-0, Not Ranked)
The East Carolina magic ride continued on Saturday, as the Pirates defeated West Virginia 24-3. The most stunning part of their performance was the complete shutdown of Pat White by the Pirate defense. Skip Holtz’s team now has a clear path to a BCS bowl, with only ACC lightweight NC State on their schedule. ECU already has a significantly better resume than Hawai’i did all of last season, so running the table definitely assures them of a big money game. ECU opens up conference play in New Orleans against Tulane this week.
Week 3:Saturday, 3:30 PM EST at Tulane
#20) Arizona State Sun Devils (2-0, #24)
Arizona State was very impressive on Saturday, blowing out an improved Stanford team 41-17. ASU did a very good job in all facets of the game and a 17-3 second quarter ended any hopes that Stanford had for a second consecutive upset. The Sun Devils will look to continue their solid play against their neighbors from Las Vegas this week.
Week 3: Saturday, 10:00 PM EST versus UNLV
#21) Fresno State Bulldogs (1-0, NR)
Fresno State had the week off and probably spent Saturday watching their next opponent, Wisconsin, dominate at home. The Bulldogs have a rare home game against BCS opposition and they could really make a statement if they can knock off a top ten Wisconsin team.
Week 3: Saturday, 10:30 PM EST versus Wisconsin
#22) Clemson Tigers (1-1, #22)
Clemson rebounded well from their season-opening disappointment against Alabama by relying on their running game (which they maybe should have done against the Tide, eh?) en route to a 45-17 defeat of D-1AA The Citadel. Though The Citadel didn’t do a lot until garbage time, the Tiger defense still allowed nearly 500 yards of offense. Tommy Bowden better get back to work if the Tigers want to stay in the top 25.
Week 3: Saturday, 12:00 PM EST versus NC State
#23) Utah Utes (2-0, #23)
How does a team follow up defeating the Michigan Wolverines at home? By waxing UNLV, of course. Utah struggled in the first half while sitting tied at 14 at the break, but the second half was a different story as the Utes woke up and finished up winning by a 42-21 margin. Utah travels to in-state rival Utah State, a team they traditionally dominate, this weekend.
Week 3: Saturday, 8:00 PM EST at Utah State
#24) Wake Forest Demon Deacons (2-0, NR)
Wake Forest enters my ranking after sneaking out a win against SEC foe Ole Miss. The Demon Deacons won on a last-second field goal to nip the Rebels by a 30-28 mark. QB Riley Skinner produced his second consecutive solid game against BCS opposition, passing for 267 yards and two TDs and committing zero turnovers. Wake Forest gets next week off while it looks ahead to ACC play as sudden favorites to win the conference.
Week 3: Off Week (at Florida State Week 4)
#25) Tennessee Volunteers (0-1, #25)
Tennessee enjoyed a nice long week of furious calls into the local radio station, angry fans glaring at them around Knoxville, and brutal practices. Losing in upset fashion the week before a bye is a very tough pill to swallow. Luckily, it is a new week for the Volunteers, who need a good performance against UAB to give them some confidence when facing off against their archrivals, Florida, in week four.
Week 3: Saturday, 12:30 PM EST versus Alabama-Birmingham
TEN MORE TO KEEP AN EYE ON IN 2008
- Michigan State Spartans
- Brigham Young Cougars
- West Virginia Mountaineers
- South Carolina Gamecocks
- Ole Miss Rebels
- Iowa Hawkeyes
- UCLA Bruins
- Miami Hurricanes
- Colorado Buffaloes
- Florida State Seminoles
It was another rough weekend for the Big East, as their defending champs lost in blowout fashion to a Conference USA team and this year’s favorites barely defeated another of C-USA’s best teams, dropping their ranked total to a very lonely single entrant. Is C-USA now better than the Big East? On the positive side, the SEC lost a team but still boasts six teams while the Big XII’s five is second. The Big Ten and Pac Ten both boast four teams while the ACC picks up a new entrant in Wake Forest to bring their total up to two. Non-BCS schools from three separate conferences complete the rankings.
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!