2008 NCAA College Football Top 25: Top 25 After Week #4
Another week, another big shakeup in the rankings. Oregon loses its quarterback and gets knocked off at home, Auburn blows a late lead to LSU, Florida State shows that they have zero offense and a ton of defense, Florida dominates a rival on the road and that’s just a small microcosm of what was an exciting week four.
I also have one more mea culpa to confess here. In my rankings from last week, I somehow left Alabama out when I had them ranked at number 15 on my spreadsheet. They’re back, so please no more hate mail, Tide fans. Thanks.
THE NATIONAL TITLE SHORT LIST
#1) Southern Cal Trojans (2-0, #1 Last Week)
USC had the week off to relax and watch some games after knocking off Ohio State. The Trojans had better be careful about their Pac Ten slate now that they’re number one, seeing that they’ve lost two Pac Ten games in both of the last two years. They start off with a tough road night game at Oregon State this Thursday.
Week 5: Thursday, 9:00 PM EST at Oregon State
#2) Oklahoma Sooners (3-0, #2)
Oklahoma enjoyed a week off to prepare for a long-awaited revenge game against TCU. Four years ago, TCU stunned the Sooners on opening day and Oklahoma has been waiting for this game ever since. Look for the Sooners to finish off an impressive non-conference run with yet another dominating win.
Week 5: Saturday, 7:00 PM EST versus Texas Christian
#3) Florida Gators (3-0, #3)
Florida absolutely dominated Tennessee this past weekend and is now the firm favorite to win the SEC East. While the Gators still didn’t demonstrate much of a rushing attack outside of Harvin & Tebow, their defense stepped up in a big way and Florida appears to be one of the most complete teams in the country.
Week 5: Saturday, 12:30 PM EST versus Mississippi State
#4) Penn State (4-0, #5)
Penn State dominated Temple by a 45-3 margin. So, why move them up for drilling a patsy? Well, compare this win with Missouri’s 42-21 win over Buffalo, a very similar team to Temple. Missouri’s defense has shown me far too many holes against so-so opposition and was drilled by a decent, at best, offense in their opener against Illinois. Penn State has looked rock solid and is definitely a national-championship caliber team. The Nittany Lions will get a great chance to prove it in their Big Ten opener against Illinois this weekend.
Week 5: Saturday, 8:00 PM EST versus Illinois
IN THE NATIONAL TITLE DISCUSSION
#5)Missouri (4-0, #4)
Well, after weeks of underwhelming defense, I’m convinced that Missouri is going to drop a game or two against top tier opposition. The Tigers have a great offense, but what happens when that offense gets shut down? I don’t know that Missouri’s defense can handle it. However, the Tigers’ offense is exceptional, so they remain a very dangerous top five team.
Week 5: Off Week (At Nebraska Week 6)
#6)Texas Longhorns (3-0, #6)
Colt McCoy continued his excellent run to begin the year as the Longhorns dismantled Rice. Texas had an unexpected week off after Hurricane Ike and that delayed this upcoming week’s game against Arkansas. Well, now the game is back on for the Longhorns and they face their first BCS opposition of the season when the Razorbacks come to town.
Week 5: Saturday, 3:30 PM EST versus Arkansas
#7)Texas Tech Red Raiders (4-0, #7)
Texas Tech finished their very weak non-conference schedule by dismantling D-1AA UMass 56-14. Now, the time has come for the Red Raiders to begin Big XII play and live up to my expectations. Expect Tech’s unorthodox coach, Mike Leach, to use the off week to have his team ready for their conference opener against Kansas State.
Week 5: Off Week (At Kansas State Week 6)
#8)Wisconsin Badgers (3-0, #8)
Wisconsin enjoyed a week off before beginning Big Ten play with a visit to the Big House. The Badgers should dominate an overmatched and rebuilding Michigan team before playing their toughest two conference games, hosting Ohio State and Penn State in back to back weeks.
Week 5: Saturday, 3:30 PM EST at Michigan
#9) Georgia Bulldogs (4-0, #9)
Georgia did a good job in the Arizona heat dismantling Arizona State. True freshman AJ Green might already be the Bulldogs’ best receiver and Georgia lived up to my expectations in the blowout. Now, Georgia faces another tough test when the Alabama Crimson Tide come to town this weekend after the Bulldogs beat them in overtime last year.
Week 5: Saturday, 7:45 PM EST versus Alabama
#10)Louisiana State Tigers (3-0, #11)
LSU definitely surprised me with their comeback 26-21 win at Auburn. Once Andrew Hatch went down with what appeared to be a concussion, freshman Jarrett Lee rallied the Tigers with some stellar play and LSU appears to be the early favorite for the SEC West. The Tigers continue SEC play this weekend when the host the Mississippi State Bulldogs.
Week 5: Saturday, 8:00 PM EST versus Mississippi State
#11) Ohio State Buckeyes (3-1, #12)
Ohio State began the Terrelle Pryor era in earnest, giving the true frosh phenom most of the snaps against Troy. Pryor responded by tossing 4 TD passes and running for over 70 yards in the Buckeyes’ 28-10 rout. Ohio State could get Beanie Wells back this week, which will breathe a ton of life into the Buckeyes just in time for Big Ten play.
Week 5: Saturday, 12:00 PM EST versus Minnesota
#12) Alabama Crimson Tide (4-0, #15)
Alabama was really impressive in dominating a bad Arkansas team on the road, embarrassing Bobby Petrino’s team by a 49-14 margin. Alabama has the chance of the season to make a big statement in conference play when they travel to face off against Georgia. Expectations will go from unrealistic to quasi-possible if the Tide wins a huge road game this week.
Week 5: Saturday, 7:45 PM EST at Georgia
#13) South Florida Bulls (4-0, #13)
South Florida overcame a really scary injury to linebacker Brouce Mompremier, who was airlifted off the field to a Miami Hospital, to edge FIU 17-9. USF didn’t really impress before the injury, but like Mompremier, who appears to have escaped anything exceptionally severe, the Bulls endured. USF can’t give performances like this one in Big East play and they’re only in the national title discussion at this point because they’re clearly the class of a poor conference, so an undefeated season is certainly a possibility. The Bulls have a tough road test this week against a high-flying NC State team who just knocked off East Carolina.
Week 5: Saturday, 7:30 PM EST at NC State.
OUTSIDE THE NATIONAL TITLE DISCUSSION BUT DANGEROUS
#14) Wake Forest (3-0, #18)
Wake Forest really tried to lose the game against Florida State. Really, they did. They couldn’t score a touchdown, missed a couple of field goals and couldn’t convert on 4 th down in the red zone. However, their defense was quite impressive and a 12-3 victory against a tough FSU defense in Tallahassee is pretty impressive. They’re clearly the ACC’s best team at this point.
Week 5: Saturday, 3:45 PM EST versus Navy.
#15) Auburn Tigers (3-1, #14)
The Tigers suffered a really tough loss to a good team at home this week. However, Chris Todd played fairly well and their offense showed some signs of life. The defense is quite strong and Auburn should rebound nicely this week when Tennessee comes to town.
Week 5:Saturday, 3:30 PM EST versus Tennessee
#16) Illinois Fighting Illini (2-1, #17)
Illinois enjoyed an off week after getting a scare from UL-Lafayette before beginning Big Ten play. If Illinois doesn’t improve on defense, then their Big Ten opener at Penn State could be a very tough game.
Week 5: Saturday, 8:00 PM EST at Penn State
#17) Brigham Young (4-0, #19)
Does two straight wins by a combined 103-0 margin impress you? I certainly am enthralled by BYU’s offense and their defense has been great. However, I still remember their win at Washington by the skin of their teeth so I’m a little hesitant to raise them up any higher. The Cougars have an off week before continuing conference play.
Week 5:Off Week (at Utah State Week 6)
#18) Utah Utes (4-0, #18)
Utah snuck out a close win at Air Force, winning 30-23 on a late touchdown. Air Force, who appears a little bit better than I thought in the preseason, was a tough test but the Utes will play the rest of the year with a lot of pressure on their backs. After all, they’re co-favorites with rival BYU to be this year’s BCS busters.
Week 5:Saturday 8:00 PM EST versus Weber State (D-1AA)
#19) Kansas (3-1, #20)
Kansas rebounded from a tough loss at USF two weeks ago by blowing out D-1AA Sam Houston State. The Jayhawks begin conference play after an off week by traveling to Big XII North weakling Iowa State.
Week 5:Off Week (at Iowa State Week 6)
#20) Michigan State (3-1, #24)
The Spartans employed an excellent run attack, based on Javon Ringer’s 200+ yards and two TDs. Granted, they played really well against a so-so Notre Dame team but Michigan State has the defense and running attack to be a dangerous team this fall. The Spartans are a darkhorse Big Ten team this fall.
Week 5: Saturday, 12:00 PM EST at Indiana
#21) Clemson (3-1, #22)
Clemson shut out D-1AA South Carolina State after a slow start and ended up winning 54-0. The Tigers continue ACC play this weekend with a visit from Maryland and the Tigers are still working on rebuilding their reputation after their opening debacle against Alabama.
Week 5: Saturday, 12:00 PM EST versus Maryland
#22)Oregon (3-1, #11)
Oregon had a tough game against Boise State, losing 37-32. While I’m sure it could be argued that the Ducks definitely missed QB Justin Roper, the Ducks still got their offensive act together and it wasn’t their offense that cost them the game. In fact, Oregon nearly lost last week at an average Purdue team before sneaking out an overtime win. Oregon doesn’t seem to be much of a challenge to USC in the Pac Ten after watching the past two weeks, but they still have an explosive offense and their defense should get healthy against terrible Washington State this weekend.
Week 5: Saturday, 6:15 PM EST at Washington State
#23) Miami Hurricanes (2-1, Not Ranked)
Miami went on the road for their second BCS non-conference game and impressed again. However, unlike their 26-3 loss to Florida, the Hurricanes left Texas A&M with an impressive 42-23 win and they move into my rankings for the first time this year. With the current state of the ACC, Miami appears to have as good of a chance as anyone to compete for a conference crown, beginning this week with the Butch Davis Bowl against UNC.
Week 5: Saturday, 12:00 PM EST versus North Carolina
#24) Fresno State (2-1, Not Ranked)
Fresno State followed up a tough loss to Wisconsin by traveling across the country and knocking off Toledo in double overtime by a 55-54 mark. While Fresno definitely didn’t play their best game, they showed a lot of moxie sneaking out another win over 2,000 miles from home and are definitely a very dangerous WAC team. They have a great chance for a local statement with when they travel to UCLA this weekend.
Week 5: Saturday, 3:30 PM EST at UCLA
#25) East Carolina Pirates (3-1, #16)
East Carolina’s BCS dream is over after suffering a tough 30-24 overtime loss at North Carolina State. The Pirates have to be commended for having a non-conference slate that features 3 ACC teams and West Virginia, but I’m afraid that Skip Holtz’s team might have bit off more than it could chew. East Carolina is still the favorite to win the C-USA and they continue conference play as they visit disappointing Houston this weekend.
Week 5: Saturday, 3:30 PM EST at Houston
TEN MORE TO KEEP AN EYE ON IN 2008
The Big XII and SEC each have five teams ranked and four of them are teams I consider to have a shot at the national championship. The Big Ten is the third best conference in my rankings, featuring five teams as well, three of which fit into the National picture. The ACC has only three teams, none of which are going to factor in the national title race, while the Pac Ten only has two teams, though USC is my #1 team. The Big East has a very lonely USF team as its only representative, less than the Mountain West which has two teams. C-USA and the WAC also have a single team. Clearly, the deepest conferences seem to be the SEC, Big XII and Big Ten. You certainly have to wonder about the Big East’s strength this year.
By Matt Baxendell
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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