2008 NCAA College Football Top 25: Top 25 After Week #6
This was a much calmer week than last week’s tumult and upheaval, but there were a lot of very good matchups which told us a lot about some of the major contenders. Many of the top-flight teams did a good job focusing on the task at hand instead of looking ahead to major matchups next week (Good job Texas, Oklahoma, and Florida).
We also learned about a couple of teams who succeeded in tough road environments (Hello, Ohio State, Illinois, and Mizzou) and a couple who didn’t (Goodbye Auburn and Oregon). Overall, many teams have played half of their schedule, but we still only have half of a clue who is going to be standing at the end. I also got a lot of flack last week for ranking Penn State ahead of Alabama. I wonder if I’ll get the same outrage this week after Bama’s awful showing at home? On to the Week #6 Top 25 rankings @ CollegeSports-fans.com.
THE NATIONAL TITLE SHORT LIST
#1)Oklahoma Sooners (5-0, #1 Last Week)
Oklahoma absolutely dominated at Baylor from the get-go, running up a 28-0 advantage before you could blink. There’s not much to say about this game, the Sooners beat a bad team and now get to look forward to the Red River Shootout, a game which is going to have huge National Title implications.
Week 7: Saturday, 12:00 PM EST versus Texas (At Dallas)
#2) Penn State Nittany Lions (6-0, #2)
Penn State played an odd game against Purdue this week. Despite the fact that the Nittany Lions were dominant, they kept slipping up (literally) near the goal line or first down marker and only scored 20 points. However, their defense was excellent and Purdue missed two long field goals before scoring a meaningless garbage time touchdown against the backups. Penn State now has to focus on traveling to Wisconsin to face a desperate Badger team that sees their season slipping away.
Week 7: Saturday, 8:00 PM EST at Wisconsin
#3) Texas Longhorns (5-0, #4)
Texas was supposed to play a trap game this weekend at a dangerous Colorado team. The thinking was that the Longhorns would be looking ahead to their grudge match against Oklahoma, giving the Buffaloes a chance. Wrong. 38-14 is an impressive win in Boulder. Now, the Horns’ season will be defined by their big game against Oklahoma this weekend.
Week 7: Saturday, 12:00 PM EST versus Oklahoma (At Dallas)
#4) Missouri Tigers (5-0, #5))
Missouri hadn’t won in Lincoln in thirty years before burying the Cornhuskers 52-17 last week. Very impressive, to say the least. Chase Daniel has to be the clear front-runner for the Heisman Trophy and Mizzou now enters its toughest stretch of the season. First up: Offensive juggernaut Oklahoma State.
Week 7: Saturday, 8:00 PM EST versus Oklahoma State
#5) Alabama Crimson Tide (6-0, #3)
Well, I thought Alabama would have a let-down game this week. However, I didn’t see the let down being so big that the Tide had to rely on 10 gift points from Kentucky to even win the game! While the Tide defense was excellent like usual, John Parker Wilson and the Bama offense looked much more like last year’s version than the team that shellacked Georgia. Saban had better work on regaining his group’s focus during the off week.
Week 7: Off Week (versus Ole Miss Week 8)
IN THE NATIONAL TITLE DISCUSSION
#6) Texas Tech Red Raiders (5-0, #6)
Texas Tech put up 58 points. Ho Hum. They beat hapless Kansas State by a 58-28 margin, which is nice, but their defense is going to have to slow some teams down eventually if this big ranking is going to hold up. Texas Tech should continue its offensive explosion against Nebraska, who just gave up 52 to Missouri.
Week 7: Saturday, 3:00 PM EST versus Nebraska
#7) Southern California Trojans (3-1, #8)
Southern Cal has a very Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde attitude. Dr. Jekyll shows up at Oregon State and was lounging around the Coliseum for the first quarter and a half last night as the Trojans stared at a 10-3 deficit. Then the potion wore off and USC ran off 41 unanswered points to absolutely destroy a pretty decent Oregon team. When they’re on, they’re as good as anyone, the question is: Will they have another letdown this fall?
Week 7: Saturday, 3:30 PM EST versus Arizona State
#8) Louisiana State Tigers (4-0, #7)
LSU had the week off and hopefully spent the time working on their anemic offense. Seriously, Charles Scott is going to get hurt if he has to carry the offense every week. LSU faces its toughest test of the season against one of the SEC’s best teams when they travel to Gainesville to face Florida in their annual rivalry game.
Week 7: Saturday, 8:00 PM EST at Florida
#9) Ohio State Buckeyes (5-1, #9)
Ohio State’s 20-17 win at Wisconsin can be viewed in two ways. One is that Ohio State went into the snake pit at Camp Randall and beat a dangerous and angry team to move to 2-0 in conference play. The other train of thought is that Ohio State’s offense is far too one dimensional with Terrelle Pryor in charge and their defense isn’t aggressive enough to carry the team the rest of the way. Either way, Pryor will continue to improve and Beanie Wells, who ran for over 160 yards, will continue to get healthier, making Ohio State very dangerous once everything starts firing on all cylinders.
Week 7: Saturday, 3:30 PM EST versus Purdue
#10) Florida Gators (4-1, #10)
Florida came out fairly lethargic against Arkansas, letting the Razorbacks hang around for a half before turning on the jets and burying the SEC’s worst team by a 38-7 margin. Florida now has a very tough game in the swamp against LSU, the first top ten team the Gators face this fall.
Week 7: Saturday, 8:00 PM EST versus LSU
#11) Brigham Young Cougars (5-0, #12)
BYU played one of the easiest games that any top 25 team will face all year when they traveled to hapless Utah State. The Cougar’s 34-14 win was nice they still haven’t faced a test against a decent team all year. Look at their two ‘big’ games: Washington, who could have easily beaten them, is 0-5 and UCLA is a poor 2-3. BYU welcomes New Mexico who probably won’t pose a threat to the Cougars, and should easily move to 6-0 next week.
Week 7: Saturday, 6:00 PM EST versus New Mexico
#12) Georgia Bulldogs (4-1, #13)
Georgia had the week off to heal their bumps and bruises, which was probably a very good thing considering that Knowshon Moreno might not have played last weekend if there was a game. Georgia continues a very tough stretch of games by welcoming Tennessee to town. On the surface, this looks like a laugher, but Tennessee has won 3 of the last 4 against Georgia and their defense is dangerous, so the Bulldogs had better not overlook the Volunteers.
Week 7: Saturday, 3:30 PM EST versus Tennessee
OUTSIDE THE NATIONAL TITLE DISCUSSION BUT DANGEROUS
#13) Oklahoma State (5-0, #23)
How loaded is the Big XII South? Oklahoma State is probably the 4 th best team and they check into my rankings as the #13 team in the country after their 56-28 demolition of Texas A&M. The Cowboys have to qualify as one of the most dangerous teams in the country with their explosive offense and they have their first chance to make a huge impact when they face equally explosive Missouri this weekend in a game which could feature over 100 points between the two teams.
Week 7: Saturday, 8:00 PM EST at Missouri
#14) Utah Utes (6-0, #15)
I hate to move Utah up after they beat Oregon State 31-28 in a game that they really had no business winning. However, the Utes did a very good job of fighting back and their excellent kicker, Louie Sakoda, came through in the clutch. Utah has a pretty clear path now to being 11-0 when facing rival BYU at the end of the year. That path begins with a road trip to the highest football field above sea level in America to face the Wyoming Cowboys.
Week 7: Saturday, 2:00 PM EST at Wyoming
#15) Michigan State Spartans (5-1, #18)
Michigan State’s defense showed incredible fortitude fighting off a determined Iowa team. Michigan State reminds me a lot of a poor man’s version of the 2002 Ohio State team which won a National Title. That should come as no surprise, seeing that MSU’s coach, Mark Dantonio, was the defensive coordinator on that Ohio State team. Michigan State is very dangerous and will give every single team it faces this fall a very tough game.
Week 7: Saturday, 3:30 PM EST at Northwestern
#16) Illinois Fighting Illini (4-2, #20)
Illinois did exactly what I expected them to do: Dominate Michigan at home when the Wolverines clearly lucked into a victory the week before. There were two things deceiving about this game: One: Illinois has lost twice, but they were to the #2 and #4 teams in the country and both games were away from Champaign and Two: Michigan is clearly terrible on offense and will be lucky to go 6-6. Anyone who though otherwise looks foolish right now. Illinois is a very dangerous team and should beat underrated 5-1 Minnesota on the road this weekend.
Week 7: Saturday, 12:00 PM EST at Minnesota
#17) Kansas Jayhawks (4-1, #17)
Kansas was off last week and also decided to take the first half off this past weekend against Iowa State, building up a 20-0 deficit! The Jayhawks came back but it was interesting to the end, as they eked out a 35-33 win in Ames. However, road wins are tough and 35 points in a half shows some impressive fortitude by Mark Man Giant’s team. The Jayhawks face another tough game this week as Colorado come to town.
Week 7:Saturday, 12:30 PM EST versus Colorado
#18) North Carolina Tar Heels (4-1, Not Ranked)
North Carolina was my #1 team outside of the top 25 last week and they reinforced my belief that they’re in for a great year by blowing out UConn 38-12. North Carolina is a strong team that all of a sudden looks like a legitimate threat to win their division. Remember, this team is one TJ Yates injury versus Virginia Tech away from being unbeaten. Butch Davis’ team can build their ranking even further by knocking off Notre Dame this week when the Irish come to Chapel Hill.
Week 7:Saturday 3:30 PM EST versus Notre Dame
#19) Northwestern Wildcats (5-0, #24)
Northwestern had the week off after winning their Big Ten opener at Iowa two weeks ago. The Wildcats feature an underrated defense and a good, veteran offense but they face their stiffest test of the season this week when Michigan State and Javon Ringer come to town. I will be very impressed with the Wildcats if they win this game.
Week 7: Saturday, 3:30 PM EST versus Michigan State
#20) South Florida Bulls (5-1, #11)
South Florida was beat up physically last Thursday as visiting Pitt came to town and left with a 26-21 win. South Florida now finds itself behind the eight ball in the Big East race and out of the National Title picture. Furthermore, they had a lot of trouble slowing down Pitt on the lines of scrimmage, never a good sign. The Bulls have a week off to lick their wounds before getting back into the swing of things.
Week 7: Off Week (versus Syracuse Week 8)
#21) Wisconsin Badgers (2-2, #16)
Wisconsin had another really tough loss this week, falling at home to Ohio State on a late touchdown. When you look at this Wisconsin team, you have to wonder how good it could be if they only had a competent quarterback, because the rest of the team is quite talented. If the Badgers don’t beat Penn State this week, Brett Bielema might have to look to the future and start playing some of his younger guys, because Alan Evridge is nothing more than a game manager and a poor one at that.
Week 7: Saturday, 8:00 PM EST versus Penn State
#22)Vanderbilt Commodores (5-0, Not Ranked)
Vanderbilt entered last weekend last in the SEC in total offense and total defense. Luckily for them, Auburn is absolutely awful on offense and the Commodores escaped with a 14-13 victory to move to 3-0 in SEC play. Can you believe that Vanderbilt is on top of the SEC East in October?
Week 7: Off Week (At Georgia Week 8)
#23) Virginia Tech Hokies (5-1, #22)
Virginia Tech put up 35 points last week at Nebraska in a newfound show of good offensive play. Then, they follow that up by only beating weakling Western Kentucky by a 27-13 margin at home? The Hokies are very lucky that TJ Yates was injured for UNC earlier this year or they’d be out of it already.
Week 7: Off Week (At Boston College Week 8)
#24) Wake Forest Demon Deacons (3-1, #25)
Wake Forest probably got worked physically to their limit after losing at home to Navy two weeks ago. This week, they have a good test on Thursday night against a dangerous Clemson team, which doesn’t win when it is supposed to, but knocks off teams that it shouldn’t. Wake Forest had better be ready for a tough Thursday Night showdown.
Week 7: Thursday, 7:30 PM EST versus Clemson
#25) Florida State Seminoles (4-1, NR)
Florida State won a hard-fought game against archrival Miami by a 41-39 margin in a monsoon. The awful conditions definitely helped Miami get back in the game because Florida State’s defense was actually pretty stout and the Hurricanes got a lot of points off of turnovers and special teams once the rain began to fall. When the weather was nice, this game wasn’t even close. FSU has come a long way from its complete ineffectiveness on offense against Wake Forest three weeks ago.
Week 7: Off Week (At NC State Week 8)
TEN MORE TO KEEP AN EYE ON IN 2008
The Big XII only moved up in strength this week, featuring six teams in the top seventeen! The Big XII had 9 of the top 20 quarterbacks nationally in terms of quarterback rankings and Texas Tech’s Graham Harrell wasn’t one of them. The Big XII looks to be the best conference in the country right now, hands down. The Big Ten was next with six ranked teams as well, but only two were in the top ten. The SEC checked in with 5 teams, including four in the top 12. The ACC improved its standing, with four teams, but none were ranked higher than number 18. The Mountain West bested the Pac Ten again, featuring two teams while the Pac Ten and Big East only had one team apiece in the Top 25.
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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