Exploring the Polls: A Weekly Look at the College Football Top 25 #2

2 10 2007

by mr. travis

Every week, Cacophony will take a look at the top ten in the NCAA football rankings, throwing out bits of wisdom regarding which teams were screwed, who is overrated, and who is in their proper place in the scheme of things on the road to the BCS championship.

For the first time in the still young college football season, the top ten went through a tumultuous weekend, seeing several teams fall, while also seeing the top two teams flip flop in the standings in a debatable call by the voters. The weekend also saw Notre Dame continue their futility streak, bringing up more questions as to whether or not the Fighting Irish are deserving of their status when they have brought nothing to the table for well over 25 years.

Cal Wins!

The big game of the weekend was the Cal/Oregon matchup, both for the Pac 10 conference and the national championship scenario, with the winner benefiting greatly from the losses to West Virginia and Oklahoma. While watching the game, there was something that came to attention: a serious look needs to be given at the officiating that goes on at Autzen Stadium, home of the Oregon Ducks. There was a similar issue last year during the Oklahoma game, a botched official review that cost the Sooners the game and a shot at the national championship. During the game this previous weekend, there was a field goal by Cal that looked good, but was called the opposite by the officials. No replay was given, nor were there any shots from behind the goal posts for whatever reason, which if you think about it, is odd considering the amount of money Nike founder Phil Knight pumps into the university. Which is where a problem comes in, a major sports conglomerate, arguably the biggest in the world, has an invested interest in a specific program. This is not to say that there is any funny business going on, it could very well be that the crowd at Autzen is too intimidating for the refs to make a correct call, but there have been far too many questionable calls at Autzen to not raise suspicions. It becomes even more important considering the final drive by Oregon: if that field goal had been counted, their last ditch effort to score would have been moot and the way the final play ended up would have made it a far less questionable call to allow for Cal’s rise in the standings. But, as it stands, this was a game that stood up to the hype, as both teams proved that the Pac 10 is a force to be reckoned with, despite the nonsense coming out of Les Miles whose comments in the pre season only showed the lack of knowledge anyone past the Rocky Mountains has of west coast football, specifically the Pac 10.

oklahoma loss

The Oklahoma and Texas losses were surprises, yet they shouldn’t be considering both teams were most likely looking ahead to their coming matchup this weekend. Unfortunately, what could’ve been a possible national championship contender battle, has now turned into an also-ran game despite Oklahoma inexplicably clinging to the top ten. Speaking of now number 10 Oklahoma, how does a once BCS contender stay in the top ten after they lost to a 2 – 2 Colorado? Very odd indeed.

gators

Florida was another major upset, going down in the last second to Auburn by a field goal despite Urban Meyer’s attempts at icing field goal kicker Wes Bynum (who, in celebration, performed the Gator chomp pointedly at Meyer). Auburn is a good team so Florida’s drop to number nine is a bit more excusable, but still, at this point in the season is it okay to have one loss teams in the top ten? In late October or November it’s alright, but early October?

weiss

As for Notre Dame, the time has come to stop giving this team the special exceptions it has received for most of its history. Take away the exclusive television deal, the right to a BCS bowl game if they are ranked at least 15th in the poll, force them to join a conference. This team hasn’t been elite in so long one becomes hard pressed to give an exact date of such greatness. It’s a shame this school influences so much on the college football landscape when they are hardly even a blip on the radar anymore. Win a bowl game, then maybe we can discuss this supposed greatness. But, in my lifetime (which is over a quarter of a century) I have yet to see such greatness from Notre Dame and I doubt anyone will anytime soon.

And presenting this week’s Top Ten, brought to you by the AP & USA Today Polls:

LSU (#1 AP Poll/#2 USA Today Poll)

It’s somewhat curious as to how LSU jumped in the AP poll over USC, considering LSU has done little to merit such a jump. Their 34 – 9 win over Tulane was to be expected, though it was somewhat amazing their backfield only ran for 86 yards while accumulating all four touchdowns.

Next Week: A big game against Florida before another test against Kentucky. If LSU wishes to hold onto the #1 spot, winning these two games is absolutely crucial, for after that, their schedule becomes far weaker than either USC or Cal.

USC (#2 AP/#1 USA)

The drop by USC to #2 shows how little the east coast writers know of what is going on in the Pac 10. They played in a hostile environment at Washington, a team that is far better than their record indicates. Willingham’s team is on the cusp of something better than what has befallen them of late, and their tough game against the Trojans was proof of that. Regardless, the writers who were in bed before the end of the game and voted based upon the score obviously have no clue what they’re going on against. That doesn’t mean USC is unbeatable. They face a brutal schedule ahead, with Cal, Oregon, and Arizona State all on the horizon.

Next Week: Of course, before they reach the difficult part of their schedule they play the two worst Pac 10 schools, starting with Stanford before moving onto Arizona before a battle with that powerhouse Notre Dame. Then, the real season begins. So, maybe that number 2 ranking makes a bit of sense from that perspective.

Cal (#3 AP/#3 USA)

Cal’s victory over Oregon was by far the game of the week, though the last minute was something akin to the ending of Rocky II. Regardless, Cal is now a legitimate national championship contender, something that would have been unheard of six years ago in the Pre-Tedford era.

Next Week: It’s a bye week, so the chances of Cal staying at the #3 spot in the country is fairly slim, especially with the small margin of votes between Cal and Ohio State.

Ohio State (#4 AP//#4 USA)

With the Big Ten as weak as it is this year it’s somewhat surprising to see Ohio State in this spot, with their first game against a ranked opponent coming next week with #23 Purdue. Still, running back Chris Wells looked fairly impressive with his 117 yards and two touchdowns. But, no matter how many yards he runs, this team is not deserving of the #4 spot in the nation, especially with their schedule being extremely weak.

Next Week: At #23 Purdue, Ohio State may see their first tough opponent. But, probably not. Of course, if they beat Purdue by a sizable margin, look for them to leapfrog the hapless Cal Bears who are sitting idle this coming week.

Wisconsin (#5 AP/#5 USA)

For a top 5 team, none of Wisconsin’s victories have been particularly impressive. They barely beat Michigan State last week, in a game that was owned by Badgers running back P.J. Hill who ran for 155 yards and two touchdowns. Like Ohio State in front of them, it’s hard to really think of any Big Ten school as a top 5 contender at this juncture of the season.

Next Week: The Badgers go to Illinois where the Fighting Illini are looking to continue their undefeated conference streak as well as a possible entrance into the top 25. This could be the upset of the week folks, the Badgers aren’t that great and the Illini are playing well of late.

South Florida (#6 AP/#9 USA)

The Bulls find themselves in the top ten in both polls after dismantling #5 West Virginia, their second win against a top 25 team. Of course, this isn’t pretty football we’ve been seeing from South Florida, and they’re the kind of team that may find the clock striking midnight sooner than later. Still, it’s nice to see some new blood in the top 10 and that streak should continue when they play . . .

Next Week: … at Florida Atlantic. The Owls are coming off of a 45 – 17 loss to Kentucky and should be looking at another one courtesy of South Florida.

Boston College (#7AP/#6 USA)

1954 was the last time BC opened with five straight wins in their season. With a solid running game with Andre Callender and a favorable schedule, the Eagles could make waves as the season continues

Next Week: 3 – 1 Bowling Green comes into Chestnut Hill looking to continue their 2 game winning streak. Odds are that it won’t happen.

Kentucky (#8 AP/#8 USA)

Kentucky continued to roll with a 45 – 17 thrashing of Florida Atlantic thanks to quarterback Andre Woodson making the Heisman whispers become a bit louder with a 301 yard, five touchdown performance. And oh yeah, he set some record about passes without interceptions too.

Next Week: Kentucky begins a rough gauntlet, facing four top 15 teams in six weeks, with a visit to #11 South Carolina. Things have been rolling smoothly up to this point, and if they can get through this stretch with just one loss, look for them to stay in the top ten at the end of the year.

Florida (#9 AP/#7 USA)

Coming off of their first loss to Auburn, Florida is looking ahead to bounce back and possibly force their way into the national championship picture again with a game against…

Next Week: . . . #1 LSU. This is the game of the week right here. Look for an upset by Florida to keep their season alive.

Oklahoma (#10AP/#10 USA)

There is no reason for Oklahoma to still be ranked in the top ten after their loss to subpar Colorado, but here they are. Perhaps the reason behind such a ranking was to try and give importance to next week’s battle against . . .

Next Week: . . . #17 Texas. Look for Texas to avenge last week’s embarrassing loss to Kansas State and eliminate Oklahoma from the national championship picture.

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