Another stellar week for the LW Top 25 as two more Top 10 teams fell and two teams on the cusp, Baylor and West Virginia both lost. The Trojans were anemic and it was a bad week in Mormon land as Utah and BYU both lost, but at least they didn’t complete the tri-fecta, because Utah State didn’t play. And a quick note on last season’s Cinderella, Ball State, is a bottom 10 team this year (see below).
It’s really hard to even pick a No.1 team this week as the top two teams each won by just 10 points over teams they should dominate, the No.3 team ran over another nobody and Cal has yet to be tested. I’m tempted to put Alabama No. 1 as they are the only Top Five team to play a ranked team. This is further proof that polls and rankings should not even be done until at least a month into the season. Given that, here is this week’s Live Wire Top 25.
1. Florida – Like I said week one Florida will remain No. 1 until I see a reason to drop them. They came close to a reason this week with a sloppy win over the trash-talking Vols. Superman fumbled in the red zone, threw an interception and only threw for 115 yards. But Florida is efficient and their defensive is fantastic. There likely won't be any reason to bump them after this week against Kentucky either. *Florida now owns the nations longest win streak.
2. Texas – The Longhorns seems bored at times Saturday night in the prime time game against Texas Tech. But they got their revenge from last year with a 34-24 win. Texas has had a tendency to be bored, especially in the first half of games this season as they barely led Wyoming 13-10 at halftime in week two and held just a 10-3 edge at half in the Texas Tech game. No big deal against upcoming UTEP and Colorado, but don't do it against Oklahoma.
3. Alabama – Alabama continues to take care of business, even if it is against North Texas. A 53-7 win nearly put them as the high scoring team of the week. The only team in the top five to play a ranked opponent is making a case for No. 1. Arkansas comes knocking this week with an offense averaging 44.5 points per game. Let's see how Saban handles the pigs.
4. Cal – Heading east for an early game is never easy for a west coast team. However it appeared Cal would handle the task against Minnesota with no problem. The Bears jumped out to a 14-0 first quarter lead and the route was on, or so it appeared. The Gophers however pulled the game close heading to halftime down just 21-14 and even tied the game in the third quarter. The fourth quarter however wound up a mirror image of the first as Jahvid Best ran for two more touchdowns, giving him all five Cal scores as the Bears pulled away. Their Pac-10 mission begins this week with Oregon.
5. Mississippi – Thumping Southeast Louisiana may boost your confidence but it does little to prepare you for the SEC. Their first test comes Thursday at South Carolina. We'll know if Ole Miss is a contender after that game. Outscoring oppnents 48-10 thus far is a good start.
6. Penn State – It's easy to be good against Akron, Syracuse and Temple. Next comes a revenge game against Iowa. A game that last year arguable cost the Nittany Lions a shot at the title, not like they deserved a shot. The Big 10 is weak and I will think that way until they start finding room in their schedules for someone besides, well, see above.
7. Boise – Pulled away in a shoot out on the road at Fresno State. It was a very entertaining game to watch as Fresno just wouldn't go away. Boise looks well on their way to a second straight undefeated regular season.
8. USC - Very tough loss for the Trojans. But this is the type of game they lose every year. A Pac-10 game that they really shouldn't lose and for the second straight year it comes after a hard-fought win over Ohio State. Without their starting quarterback, the Trojans fumbled four times, threw one interception and gained only 164 yards after the first quarter. Thank goodness for upcoming Washington State.
9. Ohio State – I'll admit the Buckeyes dismantling of what I thought was a good Toledo team was impressive. They held the Rockets to 210 total yards and just 13 yards rushing and shutout an offense that came in averaging 40+ points per game. Buckeye quarterback Terrelle Pryor single handedly crushed Toledo's defense with 372 total yards and four touchdowns. Ohio State has an easy next six weeks ahead, including five important Big 10 games.
10. TCU – TCU pulled away late against Texas State scoring the last three touchdowns (five of the last six) in what ended up a 56-21 blowout. The Horned Frogs spread the offensive wealth as six different players scored. TCU has only allowed 87 yards rushing in two games. Big non-conference test against Clemson this week.
11. Oklahoma State – A closer game than the Cowboys likely wanted against Rice, but they won like they were supposed to. A week four game against I-AA Grambling State this week is a scheduling disappointment for a big time Big XII school, and will teach us nothing about this team.
12. Oklahoma – Oklahoma's win over Tulsa, while expected was impressive also. Again another non-BCS school with a highly touted offense is shut out but a big boy. No doubt Oklahoma's defense is very good. Two straight shut-outs and only 14 points given up in a loss to BYU lends to under five points per game. The Sooners get a well timed off week which may allow Sam Bradford to get back for the Miami game Oct. 3, a must win for both team's title chances.
13. Virginia Tech – Lucky punks. Their offensive obviously isn't any good and by all account I was right about Tyrod Taylor being average at best. Virginia Tech got a third of their offense on the last drive and was dominated. That said, they pulled the miracle in the final minute. Good teams do that and this is how the Hokies win games like this. Good luck against Miami this week.
14. LSU – Its still hard to be in love with LSU. The offense is averaging just over 28 points per game against Washington, Vanderbilt and Louisiana - Lafayette. The defense is the jewel of the program holding their last two opponents to 12 total points. Back to back losses may be inevitable in upcoming games against Georgia and Florida.
15. Cincinnati – The Bearcats went a long way to play Oregon State in Corvallis, and came out with a 10-point win and an ever growing case for national respect. A high-scoring affair with Fresno State looms this week before Big East play resumes.
16. Miami – One of the most impressive uprisings of a team thus far in the year. Jacory Harris is playing like he's on a mission and if the Hurricanes can get by Virginia Tech (which I think they will) and Oklahoma (which I don't think they will) the U has a claim to the title. However the season is a long grind and these aren't the only teams Miami has to worry about.
17. Houston – A week off before another Big XII shootout with Texas Tech. Do not miss this game and do not blink!
18. BYU – An absolute thrashing of the Cougars by a Florida State who may or may not be Top 25 material. Five turnovers and red zone defense inefficiency led to their demise. Still a good team, but no longer a title contender.
19. Nebraska – Another on the road Top 20 heartbreaker for the Huskers. Nebraska had control over Virginia Tech the whole game but could not finish. Are you really going to beat a Top 20 team without scoring a touchdown. I could give a dozen reasons why Nebraska should have won the game, and a dozen reason why they lost. Regardless, its still a loss. However I can't drop them below Kansas because I absolutely think Nebraska is the better team, as they were Saturday.
20. Kansas – We beat Duke, yippie. Kansas didn't exactly challenge itself in the "preseason" with Northern Colorado, UTEP and Duke, a fact that may hurt them later. But they also have the advantage of easing into the Big XII season with Iowa State and Colorado after another no-brainer this week against Southern Miss. We won't really know what the Jayhawks are made of until late October against Oklahoma.
21. Georgia Tech – Miami figured out Georgia Tech's triple option and made them look silly. The Jackets got behind against Miami and this type of offense can't often come from behind. I do think, however that G-Tech will beat North Carolina this week. One of these two teams is just pretending to be a Top 25 team. We'll find out who Saturday.
22. Michigan – The Wolverine Express kept on a rollin against Eastern Michigan Saturday. Rich Rodriguez may have found his muse in Tate Forcier, even though the freshman struggled last week. The running game is good and Michigan's lack of schedule strength will propel them to undefeated heading into October 24 and a date with Penn State.
23. North Carolina – North Carolina isn't this good. Lets be honest, by the end of the season, they likely won't be ranked. That being said, they took care of East Carolina and if they escape Georgia Tech, they will be 6-0 heading to back-to-backs against Florida State and Virginia Tech.
24. Georgia – Who would have thought Georgia would have to win an SEC shootout with Arkansas and account for the highest scoring game of the season to date with a 52-41 victory. This is not the early 2000's Georgia team winning with defense. Georgia has put up 93 points the last two games, but has allowed 78. This doesn't bode well when Georgia will get into a defensive struggle late in the season.
25. Utah – Utah probably should not be ranked, losing to Oregon and ending the nations longest win streak. I debated about putting Florida State here. Utah is in danger of losing at Colorado State in two weeks. However if they get by the Rams, it should be smooth sailing for the Utes until a Nov. 14 date at TCU.
Teams on the Cusp: Florida State, Auburn, Missouri, Notre Dame, UCLA.
Here comes the Ball State bashing. After going 12-0 in the regular season last year, Ball State opens 2009 0-3 with losses to North Texas, New Hampshire and Army. The offense is gone, scoring just 11 points per game against some lower tier competition.
Purdue - Don't even claim that you're good and then lose to Northern Illinois.
Baylor - The up-and-coming Bears up and lost to UConn at home. Good thing they have Northwestern State and Kent State next.
BYU - The point was made above, but really, losing at home to Florida State by 26. Sheesh...
Random Thought: Homer warning!
You don't think these polls are ridiculous, check this week out. The AP Poll has Washington ranked above Nebraska. So what, Washington beat a washed out USC team that was likely overrated to begin with and now they get all this love. Their next loss is right around the corner. Both polls have Kansas above Nebraska and the USA Today poll has Missouri above Nebraska. Does anyone really think that Kansas, Washington and Missouri could beat the Huskers ... really? Nebraska could likely beat LSU, Ohio State, BYU, and Georgia who are all ranked above them, and give us Virginia Tech in a seven game, we win the series in six. But football is one game and one game only. Bring it every week.
High Team Score: South Florida won this week with 59 against Charleston Southern, who has allowed a gaudy163 points in three games. Poor guys. My pick Ole Miss came close with 52.
This week I'll take Oklahoma State as a team and Houston v. Texas Tech as a game.
Upset picks: Toledo and Tulsa did nothing last week in my upset alert, but I called Utah losing to Oregon Syracuse beating Northwestern, and Nebraska at least covered.
This week look at Texas Tech beating Houston, South Carolina may take down untested Ole Miss, Clemson over TCU and Stanford over Washington.
Locks: Kansas and Iowa came through, Florida and Baylor did not.
This week take the Texas Tech v. Houston over, even if it's 100. Take Kansas again at home, Auburn over Ball State, Miami over Virginia Tech even in Blacksburg.