It seems a big slice of humble pie is in order as it was not a good week for Live Wire Top 10 teams or Teams on the Cusp. It just goes to show all the research and intuition in the world is no substitute for lining the teams up and letting them play. Kudos to teams like Notre Dame, Oklahoma State, Oregon, Oklahoma, Virginia Tech and Ohio State for taking on upper tier competition to make week one and two exciting for the fans while teams like Florida, Texas, Penn St. and Cal practiced their way to 2-0 thus far. The only problem with aggressive scheduling is that the former teams now have a loss detrimental to any national championship hopes and the ladder teams are still perfect. Will this development lead to a regress of scheduling?
So here is the Live Wire Top 25 for this week. I punish teams for winning ugly, so LSU, Utah and North Carolina all fall while Oregon State and Northwestern fall out.
1. Florida – In a week two walk-through against Troy, Tebow broke out with four touchdown passes and one rushing as the Gators racked up 663 total yards. The first two games were a mere warm-up for Florida as they look to shut Lane Kiffin’s mouth this week against Tennessee. Urban Myer isn’t expected to call off the dogs in what could be another 50+ point blowout.
2. Texas – The Longhorns apparently didn’t take Wyoming seriously in the first half, taking just a three-point lead into halftime. But then Mack Brown reminded McCoy and the boys that they were playing WYOMING and Texas outscored them 28-0 in the second half to win going away. Texas should have no problem this week in a revenge game against a depleted Texas Tech team.
3. Alabama – I’m not convinced that Alabama is this good. A 40-14 win over Florida International where they led by just six at halftime. It certainly wasn’t a look-ahead game as they have North Texas coming in next week. This team may lack focus against lesser foes. Another average performance in that game will drop Alabama below the two Pac-10 big dogs next week.
4. USC – I have to admit that I didn’t think USC would pull this game off. The Ohio State defense dominated the Trojans in the second half and Matt Barkley appeared to be getting happy feet the last few possessions of the fourth quarter. But The Trojans did what the Trojans do. They found a way to win, and credit their defense for keeping them in the game. Barkley is now questionable for the Washington game Saturday. Any one of us could play QB for the Trojans Saturday and win. Let the kid rest and let Aaron Corp earn his scholarship.
5. Cal – Two opening domination wins. Next up a road test at against an average Big 10 team, should be no problem. Jahvid Best is just that, the best back in the country, averaging 140.5 yards per game rushing, and it won’t likely drop this week. Wins at Minnesota and at Oregon will set up the game of the year in the Pac 10, Oct. 3 against USC, the loser likely out of the national championship hunt.
6. Ole Miss – A bye week this early in the season may hurt Mississippi during the thick SEC part of their schedule. The Rebels have three more easy wins before their elimination game hosting Alabama Oct. 10.
7. BYU – Heisman candidate Max Hall led the Cougars to an annihilation of Tulane. Next they host a Florida State team that has to travel a long way at night to take a beating. Florida State will keep it close early. BYU will likely be 7-0 going into the TCU game.
8. Boise – It’s a real shame that Boise’s only other test this year comes this week at Fresno State. It’s the lack of respectable opponents that will keep them out of the BCS. But hey, would you want to play Boise. They do have the best winning percentage of any team in the country the last five years.
9. Penn St. – Every year I debate about my true feelings about Big 10 “powers.” Penn State is another pretender that is a middle of the pack SEC team. The country is in love with them at No. 5, I’m not. Unimpressive wins over Akron and Syracuse make me question their lack of offense. Let’s fast forward to the Michigan and Ohio State games already …
10. TCU – In their opening game of the year, the Horned Frog defense absolutely dominated a bad Virginia team. Virginia had just 100 yards of total offense until less than five minutes to go in the game. They scored two garbage touchdown late, but only had one drive of more than nine yards and four drives of negative yardage until then. TCU had more sacks (8) than Virginia had first downs (7). That said, where was the Frog offense?
11. Ohio St. – I thought, with five minuets left in the USC game this was finally the year Ohio State would win a marquee game. Again it didn’t happen. The Buckeyes find ways to lose big games. The way the Buckeyes lost mirrored the Oakland Raiders Monday night loss a bit. Dominate defensively and have little offense. That also means Terrelle Pryor is the Jamarcus Russell of college football, great talent, awesome potential, poor execution. And despite all that I moved them up in the ranking. Go figure.
12. Georgia Tech – G-Tech showed their mettle in a tough conference rivalry game with Clemson, though they should have never let the Tigers back in the game. Perhaps Clemson is better than we think. For the Jackets’ sake I hope so. Two huge games against ranked opponents loom.
13. Oklahoma State – It doesn’t appear the Cowboys were ready for Houston, though there is no reason or excuse for that. Houston has been offensive napalm for a couple seasons now. Still, to put it in hockey terms, if the two played a seven-game series, I believe Oklahoma State wins in seven, and therefore stay ranked above Houston. And right now they are better than Oklahoma. That may change by year end.
14. Virginia Tech – A so what game against Marshall may boost Virginia Tech’s confidence, but I still think that if they would have beaten Alabama, the upcoming game against Nebraska would mean more. If for no other reason, I believe they let down against Nebraska and focus on winning the ACC, which begins for them the following week vs. Miami.
15. Utah – A thin 10-point win over San Jose State, a team USC beat by 53, shows Utah isn’t quite ready for the big stage this year. This was a much better team last season. A loss is in the near future for the nation’s longest winning streak.
16. Oklahoma – Their loss is in the rear view and the focus is on the future. So you beat Idaho State by 64. My 11 readers could do that. How will the Sooners handle the next five games that include three ranked teams (Miami, Texas and Kansas) and Tulsa and Baylor, which will be bigger tests than Boomer had hoped. Get through that and Nebraska and Oklahoma State await.
17. LSU – Not impressed. 31-23 over Washington, 23-9 over Vandy? Enjoy your wins over La.-Lafayette and Mississippi State, because then Mardi Gras ends.
18. Cincinnati – Lethal offense averaging 58+ per game. Kudos for upcoming tests against Oregon State and Fresno State, but after that, who’s going to beat them. (Of course I said that about Notre Dame.)
19. Nebraska – The Huskers did what they were supposed to do in games one and two. The biggest disappointment has been a defense, especially the line, which was supposed to be dominant. They will need to be much better at Blacksburg (understatement). The first big road game for Zac Lee is a huge test. Observation reports say Lee looks down his receivers too much, which is fine against lesser competition, but not the Hokies. They x-factor here is that I think this game means more to Nebraska than it does Virginia Tech.
20. Houston – Anyone that received my complete I-A ranking saw that I had Houston ranked No. 28. I said the Oklahoma State game may be their only loss. It wasn’t. They played fearless and played to win. I know I said last week that the Ok. St. game may be the highest scoring game of the year. Well the Cougars play Texas Tech Sept. 26. If the line is 100, take the over. This is the last test this year for Houston.
21. Kansas – Don’t let the mere 34-points fool you. Kansas thoroughly dominated UTEP and had nearly 600 yards of offense. Jake Sharp had a huge game with three touchdowns. More domination looms for the Jayhawks in the next month as they play four teams in the bottom 25 of the country.
22. Michigan – Who would have thought Michigan would be here after last season’s 3-9 debacle. But with losses to Toledo and Appalachian State in the rear view, Michigan is poised to run at the Big 10 title. Michigan being good again, is good for college football. It lends a bit of credibility to the Big 10 as it is now a three-team race.
23. Notre Dame – I was wrong. Ok. W-R-O-N-G. The Domers are not ready for the spotlight and the off-season hype and pressure has gotten to them. Jimmy Claussen is the real deal, but I no longer think Charlie Weis is. He blew that game. Beat Michigan State this week fine, but don’t assume Boston College, Pitt and especially USC are wins.
24. North Carolina – A 12-10 win over UConn nearly pushed them out of my Top 25. It was an uninspired football game by a team that isn’t quite mentally ready to be good. Down 10-0 heading to the 4th quarter, the Tar Heels rallied and closed the game with a safety, not something often seen. Any team with a decent offense will give them trouble, say Georgia Tech on Sept. 26.
25. Miami – A much needed week off heading into a stretch against Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech and Oklahoma (see above) in consecutive weeks. The Hurricanes won’t escape this unscathed.
Out this week:
Northwestern, Oregon State. Both had poor wins and don’t deserve the ranking at this point.
Teams on the cusp:
Missouri, Georgia, Baylor, West Virginia, Auburn
I would put Texas Tech on this list, but they have to play at Texas this week, which will end their hopes of being ranked for a couple weeks.
Tennessee – You can’t talk all that smack about Florida and then forget you have to play UCLA. The Bruins aren’t good and you can’t lose that game.
Michigan State – Another team that forgot they had to play the little guy before the Notre Dame game, losing to Central Michigan at home.
Most of the Big 12 – Colorado loses to Toledo, Kansas State loses to La.- Lafayette, Iowa State gets hammered by Iowa, Oklahoma State loses to Houston, Missouri damn near loses to Bowling Green and Texas struggles with Wyoming for 30 minutes. Colorado and Kansas State may be two of the worst 10 teams in the nation.
Random Thought: I know we are only two weeks into this thing, but there is a huge potential problem brewing here. Its entirely possible that Florida, Texas, Boise State, Cincinnati, Houston, and either USC or Cal, Penn State or Michigan, and whoever comes out of the BYU, TCU and Utah round robin, will all be undefeated this year. Then what will the BCS have to say. Obviously given that scenario Florida and Texas get in, but what a hailstorm the Pac 10 and Big 10 will raise let alone the other smaller conferences. How many times does Boise have to go undefeated before they are given a shot. The Broncos only have six regular season losses since 2003 and three undefeated seasons, 2004, 2006, 2008.
High team score: Cincinnati racked up 70 on Southeast Missouri State, 49 in the first half. Even morre impressive is Stephen F. Austin’s 92-0 win over Texas College, where two Lumberjack QBs combines for eight touchdown passes. Enter your pick for this week below. I'll take Ole Miss.
Upset picks: Last week I gave you the Toledo win over Colorado and Fresno barely lost to Wisconsin, but covered. Buffalo over Pitt … oops.
This week watch out for Toledo again. I’m not saying they’ll be Ohio State, but they will cover. Oklahoma, Utah and Virginia Tech are all on alert. Syracuse over Northwestern.
Locks: Missed all three. All three dogs covered, which is why you don’t pick against home dogs. Hit the Oklahoma State v. Houston over.
This week, Florida big over Tennessee, Kansas over Duke, Baylor over UConn, Iowa over Arizona.