This week is why I love college football. Watching Iowa State celebrate like they had just won a national championship because they won a makeshift rivalry trophy that they later broke, the hype leading up to the Michigan-Notre Dame that proved to be the game of the year so far, the SEC battles we have become familiar with and week after week upset threat like we got with Toledo at Ohio State. Its more thrilling and dramatic than any Hollywood movie, and it's all relatively free from our own living room.
Now, down to the gritty. I began last week talking about my hate of preseason rankings. It's becoming clear they are useless. Without preseason rankings, teams like Notre Dame, TCU, Texas, Penn State, USC and Missouri would never have been given any relevance. And unlike the pollsters, I do rank on style points.
So my Top 10 looks like this:
1. LSU - Best resume of top tier team so far. The significance of the Oregon win will be realized over the next few weeks as Oregon rolls its next few opponents.
2. Alabama - Moves up this week after leaving Happy Valley, well, happy and proving SEC dominance.
3. Oklahoma - Didn't play this week, but could jump to No. 1 with a convincing win at Florida State
4. Boise State - Their toughest game is behind them. Their only task now is to not beat themselves.
5. Wisconsin - Jumps three spots after a shutout win over Oregon State.
6. Stanford - Struggled in the first half at Duke, but came back strong and won big.
7. Texas A&M - Off this week along with many Big XII teams. Very tough road coming up that will test how good they really are.
8. Oklahoma State - Surprisingly impressive defensive performance against a dangerous QB for Arizona. Test of mettle with their next 4 of 5 on the road including A&M and Texas.
9. South Carolina - They have been tested twice already which should pay dividends in the SEC. Don't overlook Navy this week, one of my must see games.
10. Nebraska - The Huskers certainly didn't look like a Top 10 team in the first 40 minutes against Fresno State. And is it just me or does Taylor Martinez look like he is shot-putting every pass?
Games of the week: Oklahoma @ Florida State- Big time national championship implications. Is Florida State for real? Navy @ South Carolina - Clash of styles and a third test for South Carolina. Don't be surprised if this is tight game also. Oklahoma State @ Tulsa - If you like the long ball, this will appeal. Justin Blackmon is the most impressive receiver in the game right now.
Teams on Top 25 radar: Michigan, Northwestern, Houston, Maryland, UCF.
Observing the Obvious
-There ought to be more night games in the Big House. Michigan vs. Notre Dame was by far the game of the year. One question. Did anyone tell either defense the game was not actually over in the last couple minutes?
-Nebraska better get its house in order. I don't know if they could beat Wisconsin, Michigan State or Michigan right now. They need Dennard back and quick to help relieve their secondary. They will still roll Washington but they must get better and fast.
- You all know by now I love ripping Notre Dame for their undeserved high regard in college football, but both the Domers and Georgia are much better than their 0-2 record. Unfortunately they have to win some of these swing games because the road for both gets no easier and they could each lose 5-6 games this year.
Its a real shame that the Big XII appears to be going the way of the Titanic, and coincidentally enough, exactly 100 years after the doomed vessel sank in 1912. Blame Texas, blame the commish, blame whoever or whatever, but its a shame that Texas, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Nebraska, Texas A&M and an emerging Baylor team that could be such a power will no longer co-exist. The conference is 14-1 this season, by far the best in football so far.
The SEC went unbeaten in non-conference play, again flexing their muscle. They have began to beat up on each other in conference with South Carolina's edging of Georgia and Auburn clipping up-and-commer Mississippi State. Five of the six SEC West teams are in the ESPN Top 25. Read that again and try to wrap your head around that figure.
The Big 10 had kind of a tough week. Does anyone else wish Toledo would have beaten Ohio State? Iowa falls in rivalry, the Huskers nearly get shucked, Minnesota loses to ... New Mexico State? They still play ball? The biggest winner on the week was Illinois, a 53-point spanking of South Dakota whoever. Another round of non-conference snoozers this week, except for Michigan State vs. Notre Dame. More on the ASU vs. Illinois game later.
The Big East is a battle for the best of the irrelevant. West Virginia, South Florida, Pitt, none of them really matter in the long run. Virginia Tech is my dark horse to get to the BCS title game. Their only competition in the ACC is Florida State and the Hokies won't play the Seminoles until the championship game. Its very similar to Boise State, where one game determines if they go unbeaten.
Among the unbeatens in the Pac-12 is Washington and Washington State. Never thought I would write that sentence. Not for long, Washington plays at Nebraska. But the others, USC, Wazzu, Cal and Stanford should still carry the week.
Houston owns the CUSA, Temple the fave in the MAC. We done now?
Predictions watch for Oregon, Georgia and Baylor.
Locks: Went 2-1 last week. Who thought Okie State knew how to even spell defense.
1. Nebraska covers Washington. I touched on it last week, but the Huskies have no pass threat and all Nebraska has to do is lock down the run game. And you know they are going to score 40.
2. Iowa covers Pitt. Iowa is at home and pissed. Pitt stinks. Line is 3. Lock it.
3. Northwestern covers Army. You'll glance over this one because its not a sexy game. But the Cats are Top 25 material.
*4. Bonus over - Kansas and Georgia Tech - Kansas is averaging 43 a game, the Jackets 56. Teams allowing average of nearly 30 a game.
Upset Alerts: Not so hot last week. Central Michigan and Georgia were both outright winning and blew it. Michigan saved my bragging rights.
1. This is a bold one - Temple over Penn State. Temple is poised to make a national splash.
2. Illinois to beat Arizona State. ASU travels to a late game at the Illini and is coming off a high over Mizzou. Trap game.
3. Ohio State over Miami. Yes Miami is the favorite. Cop out? Perhaps. Pun intended, sorry Hurricane fan.