Sep 30

What a Month Can Do

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Photo: Matthew Emmons -

The teams not found in this current article of top-25 teams would be shocking if announced fifteen years ago; no Notre Dame, no Florida State, no Miami, no Michigan, no Washington or Washington State or Colorado. Now, though, some new faces have emerged in the top-25, and they deserve to be here. South Florida and Vanderbilt, among others, have beaten some top teams, and thus have every right to be ranked high in this ever-changing college football world.  Here is a look at the top 25 from the preseason, and where they are now in the AP poll, a month in.

1. Georgia - The Dawgs looked good early, beating Arizona State and South Carolina, but then turned their "black out" into a funeral against Alabama. The schedule now shifts gears, as Vandy, LSU, Florida, and arch-rival and upstart Georgia Tech remain. The Dawgs host Tennessee next weekend, and will thrash them bad. Now ranked #11

2. Ohio State - Embarrased on the road at Southern Cal, but weak Big-10 schedule will let them back into the national scene in six more weeks. Michigan may be finding it's groove wit ha tough win over Wisconsin, setting up for an even more-interesting than normal OSU-Michigan game November 22nd. Now ranked #14

3. USC - Blasted Ohio State, but then got a true beat down at Oregon State. They will probably win out, but their national title hopes took a major hit in Corvalis. I thought Pete Carroll was the other Nick Saban, but maybe not. Now ranked #9

4. Oklahoma - Oklahoma still hasn't been challenged. The Sooners have won all four games by a combined 199-42, with the most impressive win being the 55-14 win at washington. The schedule gets tougher now, though. Now ranked #1

5. Florida - Florida still has a great chance to do big things in 2008 even with the recent loss to Mississippi. Tebow and company lost one, but the parity today is unreal, and Ole Miss deserves credit. Overall, the Gators are solid, and will still challenge for the East crown. Now ranked #12

6. Missouri - The Tigers are 4-0 after defeating Illinois in a shooutout, and four pasties after that. Next up is Nebraska, then two ranked teams in Oklahoma State (21)  and Texas (5). We will know more soon. Now ranked #4

7. LSU - Beating Auburn has to let LSU fans take a moment to put their hands on their knees and take a deep-breath. But wait! Florida is up next...then UF nemesis South Carolina...then 11 UGA...then 2 Alabama...Now ranked #3

8. West Virginia - The Mountaineers are under going some struggles under first-year Coach Bill Stewart. Losses to East Carolina and Colorado have WVU unranked and fans in Morgantown wondering. There is still al ot of football ahead for Stewart to make his first-season a bit more memorable. Auburn calls in 2 weeks, a chance to get back on track. Now unranked

9. Clemson - The worst surprise of 2008. Tommy Bowden's 9th Clemson team has one foot hanging off of the cliff's edge, and a stiff breeze blowing the wrong way. Clemson was steam-rolled by Alabama, and lost at home to Maryland four days ago. This will be an interesting story to watch. Now unranked

10. Auburn - War Eagle sits at 4-1 after losing only to LSU late in the 4th quarter...However, the 4 wins are nothing to get rowdy over. A trip to number 19 (huh?!) Vandy is next, followed by Arkansas at home and then a trip to unranked (huh?!) WVU after that. They close with Georgia at home and a tough, tough game at Alabama (they've beaten the Tide 6 straight). Now ranked #13

11. Texas - The Horns have quietly risen in the polls by not playing much of anyone. Coming up in 5 of their final 7 games, though, are Oklahoma, Missouri, Oklahoma State, Texas Tech and Kansas. Those 5 opponents currently have an average rank of 9.2. One of the other two remaining games is rival Texas A&M...We will know more about Texas, by year's end. Now ranked #5

12. Texas Tech - The Red Reaiders have risen into the top-10, but they have played NOBODY, yet. I'm too embarassed to readt he list. The second-half of the season wil ltell us a ton more about this team, but for now here they are. Now ranked #7

13. Wisconsin - I was impressed when Wisconsin won on the road at Pesky Fresno State. But then they turned around and lost  to a Michigan team still trying to work out kinks. I still think this is one of the top two programs in the Big-10. Now ranked #18

14. Kansas - The Jayhawks lost to the only good opponent they have played thus far, South Florida, on a last-second field goal. They play at Oklahoma in three weeks, and we will then know if Kansas is any good. They did not have to play the Sooners int he Orange Bowl run of a year ago. Now ranked #16

15. Arizona State - Preseason, Head-Coach Dennis Erickson was supposed to take ASU to the top-10 and beyond in his latest college stop. But after getting beat by UNLV, then waxed by Georgia, the Sun-Devils are no where to be found. Now unranked

16. BYU - I like to give BYU a hard time, and I'm not really sure why. But the 1984 National Champions are 4-0 and in the top-10. They beat Washington in Seattle, 28-27, and then totally beat the $%(& out of UCLA, 59-0 at home in Provo. Now ranked #8

17. Virginia Tech - Man, the class of the ACC sits at number 20??? It is safe to say this is not what League officials had in mind. Tech is always in the top 25, and they should move up as BC and FSU are winnable upcoming road games. Now ranked #20

18. Tennessee - Phil fulmer and his 1998 National Championship trophy may be renting a U-Haul out of Knoxville after this 2008 campaign. Look, I know they made the SEC-Title game a year ago. The fact is, however, that UT hasn't seriously threatened nationally since the 1998 season mentioned above. Now unranked

19. South Florida - This school didn't have a program like 13 years ago, and now they are selling out Raymond-James Stadium to the tune of 70,000 and laying smack-downs on major-conference teams reguarly. Its crazy. After beating Kansas, and now NC State, 41-10, to go along with some nice wins a year ago (including national-power Auburn), USF must be considered a very good football program on the national scale. With the recruiting in southern Florida to boot, and a 40,000 plus student-body and grade-A facilities, this program is most-likely here to stay. This is the school the ACC might should have taken a deeper look at. The schedule ahead doesn't offer much outside of UConn and WVU, but a major bowl will give us another good glimpse at the Bulls. Now ranked #10

20. Illinois - Losing to Missouri to open the season in a high-profile game set the Illini back a hair. But they have recruited well and are deep in talnet and I look for them to be back near the top of the Big-10 rankings by the regular season's end. Now unranked

21. Oregon - The scar thus far is the loss to Boise State two weeks ago, 37-32. They travel to USC this weekend in a very interesting game that will tell the nation a lot more about the Pac-10. 4 of the Ducks next 7 games are on the road. Now ranked #23

22. Penn State - This is one of the better stories of the first half of the 2008 season. JoPa's guys are on a tear, and they may be the best team in the Big-10, along with Wisconsin. The Nittany Lions are looking at a couple of tough road trips ahead, at Wisconsin and Ohio State, but I think they can handle it. Now ranked #6

23. Wake Forest - The Deacons recent loss to Navy was the latest of so many daggers to hit the ACC right in the heart. Navy sucks, and therefore, so does the ACC. This Wake squad is solid. But wih the capapbility to just *&^%$ out at any-time, they truly represent the current status of the laeague. Now ranked #25

24. Alabama - If Clemson is the worst surprise of 2008 so far, then Alabama, the team that kicked their @$$, has to be the best surprise of 2008. Besides beating the Tigers, Alabama has also waxed Arkansas and most-recently destroyed UGA in Athens, leading 31-0 at half-time. The remaining schedule is tough, and they have to beat Auburn, but the Tide is going Big-time bowling this year. Now ranked #2

25. Pittsburgh - Call me ignorant, but I can't remember Pitt doing ANYTHING in the last 20 years. Take away last years upset that knocked WVU from the National Title game, and Pitt would be on par as being as dissapointing as the division-1 teams that call the Palmetto-State home. So, like the 19 years before, Pitt is not in the top-25 now that the season has started and gotten rolling. Now unranked 

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