The Top Fan's Top 25
Posted By:Brett Haynes - Greenville, SC Tags:
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My Top-25 took a lot longer than usual to do this week for whatever reason. Maybe it is because the Fans25 crew got to bed around 3:00 am Sunday morning. Or maybe it is because there are just so many good teams, and not enough spots to put them in. Or maybe these upsets just have me not knowing what to think. Whatever the reason, a couple of hours late this week, here is my top-25.....
1. Florida (9-0, 7-0 SEC) - As always, like I say: Until they lose....The Gators handled Vanderbilt at home 27-3 in a game that saw the starters out for most of the second half. Florida is not blowing people away, but they are doing the only thing they really need to do - win. They are 9-0 now, and that is all that matters. When they are battling for the SEC title, and a trip to the BCS title game, noone will remember what these scores are. Next up is a trip to Columbia to face South Carolina. Heisman update: Tebow had 208 yards and scored one touchdown throwing and one touchdown running.
2. Alabama (9-0, 6-0 SEC) - I let Bama take the number two spot on their own after they won at home against a pretty darn good LSU team. Trailing 15-10 heading into the final quarter, Alabama turned up the heat and scored 14 points to take the game. It is now official that Alabama will represent the SEC West in Atlanta. Nick Saban has bigger goals, though, and those bigger goals are still completely reachable. Heisman update: Ingram had 144 yards rushing and did not score.
3. Texas (9-0, 5-0 Big 12) - Ok, so Texas dropped from tied for second, to third. This just is not a big deal in Austin, because as long as they stay third and win, they will make it to the BCS title game because 1 and 2 have to play each other. Texas took care of Central Florida 35-3 Saturday in an oddly scheduled game for this time of year (in my opinion). Next up for the Longhorns is a trip to Baylor to face the mediocre Bears. Talk about what would be the upset of the year. Heisman update: McCoy went for 470 yards and two touchdowns in the air.
4. TCU (9-0, 5-0 MWC) - I have become sort of a TCU fan after meeting many nice folks at Death Valley and on these message boards of Fans25. However, I must admit that the Frogs are relatively untested. I know they have a good team and program, so I am ranking them high, but they are sort of getting a free ride at this point in the season. They beat my Tigers in a monsoon, and they have won VERY decisively over every one else but Air Force, but still, you guys can see it for yourselves. I take my Tigers for example that are barely ranked, but played number four TCU to a last minute game (where we missed two field goals late and lost by four). This topic has been discussed ad nauseum on our message boards, the TCU schedule needs as much work as Boise's does...With that said, this weekend another test will go down as they host Utah in a Mountain West battle.
5. Boise State (9-0, 4-0 WAC) - Well Boise, that Oregon loss to Stanford sure didn't help anything for you guys. Listen, something has got to be done. I like TCU. I like Boise. I like Utah. I want to see these teams in the discussion, in the mix, in the national title talk. But as I type this, it is hard to put you guys at five with the slate of teams I see. Oregon was what I was feeding off of for ya'll, and now the Ducks have shown that their defense is capable of giving up 50. Hey, you have beaten who you have played, so I'm putting you at five, but man, it's not easy. I am not saying you couldn't beat the big name teams, I'm just saying you have to find a way to start playing them. You MUST start playing 3 or 4 huge name, solid ranked teams each year. I know everyone says they wont play you. Tough. Find a way or this will always be the argument year after year after year. Up next is a visit from Idaho.
6. Georgia Tech (9-1, 6-1 ACC) - It took overtime, but Georgia Tech held off Wake Forest, 30-27. The winning points - after a back and forth game all day - came when Josh Nesbitt took a quarterback run-play into the end zone. Wake can be pesky (beat Stanford, lost in OT to BC, played Miami to the end 28-27), and they were certainly that behind Riley Skinner Saturday. Skinner was 26 of 40 for 263 yards and two scores, but the Jackets still found a way to win. Up next for Georgia Tech is a trip to Duke. Unbelievably, a Duke upset could create a four-way ACC Coastal tie between Duke, Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech (will probably beat Maryland) and Miami (at UNC, should win) as each of the four team's would have two conference losses.
7. Cincinnati (9-0, 5-0 Big East) - I always talk about that high-powered Cincy offense, and it is a good thing that it showed up this past Saturday! In a 47-45 shoot-out win over UConn, the Bearcats put up 555 yards of offense. Playing for injured Tony Pike, Zach Collaros threw for 480 yards and three scores. Not bad. Pike will be back at some point, but for now, that is a reassuring thing to have under center. Next up for Cincinnati is a big home game with West Virginia. For Cincy it is simple to reach the National Championship game: help. Though they have two games left against ranked teams (WVU and Pitt) to prove themselves some more, the Bearcats really need for five teams ahead of them to lose, or they will not get a chance. Man, don't you just love the BCS?
8. Ohio State (8-2, 5-2 Big 10) - Don't look now, but after what many in Columbus would consider a rough season, Ohio State went to Penn State, won, and will now host Iowa this coming weekend for the Big 10 championship. After all of the ups and downs, a trip to the BCS is a very real goal. And you know, that is where this whole BCS thing is just weird to me. What (besides the paycheck) makes those four games any more special than the other good bowl games. It's just weird and I don't like it. They have to be kicking themselves over the Purdue loss a month ago, but anyway, here is Ohio State, back in the top-10.
9. Miami (7-2, 4-2 ACC) - The Hurricanes check in at twelve in the AP poll, but I have them a bit higher. The loss to VT was eons ago, and an overtime loss to Clemson three weeks back isn't looking so bad now, either. This past Saturday Miami steam-rolled mediocre Virginia 52-17 as UVA decided to sit the second half out, getting waxed 28-0 in that span. This week will tell a lot about how far Miami has come back as a program. They have a road trip to UNC where a pretty good Tar Heel team waits. The Heels have lost close several times, but can be one of those teams that can upset you. If Miami can stay poised, and get a miracle win from Duke over GT, the ACC Coastal could be knotted up in a messy tie.
10. Pittsburgh (8-1, 5-0 Big East) - We will know a lot more about Pitt in a few weeks. So far, they have a nice win over South Florida, but also lost to NC State of all teams. Other than that, the Panthers schedule has been soft. But they will close with a three game stretch of Notre Dame, at West Virginia and Cincinnati. They are at number ten in my poll right now, but check back in three weeks. This past weekend they defeated Syracuse, 37-10. This weekend's game with Notre Dame is at 8:00 on national TV - a good chance to see the Panthers play.
11. USC (7-2, 4-2 Pac 10) - The Trojans won on the road, 14-9, at Arizona state this past weekend. Usually those West coast games are known for their high-scoring wars, but this one was a defensive struggle as it was just 7-3 at halftime and no points were scored in the final quarter. Pete Carroll and company can still win the Pac 10 as Oregon lost, but they will need the Ducks to lose again. But even with another OU loss to either Arizona State, Arizona, or Oregon State, USC has a tough final stretch, as well. Up next is Stanford, followed by UCLA and then Arizona - all at home. Hey, anything is possible, and it wouldn't surprise me at all to see the 2009 Pac 10 champ have two league losses.
12. LSU (7-2, 4-2 SEC) - The Tigers simply ran out of gas. Leading Alabama 15-10 heading into the 4th quarter, LSU gave up two touchdowns and couldn't get one of their own in a road loss. Though the Tigers are not a top-5 type team, they are still extremely solid, and I couldn't drop them too far. They will most likely win out, with their only two losses of the year coming to numbers 1 and 2 in the nation. Not bad! Up next for LSU is Louisiana Tech.
13. Iowa (9-1, 5-1 Big 10) - Man, what a depressing day to be a Hawkeye Saturday must have been. I watched the first five minutes of this game and saw Ricky Stanzi lead them to a first-minute touchdown. I thought this was going to be a massacre and that I would have to consider Iowa up there with Texas and Alabama. But later in the day at my tailgate when I received word that Stanzi was injured and Northwestern had pulled the upset, I could not believe it. Now, the Hawks must win in Columbus or they won't even win the league. Columbus will be rocking Saturday, this one will be tough.
14. Oregon (7-2, 5-1 Pac 10) - Well, we can put away the debate of over who should be ranked higher between Oregon and Boise State. That had become a heated debate on our message boards, but no more. The Ducks appeared to be one of the most dangerous teams in America, and usually 42 points will get you a win. But the Stanford Cardinal came out gunning, and Oregon is now going to have to fight to hold on to its once certain Pac 10 crown. Arizona is lurking right there with them, and the two teams meet in Arizona in two weeks. Up next the Ducks get Arizona State.
15. Houston (8-1, 4-1 CUSA) - I am hesitant to put the Cougars too high. A 46-45 shootout win with Tulsa is not necesarily a good thing, but who knows. A win is a win I always say, so perhaps I should give more credit. But Houston has given up over 35 points four times - not a characteristic of a top-15 team. They will remain untested until their bowl as Central Florida, Memphis and Rice are the final three. I like the Cougars, but it is hard to be sold on them in the top-25. Still, a nice season start with wins over Oklahoma State and Texas Tech earned them the top-15 ranking they have now.
16. Utah (8-1, 5-0 MWC) - Just as the Oregon loss hurt Boise, it also hurt Utah. The Utes were hanging their hat on the fact that their only loss of 2009 came against a very good Oregon team. Now, the Ducks don't look as strong, and the weak schedule isn't allowing Utah to move up any. This weekend though, a perfect chance awaits Utah to move up the polls. A trip to TCU will say a lot about both of these teams who are eager for a big game. Win, and I will bump Utah up probably into the top 10. Lose, and they may go unranked for the rest of 2009. That is just the way it goes when your season is defined by two or three games.
17. Oklahoma State (7-2, 4-1 Big 12) - OSU laid a pretty good beat down on Iowa State this past Saturday. Unfortunatley for the Cowboys, they are in the same division as Texas (who would have to lose twice), so a BCS opportunity was gone a few weeks back. But they could still make a very nice bowl and finish in the top-10 with a strong finish. They close out 2009 by playing Texas Tech, Colorado and Oklahoma. For the season quarterback Zac Robinson has nearly 1,900 yards and 18 touchdowns.
18. Arizona (6-2, 4-1 Pac 10) - The Wildcats are riding a three game winning streak after absolutely destroying Washington State, 48-7. They have quietly gotten better and better and have flown under my radar. I need to do my homework on this team as I really haven't seen them play all that much. But looking at their body of work so far in 2009, they deserved to be ranked. They finish with threeof four Pac 10 games on the road, so maybe that is why I have yet to see them tested much.
19. Wisconsin (7-2, 4-2 Big 10) - The Badgers have lost to the top two teams in the Big Ten in Iowa and Ohio State. They have beaten everyone else. With three winnable games to go, Wisconsin could make a very good bowl and finish at or near the top-10. They have kind of been quiet this year, but as long as I can remember, the Badgers have been good, so they have eared my respect. Hey, if nothing else they get a road game at Hawaii in two weeks!
20. Penn State (8-2, 4-2 Big 10) - PSU has been challenged twice by good teams (Iowa and Ohio State), and the have lost twice. I guess my liking of the Lions won't allow me to put them up in the polls anymore - they just really aren't a top level team. This past weekend Ohio State came into their place and won, 24-7. They have yet to play an open date, so with just two games remaining - Indiana and Michigan State - PSU will be finished with its regular season on Nov 21 - 50 days before the last bowl game. And there is no "time" for a playoff?
21. Virginia Tech (6-3, 3-2 ACC) - At the time, back in week one, everybody thought Alabama was playing the best team in the ACC when they squared off against Virginia Tech. And while playing perhaps the SEC's best team is always a good measuring stick for top level ACC teams, it seems now that VT isn't the best ACC team by any means. Despite having more talent than usual, Beamer's boys don't seem to have that 'go-for-the-throat' killer instinct that they usually play with. They now have three losses, but close with three league games they should win in Maryland, NC State and Virginia. The ACC Coastal goal is still alive, but they would really need help.
22. Clemson (6-3, 4-2 ACC) - Ok, so I have my Tigers a couple of spots higher than the AP poll does. Shoot me. All I know is that this team is playing better than any Clemson team I have seen play in a while. Beyond the fact that the defense is very strong (played FSU game minus Da'Quan Bowers), and the Heisman like play of CJ Spiller is enough alone to keep them in games, the play of Kyle Parker at quarterback is what is making Clemson into a truly quality team. Take away a bone-head loss to Maryland in which Parker played like the freshman he was, and Clemson has only lost to numbers 4 and 7 in the AP poll. A four game winning streak is going on, but a scary "trap" game is on the horizon at NC State. The Pack is bad, but are capable of pulling an upset, no doubt. Clemson has them, and then closes with UVA and a trip to South Carolina.
23. South Florida (6-2, 2-2 Big East) - The Bulls have lost to just Cincinnati and Pitt, so if they win out and go 10-2, a very nice bowl will await. They could be a hot team for bowl committees to choose with five straight potential wins to close, incuding a chance to host Miami in a few weeks in what is a very interesting matchup. Outside of that game with the Hurricanes, the other three games are Rutgers, Louisville and UConn - all winnable. The win over West Virginia was a good hump to get over, keeping them ranked and in the national scene.
24. West Virginia (7-2, 3-1 Big East) - Basically, the season is left for the Mountaineers. While winning the Big East is certainly a long-shot, determining who the conference champion will be is something they will have a major say in. Pitt is having a huge year, and you know WVU would love to wreck that. Also, Cincinnati is a huge road game as they are a national top-10 and unbeaten. Jarrett Brown has proven to be a pleasant surprise coming in after Pat White's departure. He has thrown for over 1,600 yards and 10 scores. He also has rushed for four more scores.
25. Nebraska (6-3, 3-2 Big 12) - I was in a back and forth on this one with a few teams competing for this 25th spot. Several teams including Stanford, BYU and Tennessee were considered. But I think Nebraska gets it as I know they have a strong defense. Strong defense is a staple of top-level play, and I know Nebraska has that side of the ball covered. The offensive side is still a work in progress, but for now, they are back in my top-25. Up next for the Huskers is a trip to Kansas, Kansas State and a trip to Colorado. The Big 12 North can be won by winning out.
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