The Top Fan's Top 25
Posted By:Brett Haynes - Greenville, SC Tags:
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With the regular season completed, and the bowls ahead, here is how the teams stack up in my final regular season top-25 of 2009. This week, I will also put where I had the team predicted to finish starting the year, as well. We can all catch our breath as we have two and a half weeks until the next good college football game.
1. Alabama (13-0, 8-0 SEC)(Top Fan's Poll last week: 2, Top Fan's Poll Preseason: 6) - FINALLY! After 14 weeks of writing about Florida in this very first capsule, I can talk about Alabama. The Tide man-handled the Gators on Saturday afternoon, 32-13, behind the rushing of Mark Ingram and a strong (real strong) defense. You know what they say about defense winning championships, and Alabama has one of the top two or three units in America. The Tide offense isn't the best ever, but it can run the ball like crazy, and it can control the clock. Nick Saban is the top coach in the game at this time. What he has done in three short season's in Tuscaloosa is nothing short of amazing. Up next: Texas in BCS Title Game.
2. Texas (13-0, 8-0 Big 12)(TFPLW: 3, TFPPS: 2) - The Horns were one point and one second from not being in this next game, and to be honest, it makes me kind of nauseated the way they won their last. Nebraska fans were looking at a TV screen that saw their Coach with his hands in the air, their team with two more points on the big board than their opponent, and a clock that said "0:00." If that wasn't enough to send one into a state of euphoria, then I dont know what can! And then it was all ripped away by the replay officials granting Texas one second and one more play. Of course the kick was made, and Texas remains unbeaten...But perhaps instead of giving UT a hard time about their win, maybe I should realize the Horns defeated one of the better defenses in America, and should be given credit. Perhaps their own defense should be given more credit, too, for holding the Huksers to just 12 points in a championship game. Perhaps Texas should be given credit for going 13-0 and winning the second toughest conference in America. Perhaps. Up next: Alabama in BCS Title Game.
3. ***TIE*** TCU (12-0, 8-0 MWC)(TFPLW: 4, PS: 10) - Here we go again. Teams four, five and six all have beef about being in the BCS Title game, and none of them will get the chance. The Horned Frogs biggest season in years and years will end with them NOT being the national champion. There, I said it. TCU fans, it is now official, you cannot win the national championship. Nobody is more angry than me about this (ok, maybe a few hundred thousand folks in the Fort Worth area), but it is a done deal now: You got left out. And that sucks...It is probably a relief in some sort of weird way to know that you cannot worry about the "what ifs" anymore in 2009, but still, you should get a chance. All you can do now is go out and defeat Boise State and finish second or third in America and unbeaten - not bad! TCU football is now firmly back on the map, my friends. Up next: Boise State in Fiesta Bowl.
3. ***TIE*** Cincinnati (12-0, 7-0 Big East)(TFPLW: 5 , TFPPS: UR) - Brian Kelly is not only a very, very solid football coach, but he is also a class act. Knowing hat his undefeated and highly talented and potent team is not going to get a chance to even play for a crystal football, Kelly looked the cameras dead in the eye and said "the BCS got it right in the end." What he is really saying is that it is a complete joke, but in the eyes of the media and future recruits, he comes across as a man with class in making that statement, whether he meant what he said or not. Like Gary Patterson at TCU, Kelly has Cincinnati in the national scene after being no where to be found just five years back. Their game against Florida will be a tall task, but Cincy's offense has been good all year. By the way, I missed them bad in my preseason poll. Up next: Florida in Sugar Bowl.
5. Boise State (12-0, 7-0 WAC)(TFPLW: 6, TFPPS: 17) - And now we get to Boise, who is seemingly sitting in this spot every December, wondering if they will ever get a chance to play for the REAL trophy. I listened to Head Coach Chris Petersen last night on ESPN, and he made good points about how the Bronco schedule was slowly, but surely, coming around. He listed five good games for next fall, and they were indeed five good games. But the schedule needs to get up to eight or nine good games. Then, that way, they can be in even better position to argue when they get left out the next time. Up next: TCU in Fiesta Bowl.
6. Florida (12-1, 8-0 SEC)(TFPLW: 1, TFPPS: 1) - While I am still rambling on about how much I love the BCS, let's continue with the Gators here. They reeled off 22 straight wins, including 12 straight to open 2009. Then, after an exhausting run, they slip once to a very, very good Alabama team, and POOF, their chances of playing for a second straight national championship have flown out of the window...Yeah, yeah, I know, Bama earned it. But Bama also won by the skin of their teeth twice this year, too...Florida should be an 8 seed in a 8 team playoff. Give this team two weeks to catch its breath, and they could still be your top team after three games. That is all I'm going to say about the Gators right now. Up next: Cincinnati in Sugar Bowl.
7. Oregon (10-2, 6-2 Pac 10)(TFPLW: 7, TFPPS: UR) - It just doesn't end. I keep trying to find a place to stop bitching about the BCS, and teams just keep falling from the sky! Up next in teams seven and eight you have conference champions from two of the "BCS" conferences. The Ducks of Oregon are playing solid ball right now, and feature (to me) the best player in America in quarterack Jeremiah Masoli. But instead of challenging for who is the best team in America on the field, we will just speculate instead (much more fun, right?) about how OU would fare against Alabama or Texas. At least Oregon and our next team here can fight it out for who will finish in the top-5 and who won't. I'm not sure how the Ducks did not make my preseason poll, but they didn't! Up next: Ohio State in Rose Bowl.
8. Ohio State (10-2, 7-1 Big 10)(TFPLW: 8, TFPPS: 13) - The champions of one of the oldest and most respected and storied conferences in America will not be able to play for the national crown. Just as I type this, I was inspired with a great idea which I will feature in another article later this afternoon...I really do not think OSU is a national championship caliber team. But then again, they managed to defeat two of the teams I have a lot of respect for in Iowa and Penn State, and when quarterback Terrell Pryor is on, the Bucks can really play. My point, of course, is that they should be given a shot considering they are the champions of a major conference. Up next: Iowa in Rose Bowl.
9. Georgia Tech (11-2, 7-1 ACC)(TFPLW: 11, TFPPS: 14) - Before people get on me about saying GT would also have the right to play for a national champioship coming from the oh-so-weak-and-horrible-and-pathetic ACC, realize that their only two losses on the year came against Miami and a rivalry loss to Georgia. They are the ACC Champions, and thus in my playoff of conference champions and unbeaten (or special case one-loss teams) at-large teams, Tech would get a shot. For all you ACC bashers, take a hike, I'm tired of hearing it. So South Carolina beat Clemson for the second time in eight years, and UGA beat GT. So what. This league is just fine and I cannot wait for the bowls and 2010 to roll around. Up next: Iowa in Orange Bowl.
10. Iowa (10-2, 6-2 Big 10)(TFPLW: 9, TFPPS: 20) - Ok, at last, a team that I feel should not be able to play for a national championship. Yes, the Hawkeys had a fine, fine year - even reaching the AP number four spot for a few weeks. But in one disastrous two-game stretch, they lost to Northwestwern and saw their quarterback Ricki Stanzi go down, followed by a road loss to Ohio State to lose the Big Ten crown. But I think my playoff would be undefeated teams and conference champions, and Iowa is neither one. They are a damn good football program, though, and I think they will be in the championship talks for years to come. Up next: Georgia Tech in Orange Bowl.
11. Penn State (10-2, 6-2 Big 10)(TFPLW: 10, TFPPS: 8) - PSU had a season that never saw them move up and down the polls a whole heck of a lot. And, oddly enough as I like the Lions and legendary Coach Joe Paterno, I never seemed to see them play that much this season, either. Like, at all. I have no idea why that is. Anyway, a consistent season of hanging right around the edge of the top 10. Up next: LSU in Capitol One Bowl.
12. Virginia Tech (9-3, 6-2 ACC)(TFPLW: 12, TFPPS: 5) - After all is said and done, VT could still end up with ten wins and a finish in the top-10. Most programs would take that in a heartbeat these days. Losses on the year were to Alabama, Georgia Tech and North Carolina. It is the UNC loss that is keeping this team from bigger things, but that is where the ACC doesn't get enough credit - UNC is a good team. The bowl against Tennessee will be a tricky one. Up next: Tennessee in Chick-Fil-A Bowl.
13. LSU (9-3, 6-2 SEC)(TFPLW: 13, TFPPS: 9) - LSU got used to being a BCS champion caliber team there for a few years, and this year slipped back to reality just a hair. Still though, losses for this season were to number 1, number 6, and Ole Miss. Not bad at all. Look for LSU to be solid once again in 2010. Their bowl game against Penn State will be a good chance for me to watch both of these teams a little closer. Up next: Penn State in Capitol One Bowl.
14. Miami (9-3, 5-3 ACC)(TFPLW: 16, TFPPS: UR) - 2009 was the year that saw Miami wake up from the dead just a little bit, and begin to get back towards their usual place in the nation's top-10, with solid OOC wins including Oklahoma and South Florida.They aren't their quite yet, but with a talented team (and quarterback) returning for 2010, keep an eye on the Hurricanes! Up next: Wisconsin in Champs Sports Bowl.
15. Oregon State (8-4, 6-2 Pac 10)(TFPLW: 14, TFPPS: UR) - This was a pretty good season in Corvallis that will be hidden by the fact that they lost a gut-wrenching game to their rival for the Pac 10 title. My apologies to this program for leaving you guys out of ny preseason top-25 - you proved me wrong! Up next: BYU in the MAACO Las Vegas Bowl.
16. West Virginia (9-3, 5-2 Big East)(TFPLW: 23, TFPPS: 24) - The 'Neers came on strong at the end, with victories over Piitsburgh and Rutgers. They also defeated Conference USA champion, East Carolina earlier in the season. The losses were at Auburn, at South Florida, and at Cincinnati - not exactly a bunch of nobodies. Up next: Gator Bowl vs. Florida State.
17. Arizona (8-4, 6-3 Pac 10)(TFPLW: UR, TFPPS: UR) - While I was so busy keeping up with USC and trying to figure out why they just weren't as good as usual, Arizona was making the move towards the top of the Pac 10 with Oregon and Oregon State. The Wildcats, under sixth year coach Mike Stoops, put together quite the 2009, complete with a trip to the Holiday Bowl - annually one of my favorites to watch. Up next: Nebraska in Holiday Bowl.
18. Nebraska (9-4, 6-2 Big 12)(TFPLW: 18, TFPPS: 16) - I just don't even know what to say to these poor Nebraska fans (see Texas' capsule above). Man, one second on the clock is keeping NU from being close to the top-10. But I suppose I have to recognize the loss. I didn't drop them in this poll though, just couldn't do it. Up next: Arizona in Holiday Bowl.
19. BYU (10-2, 7-1 MWC)(TFPLW: 19, TFPPS: UR) - It is the loss (the bad loss) to Florida State back in September that had me off the BYU bandwagon from the get go. I mean, it isn't that BYU lost to FSU that gets me. It is that they lost BAD, and at home, to a very, very average FSU team. Plus, the big win was over a much overated Oklahoma team. Anyway, here is BYU. Up next: Oregon State in MAACO Las Vegas Bowl.
20. Pittsburgh (9-3, 5-2 Big East)(TFPLW: 15, TFPPS: UR) - The Panthers had Cincinnati (and the Big East crown) right where it wanted them, and they let it get away. Up 31-17 at home at halftime in a driving snow storm, the Panthers allowed 28 second half points, and the Bearcats won by a single point. Pitt is back on my list of respectability though, turning in back to back solid seasons now under fifth year Coach Dave Wannstedt. Up next: UNC in Meineke Car Care Bowl.
21. Stanford (8-4, 6-3 Pac 10)(TFPLW: 22, TFPPS: UR) - Behind the running of All-American candidate (and Heisman candidate) Toby Gerhart, Stanford had one of its better seasons in years. Gerhart's numbers were an astounding 1,726 yards and 26 touchdowns. Coach Jim Harbaugh will be up for some coaching awards, as well. Up next: Oklahoma in Brut Sun Bowl.
22. Oklahoma State (9-3, 6-2 Big 12)(TFPLW: 24, TFPPS: UR) - The Cowboys have become top-25 regulars anymore. That is a good thing for the Big 12. What isn't good for OSU though, is that after a very solid year, they were killed by their in state rival, the Sooners, 27 to nothing. That one will hurt for a while. Their bowl game is a good one. Up next: Ole Miss in the Cotton Bowl.
23. Utah (9-3, 6-2 MWC)(TFPLW: UR, TFPPS: UR) - I am listing Utah, because despite not having a very good big win the whole year, their losses were all close and all came to teams in the top 18 (BYU, Oregon and TCU). So I know Utah is close, and the nine other wins also count. They can show what they can do in their bowl. Up next: California in Poinsettia Bowl.
24. East Carolina (9-4, 7-1 CUSA)(TFPLW: UR, TFPPS: UR) - The Conference USA Champions enter my poll for the first time in 2009 in the very last poll of the regular season. They defeated Houston in the CUSA Title Game which they hosted in a very fun, dramatic win, 38-32. I like this program a lot, and believe they will continue to rise. Up next: Arkansas in the AutoZone Liberty Bowl.
25. Central Michigan (11-2, 8-0 MAC)(TFPLW: UR, TFPPS: ) - And finally, Central Michigan, behind record setting quarterback Dan Lefouvre (3,043 yards and 27 scores), makes the top-25. The Chippewas are also ranked in the lesser known "AP" poll. The big win in 2009 for CMU came over Michigan State on the road in week two. They lost to Boston College and Arizona, but with a bowl win would reach the 10-win mark. This ranking has a lot to do with Lefouvre Up next: Troy in GMAC Bowl.
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