The Top Fan's Top 25 - Week Eleven
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Alabama defeated LSU 38-17 and Florida State waxed Wake Forest 59-3 as the two teams appear to be on a collision course to meet in the BCS Championship Game in Pasadena following Oregon's 26-20 loss to Stanford. But don't enter the Crimson Tide too soon. Auburn is sitting in the top ten of the national polls and playing very good football. The Tigers went to Knoxville Saturday and tore up Tennessee, 55-23. This year's Iron Bowl is setting up to be one for the ages as Alabama must travel to hostile territory...
Here are my top 25 teams following the games of week eleven...
1. Alabama (9-0) - The nation's top team took care of LSU with a huge second half, breaking open a 17-17 third quarter tie for a 38-17 win. Once again, senior quarterback AJ McCarron led his team calmly to get the job done. At this point, many are already penciling Bama in for the BCS title game. And while I too believe they are headed that way, I would be extremely worried about arch-rival Auburn to close the season if I were a fan of the Crimson Tide. The Iron Bowl has had many memorable games, and this year's edition is setting up to be epic.
2. Florida State (9-0) - It was no contest for FSU against Wake Forest as they cruised, 59-3. The Seminoles have games left at home against Syracuse and Idaho, and will then travel to Gainesville to see the Gators, before facing any of a number of teams from the ACC Coastal for the league title. I know in college football just about anything can happen, and the game against Florida is a rivalry game, but Florida State is in super position to play for a crystal football. In fact, with Alabama having to play at Auburn to close the regular season, and then the SECCG after that (if they beat the Tigers), I think FSU has the best odds to reach Pasadena.
3. Ohio State (9-0) - How fitting that in the final year of the BCS we could have a team as high quality as Ohio State not playing for a national title. The argument is that OSU has played a very weak schedule, and I can see that. But at some point you have to look at the actual football team and ask yourself how they really look. In Ohio State's case, the answer is that they look pretty damned good! They are very good at QB with Braxton Miller (and his backup, Kenny Guiton). And the defense is very sound. The offensive linemen are huge. On top of all this, Urban Meyer could be the best coach in the game. If Alabama slips, Ohio State could slip into the title talks.
4. Baylor (8-0) - Well, Baylor passed their first (real) test of the season when they took care of Oklahoma by four touchdowns at home this past Thursday night. The Bears didn't reach their 69 point per game average, but they did manage to put 41 up on a decent Sooner defense. The rest of the slate is pretty tough, so if they can win out they could get into the serious discussions with wins over the likes of Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Texas. My prediction, though, is that Baylor loses a game before the regular season ends. This team is good, but as mentioned already, the jury is still out as far as just how good they really are.
5. Stanford (8-1) - Once again, the Cardinal ruined Oregon's shot at a national title. Just like a season ago, when Oregon was on the verge of major things, a November loss to Stanford marked the end of a dream season....If you are a Stanford fan, the Utah Utes' fight song is something that will give you nightmares for years. The only loss of the season came to Utah on the road in week six and is the only thing keeping them from the #2 spot behind Bama (well, that and FSU). It looks like the Trees will make it to Pasadena - but only as the Pac-12 representative for the Rose Bowl, not as one of the two teams in the BCS Championship Game a week later in the same stadium.
6. Auburn (9-1) - Never in a million years could Auburn fans have guessed that they would be in this kind of position in year one under Gus Malzahn. With the regular season coming to a close, the Tigers have a legit chance at some serious hardware. The Georgia Bulldogs offer a stiff test at home this Saturday, followed by what could be the biggest Iron Bowl in years. Given a win over the Dawgs (which is anything but), Auburn could not only unseat the king of the sport with a win over Alabama, but they would win the SEC West and perhaps the whole league after that. Biggest of all, though, is that if Auburn can somehow get two more wins in the next two games, they would have to be a serious candidate, at 11-1, to play for a crystal football. Yea, I said it.
7. Oregon (8-1) - You have to feel bad for Oregon...kind of. Let's face it, they played an awful game at an awful time and they took a loss just like the rest of college football has to endure. The Ducks have a ton of good stuff going on, but they will have to learn to play their very best at the very biggest time to accomplish what they want to accomplish. I know this team is potent, and I know Marcus Mariota and De'Anthony Thomas are as good as it gets at their respective positions. But if Oregon is going to stink it up on national TV in a loss, they will drop in the polls just like anyone else would. Are the Ducks a top ten team? No doubt about it. Are they a top five team? Maybe.
8. Clemson (8-1) - I gave Oregon a "maybe" when asked if they were a top five team. With Clemson, I think the answer would be "no." The Tigers are as good as they have been in a very long time, but they are not a top five team. I think the 8 spot in this poll is about ideal for Clemson. The running game is average, and parts of the defense are still a work in progress, but everywhere else is pretty darned good. Georgia Tech (probable win at home) and South Carolina (probable loss on the road) are what is left between Clemson and a very good bowl game. The game against the Gamecocks is the scariest as South Carolina is nearly unbeatable at home with senior QB Connor Shaw (15-0 as the starter in Williams-Brice).
9. Missouri (9-1) - I am really tempted to put the Gamecocks of South Carolina in place of Mizzou in the top ten here. But looking at the total body of work - not just the Gamecock win over the Tigers - I have to give Missouri the slight edge. UM is in control of what will happen for the SEC East crown, but they have work left to do. Games against Ole Miss (away) and Texas A&M (home) will provide plenty of stress for fans in Columbia. A loss in either game would see the division go to South Carolina or Georgia (I think). Eight quarters of football from now we will know a ton more about Missouri and how legit they are. All I know for sure is this: if Mizzou wins this week and next week, they go to Atlanta.
10. Oklahoma State (8-1) - The Cowboys have perhaps the toughest closing stretch in America as they have Texas (away), Baylor (home) and Oklahoma (home) in the next three weeks. Oklahoma State always has a good offense and this year isn't much different as the Cowboys are averaging 41 points per game. But the defense is the pleasant surprise so far as OSU is 20th nationally at 20 ppg. The goal now is clear - win and let the hardware take care of itself. Having games against the conference leaders to close out is tough, but it also gives the Cowboys a major spotlight and a chance at big things.
11. South Carolina (7-2)
12. Michigan State (8-1)
13. Texas A&M (8-2)
14. UCLA (7-2)
15. Fresno State (9-0)
16. Louisville (8-1)
17. Northern Illinois (9-0)
18. Arizona State (7-2)
19. Texas (7-2)
20. Wisconsin (7-2)
21. LSU (7-3)
22. Nebraska (7-2)
23. Central Florida (7-1)
24. Ole Miss (6-3)
25. Oklahoma (7-2)
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