Sunday, October 27, 2013

College Football Power Rankings (Week 10)

After a week of bizarre upsets (with 5 teams in the top 10 losing) some order was restored last Saturday, as favorites rolled and everyone else sputtered along. A couple of teams unused to top 10 status were knocked back down to their rightful spots (Missouri and Texas Tech) and in all it was a more or less predictable set of games. I suppose game 3 of the fall classic used up all of the ridiculousness in sports allowed for one day… but I digress.
Easily the enjoyable race to watch this year has become the matchup between FSU and Oregon. Both have young QB's dominating the Heisman conversation, and both are desperate for big wins to push them into the 2 slot, battling for the opportunity to pit their considerable talent against that perennial behemoth, the mighty Crimson Tide. The BCS and the AP poll last week were divided, with the computers preferring the Seminoles by a shade. Every week the 2 and 3 rankings seem like a toss-up, but personally I am going with the Ducks in the two hole after a nice, "cute, but we're the big boys of the Pac 12"message sending type of win over the straight-out-of-highschool Bruins.

1. Alabama: People forget what an impressive receiving core AJ McCarron has at his disposal: not a single player graduated at wide receiver last year, and several studs returned from an injury plagued 2012, possibly rendering WR the Tide's deepest position this year. It really seems like they never run out of weapons, from true-sophomore sensation Amari Cooper (5 receptions for 75 yards and a TD) to Kevin Norwood (6 receptions for 112 yards) to DeAndrew White and Kenny Bell, how on earth do you defend a team that can hurt you in so many ways? Tennessee would have liked to have found the answer to that question. Of course I couldn't write about Bama without mentioning TJ Yeldon and his 3 TD's yesterday, the latest in a dynasty of great running backs. To those who toy with the idea of dethroning Alabama from the 1 spot, I say these guys aren't going anywhere, except the national championship in January.

2. Oregon: The Oregon Ducks had me worried, I'll admit, when they went into the half tied at 14. Both of UCLA's touchdowns came off of big defensive plays, however, and it was that half of the Bruin team that kept them in the game. When Brett Hundley's offense couldn't buy a first down in the second half, Oregon ran wild on the Bruins and the game quickly got out of hand, ending 42-14, shockingly close to my prediction of, I believe, 45-10 last week. However, I was way off in one respect: I called Mariota to have a monster game, and he really didn't. It was the return of DeAnthony Thomas, not to mention Byron Marshall's 3 TD's on the ground that proved decisive here. But Mariota's mediocre 230 yard day actually revealed a further strength about this squad. If their remarkable quarterback is having his brand of off day, they will hurt you badly on the ground. They did this against a previously vaunted UCLA run defense. You need a balanced team to win big, and the Ducks proved without a doubt that they have just that.

3. Florida St: I got excited when I tuned to FSU vs. NCST, ready for a big day from my now favorite Heisman candidate. I was keeping tabs on other games, but each time I changed the channel back, I saw the 'Noles put up another TD, until by the end, Winston had 3 TD's and his offense had 35 points. The end of the first quarter, that is. Yes, in 15 minutes, the Seminoles scored 5 times, 2 TD's being beautiful 40 yard passes to the end zone, Winston's big moments. This 49-17 rout of a truly pathetic tackling Wolfpack didn't say much about the Seminoles, except perhaps that they appreciate their former head coach. But with sixth ranked Miami next week, it's good to see they didn't lose sight of the present. That's a great game coming up, by the way, the ACC is back!

4. Ohio St: Ok, pass the humble pie please. I was not a huge fan of the Buckeyes this year, and after two lackluster wins over bad opponents, I picked them to be upset by Penn St. this week, in my one unorthodox call. Plenty of good teams were losing to bad ones, the Nittany Lions were coming off a bye (and before that an emotional 4 OT win over the Wolverines)… all the stars seemed aligned for Urban Meyer's squad to tumble, finally. My hunch proved slightly incorrect. The only thing upset in this game was Penn St. freshman Christian Hackenburg's balance, as he was sacked 4 times in a lopsided 63-14 loss, Penn St.'s worst in over 100 years. OSU proved superiority in every sense, playing a great physical brand of football. 238 lb RB Carlos Hyde moves like he's 30 lbs smaller, and he kept up his impressive streak of games with another 2 TD's. Braxton Miller was phenomenal despite a slight injury scare, running for 2 touchdowns and passing for 3. No big deal, as OSU finally gets the statement win they were looking for.

5. Baylor: Another week, another 60 spot from the boys in green. To be exact, they are averaging 63.9 points a game, led by junior QB Bryce Petty. In less than 3 quarters (saving his arm, perhaps, for a big home game against Oklahoma next week) he threw for 430 yards, 3 touchdowns and ran for another against the Kansas defense, this week's victims to the sports car/tank that is the Baylor offense. They took two series to warm up, but boy, when they get going there is very little that gets in their way. Of course, the cupcake schedule so far for the Bears has set them against everything short of a Pop Warner team, but still, to put up the type of numbers this team puts up every week is shocking. Thankfully, they will face 3 ranked opponents in the next 3 weeks, and if they win those 3 convincingly, I do not know what we'll do at the top of the rankings. The playoff can't come soon enough… but for now, the Bears can worry about #9 Oklahoma, #15 Texas Tech, and #12 Oklahoma St. They are probably relishing the chance to prove themselves against 3 legit squads. Three great games are coming our way from this Baylor team, but that's my next article.

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