The hits kept on coming last week in the world of college football as more upsets and divisional match-ups changed the rankings and shifted the way the football landscape looks. This weekend may on paper look to be a calmer one with many of the ranked teams on this list having the week off, but none the less, it could be just as exciting.
Well what else is there to say about the top team in the land? At this point, probably not much more. A 45-10 beat-down of Tennessee moved the Tide to 8-0 on the season and secure their spot at the top of the rankings for at least another week. With four regular season games on the schedule left, the Tide is on their tentative way to the SEC title game and potentially the national title. Next weekend poses a tough challenge in rival LSU. The Tigers ruined Alabama’s run for an undefeated season in 2011 and the Crimson Tide will probably be looking to prevent a similar situation from happening.
Leapfrogging Florida State in the BCS rankings, it took the Ducks nearly three quarters to start looking like their normal selves in their 42-14 win over UCLA. While they were able to run up the score in the fourth, Oregon just didn’t look that impressive offensively against the Bruins. The defense did a great job of keeping UCLA under control, but it makes one wonder how they will do down the road. The Ducks have a chance to lock in their spot to the national title game with a trip to take on Stanford next Thursday in a game that will decide the PAC-12 North division.
#3: Florida State
With their 49-17 win over North Carolina State, Florida State is 7-0 for the first time since their 12-0 national title run in 1999. The win over N.C. State was highlighted by another Heisman-esc performance from QB Jameis Winston, who recorded 292 yards and three touchdowns with one interception against the Wolfpack. Falling behind Oregon in the rankings, FSU needs a bit of help to get back to #2. The first step will be defeating Miami (FL) this weekend, which will give them their second win over a top 10 team. That would be one more than Oregon if they beat Stanford, but over domination might side with the Ducks. Big win over the Hurricanes could give them a boost over the Ducks.
#4: Ohio State
While they might be waiting for someone to slip up on the national title front, Ohio State still look last weekend to bolster their winning record with a historic 63-14 win over Penn State. The game was historic because Ohio State handed Penn State their worst loss in 114 years. Sadly, it’s hard to see that achievement giving them any closing distance on Florida State or Oregon, little lone Alabama. At this point, the Buckeyes will be watching the other games going on following the beat-down they are going to be giving Purdue. The Buckeyes do have two ranked wins, but it probably won’t be enough to give them the jump.
It’s hard to believe that this Baylor team is now in the top tier of ranked teams. Their 59-14 win over Kansas was just another small stepping stone to their already impressive season. To put it in perspective, the Bears have a better record now than they had when RG3 was there. To be fair, they haven’t beaten a ranked opponent yet and their toughest game to date may have been Kansas State. This week starts a brutal three game series for the Bears against ranked teams, all kicking off with a home game against Oklahoma next Thursday, which will be the first real test of the season.
Following their embarrassing loss to Florida State, Clemson needed a big game to get everything back on track. They did that, in a way, with a decent 40-27 win over Maryland this past weekend. While the game wasn’t an offensive show, WR Sammy Watkins had a dominating game, catching 14 passes for 163 yards. Unless Florida State trips up, Clemson will find themselves riding the pine in the ACC title run. The Tigers will take on Virginia this weekend in what should be a pretty easy game for them. Clemson hasn’t lost to Virginia since 2004 and has beaten them 38 times historically.
If you are a Stanford fan, you have to be worried about next Thursday’s game against Oregon. The Cardinal didn’t look too great in their 20-12 win over Oregon State last weekend. Credit should go out to Stanford’s defense for keeping QB Sean Mannion under control for most of the game, but RB Tyler Gaffney was the only good thing about their offense. Gaffney rushed for 145 yards and three touchdowns on the game through 22 carries. If Stanford can keep control of the ball and run the Oregon defense down, the Cardinal has a legitimate shot at this game. The second Oregon gets out to a 14 point lead though; this game won’t even be close.
A 45-10 win over FAU? Yeah that sounds about right. Auburn had no issues with FAU, but to expect that they would have any problems with the Owls would have been silly. The biggest thing to note from this game was the injury to QB Nick Marshall. Going down with a shoulder injury, he is expected to play in a very competitive game against Arkansas. These two have traded blows over the years, so just because the Razorbacks are struggling, shouldn’t mean that this game will be an easy one. Auburn has lost four of the last five match-ups to Arkansas and has lost the last two games.
The sound of an undefeated season went clanking off a goal post as the Tigers fell in two overtimes to South Carolina 27-24. Missouri was holding its own till the fourth quarter when the wheels rolled off and the Gamecocks put up 17 points. In the past, this usually happens to the Tigers so it doesn’t surprise me that their season ended in this fashion. The Tigers still control the SEC East as of right now, so they still look to be on their way to the SEC title game. Missouri will take on Tennessee this weekend looking to move on to 8-1.
#10: Miami (FL)
How did Miami (FL) fall in a week when they won a game? It’s because of how the game ended up. The Hurricanes were already on thin ice as they have gone completely unproven outside of the win against Florida and their last second touchdown win over Wake Forest doesn’t help. RB Duke Johnson carried that team to the win and had 168 yards and two touchdowns in the process. Will Miami (FL) be able to rise to the occasion and take down Florida State this weekend? Probably not since the Seminoles have a QB that can make moves on offense and that is something they really haven’t faced yet.
Like many other teams last week that just suffered a questionable loss, LSU rebounded nicely with a 48-16 win over FCS’s Furman. Alright, maybe beating a FCS school this late in the season isn’t a big deal, but the Tigers have been struggling offensively since beating Mississippi State. This game allowed them to work out some of the rust and kinks in the offensive game, while at the same time, not being one they could have easily lost. A bye week this week is a big thing for LSU as they prepare to not only face Alabama, but also follow it up with a game against Texas A&M the following week.
#12: Fresno State
Despite winning 35-28 in overtime against San Diego State, the Bulldogs looked a bit wobbly last weekend. Going up by 14 in the middle of the fourth quarter, Fresno State let the Aztecs get back and tie the game with some poor defensive play that would stand up compared to the other ranked teams in the nation. QB Derek Carr had a very human game, throwing for under 300 yards for the first time since Week 2. Nevada could pose issues for Fresno, which could make for a very entertaining game and a potential upset. The Bulldogs are quickly climbing this list, but mostly because everyone else is losing.
#13: Northern Illinois
The Huskies moved on to 8-0 this week following a definitive win over Eastern Michigan 59-20. NIU’s QB Jordan Lynch has looked strong in these last two games, but then again, the team wasn’t exactly playing a premium team. NIU won’t be facing anyone of worth till the MAC championship, so don’t expect Massachusetts to put up much of a fight. As for the BCS, with a lot of the top teams playing each other in the coming weeks, NIU may sneak into a game if Fresno State can’t get it done down the road. Their schedule though shouldn’t be enough to get them into a game without someone else faltering.
#14: Texas A&M
Poor Vanderbilt. Evil Tim Tebow and the Aggies took out their pent-up frustrations from the Auburn loss and decimated the Boilermakers 56-24. QB Johnny Manziel threw for 305 yards and four touchdowns while surprisingly only having 11 yards rushing. Sitting at 6-2, the Aggies still have a good shot at winning out, but it won’t be that easy. A game against UTEP shouldn’t poses to many problems, but LSU and Missouri do round out their season. The Aggies may be able to sneak in to the BCS, but it would be hard at this point with their division having so many good teams.
#15: South Carolina
Just when South Carolina looks to be done for the season, they pull off a big win like this. Ok they didn’t do it all on their own, but their 27-24 win over Missouri helps their post-season hopes. The win gives the tie-breaker in the conference run, but they would need the Tigers to lose at least one more game for that to happen. The Gamecocks need to hold either own though and can keep pace with a win over Mississippi State this weekend. QB Connor Shaw is the one to watch as he continues to recover from injury as he is listed as questionable for this game.
The road to the AAC title is getting closer to its end and Louisville helped themselves out in a big way by beating South Florida 34-3 this past weekend. The Cardinals are currently tied with UCF and Houston for the lead in the conference with a game against the Cougars coming up in a few weeks. Having the week off, Louisville will prepare for the next game, but also keeping their eyes on next weekend’s UCF vs. Houston game to see who will fall and what the rest of the season will look like in that race. The Cardinals will return on the 8th to take on UConn.
No matter how bad they look at times, Oklahoma is still Oklahoma. Because of that, they can do things like beating Texas Tech 38-30 at home. The back and forth contest was one that landed in favor of the Sooners in the late third and most of the fourth quarter. The run is where Oklahoma really shined, rushing for 277 yards and three touchdowns as a team. In the big picture, the Sooners are tied for second in the Big 12 with Texas Tech and Oklahoma State with Baylor and Texas leading the conference with undefeated conference records. A Thursday game against the Bears on the 7th could ultimately decide who wins the Big 12.
Let’s be honest, UCLA played Oregon better than any other team has all season long. The fact that they could keep the Ducks in check for a majority of the game is a win in its self. Ultimately, what might have ruined the chances of the Bruins getting the upset was a lack of offensive productivity. As a team, UCLA only gained 283 yards of total offense. Those totals aren’t going to get it done versus the Ducks, little lone any of the other major teams. With their two toughest games now behind them, UCLA will head into a fairly competitive final five games with a match-up against Colorado this weekend. Games down the road against Arizona and Arizona State will ultimately decide if they go to yet another PAC-12 championship.
#19: Oklahoma State
Maybe it was because they were playing Iowa State or maybe Brandon Weeden decided to go back to school, either way, Oklahoma State put up some pretty impressive numbers, taking down the Cyclones 58-27 in Ames. While the passing game floundered like a struggling trout, the run game was in full force behind junior Desmond Roland. Roland rushed for 219 yards and four touchdowns on the day, a career high in both categories, which is impressive since he had only rush for 100+ yards one other time. It will be interesting to see if the Cowboys can take some of the things they learned from this game and translate it over to this weekend’s match-up with Texas Tech.
Don’t sleep on the Knights of Central Florida! Following their big win against Louisville, UCF straight up dominated UConn 62-17 to notch their third conference win of the season. The Knights dominated in every aspect of the game and their skill continued to shine through. Having this week off, UCF is going into a difficult game against Houston that will break up some of the congestion at the top of the AAC. A win for the Knights would be the best situation as it gives them a bit more leverage on the Cougars and the Cardinals if all the teams finish the season with one conference loss.
#21: Texas Tech
We all knew that Texas Tech’s true colors would be shown in the final five games of the season. Their 38-30 loss to Oklahoma was the tipping point in what has been a month of close calls. The Red Raiders haven’t really closed out a game by a decent margin since Kansas, so coming up short in this one isn’t surprising. TTU now falls behind Baylor and Texas in the race for the Big 12 title with a tough home game against Oklahoma State this weekend. The Red Raiders haven’t beaten the Cowboys since 2008 and have only won three of the last ten match-ups.
The week has been Wolverine-free, which probably works out well for Michigan as they prepare to take on rival Michigan State. The Wolverines are tied with the Spartans and the Huskers for the lead in the “Legends” division in the Big Ten, so this game is huge. The recent history between these two teams has favored Michigan State as the Spartans have won four of the last five match-ups. This is a must win for Michigan as their season depends on this game and the following week’s match-up with Nebraska to lock them in to the Big Ten title game.
It almost feels like everyone in the Big Ten had the week off. Wisconsin hasn’t been seen since running past Illinois a few weeks ago. This week, they take on Iowa looking to keep pace with Ohio State in their division. As mentioned last week, it’s a waiting game for the Badgers and its one that probably won’t pan out. With the loss previously to OSU, the Buckeyes would need to drop two games and Wisconsin would have to win out for there to be a shot at the Big Ten title. The Hawkeyes probably won’t be a challenge and this game probably won’t be worth watching.
#24: Michigan State
Tripping up a bit earlier in the season to Notre Dame, the Spartans have been on a roll, winning their last four games including last week’s 42-3 win over Illinois. Going in to this week’s rivalry game with Michigan, it all comes down to how Michigan State performs on offense. The Spartans have struggled to score on opponents of equal talent and this match-up might be the toughest of the season. A win would give them distance from the Wolverines and the Huskers in the division, but a loss would set them back more than anything as they play both teams back-to-back.
How do the Blue Devils manage to get on this list? Well thank Virginia Tech for that. Duke knocked off the 14th ranked Hokies 13-10 last week and showed the nation that they might be more than a basketball powerhouse. Now Duke’s chances in the ACC Coastal division are tough with the loss to Pitt and Georgia Tech putting them mid-way in the division. Another Georgia Tech loss and a win over Miami (FL) could launch them to the top in theory, if will happen though is yet to be seen. The Blue Devils will return next week to take on North Carolina State.
DROPPED: Virginia Tech & Nebraska
ON WATCH: Arizona, Arizona State, BYU and Texas