Another college football week provided another round of incredible wins, massive upsets and some of the most unbelievable shake-ups to this list so far in 2013. Nobody could have guessed that teams like Georgia and Florida would be out of the rankings at any point in the season, little lone by the half-way mark. At the same time, nobody could have guessed that teams like Missouri and Baylor would be competing for the national title. This weekend will provide us with a lot of interesting match-ups, including four which pit ranked teams against each other.
Top of this list and now top of the BCS, the Crimson Tide made quick work of the Razorbacks last weekend 42-0 to continue their perfect season. While many are now questioning the strength of the 2013 SEC after two brutal weekends, Alabama still looks to be the strongest team in the conference and nation. The Tide takes on the Volunteers of Tennessee in what could be a pretty competitive game, but one that should still end in favor of the defending national champs. Something to watch in this one is how Alabama adjusts to losing starting corner Vinnie Sunseri for the season with an ACL injury.
Duck fans might be a bit sour this week after it was revealed that Oregon didn’t end up in the second spot in the BCS following a weekend that featured a 62-38 win over Washington State. While Oregon might be undefeated, they currently only have one win against a nationally ranked team (which was a then #16 Washington). Thankfully for them, the PAC-12’s somewhat return to national power gives them at least two more ranked opponents before the end of the season. This weekend, they take on probably their toughest opponent of the season thus far in UCLA in what is easily the best game of this coming Saturday.
#3: Florida State
Ladies and gentlemen of the college football world, the Florida State Seminoles have (at least for the time) returned to their dominate way. FSU’s dominating 51-14 win over Clemson has sky-rocketed them up the national ranking and put them in the second BCS spot. QB Jameis Winston, who has been great thus far in 2013, showed an incredible amount of composure in this game and could be on his way to a Heisman trophy. There is still a lot of the season left though for the Noles and the chances of them getting jumped in the BCS is very real. Miami (FL) is the only ranked opponent FSU has left right now, so winning out may not guarantee a trip to the title. Florida State will take on North Carolina State this weekend looking to move to 7-0.
#4: Ohio State
Undefeated and still holding the longest active win streak in the NCAA, Ohio State can’t sell a jersey for love in the national rankings. OSU has one more win over a ranked opponent than Oregon, but they have spent a majority of the year trailing the Ducks in the rankings. Could it be partly because those wins weren’t that impressive or could it be because of a close call at Iowa last weekend that saw them only win 34-24? Tough to say, but for the Buckeyes to be in the national title game, they are going to need some help. First though, they have to handle a sneaky Penn State team that could play the role of spoiler.
On the heels of a 71-7 win over Iowa State, the Baylor Bears have arrived in the top five of this list thanks in large part to a lot of the upsets that went down last week. Baylor, doing what Baylor has done best all season long, put up 714 yards of total offense, putting them just 216 yards behind Oregon for most total yards in the nation with a game to spare. The Bears will take on Kansas on the road this week in what should be another easy win. Things will get tougher though with Oklahoma, Texas Tech and Oklahoma State in the following games.
If it wasn’t apparent before that Missouri is a contender, it is now. Their 36-17 win over Florida this past week marks the second straight win over a ranked opponent in a row and puts the Tigers on the national title radar. Missouri’s defense has played above and beyond the last two weeks and the concerns that might have been brought up following the injury to QB James Franklin might have been subdued a bit with the 295 yard game back-up Maty Mauk had against the Gators. Missouri will take on their third consecutive ranked opponent this week in an injury-riddled South Carolina.
To say that Clemson’s 51-14 loss to Florida State was a shocker would be an understatement. QB Tajh Boyd was a complete non-factor in that game, only throwing for 156 yards and one touchdown while being intercepted twice. The last time he posted these type of numbers was last season against South Carolina. Defensively, the Tigers just got out-worked by the Noles, giving up 565 yards of total offense. Clemson, who need a miracle to win their conference, are pretty much eliminated from the national title race. The Tigers will take on the Terrapins of Maryland this weekend looking to rebound and get back on track.
#8: Miami (FL)
Following their 27-23 win against North Carolina last week, the Hurricanes officially adopted the title as most suspect team in the national rankings. With their one ranked win back in September, Miami (FL) has climbed the ranks pretty much on the backs of other teams losing. Both Florida and Georgia Tech are barely a game over .500 and everyone else has at least four loses already. Wake Forest is a really hit and miss team, so the result of this upcoming game is tough to predict. What we do know is that Florida State and Virginia Tech are next in line to show the national the true skill and talent of the U.
The Cardinal needs a big win after crumbling against Utah and they got one (sort of) last weekend against UCLA. Winning 24-10, Stanford did a pretty good job getting QB Brett Hundley in check and forcing him to throw two interceptions. The win, which gives Stanford their second ranked win of the season, was needed to keep pace with Oregon in the PAC-12 North. Taking on ranked Oregon State this weekend, the Cardinal needs to avoid another upset. QB Sean Mannion is a big time passer and could give the secondary some trouble. A loss for Stanford would all but eliminate them from the division title and hurt Oregon’s BCS hopes as well.
They might have allowed 41 points, but Auburn got the job done against Evil Tim Tebow and the Aggies of Texas A&M to pick up their sixth win of the season. In a game that was more or less a shoot-out, the Tigers played their best football of the game in those final minutes, scoring the game-winning touchdown with 1:19 left in the game and preventing the Manziel comeback at the end. The win is their first against a “top 10” opponent since 2011. Still a player in the race for the SEC West title, they will host Florida Atlantic this weekend.
Going into their game against Minnesota this weekend, the top question surrounding the Huskers is whether or not QB Taylor Martinez will be ready or not. At this point, Martinez is a game-time decision against the Golden Gophers (probably leaning on the side of not returning till next week to take on Northwestern. Nebraska has been able to fill in the voids through us of a couple of different QBs and RB Ameer Abdullah, so they haven’t been hindered that much on the offensive side of the ball. The Huskers have won 16 straight games against Minnesota dating back to 1963.
Just when LSU gets going, something like this happens. The Bayou Bengals took a pretty hard shot to the chin this past weekend, losing to Ole Miss 27-24 in a game that came down to field goal at the end of regulation. QB Zach Mettenberger was pretty sloppy in this game, throwing three interceptions while only completing 58% of his passes and the offense as a whole looked a bit off. Although those host FCS opponent Furman this weekend, the final three games of the season are tough ones as LSU will face off with Alabama, Texas A&M and Arkansas to round out the regular season.
#13: Fresno State
Much in the same vein as Miami (FL), Fresno State is quickly climbing this list as a byproduct of more deserving ranked teams losing. Their 38-14 win over UNLV didn’t help bolster their resume as their wins against Rutgers and BSU are the only ones worth noting figuring the other four teams they played are a combined 8-19. Everyone roots for the underdog and little guy, but any one loss team could jump them in the rankings with a win over either a ranked opponent or against a good team. Fresno State will look to go 7-0 this weekend with a game against San Diego State.
In all fairness to UCLA, their 24-10 loss to Stanford was a competitive one. The Bruins offensively had trouble finding a rhythm, but the defense held its own for a majority of the game. This week though poses a much bigger opponent in Oregon. The Ducks put up points like nobody but Baylor and UCLA hasn’t really faced a team with that kind of output. All signs point to this game being UCLA’s second loss of the season, but with how tough they played Stanford, the Bruins could keep the Ducks under control much in the same way Washington did, minus losing by 24 points.
#15: Northern Illinois
It was just another day at the office for Northern Illinois last weekend in their 38-17 win over Central Michigan. QB Jordan Lynch, who has been a bit disappointing this season, set the NCAA record for rushing yards in a single game by a quarterback, rushing for 316 yards. If you are keeping score at home, that is more yards than four of his last six games combined and makes up 34% of his total rushing for the season. With an emotional Eastern Michigan team coming to town this weekend, expect the Huskies to move on to 8-0 as they clean house in the MAC.
#16: Texas A&M
Poor defensive play finally caught up with Evil Tim Tebow and the Aggies this past week as they dropped their second game of the season with a 45-41 loss to Auburn. QB Johnny Manziel did his part, recording five touchdowns and gaining 502 yards of total offense, but giving up two interceptions in the process. When it came down to it, the defense just couldn’t make a stop as the Tigers put up 615 yards of total offense. TAMU has two more ranked opponents, but their BCS hopes hinge on them winning and others losing at this point. They will face off with Vanderbilt this weekend, looking to recover from that awful game against Auburn.
Louisville’s incredible season came to a dramatic halt this past weekend with a surprising loss to a very good Central Florida team 38-35 at home. Despite QB Teddy Bridgewater having a pretty good game, the loss might come down to the awful third quarter play of the Cardinals as they gave up 21 points to the Knights. The fumbles by Louisville didn’t help either. Houston, UCF and South Florida are the only teams in the AAC to be undefeated in conference play. For Louisville to win the AAC, those teams would need to finish with a worse conference record than the Cardinals. The Ville can help their own cause this weekend with a game against the Bulls.
#18: Texas Tech
QB Davis Webb has to be a little disappointed with TTU’s 37-27 win over West Virginia last weekend. He throws for 462 yards on 36 of 50 passing and only managed to get into the end-zone twice. Then again, a win is a win and he is probably just happy that his team was able to stay undefeated in part to a big fourth quarter effort to take the lead and seal the victory. The Red Raiders get their biggest match-up to date this weekend with a game against Oklahoma. These two teams have traded wins since 2004 with TTU getting wins in odd numbered years. Could this mean the Red Raiders are poised to go 8-0?
Speaking of the Sooners, the Bob Stoops crew rebounded nicely from that ugly loss to Texas with a 34-19 win over Kansas on the road. It actually looked like Oklahoma would crumble again as they fell behind by 13 points through the early goings of the game. 25 consecutive points later, the Sooners were on their way to a win. This weekend they return home to take on Texas Tech. The big thing to watch is how Oklahoma’s defense handles QB Davis Webb and if the Sooners can find their voice on offense. Don’t expect QB Blake Bell to help out much if TTU makes it a shoot-out.
#20: Oklahoma State
Winning at home against TCU 24-10, Oklahoma State was a mixed bag of results last weekend. While they recorded four takeaways, they also gave up the ball four times. The Cowboys also are back to having an identity problem under center as QB J.W. Walsh was replaced by Clint Chelf after throwing two interceptions. The bright spot for this team was WR Josh Stewart who caught 10 passes for 141 yards and returned a 95-yard punt for a touchdown. Iowa State shouldn’t be a big threat this weekend, but OKST needs to get it together before taking on Texas Tech in early November.
UCF’s 38-35 win over Louisville may go down as the biggest win in school history. The win was the first victory over a top 25 team since beating a then ranked Houston in 2009 for the Knights and the highest ranked opponent they have ever beaten. Don’t let this game fool you; UCF has been a pretty successful team for the last few seasons with a C-USA title in 2010 and a 10-4 bowl winning record last year. UCF is also in line now for the AAC BCS bid with Houston and South Florida as the only undefeated teams in the conference. The Knights will look to keep the dream alive this weekend with a game against winless UConn.
The Wolverines finally looked like the team we expected them to be this week as they shattered Indiana 63-47 in a wild shoot-out. QB Devin Gardner, who hasn’t really had a good game since Week 2, threw for 502 yards and two touchdowns while Fitzgerald Toussaint rushed for 151 yards and four touchdowns. At its most basic form, this game was a great display of what defenses shouldn’t look like. Michigan’s defense is suspect at best and having this week off is much needed to get things right with that group as a big rivalry game with Michigan State on November 2nd is coming up next.
#23: South Carolina
The wheels are officially falling off the bus in Columbia right now. The Gamecocks not only lost to Tennessee 23-21 on the road, but they also lost starting QB Connor Shaw for the foreseeable future. They should be fine with back-up Dylan Thompson under center, but this was an awful time to lose. Traveling out west to Missouri this week, the Gamecocks will have to deal with the Tigers having a lot of momentum coming into this game and being the best team they have played since either UCF or Georgia. It would not be surprising if this game got out of hand quick.
While not in the BCS rankings, the 5-2 Badgers are slowly making their way up the rankings with convincing wins like last week against Illinois. The 56-32 win was highlighted by RBs James White and Melvin Gordon combining for 240 yards and five touchdowns on the ground with White also picking one up through the air. While the defense did allow a season high in points, they did hold Illinois to under 400 yards of total offense. Badger fans should be getting excited as this team is in position to run the table on the season and finish out with just two loses. Wisconsin has the week off as they prepare to take on Iowa on November 2nd.
#25: Virginia Tech
When it comes to the Hokies, I always regret ranking them on this list. Every time I think QB Logan Thomas and the crew are going to be good, they royally disappoint me. Things may be different this time around as they have won six straight games following their Week 1 loss to Alabama and appear to be in the driver’s seat for another ACC Coastal title. Playing Duke this weekend, Va-Tech could fail me again as the Blue Devils are doing incredibly well sitting at 5-2. Neither team has really beaten anyone of note, so Duke could end up in this spot next week.
DROPPED: Florida & Georgia
ON WATCH: Duke, Michigan State, Ole Miss, Arizona State and Oregon State.