As predicted, no less than 6 AP Top 25 teams lost in college football’s third week, two of them-Louisville and Nebraska-dropped in the rankings and four others-UCLA, Georgia Tech, Arkansas and Tennessee-dropped right out of the poll. Life in big time college football can be a little unsettling.
Four more-Alabama, Kentucky, South Florida and Missouri-moved into the Top 25 for the first time.
No. 9 Louisville finds itself now No. 18 after being upset by Kentucky 40-34. Kentucky is now 3-0 and No. 21 after its victory, the Wildcats’ first win against a top-10 team since 1977, 30 years ago. The loss by Louisville should come as no surprise. The Cardinals beat up on AA Murray State 73-10 (as they should have) and then gave up a whopping 42 points to Middle Tennessee before winning 58-42 (that is a porous defense).
Louisville is still overrated. If you do not think so, check this out: Middle Tennessee was rated No. 141 among 119 Division 1-A schools by Sagarin going into its game with Louisville. Good grief, talk about beating a lousy team. It makes you wonder, how good is Kentucky?
No. 14 Nebraska is now No. 24 after being dominated by USC on the Cornhuskers’ turf, 49-31. USC gained 313 yards rushing and held Nebraska to 31. USC remains No. 1 in all polls from here to parts unknown.
No. 15 Georgia Tech was upset by No. 21 Boston College 24-10 and fell out of the poll.
No. 22 Tennessee was swamped by No. 5 Florida 59-20 and dropped out of the poll.
Moving into the AP Top 25 this week was No. 16 Alabama which tuned back then No. 16 Arkansas, 41-38, after twice blowing 21-point leads. It was a dramatic win for the Crimson Tide, who put on a defensive stand and a last-minute drive culminating in a final, 4-yard, game-winning touchdown pass with 8 seconds left.
I have said to keep your eyes peeled for Nick Saban, a quality coach in his first year at Alabama. Saban led LSU to the 2003 BCS National Championship while competing in the same SEC conference. Moving into the Top 25 was the No. 24 South Florida Bulls who were idle this week after beating AA Elon 28-13 and upsetting then No. 17 Auburn on the road, 26-23, in overtime.
I have already taken Alabama and South Florida off my list of teams that will be in the Top 25 before the season is over. Last week I predicted that Alabama, South Florida, Washington, Arizona State and Michigan State will crack the AP Top 25.
Missouri beat Western Michigan 52-24 for its 3rd straight win and moved into No. 25 in the poll. The Tigers have also beaten Illinois 40-34 and Ole Miss 38-25. After this weekend’s games, Sagarin rated Illinois No. 63, Ole Miss No. 75 and Western Michigan No. 111. I will let you know if Missouri is any good after they play and beat a team worth beating. Washington, still unranked, led No. 10 Ohio State 7-3 at the half and had the momentum to pull off an upset for the second straight week (the Huskies upset No. 22 Boise State a week earlier).
Unfortunately, a 39-second stretch in the 3rd quarter cost Washington dearly. First, the Buckeyes’ Brian Robiskie beat freshman cornerback Vonzell McDowell down the sideline for a 68-yard touchdown.
Then another freshman, Curtis Shaw, fumbled on the ensuing kickoff return trying to get more yardage after the initial hit. Ohio State scored on the turnover, taking a 17-7 lead and eventually winning 33-14 in a game that was much closer than the score. I believe Washington is still a team on the rise and will bounce back this week as it starts Pac 10 play with a road game at UCLA. UCLA was ranked No. 11 before playing Utah over the weekend and getting the snot kicked out of it, 44-6, and falling out of the poll.
Arizona State, still unranked, won its 3rd straight by moving by San Diego State 34-13 (rated No. 106). First year Coach Dennis Erickson has also topped San Jose State 45-3 (rated No. 147) and Colorado 33-14 (rated No. 67). Arizona State starts its Pac 10 campaign this weekend at home against Oregon State.
Another first year coach, Mark Dantonio at Michigan State, won his 3rd straight game in hand-to-hand combat with Pittsburgh 17-13 (ranked No. 53). The Spartans led 14-7 at the half but frankly underwhelmed me with their performance.
After watching Michigan State sprint to a 42-0 lead in their opener midway through the second quarter in a 55-18 thrashing of UAB (ranked No. 125), scoring touchdowns in their first 6 possessions, I expected more against Pittsburgh. They got by Bowling Green 28-17 (ranked No. 65) in a not-so-impressive showing, but should have done more.
Pittsburgh brought some defense to the game. Remember that the Panthers’ Head Coach Dave Wannstedt was an offensive tackle at Pitt and former NFL Head Coach of the Chicago Bears and Miami Dolphins, both known for their defensive teams. For Michigan State to remain on the rise, the Spartans needed to best Pitt by two touchdowns and to be impressive they needed to beat them by four touchdowns. Neither happened.
MSU travels to Notre Dame on Saturday (9-22-07). The Irish are winless in 3 games and currently one of the worst teams in the nation. They have yet to score an offensive touchdown this season, have allowed 23 sacks (46 teams did not allow 23 sacks in all of last season), and rank dead last (119th) in 3 categories among Division 1-A teams–rushing, total offense and scoring offense.
The Lord will have to help Michigan State more than Notre Dame should the Irish upset the Spartans. So who is moving up impressively this week? Try Steve Spurrier’s South Carolina Gamecocks, from No. 17 to No. 12 by leveling AA South Carolina State 38-3; and the Oregon Ducks, from No. 19 to No. 13 by ripping Fresno State 52-21.
So who remains vastly overrated? Try No. 7 Texas. The Longhorns topped Arkansas State 21-13 (rated No. 74) at home, defeated TCU 34-13 (rated No. 39) at home and then barely got by UCF (University of Central Florida, rated No. 64) 35-32 on the road. Texas spotted UCF 32 points (this is defense?) and won by a field goal.
Another overrated team is No. 9 Wisconsin. The undefeated 3-0 Badgers’ big time wins came against Washington State 42-21 (rated No. 48), UNLV 20-13 (rated No. 96) and AA The Citadel 45-31 (rated No. 129). They gave up 31 points to a AA team going nowhere.
Wisconsin is going down, it is just a matter of time. Soon the Badgers will be playing Michigan State, No. 10 Penn State at Penn State and No. 8 Ohio State at Ohio State. I want to see this ferocious Wisconsin offense against the Buckeye defense, ranked No. 3 nationally in total defense and No. 5 in scoring defense.
For the record, No. 1 USC is currently ranked No. 41 in total defense and No. 45 in scoring defense. This helps explain why the Trojans handled Idaho 38-10 (rated No. 116) and No. 24-ranked Nebraska 49-31 (rated No. 18). No. 2 LSU is ranked No. 1 in total defense and No. 1 in scoring defense. This helps explain why LSU has stomped Mississippi State 45-0 (rated No. 46), then No. 9 Virginia Tech 48-7 (now rated No. 31) and Middle Tennessee 44-0 (rated No. 109).
So what else is noteworthy? Indiana, Connecticut, Purdue, Penn State, Texas A&M, Rutgers, Florida, Kansas, Arizona State and Hawaii have all gone 3-0 against either cupcake teams or weak competition. The jury is out of these teams until they actually play a decent or worthy opponent.
In other results, the Duke Blue Devils ended their 22-game losing streak, longest active in Division 1-A, by edging Northwestern 20-14. Florida International now has the longest losing streak with 14 after losing to Miami (FL) 23-9.Boise State hosted Wyoming and won by 10, 24-14. Good for Wyoming, losing by only 10 in an away game to the mighty, high-scoring Boise State Broncos.
Mike Price’s UTEP team was outscored in the 4th quarter and lost to New Mexico State 29-24 to go 1-2 on the year. It is a real blessing that we will be getting into conference play this weekend so we can really begin to access who has it going on and who does not.
AA games may be interesting at times (like Appalachian State’s 34-32 upset of Michigan in their Big House), but it tells you little about a team. Now the nonsense slows to a trickle and we get down to business.
Copyright © 2007 Ed Bagley
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