With three weeks down and conference play getting underway, here’s what I’ve stumbled across.
USC Commits Cardinal Sin in Losing to Stanford: The eyes of the college football world shifted to Stanford on Saturday night as for the fourth straight year, and perhaps the most improbable of them all, USC fell to Stanford. While Stanford has made a habit of upsetting USC, I don’t think many people saw this one coming, but it speaks to both the danger on road conference games and the strength of the Pac 12 this year. I talked last week about how the depth of the conference goes past USC and Oregon, and Stanford, though I wasn’t high on them in the beginning of the season, showed why. Looking at this from a USC perspective they can’t lose another game if they even wanted to be considered for the BCS title game. With games against ranked teams in Arizona, Oregon, UCLA, and Notre Dame that’s going to be a tall task for Lane Kiffin’s bunch. But if they’re as good as I thought they were, then it’s within the realm of possibility that they could run the table and get to a BCS bowl game. Whether or not that BCS bowl game is the National Championship remains to be seen.
Other Top Five Teams Win With Ease: Elsewhere in the top five, there wasn’t the same kind of shock that USC got. Alabama and Florida State ranked first and fifth in the AP poll respectively, won conference games by identical scores of 52-0, Alabama steamrolling over the Tyler Wilson-less Arkansas Razorbacks and Florida State winning its first ACC game of the year against Wake Forest. Oregon and LSU both had cupcakes in the non-conference schedule and they too won by identical scores, as both landslides ended in 63-14 finals. Oregon cruised past Tennessee Tech, and LSU did the same to Idaho. Things get a little tougher for both schools as the conference schedule kicks in next week.
Trojans not alone as other ranked teams upset: Your guess is as good as mine as to who the best team in the Big 10 is. After falling out of love with Wisconsin, I thought I’d ride with Michigan State, but then Notre Dame goes into East Lansing and handles them without a problem in what’s probably one of Notre Dame’s biggest wins in recent history as they made it look easy victorious by a score of 20-3. Michigan State entered the game ranked 10th in the AP Poll and has now fallen all the way down to 21st whereas Notre Dame streaked up from 20 to 11. I wasn’t quite as surprised with Virginia Tech’s loss to Pittsburgh, as I had the Hokies trending down in my week one recap. I believe there is a changing of the guard taking place when it comes to ACC supremacy, so the 35-17 score for Pitt didn’t shock me, but Virginia Tech obviously took a hit in this week’s poll. Lastly was BYU, who I talked about a little bit last week having cracked the top 25. Looks like I spoke too soon, as they entered the game with in-state rival Utah ranked 25th in the last spot in the poll and 60 minutes of football later, when they were on the short end of the 24-21, they were headed right back out of the AP Poll.
Updated Top 10:
Alabama: No brainer here with the USC loss. Most polls had Alabama ahead of USC before the Stanford loss, I was one that liked USC more, but with the Stanford loss, I can’t justify that anymore. After a conference win Saturday, the Tide play one of their two remaining non-conference games this week as they host Florida Atlantic next.
LSU: They took care of business against Idaho and now begin play in the SEC with a road game at Auburn. It’s a game they should win though as Auburn has only won one of its first three games.
Oregon: The new kings of the Pac 12 have been scoring in bunches, putting up lots of crooked numbers, which isn’t surprising, as they’ve always had a high-powered offense under Chip Kelly. They host Arizona next, which will be a competitive contest.
Oklahoma: I spoke to soon about the Kansas State game. They play each other this coming Saturday as Oklahoma is coming off a bye. Nevertheless, every good thing I said about Kansas State wasn’t for naught, as K-State beat North Texas easily and has a shot for the upset against Oklahoma. That said, right now Oklahoma is the consensus top team in the Big 12.
Georgia: The gap between the two SEC divisions isn’t as big as it was last year. Last year everyone knew that the Alabama-LSU title game was inevitable and that Georgia didn’t really have a chance in the SEC title game against LSU. That’s not the case this year as Georgia is an improved football team and host an underachieving Vanderbilt team this week.
Florida State: Things have come easy for the Noles so far this year, but it’s going to get harder with Clemson looming.
South Carolina: After a week one scare at Vanderbilt, they’ve had no problems in their last two games to get to 3-0. They go back into the conference schedule this week with Missouri up next.
West Virginia: 2-0 so far and another non-conference game coming up against Maryland. Geno Smith has been tearing it up lately and he’ll have to continue to do so for the Mountaineers to stay in my top ten once they start playing some Big 12 opponents.
Stanford: Two teams in the top ten and neither one is USC. Hard to believe, but when you beat USC I’d say you’ve earned your spot. Wouldn’t you agree? Road game at Washington up next.
Notre Dame: Caught up in the Stanford upset, I didn’t see much of their win against Michigan State, but from the highlights, stats, and score it’s easy to tell it was a real convincing road win for the Irish. Another big game is right around the corner, though, as they get Michigan this week.
*Notre Dame and Stanford move in while USC and Michigan State drop out.
Ohio State: I’m on the Big 10 carousel almost every week and this week I’m going with Ohio State. I’m still not sold on Michigan because after the shellacking they received from Alabama they’ve beaten Air Force and UMASS. The real test for them will come this week when they play Notre Dame. As for the Buckeyes, they’re off to a real nice start under Urban Meyer at 3-0 after surviving a scare from Cal. UAB up next so they should get another win and continue to climb in the AP Poll
Michigan State: This was an easy pick. All you have to do is look at 20-3 against Notre Dame in East Lansing to realize that Michigan State did not show up. I find it hard to believe that they weren’t really up for the game given they play Notre Dame every year, but that’s what it seemed like. They’ll have to put a nice Big 10 resume for them to get back in the mix but with games against nationally ranked Ohio State, Michigan, and Nebraska, that’s not impossible.