When this college football season’s over, the scribes will find there is simply not enough ink or storage space to detail everything that’s transpired. That’s a measure of how unfathomably great it has been.
And here’s the
first only edition in the series of Top 25s I’ll put together each Tuesday from now until the end of the season once, and never again, apparently.
- Ohio State. No, they haven’t played more imposing foes than offensively impotent Penn State and Wisconsin, and no, this isn’t as good a team as last year’s Buckeyes were, but they’re still the best undefeated team. That counts here. But watch them if they trail early against Illinois.
- Oregon. These Ducks are the nation’s best offensive team when the fakes and fleet feet of Dennis Dixon are working, and the stingy defense–Arizona State was decidedly not worthy of #4, but their offense was good enough to put up points; Oregon didn’t allow that–plus Jonathan Stewart can grind out the rest of games.
- LSU. Cardiac Tigers isn’t dramatic enough for this team; Shakespeare couldn’t synthesize enough other classics to even approximate this season. But Les Miles’ idiot savant coaching works for them, as does Early Doucet returning to rev up a sometimes-underwhelming pass attack. Arkansas will challenge them.
- Oklahoma. Yeah, they cruise more often now than at the beginning of the season, and the tailwind in the sails that allows it is less strong since that Colorado loss, but I refuse to believe that this team is any worse than the team directly below it.
- Kansas. 76 points! Against Nebraska! Gee! Wow! Unfortunately, this isn’t 1997 anymore, and the days of Nebraska as a national power are over. I’m honestly more worried about this team giving up 39 to the ‘Huskers, who have something called Joe Ganz under center and accruing 405 yards and 4 TDs against a supposedly staunch D.
- West Virginia. Ah, but the Jayhawks are more legit than WVU, right, which is simply holding this place until a rough defense (UConn, perhaps?) punches Pat White’s Thrill-O-Rama offense in the face again, right? If the South Florida team that is fading badly could beat the ‘Neers, so can the Huskies, right?
- UConn. And that’s why I’m putting them right here. (Also because their loss is to a good Virginia team, because their defense is rugged, and because God is quite possibly a Huskies fan this year–and wearing stripes on Saturday.)
- Missouri. Underrated here, and that’s unfortunate, because Chase Daniel is maybe the best QB no one cares about. The duel with Kansas’ Todd Reesing to finish the year is looming large, and should pit two top-5 teams.
- Georgia. Took care of a strong and overlooked Troy team late with the same power running that pummeled Florida. The Auburn game is in Athens and will be a test of willpower and a clash of strengths.
- Boston College. Overrated, even here, and especially disappointing in the rain that has followed them around. An older team should overcome the weather and impose their will, but the finesse offense has been off of late, and without it clicking, this isn’t a top-20 team.
- Arizona State. So much for the defense that “shut down” an equally fraudulent Cal squad. And Rudy Carpenter’s thumb wasn’t the only reason the offense sputtered against the Ducks. The USC game is the real yardstick; it’s for second in the Pac-10, the best result possible in the Year of the Duck out west.
- Virginia Tech. Unfortunate that they gave Matt Ryan target practice in the waning moments of that game, because they’d be in the national title conversation now if not for those two minutes. The grit of the defense has been evident since the thrashing by LSU, but the offense leaves a lot to be desired.
- USC. I can’t get a read on this team, which has looked lethargic and uninspired at times (Stanford, Oregon, Arizona), and world-beating at others (albeit against weak Nebraska). There’s certainly talent there, but the team just isn’t there to back up this ranking. Exhibit 1A for how muddled the middle of the pack is.
- Michigan. Impressive comeback against Michigan State, especially with the airing out when necessary. Lloyd Carr needs to keep that part of the playbook open to win the Big 10, because Ohio State won’t go gently and is going to make Mike Hart’s Sunday morning a bit sore in a few weeks.
- Auburn. Clamps of this defense are quite tight, and they’ll have a chance to show that against a Georgia. Much is made of how fantastic Auburn is on the road; have to think there’s no fear associated with being between the hedges.
- Florida. Return to vintage form against a Vanderbilt team that has hung around in games against the Gators. Percy Harvin is college football’s premier weapon, and the Gators are better when he’s the Lightning to Tebow’s Thunder. But that shoulder’s hurt enough that Lightning may have to suffice for a while. (Also, freshman Mike Pouncey, the answer on the defensive line? Who knew?)
- Texas. Jamaal Charles and Colt McCoy is the 1-2 punch the Horns have been looking for, and it’s ordered correctly here. The comeback is stirring, of course, but this team’s bound for the lower teens and no better. Watch out for them next year, though.
- Virginia. Survived Wake Forest and the similarly grinding (read: not good enough to win anything but close) style, now have a Miami team cast adrift by sloppy QB play to eke out win over. And it’ll be close, of course, without Cedric Peerman.
- Hawaii. Maybe the worst team ever to be undefeated in November. Smoke and mirrors and luck and Colt Brennan, and a certified disappointment. Boise State looms to pierce island mystique.
- Tennessee. A good defense, but the offense will miss LaMarcus Coker. Phil Fulmer can’t be happy about his job hinging on stopping the McFadden-Jones juggernaut.
- Arkansas. Speaking of, here’s the scariest thing going in the SEC. If LSU isn’t worried about that Thanksgiving weekend tussle, they should be. But without the awesome ground assault last weekend, there’s been little to suggest this team is worthy of a ranking; it may just be a reflection of an increasingly rank South Carolina D.
- Florida State. Drew Weatherford’s signature win as a ‘Nole? Yes, and this team could be the surprise of the last two months of the year. Myron Rolle is a stud and leads an improving defense.
- Alabama. Totally inexplicable collapse against a better team they had by the throat. John Parker Wilson’s fumble is one of the biggest mistakes in crunch time in recent memory.
- Penn State. Is beating a Purdue team that’s isn’t very good on Senior Day at home anything to brag about? No?
- Boise State. Recovering swagger after humbling against so-so Washington team early this year. Physical enough to push Hawaii around, and the pass game can put points up, too.