After a Saturday afternoon that can only be compared to what I imagine being waterboarded feels like, I was actually able to catch a few other games on Saturday night. Some were good, and some were not so good, but one month into the college football season, here’s how Hogan and I rank the teams.
1) Alabama (4-0, 40)
For a while there it looked like we might be getting a new number one in the power rankings, but the Tide dominated down the stretch and got out of Arkansas with a big victory to start their killer month of games. I have trouble thinking that Mark Ingram will win the Heisman two years in a row, but right now he has to be a frontrunner.
T-2) Oregon (4-0, 37)
After handling the first month of their schedule, GameDay is coming to town as the Ducks will face Stanford (#7 in these rankings) in their first big test of the season. In a game that could be the Pac-10 game-of-the-year, I’m picking the Ducks simply because of the home field advantage.
T-2) Ohio State (4-0, 37)
When you lay down 73 points on a team, others should take notice even if it was Eastern Michigan. I took notice by not dropping them below Boise State and Nebraska in my rankings. With the Pac-10 and the SEC so strong this year, OSU could be cut out of the championship picture even if they run the table (unlikely, but possible). If that happens they’ll have games like Eastern Michigan to thank for it.
T-4.)Nebraska (4-0, 33)
I’m not sure if Nebraska’s national hopes got stronger or weaker when Texas lost to UCLA. On one hand, it solidifies the Cornhuskers as the class of the Big 12, but on the other hand it greatly diminished the power of the strongest game on the Huskers schedule. If the Longhorns lose the red River Rivalry this week, Nebraska won’t play a ranked team all season.
T-4) Boise State (3-0, 33)
The Broncos looked pretty good on their blue turf last night, and they’re getting an added boost this year by the WAC being surprisingly (yet still relatively) strong (the sixth strongest conference, ahead of the ACC and Big East). The problem for them is that they won’t be getting any national exposure for the rest of the season (unless Nevada stays unbeaten). I’m officially anti-Boise, and think they need to get some tougher games on their schedule before thinking they can compete for a title.
6) TCU (4-0, 29)
While I usually root for the Horned Frogs, I was definitely pulling for SMU on Friday when the two teams met. June Jones team actually put up quite the fight until the end, and it looks like the Mustangs might finally pull themselves out of their death penalty induced malaise some time soon. As for TCU, they’ll keep chugging along until they play Utah in November (conveniently, that game is the week before the Ute’s and I visit South Bend).
7) Stanford (4-0, 26)
The Cardinal might be good, but watching them play Notre Dame was like being forced to watch paint dry with a gun to your head. It was an excruciatingly long and dreadfully painful process that was upsetting throughout. Like most of the teams that prey on the Irish, Stanford is probably ranked a tad high in these rankings this week, but if they come out of Eugene with a win they’ll be a legitimate top-5 team.
8) Auburn (4-0, 24)
Who would have thought a couple years ago that Gene Chizik would be pulling Auburn back into the top ten? An impressive win over South Carolina is really all it takes to get the Tigers back in the SEC picture. They’re certainly in the toughest division in the country and will have a Herculean task of even getting to the SEC Championship game, but this team came through in the clutch and will be making the SEC West that much tougher.
9) Oklahoma (4-0, 22)
While it certainly wasn’t the most impressive win of the weekend, Oklahoma got through the trap game in Cincinnati and will now be taking on Texas in the Red River Rivalry on Saturday. With the Longhorns coming off their worst loss in years, this will be the biggest game of the year for both teams (and possibly the last ranked team OU will play all season).
T-10) Florida (4-0, 19)
After handling their own trap game with ease, the Gators will have their biggest test of the season on Saturday when they take on the defending national champions (and the only team to beat the Gators in the past two years) in Alabama. This is going to be the toughest game the Gators play, and they’ll be lucky to bring back a victory against the well-oiled machine in Tuscaloosa.
T-10) Arizona (4-0, 19)
Fresh off their big win against Iowa, the Wildcats barely escaped with a win over Cal and now have a much-needed week off before Oregon State. In an incredibly strong Pac-10, the Wildcats are going to have a lot of trouble making it to their first Rose Bowl, but they’re off to the right start in Pac-10 play and have the easier part of their schedule coming up.
12) LSU (4-0, 18)
The fourth SEC team in our power rankings is also the third from the super-tough SEC West. After taking care of their own out-of-conference test against West Virginia, the Tigers return to SEC play this week with a game against down (but not out) Tennessee. With a strong defense and a satisfactory offense, the Tigers will have their chances in the SEC.
T-13) Utah (4-0, 17)
With BYU and Wyoming looking poor in the early-going, Utah again joins TCU as the standard-bearers in the Mountain West (at least for this year). They’re off this week before traveling to play
dangerous Big 12 power Iowa State, and
have a few weaker opponents to play before the meat of their schedule in early
T-13) Wisconsin (4-0, 17)
Last week I ranted about Wisconsin, so it makes sense that this week they put up over 70 points. The problem with that is that when I asked some Wisconsin students last week what state Austin Peay was located in, their answers ranged from “didn’t know” to “wrong”. I think a rule of thumb is that if you don’t know where a school is located, you shouldn’t play them in football.
15) USC (4-0, 15)
Even though the Trojans cannot go to bowl games because they are a dirty program with dirty players, they’ll still play a huge role in the Pac-10 this year providing obstacles for Oregon, Stanford, Arizona, and even UCLA. It’s going to be a battle out west and hopefully one of the teams will make it out alive.
16) Arkansas (3-1, 12)
The first one-loss team of these power rankings got here by virtue of its tight game with the #1 Tide. While Ryan Mallett proved that he is not-yet-ready for primetime, the Razorbacks showed some muscle and proved that they will be a factor in the SEC West this year. They also proved that ousting Houston Dale Nutt was probably for the best.
17) Michigan (4-0, 8)
Denard Robinson went down, but unfortunately he isn’t out as Michigan cruised to victory against Bowling Green in their last non-conference game of the season. A trip to Indiana shouldn’t be a difficult start this week, and will be the last game they use to prepare for the more difficult Big Ten teams that will really test that defense.
18) Michigan State (4-0, 5)
In their first game without their heart attack-stricken head coach, the Spartans clobbered the somethings of Northern Colorado. With Big Ten play beginning, the Badgers are headed up to Lansing and as much as I bash on Wisconsin, I really hope they destroy the Spartans (and get out of East Lansing as fast as humanly possible).
19) Miami (FL) (2-1, 4)
The second one-loss team to appear in these rankings got here by virtue of crushing Pittsburgh in Pittsburgh. Not that this is really that impressive since Dave Wannstadt is still the Pitt coach, but in such an embarrassingly bad ACC the Hurricanes have to create impressive victories when they can (if that makes any sense).
T-20) Penn State (3-1, 2)
Another team with one loss (that came in Tuscaloosa of all places), Penn State is now entering Big Ten play with three home victories against teams they had no good reason to play. I’m not sure if that prepared them for a trip to Iowa this Saturday or not, but the winner of that game will be ranked this time next week and the loser will not be.
T-20) Texas (3-1, 2)This is what happens when two people are doing the power rankings. While I ranked Penn State by virtue of their one loss coming on the road against the best team in the country, Hogan gave more credit to UT’s victory in Lubbock and ignored that their one loss came at home against a run-of-the mill Pac-10 opponent. I always root for the Longhorns, but this was really a devastating loss for them. I have no idea if they can put it together for the Red River Rivalry on Saturday, but a loss will make this a lost season in Austin.