WHO'S GOT THE POWER HALFWAY THROUGH THE SEASON?
Howdy, all. If you haven’t seen this column before, this is where you’ll find out which teams have played the best against the best. I can tell you this by looking at the results of my college football power ranking model, which I’ve been designing over the past five years. If you want the details of how the model works, go to my site and click on the “How it Works” page.
My ranking won’t look like the AP or the Coaches’ Polls because my ranking is better. Those polls generally catch up to mine as the season progresses. Also, you’ll see some teams ranked ahead of some teams that beat them like VA TECH and GEORGIA over ALABAMA and CLEMSON. This is because these other teams have played MUCH better competition since those early games. You’ll also see quite a bit of movement at the top of the ranking. There was a lot from last week because so many teams either got beat or had an open date.
Now, before I get into the rankings for this week, here are a few thoughts.
THE SEC EAST—Like a lot of you, I was surprised to see that Missouri was undefeated heading into their game against Georgia, until I looked at their schedule. Even though Georgia was ranked #2 entering the game, I wasn’t very surprised with the outcome. The game may have been different if Georgia hadn’t been down to its 3rd running back and scout team wide outs. The game would have been different if Georgia would just play some damn defense. But, I have to give Missouri their due. They whipped Georgia at Athens, and would be firmly in control of the East if their QB hadn’t suffered that separated shoulder. If Missouri beats Florida and South Carolina over the next two weeks, they may still control the East. It’s no sure thing with their finishing with Ole Miss and A&M. I think Missouri just opened the door for South Carolina to backdoor Georgia and slip into the championship game.
Georgia—they’ve lost too much on offense, and they’ll probably lose to either Florida or Auburn in the next few weeks, if not both. Florida could find themselves back around the top 10 if they can find a way to slow down Georgia’s offense in two weeks. That’s easier said than done since Georgia should have Gurley back to tote the rock. Tennessee, Vanderbilt and Kentucky all combine to suck.
THE SEC WEST—LSU may have found some defense. They’ll need it with Ole Miss this weekend and Alabama and A&M lurking. A&M is still dangerous, but Ole Miss seemed to study LSU’s game film last year and slowed them down, some, at first. Most of y’all didn’t stay up to watch the whole game, but Ole Miss could have won that game. Ole Miss won the 4th quarter 21-20, but their final series consisted of 3 incomplete passes that took 34 seconds off the clock, including the punt. I think they should have tried running the ball to work the clock, but it may not have worked since A&M had all of their timeouts.
Arkansas shouldn’t be this bad. Bad enough to give up 52 (FIFTY TWO) unanswered points. Some teams like Georgia get worse due to injuries, and some like Arkansas seem to find their suck groove. Florida vs Missouri might be a good one, and LSU vs Ole Miss could be a shoot-out.
THE BIG 12—Pundits nationwide are talking up Baylor. Yes, they’ve won their games by an average of 63-18, but here’s another number for you. 112. This is the average rank of their opponents. You’re still not sure? Arguably, their toughest opponent so far has been Louisiana-Monroe, and this isn’t 2012’s LA-MONROE that beat Arkansas. Baylor has two more bad teams in the next two weeks. After that, they could realistically lose their final five. I don’t know that this will happen, but I will be surprised if they win more than 9. I’m calling it. Write it down.
How the hell did Texas beat Oklahoma? The only thing I can figure is that Bob Stoops is worried that Texas’s next hire will beat him badly, so he did his part in helping Mack keep his job. A lot of people between Austin and Norman think they both should go.
Texas Tech is the other undefeated team left in the Big 12, but they needed some zebra help to beat TCU. I like Kingsbury, but their next three games could be pretty tough. By the way, if anyone wants to know, I’ll tell you how the Big 12 is cheating the other major conferences again this season.
Texas Tech vs West Virginia could be a fun one depending on which schizo W VA team shows up. Same with TCU vs Oklahoma State. Like Ole Miss, TCU may be the most dangerous 3-3 team out there.
THE ACC—Hell of a game this weekend between Florida State and Clemson. The winner will be in the thick of the national title conversation and should be as long as it’s Florida State. I only write this because Clemson is playing two 1-AA teams this season. But, I’m not completely sold on either of these two. Both of these teams have that old, Spurrier-esque, shiney pants offense and defenses that don’t scare Wake Forest. In three weeks, Miami and Virginia Tech square off. These teams aren’t getting the pub, but their combined record is 12-1, and both of them appear to be more balanced than Clemson and Florida State. The winners of each of these two games should meet in the ACC championship game, which could be the game they originally envisioned. By the way, you’ll see below that Virginia Tech and Miami are ranked higher than Clemson and Florida State.
THE PAC 12—Right now, the Pac 12 looks like it has finally displaced the Big 12 as the other main power conference along with the SEC. This may change before the season ends, and the ACC may have something to say about it. At this time, eight of the twelve teams may really be pretty good. I don’t believe that USC has the depth to win a lot, but eight wins is possible. Arizona and Washington State aren’t too bad, and they may be good enough to pull a couple of upsets. Colorado and Cal are pretty bad, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Dykes can’t right the ship at Cal after a couple of seasons. The two marquee games are Washington vs Arizona State and UCLA vs Stanford.
THE BIG 10—Nice win by Penn State. Stanford’s loss could be HUGE for the Big 10! If they go on to win the PAC 12, they may put a less than deserving Ohio State into the national championship game.
THE RANKING—Stanford and Georgia had started building up a nice cushion between them and the rest of the teams before their losses last week. Almost five points. This week, the top seven teams are all within five points. The teams are starting to find their ranking. Missouri, Utah, Texas and BYU are the big risers this week. Oklahoma is the big loser, but they’ll get a chance to climb back up in two weeks when they play Texas Tech.
I feel the need to give a shout out to one team that should become bowl-eligible for the first time in a very long time--Tulane. They’re 5-2, and they just whipped East Carolina who beat the hell out of North Carolina a few weeks ago. Also, a buddy of mine here in Atlanta wants me to give a shout out to Georgia State. I’ve got to say, the Panthers are AWFUL. Not only are they 0-3 against 1-A opponents, they’re also 0-3 against 1-AA teams. Georgia State is in its second year of transitioning to 1-A while Old Dominion is in its first. Appalachian State, Charlotte and Georgia Southern are coming aboard next season. The Sunbelt and Conference USA are gaining members but losing strength of schedule for the next few seasons. This could be a win for the American Athletic Conference, but I doubt it. They have as many teams ranked 100 or worse (3) as they do in the top 40.
Don’t see your team? Go to my site to see the full ranking. Let me know what you think about the rankings. Trust me, I can take it. I’m planning on updating my projections for the end of the season starting next week.