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The Power 15 – Week 4

How tough is the SEC? How ridiculous is the SEC West? We have now reached the point where you have to start ranking teams with losses. The SEC is a good place to start. How much can you really knock South Carolina or Arkansas for losing to Auburn & Alabama respectively? Both are most likely top-10 squads or near top-10 squads. If Arkansas comes THIS close to beating Alabama, how bad can they possibly be? Let’s take a look at the new Power 15.

Just Missing Cut: Miami-FL, NC State, Michigan, Michigan St., Iowa, Texas, Missouri, USC, Nevada, Utah, Air Force

RANK TEAM COMMENTS
#1 Anyone want to argue Mark Ingram isn’t the favorite to win the Heisman despite missing 2 games? Ingram was RIDICULOUS rushing for 157 yards & 2TD on 24 carries in Alabama’s come from behind victory over Arkansas in Fayetteville Saturday! I don’t know what else Alabama can do. They got down 20-7 & didn’t panic in a very hostile environment against a top-10 team! This was also supposed to be a great coming out game for Arkansas QB Ryan Mallett except they forgot to tell the Tide defense. This team is #1 by a wide margin until they lose.
#2 What can we really learn from Ohio St. pasting Eastern Michigan 73-20? It was 24-0 after the first quarter which means everything else was window dressing. The best thing to happen to Ohio St. this past week was Miami-FL putting a beat down on Pittsburgh in Heinz Field. The better the Hurricanes look the better Ohio St. looks because the Buckeyes certainly didn’t schedule anyone out of conference. Things change in college football all the time. All of a sudden Iowa loses to Arizona & Wisconsin looks shaky. It looks like now Ohio St. needs to win & win convincingly.
#3 Yes, I have them #3. Alabama is the best team in the nation. I think they proved that by beating Arkansas in Fayetteville, but this season is starting to remind me a bit of last season when it was obvious that Alabama was the #1 team in the nation & Florida was the #2 team. From the looks of it, you could at least argue that the SEC might have the best 6 teams in the country. Here is what gets me about the Razorbacks. They had the Tide down 20-7 late in the 3rd yet Arkansas didn’t run the ball particularly well & Ryan Mallett threw 3 picks. Imagine if Arkansas played better? We have the rest of the season, but I’ll be a bit disappointed if Arkansas doesn’t finish 11-1.
#4 I’m moving Boise up a spot after their win over Oregon St. I’m not exactly sure what to think about the Broncos. It’s like every other season where they hammer people, but it seems off. The game against Oregon St. was a solid win, but it was on the blue turf & I’m not sure that isn’t a fantastic home field advantage given just how close the turf was to the home jerseys. Then again, what can Boise St. do? They can’t help that Virginia Tech lost to James Madison & it looks like the Hokies could still win the ACC. Keep an eye on Nevada. They beat BYU this past week & will be a big win for Boise if they can beat the Wolfpack in Reno.
#5 I have to drop Oregon a couple spots after beating Arizona St. 42-31. ASU was up 24-14 late in the 2nd quarter before Oregon went on a tear. The score wasn’t as close as 42-31 as the Sun Devils scored a garbage touchdown. The problem for me is that Oregon can’t afford to give up 31 points. We saw this last year in the Rose Bowl. The minute Oregon faces a really tough defense it’s going to be hard for them to score. Combine that with Oregon’s defensive problems evidenced this past week & it’s a recipe that has problems winning. The problem with Oregon is that they might not face a top flight defense in the Pac 10. Maybe Stanford?
#6 TCU had a solid 41-24 win over SMU in the Mustangs backyard, but it wasn’t completely without fault. SMU played it pretty close for a little over a half before TCU took over. The really odd part about TCU this season is the play of QB Andy Dalton. Dalton threw a couple of picks against SMU & now he has 5TD & 4INT. Dalton is completing almost 70% of his passes so his accuracy is rock solid, but his decision making is a little off. That isn’t quite as good as it was last year so it’ll be interesting to see if it works as well in ’10. Utah should provide a pretty decent test.
#7 It kills me to move LSU this high, but I’m not sure what else you can do with them. They’ve beaten 3 solid teams in North Carolina, Mississippi St. & West Virginia. The Tigers haven’t really had a road test, but with MSU beating Georgia this past week, a win over MSU is just as solid as any other. I have no confidence in Les Miles as a coach or Jordan Jefferson as a QB, but that defense is absolutely brutal so teams are going to have a difficult time scoring on the Bayou Bengals. LSU gets a home game against Tennessee this week before traveling to Gainesville. We’ll see how they do afterwards.
#8 I think the win over Kentucky is bigger than it’ll be perceived. The Wildcats are a solid team & the Gators punished them 48-14. Kentucky ran up quite a few total yards on Florida, but the problem though is that you can’t judge the 2010 Florida Gators against the Tim Tebow led version of Florida. John Brantley played a solid game completing a large number of passes. The defense was ball hawkish too. This is a top-10 team, but it’s probably not a top-2 team. At least not yet. There was simply too much loss from a year ago to keep up with the 08-09 version. Still, they didn’t fall far & it seems their over their early season struggles.
#9 It goes without saying that I think Nick Saban is the best HC in college football. I think a notch below Saban are both Urban Meyer & Brian Kelly. However, if you are looking for a couple of relatively young coaches that could be in position to take the coaching world by storm, look no further than Northwestern’s Pat Fitzgerald & Stanford’s Jim Harbaugh. The real trick is how to get those guys at top-10 programs where they can win national championships. It certainly not seems like Notre Dame has a lot more work to do that first thought, but Stanford was the best fundamental team I’ve seen all season.
#10 An absolutely fantastic win for Auburn coming from behind to beat South Carolina. How brutal is in the SEC West? I have 4 of the teams in my power-10 which is nuts! Five of the top-10 reside in the SEC! You could easily have a top-10 team that resides in the SEC West wind up with 3-4 losses! That’s crazy! Auburn still isn’t running Gus Malzahn’s offense to 100% efficiency, but Michael Dyer is running like crazy & there has simply been no answer for Cameron Newton. The defense stood up when it had to to get the win over South Carolina. Auburn gets UL-Monroe & Kentucky to get Malzahn’s offense up to speed before welcoming Arkansas & LSU into Auburn Stadium. Geez the SEC is TOUGH!
#11 Very disappointed to see Nebraska play a home game against FCS member South Dakota St. and come out with only a 17-6 victory! The Cornhuskers only outgained their opponents by 109 yards. They turned the ball over 3 times and Taylor Martinez threw 2 picks. Maybe Nebraska took the week off because they felt that they could, but the thing that bothers me the most is that South Dakota St. ran for 141 yards & averaged 3.8ypc against the Blackshirts. I think Texas losing also hurts the other members of the Big XII peripherally. It’s weird but the Big XII is hardly being talked about this season. It’s almost as if they are the forgotten conference.
#12 I dropped Oklahoma for much the same reason I dropped Nebraska. The Big XII looks a bit weak right now & Oklahoma barely escaped against Cincinnati 31-29. It’s not so much that Oklahoma won 31-29, but that Cincinnati ran wild on the Sooners. Isaiah Pead ran for 169 yards & Zach Collaros had no problems passing for 300+ yards. The big problem was Cincinnati was -3 in turnover margin which probably killed them. Oklahoma plays Texas next week, but this almost becomes a must win for Oklahoma. If Texas wins then the conference takes a major hit due to Texas losing to UCLA. The Big XII is simply one big question mark right now.
#13 The 10-9 win over California doesn’t look hot, but there are a couple of things to remember. The first is that Iowa is a helluva football team & Arizona still has a win over them. The other reason is that the Arizona defense held California to ZERO touchdowns despite the Bears having averaged over 40 points per game in their previous 3 games. Granted, California wasn’t playing Alabama, but there is still some offensive firepower that was held completely in check. The one problem is that Arizona only scored 10 points on a defense that allowed 52 points to Nevada the week before. Still, this was a big win for the Wildcats after beating Iowa. Arizona did enough to win despite having a target on their backs. That’s good enough.
#14 Beating Austin Peay 70-3 at home isn’t anything to get worked up about. This is exactly the kind of game I was expecting out of the Badgers when the season started. I still haven’t forgotten uninspiring wins over Arizona St. & San Jose St., but coming out & dominating the way they did was exactly what Wisconsin is capable of. Scott Tolzien completed 15 of 17 passes. John Clay, Montee Ball & James White combined to rush for 327 yards & 6TD! Heck, even if the defense gives up 20ppg, the Wisconsin offense should be able to grind out wins. It’ll be interesting to see what happens in Big 10 play.
#15 I’m not ready to give up on South Carolina yet. This is still a crazy talented squad that can win the SEC East. They’d have to run the table to possibly get a shot at the BCS title though. I thought it was telling when Spurrier pulled Stephen Garcia in favor of Connor Shaw. Shaw was terrible, but clearly Garcia wasn’t going to lead SC to victory. It’s odd in a way. Spurrier has to know that Garcia simply doesn’t have the moxie to win an SEC championship. What can you really do from that point of view? It’s hard to bang on the Gamecocks too hard. They went into Auburn & probably should have won the game. That they lost is no damage to their ego. Auburn is a top-10 team for crying out loud, but it at least showed the difference between SC & Bama. Bama went on the road & won.

Dropped Out

#8 Texas Longhorns: Texas didn’t get beat at home, they got humiliated at home 34-12 by UCLA! Despite losing to Stanford & Kansas St., maybe UCLA isn’t nearly as bad as their 0-2 start. They’ve beaten Houston & Texas in back-to-back weeks. I hadn’t been sold on Texas from the beginning. They have a solid defense, but the offense seems to sort of suck. The Big XII is odd this year. Like I’ve said before it almost seems like the forgotten conference at this point. Texas gets Oklahoma next week. Beating the Sooners probably would put Texas back in the top-15, but I think it would almost do more damage to the conference than anything.

#13 Michigan Wolverines: If Denard Robinson is out for any length of time then Michigan could be in trouble. Tate Forcier came in and did an incredible job, but we saw the same thing last season. Beating Bowling Green 65-21 was solid, but the score wasn’t as impressive as Wisconsin beating Austin Peay. A QB that runs as much as Robinson is bound to get banged up. That could be problematic. I hate to drop the Wolverines out of the top-15, but I couldn’t quite see them that high with the teams already listed.

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September 26, 2010 - Posted by | Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Auburn, Boise St., Florida, LSU, Nebraska, Ohio St, Oklahoma, Oregon, Power 15, South Carolina, Stanford, TCU, Wisconsin

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