No Sleep Till Football

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2011 Week 5 – Power 15

Can you believe we are 5-weeks into the college football season!? Good grief this is going fast! Let’s get to the power-15!

RANK TEAM COMMENTS
#1 A 38-10 win over Gainesville is enough to push Alabama back up to the top spot. They are the only team in the FBS that has a rush defense that is allowing less than 10ppg! The Tide have it relatively light for the next 3 weeks playing Vandy, Ole Miss & Tennessee before they hit their bye week. That should equal an 8-0 record before welcoming in LSU. There really isn’t anything Bama doesn’t do well, but it’ll be interesting to see what happens when a defense is physical & skilled enough to force QB AJ McCarron to beat them. McCarron hasn’t been bad, but Bama has definitely relied on Trent Richardson & Eddie Lacy to provide the fireworks on offense. At some point McCarron is going to have to win a big game for Alabama.
#2 Solid win for LSU beating Kentucky 35-7 in Baton Rouge. LSU has to drop to #2 for the simple reason that Les Miles can’t help but be seduced by Jordan Jefferson. Jefferson became eligible as a player this past week and he was almost immediately put into the game. Jefferson didn’t throw a pass against UK, but he did have a rushing TD & now is talking as if the starting QB’s job is his ultimate goal. Jefferson must be a workout monster because even the TV announcers were talking about how good he was. The problem though is that the last 2 championships won by LSU has had Matt Flynn & Matt Mauck as QBs. Who is more like those two guys: Jarrett Lee or Jordan Jefferson?.
#3 The only thing to criticize about the Badgers this season thus far is a brutally weak schedule. That argument went out the door as the Badgers welcomed in a top-10 ranked team in Nebraska and took them to the woodshed! Beating Nebraska is one thing, but beating them 48-17! That would be like taking Nebraska (+30) and STILL LOSING! I don’t know what else there is to say really. Russell Wilson is going to be an exceptional game manager for Wisconsin who can also make plays. Wisconsin is going to run over people and the defense just held an offense that came in averaging 43ppg to only 17! If there is a weakness to the Wisconsin team I don’t see it. If we are nitpicking, Wisconsin looks like a complete team & they have yet to play a complete team. For all the hype surrounding Nebraska, they essentially are one dimensional and the Badgers took away that dimension.
#4 Hammering Ball St. is impressive especially so because the Sooners 62-6 victory was utter annihilation of the visiting Cardinals. What hurts Oklahoma just a touch in my mind is that Wisconsin looked so good against Nebraska, but also because Clemson looks pretty darn good with wins over Florida St. & Virginia Tech. I’m not saying Clemson would be any trouble for Oklahoma, but the Sooners having quasi-trouble with FSU combined with FSU’s subsequent loss to Clemson takes a bit of shine off of Oklahoma’s win over the Seminoles. Again we are splitting hairs here, but somebody has to be #4! Oklahoma’s body of work seems weakest of the top-4 especially now that FSU did lose to Clemson. Oklahoma almost has the Alabama problem in reverse. At some point, a defense will take away Landry Jones & make the running game beat you. Unfortunately I don’t think there are any defenses in the Big XII that can force Oklahoma’s hand to do anything.
#5 The Cowboys didn’t play this week but retain top-5 status. The Arkansas/Texas A&M game was fairly instructive to analyze the Cowboys. Against A&M, Oklahoma St. came back from a large deficit at halftime & some of that may have been attributed to Texas A&M’s lack of conditioning as Brandon Weeden was able to go to work on the Aggie defense. If it was a 1-time thing then I get it, but we saw practically the same thing happen against Arkansas which certainly raises some red flags. Maybe this doesn’t correlate much with Oklahoma St., but it does make you stop & think that OSU has the capabilities to get down big & not every defense is going to fold up from the heat. OSU will score on anyone, but they could run into trouble if a defense can play the full 60 minutes..
#6 I think it’s tough to debate the top-6 teams outside of schedule. The one thing that keeps Stanford from joining the fray at the top of the “Big-6” is their schedule. Horse whipping UCLA 45-19 this past week doesn’t do much for me because the Bruins suck, & right now the Cardinal’s biggest win is a road game over Arizona. Alabama’s beat Florida. LSU has beat Oregon. Wisconsin has beat Nebraska. Oklahoma has beat Florida St. Oklahoma St. has beat Texas A&M. It’s not necessarily Stanford’s fault, but their big games are against Oregon & Notre Dame, both at home. By the way, Andrew Luck is on pace to throw for 3,546 yards with 39TD to 3INT. Even if Stanford winds up 13-0, who knows if it’ll be enough if Alabama & Oklahoma are undefeated, but they have to seize the moment. A 9-0 record heading into the game against Oregon should be a given.
#7 Speaking of Oregon, the Ducks were on the bye week this past Saturday, but do play the Thursday game this week at home against California. Oregon is really really good. I would have certainly thought they had the best shot at getting back to the BCS Championship game of any team in the nation, but that opening loss to LSU hurts a bit. Here is a thought. If everyone has a loss at the end of the season except for LSU who somehow managed to go 13-0, and Oregon finished the year 12-1 with 12 straight wins including the Pac-12 championship game, is it a foregone conclusion that Oregon would get a rematch against LSU for a chance at a national championships? That makes some sense, but a lot has to fall in place!
#8 Nevada completely sucks this year & Boise only beat them 30-10 on the blue turf. What the heck is going on? The problem with Boise, as usual, is what’s going on around them. The biggest knock against the Broncos came not because they beat Nevada 30-10, but rather because TCU lost ANOTHER game, this time to SMU! Now, admittedly, I’m on the SMU bandwagon and I hope the Mustangs get to back to prominence because it makes college football a lot more interesting, BUT that doesn’t help Boise’s cause down the road because TCU looks like Boise’s biggest in-conference opponents & if they suck nationally, then who does Boise really have? A 1st week win over Georgia on a neutral field? I like UGA, but right now they are 3rd best in the SEC East and potentially the 7th or 9th best team in the SEC! That’s not good enough even if you are 12-0.
#9 What is it about teams from South Carolina? While the Gamecocks held true to form, Clemson looks like it has broke out of the mold that says they should lose an early season game they shouldn’t. I didn’t think they’d beat Auburn after War Eagle took down Mississippi St. Clemson beat them 38-24. I CERTAINLY didn’t think they’d beat Florida St. after the Seminoles lost to Oklahoma. They beat them 35-30. NOBODY thought Clemson would go into Blacksburg & spank the Hokies. They beat Virginia Tech 23-3! QB Tajh Boyd is having a monster season, on pace for 4,086 passing yards with 40TD & 6INT! Those better numbers than Andrew Luck has! Based on schedule alone, Clemson deserves to be higher. They drew horrid though getting Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech & North Carolina out of the opposite division. My hunch is that the Hokies might be the 3rd best team in Coastal, meaning a few more hurdles are in place for the Tigers.
#10 Over the last 2 weeks, Georgia Tech has taken down North Carolina & NC State, outscoring them 80-63. GT has ran on ANYBODY at will, but over those two weeks they’ve given up over 30ppg & at some point that might come back to haunt them. It’s hard to quibble with the results. GT leads the nation in rushing offense, is 2nd in scoring offense & 2nd in total offense. What prevents the Yellow Jackets from becoming truly elite is the fact they rank 66nd in scoring defense. It sounds almost incredible, but it does seem like Orwin Smith, David Sims, & Roddy Jones are running Paul Johnson’s offense better than John Nesbitt, Jonathan Dwyer & Anthony Allen did. Remember that the 2009 team went 11-2 with an ACC Championship before falling to Iowa in the Orange Bowl to finish 11-3. This team might be better.
#11 Incredible come from behind victory for the Razorbacks to beat Texas A&M up in Arlington. I don’t know what it is about A&M that causes them to wilt in the 2nd half, but Arkansas came out roaring, defeating the Aggies 25-3 in quarters 3 & 4 after trailing 35-17 in quarters 1 & 2. The win of course makes the Hogs look good because their only loss is a road game against Alabama. Can’t knock them very much for that. Still, Arkansas is an extremely flawed team. A&M wins that game if they even show up in the 2nd half while Arkansas had no answer for Cyrus Gray & the Aggie running attack. A great defense is going to be able to stop the passing attack & there really is no answer for their woeful rush defense. With that said, how many defenses play like Alabama? Not many. With this win, Arkansas has a FANTASTIC shot at being 10-1 when they travel to LSU for the season finale Doesn’t a 10-2 mark in the SEC sort of make you a top-10 team by default?
#12 Unfortunately for Florida, this high of a ranking could be short lived depending on how the team rallies around the loss of QB John Brantley. So you lost to Alabama 38-10? It happens. If you wanted to be extremely bitter about the Gators prospects, you could get mad about the 38-10 loss because it was a horse whipping in the Swamp which is a bit humiliating. Their reward? They get to travel to Baton Rouge to take on the Tigers! True freshman QB Jeff Driskel is likely the next man up. As you can expect at Florida, Driskel was the Class of 2011’s #1 overall QB. At 6’4/230lbs, Driskel is a freaky athlete with incredible playmaking ability outside the pocket, yet having a gigantic arm that can make plays. We are talking Death Valley here so don’t get your hopes up, but you have the best true freshman QB in the nation with an OC named Charlie Weis. That’s not a bad proposition to have even when your QB goes down. Say the Gators lose to Alabama & LSU? I have those two teams at 1-2 so could Florida argue they are the 3rd best team in the nation?
#13 Yeah I know it’s Minnesota, but 58-0!!!!! GOOD NIGHT! Even USC only beat the Gophers 19-17 and that was in the Coliseum! The Gophers had absolutely no answer for Michigan’s running game, and keep in mind that Denard Robinson only ran the ball 6 times! Some people might be considering that Michigan is simply playing to script. They haven’t played anyone outside of Notre Dame so they should be 5-0. Here is something a little different. Here are the last 4-years of Michigan’s scoring defense through their first 5-games: 2008: 27.2ppg; 2009: 23.4; 2010: 25.4; 2011: 10.2! Obviously from 2008-2010 were the years Rich Rodriguez was coaching Michigan & this year is Brady Hoke’s inaugural season. The big knock on the Big Blue was their defensive failures under RichRod, but so far through 5 games, there is only 1 team in the nation with a better scoring defense than Michigan. It’s Alabama! Wow. In their last 3 games, Michigan has outscored their opponents 117-10! Granted, their toughest opponent in that 3 games is San Diego St. & all games have been in Ann Arbor, but things seem different this season.
#14 A lot of people have dropped Nebraska precipitously in their rankings due to the humiliating defeat at the hands of Wisconsin. The Badgers could make a case for being the #1 team in the nation right now so how much can you really bang the Cornhuskers? The fact of the matter is that Nebraska, as good as they can be, are a seriously flawed team. Taylor Martinez simply isn’t a QB who can pass the ball. Wisconsin took away Nebraska’s ability to run, forcing Martinez to throw and the kid responded by going 11 for 22 with 3 picks! Admittedly, my guess is that Nebraska will face a much more brand of physical defense playing in the Big 10 than they saw in the Big XII last season, but right now Pelini & Co. need to worry more about Martinez developing into a QB who can complete a pass. This is still a 10-win team if they take care of business. An 11-1/10-2 Nebraska squad is still top-15 worthy.
#15 Hammering Bowling Green 55-10 isn’t exactly something to pimp the Mountaineers over, but I really liked how the team regrouped after the LSU loss and put up a dominating performance over an inferior opponent. I also think that the loss to LSU was an interesting one. The Tigers got out to a dominating lead at 27-7 at the half in Morgantown which seemed ridiculous. West Virginia came out in the 2nd half on fire and got the game to 27-21, but a 99-yard kickoff return by Morris Claiborne put LSU up 34-21 and essentially ended the game. West Virginia was also -4 in TO margin for that game alone! Outside of the LSU loss, West Virginia is averaging 45+ppg & allowing less than 17ppg. That’s dominating despite playing subpar teams. Dana Holgerson is just getting started, and it wouldn’t surprise me at all to see WVU at the end of the year standing 11-1 going to a BCS Bowl.



DROPPING OUT

#11 South Carolina Gamecocks: How disappointing is South Carolina? I guess you can look at it a couple of different ways. Losing to Auburn means they can still beat the tough SEC East teams such as Florida, Georgia & Tennessee. That could mean a berth in the SEC title game and a possible SEC Championship. Who knows? Maybe SC wins out and finishes 12-1 & makes a case for a BCS Championship? That isn’t going to happen, but an SEC East title is still within reach. Stephen Garcia has been an abject disaster in Columbia. I don’t know. I’m terribly disappointed with South Carolina.

#12 Texas A&M Aggies: Wow! I can’t believe A&M played almost the exact same game against Arkansas as they did against Oklahoma St. the week before. What kind of conditioning program do they have down in College Station? A&M played themselves out of a national championship the week before with the loss to OSU, but the loss to Arkansas essentially eliminates them from BCS bowl contention. That’s not exactly the way you want to come into the SEC.

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October 6, 2011 - Posted by | Alabama, Arkansas, Boise St., Clemson, Florida, Georgia Tech, LSU, Michigan, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Oklahoma St., Oregon, Power 15, Stanford, West Virginia, Wisconsin

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