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2011 Week 9 – Power 15

How is this for timely! I got a little behind in my posting this week so I’m getting a lot of it done today & hopefully tomorrow! I think next week will be a better chance for me to keep up regularly with what’s going on. I really like my power-15 posts, my best games post and my playoff scenario posts for the NFL so I’m trying to keep up with those, but there are other things I’d like to write about too. Hopefully I can get around to that. I’m getting the Power-15 out on the day of this is obviously going to change pretty quickly after today. Don’t forget to look at my sidebar though. I always up date those power rankings as soon as I can even if the write-up is a little late in the week. Also if you don’t scroll down far enough, I’ve posted my thoughts on Week 10’s Best Games. Check it out! Now on to the Power-15!

#1 It all leads up to this! Alabama was on bye last week as was LSU in preparation for the massive show down in Tuscaloosa today for pretty much the chance to play for a national championship. There really isn’t anything else to say about it, but keep in mind a little something extra for Alabama. There is a lot to play for here because of the way the schedule works out. The win over Arkansas seems like ages ago. If LSU wins here & Arkansas beats LSU then it’s going to be difficult for the Tide to come back from that. I don’t know how the BCS would work out 3 7-1 teams tied atop the SEC West, but keep in mind that if Arkansas does win out & beats LSU then the Hogs would be on an 8 game winning streak that could turn into 9 and a 12-1 record. From that perspective, the game is slightly more important for Alabama than it is for LSU. Alabama did hammer Arkansas, but the game was in Alabama so maybe that plays a roll. Remember that Arkansas is #7 in the BCS.
#2 From a team perspective I think Alabama is the better squad, but from an athletic freak perspective, LSU has this game won hands down. Watching LSU’s defense play this season has been insane and it’s still not as good as Alabama’s team defense when you look at the statistics. I don’t know where LSU finds these guys, but they are incredible physical specimens of the highest order. It’s crazy! I’m not sure people are going to say this, but I think this game might be all about LSU QB Jarrett Lee. Lee has been outstanding this year and I’m buying into the premise that he’s not going to be the reason LSU loses this game. In fact, I think if Lee has a big game then LSU wins tonight. This of course plays into the conscience of the MAD HATTER! Jordan Jefferson has been getting more & more looks recently but Lucky Les has to remember that it was Matt Flynn who won a national championship & not Jamarcus Russell! If Miles can go into Alabama and come out with a win that didn’t require some type of oddball occurrence that only lends credence to the “MAD HATTER” moniker, then Miles coaching credibility sky rockets.
#3 Another week another dominating effort by Oklahoma St. offensively. Oklahoma St. welcomed in Baylor to Stillwater last weekend and sent the Bears home with a 59-24 spanking. I thought OSU would win, but it was nice to see the defense hold Baylor QB Robert Griffin to a fairly poor performance. For as much publicity as QB Brandon Weeden & WR Justin Blackmon get, Oklahoma St.’s rushing attack has been dominant this season! The Cowboys are averaging 182 yards rushing per game. RB Joseph Randle is on pace for 1,253 yards rushing along with 24TD! Jeremy Smith is on pace for 750 yards rushing while true freshman Herschel Sims ran for 104 yards & a TD on only 8 carries last week against Baylor! That’s incredible balance offensively which is why Oklahoma St. averages 49.9ppg! This week the Cowboys play Kansas St. who were exposed by Oklahoma the week before. OSU isn’t going to be challenged until Oklahoma comes to Stillwater. I’d lose to see OSU go up against either Alabama’s or LSU’s defense in the national championship. It would be an amazing game.
#4 Beating USC 56-48 in Los Angeles doesn’t seem like a huge deal especially because it took Stanford 3OT to do it, but USC is a top-10 caliber squad and Stanford had every opportunity to lose that game, yet battled back time and time again to seal the win and improve their chances for getting to a BCS Championship game. Andrew Luck wasn’t particularly dominant. The defense was atrocious as USC did a great job rushing the ball & making big plays when they needed it. It still didn’t matter. Stanford needed a lost minute TD to tie the game up and send it into OT whey battled it out. I don’t know if a win like this galvanizes a squad, but it was a huge win. Stanford still has Oregon to play in order to seal the deal on a 12-0 season. What’s a bit unfortunate is that USC over the last 2 weeks has established itself as the best team in the Pac-12 South and if they & Stanford were to win out, it’s likely we would have had a rematch, but since USC is ineligible for postseason play, that won’t happen. Stanford has to keep winning. They are #4 in the BCS having jumped Boise St. LSU/Alabama will lose this week and if Oklahoma St. loses to Oklahoma, Stanford is playing for it all!
#5 With all the attrition at the top over the last few weeks, the Ducks find themselves at #5 coming off a 43-28 win over Washington St. That doesn’t sound overly impressive given that the Cougars have been horrible of late, but Oregon only ha the ball for 19 minutes, yet were able to score 43 points with the game never being in question at any point in time Anytime Wazzou would cut the margin to single digits, the Ducks would score almost immediately. The scary part in all of this is that Oregon was horribly off last week. LaMichael James didn’t play that well. Chip Kelly didn’t really open up the playbook regarding the passing attack. You almost got the feeling like Oregon was definitely looking ahead in all of this. Oregon is going to be one of the more interesting teams coming down the stretch. I don’t think they are completely out of the BCS picture given that their only loss has come against LSU and that was in the first week of the season. At 7-1, Oregon ranks 8th in the BCS, but their next 3 games come against Washington, Stanford & USC. If they get to 10-1 they’ll leap frog Stanford & possibly even Boise St. If LSU wins out then Arkansas loses which means they’ll leapfrog Arkansas too. That leaves Oklahoma & Oklahoma St. I don’t know how Oregon gets by either team assuming Oklahoma St. or Oklahoma wins out, but Oregon is going to give it a run and if they finish the year 12-1 with a Pac-12 championship and LSU is sitting there at 13-0, do you give Oregon a rematch? It seems extremely unlikely, but Oregon could be the #2 in the nation.
#6 Boise St. was on bye last week so they are still stuck at 7-0 en route to what should be a fairly easy 12-0 record. One thing to think about with Boise St. is that they might not be as good as they’ve been in year’s past. Kellen Moore is still Kellen Moore, but losing Titus Young & Austin Pettis from last year’s squad hurts them a bit no matter how much the offense is racking up the points. They didn’t exactly blow Georgia out, and even then the Bulldogs probably aren’t as great as we thought although they are seemingly getting better as the year goes on. Boise struggled a bit at home against Air Force. I’m not saying this to disparage the Broncos, but there is definitely a chance Boise St. gets their shot to play for a national championship and you wonder if the 2011 version is the exact right team to completely blow up the BCS? Maybe it, and maybe it’s not, but I think the game against TCU would have been a lot more meaningful if it was played in Texas rather than yet another game played on the Blue Turf where Boise St. seems to have a significant advantage. And that’s really the point in all of this right? If Boise St. played LSU’s schedule, they’d have road games against Alabama, West Virginia, Mississippi St, and Tennessee. They’d have a neutral site game against Oregon. They’d have home games against Arkansas & Florida. Does Boise St. really go 12-0 against LSU’s schedule? Seems far fetched!
#7 That didn’t take long! I knew Kansas St. was severely overrated being #8 in the nation last week when #9 Oklahoma came to visit, but the Sooners went JUMANJI in Manhattan and blitzed KSU 58-17! What’s even crazier is that Oklahoma came out and hammered K-State 35-0 in the 2nd half! Talk about your halftime adjustments! Kansas St. simply had no answer to the far superior Sooners, which makes the question of what the hell happened last ween in Norman against Texas Tech all the more relevant!? Unfortunately for the Sooners, sometimes a bad game happens. That is what makes college football so good, but it is also is why some of those wanting a playoff have some ammunition to their arguments. The 7-1 Oklahoma team is a lot more like the team that played Kansas St. than the team that played Texas Tech. Now we’ll wait to see what happens. Keep in mind that for the most part Oklahoma controls their own destiny. If they win out and Stanford loses, then there is no doubt that the Sooners will find themselves in New Orleans playing the SEC Champion for the BCS Championship. I like the BCS because I think it has a way of working itself out. The loss to Texas Tech might not even matter in the long run.
#8 Maybe the bye week did Arkansas more harm than good? Before the bye Arkansas was coming off a huge comeback win over Texas A&M at a neutral site followed by a 38-14 win over Auburn. They then had a week to rest up before a couple of easy games against Mississippi & Vanderbilt, except somebody forgot to tell Johnny Reb & the Commodores they were supposed to lie down! Instead, Arkansas has been in the fight of their lives the last two weeks beating Ole Miss 29-24 and then beating Vandy 31-28 despite trailing the Commodores for every second of the game except the last 6 and a half minutes when Arkansas took a 31-28 lead! It’s been hit or miss offensively with Arkansas too. Against Ole Miss they couldn’t throw the ball. Against Vandy they couldn’t run it. They have been on the road last the last couple of weeks and now get 3 home games starting with South Carolina. It’s a huge game in my opinion. Arkansas is 7th in the BCS. South Carolina is 9th. The winner here puts themselves in incredible position. For Arkansas they need to win and hope Alabama loses. It’s entirely possible and if it does happen, Arkansas becomes a dark horse national champion candidate.
#9 Sometimes the gimmicks work. Georgia Tech and their triple option running game simply had a good day in Atlanta and upended Clemson 31-17. Clemson has effectively been eliminated from the national championship picture. They probably weren’t going to factor into the game anyway, BUT there is still a lot of season to be had. Clemson still has a great shot at 11-1 which would include a gigantic win over in-state rival South Carolina. A win in the ACC Championship game means a 12-1 record and a date in the Orange Bowl that they could win. A 13-1 Clemson squad has to finish in the top-5 which certainly helps recruiting and Dabo Swinney. Clemson gets a bye week which sucks because they have time to stew about the loss, but there is no way this team shouldn’t be 10-1 when they play SC. This is still the most talented team in the ACC and there is a conference championship & a BCS bowl to play for.
#10 As of this writing, USC has already taken care of their opponent this week hammering Colorado 42-17 in Boulder. USC is sort of overlooked because they are banned from the postseason this year, but they are a 7-2 team with an early season loss to Arizona St. who were THIS CLOSE to having back-to-back wins over Notre Dame & Stanford. When the Irish aren’t turning the ball over 15 times a game, they are easily a top-10 team. Heck, ND could prove they are better than that if they beat Stanford in Pao Alto later this year. Stanford of course is in the hunt for a BCS Championship so it’s not like the two losses for the Trojans are bad ones. USC still has a chance at 10 wins but they’ll have to beat Oregon to do it. Even so, a 9-3 USC team with losses to Arizona St., Stanford & Oregon isn’t all that bad. That’s still top-10 quality. EASY. As an aside, how much Heisman hype should sophomore WR Robert Woods be getting? This guy is a TRUE #1 WR. He’s on pace to finish the season with 120 receptions for 1,495 yards & 15TD! In an 16-game NFL season that’s 160 receptions for 1,993 yards & 20TD! RB Curtis McNeal has turned into an unstoppable QB while Matt Barkley looks like the best QB in the nation not named Andrew Luck. It’s a shame USC can’t play in the Pac-12 championship game.
#11 Have you ever seen a Steve Spurrier offense this poor? After the 54-3 stomping of Kentucky, South Carolina got rid of QB Stephen Garcia and handed the reigns over to Connor Shaw. I really like Shaw and I think he gives SC a great QB of the future, something South Carolina has struggled with since Spurrier signed on, but for now the offense is terrible having scored a grand total of 28 points over Mississippi St. & Tennessee in their last two games. Fortunately for SC they’ve only allowed 15 points in those two games putting both in the win column. If defense wins championships then South Carolina is worthy. If you look at total defense, South Carolina ranks 3rd in the SEC. Not overly great right? WRONG! Remember that even though they rank 3rd in the conference in total defense, they rank 4th IN THE NATION IN TOTAL DEFENSE! Keep in mind that Alabama ranks #1 & LSU #3 in total defense in the nation! The offense is struggling, but if they can keep holding teams to 10 points maybe they can keep winning? This week’s test against Arkansas will be very telling and keep in mind that South Carolina could still play for a national championship. If they win out and then upset the SEC West champion, SC would be a 12-1 SEC champion. I’m not sure you can keep them out of the BCS Championship game.
#12 The Bulldogs had a game like Arkansas did in that they never led Florida in their game last week until the very end when they scored a TD to make it 24-20 which ended up being the final. I’m not really sure what to make of Georgia really. I don’t think you can ignore the fact that the team is 6-2 and on a 6-game winning streak. Their next 3 games are at home which should mean a 9-2 record before playing Georgia Tech. If they were to win out and finish 10-2 (7-1) then they’ll play in the SEC championship game if South Carolina loses. Is it a championship season? No it’s not, but 10-2 with an SEC East title is a pretty darn fantastic season in its own right. I really like this Georgia squad. The defense is the 5th best in the nation according to total defense and I like the playmakers on offense. Aaron Murray has played well all season while Isaiah Crowell & Malcolm Mitchell give Georgia a couple of skill position players who could turn into All-Americans giving UGA a pretty formidable 3-headed monster on offense that has to bring Matthew Stafford, Knowshon Moreno & AJ Green to mind. The offense is lagging behind the defense, but Georgia is at least a team to watch. They could wind up 11-2 & in the Sugar Bowl if they get lucky which would ruin any chance that an SEC team plays for a national championship.
#13 It’s weird to put a team at #13 who just struggled to beat a 3-5 Duke team that pretty much sucks by the score of 14-10! Yet here we are with Virginia Tech who now stands at 8-1 and is on a 4-game win streak. The Hokies are on bye this week before playing Georgia Tech in Atlanta, but if they fare better than Clemson did, then Virginia Tech is likely to wind up the season 11-1 with a shot at 12-1 and an Orange Bowl berth. How high can Virginia Tech rank if they finish the season 12-1? The Hokies aren’t awful. They still rank high on defense and the offense is averaging 30ppg. David Wilson is a heckuva RB and QB Logan Thomas has had a pretty good season. With a veteran group of receivers, the Hokies should be having a great year. The 23-3 loss to Clemson hurts quite a bit, although maybe they get a rematch, but sometimes you wonder if the Hokies are simply a product of schedule. They haven’t really played anyone outside of Clemson so maybe it’s no big deal they are 8-1, but you can only win the games you play. It’ll be interesting to see what they do against Georgia Tech & North Carolina. Even if they seem a little weak, it’s Virginia Tech! They’re 8-1! You can’t ignore it.
#14 Speaking of teams you aren’t quite sure what to do with, Penn St. has to be the quietest 8-1 team I’ve ever seen! The Nittany Lions are, like Virginia Tech, a product of scheduling. They haven’t played ANYBODY yet and got a pretty easy pass through the Legends Division of the Big 10 by not having to play Michigan or Michigan St. Their three toughest games in the conference are their last 3 against Ohio St., Wisconsin & Nebraska. They probably should be 8-1 in all likelihood. But 8-1 is 8-1 and their only loss has been to Alabama so could PSU make a legitimate claim to being the 2nd best team in the entire country!? Let’s not get crazy, but maybe the Lions are being a bit overlooked. We all look at SEC teams as the barometer of what happens in the nation, but Penn St. mimics those teams fairly well. LSU, Alabama, Georgia, & South Carolina are all teams with incredible defenses that are challenged a bit offensively. Penn St. fits that mold pretty well. They rank 3rd in scoring defense, 24th in rush defense, 8th in pass defense & 9th in total defense. Penn St. is also +6 in TO margin. We’ll learn a lot next week when PSU takes on Nebraska in Happy Valley, but an 8-1 Penn St. ranks 16th in the BCS. That’s the worst ranking of any BCS conference school with just one loss. Doesn’t that sound wrong?
#15 Who knows? Houston is now 8-0 and I think they deserve some consideration in the Power-15. This is a team that is averaging 52.3ppg offensively which is absurd when you think about it. Case Keenum is throwing 9TD passes in a game & is on pace to throw for 5,000 yards along with 50TD! That’s nuts. I don’t know if it’s disappointing or not, but if Houston wins out and gets to 13-0, they are likely looking at playing in the Liberty Bowl against a mid-tier SEC team. College Football News projects that team to be Mississippi St. right now. I like Mississippi St., but wouldn’t it be a little bit cooler for Houston to play an outstanding defense to see how it would fare against elite level competition? Houston’s biggest non-conference opponent is UCLA which is a bit thin. I don’t know it works for non-AQ schools like Houston or Boise St., but I think I’d take my 4 non-conference games and play the biggest & baddest teams I could possibly find. If you win all 4 & go 13-0 then you have a legitimate beef by not being in the BCS. If you lose them, then you were playing for a conference championship anyway. My only hope is that Houston & Boise St. are trying to play football GIANTS in their non-conference slate and simply aren’t finding many takers. At least I hope so.


#7 MICHIGAN ST. SPARTANS: You come off one of the greatest last plays in college football history to get a win over Wisconsin and you follow it up with a 24-3 loss to Nebraska? A team Wisconsin absolutely waxed? The shine came off of Sparty a lot last week and maybe me dropping them from #7 to NR is a bit of an overreaction. Michigan St. should have no problems winning out, finishing 10-2 (7-1), but the loss to Nebraska is crushing because if Nebraska wins out, the Huskers will be 11-1 (7-1) with the tiebreaker over Michigan St. I didn’t rank Nebraska either and maybe I should have? I absolutely loved the idea of a 12-1 Spartans team playing in the Rose Bowl. An 11-2 Spartans team could still get there, but they’ll need quite a bit of help from this point forward.

#8 WISCONSIN BADGERS: Talk about crazy! Two weeks ago I thought Wisconsin was going to pull off a fantastic comeback to send their game against Michigan St.  into OT where I thought Wisconsin would win the game. Kirk Cousins & Keith Nichol thought otherwise. Last week I thought Wisconsin would get back on track and hammer Ohio St. Apparently the Buckeyes thought differently as they beat Wisky for 33-29 giving the Badgers a 6-2 mark & a 2-game losing streak! Now you wonder if Wisconsin isn’t a little bit of a product of Camp Randall Stadium as they are 5-0 at home, but 1-2 on the road. Remember that Wisconsin could just as easily be 8-0 right now. They are still probably the best team in the Big 10 and if they win out they’ll be 11-2 playing in the Rose Bowl. It’s not a national championship, but it isn’t nothing either. The Rose Bowl MEANS A LOT!

#11 KANSAS ST. WILDCATS: Purely a product of schedule. The 7-0 record was junk and Oklahoma basically exposed them. They should still beat Iowa St. to end the season, but I don’t think they’ll beat Texas, Oklahoma St. or Texas A&M. That puts them at 8-4 which is still solid. It’s not like Kansas St. is bad or anything. All the 7-0 record did was raise expectations beyond which Kansas St. could attain.


November 5, 2011 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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