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NCAA FOOTBALL POWER 25 – 2016 WEEK 9

RANK TEAM COMMENTS
#1 Computer Hope If it was possible for Alabama to look better by not playing a game then it happened this weekend as Michigan, Clemson, Washington, Louisville & Ohio State all had tough times despite all five teams pulling out victories. One important development while the Tide was resting is the Auburn 11-point win over Ole Miss in Oxford. Auburn isn’t going away and is getting better week by week. All of a sudden, Alabama looks like it has its two toughest tests of the year still to come when they take on LSU and an excellent Auburn team.
#2 Computer Hope For the first time all season a RB got off against Michigan as Spartans RB LJ Scott got loose for 139 yards & a TD on 22 carries. Michigan has been dominant on the ground all season long but the Michigan St. front-7 did a good job containing the Wolverines running attack. Anytime you can go into East Lansing & pull of a 9-point win you have to be pleased. This is Michigan’s first win against Sparty in 4-years with Michigan being 2-7 in their last 9. This was Michigan St.’s 6th straight loss! Good grief what has happened?
#3 Computer Hope There is a lot of talk about Clemson making this huge rally, but the Tigers were never that far out of the lead against Florida State. It looks big because the Tigers outscored the Noles 17-6 in the 4th quarter, but it was 28-20 FSU going into the 4th. Since 2012, Dabo Swinney is 14-2 in games decided by 7-point or less! That’s an incredible statistic when you think about how regression should take hold. At some point it doesn’t point to luck but rather that Swinney is a tremendous coach. Nick Saban’s record in that time: 9-5.
#4 Computer Hope Going into Utah & getting a 31-24 win is a huge get for the Huskies unless you believe that Utah isn’t a good team & Washington should have won by more than 7. Frankly, I don’t know where I stand on this one. Utah is 7-2 which is solid & losing by 7 to UW is impressive to me. On the other hand, who has Utah beat? UCLA without Josh Rosen? Beating USC before they figured things out? Beating BYU? I like the punishing way Utah plays football so I think it’s a solid win but when you look at resumes, UW needed a bit more.
#5 Computer Hope Speaking of resumes, Louisville needed Lamar Jackson to turn into Superman to escape Charlottesville with a 32-25 win over a Virginia team that currently sits at 2-6! The Cardinals need to be really careful from this point because they need a lot of style points to potentially make the playoffs as an 11-1 team. All I’m seeing now is a team that is living off a win over Florida State, but who has struggled against Virginia & Duke! Louisville should win out, but they need to beat teams by 25-40 points a game instead of seven!
#6 Computer Hope Beating New Mexico State 52-10 was a mere formality for the Aggies. Given the way Louisville & Ohio State has been playing recently, you’d have to think that Texas A&M is the likely 1-loss team to gain admission to the 4-team playoff given their only loss is a road loss to Alabama. The win over Auburn looks better and better while beating Arkansas by 21 points is signficant. When everyone is healthy & things are falling right on defense, this is arguably the 2nd best team in the nation at the moment. They shouldn’t lose again.
#7 Computer Hope Kamryn Pettway had his best game of the season, torching the Rebels defense for 236 rushing yards and a score on 30 carries. In Auburn’s last 3 games, Pettway has rushed for 597yds/6TD (6.2ypc) all of them being victories. Beating Ole Miss 40-29 was Auburn’s last big hurdle before traveling to Tuscaloosa for the Iron Bowl. Keep in mind that if Texas A&M loses to LSU and Auburn beats Alabama, then Auburn would win the SEC West! I’m not sure that happens, but there isn’t a team hotter than War Eagle at the moment.
#8 Computer Hope Northwestern is proving to be an exceptionally feisty team, but 24-20 in Columbus? The Buckeyes have to do better than that. Nothing really stands out to be honest. You have to be impressed with the Wildcats here who have come a long way from the beginning of the season when they opened with back-to-back losses against Western Michigan and Illinois State. The Buckeyes aren’t out of the woods either. This week they have Nebraska with Michigan St. and Michigan still waiting. They need to figure things out quickly.
#9 Computer Hope The Badgers had to withstand a furious Nebraska comeback and take the game into OT, but the Badgers defense was able to stiffen up resulting in a 23-17 win over an undefeated Nebraska squad. Wisconsin still needs Nebraska to lose another game in order to win the Big 10 West, but the Cornhuskers travel to Columbus to take on the Buckeyes which should get the job done. The Badgers can’t overlook Northwestern next week in Evanston. The Wildcats have suddenly become a difficult team to manage so game faces on!
#10 Computer Hope Like Alabama, LSU was on a bye before the enormous SEC showdown. I think it’s really interesting that Nick Saban has referred to LSU as an undefeated team considering the Tigers haven’t lost since Ed Orgeron took over for Les Miles. To be fair, Orgeron has played in Baton Rouge for 3 games against Missouri, Southern Miss & Ole Miss, but 3-0 is better than 0-3! LSU can still win the SEC West if they win out. It’s amazing that despite all the hype around Alabama, there are still 4 teams in the West that could win it!
#11 Computer Hope THEY CAME THIS CLOSE!!! Right now Nebraska has to forget the 23-17 loss to Wisconsin and move on to Ohio State. It’s not going to get easier in Ohio Stadium, but I think the Cornhuskers proved they can stay with anyone in the Big 10. Nebraska still has a shot for a fantastic season. If they beat Ohio State they should be able to win out & get to 11-1. That mean they are likely facing an 11-1/12-0 Michigan team in the Big 10 championship. A win there & it’s playoff time. A loss and they still probably go to the Rose Bowl.
#12 Computer Hope I think there are a few ways to read the Utah/Washington game, but I think Washington is an ELITE team and Utah did a good job playing its game and imposing their will on a Huskies squad that has been utterly dominant all year long. The Utes will probably get a shot at revenge if they can walk into Boulder and beat Colorado in their season finale. At this point I don’t think Utah can crash the playoff party but they could play HUGE spoiler by winning the Pac 12. It would take UW out of the playoffs & out of the Rose Bowl.
#13 Computer Hope The Trojans have really started to figure things out. The 45-24 win last Thursday over California wasn’t insignificant. The Bears have played spoiler a couple of times this year & can put up quite a few points. USC gave Cal their first blowout loss of the season & held the Bears to their lowest scoring output of 2016. Sam Darnold once again was outstanding at QB with 5TD passes giving him 16 in his last 4 games! USC could still win the Pac 12 South. They need Colorado & Utah to each lose another game but it’s possible.
#14 Computer Hope A completely gift of a ranking considering Tennessee just lost to South Carolina. Hard to rank the Vols lower considering they beat Florida fairly easily early on in the season but that win is going to mean less and less as time passes. It has to be brutal in Knoxville right now. If Butch Jones can’t win with the current roster then it’s very difficult to see him getting it done in the next few years. Maybe 4 years isn’t enough but Tennessee at worst this season should have won the SEC East and that is all but a lost possibility now.
#15 Computer Hope QB Luke Del Rio played better against Georgia than he did against Missouri which is a good sign going forward for the Gators, but Florida’s defense is becoming downright disgusting! Florida held Georgia to 21 yards rushing on 19 carries. UGA managed just 8 first downs and less than 150 total yards in UF’s 24-10 victory. Florida now ranks 2nd in scoring defense, 9th in rush defense, 2nd in pass defense & 2nd in total defense. They’ll win the SEC East and then get murdered for the 2nd straight year by the Crimson Tide.
#16 Computer Hope Colorado finally had a bye week this past Saturday after 8 straight weekends where they ended 6-2. Even the most fervent Colorado fan might not have seen the breakout the Buffs are having this season under Coach Mac. With 3 homes games left in the next 4 and their lone road game coming against a terrible Arizona team, Colorado should have their sights set on 10-2 and a Pac 12 South championship. The playoffs are probably out of the picture but if Colorado could see the Rose Bowl if Washington goes undefeated.
#17 Computer Hope The Hogs were on a bye this past week which gave them time to lick their wounds after a soul crushing 56-3 hammering at the hands of Auburn. I’m not going to get too critical of Arkansas for the loss. Auburn might very well wind up in the playoffs. The Razorbacks have losses to Auburn, Alabama and Texas A&M. So would probably 110 other teams who play FBS football. At this point I think a 10-win season would do wonders for HC Bielema & his staff. They’ll have to win out & win the bowl, but they have the schedule to do it.
#18 Computer Hope You really can’t say enough about how much 1st year HC Justin Fuente has improved the Hokies offense. Virginia Tech sits at 6-2 after a FANTASTIC 39-36 win at PITT this past week & offensively they are averaging 36.3PPG. It sounds absurd but the Hokies haven’t averaged that many points per game since 2000 when they finished 11-1 & ranked #6 in the final poll. VT is probably better than #18 but the loss to Syracuse & Tennessee look rough. They should win out & get to 10-2. Then the fun starts when they play Clemson.
#19 Computer Hope The Tar Heels are coming off a by sitting at 6-2 with a schedule they should win out with. Unfortunately for North Carolina, their one loss came to Virginia Tech meaning they wouldn’t win the ACC Coastal unless Va Tech lost again which doesn’t look likely. At this point UNC could get another 11 wins season assuming they win out & get a bowl win. That would be back-to-back 11-win seasons for Larry Fedora and the Tar Heels have a lot coming back next season especially if Mitch Trubisky & Elijah Hood stick around.
#20 Computer Hope Dalvin Cook tried his best but even he wasn’t good enough to beat Clemson by himself as FSU fell to the Tigers 37-34. Florida St. isn’t completely out of the woods just yet. They still have road games against NC State & Syracuse combined with a season finale against Florida who has a defense that should be rowdy. Hard to complain about the Noles at this point. They have losses to Louisville, Clemson & North Carolina. There is no more room for error though. A season in which FSU didn’t win 10 games would be disappointing.
#21 Computer Hope The Cougars showed incredible resiliency against Oregon St. last week as they came back from being down 24-6 at halftime on the road to finishing the game with a 35-31 win which gave Wazzou their 6th straight win & their 3rd straight road win. QB Luke Falk was outstanding throwing for 415yds/5TD. Washington St. now gets back-to-back home games against Arizona & California meaning they should be 8-2 when traveling to Colorado. They are winning close but they are winning and that is all that matters right now.
#22 Computer Hope The good news is that Oklahoma finally looked like Oklahoma in a 56-3 win this past weekend. The bad news is that they did it against Kansas so it’s like it never really happened. With Baylor & West Virginia losing games, Oklahoma is the last undefeated team in conference play. It seems like a disappointing season because of the early losses to Ohio St. & Houston, but if Oklahoma wins out they’ll finish 11-2 as Big XII Champions, on a 10-game winning streak and likely top-5/top-7 ranking. That’s nothing to be ashamed of!
#23 Computer Hope It took Penn St. a half to get it going against Purdue, but the Nittany Lions poured it on the Boilermakers, outscoring them 45-7 in the 2nd half en route to a 62-24 victory. RB Saquon Barkley was unstoppable leading PSU with 207 yards rushing and also receiving with 70 yards. QB Trace McSorley looked very efficient and the Penn St. defense looked loose. They held Purdue to 46 rushing yards & forced 4 turnovers. The difference to me is Penn St.’s defense the last couple of weeks. The Lions should win out & get to 10-2.
#24 Computer Hope The 37-20 win over West Virginia was impressive and it’s good to remember that if the refs would have screwed OK State against Central Michigan, the Cowboys would be sitting at 7-1 with their only loss coming at Baylor by 11 points. Keep in mind that Oklahoma St. isn’t beating cupcakes either. They have wins over Pittsburgh, West Virginia and Texas. The schedule is rough over the next 4 weeks including a road finale in Norman that could very well be for the Big XII championship. This team is a lot better than most think.
#25 Computer Hope West Virginia has won this year by defending the pass exceptionally well in a pass happy league & avoiding bad turnover margins. In their 37-20 loss to Oklahoma St., Cowboys QB Mason Rudolph went 26/36 for 273yds/3TD. WR James Washington was a big play machine & WVU committed 3 turnovers while getting ZERO take aways. It’s extremely hard to win in Stillwater playing like that. WVU can still finish 11-1 and win the Big XII but they need Oklahoma St. to lose another game. Is 11-1 enough for playoff discussion?

DROPPING OUT

#22 BAYLOR: Even if it was by just one point, losing at Texas pretty much finishes Baylor’s season. I suppose the Bears could still finish 11-1 and win the Big XII outright, but they could also lose out and finish 6-6 and I wouldn’t be surprised.

#24 MISSISSIPPI: It’s hard for me to rank Ole Miss when the Rebels are 3-5. Not only that but they’ve lost 3 straight games and 4 of their last 6. On the other hand, their 5 losses have come against Florida State, Alabama, Arkansas, LSU & Auburn. Ole Miss still has Texas A&M on the schedule so they could be looking at a 6-6 regular season, but if you add A&M to the list of losses, how many teams could do better than 6-6 with the schedule they’ve played? The big letdown in Oxford is the defense. Last year Ole Miss allowed 22.6PPG. This season that number has catapulted to 32.5! Giving up an extra 10PPG will cause quite a few more losses.

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November 3, 2016 - Posted by | Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Baylor, Clemson, Colorado, Florida, Florida St., Louisville, LSU, Michigan, Mississippi, NCAA, Nebraska, North Carolina, Ohio St, Oklahoma, Oklahoma St., Penn St., Power 25, Tennessee, Texas AM, USC, Utah, Virginia Tech, Washington, Washington St., Week 9, West Virginia, Wisconsin

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