25. Louisiana Tech
I would love to throw the Iowa State Cyclones in here, but beating TCU on the road without Casey Pachall was expected. Instead, these Bulldogs get the nod thanks to their explosive offense that may be better than the team ranked just below them here. Colby Cameron has played like a true star (13 TD, 0 INT) and Quinton Patton breaks down defenses with such ease. If they upset A&M at home next weekend then they will officially be in the top 20.
24. Texas A&M
I would prefer to give some love to the Ohio Bobcats and Tyler Tettleton, but the only loss for the Aggies thus far is at home to the hottest team in all of sports. Defeat the Bulldogs on the road next weekend and they might carry their momentum towards an extra SEC victory or two down the road.
They put the clamps down on Purdue and it was never even close. Michigan’s defense looked among the best in the Big Ten and if Denard Robinson continues to play mistake free football, their trip to Lincoln will likely decide who ends up in Pasadena.
22. Boise State
The Broncos took full usage of the five turnovers they forced against Southern Miss, and this was expected to be one of their toughest games on the remaining schedule.
The Bearcats bring their lunch-pals on defense, but Munchie Legaux is such a stud. Their underrated receiving corps can take this team a long way, but once again it is the defense that has enabled them to tee off on the competition.
Rutgers has some flat out ballers on defense that could play for several ranked BCS squads, but Gary Nova and the offense have avoided a meltdown. It is always easier said than done, but the offense is only getting better. Not only are they legit top 25 contenders, but they may not lose more than twice all year (11-2 type of season at worst, including postseason).
Scoring the final 20 points in their overtime victory over the ‘Cats is the true definition of surviving and advancing. They won’t have a shot against the Irish if they trail by more 10 points. The defense is way too good in South Bend and the Cardinal better put together their best performance of the season.
Who is the best in the Big East? Teddy Bridgewater and Charlie Strong would like to say they are, but they still have a few tough tests in the immediate future.
17. Mississippi State
Johnathan Banks is the best defensive back in America and will likely be a top 10 pick in next year’s NFL Draft, but it has been a steady offense that has allowed Dan Mullen’s squad to remain relevant (just like three years ago when they went 10-3 finished #16).
Landry Jones and the offense saw plenty of balance, but it was the defense that finally picked it up. Tussling with Texas in the Cotton Bowl is always electric although most did not anticipate both would have one loss.
The Longhorns needed to protect their home gridiron against the devastating Mountaineers offense, but they could not do the little things. Calling a timeout on a fourth down in which you stopped Geno Smith was eventually turned into a touchdown/
14. Oregon State
Oregon State may soon be feared if they continue to win. The slate is tough coming up in a Pac-12 that is not a walk in the park, but there is no USC coming up (at all).
BYU on the road will be a decent test and Stanford (Oregon too) can ultimately take this squad down. On paper they are a clear top 20 team, but they may not get much higher unless they start out 8-0 heading into their potential heavyweight matchup with the Cardinal.
Tajh Boyd is about as productive as it gets for a quarterback and his offense is still one of the best in the nation. While the defense is a bit weak, they will not be going up against many legit top 25 teams (none outside of South Carolina).
The defense was disinterested and the freshman superstar backs were completely non-factors against the Gamecocks defense. Marcus Lattimore owns UGA for life after three virtuoso performances and Connor Shaw is damn good (poor man’s Klein just smaller frame). UGA remembered lost to SC last year and still played in the SEC title, and the same can be said this season. However, they must be able to defeat a Gators squad that is the hottest team in all of sports right now (in my eyes).
Matt Barkley and Lane Kiffin are short on confidence, but they also do not line up on defense either. They are capable of hanging 50-plus a night but they might have to once they go up against the Ducks twice. They have Rose Bowl written all over them (assuming Ducks run table and or play in BCS title), but they will have to run the table save potentially losing to the Ducks two more times (that includes a win over the Irish at home or else we could see ND in the Rose Bowl!).
I had LSU winning because of the inability to spread out the Gators defense and Zach Mettenberger continued to make a few mistakes. He was not awful by any means but the LSU rushing attack was bottled up by Florida. They suffered injuries at linebacker and with their offensive line, but this team overall was a bit overhyped heading into the season. Their 2011 year was simply magical and they will be lucky to avoid two more losses from here on out (counting postseason).
9. Florida State
This team was once again has underachieved albeit the young talent still has a ways to go. Call it conservative play-calling in the second half after leading 16-0 or a choke job if you will, E.J. Manuel had one of his worst performances in Garnet & Gold.
The kid is still a stud and it doesn’t change a whole lot other than their BCS title aspirations have been dashed. Slim to none are the odds these days, but they have not even played in a BCS Bowl or won the ACC since 2005-2006. Sometimes you need to take one step before one giant leap and as much talent as FSU holds on its roster, the youngsters need to do the little things with much less effort (James Wilder Jr two carries is a tough pill to swallow, receivers struggled with).
8. Ohio State
The Buckeyes were labeled as last year’s Trojans who finished 10-2 with a number six ranking by yours truly back in March. Well, after an abysmal September performance with my high standards, they finally have lived up to them thrashing the Huskers at home in a statement game. They are a legit top 10 team with the way Braxton Miller is playing. Can he unseat Klein or Geno?
7. Kansas State
How good are the Wildcats?
I tell you what, their defense is ferocious and nobody is tougher than Collin Klein. Most of us already knew that, but they are a legit team built from the inside-out. That in itself will allow them to at least nine games during the regular season (looking like a 11-1 squad right now).
6. Notre Dame
Kansas State smoked the Canes, and many were questioning how much Notre Dame could win by. The defensive front 7 is scary good with NFL players and there may not be a defensive player better than Manti Te’o. Yes, they will achieve double digit victories if they can avoid a letdown at home with College Gameday coming (Stanford).
Whether or not they are BCS title contenders will be answered when they go to Norman and LA.
5. West Virginia
Geno Smith has better numbers than RGIII did at this point and he has simply been absurd. His receivers are the best in America (Clemson too) as they are absolute freaks in yards after the catch.
The defense is atrocious at times with blown assignments but they made a few sensational stops against the Longhorns. They put up when they needed to and they remain in the conversation for possible BCS title contenders after Alabama and Oregon.
Do not look now but the Gators may have the best defense out there and they get to host the Gamecocks and Bulldogs (well, neutral site actually in Jacksonville). Jeff Driskel has to give major props to his offensive line as does Mike Gillislee (34 carries for 146 yards 2 TD).
They have elite talent with Jeff Driskel playing well and they very easily could be undefeated heading into the SEC title (win vs SC, UGA and at FSU is still mission impossible).
3. South Carolina
Yes, their tremendous victory over Georgia was flat out domination. They look as fundamentally sound as any team in America these days and Marcus Lattimore is simply the best back out there. The next two weeks are world beaters in LSU and Florida, so we still have a ton of more intriguing information ahead of ourselves with the Gamecocks.
The Ducks offense is absurd and with the schedule they currently have, nobody will touch them. Only the Trojans can perhaps phase them although USC still does not look all that great on defense.
Sadly as much as I love Nick Saban and Alabama I doubted them to go undefeated, but their program is as consistent as any team during the BCS era.
Can the SEC still cost them a game?
Yes, but it looks unlikely since Alabama avoids the likes of Florida, Georgia and South Carolina (which is miraculous) which will allow them to likely remain undefeated heading to Atlanta (home of the SEC Championship).