As I mentioned in my Sunday recap column, this past weekend was officially “Separation Saturday” in college football. Wisconsin and Oklahoma are clear pretenders, Clemson and Stanford are definitely contenders, and USC and Michigan State proved to be somewhere in the middle. (And then of course there are Alabama and LSU, which didn’t wait until this Saturday to separate themselves, but instead did that the day they showed up for fall camp)
Beyond just separation Saturday, it was also “Shakeup Saturday” in my OnsideKick.com Top 25. There are four new teams in the poll, including three making their first appearances. I’ve also completely rearranged my Top 10, with only Boise at No. 5 holding the same spot they did a week ago, and two new teams entering the top five. I’ve even got some movement at No. 1.
So what does the new poll look like? Let’s take a peak. Also remember that there is a “notes” section at the bottom, which takes you deep into the depths of my twisted brain, and explains why teams are ranked where they are.
And as always encouraged to tell me what I did right and wrong by commenting below, or e-mailing in at ATorres00@gmail.com.
Here’s the poll:
1. LSU Tigers (8-0, 5-0)
2. Alabama Crimson Tide (8-0, 5-0)
3. Oklahoma State Cowboys (7-0, 4-0)
4. Clemson Tigers (8-0, 5-0)
5. Boise State Broncos (7-0, 2-0)
6. Kansas State Wildcats (7-0, 4-0)
7. Stanford Cardinal (7-0, 5-0)
8. Oregon Ducks (6-1, 4-0)
9. Arkansas Razorbacks (6-1, 2-1)
10. Michigan State Spartans (6-1, 3-0)
11. Wisconsin Badgers (6-1, 2-1)
12. Oklahoma Sooners (6-1, 3-1)
13. Nebraska Cornhuskers (6-1, 2-1)
14. South Carolina Gamecocks (6-1, 4-1)
15. Virginia Tech Hokies (7-1, 3-1)
16. Michigan Wolverines (6-1, 2-1)
17. Georgia Bulldogs (5-2, 4-1)
18. Houston Cougars (7-0, 4-0)
19. Texas A&M Aggies (5-2, 3-1)
20. Arizona State Sun Devils (5-2, 3-1)
21. USC Trojans (6-1, 3-1)
22. Cincinnati Bearcats (6-1, 2-0)
23. Penn State Nittany Lions (7-1, 4-0)
24. Texas Tech Red Raiders (5-2, 2-2)
25. West Virginia Mountaineers (5-2, 1-1)
With so much movement, this notes sheet is packed, and hopefully at least somewhat informal (although knowing myself, I doubt it). In no particular order, here is some of the reasoning behind the shake-up in my rankings.
– Starting at No. 1, I moved LSU over Alabama. Start the debate and send in the hate mail, I’m crazy!
Ok, maybe not so much, since we all know that it doesn’t really matter who is No. 1 at this point. As I’ve mentioned before, picking between Alabama and LSU at this point is like Justin Timberlake deciding on a Friday night whether he wants to hang out with Scarlett Johansson or Jessica Biel. Ultimately, who cares?
Still, I had Alabama No. 1 last week, and have moved LSU up to the spot, and to be fair I should probably tell you why. What it really just came down to is that given their strength of schedule, and given what they did Saturday in specific, LSU has been more impressive overall. Even if it is by just a hair.
Saturday was especially epic since without three starters, the Tigers beat down Auburn like they stole something. On the other hand, Alabama came out a little flat at against a Tennessee team that they were literally superior to in every phase of the game. Of course then they outscored the Vols 31-0 in the second half, making the first 15 minutes of this game totally moot.
Again, it really doesn’t matter who is No. 1 at this point, since these are the two best teams in the sport. And unlike the rest of college football, they’ll settle it on the field two Saturday’s from now.
– Staying in the Top 5, I’d like to welcome the Oklahoma State Cowboys and Clemson Tigers to the mix. Guys, pull up a seat and stay awhile. It’s good to have ya here!
My thought process on moving both these teams into the top five, and ahead of Boise was simple. If these rankings really are about full body of work (which they should be), well, it’s hard to argue that the Pokes and Tigers don’t have a better “body” than Boise. Oklahoma State’s three toughest wins (Texas A&M, Texas and Missouri) are all on the road, while Clemson’s wins (Auburn, Florida State, at Virginia Tech and North Carolina) are probably better than anyone’s nationally except LSU’s.
Boise held strong at No. 5, but given what those teams have done this season, and given Boise’s Saturday struggles against Air Force, I had to bump them ahead.
– For the same reason I put those two teams in the Top 5, I also had to Kansas State into the No. 6 spot. Quietly Kansas State has put together a nice little resume, with wins at Miami and Texas, and home victories over Missouri and Baylor. I can’t explain the Wildcats rise to No. 6 any better than you can, but for at least another few days (starting with Oklahoma this Saturday), they deserve to be where they are.
By the way, if you haven’t read this piece on Bill Synder, go ahead and do it…right now. Honestly, you can leave this site, I won’t be offended. It’s truly outstanding.
– Moving out of the ranks of the undefeated, I bumped Michigan State up to No. 10, with Wisconsin and Oklahoma following behind them.
For Michigan State, the logic is simple: Umm, did you see Saturday night’s game? You did? Good, let’s move on then.
(But before we do, I’d be remiss if I didn’t ask this: Is Michigan State the Big Ten’s next great super-power? After all, they won 11 games last year, should win at least 10 this year, and have beaten Ohio State, Michigan and Wisconsin and three straight weeks. Just sayin’)
As for Wisconsin and Oklahoma, I had to put the Badgers a spot higher than the Sooners since the Badgers loss was on the road, against a ranked team. While the Badgers performance on Saturday isn’t excusable, it is at least understandable. As for Oklahoma, well, losing at home is neither understandable, nor excusable. They settled in at No. 12.
– There are four new teams in the Top 25 this week, with the team Oklahoma lost to (Texas Tech), joining USC, Penn State and Cincinnati in the poll.
A few things here: One, I cannot believe that I’ve got the Nittany Lions in this poll; had you asked me three weeks ago if Penn State would ever see this Top 25, I’d have told you no. Actually, I would’ve said “Les Miles is more likely to win the Scripps National Spelling Bee and The Hangover II is more likely to win the ‘Best Picture’ Academy Award than it is that Penn State will ever be ranked.” But at 7-1, with four Big Ten wins, how can I keep them out?
Texas Tech is also a first time visitor to the poll (for obvious reasons), as is Cincinnati. The Bearcats own the distinction of sitting alone atop the Big East standings, which is fascinating if only because there is a six-way tie for second place behind them (seriously, there’s a…six…way…tie…atop…the…Big East standings. Can you believe that?).
And finally, my beloved Lane Kiffin and the USC Trojans return to the Top 25 after their win at Notre Dame Saturday. Look, I know the Irish aren’t all that good, and they’re not all that relevant in the national college football landscape, but admit it, you were impressed by the Lane Train on Saturday. It was his best game in Troy, and he did nothing short of coach the pants of Brian Kelly.
And now that I have that terrible mental image of Brian Kelly with his pants off, I’ll say good-bye.
As always, feel free to leave your questions, comments or disagreements below, e-mailing at ATorres00@gmail.com or hitting me up on Twitter @Aaron_Torres. And please remember, Amazon.com is an official sponsor of this website. So if you’re using Amazon for any purchases in the near future, please, please, PLEASE click through the advertisement on the right-hand side of this site. A small percentage of your purchase will go to keeping things up and running here. Click here if you need more details.
Have a good one!