Friday, October 28, 2011

NFL Sweat Barometer

Here is the NFL Sweat Barometer, as my friend over at ESPN Chad Millman refers to it. It shows how well or poorly teams are playing vs. the spread. The formulas behind the figures you are seeing are for my eyes only, but you can utilize the end result marks in your handicapping this weekend
©The SportsBoss 2011

Thursday, October 27, 2011

NCAAF Top 15 Week 9

College Football Top 15 heading into Week 9 games

+ / - spot shows move team made since rankings heading into Wk6 games
  1. LSU [8-0, same]: even with all the distractions that occurred mid week the Tigers had no issues going out and pounding the defending National Champs 45-10, easily covering the -21 number.  LSU has so many interchangeable parts in their running game, and on the defensive side of the football it is impressive – they rarely miss a step even losing players to injury or suspension.  Jordan Jefferson brings a very key wrinkle to their offensive game as him and Lee bring different skill sets to the table, making it more likely the LSU offense will crank out points on a week to week basis.  As any college football fan knows by now both LSU and Alabama have bye’s this week before their showdown next week in Tuscaloosa.  Early opening line was Tide -6.5, which has since been bet down some and settled around Tide -4.5.  8pm CBS 11/5 is the place to be.
  2. Alabama [8-0, same]: Bama had no trouble dispatching a depleted Tennessee squad last week by score of 37-6, also easily covering their number which has been a real trend this season – the best teams have been covering big numbers week in week out.  This team is led by an absolutely bruising, physically imposing defense that just doesn’t yield many yards at all, particularly on the ground.  Though LSU and Alabama have the two best defenses in the country, they kind of do it in different ways as Alabama is more physical, tougher to move the ball on whereas LSU makes a lot of big plays like creating turnovers and scoring TDs.  One thing is for sure, next Saturday will be an absolute slugfest, with two very tough, gritty squads facing off.  Oh yeah, and the fact Saban used to coach the Tigers.  There are just so many storylines we could bring up for this one, just be on the lookout for my preview article of this game coming up next week.
  3. Clemson [8-0, +2 spots]: with Oklahoma going down in very shocking fashion last week, and Wisconsin falling in their first road test of the season (I have been saying all year Wisconsin was very overrated) Clemson climbs the ladder two more spots and now sits at #3, which will turn into #2 in 2 weeks if they can handle business at Georgia Tech this Saturday with a bye coming up on Nov. 5.  QB Tajh Boyd continues to impress as a sophomore who is playing for the first time this season rolling up big yards and points every week, while Freshman WR Sammy Watkins is positioning himself as perhaps a Heisman sleeper.  The Tigers have rolled up 115 points in their last 2 ACC outings, and have scored 35+ in every game this season besides @ Virginia Tech where they only mustered 23, but won the game by 20.  This week’s game at Georgia Tech is their toughest test before the finale @ South Carolina, but they also must face a rising Wake Forest team on Nov. 12 at home which could be a tough one.  But let me tell you one thing, Clemson is for real, and they have a legitimate shot at playing in the National Title Game on January 9th, with a few breaks.
  4. Stanford [7-0, +2 spots]: just as I predicted in last week’s edition the Cardinal had no trouble whatsoever taking the Washington Huskies behind the woodshed on Saturday in Palo Alto, winning 65-21.  No question a very impressive win, but anyone who had Washington ranked in any poll should have their rights to vote in said poll removed for life.  There is not much to not like about Stanford: they are led by the consensus #1 pick in next year’s NFL Draft QB Andrew Luck, they are 2nd in nation in pts scored, 4th in nation in pts allowed, and have now won a record 10 straight games by 28 or more points.  The toughest portion of their schedule still remains, but the best teams outside the mammoth Oregon matchup the Cardinal will face are USC and Notre Dame.  A week after the big SEC matchup all eyes will be on the Pacific Northwest for the Oregon @ Stanford tilt.
  5. Oklahoma State [7-0, +2 spots]: I am 2-2 playing their games on the season with ATS wins vs. Arizona and Texas A&M, but lost when I took Tulsa and Missouri to cover as dogs vs. them.  I have expected them, especially the last two weeks on the road, to be challenged more than what turned out – and the Pokes keep winning games and winning rather convincingly.  Even with all the good things OK State has accomplished thus far, their season is really just getting going schedule wise as their last six all bring a challenge one way or another.  Let’s focus on the last four: hosting Kansas State, @ Texas Tech, @ Iowa State, hosting Oklahoma.  All four of those games has a storyline which could come back and bite the Cowboys when they least expect it.  There is no arguing how strong their offense is especially passing the ball, but as far as defense goes, especially comparing their unit to the other undefeated teams in the country, it doesn’t stack up well already allowing nearly 27ppg.  I expect a very high scoring affair on Saturday when they host Baylor before the tough matchups commence – and do not sleep on Baylor.
  6. Kansas State [7-0, +3 spots]: I don’t think anyone expected the Kansas State Wildcats to be undefeated at this point in the season, and ranked in the top ten of most major polls.  I for one am very happy for Bill Snyder and the Cats as he came back to build the program back to where it was when he left, and he is way ahead of schedule thus far in only his second season – hopefully they can find an assistant on Snyder’s staff that can take the reins when he calls it quits this time and keep the ball rolling.  But back to this season, and boy what a season it has been thus far with wins already @ Miami, @ Texas Tech (how good does that win look now?), and over Missouri and Baylor at home.  However, like Oklahoma State, there are still many big games to be played, especially the next four hosting Oklahoma (who may be just a big angry coming off their first home loss in almost a decade), @ Oklahoma State (which will likely be an elimination game for the Big 12 title), hosting Texas A&M and @ Texas.  This edition of the Wildcats is like so many of Snyder’s better teams from the late 90s/early 00s – run the ball extremely well and play good, sound defense.  QB Collin Klein is one of the better QB’s you never heard of, John Hubert is a solid back for this offense, and their defense is led by stud LB Arthur Brown.  Give the Cats some respect as they have as impressive a resume at this point in this season as anyone – but it will be what happens in these next four that will really set the tone for the close of this season – and the foundation for what Snyder is trying to accomplish in his second go around in Manhattan.
  7. Oregon [6-1, +3 spots]: as I have harped on over the last few editions of these rankings there is no question the Ducks have hit their stride after the disappointing opening loss to LSU.  They continue handing out beat downs on a weekly basis, the latest of which was a 45-2 shellacking of Colorado in Boulder.  Since the opener they have scored 41pts or more in every game, and their 6 wins have come by at least 14, while five of the six were by 25+.  LaMichael James went down with an elbow injury in the California game and some thought Oregon may struggle some to score without their stud RB – no trouble as Kenjon Barner and a host of other backs have stepped in and the offense hasn’t missed a beat.  QB Darron Thomas continues his progression as a solid college QB, currently holding a 163.4 QB Rating including 17 TDs and only 3 INTs.  With the Stanford game looming in 3 weeks they are focused on winning out until then, and keeping everyone healthy as a BCS bid will likely be on the line.
  8. Michigan State [6-1, +7 spots]: the Spartans may have shocked the college football world on Saturday night by taking down Wisconsin in dramatic Hail Mary fashion, but they certainly didn’t shock me at all as I have been bearish on Wisconsin all season and knew once they stepped outside the friendly confines of Camp Randall trouble would soon find them.  And it did, at the hands of MSU – who has been playing some phenomenal football over the last year plus.  Coming off a pair of wins over top 11 teams at the time of the game, MSU is positioning itself for a Legends division title and a berth in the inaugural Big Ten title game – especially with a win over Nebraska in Lincoln on Saturday.  That may be a lot to ask, as this is three big time emotional games in a row, but if anyone can get their team up for that kind of a trio HC Dantonio seems like the guy.  And do not sleep on this defense, one of the better units in the country.
  9. Wisconsin [6-1, -5 spots]: so Wisconsin finally plays a real squad, finally leaves Madison and they get beat.  Anyone who was thinking potential National Title for Wisconsin needs their head examined, similar to anyone who thought Washington was a top 25 team last week.  The Badgers certainly have some nice pieces, but it is very similar to past Badger teams – 2/3 loss clubs, play in a decent bowl game, but not an elite 0/1 loss squad.  OK, now we can move on to the good things: they face one more ranked team for the rest of the season (Penn State at home in the finale), and are still rightfully so the likely Leaders division champions this season.  It will be very interesting to see how they bounce back in a tough back to back road spot @ Ohio State, whom they clearly are playing much better than this season, but it’s still a road game vs. a team that is somewhat desperate and has enough talent, especially defensively, to pull off the upset.  The health of OSU QB Braxton Miller will be critical in this matchup.
  10.  Oklahoma [6-1, -7 spots]: who saw that coming?  Man, I sure as hec did not!  But didn’t that seem like an episode of the Twilight Zone for some reason?  Maybe it was the weather delay or the shock of seeing Texas Tech go up early, but it was an odd atmosphere and the Sooners were not quite able to come back from the big hole they found themselves in.  I can hear the rumblings from Norman all the way on the East Coast as that loss will get the natives restless with HC Bob Stoops.  Once again it seemed as though the Sooners had all the talent in place for a run at a National Title, came up with the BIG win at Florida State, only to lose those dreams at home vs. Texas Tech?  Really?  Oklahoma will still have chances to climb back up the polls with games remaining @ Kansas State, @ Baylor, @ Oklahoma State along with hosting Texas A&M, but it will take a lot of help to get back in the National Title discussion, especially with the lack of a Big 12 Title game this season.  This week @ Kansas State is a big game for both schools; a second straight loss will definitely not sit well with the Sooners and completely eliminate them from any hopes of a national title, while K-State is looking to prove it has re-arrived back near the top of the Big 12.
  11. Texas A&M [5-2, +1 spot]: the Aggies are the 4th Big 12 team to occupy the top 11 spots in the poll, and some may question how a 2 loss team could be ranked ahead of say, undefeated Boise State?  A&M has a pair of losses by a combined 5pts vs. a pair of my top 15 teams, and has won @ Texas Tech and destroyed Baylor while Boise State just isn’t the same team as usual, witnessed by their 11pt home win over an Air Force team who gave up nearly 60 @ Notre Dame.  Texas A&M is led by a bruising running game that ranks #14 in the country contributing to an offense ranked #13 in points scored.  But they, like seemingly the rest of the Big 12, have a tough closing schedule, especially starting in two weeks with back to back roadies @ Oklahoma and @ Kansas State.  Remember, only 1 of their 2 losses is in conference and that was to Oklahoma State, so they are still very much in the mix for the Big 12 title – but they probably would need to run table from here on out to have any shot – which is unlikely.
  12. Virginia Tech [7-1, +4 spots]: another week, another win for Tech, this time handling BC with ease 30-14 in a game that was not as close as the score indicates.  Each passing week the Clemson loss is looking better – granted it did come at home, was by 20pts, and they only scored 3pts in the game – but hey, I have Clemson ranked #3 and they haven’t lost a game yet.  There is no question this is not a vintage Frank Beamer team – but even without a top notch squad he usually finds a way to get his team into the ACC Title Game, having played in 4 of the 6 that have been staged, including winning 3 of the last 4.  And once again they have the inside track at representing the Coastal division for a potential rematch with Clemson – they currently sit with a 1gm lead in the loss column, but that is over 4 teams who only have 2 losses.  Sure many of those will weed themselves out over the coming weeks, like Duke and Virginia, but Miami and Georgia Tech will likely still have a say when it’s all decided.  VT already took care of Miami, so the Thursday Nov. 10 game @ Georgia Tech will likely decide this division. 
  13.  USC [6-1, +6 spots]: the Trojans premiere in the rankings this week after a very impressive 14pt win @ Notre Dame, which came on the back of a 21pt win @ California the prior week.  Lane Kiffin may have the Trojan ship finally heading in the right direction after a slow start to this season with a less than inspiring 2pt win over Minnesota in the Coliseum.  Matt Barkley is putting up huge numbers leading a passing game ranked #21 in the country, and WR Robert Woods is turning into quite the playmaker and lock of a first round draft pick in just his second season on campus.  Five games remain on the slate, three of which they should win, and two of which they will be underdogs hosting Stanford this week then traveling to Eugene on Nov. 19.  Even picking up a split there, and winning their other games would be a successful season for the Trojans, who will be rebuilding next season when Matt Barkley moves on to the NFL.
  14. Boise State [7-0, -3 spots]: I will be honest, I struggle with where to stack Boise State on most weeks, some have said I have put them too low, others think I have them closer to where they belong and the polls have them overrated.  All I can do is watch who they play, how those games go, and who the teams they played also played and how those games went.  You with me?  Let’s take a look at Air Force: Boise played them on the blue turf this past weekend and won by 11pts – AF is 3-3 on season vs. teams other than Boise, and of those 6 four are vs. teams that are halfway decent; they went 1-3 in those 4 losing by 16 vs. TCU, losing by 26 @ Notre Dame, and losing by 14 vs. San Diego State.  Now, after that, can you see why I am hesitant to put BSU in the top ten?  They just aren’t quite the team they have been in recent memory, those are just the facts.  But they will likely run the table, because they play nobody else that is anywhere close to a ranked team, and will receive an at-large BCS bid because they are Boise State and they went undefeated.  And I have supported that in past seasons – but this season, even if they did go undefeated, it just doesn’t seem right to me.  But we’ll cross that bridge when we arrive.  For now, they hang onto a spot in the Top 15, with a bye week followed by @ UNLV on Nov. 5.
  15.  Arkansas [5-1, -7 spots]: I kicked around Texas Tech but with a 1pt win over Nevada at home, and allowing 34 to Kansas on the road, felt Arkansas had the better resume.  I kicked around the “outside looking in 5” from last week’s edition, but four of those teams had a bye, and Auburn got hammered, so couldn’t utilize any of them.  Instead we will go with Arkansas – yes, some may say too big a drop, 7 spots, for a 5pt win @ Ole Miss?  I say yes – have you seen what Ole Miss has done this season?  Pretty poor.  And Arkansas concerns me a lot in the sense they have played 2 road games thus far: got blown out by Alabama, really no shame there, but losing most of the game @ Ole Miss and pulling it out in the 2nd half has me concerned about where this team is headed down the stretch with roadies still remaining at Vandy and LSU, along with home games South Carolina, Tennessee and Mississippi State…they could literally lose every one of those games – it won’t happen, but that is a tough slate for a team that is borderline top 15 material in my opinion like Arkansas.  The Razorbacks don’t have a legit chance at winning the SEC West, so trying to stockpile as many wins as possible in an attempt to reach a New Year’s Day bowl game, possibly the Cotton or one of the Florida bowls vs. the Big Ten has to be their goal now. ©The SportsBoss 2011

On the outside looking in:
  1. Michigan [6-1]
  2. Arizona State [5-2]
  3. Georgia [5-2]
  4. Nebraska [6-1]
  5. South Carolina [6-1]

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

NFL Projected Standings Thru Week 7

Here is the latest projected NFL Standings along with Playoff Projections thru Week 7:
 ©The SportsBoss 2011
AFC EastWinsLossNFC EastWinsLoss
AFC NorthNFC North
AFC SouthNFC South
AFC WestNFC West
#6 NYJ @ #3 SD#6 PHI @ #3 SF
#5 BAL @ #4 HOU#5 DET @ #4 DAL
#1 PIT#1 GB
#2 NE #2 NO

Saturday, October 22, 2011

NCAA Football Top 15 heading into Week 8 action

College Football Top 15 heading into Week 8 games

+ / - spot shows move team made since rankings heading into Wk6 games

  1. LSU [7-0, +1 spot]: the Bayou Tigers have looked impressive in back to back wins over Florida and at Tennessee.  An interesting, developing storyline is how much Les Miles will use Jordan Jefferson at QB, especially if the offense struggles early in a game behind Jarrett Lee.  Some off field issues cropped up this week that allegedly involve drugs, which cannot be a good sign and will leave the Tigers without a few key players for this week’s game vs. Auburn.  Next week they have a bye to prepare for the biggest college football regular season game this season: LSU at Alabama.
  2. Alabama [7-0, +1 spot]: like LSU, Alabama has pounded a pair of SEC foes in the last two weeks, one at home and one on road by combined score of 86-7.  The Tide seems to be firing on all cylinders at this point as Trent Richardson continues to bolster a strong Heisman campaign.  Tomorrow evening they host Tennessee, who will still be without the services of their young signal caller Tyler Bray.  Lastly, not only do we get LSU @ Alabama in two weeks, but both teams will be coming off a bye.  Just doesn’t get any better than that.
  3. Oklahoma [6-0, -2 spots]: how about that, drop two spots in two weeks without losing a game!  Yes, that is how competitive the top of these rankings are – and one poor half, especially against Kansas – will do just that.  One week earlier the Sooners picked up a very impressive win over Texas in the Red River Rivalry – impressive because of the score, not because Texas is a solid team as in my opinion they are highly over-rated if they show up anywhere in any poll.  The Sooners should put up a lot of offensive fireworks Saturday when they host the defensively challenged Red Raiders from Texas Tech, but then a back to back of @ Kansas State and hosting Texas A&M will put OU in the position to jump back up these rankings if they can look good dispatching those opponents.
  4. Wisconsin [6-0, same]: in the good spirit of full disclosure, I am not as sold on the Badgers as seemingly everyone else in the country is.  One big reason is they have yet to leave the friendly confines of Madison – amazingly they have played their first six games of the year at home, facing their first road game of the season this week, at night, in East Lansing.  They have looked good hammering poor teams at home, but with four road games remaining, hosting Penn State during the last week of the regular season, and a potential Big Ten Title game, there is still A LOT of work to be done by the Badgers to reach their ultimate goal of winning the National Championship behind their one year wonder boy Russell Wilson.  All that being said, at this moment in time, they deserve to be ranked #4 – clearly a step below the top 3, and probably just about in the same boat as Clemson and Stanford.
  5. Clemson [7-0, +1 spot]: this truly is a different breed of Clemson Tigers as mentioned in the last rankings – did you see the very nice comeback win in College Park on Saturday night?  Not only were they trailing by 17pts two separate occasions and came back to win by 11, but they also covered the 10pt line many Clemson backers had assumed was a big fat loss.  Gotta love that!    Tajh Boyd is without a doubt the real deal, as is Fr. WR Sammy Watkins and the two form one of the most dynamic duos in the country.  HC Dabo Swinney has the Orange crowd believing big things are possible, but with three road games remaining, including Georgia Tech & South Carolina, along with a likely ACC Title game rematch with one of the Tech’s, there is still A LOT of work to be accomplished before making reservations in New Orleans January 9, 2012.
  6. Stanford [6-0, -1 spot]: the Cardinal is certainly holding up their end of the bargain with an average margin of victory of 34.6ppg, but having not been challenged by a decent squad at this point in the season, even after playing 3 road games, still impacts the rankings.  Tomorrow Stanford will host Washington in a matchup of ranked teams, but I am not really that sold on Washington being able to step up and meet this kind of challenge – Washington debuted in many rankings this week mostly based on a 5-1 record, but they are not, in my opinion, one of the top 25 teams in the country – and it’s not even close.  After Stanford waxes Washington tomorrow, as mentioned in last rankings, Stanford’s season will come down to vs. Oregon, @ USC, and hosting Notre Dame.  Until those games are played their spot in the rankings is all aesthetics.
  7. Oklahoma State [6-0, +1 spot]: OSU has continued their high octane offensive assault on the country, but questions are percolating about a defense that allowed 28 at home to Kansas and 26 on road @ Texas.  Tricky test this Saturday @ Missouri before hosting Baylor and Kansas State in back to back weeks.  Cowboys continue to control their own destiny as far as a birth in National Championship game goes, win out including final week matchup hosting Oklahoma and we’ll see them in New Orleans for the big game.  I just do not see that happening in any way, shape or form.
  8. Arkansas [5-1, +8 spots]: barely on the fringes of being ranked in the last edition, the Razorbacks make some noise rumbling all the way up to #8.  Yes, they only won one game since the last rankings, and even though it was a 24pt SEC win, it wasn’t against one of the powerhouses of 2011.  But nevertheless, wins over Auburn and Texas A&M carry some clout with me as their offense has looked very impressive for most of the season.  They should win their next two @ Ole Miss and @ Vanderbilt before closing with three of last four at home, with LSU being only road game of the bunch (last week of season).  There is plenty of opportunity for Arkansas to make some noise this season, especially with that offense.
  9. Kansas State [6-0, +10 spots]: the Little Apple Wildcats also breakthrough in a large way this week, checking in at #9 after reeling off a half dozen victories to start their season.  It was not looking so promising after a 3pt home win over Eastern Kentucky to start the season, but Bill Snyder’s club has played very solid football since including road wins over Miami and Texas Tech, while they took care of Baylor and Missouri at home.  It will be tough to find many teams in the country with four strong wins like that thus far, sans LSU.  There are still plenty of question marks about this club, especially on offense (in particular the passing game) – but this defense is for real and should keep the Wildcats in most games.  A four game gauntlet is coming up vs. Oklahoma, @ Oklahoma State, vs. Texas A&M, @ Texas – after which we will know a lot more about this club, and how far along Snyder is into rebuilding K-State into a strong Big 12 club once again.  I think it is fairly clear he still has a little ways to go if he wants to bring Kansas State back to challenging the Oklahoma’s or Texas’ of the conference – but he may be ahead of schedule which is a good sign for his supporters.
  10. Oregon [5-1, -1 spot]: since losing their first game in disappointing fashion to LSU, the Ducks have continued to pound their opponents into submission, averaging 33pt wins in going 5-0.  Last week they hosted a ranked Arizona State squad and after a slow start they took care of the Sun Devils relatively easily.  The health of L. James will be critical for this team going forward, especially heading into a 3gm stretch starting on Nov 5 @ Washington, @ Stanford, hosting USC.  But in reality the same story we mentioned for Stanford goes for Oregon – the Nov. 12 matchup in Palo Alto will determine each team’s season.
  11. Boise State [6-0, +3 spots]: from what I have seen, and how good I believe the players on Boise State to be, I feel the #11 spot is more than fair for this version of the Broncos.  There is no question they have picked it up a little bit the last two weeks, smashing two squads on their own home fields by a combined 120-20.  But stacking this team up vs. say a 1 loss Oregon team, or any of the teams rated ahead of them outside Kansas State just would not be good things for this team.  From a pure talent perspective they are down from the last 2-3 years, and it has shown some early in the season.  With literally one game remaining vs. a team that has a heartbeat in TCU, the truth is we will not find out how good this team is until BCS bowl time, likely in the Fiesta Bowl vs. Oklahoma State.
  12. Texas A&M [4-2, unranked]: the Aggies deserve a spot in this edition of the rankings maybe not so much based on their record, but certainly based on the fact they lost two games by a combined 5pts to the teams ranked #7 and #8 in this poll, blowing big leads in both games.  In addition, they have showed nice resolve the last two weeks, picking up a gritty road win over Texas Tech, and handling a Baylor team that many were high on going into that game.  Can the Aggies go on a run like the end of last season, and wind up making noise in the Big 12?  With only 1 conference loss so far it is possible, but with road games @ Oklahoma and @ Kansas State later in the year, it isn’t probable.  A solid close to the season is probably needed for HC Mike Sherman to keep his gig in College Station.
  13. Virginia Tech [6-1, unranked]: there were warning signs flashing everywhere in Blacksburg even before the beat down Clemson laid on the Hokies – VT was not handling the lesser opponents to the degree they usually do: 7pt win at lowly East Carolina, 19pt win @ Sun Belt foe Arkansas State, 20pt win @ Marshall…then when a real team showed up they lost, and lost big.  Since the Clemson game VT has won back to back games over top half ACC teams, beating Miami at home and whipping a decent Wake Forest club in Winston-Salem.  Before traveling to Georgia Tech for a Thursday ESPN game, the Hokies have two breathers in Boston College and Duke.  It is not out of the realm of possibility VT runs the table from here out and finishes the regular season 11-1, with a potential rematch vs. Clemson in the ACC Title game for an Orange Bowl berth.  With a win over Ga Tech, it is actually very likely.
  14. West Virginia [5-1, +4 spots]: by now you should be noticing a trend in many of these teams that make the rankings, and it is their ability to bounce back after one loss and not allow one bad game to turn into multiple losses.  The same can be said for the Mountaineers, who have bounced back from the LSU dismantling to woodshed Bowling Green and Connecticut on home turf.  There is unquestionable talent on this team that makes them very dangerous, especially on offense as Dana Holgersen has delivered the goods from that perspective thus far in his short tenure.  WVU still has four road tilts left, three of which will be challenging @ Rutgers, @ Cincinnati and closing season @ South Florida.  The Backyard Brawl vs. Pittsburgh is also remaining on the slate – so it is a challenging close to the season.  With Big East conference play just getting underway there is a lot to be determined, in what seems like a relatively wide open race that WVU is probably the team to beat.
  15. Michigan State [5-1, unranked]: I am not going to lie, finding a team for this last spot was tough as every candidate in my eyes had a significant red flag – but MSU gets the edge and the nod because it did just beat the #10 team from last edition in relatively convincing fashion last week.  In addition, MSU also boasts one of the strongest defenses in the country, and a solid leader at QB in Kirk Cousins.  The Spartans will need to find a lot more offensive horsepower however if it has dreams of winning the Big Ten, and hosting Wisconsin tomorrow night would be a great place to start.  Even if State found a way to pull off the upset tomorrow, with road trips still remaining to Lincoln, Iowa City and Evanston, it will be very tough to be consistent enough on offense to win the Leaders division over Wisconsin.  But winning tomorrow night would be a good place to start in attempting to reach those goals, and stay in these rankings. ©The SportsBoss 2011

On the outside looking in:

  1. Michigan [6-1]
  2. Arizona State [5-2]
  3. Georgia [5-2]
  4. USC [5-1]
  5. Auburn [5-2]