Wednesday, September 12, 2012

NCAA Football: Week Two Review, and New Power Poll

Week Two is in the books and we found out a lot about quite a few teams, whether it was a disappointing loss, surprising win, or somewhere in between.  Each week I am going to bring a new subject to the table prior to releasing my Power Poll – last week we examined conference results, this week I will feature a comparison between my last Power Poll and the AP poll, with the main objective being to see where the biggest discrepancies were, and see which looks more “correct” through two weeks of action.  I will list team (my rating, AP rating), comments, then a verdict as to which poll looks more accurate thus far.  I will only list and discuss teams that have a +/- 4 rating difference.
Florida State Seminoles (#2, #6): FSU opened my preseason poll at #1, but were jumped after Wk1 when Alabama, the defending champs, knocked off Michigan with ease.  If anything for me FSU closed the gap some this week as we saw Michigan doesn’t appear to be quite what many expected following a narrow one possession win at home over Air Force.  We learned nothing about the Noles this past week, but they may get a surprise test this week hosting Wake Forest – hopefully the Seminoles show the maturity they have lacked in past seasons to handle their business vs. the Demon Deacons prior to the big matchup with Clemson the following week.  VERDICT: Open
Georgia Bulldogs (#3, #7): I have been high on Georgia since the preseason poll where I slotted them #2 only behind Florida State.  Nothing has changed to this point, and I perhaps feel even better about my ranking for the Dawgs following last week’s big time, primetime, impressive road win @ Missouri.  Especially considering Georgia hasn’t been full strength yet this season, UGA will be a lot to handle for anyone in the SEC East.  They remain my favorite to win the SEC East.  VERDICT: The SportsBoss
Clemson Tigers (#6, #12): the Tigers opened with a nice neutral field win over Auburn – a win that lost some luster after AU struggled badly at Mississippi State this past weekend.  Clemson had the offense firing on all cylinders this past weekend in Death Valley as they easily dispatched Ball State.  This week they face a warm-up vs. Furman before travelling to Doak Campbell for the likely ACC Atlantic division championship game vs. FSU.  VERDICT: Open
Ohio State Buckeyes (#7, #14): after cruising past Miami, Ohio in Wk1 the Buckeyes were challenged for most of the game vs. one of my biggest sleeper’s this season UCF.  At the end of the day UCF made too many critical mistakes to pull out a big road win, but it did show OSU still has a little ways to go before getting back towards the top of college football.  The Buckeyes are likely to enjoy a pair of blow-outs in their next two before going to Michigan State on September 29th.  VERDICT: Open
LSU Tigers (#8, #3): I have been a little more bearish on the Tigers compared to most of the rest of the nation, as I am concerned about all the talent they lost on defense, along with an offense that struggles to get going at times, even with newly minted QB Zach Mettenberger.  Its hard to argue with the result last week, pounding Washington with ease 41-3.  Back to back 41 point outings are nothing to be concerned about, however, they came vs. two pretty weak teams at the end of the day.  LSU will hammer Idaho this week (likely pitch a shutout as well), then visit the Plains to face an Auburn team they should handle – we will learn more however after that game.  VERDICT: Open
Oklahoma Sooners (#9, #5): I barely kept OU in my top ten last week following the terrible effort in El Paso Wk1.  They had no trouble with Florida A&M Wk2, but that was to be expected.  This week the Sooners host Kansas State in a game they must win if they are to be taken seriously as a BCS title contender.  For me, they have struggled too much their last 6 games or so going back to last year when WR Ryan Broyles went down.  VERDICT: The SportsBoss
Kansas State (#12, #21): how could the AP not even have the Wildcats in their top 20?!  The AP had teams like Wisconsin (#13, I had them unranked) & Nebraska (#16, I had them unranked) ahead of K-State?  Wow.  The Wildcats proved last year that as long as QB Collin Klein is on the field they are a force, and so far this year they haven’t had any issues hammering Missouri State 51-9, then Miami, Fla 52-13.  What more can they do AP writers?  After a matchup with North Texas this week, which should be somewhat of a gauge comparing these guys to LSU, K-State will face OU in Norman, a game that will go a long way toward determining the Big 12 champ.  VERDICT: The SportsBoss
Notre Dame (#13, #22): ND opened the year be flattening Navy in Dublin, but then got all they wanted and then some in Wk2 from Purdue, before pulling out a 20-17 win late.  I did give ND a nice bump in my rankings following Wk1 as I felt I had them under-rated at that point because I am bullish on them for 2012, and truth be told per my preseason article I have Purdue winning the Big Ten Leaders division, so I wasn’t all that surprised by last week’s game.  The verdict here really comes down to how good do you think Purdue is – I think they are the best team outside Ohio State in the Leaders, and they were in my “next five” last week, while not one AP writer gave Purdue one vote, meaning they are outside the Top 46!  VERDICT: Open
Michigan Wolverines (#14, #19): we all know by now what happened in Wk1 when the Wolves were punished by the Tide in Dallas.  As I mentioned in my preseason article I was not high on Michigan going into this season, while at the same time believing they were the best team in the Big Ten.  I still believe both of those statements, but last week’s narrow win over Air Force certainly means they are not the #14 team in the country at this point – that could change as the season progresses however.  VERDICT: Split, as I had Michigan #12 in my preseason poll, while the AP had them even more over-rated at #8; then it seems the AP dropped Michigan more spots than I did
Tennessee Volunteers (#17, #23): in my pre-preseason article I mentioned how bullish I was on Tennessee as being a potential sleeper SEC East champion – and after Wk1 that didn’t look so bad as UT easily handled NC State in Atlanta.  How good is NC State became the question, and it was in part answered last week when they travelled to Storrs to face UConn, and pulled off a 10-7 win – is that good, or bad?  I tend to lean towards bad.  Last week Tennessee backed up that opening win by thrashing Georgia State 51-13.  The Vols host Florida this week in what used to be one of my favorite college games of the entire season – and while not as much will be on the line as the late 90s/early 00s, this game is key, especially for both coaching staffs – the loser has virtually no shot at winning the SEC East, especially if UT loses.  VERDICT: The SportsBoss because I had UT ranked in my preseason poll when the AP did not until they beat NC State
Michigan State Spartans (#18, #11): Sparty took care of Boise State in their opener, and then was impressive last week going on the road and beating my projected MAC West champion Central Michigan with ease 41-7.  This week Sparty takes on ND, after which we will have a better feeling for the kind of team MSU is fielding this season.  VERDICT: Open
Arkansas Razorbacks (#19, #8): I had the Razorbacks 11 spots below where they AP did heading into Wk2, and Arkansas did not disappoint me losing at home to UL-Monroe 34-31 in OT.  Keep in mind that loss came off an uninspiring 49-24 win over a borderline Top 25 FCS club Jacksonville State.  Head Coach John L. Smith is in a whole heap of trouble, and by the season’s end he may be wishing he had stuck with Weber State.  VERDICT: The SportsBoss
North Carolina Tar Heels (#21, NR-#28): I had UNC as my final Top 25 club heading into the season, and bumped them up a 4 notches following their demolition of Elon in Wk1.  In Wk2 they travelled to Winston-Salem and were upended by Wake Forest 28-27 in one of the better games of the weekend.  The Heels were my pick to win the ACC Coastal this season (but since they aren’t eligible to play I slid Virginia Tech into that spot, see preseason article), and this loss definitely hurts in their attempts to achieve that goal.  Truth be told I do not feel Wake Forest is that bad a team, as they sit at 2-0 but did only squeak by Liberty in their opener 20-17.  All that being said, I may be a smidge too bullish on UNC, at least at this point I am.  VERDICT: AP
South Florida Bulls (#23, NR-#40): going into the season I had the Bulls a co-favorite along with Louisville in the Big East, and that hasn’t changed following a pair of games.  USF opened with an ordinary 34-13 win over Chattanooga, but then stepped it up a notch and pulled off a very nice comeback in Reno to beat Nevada 32-31.  The Wolfpack were coming off a big win of their own the previous week when they took down Cal at Berkeley, so that USF win carries some weight for me.  The Bulls have a ton of nice pieces this season, and could make some serious noise – keep an eye on September 29th when they host the Florida State Seminoles, who will be coming off their biggest game of the season vs. Clemson.  VERDICT: The SportsBoss
Nevada Wolfpack (#24, NR): Nevada opened the season with a very nice road win over Pac 12 member Cal, then blew a big lead and lost in the final seconds at home to USF.  All in that is not a bad start whatsoever, and the Pack will be a force in the MWC this season.  Unfortunately Nevada doesn’t get a chance to make any more true national noise this season, besides their finale when they host Boise.  Still, after that opening win @ Cal, how could the AP writers not give one vote to Nevada as a ranked team?  Mind boggling – I mean Texas State with 10, Nevada with O?  VERDICT: The SportsBoss
Oklahoma State (#25, #18): talk about some writers getting way too excited off last season, not paying attention to the current rosters!  Yeah, Oklahoma State looked good in their opener vs. Savannah State, but who wouldn’t?  Once the real bullets starting flying vs. BCS level competition it was ugly, very ugly as the Cowboys were absolutely hammered by Arizona 59-38.  Wow.  Talk about the difference week to week in college football.  Oklahoma State is just not that good this year, they are a bottom half Big 12 team, and it showed on Saturday.  VERDICT: The SportsBoss
Wisconsin (next five, #13): I didn’t like Wisconsin’s team at all heading into the season despite the fact seemingly every other media outlet had the Badgers as at worst a Top 15 team.  And boy, that didn’t take long to show who was correct there as the Badgers visited mid-pack Pac 12 team Oregon State and went down 10-7.  Wisconsin did not score until the later stages of the 4th quarter!  The fact is the loss of QB Russell Wilson is enormous to this squad, and it’s not a coincidence QB Danny O’Brien was kicked out of the Maryland program, and came up with this stinker.  There is a lot of season left to play, but it’s hard to argue right now how poor the Big Ten looks, including Wisconsin.  VERDICT: The SportsBoss
Nebraska Cornhuskers (NR, #16): how in the world could the writers have this Nebraska team rated that high?  I have even seen other rankings, ratings, polls, etc…from other writers and or handicappers that had these Huskers as Top ten material!  I just do not understand sometimes what people are looking at, how could this team, after what we saw last season, be confused with a Top 20 team?  What’s more as far as NU is concerned, I did not even have them in my “next five”.  Yeah, I know Rex Burkhead was out, but this Huskers team is not Top 25 material.  VERDICT: The SportsBoss
TCU Horned Frogs (next five, #20): at this point there isn’t a whole lot to discuss about TCU.  Nobody knows for sure what they have as they have only played one game thus far, easily handling Grambling State 56-0.  This week they face Kansas, the same Kansas that lost to Rice at home on Saturday – so again, we may not know a ton.  Stay tuned for thoughts on TCU in the next few weeks.  VERDICT: Open
UCLA Bruins (next five, #22): the Bruins have looked solid after a pair of games, taking care of Rice on the road – a win that got just a hair better after the Owls took down KU on road this past week – and then the nice win over Nebraska.  UCLA appears to have found two things, which it has been lacking for about a decade: a QB, and a HC.  Things are certainly looking up for the Bruins, I cannot wait till conference play kicks off and we get a firmer feel for how strong a club they could become – especially by year’s end, second to last game of the season, when they host cross-town rival USC.  VERDICT: AP
Arizona Wildcats (NR, #24): after a sluggish opener that saw Arizona open the Rich Rod tenure with an OT win over Toledo in the desert, the Wildcats backed that up by taking care of Oklahoma State with relative ease 59-38 this past Saturday.  The offense showed up in a big way after faltering in Wk1 behind dual threat QB Mike Scott.  Truth is I was not big on the Cowboys this season, see above, and am not sure at the end of the day which win was over a better team – Toledo or Oklahoma State – however, given the way the games went down, the OSU victory was more impressive.  I am not ready to tout Desert Swarm as a challenger for the Pac 12 South, or even a team that ultimately wins 7+ - which really would be what is needed to finish the season ranked.  VERDICT: Open
Florida Gators (NR, #24): my final preseason poll included the Gators at #17, but I quickly dropped them following their Wk1 performance vs. Bowling Green.  Yes, it was a win, and yes, the final score looked decent – but anyone that watched the game knew they still had QB issues.  This past week UF rolled into an extra amped up College Station and came away with a close win, as the defense really turned it on in the second half completely dominating the Aggie attack.  However, while HC Will Muschamp was running around the field acting like the Gators just won the BCS Championship, it was a win over an unranked team starting a rookie QB.  I mentioned in the preseason Florida has a championship caliber defense, but the season will ultimately come down to the offense, especially the QB position.  I am still not impressed with Driskel, and eventually believe Brissett will be the better option – I expect to see both play this week in Knoxville.  VERDICT: Open
Stanford Cardinal (NR, #25): the Cardinal has taken care of business so far post Andrew Luck, following up an uninspiring performance vs. San Jose State with a solid and impressive victory over Duke.  Next up?  USC – when we will learn a whole lot about this year’s Stanford squad.  Truth is I am not a fan of HC David Shaw at all, and because of that and his struggles on the sidelines, I expect this team to produce less than the sum of its parts – keep in mind as well a lot of those parts have been decimated recently to graduation.  It wouldn’t surprise me at all to see the Cardinal go 1-3 in their next 4.  VERDICT: Open

Week Two Power Poll (ranking, team, record, last week’s PP ranking, next game vs. Power Poll team)

#1 Alabama Crimson Tide (2-0, #1): 10/20 @ #14 TENNESSEE
#2 Florida State Seminoles (2-0, #2): 09/22 VS #7 CLEMSON
#3 Georgia Bulldogs (2-0, #3): 09/29 VS #14 TENNESSEE
#4 LSU Tigers (2-0, #8): 10/06 @ #17 FLORIDA
#5 Oregon Ducks (2-0, #6): 11/03 @ #6 USC
#6 USC Trojans (2-0, #4): 11/03 VS #5 OREGON
#7 Clemson Tigers (2-0, #6): 09/22 @ #2 FLORIDA STATE
#8 Ohio State Buckeyes (2-0, #7): 09/29 @ #16 MICHIGAN STATE
#9 Oklahoma Sooners (2-0, #9): 09/22 VS #11 KANSAS STATE
#10 South Carolina Gamecocks (2-0, #11): 10/06 VS #3 GEORGIA
#11 Kansas State Wildcats (2-0, #12): 09/22 @ #9 OKLAHOMA
#12 West Virginia Mountaineers (1-0, #10): 09/29 VS #25 BAYLOR
#13 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (2-0, #13): 09/15 @ #16 MICHIGAN STATE
#14 Tennessee Volunteers (2-0, #17): 09/15 VS #17 FLORIDA
#15 Texas Longhorns (2-0, #16): 10/06 VS #12 WEST VIRGINIA
#16 Michigan State Spartans (2-0, #18): 09/15 VS #13 NOTRE DAME
#17 Florida Gators (2-0, NR): 09/15 @ #14 TENNESSEE
#18 South Florida Bulls (2-0, #23): 09/29 VS #2 FLORIDA STATE
#19 UCLA Bruins (2-0, NR): 11/17 VS #6 USC
#20 Virginia Tech Hokies (2-0, #15): 10/20 @ #7 CLEMSON
#21 Louisville Cardinals (2-0, #20): 10/20 VS #18 SOUTH FLORIDA
#22 Michigan Wolverines (1-1, #14): 09/22 @ #13 NOTRE DAME
#23 BYU Cougars (2-0, #22): 10/20 @ #13 NOTRE DAME
#24 TCU Horned Frogs (1-0, N5): 10/13 @ #25 BAYLOR
#25 Baylor Bears (1-0, N5): 09/29 @ #12 WEST VIRGINIA

Dropped out of Power Poll:
#19 Arkansas
#21 North Carolina
#24 Nevada
#25 Oklahoma State

Next Five to keep eye on, in alphabetical order only
A)     Iowa State Cyclones: NR
B)      Nevada Wolfpack: #24
C)      Purdue Boilermakers: N5
D)     Stanford Cardinal: NR
E)      Utah State Aggies: NR

This week we only have a pair of games featuring teams in my Power Poll:
#13 Notre Dame @ #16 Michigan State
#17 Florida @ #14 Tennessee

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