CFN 2011 Rankings
Sept. 12, Week 4
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- CFN 2011
Week 4 Rankings, No. 26-120
1. LSU 4-0
Last Week: W, West Virginia 47-21
Why LSU Should Be No. 1: No one in America has a better body of work so far than the Tigers, which have beaten Oregon, Mississippi State and West Virginia by double-digits on the road. Their 39-point scoring has been collaborative effort involving the offense, opportunistic defense and special teams unit.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: The heralded LSU defense isn't flawless after all. The unit showed some cracks against the up-tempo, speedy Mountaineers attack, yielding 463 yards and two touchdowns through the air to Geno Smith.
2. Alabama 4-0
Last Week: W, Arkansas 38-14
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: The Tide easily passed its biggest test of the year, cruising past Arkansas in a rout. Versatile Alabama scored touchdowns four different ways, on an AJ McCarron pass, on an Eddie Lacy run, on a DeQuan Menzie pick and on a Marquis Maze punt return.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: At some point this season, the Tide is going to need a few more big plays from its wide receivers. No one expects the second-coming of Julio Jones to emerge, but against better defenses, someone must be able to stretch the field.
3. Oklahoma 4-0
Last Game: W, Missouri 38-28
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: The Sooners avoided a letdown the week after beating Florida State in Tallahassee, overcoming an early deficit to avenge last fall's loss to Mizzou. Heisman-contending QB Landry Jones got back on track with 448 yards and three touchdowns through the air.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: What happened to the defense that looked so tough versus the ‘Noles? The Sooners got touched up for 532 yards by Missouri and athletic QB James Franklin, who provided a blueprint on how to solve this defense.
4. Wisconsin 4-0
Last Week: W, South Dakota 59-10
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: The Badgers were nearly flawless throughout the non-conference portion of the schedule, winning all four games by at least 34 points. The offense is a machine now that Russell Wilson is under center, and the D is currently allowing just 11 points a game.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: Will Wisconsin be battled-tested when Nebraska visits a week from now? The schedule thus far has been newborn soft, raising concerns whether the Badgers can maintain their early-season dominance.
5. Oklahoma State 4-0
Last Week: W, Texas A&M 30-29
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: The Cowboys got off the mat and rallied from a 20-3 halftime deficit to stun Texas A&M at electric Kyle Field. QB Brandon Weeden and the offense fueled the comeback, but the Oklahoma State defense came through as well, shutting down the Aggies in the second half.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: The defense is feisty and will come up with the big play, but remains too soft against the run. A week after yielding 365 yards on the ground to Tulsa, the Cowboys were gutted up the middle by QB Ryan Tannehill on a 65-yard touchdown jaunt.
6. Florida 4-0
Last Week: W, Kentucky 48-10
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: The Gators keep getting better with each passing week, ripping through an overmatched Kentucky D for 405 yards on the ground. New offensive coordinator Charlie Weis has done an outstanding job of unlocking the speed and skill of backs Jeff Demps and Chris Rainey, who combined to average more than 10 yards a carry in Lexington.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: While you can get away with a mediocre passing against Kentucky, and even Tennessee, more will be needed from QB John Brantley when Florida faces Alabama and LSU in the next two weeks. He's thrown just four touchdown passes, and has been somewhat of an afterthought so far in 2011.
7. Stanford 3-0
Last Week: Idle
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: While the schedule hasn't been particularly daunting leading up to the break, the Cardinal has managed it impeccably well. It ranks in the top 10 in both scoring offense and scoring defense, beating San Jose State, Duke and Arizona by an average score of 46-9.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: The height of Stanford's ceiling won't be known until it starts playing ranked teams, which won't happen for more than a month. The Cardinal D will be without star LB Shayne Skov who suffered a season-ending knee injury in the Arizona game.
8. Oregon 3-1
Last Week: W, Arizona 56-31
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: The Ducks continued their steady ascent by scoring at least 56 points for a third consecutive week. This time, the opponent was Pac-12 foe Arizona, which bowed to a monster game on the ground from RB LaMichael James.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: Oregon showed some cracks in the defensive armor, allowing Wildcats QB Nick Foles to go 34-of-57 for 398 yards and three touchdowns. The secondary got burned over the top, and gave up too many yards after contact.
9. Clemson 4-0
Last Week: W, Florida State 35-30
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: The Tigers have done all they could in the first month to be considered one of the country's elite teams, including beating ranked teams on consecutive weekends. The offense continues to roll behind the passing of Tajh Boyd, and the play of young backs and receivers.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: The defense is not championship caliber. After struggling to stop the run in the first three games, Clemson was burned for 336 yards and three touchdown passes by freshman backup QB Clint Trickett.
10. South Carolina 4-0
Last Week: W, Vanderbilt 21-3
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: Stout defense and the running of Marcus Lattimore continues to be a formula for success in Columbia. The Gamecocks got a touchdown from DT Melvin Ingram, his third of the year, and two more scores from Lattimore to hand the Commodores their first loss of the year.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: South Carolina has a growing problem at quarterback … again. Oft-troubled Stephen Garcia struggled all night versus the Vanderbilt secondary, finishing 16-of-30 for 228 yards, one touchdown and four interceptions. Winning the SEC East will require more balance and consistency from the offense.
11. Arkansas 3-1
Last Week: L, Alabama 38-14
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: Losing in Tuscaloosa is hardly a reason to push the panic button. The Razorbacks possess more than enough offensive weapons and defensive veterans to regroup from their first defeat on the fall.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: It's not so much that the Hogs lost to the Tide, but how badly they were outclassed. Arkansas managed to rush for only 17 yards, and experienced too many breakdowns on defense and special teams.
12. Boise State3-0
Last Game: W, Tulsa 41-21
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: For the third straight week, the Broncos won a game by at least two touchdowns, making short work of Tulsa. Ace QB Kellen Moore continues to get more and more comfortable with his new go-to receivers, finishing a trademark crisp 23-of-29 for 279 yards, four touchdowns and no turnovers.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: The Boise State running game has been lagging behind the passing attack, even with the presence of senior RB Doug Martin. Against a subpar Tulsa D, the Broncos averaged below three yards on their 45 carries.
13. Florida State 2-2
Last Week: L, Clemson 35-30
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: Yeah, the Seminoles are at .500, but their losses came against two of the better teams in the country. With an upcoming bye week and a chance to get QB E.J. Manuel healthy, Florida State is in a good position to blitz through October and build a head of steam.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: The ‘Noles have found ways to lose consecutive games. Against Oklahoma, the offense was silent. At Clemson, the D fell flat. If it plans to remain ranked, Florida State must start playing with a higher degree of consistency.
14. Texas A&M 2-1
Last Game: L, Oklahoma State 30-29
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: The Aggies lost a heartbreaker, but this is the same team that's flush with gamebreakers on the offensive side of the ball. Provided A&M doesn't allow its first loss to beat it more than once, the program still has the requisite ingredients of a 10-win squad.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: The defense crumbled in the second half, a symptom of a program that isn't quite ready to get over the hump. While the Aggies will be just fine on offense, the secondary got exposed when it allowed three different Cowboys to haul in at least 10 receptions.
15. Virginia Tech 4-0
Last Week: W, Marshall 30-10
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: The Hokies continue to fashion one of the country's defenses, holding a fourth straight opponent to no more than 13 points. The pressure coming from the front seven has been relentless, producing nine stops for loss and five sacks against the Herd.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: No one knows for sure just how good this Tech team is since it's opened with Appalachian State, East Carolina, Arkansas State and Marshall. The passing game has been erratic, which will become a bigger issue now that ACC play is set to begin.
16. Illinois 4-0
Last Week: W, Western Michigan 23-20
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: Yup, the Illini experienced a letdown following last weekend's win over Arizona State, but it didn't cost the team its perfect start. The defense is menacing, creating constant backfield pressure from the likes of DE Whitney Mercilus, bandit Michael Buchanan and LB Jonathan Brown.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: If Illinois is going to stay in the Big Ten race, it'll need to produce with more consistency on offense. The attack has sputtered in the red zone, scoring just four touchdowns to match its number of Derek Dimke field goals over the past two games.
17. Arizona State 3-1
Last Week: W, USC 43-22
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: The Sun Devils rebounded from their first loss of the year with a vengeance, knocking off USC, 43-22, for the first time since 1999. The offense was balanced, and the defense was stout, holding the Trojans to 1-of-9 on third down attempts.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: Moving any higher would require a perfect mark, which ended when Arizona State fell at Illinois a week ago. With October games in Salt Lake City and Eugene, the Sun Devils still need to prove they can beat quality teams outside Tempe.
18. Missouri 2-2
Last Week: L, Oklahoma 38-28
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: The Tigers' two losses have come on the road versus ranked teams, Arizona State and Oklahoma. The offense has really begun to ignite around dual-threat QB James Franklin, who burned the Sooners for 394 total yards and three scores.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: The play of the defense is going to cap Mizzou's ceiling this fall. The pass D, in particular, has been vulnerable, allowing seven touchdown passes and 836 yards in the two losses.
19. Nebraska 4-0
Last Week: W, Wyoming 38-14
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: The Huskers methodically picked apart the Cowboys for 333 rushing yards to complete a perfect 4-0 start in non-conference play. The defense played its best game in weeks, holding Wyoming to just a pair of touchdowns, one when the game was already out of reach.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: Nebraska's best win came against Washington, and even that victory exposed blemishes. Something appears to be missing in Lincoln, from an erratic passing game to a D that's shown a few more holes than anyone anticipated.
20. Tennessee 2-1
Last Week: Idle
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: The Volunteers' only loss of September came in the Swamp on a day they lost star WR Justin Hunter to an injury. The offense has the firepower to carry the team, with Tauren Poole grinding out yards on the ground, QB Tyler Bray teaming up with WR Da'Rick Rogers.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: Losing Hunter, who was unstoppable in the first two games, is a huge blow for the Tennessee offense. The defense has been marginal in the early going, lacking the big play ability to overcome youth and pedestrian overall talent.
21. Georgia 2-2
Last Week: W, Ole Miss 27-13
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: One step at a time, the Bulldogs are regrouping from their 0-2 start to 2011. They dominated an SEC foe far worse than the scoreboard indicated, never getting challenged beyond the first quarter in Oxford.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: The Dawgs are 0-2 versus ranked opponents and 2-0 against lightweights, so a wait-and-see approach is still recommended. Where's the killer instinct? After building a 17-point cushion, Georgia scored just three points over the final 33 minutes of the game.
22. West Virginia 3-1
Last Week: L, LSU 47-21
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: The Mountaineers did far more damage to the LSU defense than anyone else has this season. Geno Smith threw for 463 yards, connecting 11 times with Tavon Austin, to help keep his team within range early in the second half.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: For the second straight week, West Virginia was soft defensively, allowing six LSU touchdowns. Of course, the unit was not helped by the offense's four turnovers, which repeatedly set up the Tigers for short field opportunities.
23. Michigan 4-0
Last Week: W, San Diego State 28-7
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: Labeled a landmine game, the Wolverines blew up San Diego State behind the running of Denard Robinson and the play of an improving defense. Coordinator Greg Mattison's unit kept QB Ryan Lindley and RB Ronnie Hillman in check, while creating three turnovers.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: With the Big Ten schedule about to begin, the Wolverines must begin doing a better job of protecting the ball. They lost a pair of fumbles on Saturday, while Robinson was picked off twice through the air.
24. South Florida 4-0
Last Week: W, UTEP 52-24
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: Since beating Notre Dame in the opener, the Bulls have handled their business with three straight routs of lesser competition. The offense continues to amass heaps of confidence thanks to the versatility of QB B.J. Daniels and the power running of Darrell Scott.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: It's been three weeks since South Florida faced an opponent with a postseason hope … or a pulse. Whether or not the Bulls are a legit Top 25 team will start being answered with this week's trip to Pittsburgh.
25. Georgia Tech 3-0
Week: W, North Carolina 35-28
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: The Yellow Jackets cleared their biggest hurdle of September, holding off North Carolina, 35-28. Even against raised competition, the nation's top-ranked offense continued to hum with 496 yards and another big day passing from Tevin Washington.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: While the Tech defense impressed with seven sacks, three from LB Jeremiah Attaochu, it also was gashed by Carolina RB Giovani Bernard for 155 yards and two scores. The Jackets have yet to hold an opponent, including Western Carolina, below 21 points.
Week 4 Rankings, No. 26-120