CFN 2011 Rankings
Oct. 3, Week 5
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- CFN 2011
Week 5 Rankings, No. 26-120
1. LSU 5-0
Last Week: W, Kentucky 35-7
Why LSU Should Be No. 1: Despite facing a lightweight opponent for the first time since Week 2, the Tigers avoided any letdown in a comfortable, uneventful win. The defense was predictably dominant, allowing just 155 total yards, sacking the quarterback five times and getting a touchdown from CB Tyrann Mathieu.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: With the return of Jordan Jefferson, the Tigers have plenty of depth at quarterback, but the execution remains suspect. Against Kentucky, starter Jarrett Lee was just 8-of-21 for 169 yards and one touchdown that was only made possible by the hairpin turns of WR Odell Beckham.
2. Alabama 5-0
Last Week: W, Florida 38-10
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: The Crimson Tide has beaten ranked teams in consecutive weeks … handily. The impenetrable defense has been historically stingy against the run through the first five games, yielding just 39 yards a game and a measly 1.5 yards a carry.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: If Trent Richardson keeps running the way he did in Gainesville this past weekend, Alabama may never need QB AJ McCarron to come up big in 2011. However, if the ground game stalls, the passing attack has yet to prove it’ll be able to pick up the slack.
3. Oklahoma 5-0
Last Game: W, Ball State 62-6
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: The Sooners did exactly as they were supposed to, easily dispatching of the undermanned Cardinals. Oklahoma got valuable reps for the backups, and some much-needed down time for the starters in the tune-up before next weekend’s Red River showdown with Texas.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: Ball State was unable to exploit the Oklahoma defense that yielded 532 yards and four touchdowns to Missouri a week earlier. More talented opponents from the Big 12, however, might be more successful as the season unfolds.
4. Wisconsin 5-0
Last Week: W, Nebraska 48-17
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: It’s no longer appropriate to question the strength of the Badgers’ opponents after they ran circles around the Huskers on Saturday night. Wisconsin’s 31-point victory was the closest anyone has come to toppling it this season.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: Five games into the season, the closest thing Wisconsin has had to a road game was the Sept. 17 meeting with Northern Illinois at Soldier Field. A lot will be learned about the Badgers when they hit the highway later in the month to play in East Lansing and Columbus.
5. Oklahoma State 4-0
Last Week: Idle
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: The Cowboys enjoyed a well-deserved week off following their come-from-behind win over Texas A&M in Week 4. The offense ranks among the best in the country, vexing opponents with the playmaking of RB Joseph Randle and the pitch-and-catch combo of QB Brandon Weeden to WR Justin Blackmon.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: While the D has been adept at creating big plays, such as sacks and turnovers, it’s also been too soft against the run. Oklahoma State is giving up 169 yards a game and 4.7 yards per carry.
6. Stanford 4-0
Last Week: W, UCLA 45-19
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: The Cardinal has trampled through the first one-third of its schedule, blasting the opposition by an average score of 45-11. The Andrew Luck-led offense is a well-oiled machine, and the underrated defense leads the Pac-12 in sacks and tackles for loss.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: The main reason that observers are taking a cautious approach with Stanford stems from who the team has faced. There’s a good chance that none of the Cardinal’s first four victims will even go bowling, leaving the second half of the year as the school’s proving ground.
7. Oregon 3-1
Last Week: Idle
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: The Ducks have fully recovered from their lone loss to LSU on the opening weekend with three consecutive blowout wins. The high-powered offense is once again firing on all cylinders, averaging 52 points and well over 500 yards a game.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: Sure, Oregon is rolling, but against who? Its most recognizable victim during the winning streak was Arizona, which has dropped nine straight games to FBS opponents dating back to last November.
8. Clemson 5-0
Last Week: W, Virginia Tech 23-3
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: If Clemson was bowling, it would have just delivered a turkey with consecutive strikes against Auburn, Florida State and, ironically, the Gobblers of Virginia Tech. The Tigers are one of the hottest teams in the nation, showing an ability for the first time this year to win with defense in Blacksburg.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: The Clemson D turned heads in Week 5, but will it last? And how much of the credit goes to a Hokies offense that’s been struggling? Through the first four games the Tigers showed all kinds of problems stopping the run, slowing down the pass and getting to the quarterback.
9. Florida 4-1
Last Week: L, Alabama 38-10
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: It’s never completely accurate to evaluate a team the week following its game against ‘Bama. The Gators couldn’t contain RB Trent Richardson, but the nation’s No. 7 defense still has a high ceiling that’ll continue getting approached as head coach Will Muschamp spends more time with it.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: Florida’s problems in the passing game were exacerbated when starting QB John Brantley injured his leg Saturday night. The unbalanced Gators rank 86th nationally through the air, and Brantley’s backup, Jeff Driskel, is only a rookie.
10. Boise State 4-0
Last Game: W, Nevada 30-10
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: The Broncos avenged last year’s loss to the Wolf Pack, scoring the first 30 points and coasting to an easy win. The combination of QB Kellen Moore and RB Doug Martin gives Boise State one of the most talented and experienced backfields in America.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: As league play goes into high gear across the country, it shines an even brighter light on the weak spots of the Boise State schedule. It could go the rest of the regular season without playing a ranked team, especially since two-loss TCU is way down from the past few years.
11. Arkansas 4-1
Last Week: W, Texas A&M 42-38
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: A week after being demoralized by Alabama, the Razorbacks erased a 35-17 halftime deficit to defeat rival Texas A&M. The passing game was on point all afternoon, getting a record-breaking effort out of QB Tyler Wilson and WR Jarius Wright.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: While the win was thrilling, it cannot gloss over the problems Arkansas is having at the line of scrimmage. The O-line failed to keep Wilson from getting battered around by the Aggies, and the defense was gashed for 381 rushing yards and five scores on 54 carries.
12. Florida State 2-2
Last Week: Idle
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: A week off has afforded the Seminoles a much-needed chance to get healthy and get their heads screwed on right for the final two-thirds of the season. After sparring with—and nearly knocking off—two ranked teams, Florida State will play five straight games against ACC also-rans.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: Florida State has looked better on paper than on grass this fall. Oklahoma and Clemson are talented programs, but if the ‘Noles want to earn a higher ranking, they’ll need to find ways to beat the tougher opponents on the schedule.
13. Texas A&M 2-2
Last Game: L, Arkansas 42-38
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: The silver lining in College Station is that the Aggies’ consecutive losses came against quality ranked opponents. On Saturday, the ground game was championship caliber, bullying the Hogs for 381 yards behind the navigating of running backs Christine Michael and Cyrus Gray.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: After blowing big halftime leads in consecutive games, it’s clear that Texas A&M lacks the discipline and consistency to be a top-notch program. The talent, especially on offense, is terrific, but the pass defense has failed to make stops when the team has desperately needed them.
14. Virginia Tech 4-1
Last Week: L, Clemson 23-3
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: The Hokies were the first team all year to slow down Clemson, holding the Tigers to a season-low in points and total yards. The D has been stout throughout the season, yielding an average of just 13 points a game.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: RB David Wilson aside, the Virginia Tech offense lacks pop and execution. The Hokies were overmatched against an average Clemson defense, and young QB Logan Thomas has not evolved the way the coaching staff would have liked at the halfway point of the season.
15. Illinois 5-0
Last Week: W, Northwestern 38-35
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: Good teams know how to win close games. By that measurement, the Illini might be bordering on greatness after winning a three-point game for the third week-in-a-row. The leadership of young QB Nathan Scheelhaase was on display as Illinois battled back from an 18-point deficit to beat Northwestern and capture the Land of Lincoln Trophy.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: What happened to that vaunted Illinois defense that looked so ornery in the previous two weeks? The Illini was defenseless against the Wildcats Dan Persa, allowing the quarterback to throw four touchdown passes in his first game back since last Nov. 13.
16. Arizona State 4-1
Last Week: W, Oregon State 35-20
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: With each passing win, the Sun Devils validate themselves as the Pac-12 South favorite. The pass defense is growing up in a hurry, picking off seven passes and allowing just three touchdown passes over the last three games.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: The Sun Devils have traditionally struggled away from home, losing their only game of 2011 at Illinois. If Arizona State is going to inch further north, it’ll have to navigate a prickly October schedule that includes trips to Salt Lake City and Eugene.
17. Missouri 2-2
Last Week: Idle
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: While Mizzou has lost two games, both came on the road against ranked opponents, Arizona State and Oklahoma. The offense has started to ramp up around the play of versatile QB James Franklin and homerun-hitting RB Henry Josey.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: Defense is a worry that’s going to haunt the Tigers all fall, especially as a member of the passer-friendly Big 12. In its two losses to the Sun Devils and Sooners, Brock Osweiler and Landry Jones succeeded in lighting up the Missouri secondary for 836 yards and seven touchdown passes.
18. Tennessee 3-1
Last Week: W, Buffalo 41-10
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: The Volunteers exited their off week with a crisp disposal of overmatched Buffalo. QB Tyler Bray didn’t skip a beat in his first full game without star WR Justin Hunter, connecting for four touchdown passes, two to WR Da’Rick Rogers and two to exciting rookie WR DeAnthony Arnett.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: While the Sept. 10 rout of Cincinnati looks a little better today than it did at the time, Tennessee still hasn’t beaten a ranked opponent. Just how high the ceiling is for this program will be determined in an upcoming four-game stretch versus Georgia, LSU, Alabama and South Carolina.
19. Auburn 4-1
Last Week: W, South Carolina 16-13
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: The Tigers just defeated one of the nation’s highest-ranked teams, South Carolina, and have only fallen to unbeaten Clemson. The running game is in great shape as long as Michael Dyer can continue to handle his increased workload.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: Is Auburn’s recent success on defense a fluke or is it here to stay? The unit that was shredded early on, and still ranks last in the SEC in many statistical categories, has plenty to prove in the upcoming weeks.
20. South Carolina 4-1
Last Week: L, Auburn 16-13
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: Don’t blame the Gamecocks defense for Saturday’s loss in Columbia. South Carolina kept the Auburn offense in check for most of the evening, getting a monster effort from athletic lineman Melvin Ingram, who had 11 tackles, 4.5 stops for loss, 3.5 sacks and an interception.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: As long as South Carolina continues to struggle behind center, the rest of the offense is going to feel the effects. The Stephen Garcia-led passing game has generated four touchdowns and nine interceptions in 2011, subduing the limits of RB Marcus Lattimore and Alshon Jeffery.
21. Georgia 3-2
Last Week: W, Mississippi State 24-10
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: Georgia has now won three straight games, suffocating Mississippi State in last weekend’s battle of the Bulldogs. The defense has played very well during the streak, allowing just one offensive touchdown over the last 12 quarters.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: It’ll remain difficult to get overly excited about the Dawgs until they can topple a ranked opponent for the first time this fall. The offense has been just average over the last two games, and needs to be more efficient on third downs and in the red zone.
22. West Virginia 4-1
Last Week: W, Bowling Green 55-10
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: Showing no ill-effects from last week’s emotional loss to LSU, the Mountaineers roared past the Falcons with ease. Even better, West Virginia appears to have found a back to complement the fast-paced passing game, as rookie Dustin Garrison raced for 291 yards and two scores on 32 carries.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: Silencing Bowling Green during poor weather isn’t an indication that the ‘eers have solved all of their issues on defense. The sack-starved D still has cracks that need to be sealed before the level of competition improves.
23. Michigan 5-0
Last Week: W, Minnesota 58-0
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: The Wolverines opened up a Little Brown Jug of whoopin’ on Minnesota in Saturday’s 58-0 blanking of rival Minnesota. Not only were QB Denard Robinson and the offense clicking, but the D has allowed 10 or fewer points in four of the first five games.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: If there’s skepticism about Michigan’s fast start under head coach Brady Hoke, it hinges on the schedule. The Wolverines’ slate has been light on top-flight opponents, with only the Sept. 10 win over Notre Dame qualifying as a quality one.
24. Texas 4-0
Last Week: W, Iowa State 37-14
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: Since nearly getting plucked by BYU in Week 2, the ‘Horns have looked very sharp in road routs of UCLA and Iowa State. The offense has improved, but the 15th-ranked D has lit the fuse by giving up just a pair of touchdown passes.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: Once the level of play improves, the green Texas offense is liable to get exposed by more experienced units. The future is bright, but there’s always cause for present-day concern when your leading passer, rusher and receiver are all true freshmen.
25. Georgia Tech 4-0
Week: W, NC State 45-35
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: The Yellow Jackets offense showed no letup in Raleigh, slapping five offensive touchdowns on the overmatched Wolfpack defense. The threat of a passing game, which has produced 10 touchdowns and just one pick, has made Paul Johnson’s option attack doubly difficult to stop this fall.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: Tech’s defense, while capable of flashes of chaos, is not on the same level as the top units in the ACC. It’s yet to hold an opponent under 21 points, showing a particular softness against the run.
Week 5 Rankings, No. 26-120