CFN 2011 Rankings
Oct. 30, Week 9
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- CFN 2011
Week 9 Rankings, No. 26-120
1. LSU 8-0
Last Week: Didn't Play This Week
Why LSU Should Be No. 1: The Oregon win is looking stronger and stronger, while the West Virginia win, at least according to the record, is still as good a road victory as anyone can put on the résumé. The team is fully back from all suspensions for the big showdown.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: There's still a question about the passing offense. The Tigers are a running team, and Alabama is by far the best team in the country against the run, so if the passing attack can't rock, next week could be a huge letdown.
2. Alabama 8-0
Last Week: Didn't Play This Week
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: Run defense … No. 1. Pass defense … No. 2. Scoring defense … No. 1. Total defense … No. 1. LSU might have a terrific résumé and a great team in all phases, but Alabama's defense could be at a whole other level of greatness.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: There's the Penn State win, and beating Arkansas wasn't without its charm, but there isn't a lot of beef. Beating Tennessee, Ole Miss, Vanderbilt and Florida really isn't that big a deal, while Kent State and North Texas is Kent State and North Texas. The one good defense the Tide faced, Penn State, kept the attack in relative check.
3. Oklahoma State 8-0
Last Week: W, at Baylor 59-24
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: At the moment, Oklahoma State is playing like the best team in the best conference in the country. The offense took apart Baylor from the start, and while Robert Griffin was Robert Griffin, it was only after the game was out of hand. Brandon Weeden is playing at a Heisman-like level.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: Raise your hand if you think Oklahoma State is going to beat Oklahoma in December? Right now the Cowboys have shown few signs of weakness, but considering how shaky Texas A&M has been the one point win in late September might be a sign of things to come down the road.
4. Oklahoma 7-1
Last Game: W, at Kansas State 58-17
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: Alright, let's just chalk up that Texas Tech loss to a really, really bad first half. The offense exploded on the road for nearly 700 yards and a school-record 505 passing yards from Landry Jones against a terrific Kansas State team. When it's on, this OU team is as unstoppable as any in America.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: Texas Tech just lost to Iowa State 41-7. Letdown, schmetdown; that's not a plus for a Sooner team trying to make a case to be the best of the one-loss teams. Kansas State was too one-dimensional, as was Texas Tech, and the Sooner defense could have a problem with a strong, balanced team. Between the Red Raider loss and the shaky game against Florida State, this isn't the most consistent powerhouse on the board.
5. Stanford 8-0
Last Week: W, at USC 56-48 3OT
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: The team has it all. It has a power running game, a tough defense with tremendous size, and, of course, Andrew Luck playing at the highest of levels. The USC win was gut-check time against a jacked up team playing like it was the Rose Bowl, and under extreme adversity, the Cardinal came through.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: It took three overtimes and a big final drive to put away the Trojans. This might have been a well-motivated USC, but it was still just an above-average team the Cardinal barely put away. The pieces might be there, but the team showed it's going to have problems with ultra-athletic teams like …
6. Oregon 7-1
Last Week: W, Washington State 43-28
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: Ho hum, the Ducks keep rolling along cranking out 41 points or more in every game but the opener against LSU. LaMichael James is back, the offense is exploding, the special teams have been terrific, and the machine is steamrolling past everything in its path.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: Beating Arizona State a few weeks ago at home was nice, but can the Ducks beat a real team away from Autzen? Oregon is playing like a top five team, and it's on top of the coaches' poll among the one-loss teams, but it might not quite be tested enough to be the top two team it needs to be to go to New Orleans.
7. Boise State 7-0
Last Game: Didn't Play This Week
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: Alright, we'll move you back up … for now. The Georgia win is the one to hang the hat on, but it's a good one. Don't dismiss the wins over the "lesser" teams on the slate. There's a chance Tulsa, Nevada, and Toledo will all win their respective conferences. And yes, beating TCU in a few weeks will mean something.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: It's not fair to demand Boise State blow out everyone and everything in its path by 30, but it needs to blow out everyone and everything in its path by 30. The 37-26 game against a mediocre Air Force isn't going to cut it in this beauty contest.
8. Arkansas 7-1
Last Week: W, at Vanderbilt 31-28
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: Basically, this is the lesser or all evils ranking. 7-1 as an SEC West team is 7-1 as an SEC West team. Survive and move on, and on the right day, the Arkansas passing game can play with anyone in the country outside of Alabama. Theoretically, if Alabama is a top two team, the Arkansas could be No. 3, but …
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: A lousy performance against Ole Miss is one thing, but needing a missed field goal and a long fumble recovery for a score against Vanderbilt is another. This might be the third best team in the SEC, but that doesn't mean much this season.
9. Clemson 8-1
Last Week: L, at Georgia Tech 31-17
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: You have to grade a loss to Georgia Tech differently; it's like losing to a knuckleball pitcher. Sometimes the quirky attack works, and it doesn't matter how good the defense is. The wins over Auburn, Florida State, and Virginia Tech still mean everything, and Clemson will still probably win the ACC title.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: Fine, so the Georgia Tech offense found its groove. The Clemson offense had its hand in the loss, too, with four turnovers and not enough from the running game. The Tigers had the ball for just 21 minutes, and now the perfect season is over.
10. Arizona State 6-2
Last Week: W, Colorado 48-14
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: The Illinois loss isn't a plus on the résumé, but it was a close call on the road. The USC win looks fantastic now, the Missouri victory looks stronger, and losing to Oregon at Oregon is nothing to get in a twist over. In a year without a lot of power teams for the top ten, ASU is playing like it belongs.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: Beating Colorado isn't that big a deal and neither is winning at Utah. The defense has been good, not phenomenal, while the offense isn't quite explosive enough on a consistent basis. Right now this is the third best team in the Pac-12, and if you don't believe in the conference, this might be way too high. Speaking of being a bit overranked ...
11. USC 6-2
Last Week: L, Stanford 56-48 3OT
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: Beating Notre Dame by two touchdowns in South Bend really was a big deal, and coming within a hiccup of beating Stanford showed just how good this young team really is. The two losses were to the Cardinal and to Arizona State; that's not bad.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: There's the Notre Dame win, and … um … uh … Syracuse? Utah? Winning at Cal isn't anything to do cartwheels over. The Trojans still have tough dates against Washington and Oregon to deal with, and if they're sulking in any way after this physical loss, the last month of the season could be disappointing.
12. Wisconsin 6-2
Last Week: L, Ohio State 33-29
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: Uhhhh, didn't the Badgers just lose two straight? How do they move up? The blowout win over Nebraska now looks really, really good, and while there were problems beyond the finishes against Ohio State – who had two weeks off to prepare for the make-or-break home game - and Michigan State, the argument could be made that Bucky is two plays away from being ranked No. 3.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: The Badgers got manhandled over the last two weeks, and while Russell Wilson was able to rally the offense in both games, that doesn't mask the problems during the midsection in each game. Obliterating Purdue, Minnesota, and Illinois over the next three weeks is a must to stay this high in a true benefit-of-the-doubt ranking.
13. Nebraska 7-1
Last Week: W, Michigan State 24-3
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: All of a sudden, the Huskers are looking like the class of the Legends. The win over Michigan State was dominant – with a near-perfect offensive gameplan – and the win over Ohio State looks a lot stronger now. The running game is working, Taylor Martinez is playing well, and FINALLY, there was some pressure in the backfield from the defensive line.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: And Texas Tech got blown out by Iowa State. Let down games are let down games, and while it's not Nebraska's fault that Michigan State played like it spent the entire last week celebrating, this wasn't' the same Spartan team that gave Wisconsin all it could handle.
14. Notre Dame 5-3
Last Week: W, Navy 56-14
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: This might be the most maddening team in America. The talent is there. The explosiveness is there. The potential is there. This Irish have enough in the bag to blowout a Michigan State and possibly give Stanford all it can handle in a few weeks. The win over Navy showed what the team can do when its head is screwed on straight, and that includes head coach Brian Kelly.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: The USC loss showed how mentally weak this team is. Under the slightest bit of in-game adversity this season, the Irish buckle. The punt return game is miserable, the punting game is awful, and the turnovers keep on coming.
15. Michigan State 6-2
Last Week: L, at Nebraska 24-3
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: An argument could be made that the Nebraska loss was a true aberration. The team wasn't nearly the same one that beat Wisconsin, playing unfocused and undisciplined. The win over the Badgers is still special, and the win at Ohio State looks a lot better now.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: Michigan State's three road games: 10-7 over Ohio State, blowout loss to Notre Dame, blowout loss to Nebraska. The win over the Badgers doesn't seem indicative of how good this team is; there were way too many breakdowns and errors on both sides of the ball against the Huskers. Blowing up Minnesota next week will help, but it'll take a win at Iowa to show the Spartans can play well away from home.
16. Michigan 7-1
Last Week: W, Purdue 36-14
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: The running game showed that it's most than just Denard Robinson, with Fitzgerald Toussaint showing the team has plenty of weapons to work with. Losing at Michigan State in a closer game than the 28-14 final score – even though the lines got beaten up - isn't anything to get in a twist over. Call this a holding pattern ranking; the Wolverines could move up in a big hurry.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: The San Diego State win lost its luster and the only decent win of note came on a miraculous finish against Notre Dame. There's still a prove-it factor after the Michigan State loss, and winning at Iowa and Illinois over the next two weeks will show more about what the team can do.
17. Ohio State 5-3
Last Week: W, Wisconsin 33-29
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: The Buckeye lines badly outplayed the Wisconsin lines. The defensive front got pressure in the backfield all game long, while the offensive line did a great job of opening things up for Dan Herron. After beating Illinois and Wisconsin, the Buckeyes are looking strong with Indiana and Purdue up next.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: It might have been a brilliant play by Braxton Miller, but it still took a minor miracle to avoid the choke. The Buckeyes outplayed Wisconsin for 55 minutes, and then almost gave the game away on a few breakdowns in the secondary. The team is playing far better, but there's still some maturing to do.
18. Kansas State 7-1
Last Week: L, Oklahoma 58-17
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: Oklahoma, Texas Tech loss aside, might be one of the three best teams in America, and once in a while that offense is going to be jaw-dropping good. The Wildcats have their chance to make amends next week against Oklahoma State to get the honor of being the second-best team in the Big 12, and with winnable games against Texas A&M, at Texas, and Iowa State to close, an upset win over the Cowboys could lead to a truly special season.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: Yeah, the OU offense is sensational, but yeeeeeeesh. Kansas State actually had the lead for a while, and then the doors came flying off the lack of overall talent on both sides of the ball became apparent.
19. Virginia Tech 8-1
Last Week: W, at Duke 14-10
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: The run defense has been incredible and David Wilson deserves Doak Walker consideration. There are plenty of great pieces to the puzzle, and for all the struggles and all the sputtering, the Hokies are still 8-1 with an outside chance at a BCS bowl by winning out and going 11-1.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: Not beating a ranked team is one thing, but 14-10 to Duke, no matter how it's sliced and diced, is a problem. The best win this year was probably over Wake Forest, and the second best win was a fight against a dog of a Miami team. It's prove-it time against Georgia Tech.
20. Missouri 4-4
Last Week: W, at Texas A&M 38-31 OT
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: What? Huh? Missouri gets one vote in the coaches' poll and is this high?! The losses: at Arizona State in overtime, at Oklahoma, at Kansas State, Oklahoma State. The blowout win over Iowa State not looks great, while beating Texas A&M in College Station means something. This has been a better team than its record all year, but …
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: 4-4 is 4-4, and this might be way too high a ranking going off just one nice win over Texas A&M. More tests will come with a trip to Baylor up next, but don't be shocked if the talented team with the No. 11 offense in the nation runs the table and gets a strong bowl bid.
21. Texas A&M 5-3
Last Game: L, Missouri 38-31
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: If the Aggies had Mariano Rivera it would be unbeaten. The team can't close, and while that's part of the deal, the losses to Missouri, Oklahoma State, and Arkansas could've all easily have gone the other way. Don't assume the Aggies get rolled at Oklahoma next week.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: Coffee's for closers, only. At the moment, the only really strong win is over Texas Tech, and the Aggies almost gagged that game away, too. The pass defense is the worst in the nation, no one can tackle, and the offense goes into mystifying funks at the wrong times.
22. Penn State 8-1
Last Week: W, Illinois 10-7
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: Defense, no mistakes, and a good running game. There might be major holes in the passing game, and it's taking way too much work to put away mediocre teams, but the lone loss is to Alabama and 8-1 is 8-1.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: It's not fair to chalk up the kick off the upright and the questionable pass interference call to luck, but once again, Penn State won an ugly game that could've gone either way. The offense was lousy in the snow – outside of Silas Redd – and the defense had to save the day again. Now the real tests come against Nebraska, at Ohio State, and at Wisconsin.
23. Auburn 6-3
Last Week: W, Ole Miss 41-23
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: Welcome to the party, Clint Moseley. It's not like the Tiger quarterback situations are totally solved, but he was terrific against Ole Miss – throwing four touchdown passes – and Michael Dyer was Michael Dyer. This is probably the fourth best team in the SEC; that's not bad, even in a miserable year for the conference's bottom ten.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: Now it's time to prove it really is No. 4 in the league with a win over Georgia. Beating Ole Miss is beating Ole Miss; it's not a plus. The passing game is still a mess and the defense is still shaky, but the Tigers can prove themselves with a win over the Dawgs.
24. South Carolina 7-1
Last Week: W, at Tennessee 14-3
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: The defense has stepped up its game in a big way to make up for the middling offense. After dominating a bad Tennessee team, USC is No. 6 in the nation in total defense, and No. 3 against the pass. Even with all the problems and all the adversity, being 7-1 in the SEC isn't that bad.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: Actually, being 7-1 in the SEC this year – without playing LSU, Alabama, and Arkansas – really is that bad. Don't fall for the brand names; beating Tennessee and Mississippi State really doesn't matter. The Georgia win is still strong, but that's about it. Now the Gamecocks get to prove themselves at Arkansas.
25. Georgia 6-2
Last Week: W, Florida 24-20
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: On a six-game winning streak, the team has showed heart and toughness to turn around a rocky season. The defense is playing at a high level, led by a brilliant game from Jarvis Jones against the Gators. The schedule might not be all that great, but four of the last five games – all wins – have been away from home.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: Whoopee. Beating Coastal Carolina, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Tennessee, Vanderbilt, and Florida – at least at the moment – is awfully Boise State-like schedule-wise. It's not like the Dawgs are dominating the mediocre slate.
- CFN 2011
Week 9 Rankings, No. 26-120