CFN 2011 Rankings
Nov. 13, Week 11
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- CFN 2011
Week 11 Rankings, No. 26-120
1. LSU 10-0
Last Week: W, Western Kentucky 42-9
Why LSU Should Be No. 1: After starting a little sluggishly, the Tigers took care of business against Western Kentucky, holding a sixth straight opponent to no more than 11 points. LSU owns two of the most impressive victories of 2011, handing Oregon and Alabama their only losses of the season … both outside of Baton Rouge.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: Considering the opponent was the Hilltoppers, the LSU offense was just marginal in Week 11. The Tigers are an average overall passing team, which could become an issue against Arkansas, the SEC East winner or whoever they draw in the January bowl game.
2. Alabama 9-1
Last Week: W, Mississippi State 24-7
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: The Crimson Tide’s only loss of the season came against No. 1 LSU … in overtime. The defense has been otherworldly since the opener, allowing just seven points and 181 yards a game. It’s been well over a month since an opponent has even reached double-digits on the ‘Bama D.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: The Tide offense is eminently mediocre, particularly when A.J. McCarron is dropping back to pass. A week after being kept out of the end zone by LSU, Alabama didn’t wake up offensively in Starkville Saturday night until the final quarter.
3. Oklahoma State 10-0
Last Week: W, Texas Tech 66-6
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: In one afternoon, the Cowboys put to rest a generation’s worth of struggles in Lubbock with a rousing blowout of the Red Raiders. It’s worth noting that the team Oklahoma State abused from wire-to-wire was the same one that shocked Oklahoma in Norman just three weeks ago. Not only did the offense produce eight touchdowns before tapping the brakes, but the D held Tech out of the end zone.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: Yeah, the Pokes were stout on Saturday, but there are still legitimate concerns about the play of the defense. The unit has been bounced around at times this fall, especially against the run, and had all kinds of trouble slowing down Kansas State QB Collin Klein a week earlier.
4. Oklahoma 8-1
Last Game: Did Not Play
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: Since losing their only game of the season back on Oct. 22, the Sooners have rebounded about as well as could be expected with blowouts of Kansas State and Texas A&M. Even with season-ending injuries to RB Dominique Whaley and WR Ryan Broyles, Oklahoma has sufficient talent surrounding QB Landry Jones to score with any program in the country.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: That lone defeat, at home to a Texas Tech team that’s since gotten exposed, is an egregious stain. Alabama’s loss to LSU, Arkansas’ loss to ‘Bama and Stanford’s loss to Oregon are far more acceptable than losing in Norman to an average Red Raiders squad that’s dropped five of its last six games.
5. Oregon 9-1
Last Week: W, Stanford 53-30
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: Saturday night’s 23-point blowout of Stanford on the road ranks second only to LSU over Alabama a week ago as the best win of 2011. The Ducks, whose only loss of the year came in the opener against the top-ranked Tigers, now have an exclamation point for their nine-game winning streak.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: Oregon had its chance to be considered among the truly elite in the country, but lost to LSU in a game that was considerably more one-sided than the 40-27 score indicated. By comparison, higher-ranked Alabama took the Tigers into overtime before falling, 9-6.
6. Wisconsin 8-2
Last Week: W, Minnesota 42-13
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: The Badgers had no problems disposing of Minnesota, a team that had given fits to Iowa and Michigan State in recent weeks. Well-balanced Wisconsin controls its own destiny in the Big Ten Leaders Division, and its only two losses to Ohio State and Michigan State came on desperation hurls in the waning moments.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: Wisconsin failed two of its biggest tests of the season, losing in East Lansing and Columbus. Plus, where are the notable wins besides the Huskers rout? The Badgers have defeated just one opponent from a major conference with a record better than .500.
7. Arkansas 9-1
Last Week: W, Tennessee 49-7
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: The Razorbacks put an old-fashioned beatdown on overmatched Tennessee, getting three touchdown passes from Tyler Wilson for a sixth win in-a-row. Yeah, one of the remaining games is against top-ranked LSU, but Arkansas can still win its way to a share of the SEC West title and possibly a BCS bowl game.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: The Hogs didn’t just lose to Alabama on Sept. 24—they got outclassed in all phases, 38-14. Unless Arkansas can slay the mighty Tigers on Nov. 25, it’ll have a difficult time moving much higher within the top 10.
8. Stanford 9-1
Last Week: L, Oregon 53-30
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: The Cardinal took a nine-game winning streak into the weekend, before losing to one of the nation’s hottest teams. It has yet to be held below 30 points in a game, and probably won’t over the final two games. The Oct. 29 triple-overtime defeat of USC at the Coliseum was a defining moment for this program.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: In order to earn the respect it coveted, Stanford had to beat Oregon on the Farm Saturday night. It not only failed that test, but it got exposed as a team that lacked the speed and execution to keep up with the Ducks. The Cardinal never got to within one score of Oregon after the midway point of the third quarter.
9. Clemson 9-1
Last Week: W, Wake Forest 31-28
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: Although it didn’t happen without plenty of sweaty palms, the Tigers are still the class of the ACC until proven otherwise. They rallied from a two-touchdown deficit in the second half to defeat upset-minded, and wrap up the Atlantic Division.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: Clemson is playing worse as the season develops, hardly the characteristic of a championship-caliber squad. In their last two games, the Tigers were bested by Georgia Tech, 31-17, and darn near gave away the division to the Demon Deacons. The offense isn’t quite as scary as it looked in October.
10. USC 8-2
Last Week: W, Washington 40-17
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: The Trojans have been soaring since losing to Arizona State on Sept. 24, going 5-1, with the lone loss coming against Stanford. The team, with some well-placed help from the defense and special teams, has scored at least 30 points in each of those six games.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: The two losses to the Sun Devils and Stanford are quite a bit less acceptable than they were at the time. ASU has gone on to lose to UCLA and Wazzu, and the Cardinal is not quite as unconquerable as originally thought. The Trojans can use a true signature victory, say, next week in Eugene.
11. Kansas State 8-2
Last Week: W, Texas A&M 53-50
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: The Wildcats delivered an epic rebound from last week’s loss to No. 2 Oklahoma State, getting past the Aggies in four overtimes. They’ve now knocked off Baylor, Missouri and the Aggies, with the lone losses coming against the powerhouse Cowboys and Sooners.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: The defense continues to be a major concern in Manhattan. Yeah, the Wildcats have faced some high-octane offenses, and quadruple-overtime is never going to aid the defensive resume, but there’s no good way to spin allowing at least 50 points in three consecutive games.
12. Nebraska 8-2
Last Week: W, Penn State 17-14
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: The Huskers rebounded swiftly from last weekend’s collapse to Northwestern, traveling to Happy Valley, and handing Penn State its first Big Ten loss of the season. Included in Nebraska’s four wins over the last five games is a rout Michigan State, who is still setting the pace in the Legends Division.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: Both of the Huskers’ losses emit a foul and unpleasant odor. The first, to Wisconsin, was a lopsided, 48-17 affair. And the second was at the hands of a Northwestern team that only this past weekend climbed back to the .500 mark.
13. Michigan State 8-2
Last Week: W, Iowa 37-21
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: The Spartans won for the first time since 1989 in Iowa City, taking control of the Legends Division of the Big Ten, and becoming the first visitor to win in Kinnick Stadium in 2011. They’ve only lost to Notre Dame and Nebraska—on the road—while capturing statement wins over Ohio State, Michigan and Wisconsin in consecutive games.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: It wasn’t so much that Michigan State fell in South Bend and Lincoln, but how they lost that could cap their ceiling. The offense failed to show up in either game one-sided affair, producing just one touchdown and a total of 16 points.
14. Georgia 8-2
Last Week: W, Auburn 45-7
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: The Bulldogs put an exclamation point on their eight-game winning streak, slapping around longtime rival Auburn with a combination of a punishing ground game and defense. Georgia is playing its best ball of the year, and now rests just a layup versus Kentucky away from playing in the SEC Championship game.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: Although it was a long time ago, there’s no getting past the point that Georgia has succumbed to this season’s two toughest opponents, South Carolina and Boise State. The winning streak has been littered with mediocrity, void of an opponent that’s currently ranked in the Top 25.
15. Virginia Tech 9-1
Last Week: W, Georgia Tech 37-26
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: The Hokies stamped themselves as the Coastal Division honchos with their best win of the year, beating Georgia Tech in Atlanta on Thursday night. Winners of five straight, their only loss of the season came against a Clemson team that’s the frontrunner to win the conference championship game on Dec. 3.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: It’s one thing to have lost to the Tigers. It’s another thing entirely to have fallen meekly, 23-3. And in Blacksburg. That performance on Oct. 1, in which Tech managed just 258 total yards, remains etched in the minds of many dubious voters.
16. Michigan 8-2
Last Week: W, Illinois 31-14
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: The Wolverines have learned to win as if Bo was still on the sidelines, playing great defense, and running the ball with conviction. In Champaign, Fitzgerald Toussaint ran for a career-high 192 yards and a touchdown, and the D held the Illini to just 214 total yards.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: Michigan hasn’t exactly walked on hot coals in order to get to 8-2. There’s the Notre Dame win all the way back in Week 2 … and that’s pretty much the extent of it. The Wolverines have dropped two of their last four, and will have a lot to prove in season-enders versus Nebraska and Ohio State.
17. South Carolina 8-2
Last Week: W, Florida 17-12
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: No, it hasn’t always been pretty, but the Gamecocks have found a way to remain in the SEC East hunt with a solid ground game and defense. Rookie Brandon Wilds accounted for 120 of the team’s 215 rushing yards, and the D abused the Gators front to the tune of 11 tackles for minus yards.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: South Carolina has remained afloat in large part because the loss of RB Marcus Lattimore has coincided with the softest portion of the schedule. Over the last month, the Gamecocks have handled middling Kentucky, Mississippi State, Tennessee and Florida, while bowing to ranked Arkansas.
18. Notre Dame 7-3
Last Week: W, Maryland 45-21
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: The Irish continued their roll in Landover, Md. over the weekend, winning for the seventh time in the last eight games. The only loss came against a USC team that’s now 8-2, and the Sept. 17 blowout of Michigan State looks a lot better than it did almost two months ago.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: Since losing to the Trojans on Oct. 22, Notre Dame hasn’t exactly had to survive a murderer’s row to get to this point. It’s defeated Maryland, Wake Forest and Navy, as part of a mediocre schedule since the beginning of October.
19. Houston 10-0
Last Game: W, Tulane 73-17
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: The Cougars could always score, especially during the tenure of QB Case Keenum. The difference with this team, which hasn’t won a game by less than five touchdowns since Sept. 29, is that it’s playing a credible brand of defense. Houston is third nationally in tackles for loss, and No. 13 in turnover margin.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: Obviously, the lack of heavyweights on the schedule is an issue for which there is no easy solution. The Cougars have steamrolled through the competition, but who have they played? Their toughest opponent, UCLA, is straddling the .500 mark, and is just a middle-of-the-road Pac-12 team.
20. Boise State 8-1
Last Game: L, TCU 36-35
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: The Broncos came within a pushed field goal as time expired from being one of the nation’s last four unbeaten programs. That two-touchdown win over Georgia in the Georgia Dome, though all the way back in the opener, keeps looking better as the Dawgs charge toward a spot in the SEC title game.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: Forget the National Championship Game. Forget a BCS bowl game. Heck, the Mountain West crown is likely out of reach. While there’s never any blushing in losing to a Gary Patterson-coached team, the Broncos got exposed by QB Casey Pachall and the Horned Frogs offense … on the blue turf. The team isn’t getting better.
21. Auburn 6-4
Last Week: L, Georgia 45-7
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: The Tigers have lost to four opponents who all could wind up playing bowl games in January. Auburn is navigating a brutal slate with a young team, pointing to the Oct. 1 upset of ranked South Carolina in Columbia as its signature moment of 2011.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: Auburn hasn’t just lost to good teams this fall—it’s been blown out by good teams. Capped by a disastrous and humbling performance in Athens over the weekend, all of the Tigers’ four losses have come by at least two touchdowns.
22. Missouri 5-5
Last Game: W, Texas 17-5
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: Columbia’s version of Texas A&M has a modest mark because it has played a treacherous schedule. The Tigers have lost to five teams with winning marks, including Oklahoma and Oklahoma State, and recent wins over the Aggies and Longhorns is evidence that Mizzou is rallying as the regular season wins down.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: It’s difficult to get too serious about a team that cannot win on the road; Missouri is just 1-4 away from home. A shaky Tigers defense caught a huge break that the Longhorns had to play Saturday’s game without top backs Joe Bergeron, Malcolm Brown and Fozzy Whitaker, who were injured.
23. Penn State 8-2
Last Week: L, Nebraska 17-14
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: Sure, it’s a little more tenuous, but the Nittany Lions still stand atop the Leaders Division with two games remaining. Their only two losses came against ranked opponents, and the 13-point-a-game defense has not buckled all season.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: This is a very incomplete squad that’s saddled with one of the conference’s worst offenses and feeblest passing games. The Nittany Lions have largely survived against suspect competition, dropping its two most important games of the year in Happy Valley.
24. Ohio State 6-4
Last Week: L, Purdue 26-23
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: This is a very different team than the one that was silenced by Miami back on Sept. 17. Okay, so the Buckeyes have only gone 4-3 since, but they have a signature win over Wisconsin, and losses to Michigan State, Nebraska and Purdue came by only 13 combined points.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: While the Boilermakers have been a little feistier of late, you can’t lose to a .500 squad, and expect to remain ranked. Purdue’s previous two opponents, Wisconsin and Michigan, hung 98 total points on it. The Buckeyes managed just 23 points … with the benefit of an overtime session.
25. Texas A&M 5-5
Last Game: L, Kansas State 53-50
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: Since Week 3, you could argue that no one in America has faced a tougher schedule. The Aggies have run the gamut of highly ranked teams, including Oklahoma State, Arkansas, Oklahoma and Kansas State, losing to that quartet by an average of just points a game. No one has come closer to beating the Cowboys this year than Texas A&M.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: Yeah, the schedule has been rugged this fall, but don’t you have to win one of these games at some point in order to justify a spot in the Top 25? A&M has now lost three consecutive games, showing an inability to make stops or close games out.
- CFN 2011
Week 11 Rankings, No. 26-120