CFN 2011 Rankings
Nov. 20, Week 12
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- CFN 2011
Week 12 Rankings, No. 26-120
1. LSU 11-0
Last Week: W, Ole Miss 52-3
Why LSU Should Be No. 1: In a game that the Tigers could have sleepwalked through on the road, they instead used as a well-timed scrimmage heading into next week’s visit from Arkansas. Not only is LSU the last remaining unbeaten team from a major conference, but it also has two of the more impressive wins of the year, beating Oregon and Alabama outside of Baton Rouge.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: There really is no good reason, is there? Even the oft-criticized offense was sharp at Ole Miss, executing with a dearth of miscues. If splitting hairs is required, however, the LSU attack has been inconsistent at times this season, producing just a single touchdown pass in those wins over the Ducks and the Crimson Tide.
2. Alabama 10-1
Last Week: W, Georgia Southern 45-21
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: Bama’s only loss of the season came against top-ranked LSU in an extra session. The defense has arguably been the fiercest in the country, holding 10 opponents to no more than 14 points in a game. No one has been able to tame one-loss Arkansas the way the Tide did, whipping the Hogs, 38-14, back on Sept. 14.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: Back-to-back middling efforts versus LSU and Mississippi State have cast a pall over the Crimson Tide offense. While no one doubts that the D is championship-caliber, the same cannot be said of the offense, particularly QB A.J. McCarron and the passing attack. ‘Bama has not beaten a truly stalwart opponent since the game with the Razorbacks almost two months ago.
3. Arkansas 10-1
Last Week: W, Mississippi State 44-17
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: So much for looking ahead to the LSU game on Friday. The Razorbacks and QB Tyler Wilson dismantled Mississippi State with ease for their seventh win in-a-row. The Hogs’ only loss of the year came against 10-1 Alabama … in Tuscaloosa.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: Arkansas didn’t just lose to Alabama on Sept. 24—it got manhandled in all facets of the game, 38-14. Unless the Razorbacks can bring down the top-ranked Tigers in Baton Rouge this week, they’ll have a tough time ascending much higher than this point. And if they’re not competitive for the second time in 2011, they’re sure to drop a few slots south.
4. USC 9-2
Last Week: W, Oregon 38-35
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: It’s taken awhile to get to this revelation, but the Trojans just might be this year’s best Pac-12 team. Matt Barkley and the offense have registered at least 30 points in seven straight games, and the D has played markedly better since losing to Stanford on Oct. 29. You don’t beat Oregon at Autzen Stadium, with a ton at stake, unless you’re one of the premier teams in the country.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: Okay, so losing to Andrew Luck and Stanford in triple-overtime is hardly a black eye. Falling by three touchdowns to Brock Osweiler and Arizona State, however, is a different story. That loss, albeit two months ago, to a fading Sun Devils team will keep elevating much higher.
5. Oregon 9-2
Last Week: L, USC 38-35
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: The Ducks’ two losses of the season came against two of the better programs in America, LSU and USC. In between, there were nine consecutive wins, and an average of more than 47 points a victory.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: Oregon has left the national title chase about as quickly as it entered it. Yeah, the Ducks fell to a red-hot Trojans team, but the defense failed to make stops when they were needed on Saturday night. And voters are going to be doubly critical of any losses at Autzen Stadium in primetime.
6. Wisconsin 9-2
Last Week: W, Illinois 28-17
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: After falling behind early, the Badgers owned the second half in Champaign, scoring three unanswered touchdowns over the final 30 minutes. Wisconsin is just one more win away from capturing the Leaders Division, and getting a rematch with Michigan State in the Big Ten Championship Game.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: The Badgers have played just three prominent teams this season, Nebraska, Michigan State and Ohio State, and have lost to two of them. They could have defeated the Spartans and the Buckeyes, but showed an inability to close in both instances.
7. Oklahoma State 10-1
Last Week: L, Iowa State 37-31
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: One loss cannot dismiss the fact that few teams were hotter or more potent than the Cowboys through the first two-plus months of the season. They didn’t just win games; they crushed their first 10 victims by an average score of 51-26. The gauntlet included victories over Texas A&M, Texas, Missouri, Baylor and Kansas State.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: Championship are won in November, so you can’t lose at Jack Trice Stadium in front of a national TV audience, and expect any leniency from voters. Oklahoma State was just flat-out tight on Friday, falling to a plucky Iowa State team that had already been blown out by Texas, Baylor, Missouri and Texas A&M.
8. Oklahoma 8-2
Last Game: L, Baylor 45-38
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: The Sooners have bagged some key wins over the first 10 games, including at Florida State and Kansas State, and versus Texas and Texas A&M. The offense has done its job throughout the year, even after it lost top RB Dominique Whaley and All-American WR Ryan Broyles to season-ending injuries.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: Oklahoma has now dropped a couple of crushing games over the last month that snapped long winning streak. On Oct. 22, what would turn out to be a terrible Texas Tech team ended the Sooners string of 39 straight wins at home. And on Saturday night, they fell to Baylor … for the first time ever.
9. Stanford 10-1
Last Week: W, Cal 31-28
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: The Cardinal recovered from its only loss of the season, to a very good Oregon team, to hold off rival Cal in the Big Game. Stanford remains in the mix for the Pac-12 North and an at-large BCS bowl bid, and owns one of the two defeats of streaking USC in 2011.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: Stanford has basically had just one prove-it moment this season, and lost badly to the Ducks at home last Saturday, 53-30. The triple-overtime defeat of the Trojans is outstanding, but it stands alone on a schedule littered with mediocre and unranked opponents.
10. Kansas State 9-2
Last Week: W, Texas 17-13
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: The Wildcats’ magical season continued with a win in Austin, their fourth straight over the Longhorns. For the first time all year, Kansas State, which is 4-1 outside Manhattan, proved it can with defense as well as offense.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: Was the defense good, or was the Texas offense simply inept? It could have been a combination of the two. This is still a leaky Wildcats D that yielded at least 50 points in the three games with Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Texas A&M leading up to the showdown with the ‘Horns.
11. Clemson 9-2
Last Week: L, NC State 37-13
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: When Clemson has needed to win games in 2011, it’s delivered. Regardless of what happened at Carter-Finley Stadium, with little at stake, this team remains the class of the ACC. The true potential of the Tigers was evident in the first half, when they defeated Auburn, Florida State and Virginia Tech in consecutive weeks. The Hokies games was in Blacksburg, and wasn’t even close.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: Okay, so there wasn’t a ton to play for in Raleigh over the weekend, but 37-13 … to a 5-5 Wolfpack team? The Tigers better get their act together in a hurry, because neither South Carolina nor the ACC title game is going to be a pushover the next two weekends.
12. Notre Dame 8-3
Last Week: W, Boston College 16-14
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: Although it won’t wind up on Brian Kelly’s refrigerator, the Irish did hold off a plucky Boston College team on Saturday for their fourth consecutive victory. Notre Dame’s only loss since Week 2 came against USC, and the Sept. 17 win over Legends Division champion Michigan State is getting better with age.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: That win over the Spartans is significant for a few reasons; one is that it represents the last time Notre Dame defeated an opponent from its weight class. The team failed to reach the end zone over the final 57 minutes versus the Eagles, and will need to upset Stanford next weekend in order to recapture some swagger, and some national respect from voters.
13. Michigan State 9-2
Last Week: W, Indiana 55-3
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: Courtesy of three straight victories since losing in Lincoln, the Spartans have seized the Legends Division, and will be playing in the first-ever Big Ten Championship Game. Their only losses have come versus Nebraska and Notre Dame—away from home—and they pieced together three straight over Ohio State, Michigan and Wisconsin earlier in the year.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: It wasn’t so much that Michigan State lost in South Bend and Lincoln, but how they fell that has voters a little cautious. The offense failed to show up in either game one-sided contest, producing just one touchdown and a total of 16 points. Plus, the Nebraska loss has gotten worse as the Huskers have faded in November.
14. Georgia 9-2
Last Week: W, Kentucky 19-10
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: The Bulldogs had their hands full with Kentucky on Saturday. Big deal. The team has now won nine straight games, and gave a better indication of its potential with a 45-7 blowout of Auburn a week earlier.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: Yeah, it was a lifetime ago, but there’s no getting past the point that the Dawgs were bested by their two toughest opponents, Boise State and South Carolina. Oh, and both of those losses carry far less weight now that the Broncos and the Gamecocks have tailed off somewhat since September.
15. Virginia Tech 10-1
Last Week: W, North Carolina 24-21
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: They started slowly and finished quietly, yet the Hokies still won their sixth in-a-row, locking up a nation’s-best eighth straight 10-win campaign. As successful running the ball as it is stopping the run, Tech is poised for a shot at its fifth ACC championship since joining the league in 2004.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: The Hokies have played one team all year that’s currently ranked, Clemson, and lost that game at home, 23-3. Beating Georgia Tech by double-digits a week ago was notable, but it stands alone on a soft schedule that began with non-conference matchups against Appalachian State, East Carolina, Arkansas State and Marshall.
16. Michigan 9-2
Last Week: W, Nebraska 45-17
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: The Wolverines just authored their best win of the Brady Hoke era, blowing out the ranked Huskers in every phase of the game. Michigan received contributions from the offense, defense and special teams to become contenders for an at-large BCS bowl berth.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: There’s no shame in the Oct. 15 loss in East Lansing to Michigan State. However, falling two weeks later to Iowa, which had just been beaten by Minnesota, has been capping the Wolverines’ upward mobility.
17. Nebraska 8-3
Last Week: L, Michigan 45-17
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: Nebraska boasts three solid Big Ten wins in its inaugural season in the conference. Since Oct. 8, the Huskers have handled Ohio State, Michigan State and Penn State. The Spartans have already wrapped up the Legends Division, and the Nittany Lions control their own destiny in the Leaders Division.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: The Huskers didn’t just drop a game to Michigan last weekend; they were embarrassed. Nebraska executed poorly in all phases of the blowout, and has now suffered two black eyes, including a loss to Northwestern, over the last three weeks.
18. South Carolina 9-2
Last Week: W, The Citadel 41-20
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: The Gamecocks have persevered through some difficult losses on offense to pull within a victory of a 10-win season. South Carolina boasts one of the top defenses in the SEC, and a signature win over Georgia, the program that’s going to represent the East Division in the league title game.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: Yeah, the team has a valid excuse since the injury to RB Marcus Lattimore, but it really hasn’t turned any head since the Week 2 defeat of the Dawgs. Plus, who has South Carolina beaten lately? Not one of the Gamecocks’ last seven victims is more than a game over .500.
19. Houston 11-0
Last Game: W, SMU 37-7
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: After starting slowly, the Cougars coasted in their victory of the rival Mustangs. They’re now one of just two remaining unbeaten teams, and have dismissed the last six victims by at least five touchdowns. The Sammy Brown-led defense continued to be one of the underrated driving forces of the perfect start.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: Ask yourself this question: How many programs in America would be undefeated if they played Houston’s tissue-soft schedule? 25? 35? The Cougars have played just one opponent from a BCS conference, UCLA in the opener. And prior to this weekend, the last time they faced a team that’s currently bowl-eligible, it was Sept. 17.
20. Boise State 9-1
Last Week: W, San Diego State 52-35
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: The Broncos bounced back from their lone loss of the year with a blowout on the Mesa. Boise State boasts double-digit victories over Georgia, the SEC East winner, and Tulsa, which hasn’t lost since visiting the state of Idaho back on Sept. 24.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: What has happened to that vaunted Broncos defense, which has allowed 71 points over the last two games. Yeah, TCU is always ornery and well-coached, but Boise State fell at home to a Horned Frogs squad that had previously dropped a game in Fort Worth to SMU.
21. Penn State 9-2
Last Week: W, Ohio State 20-14
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: The Nittany Lions picked up a huge emotional win on Saturday, one of its biggest of the year, holding off the Buckeyes in Columbus. The Penn State D has been unbending all season long, putting the school in a position to win the Leaders Division next week with a victory over Wisconsin.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: Yeah, the offense showed a little spark with the implementation of the “Wildcat”, but this remains one the Big Ten’s more feeble attacks. It’s difficult to get past the fact that the Nittany Lions needed to escape the likes of Temple, Indiana, Purdue and Illinois in wins by no more than six points.
22. Auburn 7-4
Last Week: W, Samford 35-16
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: Auburn’s four losses were to teams that could be playing in a BCS bowl game in January, Clemson, Arkansas, LSU and Georgia. The Tigers have felt their way through a rough schedule with a young team that can point to the Oct. 1 upset of ranked South Carolina in Columbia, when RB Marcus Lattimore was still healthy, as its top moment of 2011.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: The Tigers haven’t just lost to quality opponents this fall—they’ve been trounced and outclassed in those meetings. Highlighted by an awful performance in Athens two weeks ago, all of Auburn’s four losses have come by at least a couple of touchdowns.
23. Missouri 6-5
Last Game: W, Texas Tech 31-27
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: Without suspended head coach Gary Pinkel, Mizzou rallied impressively to defeat the Red Raiders. Over the last six weeks, a surging Tigers team has now defeated Iowa State, Texas A&M, Texas and Texas Tech behind the play of QB James Franklin.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: The Tigers are incomplete program that’s 1-4 outside of Columbia, and only plays defense intermittently. That loss to Arizona State, which has since gone in the tank since, looks worse today than it did back in Week 2.
24. Ohio State 6-5
Last Week: L, Penn State 20-14
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: While the record may not show it, the Buckeyes have made continuous strides since the early part of the year. They’ve got a defining victory over Wisconsin, which could go on to with the Big Ten, and losses to Michigan State, Nebraska and Purdue were by an average of just four points a game.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: Ohio State has dropped two straight, a loss to sub-.500 Purdue, and Saturday’s home defeat at the hands of a one-dimensional Penn State squad. The offense ranks among the worst in the country as young QB Braxton Miller gradually hones his passing skills.
25. Texas A&M 6-5
Last Week: W, Kansas 61-7
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: Now that’s the Aggies team that everyone was expecting to see when the season began. Sure, Kansas was on the other side of the field, but Texas A&M flexed all of its offensive muscles with six touchdowns in the first half. Since Sept. 24, few programs have played a tougher schedule than A&M, which lost to Oklahoma State, Arkansas, Oklahoma and Kansas State by an average of just six points.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: Sure, the schedule has been a bear, but at some point, the Aggies had to actually win one of those tough games in order to be considered a legitimate Top 25 program. They’ve shown an incredible lack of discipline late in games, too often collapsing in the second half after building early leads.
- CFN 2011
Week 12 Rankings, No. 26-120