CFN 2012 Rankings
Sept. 16, Week 3
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2012 Coaches' Poll
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2012 Week 3 Rankings, No. 26-124
1. Alabama 3-0
Last Week: W, Arkansas 52-0
Why Alabama Should Be No. 1: The Razorbacks were no doubt hurting, including playing without QB Tyler Wilson, but a 52-0 whitewash … in Fayetteville? The Crimson Tide has now gone more than nine quarters without allowing a point, while the AJ McCarron-led offense is operating with balance and methodical efficiency.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: If you want to critique ‘Bama, you better pull out the film from the first two games, because the team was close to flawless in Week 3. The O-line stepped up, but did allow eight sacks in the first two games, including six versus Western Kentucky last Saturday.
2. LSU 3-0
Last Week: W, Idaho 63-14
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: The Tigers sent Idaho packing with a predictably easy win, rolling on the strength of their power ground game and the improving passing of Zach Mettenberger. LSU has gotten to 3-0 without a challenge, winning by an average score of 48-10.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: LSU needs to tighten up at the line of scrimmage now that SEC play is set to begin on Saturday. The Tigers yielded three sacks to the Vandals, yet were unable to produce one of their own in the blowout.
3. Oregon 3-0
Last Week: W, Tennessee Tech 63-14
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: The offense cleared all of its hurdles during the non-conference portion of the schedule, averaging more than 50 points a game. Marcus Mariota sure doesn’t look like a first-time starter under center, and De’Anthony Thomas and Kenjon Barner form one of the most dynamic skill position tandems in the country.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: The numbers have been gaudy, to be sure, but who exactly have the Ducks been thrashing? After playing no one better than Fresno State, Oregon is about to face an immediate rise in the level of competition once Pac-12 play begins on Saturday.
4. Florida State 3-0
Last Week: W, Wake Forest 52-0
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: So much for looking past Wake Forest, with the Clemson showdown up next. The Seminoles were dominant from wire-to-wire against an always plucky Demon Deacons team, keeping a third straight opponent from reaching the end zone.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: Florida State was brilliant on Saturday in all phases, but really who has this team beaten? It has opened the year with Murray State, Savannah State and Wake Forest, still leaving the ‘Noles with something to prove a week from now.
5. Georgia 3-0
Last Week: W, Florida Atlantic 56-20
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: The offense is catching up to the defense. Georgia set a school record with 713 total yards, while becoming the first squad in Athens to score at least 40 points in the first three games. Rookie running backs Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall both averaged more than 10 yards a carry in the rout of the Owls.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: The rebuilt O-line was just fine against Florida Atlantic, but what happens when SEC play continues? Just a week ago, the Bulldogs had problems getting off their blocks versus Mizzou, something that bears a very close watch once October begins.
6. Florida 3-0
Last Week: W, Tennessee 37-20
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: The Gators are surging like few other programs in America, knocking off Texas A&M and Tennessee on the road in consecutive weeks. The D remains the calling this year in Gainesville, but the offense just got done shredding the Volunteers for more than 500 yards thanks to a slew of long-ball plays.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: If Florida keeps digging itself into a hole, it’s going to eventually catch up to the program. The Gators have been slow starters in all three wins, even falling behind Bowling Green in the opener.
7. West Virginia 2-0
Last Week: W, James Madison 42-12
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: Few defenses, if any, are going to contain Mountaineers QB Geno Smith and his cadre of receivers. Through two games, the senior has now thrown as many touchdown passes—nine—as incompletions.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: No one will truly know if West Virginia is ready to compete in the Big 12, especially on defense, until it starts playing better opponents. The Mountaineers have faced Marshall and James Madison, and won’t be tested until conference play kicks off in two weeks.
8. Texas 3-0
Last Week: W, Ole Miss 66-31
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: The Longhorns offense becomes less and less of an issue with each passing week. Texas was unusually prolific in Oxford, getting 100 yards on the ground from Malcolm Brown, 100 yards receiving from Mike Davis and Marquise Goodwin and a career-day out of pivotal QB David Ash.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: The ‘Horns still haven’t beaten a team of much heft in September, thanks to a soft non-conference schedule. The heralded D made a lot of big plays against Ole Miss, but also had a couple of lapses in the second half of the blowout.
9. Clemson 3-0
Last Week: W, Furman 41-7
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: The Tigers took care of business against Furman in matter-of-fact fashion, rolling for more than 500 yards for a three straight game. Star WR Sammy Watkins is back following a suspension, scoring for the first time in 2012 on a 58-yard touchdown run.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: Who exactly has Clemson defeated? The Auburn win on opening weekend is overrated, and the team has handled Ball State and Furman on the last two Saturdays. If the Tigers want to travel north in rankings, they better go out and beat Florida State in Tallahassee next week.
10. Notre Dame 3-0
Last Week: W, Michigan State 20-3
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: The Irish defense is on the verge of becoming championship-caliber. The unit has allowed just 30 points in three games, winning the line of scrimmage battles with help from DE Stephon Tuitt, NG Louis Nix and linebackers Prince Shembo and Manti Te’o. Perfect after three games for the first time in a decade, Notre Dame did not allow Michigan State into the red zone Saturday night.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: The Irish D better be nasty, because the offense is sputtering. Notre Dame has managed just 20 points in consecutive games with Big Ten teams, and the situation behind center with Everett Golson remains a work-in-progress.
11. Oklahoma 2-0
Last Week: Idle
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: Cautious optimism surrounds the Sooners after winning two games as a prohibitive favorite. The high-powered offense smoothed out some wrinkles in Week 2, albeit against Florida A&M, racking up 662 total yards and 10 offensive touchdowns. JUCO transfer Damien Williams has been an immediate big-play complement to Dominique Whaley in the backfield.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: No one will know just how legit this OU team is until Kansas State visits a week from now. Was the close call with UTEP in the opener a case of rust or another overrated Bob Stoops team? The revamped O-line has yielded six sacks to a pair of teams very light on defensive stalwarts.
12. Stanford 3-0
Last Week: W, USC 21-14
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: The Cardinal is back. Heck, it never left. Saturday night’s upset of No. 2 USC stamped Stanford as a legitimate contender for the Pac-12 crown, even without former star QB Andrew Luck. It manhandled Troy at the point of attack, rushing for 202 yards, and battering former Heisman frontrunner Matt Barkley.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: In order to take the next step and actually win the conference, Stanford will need more consistency from its passing attack. Josh Nunes did enough for the win, but 15-of-32 for 215 yards, two touchdowns and two picks could become a liability at some point.
13. Michigan State 2-1
Last Week: L, Notre Dame 20-3
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: The Spartans lost to a very good Notre Dame squad in East Lansing. Against lesser opponents, which constitutes most of the Big Ten in 2012, Michigan State ought to be fine operating its formula of sound defense and the power running of Le’Veon Bell.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: The first three games have shown that good teams will shut down QB Andrew Maxwell and the monotone Spartans offense. Michigan State not only flopped on Saturday night, but also struggled to score 17 points on a rebuilt Boise State D in the opener.
14. USC 2-1
Last Week: L, Stanford 21-14
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: Okay, everyone, take a deep breath. Even after suffering a loss, this is still a talented Trojans squad that ran into a tractor on the Farm. Matt Barkley and his cast of receivers will bounce back quickly, especially since it’ll be a long time before they face another team with Stanford’s physicality.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: Saturday night was a symptom of a much bigger problem at USC. The Trojans’ lack of depth and overall toughness could haunt them again this year. They were bullied by the Cardinal, a situation exacerbated by too many attempted arm tackles and not nearly enough pressure on the quarterback.
15. Louisville 3-0
Last Week: W, North Carolina 39-34
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: The Cards notched their biggest win of the season, holding off North Carolina in a game that wasn’t quite as close as the final score indicated. Teddy Bridgewater continues to emerge into one of college football’s top young hurlers, while the power running game returned versus the Heels.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: Saturday’s win may have unearthed as many Louisville flaws as strengths. The O-line allowed Bridgewater to absorb too many hits, and the secondary softened late, yielding 363 yards and five touchdown passes to Bryn Renner.
16. Tennessee 2-1
Last Game: L, Florida 37-20
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: The Volunteers are going to go as far as the big-play passing game is going to take it. QB Tyler Bray is a next-level hurler, and Justin Hunter and Cordarrelle Patterson equip him with a pair of fantastic receivers. The loss to the Gators came against one of the nation’s hottest teams.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: It took three games, but the suspect D finally got exposed for more than 500 yards and a slew of missed tackles. The Vols had their shots Saturday night, but faded down the stretch by allowing Florida to ring up the last 24 points.
17. Michigan 2-1
Last Game: W, Massachusetts 63-13
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: Facing a team it could overpower, that’s exactly what Michigan did in Week 3, earning a momentum-building win on the backs of the Minutemen. RB Fitzgerald Touissant is rounding into form after missing the opener, and QB Denard Robinson is as explosive as ever.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: Just because Massachusetts couldn’t exploit it doesn’t mean that Wolverines defense isn’t a concern at the first quarter turn of the season. Michigan showed pockets of softness in its first two games with Alabama, a loss, and Air Force, a close call.
18. Ohio State 3-0
Last Week: W, Cal, 35-28
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: The Buckeyes showed a lot of perseverance in their toughest game to date, withstanding the Cal challenge to remain unbeaten. Twice in the fourth quarter, the Bears either pulled even or pulled ahead. And twice, QB Braxton Miller led his team back in another sign of his budding on-field maturity.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: The Ohio State D suffered way too many breakdowns against an erratic visitor. The Buckeyes got to QB Zach Maynard six times, but also missed a lot of tackles, and wound up yielding more than 500 yards.
19. Kansas State 3-0
Last Week: W, North Texas 35-21
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: When the Wildcats need to put their foot on the gas, they’re capable of blowing past quality opponents behind QB Collin Klein. Just last week, Kansas State destroyed Miami, 52-13, treating the ‘Canes as if they were arriving from the FCS.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: Kansas State has a nasty habit of playing down to its competition. This is the same school that struggled to shake Missouri State in Week 1, and played very lethargically versus the Mean Green over the weekend.
20. Missouri 2-1
Last Week: W, Arizona State 24-20
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: Despite being without their catalyst, QB James Franklin, the Tigers were still able to hand red-hot Arizona State its first loss of the year. The D consistently came up big Saturday night, forcing four turnovers, slowing down the Devils’ ground game and generally making timely stops.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: The loss to Georgia a week earlier has put a cap on Mizzou’s ceiling for the time being. The Tigers imploded down the stretch, hardly the work of an upwardly-mobile squad. If Franklin is hampered in any way from his shoulder injury, the offense will inevitably feel his absence.
21. South Carolina 3-0
Last Week: W, UAB 49-6
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: After a slow start, the Gamecocks took off to easily pick up win No. 3. The quarterbacks continue to play very well, and with every passing game, Marcus Lattimore’s knee surgery becomes less of an issue. The physical D has allowed two touchdowns all year.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: In its two games with Conference USA opponents, South Carolina rolled. Against Vandy in the opener, though, the Gamecocks struggled. Until proven otherwise, this program has been the product of overmatched opponents.
22. Georgia Tech 2-1
Last Week: W, Virginia 56-20
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: A lopsided win in September is often code for hosting an overmatched FCS opponent. Uh-uh. Not in Atlanta on Saturday. The Yellow Jackets authored one of their best performances in recent memory under Paul Johnson, annihilating Coastal Division rival Virginia in all phases of the game.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: Georgia Tech has played well this season, even stiffening on defense for coordinator Al Groh. However, it did lose its most important game of the year to a Virginia Tech team that got exposed by winless Pittsburgh on Saturday afternoon.
23. Arizona State 2-1
Last Week: L, Missouri 24-20
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: Even in losing, the Sun Devils showed that they’re a very different team under Todd Graham and his staff of assistants. A week after mauling Illinois, Arizona State traveled to Missouri, and darn near rallied for a comeback win.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: ASU got a break by not having to face star Mizzou QB James Franklin, yet couldn’t close the deal. The Sun Devils O-line got abused by the Tigers front seven for 10 tackles behind the line and three sacks, which could become a trend in Pac-12 play.
24. UCLA 3-0
Last Week: W, Houston 37-6
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: The Bruins not only avoided a letdown following their huge win over Nebraska, but they actually raised the level of their game in Week 3. The offense was efficient, but it was the D that came up big, picking off five passes, and keeping high-powered Houston off the scoreboard for the first 55 minutes.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: Opponents that can apply pressure could cause problems for the Bruins in 2012. The Cougars brought the heat, especially from the second level, and made 10 stops behind the line. The Bruins D is improving, but still has plenty to prove.
25. Arizona 3-0
Last Week: W, South Carolina State 56-0
Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: The Wildcats suffered no hangover following their upset of Oklahoma State, blanking overmatched South Carolina State. Rich Rodriguez’s offense has scored 115 points over the last two games, and continues to improve with fifth-year senior Matt Scott at the controls.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: The defense is young and light on star power. A week ago, it allowed 636 yards to Oklahoma State, and was toothless against the pass. Oregon is capable of matching that output this week, a tell-tale sign of whether the Wildcats are legit Pac-12 contenders or a heavily-flawed, one-dimensional production.
2012 Week 3 Rankings, No. 26-124