Tuesday Question - The REAL Top 5 Rankings

Posted Oct 3, 2006

If the first ranking and poll of the season came out now instead of in August, what would the top five be?

Past TQs
- The early coach of the year is ...?
- These three teams are for real, these three aren't
- After 2 weeks, who's better, who's worse?
- 10 Greatest Quarterbacks of All-Time
- 10 Greatest Defensive Players of All-Time
- 10 Greatest Regular Season Games of All-Time
- 10 Greatest Playmakers of All-Time
- 10 Worst Heisman Winners
- 10 Greatest Bowl Games
- All-Time Offensive Team
- All-Time Defensive Team

Pete Fiutak     
Q: Knowing what you know now and forgetting preseason polls, who are the top 5 teams?

A: This is based on who deserves to be ranked in the top five, and not necessarily who the five best teams probably are. If the first polls came out today instead of August, the rankings should be ...

5. USC
Michigan probably deserves to be here considering its blowout of Notre Dame, but USC gets the nod thanks to a destruction of a decent Arkansas team, an easy win over Nebraska, and a tougher-than-it-seems road win at Washington State. Beating Arizona at Arizona isn't bad, either.

4. LSU
Yeah, the Tigers lost to Auburn on a few disputed calls, and they haven't faced anyone else of note outside of Arizona, but they're No. 1 in the nation in defense (holding Auburn to 182 total yards) and averaged close to 47 points per outing in the four non-Auburn games.

3. Florida
Has anyone in the top 25 played a tougher first five games? Kentucky isn't all that bad, Southern Miss and UCF will be in the Conference USA title hunt all year, Alabama is solid, and Tennessee is back to being Tennessee. Even so, the Gators are only allowing 9.4 points per game and are 13th in the nation in total offense.

2. Auburn
Everyone forgets about the 40-14 season opening win over Washington State. The win over LSU might be the second best this year behind Ohio State's win over Texas, and winning at South Carolina is nothing to sneeze at. The defense has been fantastic.

1. Ohio State
How can it be anyone else? Despite having the bull's-eye squarely on its back, OSU has won each game by double-digits and by an average of 22.6 per outing. The defense has exceeded all expectations, and the offense is getting all the points it needs to. The win at Texas was the best so far this year, Northern Illinois might win the MAC, and Penn State and Iowa are no slouches. The Buckeyes deserve the slot.

Richard Cirminiello  
Q: Knowing what you know now and forgetting preseason polls, who are the top 5 teams?

5. USC – No doubt this is not the same Trojan team that blazed a trail through its schedule the past few seasons.  It’s a transition year at Troy, but USC still rates a slight edge over West Virginia, Texas and LSU because of the play of its young defense and the potential of John David Booty once WR Dwayne Jarrett gets healthy and RB Chauncey Washington gets acclimated to his role as the feature back.

4. Florida – As expected, the Gators have been winning with defense, while just getting by offensively. Urban Meyer has done a nice job injecting Tim Tebow into the quarterback equation without messing with Chris Leak’s psyche.  The formula for success that’s gotten Florida to 5-0 is going to be severely tested with upcoming games against defensive giants, LSU, Auburn and Georgia, who comprise the nation’s top 3 scoring defenses.

3. Auburn – The Kenny Irons-led running game can be devastating and the defense showed in the 7-3 LSU win that it’s got the speed to shut down even the fastest offenses.  The Tigers, however, need to produce more big plays in the passing game to survive second-half wars with Florida, Georgia and Alabama.

2. Michigan – This is not the sixth best team in the country, as both polls would have you believe.  A reputation for gagging at inopportune times aside, the Wolverines are without a weakness.  The offense is as balanced as one can be and the defense sports a nasty front seven that’s been as dominant as any in the country.  

1. Ohio State – A little more than a month ago, there was no clear consensus for the top spot in the country.  There is now.  Resounding wins at Texas and at Iowa, along with a defense that gets better every week, make the Buckeyes a heavy favorite to be playing in Glendale next Jan. 8.      

John Harris     
Q: Knowing what you know now and forgetting preseason polls, who are the top 5 teams?

A. 1.  Ohio State – I had them at number one since Vince Young decided to leave Texas, and there’s been no reason to move them.  The defense has played above the low expectations most experts had for them at the outset of the year, and the offense, well, it possesses the fastest weapons in the nation and a Heisman worthy leader at QB.  What else can you say?

2.  USC – Each team in the top five is going to have a close game on the road, so having to intercept a Hail Mary pass on the last play of the game isn’t absolutely damaging to the Trojans.  As the running game continues to improve, the Trojans will get better each week, leading to the game of their year against Oregon (ha, you thought Cal).

3.  Auburn – If, IF South Carolina WR Jared Cook catches the deep ball late in the fourth quarter, it’s conceivable that Auburn may have gotten knocked off.  But, it didn’t happen.  Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good.  Unfortunately for SEC teams, Auburn is better than they are lucky, but more importantly, they’re faster and more physical on defense than nearly every team in the nation.

4.  Michigan – Speaking of defense, the Michigan defense is one of the best units to ever wear the maize and blue.  What has separated the Wolverines and the Buckeyes from the other nine teams in the Big Ten is the speed both teams have on defense.  And, if teams decide to blitz and play one-on-one, Michigan WR Mario Manningham will make them pay.  The offensive line is the best in the nation – they mash people at the point of attack.

5.  LSU – I’m projecting a little here with LSU at number five, in some sense, but not in another.  We’ll see how accurate this is when the Tigers go to Gainesville to tangle with the Florida Gators.  However, I think that the LSU defense is as nasty as Auburn’s and Florida’s defense is hurt by the ‘suspension’ of DT Marcus Thomas.  But, LSU’s ranking all comes down to how well JaMarcus Russell plays throughout this season.  He had his hiccup at Auburn and should frustrate a Florida secondary that yielded 240 yards passing to Alabama’s first year starter John Parker Wilson.  So, that’s a short preview, ranking and opinion all in about three sentences.

Matthew Zemek     
Q: Knowing what you know now and forgetting preseason polls, who are the top 5 teams?

A: 1. Ohio State. Dominant. Awesomely athletic. Balanced. Appreciably powerful. Quality kicking. The big kahuna.

2. Split vote: USC and Auburn. Difference-making coaches, resourceful teams who can win in different ways, and strength on defense.

4. Michigan. Very formidable and talented, but see above: the Wolverines don't have as much of a difference-making coach, and they haven't yet proven they can win in different styles, playing at different tempos. The defense, though, is legit. One does wish that the Michigan-Ohio State hype could recede just a bit. Try waiting until Nov. 18, okay?

5. LSU. It will be a slight surprise if the Bayou Bengals lose to Florida on Saturday. Loaded on defense, and always possessing great potential on offense. If that potential is ever fulfilled, watch out.