Week Eleven: Tuesday
Pat Hill, Fresno State
The Fresno State coach has done everything asked him in his time with the Bulldogs. They've gone toe-to-toe with the BCS big boys and won more than their fair share. They get to bowl games. They have success. There is just one thing missing in recent years, and that is a WAC title. That's because the Bulldogs haven't been able to find a way to beat the Boise State Broncos. Next week's game against USC could be huge for Fresno State, but most people don't expect them to win that one. This week's game against Boise State people expect the Bulldogs to win. That puts the pressure squarely on the shoulders of Hill and the Bulldogs to pull this one out on Thursday night.
Joe Ayoob, California
Aaron Rodgers had great success against USC. Now the pressure shifts to Ayoob to have that type of success. This is the game that Cal fans have been pointing to all year. With three losses already, the Bears desperately do not want to get another one. They were the last team to beat USC, and played them within an eyelash last year. There has been a lot of uproar about Ayoob's play in Berkeley. If he plays well in this game, it will help his confidence, silence the critics, and make him a hero. If he doesn't play well, then his job will come under fire, more than likely, in spring ball.
College Gameday Site
The SEC fans have raged this year about how few times College Gameday has come to an SEC game this season. Well, this will be the second time in three weeks that they are at an SEC game. LSU's visit to Alabama is a huge game in the SEC West title chase. The winner will be in the lead in the division. If LSU wins, they could still be tied with Alabama and Auburn, but they will have beaten both teams, which gives them the edge. If Alabama wins, they will be two games up on LSU and have the tiebreaker, and will still be one game up on Auburn (pending their result against Georgia) with a game with Auburn still to come. If Alabama wants to try to make up ground on Texas in the BCS, they need to win and look good doing it. With three tough games left on their schedule, they do have a shot to make up the ground if they can look impressive.
Thoughts on the Rankings
Before the Ohio State game, a Penn State fan e-mailed me and asked me if I thought that even with a loss if Penn State could get to the national championship game. I said there was no way. Now, while the Nittany Lions upset Ohio State that Saturday night and were beaten by Michigan a week later, there seems to be growing evidence that maybe the Nittany Lions do have a shot. They are number five in this week's BCS, mostly on the strength of the computers having them number three.
Notre Dame has moved into the Top Twelve, which means they seem to be in a position that all they have to do is win out and they will get to a BCS bowl game. Of course, they could still be hurt by their strength of schedule down the stretch, but the odds of them going to a BCS bowl have just gone up substantially.
Good news for the Big East! West Virginia is up to number fourteen in the BCS standings. This means that as long as they continue to win and move up at an appropriate rate, the Mountaineers could find themselves ranked around number ten by the time the BCS bowl games roll around. This means that the Big East will have met the requirements put before them for keeping their automatic bid. Of course, a loss to Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, or South Florida would end that. Plus, South Florida is still very much alive in the Big East race, as they control their own destiny too.
Alabama has the slimmest of leads on Miami for number three in the BCS. While this is totally unimportant at this point, it will be pretty important if either Texas or USC loses. Will the Harris Poll vote Miami number two in that situation? Imagine the uproar if an undefeated Alabama team gets left out of the national championship game in favor of any once beaten team. It seems unlikely given the strength of Alabama's schedule down the stretch. However, every year we wonder what new thing will happen that will be controversial about the BCS. This would be a new one.
The season is starting to sort teams out slowly but surely. Based on most of what I've seen, the Top Six teams are fairly consensus. After the Big Two, there is some intrigue over which of the next four should be ranked where exactly. The situation is still open for interpretation. That is for sure. The number in parentheses represents where the team was ranked last week.
1. USC 9-0 (1)
2. Texas 9-0 (2)
3. Alabama 9-0 (4)
4. Miami, FL 7-1 (8)
5. Penn State 9-1 (10)
6. LSU 7-1 (6)
7. Oregon 8-1 (13)
8. Virginia Tech 8-1 (3)
9. Notre Dame 6-2 (9)
10. Georgia 7-1 (11)
11. Ohio State 7-2 (12)
12. UCLA 8-1 (5)
13. Florida State 7-2 (7)
14. Florida 7-2 (14)
15. Auburn 7-2 (15)
16. Texas Tech 8-1 (18)
17. West Virginia 7-1 (19)
18. Fresno State 7-1 (21)
19. TCU 9-1 (23)
20. Wisconsin 8-2 (16)
21. Michigan 6-2 (22)
22. Colorado 7-2 (25)
23. Georgia Tech 6-2 (24)
24. Boston College 6-3 (17)
25. Oklahoma 5-3 (--)
Dropped out: California 6-3 (20)
The Bears lost at Oregon, which isn't that bad. The Bears still have a shot to prove themselves this week against USC. A win would throw them up the charts very quickly. This is still a pretty good football team that USC should not overlook.
Biggest drop by a team still in the rankings: 7- Boston College. The Eagles looked downright average in their loss to North Carolina. That was not a good show, and now they have lost back-to-back games. This team is still not a bad ACC team, but they are looking more average by the week. Until they find an offense that can move the ball effectively, they will continue to look very average.
Smallest drop by a team that lost: 4- Wisconsin. While the Badgers were beaten down 35-14 by Penn State, the facts are that Penn State is a very good football team, especially at home, and that the Badgers probably were overrated slightly at #16 last week. This really is probably right where they belong.
Biggest drop by a team that won: In a new note, no one fits this mold this week. No one dropped who won. USC, Texas, LSU, Notre Dame, Florida, and Auburn all did not move a spot, and all those teams won last weekend. LSU and Notre Dame each were jumped by two teams in the process. LSU was jumped by Miami (nice show against Virginia Tech) and Penn State (nice show against Wisconsin). Notre Dame was jumped by Penn State and Oregon (nice show against California).
Biggest jump by a team that was in my rankings last week- 6- Oregon. The Ducks were so impressive because they proved they could win without Kellen Clemens at quarterback. There were doubts about whether or not they could still win without Clemens, and they proved that they could. This team certainly looks like the second best team in the Pac Ten after UCLA's gaffe. They have the look of potentially getting an at-large bid to a BCS bowl, possibly the Fiesta Bowl.
The case for Notre Dame. For those of you who have complained about Notre Dame only beating one ranked team, let's do a little bit closer look at this statistic. Here is a list of the ranked teams and who they have beaten that are ranked. For this purpose, the Coaches Poll is being used:
USC- 2 (Oregon, Notre Dame)
Texas- 3 (Texas Tech, Colorado, Ohio State)
Alabama- 1 (Florida)
Miami- 2 (Virginia Tech, Colorado)
LSU- 2 (Florida, Auburn)
Penn State- 2 (Ohio State, Wisconsin)
Notre Dame- 1 (Michigan)
Virginia Tech- 3 (West Virginia, Boston College, Georgia Tech)
Ohio State- 0
Oregon- 1 (Fresno State)
Florida- 1 (Georgia)
Texas Tech- 0
West Virginia- 1 (Louisville)
Florida State- 2 (Miami, Boston College)
Wisconsin- 1 (Michigan)
Fresno State- 0
Michigan- 1 (Penn State)
Georgia Tech- 1 (Auburn)
Boston College- 0
To break it down further, how do we know that the ranked teams that these teams have beaten are legitimate teams? By this standard, it would be based on how many ranked teams their ranked opponents have beaten. USC's ranked opponents have just beaten two ranked teams. However, that is two more than Texas three ranked opponents have beaten. Virginia Tech has also beaten three ranked teams, but those have combined for just two ranked wins.
In conclusion, an arguement can be made about any team not having beaten anybody all year if you want to make that case. The fact is that when Notre Dame played USC, who is popularly considered the top team in the country, the Irish came within an eyelash of upsetting the Trojans. If people are ranking Notre Dame high because of how good they thought Purdue or Pittsburgh would be, then they are definitely wrong. However, if they are ranking Notre Dame where they are because of what they have seen on the field taking into account the strength of their competition, then they can definitely rank Notre Dame in the Top Ten. What are the voters doing? I have no idea. I believe that probably some have them ranked highly because of the Notre Dame name and the fact that some people (like Lee Corso) told them in the preseason that Notre Dame would be 0-6 after the USC game. That means the schedule must be tough, right? However, why do I have Notre Dame ranked where I do? While my judgement may be wrong, it is because of what I see with my eyes.