Sunday, November 09, 2008

Top 15 (Plus One)

I often view the rankings as travesty; I regularly see teams being penalized for losing close games on the road, for instance, when that should not be the case. I believe the rankings should reflect who would likely defeat whom at a neutral site. With that in mind, I present my thoughts on how the rankings should look, with comments following. In order, with records listed:

1 Florida 8-1
2 Texas 9-1
3 Oklahoma 9-1
4 Texas Tech 10-0
5 Alabama 10-0
6 USC 8-1
7 Boise State 9-0
8 Oklahoma State 8-2
9 Penn State 9-1
10 Ohio State 8-2
11 Georgia 8-2
12 Missouri 8-2
13 TCU 9-2
14 LSU 6-3
15 Utah 10-0
16 BYU 9-1

I know that Florida stumbled badly earlier in the year at home, but I now think they would beat anybody on a neutral field--and often at an opponent's site. Other than that, I don't think the SEC is as strong as it usually is. Alabama looked extremely impressive winning at Georgia earlier this season, but Georgia has subsequently shown that mediocre defense is their norm rather than the exception.

The Big 12 is an incredible conference this year. I don't think Texas Tech beats Texas or Oklahoma on a neutral field. Of course, I will have to admit my mistake if they manage to win in Norman.

USC has shown that their loss to Oregon State was perhaps not as much of a fluke as they would like voters to believe, as the only teams they have really dominated in conference play are the weak schools in the state of Washington.

Based on low opponents' scores, I feel Boise State is the real deal. They aren't just about great offense. Since they have already won on the big stage as well, I feel they could beat a great many schools from the "power" conferences.

Oklahoma State should not be ranked as far down in the national polls as they are. Their loss at Texas Tech was really the first time this year that they have not been in position to compete at the end, and their only other loss was a close one at Texas. Surely they would defeat many other teams around the nation.

Penn State and Ohio State come from a weak conference. The Buckeyes barely won at what has proven to be a very average Wisconsin, and the Nittany Lions barely won in Columbus. Remember also that Ohio State looked pathetic at USC early on.

TCU is one I am not quite sure about after the game against Utah. The previous three weeks led me to believe they were a Top 10 team. Although I predicted that Utah would beat the Horned Frogs due to a loss of some composure in Salt Lake City, I did not foresee a virtual meltdown. If they bounce back from that, though, I think TCU is the class of the Mountain West, and the best team on a neutral field.

LSU. Yes, the Tigers played Alabama close despite throwing three interceptions in regulation, but that simply shows to me that the Crimson Tide are not quite deserving of the top ranking. Georgia won handily in Death Valley, and LSU was never in the game at Florida. Nevertheless, the SEC is not so bad that the Tigers' three losses should relegate them to a ranking of 19 or 20, as the national polls have done.

Utah is quite good. But they aren't a Top 10 team, and I don't say that as a BYU fan. I just don't see anything that indicates they would beat the teams I have ranked above them if they were to meet in a bowl game.

And then there is BYU (not Ball State--beating nine weak teams does not make one great; consider Tulsa, who failed miserably at also-ran Arkansas). The game against San Diego State was a step forward, although the Aztecs admittedly have problems. If SDSU had been more consistent on offense, I would have compared their performance to that of Wyoming when they visited Provo. The Cowboys failed to score any points against the Cougars, but that was due to turnovers, which the BYU defense has not produced lately in numbers similar to earlier in the year. The remainder of BYU's season will be determined by the ability of the Cougar defense to return to form. That may be difficult due to the number of injuries currently sustained. At this point, I am not confident that BYU would beat Utah. Thankfully, the game will not be played for two more weeks.