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It was going to happen sooner or later. As with any college football season, teams were bound to get upset in the never ending battle for the national title. Seven nationally ranked teams fell, giving rise to new faces and the return of some old ones to their former glory. Only a few weeks separate everyone from the post season and tension is starting to mount. Let’s jump in to the pool of chaos that is the weekly Top 25:
-Last Week: #1
LSU showed their roster depth in spades this week during their 45-10 win over Auburn in the Tiger Bowl. Having CB Tyrann Mathieu, RB Spencer Ware, and DB Tharold Simon seemed to be a mute point as others stepped up in big ways. RBs Kenny Hillard and Michael Ford combined for 147 yards and two touchdowns, while the LSU defense forced two turnovers (including an interception for a touchdown) and held Auburn to under 300 yards total offense. LSU heads into a bye week to prepare for what could be one of the most historic in college football history against Alabama on November 5th. In the last five trips to Tuscaloosa, LSU has won four of those games by an average of 12 points.
-Last Week: #2
The first half wasn’t impressive, but the Crimson Tide explode for a big second half to beat the battered and broken Tennessee Volunteers 37-6 in Tuscaloosa this past weekend. Recording only six total points in the first half, Alabama dropped 21 points in the third quarter alone, mostly thanks to the impressive play of QB AJ McCarron. McCarron was 17 of 26 for 284 yards and two touchdowns (one by air, one by sea). RB Trent Richardson was quietly dominant for a change, only rushing for 77 yards and two touchdowns. It should also be pointed out that the Crimson Tide defense only allowed Tennessee to have 155 yards total. Alabama will now wait to host LSU come November 5th in the hopes that a repeat of last year’s loss doesn’t happen again. If Nick Saban wants to go back to the national title game, defeating Les Miles and LSU is their ticket.
3. Oklahoma State
-Last Week: #4
The good times just keep a rollin for Oklahoma State and nothing points that out more than their 45-24 win over Missouri. QB Brandon Weeden has developed into a monster on the stat sheet; mostly because of how strong and well focused that offensive line has been for his thus far this season. Weeden has now thrown for 300+ yards in five games this season, going for 338 in this game. He had some considerable help though from RB Joseph Randle who rushed for 138 yards on 14 carries and found the end zone three times. The Cowboys find themselves playing at their best right when they need it. Their schedule gets considerably tougher the rest of the way out. Their first big change of the second half of the season will be Baylor. This game may just break the record for points scored in a game by two teams.
-Last Week: #6
Two Tiger teams in the Top 25 tell a truly terrific tale too true to translate to television. Clemson’s miracle season continued with a 59-38 blowout of North Carolina. QB Tajh Boyd couldn’t be stopped, throwing for 367 yards and having six total touchdowns (five passing and one rushing). Boyd has put this Tiger team on his back more and more as the season progresses and his name could come up as a third or fourth selection for the Heisman if it keeps going at the rate it has been. With four games left on their schedule, Clemson in the favorite to win the ACC Coastal Division and the ACC title. They can come one step closer to that benchmark with a win over the floundering Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets in Atlanta this weekend.
-Last Week: #7
The sweep of the State of Washington is officially as Stanford took down the Huskies 65-21. QB Andrew Luck took a major backseat to the Cardinal running game led by RB Stepfan Taylor. The Cardinals combined for 446 yards and five touchdowns on the ground, with Taylor ahead of the pack with 138 yards. Luck’s 169 yards and two touchdowns in the passing game was a modest performance, but with Washington’s rush defense being so terrible, it’s understandable that it was less than it should have been. Luck will need to step it up though if the Cardinals want to walk out of the LA Coliseum with a win this weekend over USC.
-Last Week: #8
If the Ducks 45-3 win over Colorado is any indication of the future of the program, it’s a bright one. QB Darron Thomas and RB LaMichael James being out has caused a small cloud to develop over Oregon as many question whether they will be able to topple Stanford in a few weeks without them. QB Bryan Bennett and RB Kenjon Barner proved to be healthy alternatives. Bennett was 11 of 20 for 156 yards and two touchdowns in his first start while Barner rushed for 115 yards on ten carries with two touchdowns of his own. This wasn’t a tough game for the Ducks though as Colorado is absolutely terrible. Thomas and James should return to take on Washington State this weekend, but in reality, they could sit this game out and the Ducks will still win by at least 30.
-Last Week: #9
One week after figuring out how to effectively use the passing game, the Huskers reverted back to their old ways in their 41-14 win over Minnesota. Instead of trying to build off of what they had just recently learned, Nebraska handed the back off 56 times for 346 yards and three touchdowns. RB Rex Burkhead received most of those carries, 23 to be exact, rushing for 117 yards and three touchdowns. QB Taylor Martinez combined for 214 total yards and one touchdown. Nebraska should know that this style of one dimensional play will come back to bite them if they aren’t careful, yet they just go back to the same style week after week. Hosting a very competitive Michigan State this week could cause some problems for them if they don’t balance the offense. MSU could hand them their second loss if the Huskers find that handing the ball off isn’t working.
-Last Week: #10
Talk about having the heart and drive of a champion. After falling behind 17-7 at half, Arkansas roared back to sneak out a 29-24 win over Ole Miss. RB Dennis Johnson had a season high 160 yards rushing and one touchdown while QB Tyler Wilson threw for 232 yards and had two rushing touchdowns. The biggest concern that came out of this game was Arkansas being completely flat on both sides of the ball at the start of the game. The Razorbacks were 4-13 on third down, which is pretty bad for them. Ole Miss is not a team you want to struggle with, not because they can dominate you, but because it looks really bad trying to explain to a bowl committee why that happened. Arkansas will take on Vanderbilt this weekend which should be pretty competitive, but not to the point where they might lose.
9. Kansas State
-Last Week: #12
Nothing sweeter than beating the tar out of a rival, especially when it looks this. K-State shredded rival Kansas 59-21 to extend their current winning streak in the rivalry to three games. QB Collin Klein had five total touchdowns for the Wildcats as he has turned into a one man offensive wrecking crew. Not that this game wasn’t that important to the world of college football as rivalry naturally in the blood stream of the sport, but Kansas State has bigger things on their plates right now. In the next coming weeks, the Wildcats could end up at the top of the Big 12 all by themselves, but to do that, they will have to beat Oklahoma at home this weekend and beat Oklahoma State in Stillwater the following week. It’s time to see what the Wildcats are made of.
-Last Week: #3
Somewhere in Norman, it is said that following Texas Tech’s shocking 41-38 upset of the Sooners, the sound of Oklahoma’s national title hopes could be heard crumbling as Bob Stoops cried into his visor. While Oklahoma still has a small chance at the title, they will have to heavily depend on teams like Clemson and Stanford to lose for that to happen. Oklahoma has a tough schedule with Kansas State this weekend and Oklahoma State at the end of the year so more losses could be on the way. Then again we are talking about Oklahoma, they tend to wait till a BCS game to vastly under perform.
11. Virginia Tech
-Last Week: #15
Somebody please stop QB Logan Thomas before he destroys anymore ACC teams. The Hokies 30-14 win over Boston College saw Thomas continue his stellar improvement, combining for 328 yards and two touchdowns on the way. Thomas got a little help from RB David Wilson who ran for 134 yards and a touchdown. The Hokies get to travel to Duke this weekend to take on the Blue Devils. Virginia Tech must be glad that their toughest game left could be considered at the end of the year against Virginia. If they don’t win out, they don’t deserve the right to be in a bowl game.
-Last Week: #16
History is one step closer to becoming reality for QB Chase Keenum. Keenum threw for 376 yards and six touchdowns in Houston’s 63-26 win over Marshall. Since there is no real dominant team left on Houston’s schedule, Keenum should break the record for career passing yards and touchdowns within the next few games. At 2,685 total passing yards and five games left, he would need to average 463 yards passing to become the first QB in history to record three 5,000 yard passing seasons. That mark might be a bit high, but if any person was to do it, Keenum would be that QB.
13. South Carolina
-Last Week: #13
After a long week of waiting, the world gets to finally see whether or not the Gamecocks are going to be able to survive the rest of their season. Now that QB Stephen Garcia and RB Marcus Lattimore are out of the starting line-up, it will be interesting to see in what direction the team goes. Yeah they have shown they can be somewhat productive without Garcia, but Lattimore was the only thing stable about the team. Tennessee is so beat up after the last few weeks that South Carolina might be able to sneak by them, but they will drop another game before too long.
14. Boise State
-Last Week: #14
Boise State is not a second half team, nor have they really shown the potential to be one. Granted they did beat Air Force 37-26, but this is a game that the Falcons could have won if it wasn’t for a poor first half. The Broncos looked sluggish and winded by the fourth quarter, something many people saw when they got upset by Nevada last year. Since TCU and SDSU are the only decent teams left on their schedule, we might not see too many more teams take advantage of that either. Thankfully I don’t have to suggest anything for you to watch as opposed to previous weeks as the Broncos are on a bye week and by the time their next game rolls around, you’ll be too busy watching LSU play Alabama to care about BSU’s game with UNLV.
15. Michigan State
-Last Week: #19
Endings like the one we saw in the Michigan State-Wisconsin game can’t be dreamed up by even the most skilled of writer. The 44 yard pass that bounced off of two Wisconsin defenders and in to the hands of WR Keith Nichol was a once in a season occurrence that could give the Spartans the momentum they needed to get back into the race for the Big Ten title. Any time a team beats Wisconsin it’s a big deal, but for Michigan State to do it two years in a row is pretty impressive. The next big test for Michigan State will be taking on Big Ten newcomer Nebraska. If the Huskers can have their run game limited, MSU could be looking at another big win and the momentum they need to carry them to the Big Ten title game.
-Last Week: #17
QB Denard Robinson and the Wolverines return after a bye week to take on Purdue in Ann Arbor. Michigan still controls their own future when it comes to getting into the Big Ten title game, but they are going to need some help. They need to win out their own schedule and have Nebraska (who they take on in a couple of weeks) beat Michigan State to take control of the division. It’s very possible that this could all happen, but nothing is more frightening than having everything come down to a game that you aren’t even playing in. O and Michigan should beat Purdue into the ground.
-Last Week: #5
The Badgers really didn’t deserve to be at the losing end of any game this season especially with QB Russell Wilson controlling the ship. Their heart-breaking loss to Michigan State was just another cruel and unusual testament to how sporadic and random the world of college football can be. Their dreams of returning to the Rose Bowl are still very intact if that is any consolation to the team. Only Penn State could stand in their way of going to the Big Ten title game as most of the power teams in the conference happen to be in the other division. As for this week, Wisconsin will look to rebound against Ohio State in The Shoe.
-Last Week: #20
QB Robert Griffin III (aka Captain Von Scorealot) has a chance to do what no team has done this year, take down Oklahoma State. The key for that to happen though is in the hands of Baylor’s defense. The Cowboys score an average of 48 points per game, which could be a tall order for Baylor’s somewhat suspect secondary. OKST’s defense is like-wise shaky, which could cause this game to be a shoot-out, playing in RG3’s strengths.
19. Penn State
-Last Week: #24
A dark horse in the Big Ten, Penn State has a legitimate chance at taking their division, but it’s not going to be easy. After beating Northwestern 34-24 this past weekend, the Nittany Lions will take on the struggling Fighting Illini in what could be their last guaranteed win. Penn State will spend its last three weeks hosting Nebraska and traveling to take on Ohio State and Wisconsin. OSU is the only team in that series that Penn State has played on a yearly basis. They haven’t played Wisconsin since 2008 and haven’t played Nebraska since 2003. To win their division, the Nittany Lions would have to win out, which probably won’t happen.
20. Texas A&M
-Last Week: #23
After weeks of second half collapses, the Aggies have finally reeled in this nasty habit after dominating Iowa State for not one, not two, not three, but all four quarters of the game, winning 33-17. At this point in the season, winning the Big 12 is almost impossible. Tough games against Oklahoma, Kansas State, and Texas are still on their way. They could play the role of spoiler though for the Sooners and Wildcats as they battle Oklahoma State for the title. The Aggies will host Missouri this weekend at College Station, which should not only be a good game, but also one that they should easily win, helping their chances at a good post season bowl.
21. West Virginia
-Last Week: #11
Right when you think WVU is going to zig, they have a terrible game and lose. The 49-23 loss to Syracuse was the byproduct of sloppy defensive play and special team’s coverage. Syracuse use a good mix of passing and rushing to keep the Mountaineers off balance and putting themselves into consistent good position to score. QB Geno Smith just didn’t have enough good game to make up for that either, even contributing to the mess by throwing two interceptions. WVU will attempt to rebound against Rutgers this weekend. Smith is a skilled QB and should be able to pull his team through this tough patch that they are about to enter with stiffer competition.
-Last Week: NR
The Bearcats have been clawing their way up the Big East standings, riding a five game win streak in the process. Their 37-34 win over USF was a major break out performance by QB Zach Collaros, who rocked USF’s defense for 389 yards and three touchdowns. Cincinnati currently sits atop the Big East, mostly because of their 6-1 record. If they want to truly be in control of the conference, wins over WVU and Pitt in the next few weeks will be lock that up for them. I got a lot of faith in the Bearcats, but knowing how this season has gone for Big East teams, I will probably be disappointed shortly.
-Last Week: NR
The ineligible USC Trojans might not be looking at post season bowls, but they sure can look at them for other teams. The team that should be playing for the Pac-12 title will be looking to upset Stanford this weekend, leading to the widespread ripple of change that comes with a win of that magnitude. Their 31-17 win over Notre Dame showed that this team has progressed a ton over their probation period and could be a national title contender come next year. If anyone can knock off the Cardinals, putting money on USC to do it wouldn’t be too bad of a bet.
-Last Week: NR
The Cougars are enjoying their first year as an independent sitting at 6-2 and so recreating their great season in 2009. The only asterisk that comes with their season is the fact that they haven’t beaten any wildly good teams. Both of their losses came against strong opponents in Texas and a then healthy Utah. This weekend with give them their first chance since those losses to prove their worth when they play against TCU in Arlington. A win would almost guarantee that the Cougars would win out for their season and get them into a major bowl. After TCU, the only other possible hiccup could be the December 3rd match-up against Hawaii on The Rock.
25. Southern Miss
-Last Week: NR
The Golden Eagles are a bit of a surprising team this year in the C-USA. Having UCF completely crumble after being so dominant in the conference just a year ago has been somewhat of a factor in that. Southern Miss is currently the only team in the East Division to be over .500% on the season and one of five teams to have that distinction in the conference. Those teams include SMU (who they beat last weekend 27-3), UTEP (who they play this weekend), Tulsa, and Houston. Southern Miss should be a lock in their division, but will run into stiff competition in the championship game against conference favorite Houston.
DROPPED: Texas, Washington, Georgia Tech, & Illinois
ON WATCH: Rutgers & Georgia
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