College Football 2007 – There Are Poll Pretenders, 9 of 25 Top Teams Get a Reality Check

(Editor’s Note: All rankings used in this article are from the AP Top 25 Poll and all team ratings used are from Sagarin, the gold standard among rating services.)

In the world of college football there are pretenders and contenders. Nine of AP’s Top 25 teams and 3 of the top 5 were given a reality check over the weekend.

Was I surprised at this annual occurrence? Hardly. When you start analyzing how some of the teams started the week at 4-0 and ended it at 4-1, it is as easy to see as your face in a mirror. Reality has a way of revealing all of the wrinkles and weaknesses.

For openers, there are the No.3 Oklahoma Sooners who lost a Big 12 Conference game 27-24 by a last second field goal in Colorado to the Buffalos. Oklahoma dropped to No. 10 in the Top 25.

The Sooners got to their lofty No. 3 ranking by beating No. 170th rated North Texas, No. 145th rated Utah State, No. 58th rated Tulsa and No. 44th rated Miami (FL). Their offense ran up big scores on everybody, but their strength of schedule was only the 100th best in the country.

Urban Meyer and his defending national champion Florida Gators fared no better. They lost 20-17 by a field goal at home to Auburn in a SEC Conference game. Florida was behind 17-3 going into the 4th quarter.

The loss snapped an 11-game winning streak for the Gators who suffered their first home loss under Urban Meyer. Meyer’s team had won 18 in-a-row at home, 17 since Meyer took over in 2005.

The Gators got to their No. 4 ranking by getting the best of No. 110 Western Kentucky, No. 85 Mississippi, No. 77 Troy and No. 32 Tennessee, an SEC opponent. Beating Tennessee is what vaulted Florida up in the rankings. Florida dropped to No. 9 in the rankings.

No. 5 West Virginia ran smack into No. 18 South Florida in a Big East face-off in South Florida and lost 21-13. Coach Jim Leavitt and his South Florida Bulls are quickly becoming the team no one wants to face, and THE story of the college football season.

West Virginia dropped from No. 5 to No. 13 in the rankings while South Florida moved up from No. 18 to No. 6.

West Virginia got to its No. 5 ranking by taking down No. 129 Marshall, No. 94 Western Michigan, No. 74 East Carolina and No. 51 Maryland. Mountaineer fans who expected West Virginia to go undefeated this year and win the national title need to regroup.

No. 7 Texas got really found out and embarrassed at home against Kansas State in another Big 12 game as the Wildcats dumped on the Longhorns, 41-21. I have been questioning Texas’ stature since the beginning of the year, and now my suspicions have been validated.

Texas got to 4-0 by defeating No. 162 Rice, No. 100 Arkansas State, No. 73 Central Florida and No. 54 TCU. Particularly telling was Central Florida, which Texas beat by a field goal while giving up 32 points. Texas, who is rated No. 25 by Sagarin, dropped to No. 19, a much more realistic place for the Longhorns to lounge.

No. 10 Rutgers, the darlings of the Big East, were upset at home by Maryland 34-24, and dropped to No. 21. I believe Rutgers will soon drop out of the Top 25 as two 5-0 teams in the Big East-No. 20 Cincinnati and unranked Connecticut–are being overlooked.

Rutgers rose to No. 10 by whipping up on No. 208 AA Norfolk State, No. 142 Buffalo and No. 68 Navy. Good grief, talk about a lame schedule. They deserve what they get.

Sagarin rates Rutgers at No. 38; even that seems high to me at the moment.

No. 11 Oregon played host to No. 6 California in a Pac 10 matchup and led 14-10 going into the 4th quarter but the Bears scored three touchdowns in the last 15 minutes to put them away, 31-24.

Worse yet, the Ducks’ Cameron Colvin scored what appeared to be the tying touchdown in the final seconds but he fumbled and the ball went out of the end zone, giving California a touchback and a victory when the play was reviewed. Duck fans in Autzen Stadium realized the errant play may have cost them a national championship down the road.

Oregon dropped to No. 14 in the Top 25 and California rose from No. 6 to No. 3.

No. 13 Clemson traveled to Georgia Tech and saw its dream season begin to unravel as the Yellow Jacket defense held the Tigers to a field goal in winning, 13-3. Clemson dropped to No. 22.

The Tigers got into the Top 25 by handling No. 154 AA Furman, No. 133 Louisiana-Monroe, No. 87 North Carolina State and No. 21 Florida State. Clemson rose in the standings by beating No. 21-rated Florida State 24-18 in its opener.

Sagarin rates Clemson No. 34, no where near the Top 25. Clemson could drop out of the Top 25 in a heartbeat.

Joe Paterno’s No. 21 Penn State Nittany Lions started the season at 3-0 before losing to a rejuvenated Michigan in the Big House, 14-9, and now loses his second Big 10 game to Illinois 27-20 at Illinois. gtr

Going on the road in Big 10 Conference games has suddenly become hard for Penn State as it dropped right out of the Top 25.

Again, Penn State started its season by running up scores on the worst Division 1-A school in college football, No. 171 Florida International, the 7th worst team in Division 1-A, No. 142 Buffalo, and the apparently hapless No. 95 and winless Notre Dame. What were those fans in Happy Valley thinking? A national championship? Think again.

No. 22 Alabama was the 9th of the Top 25 teams to lose when first year Coach Nick Saban and his Crimson Tide paid a visit to Florida State and lost 21-14. Alabama dropped right out of the Top 25 after arriving just a week earlier. Sagarin now rates Alabama at No. 39.

I thought Saban might have kept Alabama rising; I now have to readjust my expectations for the Crimson Tide.



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